Wednesday, August 1, 2012


“Oh boy, how am I gonna pull this off?” I complained to myself. “Pull yourself together, Sanguine. You’ve gone out alone a million times without Gustav’s permission what difference does this one make? Well, the fact that I’m going against his word not to get mixed up with human affairs. Not that I’m having an affair. It’s not an affair affair; it’s an event affair, riiiiiiiight.”
I slumped onto the floor. This is wrong. No progeny should ever go behind their maker’s back. Not only am I disobeying Gustav, I’ve gone completely nuts as well. I’m freaking talking to myself. I sat up and rubbed my face vigorously with my hands. Relax. Inhale. Exhale. Why am I so jittery? I’ve handled situations scarier than this. I glanced at my wall clock, eight-thirty. I’ve got an hour to calm my nerves and find something to wear. That was a lot of work.
                I got up and took a quick shower. I emerged wet and smelling of strawberries. I wrapped my wet hair with a towel and slipped into a decent pair of underwear. Gustav and I left all our belongings behind when we escaped from the council’s headquarters and unfortunately that included my favorite dresses. Luckily, we went shopping on our second week in town. Couldn’t wonder around in bloody clothes now, can we?
I turned my closet upside down and I still couldn’t decide. There was this cute red number but it looked too flashy. Then there was the pale yellow dress that came just above my knees. It was neat and simple, but I didn’t want to be any of those two. I wanted to look right for the party without seeming whorish like Melanie. I spied something black on the floor. It must’ve fell down when I ransacked the closet. I held it up and nodded appreciatively. It was a bit shorter than the yellow one but it didn’t ride up when I moved. The cloth clung to my body like a second skin it was both comfortable and stylish. It would do.
                I didn’t bother bringing a shawl because it would only get snagged on branches while I jumped from tree to tree. I told Gustav I was hunting, or I rather hollered it from my room so that he wouldn’t see my dress.
                Jesse was on time. I could see him from above so I slowed my pace and found a place to land on. I slipped on my shoes and continued at human speed.
                “Hey you!” I called when I reached the main road.

Jesse sported a leather jacket covering a white collared shirt and a pair of skin tight pants. He looked exceptionally handsome but I would never say it out loud. He was leaning against a motorcycle but stood straight when he saw me approach.
                “Wow, you look… wow.” He looked frankly pleased to see me.
                “Is that Austinford talk for, you look kinda pretty?”
                His eyes melted into warm pools. “You look beautiful.” He reached out and pulled something out of my hair. “But your hair is a bird’s nest.” He held up the leaf between his two fingers. “Did you run to get here?”
                “Uh… sort of.”
                “Put this on, we’re gonna be late. I don’t wanna miss my own party.” He handed me a helmet and swung onto the bike. “You can ride sideways.”
                “No I’m fine.”
                “What do you –?” Jesse stopped in midsentence when I hitched up my skirt. He quickly looked away. “What do you think you’re doing?”
                “I never ride sideways.”
                “Then you shouldn’t have worn a short dress.”
                “You don’t like it?” I teased.
                I saw his sharp intake of breath and his shaking of his head. “Get on before I leave you here.”
                “I could always run after you, you know?”

There were a lot of cars blocking the driveway when we arrived. The party had already started. We were ten minutes late but some of the guests were already drunk and I saw a couple making out behind a tree.
“Great party.” I said half-heartedly.
                “Yeah, they’re just getting warmed up.”
I followed Jesse into the house. It was a complete mess. Wherever Jesse’s parents were, they were gonna get a real surprise when they get home. Carver was dancing with a girl on top of the coffee table each of them with a beer in hand.
“Hey hey! My man, you made it!” he called loudly.
                “Yeah, it’s my house remember?” Jesse said hitting Carver’s fist lightly with his.
                “And who do we have here?” Carver’s eyes roamed all over me. “The little French girl, you’re my new hero man. I never thought anyone could tame this sweet piece of –”
                “Okay we get it, Carv. I think Alicia’s looking for you. You should get back to your bumpin’ and grindin’.”

