Read Verity Online

Authors: Claire Farrell

Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Teen & Young Adult, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Paranormal & Fantasy

Verity (12 page)

BOOK: Verity
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Lia came back into the room folowed by Byron and the now clean Nathan. Lia and Jakob carried the conversation, I was happy to eat and listen. It was strange to sit there with another family. My family rarely ate together, and even when we did, we didn’t exactly chat like Amelia and her grandparents.

Lia and Jakob clearly idolised Amelia. They hung on to her every word and looked at her as if she was their most precious possession. I could see why she was so upset when anyone was mean to her, she hadn’t heard a bad word at home. Byron ate quickly and excused himself, saying he had to work. He was another Evans male who was hard to figure out.

“He works very hard,” Lia said to me, as if to excuse him. He wasn’t rude or anything, but the contrast between himself and his own parents was dramatic.

“So, Perdita, you are in the same year as Nathan, yes?” Jakob asked me.

I nodded. Jakob seemed delighted.

“And what is he realy like in class?” he said.

“Same as right now, realy,” I replied. They al chuckled except for Nathan who lifted his head to glare at me.

“And my granddaughter, is she as bratty as her brother likes to make out?”

I shook my head. “Not even a little bit. She acts like, wel, you and your wife pretty much.”

Jakob seemed pleased with that answer. “Ah, I must thank you, too. For making sure my girl came home safely last night.”

“No problem. It’s pretty safe around here though.”

“That’s partly why we decided to move here,” Lia informed me. “Amelia tels us you live with your grandmother, too?”

“Yeah, and my Dad.”

“He is a doctor, yes?” Jakob said.

“Yes. He works in the local hospital.”

“Enough questions,” Amelia said, yawning with boredom. “Can’t we go listen to music or something?”

can’t, it’s your turn to wash up,” Lia reminded her.

“I’l help,” I offered.

“No, guests don’t help! Nathan, take Perdita into the living room while she waits for Amelia, please,” Lia said.

He hesitated long enough for me to expect him to refuse, but he eventualy stood up and gestured for me to folow. It was as if he was grumpy that I was in his home. I was starting to think he was pretty rude. Yet again he had done a complete 180 compared to the night before.

The living room was large and bright, not much furniture, but what was there was attractive yet comfortable looking. They had a huge flat screen television on the wal.

Nathan picked up a remote and stood there, flicking through channels.

“Sit anywhere,” he said. I chose the corner of a large sofa. It was squishier than it looked. He sat at the other end of the same chair, stil messing with the television. It was altogether too awkward. I opened and closed a button on my cardigan repeatedly, not quite knowing what to do. I prayed that Amelia would hurry up, but she took ages. We sat in silence for so long that I wondered if he had an evil twin who kept charming me.

“Did Joey walk you home last night?”

I shook my head. “I left them at Tammie’s.”

“They should have walked you.”

I shrugged. I
gotten a bit freaked out the night before while I was alone, but that was a one off. I didn’t need to be walked to my door because of it.

“You don’t have to sit here, you know,” I told him. His cheeks flushed a little.

“I don’t mind.”

I smiled at that. He was right on the edge of the chair, fidgeting. The epitome of the word uncomfortable.

“Yeah, I can see that,” I said. He looked down at himself and made a visible effort to relax.

“Sorry,” he blurted out. “It’s just... weird seeing you here. I didn’t know you were coming over.”

“Amelia rang me and asked me to come over because I was at home alone. She said we’d stay in her room, so I said okay. Sorry to, like, disturb you and al.” He raised his hands in protest. “No, that’s not what I meant, I was just surprised. Nothing bad.”

“Yeah, sure,” I said, roling my eyes.

As soon as Amelia came to get me, Nathan disappeared. Amelia and I headed outside to a pair of old swings in the long back garden. King folowed us out and sat close to us. The fences around the neighbouring gardens were al gone so there was one huge strip of land outside their home. As al of the other houses were empty, Amelia’s family had it al to themselves.

“This is kind of cool,” I told her, swinging like a little kid. “Al of this space to yourselves.”

“It’s more creepy than cool,” she admitted. “Especialy at night.”

“Your brother doesn’t seem impressed that I’m here,” I said, hoping she would contradict me.

“Don’t mind him, he’s always grumpy,” she said.

I lay back and watched the clouds, swinging gently al the time. I forgot Amelia was there and started humming to myself.

