Victoria Farmer

Emotions are meant to be expressed;
Not judged by how you express them.

Blood Claims

This story came to me in a dream I had. It's about werewolves and vampires and a girl stuck between the two. Sounds like a typical vampire/werewolf story, right? But what if the wolf wasn't just a wolf and what if the wolf happened to be the vampire's best friend to a degree that they considered each other brothers? And what if the the claim they both had on the girl tore each other apart? Nothing very special about the girl other than her being a social outcast and a very sarcastic individual who tends to irritate people with her witty comebacks and overall joy in being different. Does it sound interesting now? Well, read it and judge that for yourself.


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Chapter 1: First Impression

  I walked up to the red brick school I attended, Jefferson High School, as I've done all year with an attitude that could be described as no other than contempt, books in hand. Usually Mondays felt like the beginning of a neverending cycle of days that droned on and on, a boring routine. Today felt different for some reason. My nerves were on edge, expecting something different, a change of some kind.

  I marched up the steps as duty usually called, hoping my intuition was right, as it tended to be.

  "Hey, Charlotte!" I heard someone sing from behind me as I reached my locker.

  "Hello, Bethany," I replied, monotone but still polite, without turning away from my task. I concentrated more than I needed to on undoing my locker combination.

  "What'd you do this weekend?" she chimed without missing a beat. She was now standing beside me, and I could see from the corner of my eye that she was practically bouncing in place.

  "Nothing much, just read a book and went to church -- as per usual," I replied, opening my locker and placing my books inside except for my English text, notebook and the book I'd been reading.

  Bethany groaned, displeased with my response. She always was.

  "You never do anything fun, Charlotte," she complained.

  I shut the locker door and finally turned to face her. Her usually straight, caramel colored hair was in waves, like she'd worn t in braids all night. Her incredibly pretty, emerald green eyes were cheerful, excited even. I could tell she was waiting for me to ask about her weekend in return.

  "So, Beth, what happened this weekend?" I asked, giving her what she wanted. Bethany was a very gossip-y kind of girl. She loved to talk and talk, hearing and trading stories, which was why she was never satisfied with my stories considering I never went out and did much. She was the poster child for girlie girls, right down to her personality and wardrobe. Today she was wearing a bright green tank top with large hoop earrings, a pink jean skirt with green high heels. Her pink purse had more diamonds and gold hoops than any I'd ever seen and was most likely a designer name.

  I looked down at myself in comparison. My long black hair fell down to my waist, as straight as a board. I was wearing dark blue skinny jeans, a loose black shirt, a wrist band with an anarchy sign, a cross necklace that fit around my neck like a choker and black and white poc-a-dot DC's -- the dots I'd added myself. Not to mention my favorite Nightmare Before Christmas jacket that was so big on me it covered all the way down to my butt. I liked it though. It was comfortable.

  I'd never been the kind of girl who spent an hour or so on her appearance, loved to talk all day and night, had sleepovers, or got blown away by any brainless, good looking guy who past me.  I was the kind of girl who got up, threw something on, brushed my hair, applied just a little bit of makeup and was ready to go. I didn't tan much either, in fact I hated it. Who enjoyed baking in the sun like their grandmother's cookies? People who wanted skin later that could pass for the same material used to make biker jackets.

  So in knowing all of this, it always did confuse me as to why Bethany seemed to take a liking to me. It'd happened one random Tuesday morning in our English class. I'd been reading a book -- having already finished the essay we were all assigned to do on self-realization -- that I'd just about finished when suddenly there Bethany was, sitting in the empty desk beside me, facing my direction with a large smile on her face.

  "Hey, I'm Bethany," she'd said, extending a perfectly manicured hand.

  "Uh . . . hey. I'm Charlotte," I'd replied, taking her hand -- warm as any I'd ever felt -- and shaking it shyly.

  "Oooo . . . that's a pretty name," she'd said in awe and from then on she'd stuck by my side like glue. An incredibly preppy and somewhat annoying glue.

  "Hel-lo? Are you even listening to me?" Bethany asked, looking somewhat annoyed that I hadn't been hanging on her every word and snapping her fingers in my face.

  I nodded, even though I hadn't been listening even in the slightest.

  "I am listening," I lied. "I was just staring at . . . the ground."

  She raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow at me. Exactly how much of her body was she constantly altering?

  "The ground?" she repeated, sounding like she was questioning my sanity.

  "Yes, zoning out, you know," I said. Apparently my usually impeccable lying skills were off duty because at the moment they were seriously sucking.

  She sighed, sounding like she bought it.

  "Well, you do do that a lot," she complied. "So how much did you hear?"

  "I believe you said you were at the beach?"

  "Oh yeah!" she exclaimed, looking like she was sifting through all of the information in her head. "So my Aunt Judy took me to the beach, after buying me the cutest turquoise colored bikini -- and good thing, too, cause it totally came in handy with getting this guy's attention . . ."

  I stopped paying attention as she began talking about some really good looking guy she'd met and how they talked and so on and so forth. I just nodded like I was listening and casually mentioned at some point that it would probably be wise to get to our first period class before the bell rang. She agreed and continued talking all the way to English.

  When we entered the room I noticed our teacher missing.

  "I wonder where Mr. Browning is?" I said, taking my seat in the back right corner.

  Bethany took her usual seat next to me and shrugged.

  "The old man's in his seventies, maybe he decided to retire early," she mused, pulling a compact mirror from her purse to check her reflection. She kissed the tiny thing and then put it back, satisfied with her appearance.

  I grinned to myself and picked up the book I'd began over the weekend and smiled to myself. Sometimes Bethany could be really cute.

  The bell rang then, causing a flood of students who'd been procrastinating coming in to take their seats. I didn't bother to even look at the rest of the room until I heard Bethany gasp.

  I looked over at her to see what was wrong, hoping it wasn't another chipped nail or split end. God forbid she have on blemish on her clearly well groomed body.

  "Are you okay?" I asked. I immediately regretted taking an interest as I took in her frame. She had her googly eyes on and that meant one thing. A boy.

  I followed her line of sight to a large, obviously muscled guy, who was hanging around the doorway talking to a jock. He was about six feet tall, maybe taller. His muscles were evident even through his black leather jacket and dark shirt. He had sandy blond hair that fell in a mess over his eyes, which were dark even to a point of being called pitch black. It was disconcerting just looking at them. He had a boy-ish smile that would stop the heart of any girl . . . except me. Unlike most girls I didn't fall for the bad boy facade and I could tell just from looking at him that he was a definite heartbreaker and a player. And definitely full of himself, which he further proved through his entrance into the classroom.

  The new guy walked into the room like he quite literally owned the place. He slapped the hands of several guys -- clearly he'd made some friends over the weekend and probably today before school started -- and grinned as the girls sighed in contentment as he passed. I rolled my eyes and returned my attention to my book.

  A second too soon something caught my eyes. A dark figure had taken the seat in front of me and was turned around, facing me. Must everyone disrupt my reading? Was it now against the law? I turned my attention upwards very slowly, ready to scare the unwelcome disturbance into taking a different seat across the classroom. Goth girl, as many called me, had a reputation for death glares.

  The glare seemed appropriate, it was the newb.

  "Hello, there," he said, his voice deep and rough. "I'm Michael." His smile was broad and attractive, like it was meant for me and me alone. How many other girls had he given it to? I could see that his teeth were perfectly white. Well, at least he was well groomed.

  "Hi." Short, sweet, and a perfect tone to make it a conversation closer.

   Or so I'd hoped.

  "And your name?" he persisted, his pitch black eyes boring into mine. Was he trying to hypnotize me or just paying really good attention?

  I shut my book with an audible snap! and sighed. Obviously I wasn't getting out of this conversation. Damn newbie.

  "Charlotte," I replied, annoyance thick in my voice.

  "Charlotte," he repeated. He said the name like he was trying it out on his tongue. He smiled with approval. "It's pretty and classical."


  He shrugged.

  "It's an old name, like 1800's old," he clarified.