 “I get it man, I get it…” He winked at me. “…see ya’ later French girl.”
Jesse turned to me, embarrassed. “It’s the beer talking.”
“Yeah, I know. Don’t worry I won’t run home to daddy. I’m tougher than you think.”
He gave me a small smile; my assurance did nothing to ease his humiliation. We made our way to the mini bar and he whipped up a drink for both of us.
“Don’t worry I didn’t drug it or anything.”
“I know, I was watching you very closely.” I joked.
My eyes scanned the living room. I knew almost everyone present at the party, mostly the jocks and cheerleaders. Jesse’s dance crew was present as well as the group they defeated earlier. The boy that I had recognized as the leader sauntered over and shook Jesse’s hand.
“Great moves your crew have there, Hudson. It’s always a pleasure dancing with you guys.”
“Anytime Paul, you guys having a good time? More drinks?” Jesse offered.
“Nah, we’re good.”
I marveled at the sportsmanship that both groups we’re showing. Why couldn’t things be that easy with vampires and other species?

 “Heads up, furious cheerleader coming at two o’clock.” Jesse whispered.
“What?” I glanced at my right and found Melanie charging straight for me. She was wearing a sequined sleeveless top and a micro miniskirt. She was being followed by a couple of girls who were just as scantily clad as her.

 “Just give me a signal and I’ll get you out of here.”
“I can handle this.”
“Watch me.”
Melanie stood inches away from me completely invading my personal space. I backed up to make room for her humongous ego. Unfortunately, she thought I was intimidated by her and smirked at me. 

 “Well, I never thought you’d actually come here.” she said acidly.
“Miss me that much?” I returned.
Her uber thin eyebrow shot up. “You know, you’ve got a lot of guts dissing me in front of the whole school the other day.”
“Would you rather I pretend to like you and throw myself at your pedicured feet?”
Melanie was about to burst. She eyed my drink then looked at me. I knew what she was thinking and so did Jesse.
“Wanna dance?” he interjected.
Melanie began to smile but it fell as soon as it was made when she saw Jesse looking at me. I wanted to orally murder the bitch more but I opted to let it slide lest I lose control and tear her apart with my teeth and smear the walls with her blood. I took Jesse’s waiting hand and let him lead me to the dance floor. When we were a good distance away I stopped in my tracks.
“What’s the matter?” Jesse looked alarmed, I guess he was expecting me to cry or something.
“I can’t dance. I have two left feet.” I whined.
“Just imitate the other people.” He suggested.
I looked around me and saw a one of my classmates rubbing herself against a guy. To my right I saw another girl swaying and shaking her head so wildly. I looked back at Jesse.
“You want me to imitate them, seriously?”
He saw what I meant and shook his head. “Okay forget I said that.” He raised his arm and signaled something to the DJ. On cue, the fast paced music changed to a slower tune. 
“May I?” he asked, taking hold of my right hand and gently placing his other hand on my waist.
 I rested my unoccupied hand on his shoulder.
“Follow my lead.” He whispered.
Jesse was so tall and I only came up to his chin. He pressed his cheek to the side of my head and slowly swayed to the music.
“Now who said you couldn’t dance?”
“This isn’t dancing.” I mumbled. “This is stepping from side to side.”
His breath washed over me as he chuckled. “Yes it is. This is dancing in its simplest form.” He leaned his head back to look at my face. “Why do you always argue with what other people say?”
“Because it would be too boring just to shut up and obey. I’m not some meek lamb. Conforming was never my thing.”
“I bet I can make you take orders?”
“Now what did I say about you being so sure of yourself?”
Jesse lowered his head. 

