Authors: Claire Farrell
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Teen & Young Adult, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Paranormal & Fantasy
After school, he trailed behind us as we stroled to the car park, but he didn’t speak to me until the folowing morning after we had al gotten off the bus. He puled me aside and told the others to go on ahead then, when nobody was looking, handed me a brand new packet of hair things. I stared up at him, but he kept messing at his own hair and avoiding my eyes.
“I noticed you seemed a little tormented by the hair thing yesterday so I figured it would be the same today. I thought I’d sneak you some contraband,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. To my horror, real tears formed in my eyes. I started to hug him then realised what I was doing and backed away hastily.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. “I mean, thanks. For this. That’s realy... thoughtful.”
“Maybe people wil leave you alone today. Come on, we’re going to be late for class.”
I ripped the packet open as we walked and puled my hair back into a loose ponytail while he carried my bag. We stepped into the halway, but I noticed his group of friends in the corridor ahead so pre-empted his usual escape. I took my bag and pushed him ahead.
“Go on,” I said with a grin. “And thanks. Seriously.”
He smiled back at me before stopping, his forehead creasing into a frown. “Could you do me a favour and not tel anyone about this? I have a hardcore reputation to maintain here, ya know?” I almost believed him until I saw the laughter in his eyes.
I couldn’t help smirking. “I’l keep your secret, macho man.”
I knew I had a big dopey grin on my face as he walked away, but I couldn’t help it.
Tammie tutted in annoyance when I sat down next to her in class. “Where did you get that from?” she said, pointing at my hair.
“Turns out I have better friends than you,” I said, not able to resist the urge to stick my tongue out at her.
That afternoon, Amelia asked me to keep her company after school while Nathan had a trial footbal training session with the boys in our year. It wasn’t a school team, but they were alowed to use the grounds for training because one of the teachers was their trainer. We wandered up and down the length of the pitch pretending to be interested while the boys showed off in front of Nathan. According to Amelia, they were desperate for him to join the team.
As soon as he started playing, I could see why. He was surprisingly fast and agile—al good things. He seemed a lot more skilful than the others too, running rings around Aaron Hannigan who was wel known as the team’s best player. I wasn’t usualy interested in footbal, but it was kind of cool to watch him effortlessly own the bal.
“Wow, he’s pretty good,” I said.
Amelia nodded. “Yup. Back where we used to live, before he was expeled, he was captain of the school team.” I stared at her, but she didn’t elaborate. I wondered what he had done to get expeled. Maybe schools in England were realy strict.
By the end of the match, Aaron’s face was red with a temper. He was the only one who didn’t praise Nathan.
Nathan ran over to us before he got changed. “Sorry that took so long,” he said, panting, his face flushed from the exercise.
“Looks like Aaron has some competition.” I gestured toward Aaron.
Nathan looked around and saw how unhappy Aaron was for the first time. “He’l get over it. It’s a team game, we al count.”
“So you’re definitely joining them then?” I asked.
He nodded, taking a long drink from a bottle of water his sister handed him. My mobile rang just as he opened his mouth to speak again. It was my Dad. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach; I had forgotten he wasn’t in work and hadn’t told him I’d be home late.
“Perdy, where the hel are you?” I could almost see his frown through the phone.
“Sorry, Dad. I forgot to ring. I’m stil at school. Amelia’s brother was training, so she didn’t want to be left alone out here.”
“You’re supposed to come straight home after school. I’ve been worried sick about you!”
“I said sorry. I forgot you were home.”
“That’s no excuse. You should be home whether I’m here or not.”
“Alright, Dad. I’m on my way.” I hung up with a frustrated tut. “Sorry Amelia, I have to go.”
“Did you get in trouble?” Amelia asked.
“Sort of. My Dad’s strict about stuff. I better go. I’l see you tomorrow. Good luck with the footbal, Nathan.” I hurried away, barely waving goodbye, I was so embarrassed. My Dad had kicked up such a fuss about me being an hour late. I wasn’t that far from my 17th birthday, it was mortifying.