  I cocked an eyebrow and looked him over again. If he wasn't so smug and an obvious stuck-on-himself heartbreaker I probably would've considered hanging out with him. Least he was somewhat educated.

  "So are you insinuating that I'm old?" I asked sarcastically.

  He laughed. Please tell me he didn't take that as a form of flirting.

  "If you're old then you look really good for your age." He looked me over in a way that made me feel naked. I held back the urge to slap him. I hated guys who looked at girls like they're no more than a piece of ass. "And you do look good."

  I rolled my eyes and sighed disgustedly. I reopened my book, determined to read it.

  Not even a moment passed before he spoke again.

  "Watcha readin'?"

  "Ugh!" I snapped the book shut and replied, "If you must know it's Chosen by P.C. Cast."

  "Doesn't sound familiar," he said, looking up like he was thinking hard.

  "It's a part of the House of Night series," I clarified.

  "House of Night? Like nocturnal?"

  Bravo. Pretty boy new a big word.


  "Why're they nocturnal?" He looked at me like he was really interested in what I had to say. Why the hell was I so important? Why couldn't he pay attention to someone like Bethany?


  I looked over at her and saw that she was digging through her purse. I didn't buy for a second that she was really searching for something. She was probably hanging on our every word.

  I returned my attention to my unwelcome acquaintance, feeling suspicious now. Bethany had been really shocked and pleased to see him here when she'd first seen him. What connection did he have to my friend, of whom he was totally unaware was sitting beside me?

  "Because they're vampyres," I replied.

  As soon as I'd finished the last word someone else entered the room.

  "Vampires," he sighed. "Perfect timing."

  He turned back around in his seat and changed his attention to the new arrival. About time.

  The new person didn't look any older than seventeen or eighteen, but he was dressed up in a nice pair of pants and a button-up shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He had jet black hair that feel to his shoulders and appeared blue when the light hit it just right. His skin was abnormally pale, like he'd never seen any daylight, and made his eyes look darker than their already black color. His arms and broad chest hinted at a filled out body, but it was hard to tell. Overall, he was beautiful. And I couldn't take my eyes off him.

  The way he moved was incredibly graceful, almost gliding across the room.

  He placed a briefcase on the teacher's desk and began pulling out several sheets of paper. As he did so I heard a few girls whispering to each other. At first I thought they were thinking the same thing as me. Why was a student -- a new one at that -- so dressed up and messing with Mr. Browning's desk? As the whispers grew more frequent, I heard more clearly what they were really saying. Goth.

  I quickly ran my eyes back over the new newbie. His pallor and wardrobe did indeed come off as having a dark edge. Even his body language hinted at it. I smiled to myself. Now here's a newb I could probably get along with.

  The new guy turned his back to the class to write something on the blackboard. Okay, scratch that. I wasn't going to associate myself with 'bad boys'. Vandalism, seriously?

  Pleased with his work, he dusted the chalk off of his hands, and turned back to face the class, smiling.

  Behind him in the most beautiful handwriting I'd ever seen was the word . . . no, name . . . Dimitri.

  "Hello, class," he said, addressing everyone and sounding very professional. "My name, as you can see, is Dimitri. Mr. Browning is going to be out for a while due to medical complications that I'm not permitted to tell you, and I'm your temporary replacement." His voice was like running water down a stream. Cool, sweet and alluring. It left me thirsty for more.

  "Before we get down to business, I'd like to lay out the rules I'll have for as long as I'm here," he continued. He walked over and sat on his desk, perfectly comfortable with himself and his authority. How could someone the same age as me already be a teacher? "I'm not hard to get along with -- give me respect and I'll return the favor. Don't lie to me or try to get over on me, it won't work. If you need help with anything I'll be more than happy to be of use -- " He stopped talking suddenly, listening to something. I couldn't tell what he was listening for, all I could hear was Justin Logue, quietly bragging about a party he'd attended last Saturday night to one of his friends on the other side of me.

  Dimitri quietly hopped from his desk and walked determinedly towards Justin. So that's what he was listening to. Dimitri looked terrifying, almost feral as he placed his hands on the top of Justin's desk and looked him directly in the eyes with his pitch black ones.

  The whole class waited in silent anticipation to see what he'd do. The suspense was thick in the air, almost audible.

  "I don't know about your parents or teachers or coach," -- he poked the football jacket Justin was wearing to emphasize his point -- "but I do not tolerate that kind of language in my classroom, especially not at the expense of that 'fine piece of ass' you were referring to. Women are ladies and deserve to be treated as such." Dimitri smiled in a way that seemed to appear friendly, but it only intensified the severe expression on his face. "Am I clear?"

  Justin -- who was sweating and leaning back in his chair, looking terrified -- nodded and looked away.

  Dimitri's smile seemed genuine this time and he nodded and turned back to the front of the classroom. Everyone seemed to exhale in unison as the scene was now over. The new teacher now had everyone's undivided attention.

  He already had mine.


Chapter 2: Obnoxious

"So what do you think about the new guy?" I asked Bethany at lunch. She had been oddly quiet throughout the entire day and it was beginning to worry me. So I picked the question I knew would grab her attention.

  It worked.

  Her head snapped up immediately and a blush colored her cheeks.

  "Which one?" she asked shyly. Since when was she shy?

  "The obnoxious one who wouldn't leave me the hell alone," I specified, twirling my fork around the spaghetti on my plate. I wasn't particularly hungry and the food wasn't particularly appetizing at this school.

  "Don't call him obnoxious!" Bethany exclaimed, suddenly defensive. Ah-ha! I knew she'd liked him.

  "My bad," I said, raising my hands up in surrender. "I guess that answers my question."


  Wow. This was different. What was going through that poor girl's head? She's never been so silent or defensive.

  Bethany sighed, pushed her salad aside, and looked me pleadingly in the eyes.

  "Charlotte, can I tell you something?"

  "Anything," I said, pushing my own lunch aside and crossing my arms over the table.

  She exhaled slowly, looking very nervous and embarrassed. What were all these theatrics about!

  "He . . . that . . ."

  It didn't take Einstein to figure out who she was talking about.

  "That big-headed douche bag who sat in front of me?" I offered.

  "His name is Michael!" she nearly shrieked at me. She was practically standing up. Wow. Such passion. Bethany caught herself, took a calming breath and proceeded. "Yes, him."

  "What about him?"

  "Well . . . he's the guy from this weekend . . . " She looked down in shame.

  "What a coincidence," I said sarcastically. "Now he's in your first hour. You can flirt with him as much as you want." And maybe get him off my back, I thought hopefully.

  "I can't," she mumbled.

  There went my hope right out the imaginary window.

  "Why not?" I asked.

  "Because we . . . because we . . ." -- I'd never seen her at such a loss for words before -- " because we . . . did . . . stuff."

  Slowly the wheels in my head began deciphering what she was trying to say.

  "When you say 'stuff', do you mean --"

  "I mean we had sex!" She threw her head into her arms, looking like she was about to start crying.

  "I see."

  She moved her head in what looked like a nod.

  "So why can't you talk to him?"

  Bethany's head snapped up.

  "Didn't you see him? Do you know anything about guys?" She looked at me like it should be a sin that I couldn't read into things that weren't there.

  Thank God for that.

  "I saw him annoying me if that's what you mean."

  From the look on Bethany's face I could see that my attitude about the guy was hurting her. I decided to keep the rest of my comments to myself.

  "You see, that's my point. I was sitting right beside you and he didn't even look at me. It's like it never happened."

  What a douche. I knew he was a player. Sleep with a girl and then dump her aside like a used tampon.

  "Exactly why did you ave sex with him?" I asked, curious. Bethany had never come off to me as the kind of girl to have a one-night-stand, not like most preps.

  The expression that crossed her face was weird. A mixture of shame and awe.

  "I dunno. He was just so . . . well, you saw him," she said.

  Yeah, I definitely saw him all right. I saw right through him.

  "He didn't seem too amazing to me," I answered honestly.

  Bethany's eyes got big as she quickly said, "You can't seriously tell me that he wasn't the most gorgeous guy you've ever seen!"

  "So you slept with him 'cause of his good looks?" I said, dodging her response. I didn't think she'd like what I really thought of him.

