Chloe's Story Even More !!

Prologue

Layla
The thirst, it was controlling me, overpowering my true self, well, half self at the very least. That’s the problem with being me, my thirst is uncontrollable, and I had to have blood, especially at night. The stars in the sky indicated that it was time to eat, breakfast for me, dinner for the mortals. I was running at a speed of a cheetah, smelling blood in the air, north, towards the mountains. I could also smell the wretched human food I sometimes eat and a weird floral smell; the smell of my mom’s old perfume, not that it mattered. My mom was dead, murdered by her own kind, the stupid humans. Whereas my father, he went missing at least a year after Mom died, leaving me with the stupid, selfish mortals, Leah and Martin. Leah and Martin were my parents’ best friends, having been married two years after my parents had been. In addition, unfortunately, they had annoying children, Timothy and Jeremy, their twin sons. Crack. The sound startled me. I stopped, leaving clouds of dirt around me. I sniffed the air, and I smelled human blood. I turned, only to find a human woman standing, eyes wide, at me. I growled flashing my fangs in her direction. She flinched, her hair seeming to flinch as well. I couldn’t recognize her, maybe it was because I was out of the country. Probably in southern Canada, I ran searching for my original prey, my usual hunting area. I saw it. My prey, it was a human. I ran behind the tree. The human turned, facing the tree I was behind. A bad choice, to see the predator that is to kill you. Especially, since I am what I am. It turned back around, I ran out from behind the tree, lunging straight for the throat. The blood tasted delicious, as yummy as humans eating on the day of thanks. That turkey, but no, human blood tastes better. I inhaled the scent of the blood. It smelled, so… magnificent. I finished, pulling the corpse to its burial. It would be reported in the morning, like all the others: “A human went missing last night due to unknown circumstances.”

The news would always say, sometimes I’m not the only one. Sometimes there is more than one human missing. Then the next day they’d find the bodies, dead. There would be a service and life goes on. For everyone else at least. My life is over, I’m dead. Or at least I’m supposed to be. Even if I’m half human, I still should be dead. Oh well, life goes on.

Chapter 1 Bringing Back the Dead

Layla

“Layla, if you’re aren’t off that bed in three minutes, you’re walking to school!” Leah screamed. It was hard to adjust to a half-human lifestyle. Leah and Martin know what I am, and my conditions. My only being able to last so-and-so hours in sunlight, that’s why I’m able to go to school. Only school. Homework was easy, with my lightning fast speed, I could finish in minutes. I jumped off my bed, sending a miniature tremor throughout my room. Although, my room was only my bed shoved against the wall, a closet, a mirror (which I never even dare look at), some posters, and a door. My room could barely even fit me; I’d have fared better in the attic. The best part about my room is that there are no windows. No sun to shine through in the morning, at dawn to waste my small limit of time. I dashed through my room looking for my Converse. I hated being a girl, sometimes. Being female is so… exhausting, I mean always having to look presentable and crap like that. Boys on the other hand have life easy. They can look like a complete slob and it’s okay. I ran to the bathroom searching for my “teeth.” I use these teeth to hide my fangs, so nobody will be all, “Oh, cool teeth. Can I see?” and then they get closer and I have no choice but to… bite. “One more minute, Layla! You had better be dow-“she paused mid-sentence, seeing me coming down the stairs. Leah had apparently gotten a haircut because she used to have long, silky blonde hair with smooth heavy bangs, but now she had short hair with a side that sort of flips out, showing off her dazzling jade colored eyes; she was pretty for a human but still like the others. Terrible, selfish, cruel, annoying… Then again, I’m worse aren’t I?