“I forgot.”
He let go of my hand and placed it beneath my chin, pushing it up. His eyes were smoldering and I lost myself to the moment. I rested my hands on his hard chest, feeling the bulge of his muscles under the thin fabric of his shirt. The other people disappeared and it was only the two of us. There was no drunken Carver and no Melanie. No Melanie. I smiled at the idea. Jesse smiled as well like he followed my train of thought. Our lips parted simultaneously as we drew closer. I closed my eyes to relish the taste of his mouth but it never came. A horrified scream rang in the air. Our eyes flew open and I pushed Jesse away lightly.
                There was movement from the second floor. People started running down the stairs, knocking over other guests and breaking glasses in the process.
                “What’s going on?” Jesse shouted over the music.
                Carver ran to him looking very pale and shaken. “Someone died, man!” he cried.
                In the far corner of the room I spotted a familiar face. Her white skin glowed eerily in the dimmed room. She was glancing frantically in every direction as if she had done something bad… like kill someone! The Shade!
                I made a beeline for her, but she saw me approaching and ran to the kitchen. I quickened my pace and followed her. The kitchen was empty; everyone was in the living room panicking about the dead body. The temperature suddenly dropped and it became too quiet for my taste.
                “I know you’re he –”
                I was cut off by the unexpected power outage. The whole house was plunged into darkness. People began screaming. The Shade did this. She needed the dark. As if on cue, something gripped my ankle causing me to fall on my back. It dragged me across the room and I crashed hard into a lot of things. I knew they were gonna bruise.
 “Let me go!” I thrashed my legs wildly, hoping to kick something or someone.
                I heard a door open and I started to panic. She was dragging me to the basement. I quickly transformed and felt my fangs elongate along with my fingernails which I dug deeply into the floor, cracking the tiles in the process. I tried to anchor myself to the floor but I still continued to slide on the ground. I tried to change into my bat swarm form but I couldn’t concentrate. I was so infuriated that I roared.
                Almost instantly, the lights went on and my pupils were stung with the sudden transference. I curled over to my side and rubbed my eyes with the heels of my palms. I heard the thud of heavy footsteps and automatically regressed to my human form.
“Sanguine, are you okay?” Jesse swiftly gathered me up and cradled me to his chest.
                I opened my eyes and found myself staring at an open door.
                “You almost fell down the basement. That was a close call.” Jesse said.
                I’ll say.
                “What happened here?” he took in the crushed tiles and the ruined furniture.
                I summoned up my meekest voice and made up an excuse which bore the truth but hid it as well.

“Something attacked me.”


The sun was irritatingly bright today. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, which was bad for me.
“Just try to stay indoors.” Gustav had said after he dropped me off at school because for obvious reasons, I couldn’t use my bike.
So here I was stuck inside while the majority of the student body frolicked outdoors. Austinford normally had a gloomy weather so this particularly sunny day was like a breath of fresh air to them.
“Why aren’t you outside?”
I looked over my shoulder and saw my Physics teacher Mr. Thatch standing behind me. He greeted me with a friendly smile which I couldn’t help returning.
“I’ve got pretty sensitive skin.” I answered.
“That explains everything. No wonder your dad brought you here.” he patted my shoulder. “Well, I’d love to chat but I’ve got a ton of test papers to check.”
He was the first teacher to approach me since I enrolled in school. It kind of brightened my day.
A shriek pulled me back to reality. The hairs on my back bristled at the sound. I ran through the empty halls half expecting to see Lionel’s killer feasting on my classmates, or maybe that creature from the forest. But I knew I was being ridiculous. I exited using the canteen’s back door and carefully maneuvered myself away from the sunlight and under the shade of a tree.
The lawn was packed with students, freshmen to seniors and loud music blasted through the air. I heard the shriek again and traced it to a petite girl with curly brown hair. She and a few other girls were giggling and elbowing each other.

I saw one of my classmates, I think her name was Laura and tapped her shoulder. She was the quiet type who sat in front and diligently took notes and aced every pop quiz. I could tell she was a sweet girl, though we’ve never spoken to each other.

 “What’s going on?” I asked her.
She looked genuinely surprised to see me, but answered all the same. “It’s a dance showdown. It became quite the rave for the past two years. Anybody can join, but most of the challengers are from the junior and senior class.”
I nodded timidly and she took it as a signal for the end of our conversation. I was quite intrigued. I’d never seen a dance showdown before. I also wondered how much the time transition had affected the dance itself. I quickly moved to another tree, closer to the center of the commotion. I squeezed myself between two fat guys who automatically made way when they saw me.
Carver, a boy with chocolate brown skin whom I knew from Trigonometry stood in the middle of the makeshift dance arena. He was holding an inverted baseball cap which contained scrunched up paper bills and a few coins. He was waving it around obviously collecting bets.
 “Alright let’s get this party started!” he shouted to the crowd.
In return, everyone – except me – whooped with enthusiasm. The music grew louder, though I couldn’t find where it was coming from. All at once a group appeared on my left, dancing to beat of the hip-hop song. The lyrics were mostly rap which seemed very garbled to me. The two dancers in front – two boys – tumbled and spun quickly on the floor. The crowd cheered. Then moving to the same song entered another batch of dancers. Their steps were more coordinated than the first group. The music suddenly changed and someone came flying through the air from the back. He landed heavily on his feet, right in front of me. The girls squealed more loudly and my breath got caught in my throat. It was the same height, the same tousled black hair, and the same golden brown eyes from the rooftop. He got down on the ground and masterfully balanced his lean form while standing on a single hand. His shirt rode up and exposed his hard pectorals which earned another ear-splitting scream from the female population followed by a rhythmic chanting from the audience.