  I suddenly got the feeling that someone was watching me. I ran my eyes over the cafeteria and finally found who had their eyes on me. Michael, who I could see just past Bethany, was sitting on top of a table, people surrounding him. Girls -- mostly from the cheerleading squad; cheer-whores -- were gawking at him, and a bunch of guys were exploiting Michael's popularity and trying to look cool and get the girls' attention. Michael was ignoring them all and staring disgustingly at me. The look on his face gave me a weird impression that that he could hear our conversation -- and he was good three tables from us. He had half of a hamburger in his hands and was grinning smugly at me. He winked at me and I rolled my eyes in response.

  "No, no, no!" Bethany exclaimed. "That's not it at all."

  "Then what was it?" I asked, returning my eyes to her before Michael got the impression that I was ogling him.

  "He was just so wonderful," she said dreamily, looking like she was reliving it all in her mind. "He complimented me a lot, asked me to lunch, and even pulled my chair out for me at the diner that was near the beach! He was a true gentleman. He kept looking at me like I was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen . . ."

  I knew that look well enough.

  "You sound like you had a good time," I said, refraining from making gagging noises. Romance was just disgusting. It wasn't real, obviously.

  "Oh, I did," she said, blushing. I guess were no longer talking about the day-long date.

  "So . . ." I said, clearing my throat. "How was . . . it?" I had a feeling she'd want to talk about it. Scratch that, she'd probably want to brag.

  Bethany blushed more, but seemed eager to explain it to me.

  "It was so amazing," Bethany began. "He was such a gentleman about it. He was patient with me and wasn't pushy at all. Even when I started bleeding and wanted to pass out from embarrassment, he just took my hand and told me it was normal. I swear I fell in love with him right there!

  "And he was big," she said, ending it with a dreamy sigh.

  I looked past her at Michael, who was still staring at me. God, what a freak. He winked at me and saluted me with what looked like a second burger. That little gesture confirmed for me that he could definitely hear us. How was that possible? It was so loud, what with the ruckus of several hundreds of teenagers clattering away. For now, that didn't matter. That guy had stolen the virginity of my friend and didn't even care. What a pig.

  I casually turned my head so that my right ear was facing him and used my middle finger to 'scratch something' behind it. I heard a very large, very loud laugh bellow across the room above the chatter of the crowd.

  Apparently he found me hilarious, whereas I found him obnoxious.

Chapter 3: Revelations

The end of the school day was always my favorite. Whenever the final bell rang my whole mood would breathe a sigh of relief. The worst was over, but home only brought boredom. So why was it that all of us teens always looked forward to it then?

  My fellow peers ran and cheered through the halls, finally able to misbehave without getting in so much trouble. Some yelled at each other over drama that began during lunch; girls followed around some guys while batting their eyelashes and giggling compulsively at the guys; lame jokes; and others walked quickly down the halls -- eager to get as far away as possible.

  I took my usual route home alone. Bethany always got picked up by older brother so this was my time to be by myself before I got home. My parents generally left me to myself, but I didn't really feel alone with them still in the house.

  I started going over the day in my head. It hadn't been a normal Monday, as I'd predicted. Two newbs and one now non-virginal Bethany. What a load of news.

  I couldn't still couldn't understand why Bethany had slept with Michael so quickly. It wasn't like her. Sure, she was boy crazy, but she had never compromised her moral for one before. I recalled a conversation we'd once had where she had said she hated girls like that -- even naming a few girls to emphasize her point. I felt a growing hatred for the guy who'd violated my friend -- consensual or otherwise.

  What was with that guy anyways? Why had he decided to pick me to be so attentive to? There were so many beautiful girls at our school -- all of whom had spent a good majority of their day to get him to notice them -- and yet he decides to plop right down in the seat in front of me and big the hell out of me to get my attention. Not to mention, he was ignoring all of the girls at lunch and staring at me; he was following me around the campus; and happened to be in two more of my classes. I couldn't stand the guy and I happened to see him all day today. Something tells me it's gonna be like this for a long time. Stupid newb.

  I decided to make a stop before going home, to give me time to myself before being stuck in my house the rest of the day. I turned down an alley that led to the main road and then followed it to the only park in town.

  The park was old and relatively bare, apart from the small playground and few trees. The grass was a yellowish green and revealed a lot of dirt. Some trees dotted the landscape and were just high enough that little children couldn't reach the branches, so teenagers were able to hide in the depths of the trees. The playground was faded and rusty, not quite worth playing on. There wasn't much to make the park special, so not many people came to visit it. That made it a good thinking place for me.

  I walked over to a tree that I'd come to grow attached to. It was several decades old, with many leaves missing from its branches. Some parts were beginning to fall off so many teens avoided climbing it for fear of landing on the ground. It didn't bother me. There were two branches that were just wide enough to be comfortable and placed perfectly so that they formed a good seat. One I sat on and the other I leaned against.

  I placed my foot in a hole at the base of the tree, grabbed a hold of a stump of a broken branch and hoisted myself up. I noticed as I climbed that a few more twigs and leaves had fallen off. Someday soon my tree would be gone. I felt a pang of sorrow at this inevitable tragedy. Of course, no one would feel any pain but me once this tree was gone.

  I patted a nearby branch as I whispered to the tree, "I'll remember you when you're gone."

  If anyone had been there to witness that they'd have probably had me committed.

  Oh, well.

  A breeze blew by, caressing my face with a mixture of summer heat and an autumn chill. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the lower temperature. I enjoyed the Fall. Cloudy skies, the leaves changing color, the occasional rain and chilly days. Fall was the calmest of all the seasons. Summer brought heat and freedom for rowdy children to run around and wreak havoc all day. Winter held people prisoner indoors with its icy touch, and spring brought out the sappy romantics in everyone.

  I looked forward to Autumn. I didn't receive quite so many dirty looks for wearing long-sleeve shirt and sweaters every day.

  I'd gotten used to the looks, and the taunting laughter, but it was a relief not to receive them so often.

  I could recall the day the bullying began with perfect clarity, seeing as to how it was one of the worst days of my life.

  Growing up they teach you to turn the other cheek when being attacked. They teach you to report it in when you see someone being harassed or to try to stick up for the individual when no one's around. They never tell you that when you do, the harassers may turn on you.

  It was the first day of Junior High. All throughout elementary school I'd been quiet and stuck to the background like a lawn ornament. I didn't relate well with others so I'd never tried to fit in. That day I stopped being so quiet.

                         *                      *                     *                      *

I was walking around the school about an hour and half early, my new schedule in hand, trying to figure out where my new classes were. I saw out of a window as I had just made it to the second floor of the building a fight in the student parking lot. I'd never seen one before so I darted straight down the stairs and out the back door.When I got there I saw that it was no fight. Jerry Winchester, a well-known nerd and rich kid, was laying on the ground and clutching something close to his chest. I squinted, trying to tell what it was. It looked to me like the gold pocket watch his grandfather had given him when he was ten.

  A group of three boys was circling him, yelling taunts and kicking him repeatedly in the gut with every round they made.

  I quickly stuffed my schedule in my jacket pocket and hid behind a nearby dumpster. I looked around the parking lot for anyone who could help, but came up empty. There were barely any vehicles parked at the school. I looked down at my cell phone for the time. 6:45 am. I'd definitely gotten there early. There probably wasn't hardly any school staff here yet, and definitely no other students. School wouldn't begin for another hour or so. I was the only one who could help.

  And I would.

  I stood up, dropping my backpack to the ground and feeling my heart pound in my chest. I walked out from behind the Dumpster and headed for the attackers.

  "Hey!" I yelled at them, my voice thick with accusation. "Leave that guy alone."

  I knew I wasn't very threatening, I was small for my age and a girl, but I crossed my arms across my chest and glared as menacingly as I could at the bullies. A good look at the work they'd done on Jerry's face wiped all trace of fear from me.

  The boys jumped as soon as they heard my voice, but only grinned when they saw that I was just a girl and not a teacher.