When I got to my new school, the hallways were crowded with teenagers. Most were intimidating, others… not so much. The walls on either side of the room, had lockers in front of them. Of course. As I was walking to the office to get my class schedule and such, a person bumped into me. We fell to the floor- well, technically, he fell I just fell so it didn’t appear as if I pushed him down- and he got up, ran his fingers through his spiky blonde hair, and held out his hand. “Hello, need any help?” the kind boy asked, keeping his hand out to me. I stood up, shook my head and walked away. I wanted nothing to do with these mortals. He was dumbfounded. Usually humans had two choices to that you either A)say no and get up or B) say yes, get up, and start a conversation, but I chose C) ignore and walk away. I caught a glimpse of him as I walked away, his hazel eyes were staring in my direction. The boy ran to catch up to me. “Hey there, name’s Tristan. And you are?” he introduced himself. He seemed kind but I didn’t want to waste my time. “You know, it would be nice if you at least said hi,” he grouched. I rolled my eyes, the boy was foolish. Why was he talking to me? Oh right, they all want to be your friend until they find out you’re a blood-sucking parasite, with super senses, super strength and speed, oh, and how could I forget? Fangs the size of their pinky. Tristan continued to follow me. I didn’t slow my pace and he didn’t increase his. I turned the corner, opened the door and barged right into the office. “Quite an entrance, there, young lady,” one of the secretaries muttered. She seemed like the snobby type with her tomato red hair in that bun. “I guess so,” I agreed, “My name is Layla Fall, I’m here for my class schedule list, locker number, and combination.” “All right,” it looked like she was just picking up random papers, she handed them to me, they were all mine, and “Now scurry onto class, wouldn’t want to be late on your first day, would you?” she coughed. I ‘scurried’ out only to find that the same blonde-haired person, hazel eyed boy, standing in front of me. How witless are male humans? I continued to ignore the boy, but he continued to stalk me. If he weren’t careful, later on today, I would hunt him, leaving only his clothes remaining. As I did for the office, I barged into my homeroom, Math, I think. The desks were filled and the boy – Tristan, I think- came in, and got into the last seat.

“Why, hello, you must be our newest student. Class meet Layla Fall,” the chubby grey haired teacher announced to the classroom, “Layla, we will find you a desk soon enough, now would you please take that seat, in the back, near Dawn Bilson. Dawn, raise your hand to indicate where you are.” A small, petite girl with broad shoulders, and chocolate colored hair pulled back into a ponytail, put her hand in the air. The girl didn’t appear as a freshman, she looked more like a small eighth-grader. I trudged to my desk, I caught a glimpse of the small girl, and whose name was Dawn. She appeared excited, like she couldn’t wait for class to start, though I can’t imagine why. I couldn’t wait for class to end; she was already my complete opposite. As the teacher droned on and on about stuff I already knew, I stared out the window. I could see the particles in the air, flowing with the wind. The trees swaying, nature moving in synchronization. It was a sight for sore eyes, if only I could truly experience the warmth outside. “Now if you could please turn to page 12 of your books…” the teacher –whose name I found out was Mr. Henderson- said in a distant monotone voice. I turned to look at that Dawn girl again. She was still excited; she appeared uncomfortable, strange enough. Her tan skin showing goose bumps rising, odd, there was no chill. I let out a breath, but when I did, I soon regretted it; the smell of human blood was everywhere, like a disease spread through the whole school. It was terrible; I pushed down the urge to attack: to bite. The bell rang, and I jumped out of my seat, I rushed out. Hopefully not at the speed I hunt. I peeked down at my class schedule, second period, history. Ugh, I hate history. Thank goodness, I knew all about it, considering I was probably there at the time. Tristan appeared by my side again. He smiled at me. His skin appeared pale, almost white like mine. Odd. “Hey Layla, I know you probably hate me or something but let’s talk,” he said, walking beside me. I sighed. He would never quit. If he didn’t stop, I would rip his head off. “Ha-ha. I know how you feel,” he agreed, “I know exactly what you’re thinking. I completely understand if you want to rip my head off.” How did he know that? This doesn’t make sense. I wish he would leave now. “You know, I can hear every word you’re thinking. And no I won’t leave until you talk to me,” he grinned.

