Before heading to the library, Julie went to her dorm and picked up the letter that the letter thief had left her—
‘Ah ah ah. Not so fast, troublemaker. The rules are mine and you seem to have forgotten to reply back to one of my questions. Here’s a little motivation, I have the answers to your questions, but don’t think I will be giving it to you that easily. Haven’t you heard the give and take policy of the bully? You answer my question without a single word of lie and then I will give you your answers.’
Julie bit her bottom lip. She should have known that he wouldn’t reply to her that easily.
Looking at the watch, she noticed the time was ticking and realized she was late. Locking the door, she half ran, and half walked to the library. This morning when she had woken up, she had forgotten about Roman tutoring her today, and it was only a couple of minutes ago did she remember it. On her way, she met Dennis, who waved at one of his classmates, and when he turned around, he caught sight of her.
“Are you visiting the library?” asked Dennis, his eyes falling on her bag.
“Yes,” Julie said breathlessly, and he smiled at her.
“I am glad to hear that. I am on my way to go there too,” stated Dennis, and he started to walk next to her. “Is the textbook you borrowed due in a few minutes?”
“Huh?” she asked, confused.
“Because it looks like you just ran,” Dennis looked in the direction Julie had come before turning back to look at her.
“Oh, no,” Julie smiled, linking her thumbs into the sides of her bag on the front. “I have a study session with someone.”
They had reached the front of the library entrance, and Dennis asked, “Is it with Moltenore?” his expression turned serious as if he didn’t like her mingling with Roman.
Right on time, Roman appeared in front of the entrance from the opposite direction. He looked at Julie and then at Dennis, who stood next to her.
Dennis stared at Roman with distaste in his mouth. He hadn’t forgotten the way three days ago Roman had disregarded his very existence in the lunchroom. He said, “It must be bad luck calling people’s names who are delinquents.”
Roman, who was leisurely chewing the gum, said, “You know what they say. Speak of the devil’s name and he doth appear.” His eyes fell on Julie, and he said, “Get your textbook. Didn’t I tell you to not make me wait or did you decide to forget?”
Before Julie took a step forward, Dennis raised his hand and Roman’s eyes subtly narrowed at the little action while still keeping a calm face. Julie was surprised, and she looked at Dennis, who said,
“Stop trying to threaten her to get your way.”
“It is fine, Dennis,” Julie assured him, and Dennis lowered his hand with a slight frown.
Roman then said, “She doesn’t have any problem, so why are you meddling in it? Instead of offering help, maybe you should help yourself in getting higher grades than me,” he raised his eyebrow. “Don’t do what you did now ever again. I cannot assure you if your glasses will stay intact,” and he stepped inside the library.
A little awkward, Julie said, “You don’t have to worry about me, Dennis. He only means to help me with the subject.”
Dennis pursed his lips and then said, “Let me know if you need my help. I will be here.” Julie nodded her head and stepped into the building, walking forward to pick up the textbook. Dennis, who stood there, muttered under his breath, “I thought today we would be studying together.”
Picking up the textbook, Julie made her way up the stairs, passing the racks on her right before seeing Roman, who was already sitting there with his legs crossed. When she entered his vision, she sensed him glaring at her.
Julie took a seat and placed the textbook on the table as if nothing had happened a while ago at the entrance. Pulling out her notebook from her bag, she placed her pens on the side and then opened the page they were going to continue studying. When Roman didn’t say anything, she slowly looked up, noticed him watching her.
“You look angry,” Julie stated the obvious.
This only poured oil into little flame to burn more. While Roman uncrossed his legs to place them flat on the ground, his knee hit the table, and for a second, it made Julie’s heart slip from her chest.
“Aren’t you smart,” remarked Roman and Julie’s lips twitched while she tried not to smile. “Why do you think I am angry?”
“It is kinda hard to say…” her words trailed at the end, and his eyes narrowed.
Roman snatched her notebook from the table, writing something on it before handing it back to her. He then said, “Let us see if you can solve what we discussed two days ago. You have five minutes.”
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Julie knew Roman was going to pull something from his leather jacket, and he had pulled out an equation that was nothing like they had solved. He must have been mad because she was late.