 “Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!”

Well I guess I don’t have to ask for his name anymore. When Jesse stood upright he joined his group mates in a powerful finale for their performance which made them victorious. Carver himself was jumping up and down smiling from ear to ear. He thrust the baseball cap with money into Jesse’s hands and clapped him loudly on the back.

“You the man!” he shouted.
The crowd was slowly dispersing but I was rooted to the spot. I watched Jesse as he hugged each of his friends heartily. He suddenly turned and became momentarily distracted when he saw me. He smiled and waved at me. I tried to return his smile but failed when I felt a stinging pain on my arm. I looked down to see that the sun had shone through the leaves and hit my exposed skin.
 I hissed and immediately ran indoors. I shoved everyone out of my way and crashed into the girl’s bathroom. I entered an empty cubicle and sank to the floor. My skin was reddened and very tender but it was beginning to heal. Way to go Sanguine, you’ve just managed to make an utter fool of yourself.

Lunch was drearier than usual. My pizza didn’t look so appetizing while replaying my most embarrassing moment in my head over and over and over and…

My head snapped up at the sound of a familiar voice, one that I have never been able to forget.
“Is this seat taken?” Jesse asked, smiling.
“No.” I shook my head slightly.
His smile widen as he slid into the vacant seat in front of me. I gaped at his tray, piled high with food. Maybe all the dancing made him hungry, really hungry. He caught me staring and chuckled.
“I get that look quite a lot.” He bit into his hotdog sandwich. “I have fast metabolism. No matter how much I eat, I never gain a pound.”
“Lucky you.”

“You on the other hand have a terrible appetite. You look so pale.” He stretched out to touch my cheek but I recoiled away from his reach. He looked instantly apologetic. “I’m sorry. I forgot that we’re not on the touching basis yet.”
“I’m sorry too. ‘Cause you can’t touch me no matter what basis we’re on.”
He cocked a brow. “Really?”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t advise you to be so sure of yourself, mister.”

“Don’t pretend that you don’t know my name.” he retorted. “You probably heard the whole school scream it.”
“Precisely, and a large portion of which came from the progesterone-producing part of the school.”
He rested his elbows on the table and placed his chin on his cupped hands. “Then say it.”
“Say what?”
“My name.”
“There’s no reason to.”
He shook his head. “On the contrary, you have every reason in the world.”
                His irises swam wildly with color. I was captivated entirely. Everything about him was pulling at me, fighting my will to resist, but this had nothing to do with my bloodlust. He returned his focus on his food and began slurping the pasta into his mouth. I saw the ice bitch, Melanie approach our table.
“Hi Jesse.” She called out in a rather over exaggerated way.
                Jesse didn’t mind looking up from his food and simply waved, unfortunately it was in the wrong direction which made Melanie turn redder than her blouse, and it made me happy thinking that other people had it worse than me.
“Are we all set for that party tonight?” she continued.
“Yep with our newly earned funds we can keep the beer flowing all night.” He turned to me. “Hey why don’t you come?”
I opened my mouth to answer but Melanie beat me to it. She had unbelievably fast reflexes for a human.
“Oh she can’t go Sanguine’s allergic to social gatherings and things on the same wavelength.”
 Jesse looked dubious. Melanie was obviously pushing me aside. It was a bad idea for me to be around so many humans but I enrolled in a school, didn’t I?

“I’d love to go. What time does it start?” I countered.