When he flashed his teeth, I couldn’t help but look. His teeth were white, but his incisors were pointy and large for an average mortal. No, he couldn’t be… “Yes, I am. And don’t argue with me, I could possibly be your elder,” he joked. I rolled my eyes; I guess I could talk to him. “Thank you.” “Your welcome.” Wow, that’s the first time I’ve spoken since my dad disappeared. “Really? That’s amazing, that’s a long silent act,” he joked. I chuckled, once again, the first time in ages. How could something so annoying make people so happy? I never will understand. “You know, people are staring at you,” he whispered, pointing at a few people who were traveling in groups of two or more. Can’t blame them, I mean I’m as pale as a ghost is practically. I mean if I was one of them, wait. I’m not so, what does it matter? “Are you talking to me?” Tristan asked, seeming confused. “Um… I guess,” I replied, because really, it was a private thought but I guess it didn’t matter. He shrugged. We continued on to our next class, surprisingly so, we had the same classes together. I put my head in my hands, waiting for class to end, I needed to hunt. Unfortunately, I can’t cut class, because I don’t need nor want a lecture from Leah. Moreover, class dragged on. Today we were learning about the civil war and how Abraham Lincoln was a great man, yada yada yada. We all know that, I mean didn’t all mortals learn this as a younger one, in other words it’s pretty much the same thing, but only older vocabulary. “Elaine Parker, read the next paragraph, please,” Mrs. Koran said with her gentle yet demanding voice. “Yes Mrs. Koran,” she began, “Lincoln married in the year of 1842 to a woman named Mary Todd. The couple in total had four sons,” and she continued on and on. Then, thankfully, the bell rang. Most of the students seemed to jump out of their seats, and others like me and Tristan sat down for a minute to absorb the moment. Elaine-the girl that just read- and Dawn walked out of the classroom together, followed by a slim, yet muscular chocolate haired boy. Quite attractive, I thought to myself. He strode out, with his shoes squeaking.

“Hey, come on, let’s go,” Tristan commanded angrily, though I couldn’t imagine why. I followed him. We continued through all our classes ‘till we hit gym, our 6 th period. It was basketball week; sport mortals play with this spherical orange ball and try to get it into a hoop. Seemed easy enough. I was wrong. This game was incredibly difficult. Every time a person passed me the ball, I would block it off, though I didn’t know why. Just then, Jean Black passed me the ball. I put my hands out and I grabbed it, but with a little too much force, I popped it. Groans erupted throughout the room. “Nice going, Fall. You just ruined the whole game,” shouted a boy named Ryan. He looked really mad. He stomped into the locker rooms. His amber hair bouncing on his shoulders. “It’s all right, Layla. Ryan’s only pissed because he missed a chance to show off to the girls,” Dawn pointed out, laughing. I laughed back, trying not to show off my teeth too much. Dawn was a kind, friendly girl. She was even kind to me, even though I didn’t deserve kindness. Not even remotely. “Hey Dawn, how’s it going?” Tristan asked suddenly appearing at my side. “It’s going good. How ‘bout you Tristan?” she beamed, showing a hint of flirt in her voice. Tristan was smiling back, not even afraid of showing his fangs. He was probably reading something on her mind to make him smile. “Oh, I’m just fine. Showing around the new girl, of course,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder. I flinched at the sudden touch. “Well, I’m gonna go change, see you later,” I waved. Dawn likes Tristan, it was so obvious. I sighed. I hated that kind of stuff. I was so over the whole forbidden love thing. It was such a fiasco, well it was to me. As I was changing, I noticed a couple girls staring at me. Most likely noticing my pale skin. I could hear the whispers going around the room. “Oh my gosh, look at her skin.” “Wow, talk about flat-chested.” “She is really fit.” Did these girls really have nothing to do but comment on my body? When I finished, Tristan was out waiting for me. I wish he would leave me alone. “That’s not nice, you know? Especially since I’ve been nothing but nice to you,” he growled.

I stalked off. I didn’t want to look at him. He was deluded into thinking that I wanted him there but I didn’t. He was like a crazed stalker watching my every move. “Hey, I heard that!” Tristan shouted. That only made me walk faster, then, once again, I barged into my classroom. I found that the teacher was scrawny and egotistical, with grey eyes and grey hair in a bob-like hairdo. “Hello there, Miss Fall, find a seat. Pick a good one because you’re stuck with it all year,” the woman acknowledged. I struggled. Where did I want to sit? The only open chairs was the one next to a girl named Cheryl, who couldn’t get any dumber but couldn’t get any prettier, a seat next to Thomas, a boy who couldn’t get any smarter but would never be more annoying, and there was a completely empty desk. I would have sat there but I was afraid Tristan would sit with me. Would I risk my grade and sit with Cheryl, get a good grade but be majorly irritated when I get home, or would I just go out on a limb and sit with Tristan? I guess I would never get a choice because Tristan pulled me to the empty desk. My arm was throbbing-weirdly enough- from how hard he was gripping me. When we sat down, I didn’t look at him. I ignored him; I looked in every other direction apart from his. “What is your problem?” he whispered to me. “Nothing, look I want to get this done, so let’s just dissect this stupid frog,” I muttered angrily. I took the knife and slowly placed it above the frog’s lower torso, and cut it. The scent was very revolting, it smelled like what mortals called rotten eggs. Tristan began exploring the body. He lightly put his finger on the skin, and pulled out its heart. I shuddered as he pulled it out and spun it, showing me all of it sides. It was tiny, sure, but it was creepy to look at since I’ve never seen a heart and mine stopped beating many years ago. Tristan snickered. He was reading my mind of course. Ugh, he was so annoying. The smell was everywhere; it even overcame the scent of human blood. I covered my nose, hoping the smell would disappear. At that instant, the bell rang, signaling the ending of school. I jumped out of my seat. I needed to get home. The sun was going to burn me alive. I’ve never been burnt but then again, I never used to go outside.

