I was a bigger mess than usual; my hair was an untamable dark beast, and the bags under my eyes were deep purple, making it seem like I hadn’t slept at all, which was odd, considering I had more than eight hours of sleep.
I waited for Robert beside the big red wall that held us in prison. I had called him right at seven with the news. Remembering it now, he didn’t seem like he got much of what I was saying. He was still about ninety percent asleep. I had grabbed my silver cell and went to the only person on my contact list that wasn’t my mom or Rebecca.
“What?” Robert mumbled into the phone when he answered. He sounded like he was still dreaming, which was odd considering we had to be in school in half an hour.
“Robert, it’s me Brianna, I have to tell you about—“
“Of course it’s you.” Robert interrupted, his voice rough from sleep. “Who else calls me but you?”
“Yeah, I know, but now is not the time; I have to show you something about the book. I think I found something.”
“Really,” Robert said. His voice was wide awake now.
“Meet me in the side of the school. Please get there before the bell rings, I don’t want to be late.”
“You got it.” His voice held the excitement I knew he was feeling.
I just hope that Robert honors his agreement and gets here before school starts. There is nothing more awkward than arriving to class late. Everyone’s eyes are always on you when you enter.
I paced back and forth impatiently, looking up every once in a while hoping to see Robert’s messy black hair. I almost gave up and left six minutes later, until I saw Robert running towards me.
“What was it?” Robert asked breathless. He leaned against the wall to catch his breath; his face was flushed red.
“Look.” I opened the book and pointed to the page. His eyes scanned the words before looking up at me.
“Do you know what this means Brianna?” His eyes were full of wonder and something else, recognition?
“Well, it’s how to open a portal right?”
“Exactly.” He grinned, showing his creamy white teeth.
“Yes, but it’s not like we could open one. Did you see what you would have to do? Its barbaric, a ritual straight out of hell.”
“Exactly, a ritual to open hell would have to be hellish itself.” He shrugged like if it was no big deal.
“But its murder.”
“It’s a sacrifice.” He argued. “Totally different than murder.”
“Robert you’re not planning to do it, are you?” I asked warily. It took him a while to answer.
“No.” He said finally, but his eyes held a longing that scared me.
“Can I have the book back?” He asked impatiently. I already knew everything in the book. I didn’t need it anymore. I gave it to him.
He left shortly after, and I used the short walk to class to ponder over what I had read. What Robert did not know was that I had seen it before. The scripture read:
Shadows use the ancient rituals of the heathens to unleash their masters. They must light their path on a darkened night. The blood of a virgin will be spilled between the heat of the fire and her blood will open the gates to the evil underneath.
It was too similar to my dream; my skin crawled with fresh jitters as I recalled the shadow.
I made it to class in a daze. I was too lost in my thoughts, I did not notice the empty chair next to me until I heard Bradley’s voice behind me.
Bradley, my desk partner, was sitting in Daston’s empty chair talking to Derik. I found it strange that he was not sitting in his usual spot. Bradley had sat next to me for half a year, and never had he and Derik talked to each other.
I looked around the room and noticed what all the other girls were thinking. Where would Daston sit? It didn’t seem like Bradley was going to move, he had strapped his backpack to the back of the chair, and his materials were spilled on Daston’s desk.
I knew what was going to happen; they were going to try to sit next to him. My sister made it so that all the seats were taken except for the one next to her. I could see the disappointment in the rest of the girl’s eyes, but she was the queen bee in this hive.
The minutes ticked by, I heard the impatient taps of girl’s fingernails on the table, the grinding of a chair against the tile floor. Finally, when the tardy bell rang everything stopped. It became clear that Daston was not coming; I could hear the girl’s collective groans.
I on the other hand could not care less. My head was already too confused with shadows and portals, I did not have time to be deciphering his weird stares. I took out my notebook and began to doodle in hopes that it would distract me. All I managed to draw was a book before the air around me stilled.
Daston entered class late and handed our teacher a late slip. Mr. Hanna was still taking out his multiple lesson plans from his man bag when he took the slip. I had a strange suspicion that he mixed it in between his many manila folders that held our lectures.
Daston turned to go to his seat. I could practically hear Rebecca bounce on her seat with each step he took. And then the most amazing thing happened. Daston, whose face was always stern it looked like it was permanently molded that way, smiled. His cheeks lifted and the slight dimple on his cheeks became more prominent.
Damn if his smile was not the sexiest thing I had ever seen. I coughed into my hands to hide the lust filled face I was surely making. He was probably smiling at Rebecca anyways. It was every guy’s dream to sit next to her, and Daston did not even have to try.
I looked up into Daston’s smiling face and felt my face burn red. He was not smiling at just anyone, he was smiling at me. He reached my table quickly, his strides long and powerful before he sat down in the empty chair next to mine. My heart gave a nervous flip, and I could feel the daggers the rest of the girls were shooting at me. Nobody thought to take my seat, probably confident on the fact that Daston would not sit there. Especially when the seat next to Rebecca was open.