“Here he is now,” Amelia said, and I jerked upright with a fright, grabbing the rope to help keep my balance. Nathan approached us almost sheepishly, his hands in his pockets. He stood by Amelia’s swing and looked at the sleeping dog on the ground next to me.

“What do you want?” Amelia said tartly.

He shrugged. “King,” he caled. King opened one sleepy eye and then completely ignored Nathan.

“What a great dog,” I said with a smile and began to swing again.

“Stupid animal.” Nathan shook his head. “He’s supposed to be a guard dog, and he goes asleep at a stranger’s feet.”

“Dogs are a better judge of character than humans are, I’l have you know,” I said.

Amelia stuck her tongue out at Nathan. “She’s not a stranger, Nathan. You know that better than anyone.” A flash of anger clouded Nathan’s features but passed just as quickly. Amelia gave him a strange, smug look. Once again, I felt like I was missing something.

“Yeah, wel, Cúchulain wouldn’t be that easy to get by.”

Out of nowhere he put his little fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. I jumped in fright, almost faling off the swing.

“What the hel? Warn people before you do that right next to them!”

“Sorry,” he said, laughing as something came racing toward us with a bark. Cúchulain turned out to be another wolfhound, even larger than King. This one was fawn coloured, a beautiful looking dog with eyes that were wilder than King’s. He watched me warily for a few seconds. Sniffing the air, he stalked over to me and let me pet him. Nathan’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Did that just happen?” he asked Amelia who was in a fit of laughter at his face. “What are you doing to my dogs?” he said to me, but he looked kind of pleased.

“They’re just clever puppies, aren’t you Cúchulain, oh yes you are,” I gushed. “Great name by the way.”

“Our grandparents lived in Ireland before. They like the old myths and legends,” Amelia said.

“Hit me, see what he does.” Nathan came closer and patted his jaw.

“Nathan!” Amelia sounded horrified.

“I won’t let him hurt her. I just want to see what he does.”

I moved my arm to thump his while he was distracted by Amelia, but he grabbed my wrist without even looking around.

“Ouch,” I hissed. Cúchulain gave a low growl, but he wasn’t directing it at me, he was warning Nathan to let go.

“Sorry,” he said, quickly letting go of my wrist. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

As soon as he let go, Cúchulain settled down again. Nathan stared at me like I was a complete freak of nature. Amelia jumped off her swing.

“I have to tel Opa about Cúchulain, he’l never believe me!”

She ran toward the house, looking as if she might burst with excitement. I rubbed my wrist absent-mindedly, wondering how he had caught my arm so quickly without looking.

“Are you okay?” Nathan asked in concern. “I’m sorry, I can’t get used to....” His voice trailed off.

“Used to what?” I asked, curious.

“Nothing. I just... I realy didn’t mean to grab you. It was reflexes or something.”

“It’s fine.”

Nathan took my arm, gently this time. He peered at the tiny red mark with a worried look on his face.

“Seriously, it’s fine now,” I reassured him. He stroked the inside of my wrist with his thumb, al the while looking from me to his dogs.

“That was too weird,” he said. “He’s never acted like that with me before.”

“He just got a fright or something. Joey’s dog gets al jumpy whenever Tammie laughs. Um... Nathan?” I gestured toward my wrist with my free hand.

“Oh. Sorry,” he said, letting go. He clenched his fists, stretching out his fingers and then closing them again. “I’m glad you came over,” he said at last. “Even if you did turn my dogs against me.”

Amelia returned with her grandparents. Lia scolded Nathan for wanting to test out the dog’s reactions on me, but she didn’t sound surprised at al.

“I warned you,” she said under her breath, but I heard her.

A family row seemed to be building up, so I stood and told them I should get going.

They turned their attention to me then, al except Nathan, who seemed quite relieved. I explained why I had to go, but they didn’t seem to get it.

“He’s realy strict Opa, she’l get into trouble if she stays,” Nathan said at last.

“Okay,” Jakob conceded. “But Nathan wil walk you home. I would not like my girl walking the streets alone.”

“It’s okay; it’s safe here. I promise, there’s no need for anyone to take me home.” I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or annoyed by how little confidence adults had in my ability to take care of myself.

“It’s alright,” Nathan said. “I’l take Cúchulain with me for a walk, he needs the exercise. It’s no hassle, Perdita.” They al insisted then. I found it difficult to say no to so many people at the same time, so I ended up agreeing just to make them happy.