As soon as I was off school campus, I rushed home. I felt the air blowing into my face; hence, I was going as fast as a jet plane on high speed. I was home in seconds. Then I appeared in my room. I dropped my stuff, and pulled out my notebook. I didn’t have much homework. I only had to write a two paragraphs –consisting of at least fifty words- report on Abraham Lincoln, buy a new basketball, and answer a couple of questions about algebra. Knock.Knock.Knock. My head shot up, I dashed to the door, I looked out the peephole, and it was Tristan. Darn, that stalker. I ran back to my room. Leah answered the door. I could hear her; I could even hear the squeaking of the hinges, even if they were silent to human ears. “Hello there and you are...” Leah said. “I’m Tristan, I’m here for Layla, she’s my classmate and I’m supposed to help her with her homework,” he replied, lying to my ‘foster’ mom. I groaned. Leah was going to let him in. I wasn’t going to talk to him otherwise. Shortly, he appeared at my side. He waved. Maybe, he would read my mind… LEAVE NOW. I DO NOT WANT YOU HERE! “I am not leaving. I want to help you with you’re homework,” he explained, “You don’t have to talk to me, just pass me notes, okay?” he begged. I sighed. I complied; I mean it wasn’t like I was actually talking to him, right?

Fine, whatever. I’m still not talking to you.
I can’t believe I’m passing notes to a stalker! Ugh, whatever, as long as he leaves right after this. I glanced around my room. I never really noticed at how untidy it was. Then, for the first time in my life, I looked at my mirror. I gaped at the mirror. My hair was long, coming below my shoulder blades, it was a black midnight sky color and my eyes were… a dark sepia. It really stood out on my pale skin. The girls in the locker room were right, I was flat chested, and I was very fit. I had a nice beautiful, petite figure. Whoa, I’m starting to sound a bit egotistical. Tristan laughed.

Shut up! DO YOUR WORK!
He still laughed. This boy, er, thing, is VERY annoying. In addition, very stalker-ish. Yes, very.

Are you going to stop following me?
He shook his head, “No, I’m not, want to know why?” he questioned.

Why?
“Well,” he began, “You know, how there are very few like us? Well, um, there are vampires, who are,” he struggled for the right word, “jealous, you could say, and they want to kill us. And I’ve witnessed a killing, and I don’t want it to…” he sobbed. Tristan started to tear up; I didn’t know what to do, so I just put my arm around him. He prolonged his crying; it seemed like forever. “It’s okay, Tristan. Don’t cry. It’s, it’s, um, going to be just fine. Plus, what’s the big deal? I’m not important. I don’t WANT to live,” I comforted him, well tried to. Though it seemed to only make it worse. He just looked at me. His hazel eyes begging me for a distraction. I just sat there staring at him; I didn’t know what to do. Then I came up with an idea. “Tristan,” I addressed him, he glanced up, “Let’s hunt,” I tried. He smiled, “Okay. I guess,” he stood up and wiped off his remaining tears. Then we ran off. Straight out of the house, searching for blood. I was longing for it, actually. Then we came to a stop.

