Authors: Claire Farrell
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Teen & Young Adult, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Paranormal & Fantasy
We al took our seats before the trailers had even started. Tammie insisted we sit right at the back. She also made sure she and Joey sat next to each other. Amelia folowed, but Aaron pushed past me to sit between us. Nathan sat on the other side of me. Amelia looked around Aaron with the most panicked look I had ever seen, so I bit the bulet and spoke to Nathan. I leaned in close, so I could whisper without Aaron hearing me.
“I’d swap with Amelia if I was you. So she doesn’t have to sit beside
“What about you?”
“Who would you rather he sat next to, me or your sister? Move.”
His eyes softened, and for that second, I seriously believed Amelia had been right, and he realy did like me.
“I’ve a better idea,” he whispered back. “How about I swap with you and make out like I have to tel Aaron something, and then you could cal Amelia over to you like you have something important to tel her. The lights wil go out, and Amelia won’t bother switching back.”
“Evans, that is a fabulous idea.”
“Rivers, I know.”
He made a show of asking me to swap for a minute. While he distracted Aaron, I threw a piece of popcorn at Amelia and beckoned her over. She sat next to me, looking relieved.
“What’s up?” she said.
“Your brother’s idea,” I said. “Want to sit next to him now?”
“No, thanks, you’re both fine where you are,” she said with a smirk. “Thanks by the way. I
didn’t want to sit beside Aaron or those other two.”
“Something is definitely rumbling over there.”
I glanced over at my cousin and friend and saw them sitting particularly close together.
The lights went down as the trailers started. Nathan leaned across me to ask if Amelia was okay. She nodded and waved him away, suspiciously engrossed by the ads. Nathan raised his eyebrows quizzicaly.
“Is she okay?” he whispered to me. I nodded in reply, stil quite mad at him despite his briliant plan.
okay?” he persisted. I glared back at him.
“Why are you mad at me?” he said, after a minute.
I could hardly tel him.
“I’m not mad,” I hissed back.
“You look nice.”
I shot him a nasty look. He ruined the effect by grinning back at me. I decided to ignore him. It was more difficult than I imagined. His arm tipped off mine so many times that it couldn’t be accidental.
“Stop nudging me!”
“Stop ignoring me.”
He turned in his seat to face me. “Why are you mad at me?”
“I’m not mad at you. I don’t even know you. We’re not friends, therefore I cannot possibly be mad at you.” Even in the dark, I could see he was grinning at me. It was tremendously exasperating. Even more so when he leaned across me to speak to his sister.
“Amelia, why is
friend mad at me?”
She stared back at him. “Because
He sat back in his chair with a sigh. I had completely lost the plot of the film by then.
“If I don’t know what I’m doing to annoy you, then I can’t stop doing it, can I? So tel me.”
I heaved an aggravated sigh. “Okay, fine. You’re acting like you’re mentaly unbalanced or something. One minute you act like you don’t know me, next minute you act like we’re friends, the next like we’re... something else and then, oh, look, you’re back to not knowing me again. I do
like it. So pick one, and leave me out of the rest. I don’t appreciate being used to suit your mental mood swings.” I sat back in my seat, sort of liberated I had said my piece, sort of mortified I had been so outspoken (for me) about it.
He was quiet for ages, so I figured he got the hint. But eventualy, he leaned toward me again.
“I’m sorry, Perdita,” he said, so softly I barely heard him. He patted my arm once or twice and then left me alone for the rest of the film. For some reason I was even more aware of his presence than before. Even when his hand was inches away from mine, my fingers pulsed and itched like they wanted to touch him.
I didn’t have much experience with boys. None, actualy. But he was complicated even for a boy. I didn’t get him, nor did I understand his motives. He didn’t act like anyone else I knew. I was completely and utterly confused and yet intrigued by him. Whatever he was playing at kept me interested. He looked at me like he was drawn to me too.
Nathan caught my eye and held my gaze a little too long. He leaned toward me, and for a split second, I felt sure he was going to kiss me. Before my heart even had the chance to race, I noticed people stirring in their seats. The end credits were roling, and I hadn’t watched fifteen minutes of the film. Nathan looked bewildered at the sudden movement and backed off, so I knew he hadn’t been paying attention either.