“Ten pm sharp. I could pick you up if you like?”
That did it for Melanie. I could have bet five dollars that she’d claw my eyes out with her sparkly fingernails but she just turned on her stiletto heels and stormed off.
“You just wanted to piss her off, didn’t you?” Jesse asked once the ice bitch was out of earshot.
“Of course not, why would I do such a thing?”
“You’re still coming to my party, you know?” he cleaned up his tray to the last crumb and stood up simultaneously as I did. “I’d feel really bummed out if you only used me as an excuse.”
I rolled my eyes and picked up my tray carrying my half-eaten pizza. He followed me like a lost puppy grinning stupidly. I sighed out of exasperation.
“Can I take that as a yes?”
“It’s up to you to decide.”
“Then a yes it is. I’ll pick you up at nine-thirty?”
“No, don’t! Just meet me at the old windmill by the highway.”
Jesse stepped in front of me, stopping me in my tracks. 
“You’re not telling your dad, are you?” I was about to spout some lame excuse when he stopped me with a finger on my lips. “You don’t have to make up an excuse. I get it in fact; I do it all the time.”
The bell rang somewhere down the hall and Jesse turned to leave.

                        “See you, Sanguine.”

Chapter 5


I was walking on a very thin line. Gustav was so sure of our safety in this town and I almost blew it. If the other girl didn’t bump me, we’d have half the town knocking on our gates with torches and pitch forks by now. Not that it could do us any harm, but we had nowhere else to go.
                The house was quiet when I got home. Gustav must have been out hunting. I dropped my bag unceremoniously on the floor and proceeded to my room. I leaned against my closed door and slowly slid to the floor. I still had the handkerchief in my pocket. I could smell my blood and the faint scent of the boy I had met. I was hoping he didn’t see my earlier transformation on the roof. But he’d seemed so calm and sure of himself when he approached me. Obviously, I didn’t look dangerous to him. I wonder if he would still think that if he knew what I really was. I pulled out the hanky and pressed it to my nose. I inhaled deeply, taking in the metallic fragrance of my blood mixed with his smell. There was a hint of forest in it. Guess he’s the outdoorsy type. We could probably go hunting together, yeah right. I slapped myself. Why was I thinking of him anyway?

                “Sanguine?” Gustav was back.

I momentarily panicked as I stared at the soiled piece of cloth in my hand. I ran to the bathroom and soaked it in the sink.
                “Just a sec!” I called.
                I changed into a clean pair of drawstring shorts and a tank top. When I entered the living room, a fully human Gustav was lounging on the sofa watching the news.
                “How was your day?” he asked.
                “It was okay.” I answered too quickly. I mentally kicked myself.
                “Really, that’s good.”
                “What, you mean that’s all?”
                Gustav cocked his head, “Were you expecting a full interrogation by any chance?”
                He suddenly stiffened and pulled me down beside him. “Who is that?”
                It was my turn to freeze. I felt the blood drain from my face and I probably looked whiter than a ghost. “W-who is what?”
 “Don’t mess with me, cherie. I caught the scent when you entered the room. Where have you been?” he asked his tone accusing.
“At school.”
Gustav’s brow furrowed. “What is a Shade doing there? Is he your teacher?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The Shade.” He touched my cheek and sniffed his fingers.
I imitated his gesture. A feeling of relief and confusion washed over me. Gustav smelled the girl from my gym class, not the boy. Thank goodness. “She’s not my teacher.”
“How did she get so close to you then? Her scent on you is so strong.”
“She’s my classmate.”
Gustav’s head snapped up so quickly I was afraid it would break. “That’s impossible.” He exclaimed. “They’re never this young.”
“Hold up! I’m still in the dark here.”
“Have I never told you about Shades?” he looked as bewildered as me, it was almost hilarious.
“Obviously, no.”
We moved into the kitchen. Gustav made some coffee and chugged it down though it was steaming hot. Yes, we can consume other food besides blood. He settled into the chair across me.
“Shades are special beings that can control shadows. What they lack in strength, they make up with their power but they rely on the dark. So basically, if you bring these guys out into the sun they’re useless, vulnerable…”
“Like us.”
Gustav nodded grimly. “Exactly, but unlike us they can’t be turned, they’re born. The female Shades get their powers by the time they turn eighteen and males twenty-one.”
“But my classmates are freshmen.” I added. “Most of them had just turned fifteen. Are you sure it’s a shade?”
“I’m positive. And another thing, these guys are never alone. This is more complicated than I thought. I never imagined that there’d be more species in this town.”
“Why not? It’s secluded, practically hidden from the rest of society. Isn’t that why you chose to stay here, so what if there are other kinds of supernaturals in Austinford?”
 He stood up and paced uncomfortably around the room. His expression was dark. Gustav seemed to be debating with himself about something bigger than sharing the town with some Shades.
“Gustav, what’s wrong?” I asked.