Chapter 2 A Tragedy
Tristan
“Layla, be careful. The place is reeking of human blood,” I warned Layla as we passed by a house, with party decorations everywhere. Pink balloons, pink streamers, pink, pink, pink. Even the house appeared pink! You could hear the music blaring out of the speakers probably about a mile away, and it’s a Monday! “Tristan! It’s… The blood, it’s, everywhere,” Layla shrieked; she had to hold her nose for just a couple more minutes. “Hold your nose, Layla. Just ignore it,” I yelled from the forest only a couple minutes away. I think she could survive that. She nodded. She crept passed the house, very hesitant, but she seemed fine… Until, she took a breath. What was she thinking? Hmm… I’ll find out.

Mmm, human blood. So, irresistible, must have BLOOD. No! She couldn’t, she wouldn’t, would she? I’ve known her for the past few hours, she seems harmless. Well, then again, all of us did. “Layla! Get your butt over here, leave them alone!” I gasped. It was too late; she was already knocking on the door. I could hear them, Layla, and –I think- Mrs. Parker, Elaine’s mom. Of course, today was Elaine’s birthday! I remember she gave me an invitation! “Hello, there. Is Elaine here? I have her present in my house; can she come out and get it? It’s pretty big,” Layla said. “Why, of course. Thank you for her gift, whatever it is,” Mrs. Parker replied, smiling, “Elaine, there’s someone here for you!” she exclaimed. I could hear Elaine rushing out of the backyard. Her copper colored hair flowing, her smile wide. “Oh, um, hey, Layla. I’m sorry I didn’t invite you, I just, you know, thought, that maybe you wouldn’t want to go, sorry,” Elaine apologized. “Oh, it’s alright. I have your present in my house across the street and it’s pretty big, can you help me?” Layla asked, with an alluring voice. I could fall for it, but I’m not stupid. Elaine nodded. How could I just sit here and completely ignore this crime my… friend is committing? I followed behind her. “Come on, Elaine. It’s over here!” Elaine ran to her, “Okay?” Then Layla made a swift move and grabbed Elaine, put her on her back, and glided to the forest. I made a run for it, she was fast. I’d never seen someone run that fast. Maybe, I could read her mind… Her blood, so delicious, tempting, yes. Alluring, somewhat. I needed to have a taste, just a sip. NO! Layla, NO! She came to an abrupt stop. The area she was in was surrounded by dead bodies. This made me push myself harder. If Elaine was to see that she’d freak out, she doesn’t do well with death. Elaine stood no chance in a fight, especially if it’s against Layla, or any of our kind. I stood there, witnessing what she was doing; I would intervene when the time came. “Hello, Elaine. Welcome to your, SURPRISE!” she jumped at her with amazing strength, but Elaine only toppled to the ground.

Elaine was shrieking at the top of her lungs; you could mistake her for a banshee. It was annoying and loud so I covered my ears. Elaine cowered into a tree, sucking around her surroundings. “What- what, are we doing here?” Elaine questioned, frightened. “Hmm, do you want to know?” Layla whispered in her ear, sending shivers down Elaine’s spine, “How old are you today, Elaine?” “I-I j-j-just turned sixt-ten, why?” Elaine gasped, clearly frightened. “I was just thinking that today isn’t only your birthday,” Layla replied, smiling naughtily. “W-w-why?” Elaine worried. “Why? Well, it’s not just your birthday, unfortunately. It’s your death day as well,” Layla smiled. NO! I ran in just then, but I was a second too slow. Layla already lunged for the throat. She was gripping Elaine’s wrist, her index finger around her veins, making sure whether there was a pulse or not. Elaine was screaming, then she started to quiet down, her blood was slowly flowing into Layla’s mouth. “Layla, how could you? How could you murder such a kind girl, she’s only sixteen, and why aren’t you concerned whether her mum, will worry or not?!” I asked, enraged. “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about her mother. She’s easily fooled,” she paused, “I didn’t murder her, I simply fulfilled my needs. Besides, what does this girl matter, Tristan? We are all are murderers. We all kill human beings, why is this one any different? Why can’t I suck her blood? Does it make a difference now? Answer that, Tristan!” Layla boomed at me, she was really angry. And I could see her point, but she also had to see mine; she had to. She was walking towards Elaine’s corpse, her body pale, there was no blood rushing in her veins. She was dead. My classmate, my neighbor, my friend, dead. She was never coming back, never. Even when I die, I won’t ever see her. The thought of her dying, just brought back the memory. The terror, her eyes before the attack, her birthday was today, too… Her last thought, makes the death tragic; she knew she was going to die. I know I’m going to die. I know it, so, as my last thought, I love you Mom and Dad, and I’ll miss you Dawn, Mrs. Bilson. She never even had a chance, she never really lived. Sixteen years old, that’s not even old! “Tristan, she’s gone. If you keep staring at her she won’t come back to life, you know?” Layla said, pulling me back.