  Now that I could see their faces I knew exactly who they were. Jonathon Coine was the dark-haired, blue-eyed boy who'd obviously been working out this summer and had made it onto the football team. His family had a lot of money and that gave him the freedom to do just about whatever he wanted. Last I'd heard he'd spent the past year trying to lose his virginity before the seventh grade. With the killer smile and pretty eyes he had I had no doubt he'd succeeded. Numerous times.

  It was sad the way the world was nowadays.

  His two friends were Leroy Newman and Steven Taylor. Both were preppie jocks as well, but they'd always been Jonathon's lap dogs, his posse. Everyone knew that they were always just trying to be as cool as him.

  I'd grown up with these guys in all my classes from preschool to last year so I'd seen them all phase from good kids to wannabe sex gods. And at such a young age. So it didn't surprise me too much to see them jumping Jerry, even if it was just for his gold pocket watch. It was the first day of Junior High and they probably felt they needed to get their tough guy reputations before High School. How lame.

  Jonathon gestured for Steven and Leroy to stay with Jerry as he approached me, giving me the same smile I'd seen him give girls in our sixth grade class all year. I stood my ground, keeping my eye on him. I didn't expect anything good to amount from this.

  "What're you doing here so early, babe?" he asked, using a tone I figured he thought was sexy. As if.

   "I could ask you the same thing," I retorted, gesturing to  Jerry.

  He waved me off like it didn't matter.

  "Nothing you need to worry about," Jonathon said, now standing two feet from me. I could smell his obviously expensive cologne, it was sweet and alluring and probable had stolen the hearts of many girls I knew already. What a heartbreaker.

  "Obviously," I said sarcastically.

  Jonathon walked up closer to me, so close that I could feel his breath on my face. He quickly ran his eyes over my entire frame, and grinned in a way that gave me the impression that he was imagining me naked. I felt thankful that I'd already had my arms crossed over my chest.

   Jonathon took my arm as he asked, "Could we talk privately?"

  I nodded and followed him to the side of the school, still in sight of his cohorts. He had me against the wall, one hand in his pocket and the other pressed against the wall so that he could lean over me. I'm sure he'd meant it to feel intimate and comforting, but it only made me feel caged in.

  He lowered his head towards me as he spoke in a low voice.

  "So what am I gonna have to do to get you to 'forget' everything you saw?"

  "You can't do anything," I replied defiantly, refusing to lose my cool.

  "I could do things with you," he offered. His eyes bore into mine with so much intensity that I almost couldn't breathe. Their bright blue depths seemed to go on forever, promising love and security to anyone who dared look into them. It was hard to stay serious while looking into them.

  "What things exactly?" I asked, eying him suspiciously.

  "I know things that could make you a very happy teenage girl," Jonathon replied confidently. I didn't doubt a single thing he said.

  I began worrying on my bottom lip. This seemed to make him think he plan was working.

  "And I could put in a good word for you with my friends," he continued. "I recognize you from my class. You won't have to be a loner anymore. You could have friends.

  And me on the side," he added at the end, finishing his offer with a wink.

  I felt surprised at myself as I actually considered what he was saying. It would be nice to have friends. To feel accepted and loved. To feel attractive. I wouldn't have my parents constantly asking me why I didn't have friends over on weekends. I'd get invited to parties and probably have a boyfriend. Plus, having Jonathon whenever I wanted. I'd be like his practice dummy, though, for other girls he was sleeping with.

  Could I really whore myself for popularity? 

  No. I wasn't that kind of girl. But I also wasn't the kind he obviously thought I was.

  I could fix that.

  I looked up at Jonathon through my eyelashes like I'd seen other girls do on TV, and spoke softly and bashfully.

  "I know of a way you could make me happy," I offered flirtatiously.

   "Oh, really?" he asked, intrigued and sounding proud of himself.

  I motioned with my index finger for him to lower his head closer to me, smiling at him naughtily.

  Jonathon obeyed and lowered his head. I stood up on my tip toes and pretended like I was gonna whisper my dirty fantasy in his ear.

  When he was close enough to me I whispered, "Suck it," and then bit into his ear as hard as I could. Jonathon yelled out a roar of pain immediately as his hands flew straight to his ear.

   I released and pushed him backwards as hard as I could. When he was far enough away from me I raised my hand up and slapped him with the palm of my hand, hitting him right across his nose. When my hand made contact with his face it made a loud smack-ing noise, causing his friends to look over at us. Jonathon's eyes began to swim with tears as blood slid free from his nostrils.

  I knew these boys wouldn't let me get away with this so I looked over at Jerry, who was staring wide-eyed at me, and saluted him before taking off running.

   As I ran away I heard footsteps behind me and assumed they were Leroy and Steven going to Jonathon's aide. A quick glance back told me otherwise.

  Jonathon and his friends were coming after me like bats out of Hell. Fear gripping me tight and adrenaline pumping through me, I ran as fast as I could.

  I saw a door to the school and figured it'd be safer inside where people would soon be flocking the halls, so I went full speed towards the door.

  Once inside I looked for somewhere to hide. The only place I could see was a staircase with a sign over it that said it led to the area above the gym. That would have lots of hiding places, right? Figuring it would, I bolted up the steps.

  The area above the gym was no more than a place for people to stand and overlook the gym when there was no more room on the bleachers. It was more like a balcony than anything. The lights were on so I could see that there weren't any available hiding spots, other than an empty trash can.

  I turned around to leave, but froze where I stood. Jonathon, Steven and Leroy were all standing at the top of the staircase, smiling cruelly at me. Jonathon's nose had ceased bleeding, but his eyes were still red from the tears.

  "I see you guys are fast runners," I said, catching my breath again and again. My sides were hurting and my heart was racing, but I was bound and determined to show no fear.

  It didn't seem like they were convinced.

  "Doesn't look like you have anywhere to go," Jonathon said menacingly, stalking towards me one step at a time. His clones followed close behind him.

  I looked around, realizing he was right.

  "And your point is?" I challenged, but taking a step backwards. For every one of his advances I moved away from him. I had a feeling that something bad was about to happen, but I wasn't sure what. Were they gonna haze me? Jump me?

  "You can't run away," he pointed out.

  Tears came to my eyes, but I blinked them away as quickly as they arose. My father always told me not to get scared, to get angry. When you're scared, you freeze. If you're mad then you can think more clearly. Now was not the time to be afraid, especially since I was now backed up against a wall.

  The guys were now only twenty feet from me. If I took them by surprise then maybe I could get around them. If they caught me then I wouldn't go down without a fight.

  "Exactly what do you mean to do to me?" I asked, sounding like I didn't believe they were capable of doing anything to me. I knew different. I raised my head high and balled my hands into fists. It was good thing I was wearing a bracelet with spikes and sharp rings. I could at ;least leave marks on them.

   "You'll see," Jonathon said, stopping ten feet in front of me.

  Oh, he'll see alright.

  I quickly spat in his face and took off around as fast as I could around them.

  "Ew! Get her!" I heard Jonathon yell.

  Before I was barely away from them I felt a hand grip my arms and throw me across the floor and towards the wall I'd just escaped from. I slammed into it so hard that I lost my breath and landed on the floor with a thud! My arms reflexively covered my side as pain began spreading across my back and down my side. While I laid on the ground in pain, all the boys did was laugh.

   I counted each step they took towards me, feeling like a roach that'd been stepped on. Exactly how much hadthey worked out this summer?

  I looked up at them, glaring as much as I could and not hiding an ounce of hatred.

Stay mad, Charlotte, stay mad, I thought to myself.

  Jonathon crouched down to my level, looking me straight in the eyes. He smiled at me smugly.

  "Now what should we do with you?" he asked allowed. He looked over at Leroy and gestured towards me with his head.

  Obeying Jonathon, Leroy swung his leg back and kicked me full force in the stomach. I doubled over and cried out in pain. The boy definitely could be the kicker on the football team. My insides felt like they were exploding, one piece at a time. I could've sworn I was bleeding internally.

  Jonathon took me by the chin and pulled my face so that I was facing him. I resisted the urge to headbutt him.