He combed his fingers through his tousled hair. “Just another hitch, cherie.”

                      He didn’t explain anything to me no matter how hard I pressed for information. So I decided to drown my dismay in hunting. I never procured a taste for animal blood but it would suffice for now. Once we’re clear of that crazy guy hunting us down, we’d be back to our normal jive and back to our original diet. The cute little deer I had startled was now a gory mess and so was I. I had seen a river a few feet from my location so I headed down for a wash. The river was running steadily, bubbling gently and intensifying the serenity of the forest. The air smelled of pine and dirt, just like that boy. The handkerchief was washed, ironed and safely tucked away in the bottom of my drawer. Luckily, Gustav wasn’t the type of dad who rummaged their daughter’s stuff when they weren’t around. We valued each other’s privacy and it kept our bond stronger through the centuries.

My reminiscing was interrupted by a low growl. I had been too lost in thought that I had let my guard down and failed to notice a threat creeping in on me. I found a pair of yellow eyes peering at me from behind some large bushes, and by the sound of its snarl, it was something huge. Was it a Shade? We were observing each other, waiting to see who would make the first move. I moved a foot backwards and almost simultaneously, the creature set its paw forward. I could now see thick grey fur and the long and sharp nails connected to a muscled front leg. I didn’t wait around for it to show its whole self so I made a mad dash south. I heard it chasing after me. I was surprised that it could almost equal my speed. I leaped up into a tree praying that it couldn’t climb, but I was wrong. The branches made audible cracks and snaps as they tried to bear the weight of my pursuer. I ascended higher and higher until the branches became thinner and more brittle. I heard a whine followed by the sound of the whole tree toppling over. I grabbed hold of another tree and watched as a large ball of fur fell to the ground. It was obviously hurt but it still got up and tried to climb the tree I was on. I could take a hint. It didn’t want me in the forest so I opted for the final trick up my sleeve. This creature could run and climb but it couldn’t fly.

 I stood up, wrapped my arms around my torso and closed my eyes. I counted to three and swiftly spread my arms. I felt the familiar tingling in my muscles as I blew up into a swarm of bats.
Didn’t see that coming, did you buddy?
I flew back to the house carefully using a different route in case it would still try to follow me. I fluttered into my bedroom window and reassembled myself on the carpet.
The sun was rising as I plopped onto my unmade bed. I wiped the grime from my face remembering each minute of the chase. I just had a dangerous encounter with yet another kind of species. My mind was overflowing with unanswered questions, but then it suddenly hit me - something far more important than my nightly escapades.
My unfinished homework.

Chapter 4


“No! No! No!” 
It was five in the morning when Gustav knocked on my door. By five fifteen we were downstairs. I was shouting and probably waking the whole town but I didn’t care. It took all of my self-control not to tear our living room apart. Gustav was constantly on my heels trying to calm me down. But before he could place a hand on my shoulder or stroke my hair, I was out of reach. Superhuman speed sure is useful when you want avoid fatherly affection. Time check, six o’clock in the morning and we were still at it.
                “Sanguine, please listen to me.”
                “I have been listening to you for an hour now, Gustav! It’s time you listened to me.” I spun on my heel and met him straight in the eye. “I.Am.Not.Going.Back.To.High.School.”
                “Cherie high school is the happiest time in a teenager’s life. I cannot see why you detest such an offer to repeat it.”

                “Seriously, you’re asking me to spend four years sitting in a room listening to a lecture I’ve heard centuries ago?” I crossed my arms on my chest. “You’re going to kill me of boredom.”
                “High school isn’t all about study, you know?”
                “I’m not a people person. Give up.”
                I started to climb the stairs but I collided into Gustav’s hard chest. I rubbed my nose and frowned at him. His expression was grave and it caught me off guard.
                “Cherie, I would never force you into anything if it wasn’t important at all.”
                “So you’re telling me going to prom is important?”