When five minutes passed, Julie was only half done solving it, and Roman commented, “Too slow.”
“But half of it is right, right?” asked Julie, her eyes lighting up, and Roman saw the excitement in it.
“They are. Don’t look too happy about it. There’s no point in solving only half and not finishing it. You get no points for it,” said Roman before he started tutoring her, and Julie internally smiled.
After teaching her, Roman had given Julie to solve the problems that were harder than what the textbooks had. In the meantime, he had picked up a book for himself to read.
“Did you finish solving or are you looking for answers on my face?” questioned Roman without looking up from his book.
“I wanted to ask you something about the thing that happened the day before yesterday,” said Julie.
“What about it?” she heard Roman’s nonchalant words from him. His eyes looked up at her.
“Did you, maybe tell Eleanor something when you went to meet her? Something about me?” she asked him. He relaxed the wrist that was holding the book, and he leaned forward.
“Why would I talk about you with her?” he questioned her, tilting his head to the side.
It was because Eleanor had not come with her baseball bat along with her friends to hunt her down. It had Julie wonder if he had anything to do with it. His eyes looked back at her with an unfazed expression.
“It was because I was the one to deliver her letter to you,” said Julie.
“Not enough that I would bring up your name,” replied Roman unconcerned.
So she had guessed wrong, and Eleanor had decided to keep up her end of the deal? But Roman was right, why would he bring her up in the conversation when he was tearing Eleanor’s letter, thought Julie in her mind.
“Now that you have brought the matter up, how many other dorms’ have you broken into?” questioned Roman, biting into his gum.
“It was just yours. Why would I go breaking into other dorms?” asked Julie, looking down at her book when she remembered the push and the brush of his finger on her wrist.
“I don’t know, you tell me. Instead of knocking on the door, you decided to break into someone’s room. The number of whispers that have gone around,” Roman clicked his tongue while shaking his head with disappointment.
Julie’s face turned red, and she whispered, “You are the one who has been telling everyone about it!”
“I? Why would I ever spread anything like that. I have other better things to do than mention about you to people. Maybe you should ask your dear friend Eleanor, after all, you did break into my room upon her word. And which idiot even agrees to something like that?” his eyes subtly narrowing at her.
“You are calling me an idiot because I called you one before,” muttered Julie and Roman stared at her. “I know it wasn’t a good idea…”
“What if it was some other guy, who decided to tie you in the room and killed you? No one would ever know,” deadpanned Roman.
“Isn’t that a little stretch?” asked Julie, her eyebrows furrowing, but Roman’s expression didn’t change.
“You never know who is a murderer, Winters,” he said in a serious tone that somewhere made her worry now. “This is why you should talk to selected people and not the second. It will reduce your IQ.”
Julie pursed her lips at the shade Roman threw at Dennis, and she said, “That’s like you telling… your IQ will reduce with me,” because she was nowhere in the top thirty or forty of her year, and Roman looked as if he had the highest.
“It is good that you are aware of it,” responded Roman. “Now get back to working on the problems.”
Julie held her stare for a few more seconds before tearing away her eyes to look back at her books.
A minute later, Roman raised his gaze from his book, and his eyes fell on the girl, who sat in front of him. Like the good girl she was, she diligently studied in front of him. He noticed she had twisted the sides of her hair and tied it in a medium ponytail. He noted that her glasses hid her dainty face.
Though Julie might have considered Roman’s words to be dark humour, it wasn’t far away from the truth. A human entering a possible vampire’s dorm at night, would be nothing less than a midnight snack.
When Julie’s study session came to an end, Roman stood up along with her. Julie noticed he had decided not to stay back like last time and started to walk away without waiting for her. He walked to the nearby racks and placed the book back in its place.
Julie’s footsteps were much slower, and she watched Roman standing in front of the rack. He was tall enough to reach the top books of the racks without the need for a ladder. Walking past the rack, she left the library.
Once she was in the room, Julie stared at the letter that she had received from the letter thief. Staring at the words written there. She hadn’t answered two of his earlier questions, but she decided to answer the latest one.
What he had asked was something that she had never discussed with anyone before.
Gripping the pen in her hand and a fresh page in front of her, Julie took a deep breath before she started to write—
‘Alright. What happened a year ago…’