  "I told you that you could've had me anytime you wanted," he said, sounding like he was disappointed. "So now I'm gonna have you anytime I want." He kissed me straight on the lips before I could come up with a comeback. I bit onto his bottom and swung my body and kicked Leroy directly in the center of his shin, the only part of him I could reach. This caused me to bust Jonathon's lip open and a lot of his blood poured into my mouth. I let go and spat as much of it as I could out.

  "I'm not going down without a fight!" I declared, clutching my gut as I scrambled to get up. I refused to be a rape victim.

  Jonathon quickly took me by the shoulders and slammed me back against the wall.

  "Don't worry, babe, I can be kinky," he said, looking like he was having the time of his life. What a creep! "You two, hold her legs down!"

  The guys positioned me so that I was now in a sitting position against the wall -- Jonathon between my legs with the other two holding my legs down. Jonathon was pressing my arms down so that I couldn't escape. I couldn't do anything.

  Now I could be afraid.

  "So do you wear a bra yet?" Jonathon asked tauntingly. 

  "That's none of your business," I replied, trying vainly to pull away.

  "You know, the struggling only increases the fun," he said, looking down at my chest.

  "Perv!" I yelled, closing my eyes and wishing it would all go away.

  "Steven, get her shirt off, it's blocking my view," Jonathon ordered, putting both my hands in one of his and using the other to hold the leg Steven had down.

  Steven eagerly began lifting up my shirt.

  "Just tear it off!" Leroy exclaimed. Steven was more than happy to oblige as he tore up my shirt. I officially decided that those two must've been virgins.

  I closed my eyes as I listened to my favorite shirt tear. My heart rate increased, as did my breathing.

    I wanted to cry.

  "What's going on here?"

  An older man's voice. Thank God.

  All three boys jumped off me immediately. I breathed a sigh of relief, my eyes still closed.

  "Nothing, sir," I heard Jonathon say quickly.

  "Then would you mind explaining to me why your eyes are red, there's a blood trail from your nose, your lower lip is busted open. why he's walking with a limp, her shirt is torn open and the three of you were holding her down?" the older man asked.

  I opened my eyes and blinked several times to help clear the remaining tears from my eyes. I recognized the man from our seventh grade orientation the previous week. He was the principal.

  The boys floundered around for an answer that would save their necks before being ordered to follow him to his office.

  There was a young girl who had been standing behind him who promised to look after me until another adult came.

  "What're you doing here?" I asked, not in the mood for pleasantries and trying to sit up straighter while holding onto my stomach. I groaned from the pain.

  "I came to school early for cheerleading practice here in the gym," she explained, looking at me in pity. "I heard you scream and saw one of those guys throw you against the wall. So I went to find help."

  I took a good look at my apparent savior. She had long, straight caramel-colored hair and the prettiest green eyes I'd ever seen.

  Oh my God. It was Bethany!

                          *                      *                     *                      *

I immediately snapped out of my reverie. I sat there in shock. How had I not remembered that before? Bethany was the young girl who'd saved me from getting raped. How could I forget that?

  I pulled out my cell phone and flipped through the pictures until I came across the one Bethany had sent me when I first gave her my number. She was smiling and had her hair up in a ponytail. Her skin was a perfect tan and she was wearing a bikini. This was the happy, sunny girl who'd saved me.

  I now had a whole new reason to truly hate Michael.