“You’re not paying attention, Sanguine. This is for your safety. We must blend in. The trackers will never think of entering this town and we in turn must abide by the human rules. We are on their turf, you know?”
                I snorted. “Did you just say ‘turf’?”
                Gustav’s smile has always mesmerized me and after four hundred years I’m not surprised that it hasn’t lost its effect.
                “Yes, I’m willing to put up with the modern slang in order for us to mix well with the locals. Face it Sanguine, four years in high school can’t be worse than running for the rest of our lives. Now glamour yourself back to your human form we can’t have the townspeople making a fuss about your red eyes.”
Austinford High School had a small student body as I’d fully expected. Gustav enrolled me as a freshman. Making me three years younger than my real age – well the age I was changed. I wasn’t bothered by the fifty pairs of eyes boring holes into my back. I was familiar with being the new girl. Everyone steered clear of me, to my relief. It would be hard enough to control my thirst with these people surrounding me within the four corners of a classroom for eight hours. I let my hair hang loose around my shoulders concealing half of my face. The less acquainted we were the better.
I entered the last room in the corridor and suddenly all went silent. The teacher pointed me to a vacant seat and introduced me aloud to my classmates. He then handed me a list of books to read for the semester. I stared at the small piece of paper, inwardly smiling because I had read all of the selections before and knew them by heart. It wasn’t obvious but I was a total bookworm. I took my seat beside a boy with messy hair and too much makeup. He appraised me and gave me his version of a flirty smile. I ignored him and focused my attention on the lesson.
                The other kids and I went from room to room until the final bell rang and I filed along the hall sandwiched in a throng of students who along with me were eager to get home.
                The week went by at a sluggish pace and I was ready to die from the mundane turn my life had taken. Gustav was busy with his own town adventures but he looked happier, a lot happier than me. I hated him for that but my anger was immediately extinguished when he came home one day and told me that he had bought me a motorcycle.
“Okay, I’m really happy but couldn’t you have picked something more inconspicuous?”
                “What? You don’t like it?”
                Oh I liked it alright. It wasn’t every day that you receive a brand new Jamboree as a gift. The metal monster was unimaginably shiny. It was beautiful and black, thank God.
                Gustav puckered his lips, thinking. “Would you rather have a bicycle then?”


And just like that, my hard-earned almost anonymity was gone. Poof! The school’s parking lot was jam-packed with students when I arrived. Apparently nothing could escape the Austinford grapevine of gossip. I was thankful for my helmet, even temporarily it blocked off the stares from the student body and faculty as well. When I finally found an empty spot to park my bike, a girl approached me.

“Hi I’m Melanie. My dad owns the Hunky Dory toy factory in Celeste.”
                She was tall and slim. Her blonde curls ran down her back loosely and her face was covered in make-up. She was waiting for me to be impressed or something but I just stared at her. She began fidgeting well aware of the bystanders observing us. She forced a smile and held out her hand.
                “Welcome to Austinford by the way.”
                I killed my bike’s engine and swung off. I removed my helmet and shook my hair. The look I gave her was so dark that she swallowed audibly.
                “Look here little miss sunshine, I’ve been here for a week now and you’ve never gave a crap about me. Now I get a shiny new toy and you suddenly want to be my friend?” I spat the last word out.
Melanie opened and closed her mouth like a fish. “T-that’s not–!”
                I cut her off. “Do me a favor and get off my back.”
I strode away leaving her to bask in her shame. As if on cue, a few students started snickering and whispering. After the incident, everything went back to normal. Everyone steered clear of me but now they were more wary - a nice touch to my high school life. Not that I wanted to hang out with anyone of them. Solitude did me good. It would keep them safe and me hidden.
Gym class came and no one picked me as their partner for badminton. I didn’t mind I could take them on alone if I wanted to - which is what happened.
“Where do you get all that energy, Lacroix?” Coach Lewis asked when I was heading for the locker room.
“Dunno, it just comes naturally.” I shrugged.
My sweat glands had long ceased to function but it would be weird for me not to take a shower after an hour and a half of running around the court. I was overwhelmed by the odor of cheap perfume when I walked in. my classmates were in various stages of undress and all of them were chatting. It was like a tidal wave of scent and sound. I wavered slightly, balancing myself by putting a hand against the wall.