My cheeks flooded with color and all I could do was sit there like an idiot and stare straight ahead. I felt him lean sideways, and if seeing him smile was a shock what he did next electrocuted me. He spoke, his voice was like melting chocolate and it made me quiver all over.
“A reason you are blushing Brianna.” He asked. His face was back to being serious, but his voice held a slight playfulness to it. I was too shocked by his voice to come up with anything smart to say. Instead, I said something stupid.
“You talk?” Idiot of course he talks, what the hell kind of question was that.
“Brianna.” He tsked. “You know better than that.” It was unsettling how he said my name, like we were old friends.
“Apparently I don’t.” I bit back. “Besides how would you know?” I watched his eyes rake over me before he leaned in closer and signaled with his finger for me to do the same. I didn’t know if I should obey, but my body seemed to have a mind of its own because it quickly did as it was told.
“Brianna.” His cool minty breath washed over me like a waterfall. “What better way is there to pass the time in this dump than to observe someone.” He winked. I could not believe he was openly admitting to watching me—or that he could make something that was supposed to be creepy sexy.
“You observe me?” I should have been freaking out, instead I felt my lips curve up into an involuntary smile.
“Don’t be so egotistical, I never said I observed you.” He licked his full lips before meeting my eyes. “I of course was observing your sister Rebecca.” He stated nonchalantly. As if he didn’t just rip out my last shred of dignity.
Of course, it had to be Rebecca, when is it not her. I held my head high and pretended like it did not affect me. I already had a lot of practice in this area.
He surprised me when he laughed, and it was not even quiet, it was one that echoed throughout the classroom and interrupted the teacher’s lecture. Everyone, including me, looked at Daston in shock.
“Mr. Warwick, do you have something to contribute to this lesson.” Mr. Hanna asked. He too looked baffled at Daston’s outburst, but recovered faster than the students.
“No Mr. Hanna.” Daston responded once his laughing had subsided.
“Then do you think my class is funny. Do you not know that once in here you are to remain silent?” Mr. Hanna stated.
“Yes sir.” Daston said unaffected. “It was just that Brianna here is quite a comedian, isn’t that right Brianna.” He slugged an arm around my shoulders and gripped me tightly. The room went scary silent. The tension was so thick I could almost smell it. I wanted to shake Daston’s arm off, but he gripped my shoulder with a vice, not allowing me to move.
Mr. Hanna went back to the lecture, but I could not care less. I was too concentrated on the arm around my shoulder. My heartbeat faster and I could finally breathe when he let go. I felt the glares on my back more intensely. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and die. But there was one more thing I had to do before I died.
“So, I’m a comedian now.” I smirked.
“Of course,” he glowered. “How could you think I was interested in Rebecca?” He asked. His face had an expression of disgust.
“Because you said so?” I said it more like a question, suddenly unsure.
“No; I said what you believed was true.” He inquired. He gave me a lopsided grin and turned back towards the board. “Besides I have more interesting people to observe than your sister.” He gazed back down at me, and this time, I knew exactly who he was talking about. Me.
“So, I was right.”
“Don’t get cocky, both you and I knew you were right.” His eyes were intense but something in them softened. “You should stop being so unsure of yourself, you are so much more than what everyone else thinks.” He whispered.
I felt something warm and wonderful spread throughout my body, like a spark was ignited with his words. We spent the rest of the class in silence, the hectic assignments kept us busy, but there were times that I swore I could feel his eyes observing me as I worked.
The piercing sound of the bell jolted me out of my oblivion. Daston sped out of the classroom in his usual routine as soon as the bell rang without even telling me goodbye or showing any signs of having talked to me. He was back to being stone faced Daston.
I was actually starting to doubt my sanity; had I even talked to Daston, or did I imagine everything? I watched him walk away. Even with his tall frame he was graceful; his long strides were intimidating and taken with a purpose. He disappeared outside of the classroom.
“Brianna.” Someone yelled in my ear. In my Daston haze it took me a while to realize it was Rebecca. “What were you doing?” She whispered urgently.
“Nothing.” I hissed.
“It didn’t seem like nothing; you were talking to Daston.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me closer. “What did he say? Did he ask about me?” She whispered urgently.
“Wait, why did he put his arm around you?” She asked incredulously, as if barely now remembering. I honestly didn’t have an answer for that.
“Brianna.” She sounded upset now. “Daston mentioned me, right?”
“Yes.” Technically, he did mention her.
“Good.” She said relieved. “I should have seen that he wasn’t going to sit with me, not when he’s shy.” She gathered her glossy hair in her hands and combed it through with her fingertips.
I stood up and gathered my stuff while Rebecca yapped about how anyone would be intimidated by her beauty. I always wanted Rebecca to come talk to me, but now I think fate was mocking me because I wanted nothing more than to be left alone.
I hauled ass out of there as soon as I was free from Rebecca’s clutches. I was just glad that she didn’t ask for any details.
High School was hurriedly becoming interesting, maybe I wasn’t so much of a freak after all.