Chapter 4: Sympathy and Sparks

I hopped from my perch atop the tree and landed on the ground with a thud, deciding it was time to go home. I put my hands in my jacket pockets as I walked and watched the ground.
  When I was almost to my street I got the eerie sensation that I was being followed. I tried to brush it off as paranoia, but the annoying feeling refused to give way. I decided to at least check. I quickly spun on my heel to face the opposite direction, so that if I was being followed it gave my stalker no time to hide.
  I saw Michael about thirty feet behind me. He looked at me surprised, like he hadn't expected me to turn. Caught ya.
  "What the hell are you doing here?" I demanded, aggravated. He was the last person I wanted to see at the moment.
  "I  . . . I  . . ." he seemed at a loss for an answer. I fought the urge to grin, I liked having him cornered. Finally, he found his composure and he shrugged innocently, "I'm lost. New to the town, ya know?" He smiled in a way that would've made any girl feel bad and fall over themselves in wanting to help this lost 'puppy'. I liked the comparison, he seemed like a dog to me, anyways.
  "You live in that old Victorian house on Byrd Street, right?" I asked, seeing through his ruse.
  "Yes," he answered, faned relief and walking towards me like he'd just made a new friend. His hair was a lighter color in the outside light, what little there was that made it through the cloud cover, that is. I had to admit he was a looker, but I still only found myself thoroughly repulsed by him. I was grateful for that.
  I crossed my arms over my chest and allowed my body language to signify that he was no friend of mine, and that I did not welcome his presence.
  "Then why are you walking in the opposite direction?" I asked directly.
  He stopped short and seemed to consider his answer. He leaned against a street sign and stuck his thumb in his belt loop. He looked like he could be the perfect model for a photographer looking for 'bad boys'.
  "I missed my ride," he answered, shrugging. "So I figured I'd just walk around until I found my house. It is a small town after all."
  "And you just happened to be going the same way as me?"
  He smiled. "I guess so."
  "Uh huh," I said, disbelieving. I began chewing on the inside of my cheek, thinking about what to do next. Do I continue trying to out-wit him or just ignore him and go home? Well, if he was following me before, what would stop him now?
  His eyes slightly widened, but resumed their regular size in the same second.
  "You know, that's a bad habit," he said, staring intently at my mouth.
  "What is?" I asked, feeling a little creep-ed out at his suddenly strange behavior. Well, at least he wasn't staring at my chest.
  "Chewing on the inside of your mouth," he clarified, swallowing his saliva like he was suddenly parched.
  "So now you're lecturing me?" I asked skeptically. My teeth finally broke through enough layers of skin to cause the blood to flow out into my mouth. I began sucking on the new wound.
  I noticed Michael's free hand began to grip onto the street sign he was leaning against, making the veins under his skin pop up from the strain of it. Was this like a really bad pet peeve of his? Was he going to hit me or something?
  "Are you okay?" I asked warily, feeling the need to get away from here.
  He pulled out his phone and began dialing.
  "I need to call Dimitri," was all he said as he put the phone to his ear and looked away from me. My heart rate picked up at the sound of Dimitri's name. Almost like he'd hear it, Michael's face became frustrated. Now that was weird.
  "Hey Dimitri?" I need you to pick me up," Michael said, intense. His brows were pulled together, like he was concentrating on something really hard.
  What was his problem?
  I continued watching Michael closely, trying to decipher his odd behavior. Had he picked up on my attitude towards him or was it some version of a male period? I smiled to myself, imagining him in a girlie, flower-patterned sundress.
  I leaned up against one of my neighbors' front yard fence, watching Michael's discomfort in pleasure.
  "Because I'm done with my walk," he replied to whatever question had been asked of him. So he hadn't really missed his ride. I knew it. He looked at me from the corner of his eye. "I'm thirsty." He said the last word like he was trying to get a message across.
  I thought about the person on the other side of that phone call. I recalled how well the class had responded to him after his little 'talk' with the jock. He handled the teenagers well, like he was in his element as a teacher -- though he seemed and looked like a teenager himself. In fact, everyone was convinced he was one. Maybe he was one of those genius kids who went through school quickly. Whatever the circumstances, everyone adored him.
  There was something about Dimitri that intrigued me. Maybe it was how while he was in teacher-mode, he was completely confident in himself, but then right after his lessons were over he came off as shy and reserved. Or maybe it was the fact that I felt like I could relate with him, since even though my peers loved him as a teacher there was no way in hell that they'd befriend him because they all considered him goth. He was an outsider, like me.
  "Yes," Michael said, answering some question I hadn't heard.
  "Okay, fine, no," he said, acting like a frustrated criminal who'd confessed to a crime. "Can you just come get me now?"
  I didn't like his tone with Dimitri, but I kept my opinions to myself. My cheek had stopped bleeding, so I started chewing on the other side.
  Michael shuddered and closed his eyes, breathing deeply.
  "I'll be sure to do it sometime," he said, sounding annoyed and like he was trying to control himself. Was he bipolar?
  He looked up at the street sign, realizing it had the name of the street we were on on it. Instead of reading it he looked over at me and asked, "What street are we on?"
  What a dumbass.
  "North Church Street," I answered, looking at him like he was a retard.
  "North Church Street," he repeated to Dimitri. He looked at me with an eyebrow raised. "Yeah, that was her."
  Did Dimitri recognize my voice? Did he know who I was?
  Wait. Why was Michael even on the phone with him?
  "Okay, see you in a few minutes," he sad, shutting the phone and returning it to his pocket. He looked at me and smiled, holding onto the sign again. "So, I guess you now know you were right."
  "Right about what exactly?" I asked, wanting him to admit to it.
  "I was following you." He said it without any shame. It disappointed me. I was hoping he'd at least be embarrassed about it.
  "And why was that?" I asked, deciding I might as well know why he was suddenly to attached to me.
  "Well, because you're . . ." He looked up at the sky, searching for words. Please, don't say that I'm hot, I thought to myself, I'll have to slap you. He looked back down at me. "You seemed interesting. Different. So I figured if I found out where you live, then I could, you know, 'accidentally' bump into you." He used air quotes around the word accidentally. Well, at least he was honest.
  "Do me a favor and don't do that again," I said, being honest as well. "I don't ever want to bump into you."
  Instead looking hurt by my bluntness, he looked surprised. I'm sorry, did I hurt pretty boy's feelings?
  "Why?" he asked, looking incredibly confused.
  "Because I don't like you," I answered, no longer leaning against the fence.
  He looked down at himself and then back at me, like he was trying to figure out how I could possibly not be attracted to him.
  "How come?"
  I sighed frustratedly.
  "Because you're a pretty boy who thinks he can get whatever he wants just because he looks good and is strong enough to take what he wants by force," I said. "And I do not like people like that. I rather loath them actually."
  "I see." He smiled again. God, he was a freak show. He didn't react the way normal people do. Was he hardwired differently in the head?
  "So how do you know Dimitri?" I asked, deciding to question him now.
  "I live with him," Michael answered, looking disappointed in the change the conversation had gone. Well, he could get over it, not everything was about him.
  "Why do you live with him? Isn't he, like, a teenager?" I put my hands in my jacket pockets.
  "He's a family friend," he answered, suddenly serious. "He's really bright and went through school really quickly," -- I knew it -- " He got emancipated at sixteen and started teaching. Since he's a minor still they won't give him a permanent position, so he substitutes."
  "What's all that got to do with you?" I asked, feeling impressed by Dimitri's accomplishments.
  "Both of our parents died in a car accident and since I was close enough to sixteen at the time the courts let me choose my guardian. My only close relative was a an alcoholic uncle, so I chose Dimitri." Wow. What a sad tale for them both. I began to feel bad for them . . . well, mostly Dimitri. That didn't change the person Michael was.
  "So he basically adopted you?"
  Michael shrugged. "I guess so."
  "How old are you two now?"
  "Dimitri's seventeen, going on eighteen, and I'm sixteen. It's only been a few months since it's all been finalized."
  "Why'd you guys move here to Jefferson?" I looked around the area. The town wasn't very special. Not even a landmark of some kind to attract tourists.
  "Dimitri's parents owned a house here," Michael answered, looking saddened by the memories that must be flooding his brain. I truly felt sorry for the guy now. I couldn't imagine how it would feel to lose my parents. "Neither of us liked living in a place full of memories of our families. So we decided to come somewhere new."
  "Wow . . . I'm really for you both," I said empathetically. I felt the need to say 'both' at the end so he wouldn't feel that my feelings were beginning to change for him.
  He shrugged.
  "It's fine. We weren't that close anyways," he simply stated with no remorse. I began to question how truly heartless he was. "I've always just been really close to Dimitri. He's practically my brother."
  I looked Michael in the eyes, their bottomless depths sent chills down my spine. Were they just really dark brown or really black? Was it natural to have eyes so dark? They were like a black abyss.
  "You're really different, you know that?" he said, sounding more fascinated than condescending.
  My attitude became defensive. I already knew I was different, or did my wardrobe and loner status not portray that at all?
  "Elaborate," I demanded.
  "Don't get offended, it was a compliment," he said, holding up his hands as if he was waving a white flag.
  "How is that a compliment?" I asked.
  "Because most people aren't willing to look me in the eyes like you do," he clarified.
  He smiled a sincere smile, it was like all of the cockiness was gone and all that was left was intrigue.
  "It's like people are afraid, as if something is going to jump out and eat them." He laughed to himself.
  "I don't understand why," I said. "They're only eyes." Evil, black, disconcerting eyes. I left that description to myself. But what I had said was true, they were just a pair of eyes. So what if they had no real color, it could just be a flaw in their pigmentation? Or he was just evil. I preferred the latter in those options.
  He looked at my differently then, like I was some new creature. Something extraordinary and beautiful. He was looking at me in a way that made me sick to myself. Lovingly.
  At that moment a red sports car pulled up to the side of the sidewalk.
  Thank God.
  The driver rolled down his window. It was Dimitri. My heart flitted around like a bird trapped in a cage. Stop crushing on the newb, I told myself internally.
  "Need a ride?" Dimitri asked Michael jokingly.
  Michael sighed frustratedly.
  "Sure," was all he said.
  As Michael made his way to the passenger side of the car Dimitri looked at me.
  "Did you finish reading the third chapter of Beowulf?" he asked. His eyes bore into mine and I felt myself catch my breath. Though they were as equally black as Michael's, they had a completely different affect on my. Whereas Michael's were creepy, Dimitri's were only fascinating. I found myself wanting to explore their depths to the creature beneath.
  "I already finished the entire book," I replied, not breaking eye contact.
  He looked pleasantly surprised.
  "An overachiever, I see," he said, sounding impressed.
  "She's an avid reader," Michael said proudly. It was like he thought I was his girlfriend. Gross.
  I narrowed my eyes at him.
  Dimitri looks between Michael and me.
  "I see," was all he said.
  "I believe you said that already," I pointed out. "Or do you just see an awful lot?"
  He smiled, showing his teeth this time, which made me blush in response.
  "I guess I do," he said. Michael made a noise that sounded like a growl. Seriously, a growl? Dimitri looked over at him Michael, who just glared back at him. What was his problem? I wasn't his property -- the very idea of being anything even remotely close to that to him made my guts want to turn inside out. Dimitri looked back over at me, his smile gone. "I think it's time we go. Have a nice day, Charlotte." With that the car took off, the tires squealing in protest against the pavement.
  I stared after the car, trying to figure out everything that had just happened. Why had Michael acted so strangely? Why were both of their eyes like black holes that sucked the very life out of you? Was Dimitri going to treat me differently because of how Michael was acting? I had more questions than answers, and that really bugged me. I was the type of person who lived off of answers, and only asked the questions. I needed to know what was going on.
  I walked over, sat on the ground and leaned against the street sign. Something didn't feel right. Right where my head rested I could feel bumps that weren't normal for signs. I sat up and turned around to look at it. Exactly where Michael's hand had been were indentations in the shape of his fingers!
  What the hell?

Chapter 5: Nightmares

Nothing. Darkness. I ran blindly, tripping over small hills -- or maybe termite mounds-- as I searched for a source of light. Growls and hisses reverberated through the empty space, making my heart beat faster and faster in fear. The clouds part after a while, revealing the moon. It shone brightly in the night sky and filled me with hope.

  I sprinted in the direction of the moon, the growling and hissing coming up closer and closer behind me. I looked at the ground, thinking that if I did so it would help me to avoid tripping more. Instead I skidded to a stop, which only caused me to fall down, as I stared at what was before me in horror. What I thought had been mounds of dirt were actually bodies -- gory, bloody, dismantled bodies. There were so many, twenty or forty, tossed around the area.. Body ligaments lay everywhere, scattered and without a home to claim them. Several people had gashes on their face and chest, and bite marks everywhere else. It was as if some animal had attacked them, maybe more than one. The scene itself was not as horrifying as the looks on these people's faces. Each one was contorted in a mixture of terror and pain, and my heart went out to them.