“Hey are you okay?” a soft and seemingly reluctant voice asked.
My nostrils flared and a distinct aroma wafted in. I suddenly became unbearably parched and I knew I could satisfy my thirst from drinking from whoever it was that spoke to me.
“Hey…” the voice continued. Her concern was evident and genuine.
I partially turned and a pair of doe like eyes greeted me. The girl looked familiar but I couldn’t point out where I had seen her. She was a few inches shorter than me and a couple of pounds thinner. Her dark hair made her look paler than she already was. And her smell was so enticing. My eyes darted to her exposed neck. I could almost see her jugular underneath her translucent skin. I licked my lips unconsciously and drew a bit of blood from scraping my tongue against my extended fangs.
“Are you gonna faint or something? You look really pale.”
I was already changing. I ultimately let my guard down and exposed my true self to a human. We were more dangerous and inviting to our prey in our original form. This girl would only be the first to die if I went wild in the locker room. I met her deep grey eyes with my crimson irises. She wasn’t even startled. She was already under my spell. My glamour wasn’t as strong as Gustav’s but when I was this thirsty it boosts up my capabilities.

“Close your eyes.” I purred.

The girl obeyed and submitted. I brushed her hair away from her shoulder and buried my face in the crook of her neck, sniffing. My mouth was literally watering. I grazed my fangs against her skin and opened my mouth fully aiming for the perfect bite. But then another girl bumped against me pulling me back into consciousness and into the situation. I gasped and turned on my heel and made a beeline for the showers. It was empty but I had to get a safe distance between me and that girl. I spotted a window and pushed it open. I could hear light footsteps heading in my direction and the scent got stronger. I shook my head and leaped out. I found myself on the fire escape and without a second thought I sped up the metal stairs. I wasn’t sure if I would find a human-free place for me to think in this school but luckily, the rooftop was deserted. I sat on the cold cement rocking back and forth struggling for control. Gustav would be furious if he found out I had almost killed an innocent girl. It was our ultimate rule that we would only prey on those who wouldn’t be missed, like criminals and homeless people.

I felt moisture on my mouth and discovered that I hadn’t retracted my fangs and had bitten my lower lip in frustration. I groaned and buried my head between my knees. I took slow and steady breaths and willed myself to change back into my human guise. I leaned back and wiped my mouth.
“This is harder than I thought.” I said to no one in particular.
“What is?”
I sat up in alarm. At first, I thought that my almost victim had followed me but then I realized the speaker’s voice was that of a male. A few feet from me, standing atop the school’s ventilation system, was a boy. He was very tall, roughly six feet.

 “That looks nasty.” His eyes were rich brown almost golden in the light. The wind ruffled his raven hair as he twisted to face me.
“I got hit during a game.” I blurted out senselessly.

He jumped down and took four long strides towards me. I scooted away reflexively but he held up a hand, stopping me.

 “I’m not going to hurt you.” He said reaching into his pocket he pulled out a neatly folded handkerchief. “Here.” he offered.

I gingerly took it from his outstretched hand and applied it to my mouth. There was a lot more blood than I had expected. He heard my sharp intake of breath and in a blink of an eye he was kneeling in front of me with the handkerchief once again in his hand.
“I’d better do it.”
I started to protest but he ignored me. His touch was gentle. He might have thought I was seriously hurt.
“If gym is this violent, the department of education should probably remove it from our curriculum.” He gave me a quick smile.
“Do you always do this?”
“Do what?”
“Hang around here waiting for bloodied damsels in distress.”
His smile reappeared. “I’m always up for an occasional damsel but I don’t know about the bloodied part.” He shook his head. “But you’d be the first.”
 “First what, damsel or the bloodied part?” my eyes followed his retreating form.
He opened a door - which most likely lead to a staircase. He looked back at me, he wasn’t repelled or disgusted in any sort and with curious eyes he answered.
He left me there on the rooftop with a feeling of light-headedness and a blood-stained handkerchief.
Chapter 3