“Great film,” I said.
“Um, yeah, wasn’t it? What was it about again?”
He grinned at me, and I couldn’t help smiling back. Aaron stood and waited for us to move. Tammie and Joey stil hadn’t noticed the film was over, they were so absorbed in each other.
“Bucket of cold water,” Amelia suggested, seeing my hesitation. “Only way they’l notice we’re going.” Aaron solved the problem by clicking his fingers in front of their faces. They both blinked in surprise before it dawned on them the film was over. Looking sheepish, they folowed us out. Our film had finished first, so it seemed polite to hang around with Aaron and Nathan while they waited for their friends. Nathan and I stood as close together as possible without actualy touching.
Tension fissured the space between us every time he looked at me, but we didn’t say a word.
The first batch of people finaly trickled out of the screen-room. Among them was my father, holding the hand of a young blonde woman. I stepped toward him in shock, completely forgetting I was supposed to be at home.
His whole face flushed red. “Uh, Perdy,” he stuttered before getting his act together and becoming al Dad-like. “What are you doing here? I thought you were watching a film at home.”
“And I thought you were working,” I accused, hoping to deflect attention away from me. Dad glanced at his lady friend with guilty eyes.
“This is my friend, Erin. I, uh, I thought I was working tonight but they, uh, didn’t need me in.” His eyes darted around shiftily. His ‘friend’ held out her hand to shake mine.
“Hi, Erin. Dad, don’t lie. Why didn’t you just tel the truth?” I wasn’t sure if I was icked out or amused by the whole thing.
“And what about trusting you to do the right thing?” he replied in a sterner tone.
Erin looked surprised. She had obviously only met nice, charming Dad. Now she was being introduced to the rule maniac.
“Gran gave me permission. Besides, I’m only at the cinema.”
“With boys.” He said it as though they were disease carrying monsters.
“Eh, no. Not with boys. I came with Joey, Tammie and Amelia, actualy. Joey doesn’t count as a boy. The others just happened to be at the cinema too, they’re only standing here waiting on their other friends. This is Amelia by the way. And that’s her brother so... so it’s legit.” My voice had risen a little with desperation. I didn’t want to get into trouble in public.
Dad gave me a look that said who are you kidding, but he shook Amelia’s hand nonetheless. He looked Nathan up and down a couple of times before he shook his.
Nathan looked my father right in the eye and even spoke to him. I was majorly impressed, especialy considering Aaron had run off and hidden in the toilets as soon as my Dad opened his mouth. Even Joey had backed away and half hidden himself behind a tal plastic fern.
“Sorry, sir. Perdita would be on her way home by now, but we wanted to wait until the others were finished so we could make sure everyone got home safely.” Disgustingly smooth.
Most parents can’t resist a responsible line about getting everyone home okay, and apparently, my Dad was no different.
“Oh, wel, take your time then Perdy. Of course. Nathan, is it? I’m holding you responsible for everyone here. Wel, uh, we’re off. I’l see you at home later on, okay?” He gave me a quick hug before dragging Erin away. She waved goodbye to us al.
I whirled around to face Nathan. “What the hel did you do? Hypnotise him? Tammie, did you just see that? My Dad was al... reasonable!”
“Wow.” Tammie looked impressed. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Perdy, he told you to take your time.” She burst into fits of giggles. Amelia and Nathan didn’t get it, but my Dad
said anything like that. Then again, he had never been reasoned with before either.
“Is he realy that strict?” Nathan sounded doubtful.
“Um, understatement,” Tammie scoffed.
“I’m not usualy alowed out when it’s dark or late or when he’s working or, like, ever. My Gran persuaded me to go out tonight, so he didn’t know. Usualy he would flip out at something like that. He must have been trying to impress his lady friend,” I said.
“Yeah, that was weird. Since when does your Dad go on dates?” Tammie made a face.
“Who knows? Wait until I tel Gran, I’m surprised he didn’t beg me not to.”
The others wandered over, and Dawn managed to find the time to throw me the evil eye. A perfect reminder of how things were meant to be.
“Anyway,” I said, directly at Nathan but loud enough for the rest to hear. “We’l make sure Amelia gets home okay.”
“Good idea,” Dawn said, slithering up beside Nathan like she was going to lick him or something.