  I quickly placed my hand over my mouth to help mute my sobs. Tears filled my eyes, not out of a fear for my own life but out of pity for what these people must have endured. What could have done this to so many of them?

  A low, deep growl sounded from behind me. My breathing and sobbing stopped immediately. I slowly turned around to see the monster I suspected was the culprit for these murders. The silhouette of a large beast hid beneath the shadows of the trees. The outline looked to be in the shape of some kind of animal the size of a Clydesdale. As the beast emerged I could see that it was a wolf, a large, black wolf. It was baring it teeth, all of which were pure white and looked to be as sharp as knives. My heart sprinted sporadically as I did my best not to scream.

  Something snarled behind me. Again, I turned to see what it was. Rather than a monster, there was a person, positioned in a crouch, glaring menacingly at the wolf and baring its fangs. Fangs? People didn't have fangs. I realized that it was no human. It was a vampire. A male vampire. He had pitch black hair with eyes to match, and the expression on his face was one of cold blooded fury. Instead of feeling afraid, I felt confused. Which one should I be more afraid of? More importantly, which one was the murderer? Both?

  I looked back at the wolf, who was ignoring the vampire and staring hungrily at me. So if there was a vampire here, then this wolf must really be a werewolf, and they both seemed to have a single target. Me. Now I finally began to feel afraid.

  The wolf took a step toward me, and the vampire snarled in response. The wolf lifted its head at the vampire, glaring at him. Rather than taking the warning it charged at me and I couldn't help but scream in response. Suddenly a shadow past over me and landed on the wolf's back. The vampire. I scooted back as far as I could before finding myself pressed up against a dead body. The fight between the vampire and the wolf engaged, and it appeared to me that it was a fight to the death. I remained on the ground, watching in horror. Both were pitch black shadows, moving too quickly for my human eyes to keep up with. The only way for me to tell who was getting hurt was through a series of howls and grunts. I would've assumed that the vampire would've been taken out easily by such a massive wolf, but he seemed to keep up his own by the length of time he was lasting. He must have been capable of much more than I thought.

  They both began to slow down over time, so it became easier for me to make out what was going on. The vampire had a large gash across his chest -- which healed several times right before my eyes as the wolf continued to try to claw his way to the vampire's heart -- and a slight limp to his movements. I saw that his nails had extended into razor sharp claws that glinted in the moonlight like knives. The wolf was bleeding profusely all over and he had bite marks all across his neck. I couldn't tell who was winning, they both seemed to be evenly matched.

  The vampire knelt down into another crouch and moved in front of me. Was this his way of saying that I was his meal? I stared at him in surprise. It didn't seem like a defensive crouch, more of a protective one. What the hell? the wolf's growl became cruel, enraged. the vampire hissed in return. The wolf lunged and I screamed yet again.

  I didn't care about myself. I was scared for my vampire.

Chapter 6: Hookie

My feet felt like bricks as I drug myself to school the next day. I hadn't slept very well due to that strange dream that had kept repeating itself over and over, no matter how many times I woke up from it. I wasn't used to dreams like that, so it had kept me up hyped up throughout the night. Needless to say, I was exhausted.

  I was late to school, so when I got there I went to the front office, got my tardy slip, and reluctantly went to class even though I wanted to go back to bed. I almost snapped at the secretary for eyeing me like I was exhausted from partying. I hated teenage stereotypes. We're not all immature, brain-dead kids who spend a majority of our time either having sex or getting shit faced. Duh, people!

  Sleeplessness made me cranky, very cranky.

  When I entered my first period class I saw Dimitri -- decked out in a black button-up shirt, black slacks and combat boots -- sitting on a stool with reading glasses on and reading aloud from Beuwolf. I was so tired I didn't even react like I had yesterday to seeing him. I just walked over, handed him my slip without a word or eye contact and walked sluggishly to my regular seat. A few girls -- Evelyn Mcdonald, Rebecca Sons and Celia Pierce -- all of whom I'd known since Junior High -- giggled amongst each other while looking at me. I assumed they were talking crap about me, as was their norm, so I glared menacingly at them as I passed by. I so was not in the mood.

  Michael smiled at me as I took my seat behind him -- I guess that was going to be his regular seat . . . damn it -- but I just ignored him.

  I laid my head in my arms as I listened to Dimitri read, deciding if I fell asleep that it wouldn't be that big of a deal since he already knew that I'd completed the book. I wanted to groan when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up and saw a note laying on my desk. Curious, I picked it up, opened it and read what it said.

                                      See me after class.


  D? As in Dimitri? I set my gaze on the teacher at the front of the room. Dimitri was looking directly at me -- still reading, which was sort of trippy -- and winked when he saw that I was looking at him. My heart fluttered in response, causing me to blush. Michael's head snapped up from his book as if he'd just seen this exchange, and he turned around, looking at the note in my hand. I crumbled it up quickly, but I was sure he'd gotten a good enough look to see the signature because his eyes narrowed as he turned back around, his hands balled up into fists. What was his problem? It's not like I was his girlfriend. I put the note in my pocket and laid my head back down in my arms, deciding to take a nap.

  I jumped when I heard the bell to end class ring. No dreams so I felt more rested, even if it was only a thirty-five minute nap. I gathered my things and walked to the front of the class where Dimitri was.

  "You wanted to see me?" I asked, hoping I'd assumed correct on the origins of the note but also feeling stupid for speaking so formally to a person my own age.

  Dimitri placed his copy of Beowulf on his desk and then turned to look at me.

  "Yes, I did," he said, not quite smiling but definitely not just neutral either. "I wanted to know if you wouldn't mind coming out for ice cream with me?"

  This took me by surprise. My heart pounded excitedly in my chest and I had to work to control my breathing. I felt giddy inside.

  "Uh . . . well, sure, when?" I said, my voice not giving away any excitement, only confusion. Why was he asking me out? Could he tell I liked him? I chided myself internally for being so obvious.

  "Right now is fine," he said, smiling as if he was relieved that I'd said yes. I wanted to smile in return. It made me slightly happy that he'd been nervous that I'd reject him. I kept myself indifferent, though, not wanting to appear desperate.

  "Right now?" I asked in disbelief. "But we have school right now."

  "I've already arranged for a replacement and you're excused for the rest of the day," he said, gathering his keys, wallet and briefcase. He looked at me from the corner of his eye and winked. So he'd suspected that I'd say yes and had already made the arrangements. What would he have done had I said no?

  "Exactly how did you get me excused for the day?"

  He walked up to me, standing so close that my breathe became shaky and my heart pounded excessively in my chest. He put the back of his hand against my forehead, which made my hands become clammy. His hand was so cold that goosebumps broke out on my arms, but it felt good. It felt  . . . right.

  "Because you've got a really bad fever and need to stay home," he said, looking into my eyes and sounding playful. Ah, so I was supposed to play hookie. That I could do. His hand never left my forehead.

  I stared directly into his eyes, my voice becoming both flirty and playful.

  "Well, I guess I need to go home then, huh?"

  He grinned, happy I'd caught on, and removed his hand from my head. I suddenly felt something shock where his hand had been and my hand went to my head reflexively. Dimitri looked at his hand, his eyes a little wide, and then back at my head.

  "Are you okay?" he asked, his voice sounding concerned.

  I nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. Must've been static electricity."

  Are you sure?" he asked.

  "Yeah," I said. I removed my hand from my head to reveal the area that had been shocked. "See? It's fine."

  "Okay," he said, sounding relieved.

  "Haven't you ever been shocked before?" I asked.

  He looked at his hand and then back at me. He smiled in a way that made my stomach fill with butterflies.

  "Never," he said. "Not till now."

  "Well, there's a first time for everything," I said.

  "No one has ever been more true," he said. He pulled out his keys and then added, "Shall we go then?"

