“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”