I was so flustered that I walked straight into a man outside the school. “Sorry,” I mumbled, hurrying to the bus stop. It wasn’t until I was on the bus that I realised it was the same red haired man I had seen a couple of times. I had a vague sense of there being something odd about him, but I was too worried about what my Dad was going to say to think about a complete stranger too deeply.
At home, I suffered through a particularly long lecture. Apologising didn’t shorten it at al. Dad was on a rol.
“If I can’t trust you, then how am I supposed to give you more freedom, Perdy? Wel?”
“Dad. I’m sorry. But I was at school. What on earth do you think is going to happen there? There are a lot of bad things I could be doing, but I’m not. Give me a bit of credit, please.”
“Bad things can happen anywhere,” he said sternly. “I want you to be responsible, is that so bad? I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes as....” I held up my hands. “Okay, stop. I’m not like her, so don’t talk to me about her, alright?”
I turned my back on him and ran up to my room, my hands shaking. I was being punished for the mistakes my mother had made. That wasn’t fair. Me staying late at school was nowhere near as bad as her running out on her family. He knew I hated talking about her, so bringing her up in the middle of a lecture was low.
Weeks seemed to fly by. I was stil a bit cool with my Dad, but he dealt with it wel and even stopped ringing me every five minutes whenever I wasn’t in his line of sight. He was trying to make things up with me after our row, but a simple sorry would have been enough. He would never admit when he was in the wrong.
Nathan flitted between our company and the cooler group although he didn’t spend as much time with us as them. His popularity grew, especialy after the footbal team won their first match al year. He had scored, but I wasn’t alowed go. Another reason I wasn’t on the best of terms with my Dad.
Amelia and Joey kept a safe distance from each other on either side of Tammie. It helped when some kids in Amelia’s year began to sit with us occasionaly. Tammie seemed to feel as though the threat was gone. She launched into a ful blown flirtation attempt with Joey. She sometimes seemed frustrated that he hadn’t asked her out yet, but he was definitely thinking of her as a girl. I could see things slowly changing between them.
It’s amazing, but in school, time is exaggerated. Relationships can begin and end in a day. So it wasn’t realy surprising that in a mere three weeks, I had a new best friend in the form of Amelia. We talked every day on the phone and spent lunch times together, plus we met up during the day between classes quite a bit. We couldn’t realy talk about boys together—after al, I could hardly go on about how hot her older brother was, but other than that, we were realy comfortable around each other.
Nathan, on the other hand, seemed as uncomfortable around me as I was around him, so I was surprised when he sat next to me in art class one Friday afternoon.
Tammie doesn’t take the class, and I like to sit alone in the smaler section of the L shaped room because art is my favourite class with my favourite teacher. She’s always encouraging me and entering my work into competitions.
Her favourite piece was one which focused on a certain pair of eyes, so I was a little flustered when the owner of said eyes sat next to me before the class even began.
Art was straight after lunch, so I tended to get in a little extra time by giving up some of my lunch. I was so focused that I didn’t even hear the door opening.
“Hey, you busy?” Nathan said, coming up behind me.
“Erm, not exactly, you looking for Amelia? She should be in the lunch room.”
“Yeah, I know. She told me you’d be here. I wanted to know if it would be okay if I joined you in this class. It’s my weakest subject and the word is you’re a bit of a prodigy, so maybe you could give me some tips or something? I’m not good with this whole thing,” he said, waving his arms around vaguely.
He started to back away. “It’s okay, you’re busy. I’l see you later.”
“No, no.” I waved him back over. “It’s cool. I was just surprised is al. Nobody cares about art around here apart from me.” I tried to look as welcoming as possible while at the same time hide any of my artwork involving eyes that even slightly resembled his.
He sat down next to me and puled a sheet of paper toward him. It was a rough sketch I had been working on of a dark forest which let in smal shards of light between the trees.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“This is going to sound stupid, I know, but my family have been talking about decorating and letting me do whatever with my room. I’ve always wanted to do a big mural behind my bed, so I figured I’d do my favourite sort of picture. Something like this. I like nature scenes, you know, forests and stuff? I don’t know, it’s just you can be alone but never completely alone because there’s so much life there.”
“That’s cool,” he said.
“Not realy. But it’l be mine, you know?”