  Dimitri took me to an ice cream shop in Quincy, a city about forty minutes away from Jefferson. Jefferson was such a small town that if anyone had seen me in the ice cream store there that it would soon spread that I was ditching class. My father was the youth pastor at the Pentecostal church here in town. He'd been there for a good nine years, so it wouldn't be too surprising if someone wanted to turn in the pastor's daughter. So I suggested that we come here.

  This place was small and nice. It was a drive-thru restaurant, with tables set up outside for anyone who wanted to stay a while. The walls were white and the roof a bubblegum, pink, with a giant scoop of ice cream that deemed the building Cookie Cutter's Ice Cream Shop. The establishment was notorious for its cookie dough ice cream, which was happy news for me because that was my favorite kind.

  Neither Dimitri or me liked sitting outside so he parked his car in the nearest parking lot, and we stayed inside.

  "Would you like to listen to music?" he asked, pulling out a CD case full of what looked like every record ever made.

  "Sure," I said, taking a scoop of ice cream that I knew had some cookie dough in it. I had to use some effort with the plastic spoon because it kept bending.

  "Which band?" he asked.

  "How about Mason Williams?" I said.

  He raised an eyebrow at me, but sifted through until he found a mixed CD with Mason Williams written across it. He put it into the stereo, and, after a moment of loading,  Classical Gas began playing through the speakers in the car.

  "A guitar fan?" Dimitri asked.

  "A music fan," I corrected. I took another bite, savoring the flavor combination of dough and vanilla.

  "So you appreciate music rather than just listen to it," he observed. He was spinning his spoon around in his cup like it was doing some kind of dance.

  "Yeah, I guess," I said, trying to think of how to put what I meant into words. "I love listening to the different kinds of music genres -- except for rap, I hate rap. I listen to the notes, and try to decipher the emotions that the music is trying to convey. The lyrics rarely matter because they're always the same, but the emotions are always a different story behind them."

  "You're discerning," Dimitri said.

  "What do you mean?" I angled my body towards him to show that I was paying attention.

  "You don't look at the surface of things," he explained, still toying with his ice cream. Was he going to eat it? "You look deeper. You want the facts, not the half-truths." He sighed and put his ice cream down.

  "What's on your mind?" I asked.

  "Nothing important," he said.

  "Okay then," I said, starting to play with my own food. I had the feeling that he was holding something back, but I decided to give him his privacy. "So how come you asked me out today?"

  He looked up at me, looking shy and embarrassed.

  "Well," he began, "you intrigued me. I hadn't spoken hardly at all yesterday, but it looked to me that we might get along well." He gestured to his wardrobe as he went on, "we both dress relatively the same and Michael mentioned that you loved reading, as do I. So I figured that I might as well get to know you better, hoping we had more in common." I blushed and looked away.

  "So why did you become a teacher?" I asked, changing the subject. The way he looked at me as he had explained all of that made me feel all giddy inside again.

  He suddenly smiled brilliantly, a twinkle coming to his pitch black eyes.

  "Well, I'm assuming Michael told you about how I finished through school so quickly?" he said, saying Michael's name with a paternal love.

  I gritted my teeth.

  "Don't remind me," I groaned.

  "Why not?" he asked.

  "I can't stand that guy, no offense."

  "None taken," he said. "What irks you so about him?"

  "Where to begin . . ." I said thoughtfully. I leaned against the passenger side door and took another bite of my ice cream. "Well, for one, he's incredibly arrogant and stuck on himself. He's a player and obnoxious. He uses girls for sport and then dumps them to the side like trash. He's cocky and thinks he's invincible. Not to mention, he's taken some weird liking to me and followed me home. He won't take a hint and leave me alone!" It all came out in a rish, making me feel like such a girl. I did feel better though. I hadn't realized how pissed off Michael had made me in only twenty-four hours. It amazed me.

  "So you don't like those kinds of guys?" Dimitri asked.

  "No, no and no," I answered, emphasizing each one.

  "You're nto even a little attracted to him?"

  I resisted the urge to gag, but I couldn't hide the disgusted look on my face.

  "Absolutely not."

  Dimitri sat back in his seat with a contemplative look on his face.

  "That's new," was all he said.

  "How's that new?" I asked. "I'm sure there have been others who could see through his arrogant facade."

  He looked over and smiled at me, which made my heart skip a beat. Just his smile alone did so much for me.

  "Actually, no. He's never had a girl not like him. He's always gotten every girl he's ever wanted. No exceptions. Well, until now." It sounded like this made him happy. It made me happy, too.

  "Well, I'm glad I'm the shining exception," I said, nothing but truth in my voice.

  He took my hand in his, chilling my skin. I briefly wondered if he had poor blood circulation.

  "I'm glad, too," he said.

  I blushed and looked out the window, trying to hide my face behind my hair.

  "You still didn't answer my question."

  "What question is that?" he asked.

  "About why you became a teacher," I clarified.

  "Oh, yeah," Dimitri said, remembering. "Well, I went through school really quickly. It came naturally to me. I always wanted to learn and I could remember everything with perfect clarity. I graduated college by the time I was fifteen . . ." He sounded like he was reciting lines from a play rather than reminiscing.

  "What did you study in college?" I asked.

  "Literature," he said, sounding thoughtful. "I've always loved literature. When I was six I was able to read an entire book in one day,  without the pictures." We both chuckled.

  "So what degree do you have so far?"

  "I have a Master's degree in Secondary education, English. I'm going back for my PhD in the fall."

  "And what degree do you need in order to be able to teach?"

  "An Associate's degree in education and then a Bachelor's in which ever field you want to focus on. I'm more than qualified to be able to teach anyone English literature, without all of the education. I just love books."

  "But they won't give you a permanent position because of your age," I said, sounding condescending.

  "Yeah, but that part doesn't bother me too much," he said. "Every class has its own personality. The more I substitute, the more exposure I get to all the different types that there are."

  "So it's more beneficial than annoying for you," I observed.

  "Exactly," he said, sounding pleased that I could follow his train of thought.  "It also gives me an idea of how to run my own classroom when I get one."

  "I still don't see why they don't just give you a permanent job."

  "Look at it this way," he said, sitting cross-legged in his seat and facing me fully. "Do you really think teenagers are going to give respect to people their own age?" I thought about it and remembered how awkward it had been for me to speak formally to him earlier.

  "I guess I see you point," I complied. "But you do have the full attention of the class."

  Dimitri looked out the windshield sorrowfully.

  "That is until my lesson ends," he said.

  "Would you care to elaborate?" I asked. I noticed we were still holding hands, so I squeezed his out of compassion.

  "Do you remember yesterday when I first walked in?" he asked, his eyes staring into mine.

  "Yeah, we all assumed you were a student," I answered, leaving out that I personally had thought he was a vandal.

  "They all also did not accept me," he added.

  "What makes you say that?"

  "I heard the whispers," he said, staring out the windshield again. I followed his line of sight and found that he was scrutinizing the clouds. "They all had pegged me as an outsider before greeting me and getting my name. Then after the lesson was over they were in no hurry to get to know me and instead rushed out of the room as soon as the bell had rung." I could see now that we were two different kinds of outcasts. Whereas I had embraced it and had grown accustomed to it, he yearned for companionship. All he had was Michael.

  "So you feel unwelcome?' I infered.

  He turned to me and spoke very frankly. "I feel different."

  "If you feel so different then why dont you try to fit in better?" I pointed to his dominately black apparell. 

  "Well, this is what I'm comfortable in," he said. "And I'd much prefer comfort to friends."

  I nodded, understanding that on a personal level.

  "What's the point in friends who only like the idea of you," I asked rhetorically. 

  He smiled, seemingly pleased to have someone who understood.

  "Exactly," he said. He kissed the back of my hand in a very gentlemanlyway that I'd only ever seen on TV. It made me blush.

  "You're oddly old fashioned," I noted, sounding impressed.

  "I'm respectful," he corrected. "Women should be treated with respect and much care. They love us when we don;t deserve it, they are loyal and nuturing, they bare our children and raise them, they memorize us just so they can learn how to please us, they take care of our homes, and they stay by our side much longer and better than any dog could. They are formed just for us, no one can replace them."