“Don’t worry,” Nathan whispered to me as we left. “If you want me to go, I wil, but they won’t let you leave until they get their own way, trust me.” I nodded, waving goodbye to the others. Nathan had Cúchulain on a lead, but the dog was so big that I didn’t think a lead would stop him if he decided to run off.

“I’m bringing him for a walk anyway, so I might as wel see you home,” Nathan said after a moment of silence. “If you realy don’t want me to, I can go a different way, but it’s no problem for me, okay?”

I nodded; even though he blew hot and cold, I liked being around him, so I wasn’t going to remind him he had already taken the dog for a walk. Cúchulain sniffed at everything, but he was pretty obedient, he didn’t even pul on the lead.

“I want my dog to be like that,” I said, half to myself.

“Like what?”

“Wel trained like that. He’s very good.”

“Are you getting a dog?”

“Maybe. Joey’s dog is supposed to be having a litter. They said I can have one.”

“I could help you train it if you liked.”

That made me smile. “Thanks, but you’l probably be gone by the time I have a dog.”

“Why’s that?”

“Oh,” I said, blushing. “I just meant that you move around a lot, so Amelia said, and Doly may not even be expecting this time, so you might have moved on by the time she has a pup.”

“We’re not planning on moving, but if we’re here—and you want help that is—I could show you some stuff, give you tips or something. Whenever.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks.”

Cúchulain acted up as we passed the woods. The hackles on the back of his neck stood up, and he gave a low growl. I looked around and frowned, seeing an al too familiar red-haired figure across the road. If I didn’t know better, I would think the man was folowing me. Nathan nudged me. Distracted, I realised he had been speaking to me.

“Sorry, what?”

“I said, it was probably just a rabbit or mouse or something.”

“Oh, right, poor mouse wouldn’t stand a chance against your monster dog.”

“Wolfhounds aren’t realy aggressive. Just tal.”

“I’ve seen taler,” I said, remembering the night before.

“Yeah, right,” he scoffed.

“Realy, last night I saw a huge scruffy thing outside my house. Looked way bigger than Cúchulain here.” Nathan frowned. “That’s odd.”

“Not realy,” I said, but my gut was clenched with tension because a whole lot of things felt odd to me.

Cúchulain gave a little yelp and dashed off, puling Nathan around in a circle. I tried not to laugh as he untangled himself from the lead. He swore at the dog, but his laughter ruined the effect.

“So, are you going to the party next weekend?” he asked.

“Erm, I don’t usualy get invited to parties,” I said with a smal laugh.

“Oh,” he said, frowning. “I’m pretty sure Aaron said he was going to invite you.”

“Aaron? We’re not friends.”

“So? Maybe he likes you. Is that a bad thing?” He looked at me with an interest that confused me.

“Aaron Hannigan doesn’t like girls. He likes trying to get girls to like him. And he is so not interested in me. Never has been, never wil be, and vice versa.” Nathan smiled. “So you’re best buddies then.”

“I don’t think you get what things are like around here. If he’s nice to me, it’s because I’m friends with your sister. That’s al. He would have never been caught dead in the cinema with any of us before you arrived.”


“Because we’re the freaks. We’re not popular. Get it?” I laughed.

“Wel, I think you’re cool,” he said with a wink.

“You have to be nice to your little sister’s friend. Or she’l rat on you,” I teased.

“I’m not scared of her. She
a bit of a brat by the way.”

I smacked his arm. “She is not! She’s lovely.”

He grabbed my waist and squeezed, managing to get a ticklish part. I squirmed away, laughing. He reached for me again, but I skipped out of his way.

For an instant, I forgot al about the way he sometimes acted and enjoyed being around him. When it was just us, everything was cool.

As if she could sense my momentary happiness, Dawn turned the corner ahead of us, accompanied by Abbi. I couldn’t help groaning. Nathan grinned at me in amusement. Dawn hurried toward us when she saw him, managing to give me one of her trademark sneers along the way.

“Hey, Nate,” she said, overly chirpy. She was never like that when he wasn’t around. “Whatcha doing? Babysitting?” I scowled at her, but it slid off my face as soon as Nathan casualy draped his arm around my shoulder. Abbi tried not to laugh.

BOOK: Verity
6.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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