“Nah, I’l go with Amelia, once the rest of you are al back at home safe,” he said.
“It’s fine. Just do whatever you would have been doing if we didn’t turn up; she’l be safe with us. Joey, Tammie, you ready?” My friends gathered around me, half-heartedly saying goodbye to the others. Nathan hesitated for a few seconds before letting us go.
“Bus or taxi?” I asked outside.
“Taxi is safer,” Joey said.
“Yeah, but the bus is cheaper,” Tammie argued.
Tammie won. We got off near Amelia’s house and stood outside her driveway until she went inside. I saw a dark haired man watch us from an upstairs window.
Amelia’s family were al kinds of strange.
As we walked to Tammie’s house, my cousin and friend made eyes at each other, so I told them I was heading on by myself. They made an unenthusiastic attempt to stop me, but I insisted, so they went back to paying attention to each other.
I wasn’t far from my own house. I had made the journey a milion times, not once had I been afraid. This was different. Something about the night kept the goose bumps raised on my arms. I instinctively looked behind me every few yards, convinced someone was there. I couldn’t hear footsteps, but I didn’t feel alone. The wind made strange whispers and howls; unexplainable shadows darted across my path, and my imagination ran wild.
Dark clouds swept across the moon. A streetlamp flickered on and off, unnerving me. Shivering, I crossed my arms, almost feeling like I had to guard myself.
The walk seemed to last an eternity. My pace quickened along with my anxiety. A couple of times, I thought I heard a dog padding along behind me, but every time I looked around, there was nothing to be seen. I had my keys out before I even reached my house, but I worked myself up into such a panic that I couldn’t fit the key in the lock.
My heart pounded in my ears, fooling me into hearing scarier noises. I pressed the doorbel urgently and backed up against the door, staring out into the dark. A black shadow in the distance seemed to bolt toward me. I fel backward as the door opened behind me.
I pushed Gran in and slammed the door. Gripping her arm, I closed my eyes and released a long sigh of relief, feeling completely safe. Nothing was after me, and I was too old to get spooked by the dark.
“Are you okay?” She looked me over with concern.
I laughed out loud, feeling sily. “Oh, don’t mind me, just scaring myself. Is Dad back yet?”
“No, not yet. You’re safe.”
“He saw me already. You’l never guess what happened; he wasn’t at work at al, and he was on a
in the cinema with some woman.”
“Realy? Was she pretty?”
“Yeah, actualy,” I said, remembering. “Pretty, young, blonde. Hey, is Dad going through a mid-life crisis?” I forgot al about how scared I had been outside as I scandalised my grandmother with tales of my straitlaced Dad’s deceit. We tried to wait up for him to get some gossip, but he stayed out too late, and we were already tired. Before I went to bed, I glanced out of the window and was almost certain I saw a huge dog run up the road. Except it was so big, I found it hard to believe it was just a dog. I stayed at the window for ages hoping to see it again.
That night, I dreamt that a gang of gigantic, wild dogs were chasing me, but a boy with lovely brown eyes came and sent them away. As far as dreams went, it wasn’t too bad.
The next morning I got up bright and early, feeling thoroughly refreshed. I went outside to get our Sunday papers while Gran and Dad finished their breakfast. Instead of the papers, I found something else. I gave a little shriek that sent Dad and Gran running outside after me. A dead tabby cat, its eyes wide open and glazed over, lay on our doorstep.
“Sorry,” I said. “I just got a fright.”
“Oh, the poor thing,” Gran said. “It must have lain there to die during the night.”
Dad leaned over, his forehead creasing into a deep frown as he peered at the cat. Straightening his back, he nudged the cat with his foot. A slight movement was al it took for me to realise it hadn’t picked our doorstep to die on. Before Dad could push us back inside, I saw the animal’s insides spil out from the gaping hole in its torso. Blood drops trailed from our gate to our front door. Feeling sick, I backed into the house with Gran who was more than a little shaken judging by the paleness of her cheeks. I made her a cup of coffee while Dad disposed of the body and cleaned up outside.
“What happened to it?” Gran asked when he came back inside.
His face was grim. “It looks like some sort of animal ripped open its stomach and then carried it to our door, for some reason. I don’t know how it did it so neatly.”