He nodded, flicking through one of my old sketch pads. “You’re realy good.”
“Not yet. But if I keep working at it then maybe one day I wil be. Hopefuly. It’s the only thing I like so....” My voice trailed off as I realised I hadn’t shut up talking since he sat down. He was a good listener though, he didn’t interrupt.
I stiffened when I realised he had stopped at a sketch of a pair of eyes barely visible in a forest setting.
“What’s this one about?” he asked, his face serious. I squirmed in my seat.
“Um, I have these dreams, so I sketch them. It’s nothing, just forget it.”
He put the pad down and looked me straight in the eye, his expression so serious my skin prickled in anticipation.
“I can’t forget it. I have dreams too.” He looked at me so seriously that I wasn’t sure what to say. I didn’t know exactly what he meant, and I was afraid to ask. I felt like we were on the edge of something and about to jump off. I opened my mouth, but no words came out.
The art teacher breezed into the room at the right moment and chatted to us before setting up. By the time the bel rang and the rest of the class filtered into the room, we were back to being slightly comfortable.
Nathan had been right about one thing—he was realy bad at art, drawing in particular. I couldn’t resist teasing his exceptionaly lame efforts.
“Hey, leave it out. We can’t al be the secret love child of Picasso and Da Vinci.” He looked at his artwork and sighed before crumpling it up.
“Ah, you’re not completely hopeless,” I told him. “You’l never be as good as me, obviously, but drawing is a skil. You can get better at it.”
you keep your head from inflating?” he said with a good natured grin.
I looked at him sideways, not taking him seriously, but certainly feeling pleased with myself. We ended up talking for most of the double class. He told me about some of the places he had lived, and I oohed and aahed at the right parts. It was kind of hard to focus when I was so intent on staring at him, but I told him al about my favourite artists and some of the competitions I had entered. He was also good at oohing and aahing at the right parts.
It was amazingly easy to talk to Nathan when I wasn’t worried about looking stupid in front of him or anyone else for that matter. Usualy I had trouble looking people in the eye, but after a while, I was as comfortable with Nathan as I was with Amelia. I liked the sound of his voice, I liked how he looked; I even liked how he smeled.
Apart from al that, he was a realy decent person. Fun and witty, he wasn’t mean, and he didn’t badmouth anyone. I would have liked him even if he wasn’t good looking—which made me feel better because I had been worrying about being shalow.
I ended up getting my hands plastered with paint as I re-worked one of my larger pieces. An annoyingly fuzzy lock of hair made its way out of my ponytail and decided to bounce around in front of my face. I blew at it ineffectively a few times before Nathan took pity on me.
Giving an exaggerated sigh, he brushed it back behind my ear, gently grazing my skin with his finger. Once again, I felt a spark of heat, almost like a shock of energy. I gave a little gasp.
“Shit,” he muttered, puling his hand back.
“Did you feel that too?” I asked in surprise. My ear felt like it had been held against a hot water bottle; it didn’t hurt, but I could stil feel the heat from his touch. There was something realy odd about Nathan Evans.
Fear seemed to flit across his features, but then there was a new look on his face, something I’d never seen before. A flicker of emotion darkened his eyes, an element of wildness that gave me goose bumps. His pupils dilated al of a sudden, somehow making him look less human.
It was like some mystery was unraveling. I was remembering something, kind of like déjà vu, but not exactly. I couldn’t explain it because it wasn’t like anything else I had ever experienced—I
how different everything was around Nathan.
He shook his head as if to gather his thoughts. He began to speak, his hand on my knee again, but Abbi interrupted him by sitting on the edge of the desk. Nathan hesitated, his cheeks flushed, then turned his back to me and spent the rest of the class flirting with Abbi.
More annoyed by the minute, every irritatingly false laugh cut through me. Grinding my teeth, I waited for the bel to ring. It dawned on me he had probably only sat with me because he thought I would do his work for him.
What a user!
I left the room after class, before he even stood up, feeling disappointed. I had convinced myself he liked me too from the way he was acting, so weird and enigmatic yet lovely and charming. I probably wasn’t even on his radar. I was setting myself up for a fal believing anything different.