“When you said hunting, I thought you meant animals, I don’t feed on humans,” I told her. She was gaping at me, “You what? You don’t feed on humans? How? They taste… so delicious… smell good, how?” she was shaking her head at the ground. She had obviously never heard of ones like me. Ones who feed on the flesh of animals rather than humans. “It’s possible, I find human blood unappealing to me now, if you haven’t guessed,” I replied, I noticed her hands were shaking, “What’s with the shaking of the hands?” “Nothing, look, Tristan, I really need to get home,” she declared right before she glided off. What is up with this world, where is the justice? Where is the kindness, the serenity? Questions that will never be answered, I kept notifying myself as I ran back home. The trees were a blur. A leaf could hit my face and I wouldn’t even know because within seconds it would disappear. I knocked on the door and my older brother –I have three brothers (two vampires, one human) and four sisters (three vampires, one human) Jared, answered. “What’s up, Tristan, don’t you have, like, guard duty?” he asked leaning against the door. “I’m off duty,” I leered at him, “let me in, Red. She needs no assistance, she can outrun her attacker,” I replied. “She’s a runner, is she? Like how fast?” he seemed intrigued. Is she hot, bro? Single? Give me some info! Help a brother out! I growled, “She’s not your type, Red. She’s more of a…” “You like the girl, huh?” he guessed, completely off. “No, I don’t. And plus, she hates me, she doesn’t like ‘non-human eaters,’ she attacked a girl, Elaine, remember her? It was her birthday,” I shook my head, trying to shake off the memory. “And her death-day, dude, there’s nothing you can do. This girl, whoever she is, is confused, she needs guidance. That’s where you come in, sweep her off her feet, fall in love, live a long unending life together, problem solved,” he said as he walked away before I could say anything. I don’t like Layla, not in any intimate or romantic way, whatsoever. She’s just a girl, a girl like me. She’s a half breed, but still it’s who she is.

Layla
As soon as I got back to my room, I collapsed onto my bed. I gazed up at the ceiling, replaying every last bit of the attack. I scooped her up and took off, ran to my little ‘cemetery,’ scared her, then bit her. Bit her right in the neck, her blood and smell was… disgusting. It reeked of my mom’s old perfume. Note to self: make sure your instincts don’t take over around Tristan. Tristan gave me a whole lecture on ‘not feeding on humans’ and ‘It’s not right.’ The boy was stupid, witless. He was weird, he didn’t drink human blood! The thought made my hands shake in terror, how could a vampire survive that? No human blood? Misfortunate, he’s really missing out. There was a silent rap on my door; I figured it was probably Leah, since she’s the only one in the whole entire household who talks to me. I was wrong. Of the entire damned –no pun intended- people in the world, why him? I opened the door to find the same boy who’s been talking to me all day. Tristan. “What do you want?” I demanded of him, because he never let me be. “I just want you to be safe; there have been so many deaths, so many failures, that this is it! I’ve finally realized that it isn’t like losing a toy you never see again. This is reality and it finally hit me,” he explained triumphantly. I rolled my eyes. What a practiced liar. “Hey, I heard that!” he gasped, clearly insulted, he gripped my arm like he did earlier that day. Just then I remembered something. Shit! I need to talk to Elaine’s mom! Shit, shit, shit! “You didn’t talk to her yet? What the heck are you going to tell her?!” Tristan shouted, as I ran right through the doors. Ah, apparently it wasn’t too late. Then again, it was only a few minutes. “Mrs. Parker! Do you know where Elaine ran off to? She was just with me!” I yelled as I pretended to run from ‘my house.’ “No, why dear?” she looked panic-stricken. “Well, here’s her present,” I handed her my gift-wrapped TV- it’s only like 20 inch- from Leah and Martin, “It wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be, so I told her to wait, so I could you know take a picture. And when I came out with my camera, she was gone. The first thing I thought was, maybe you

called her over or something. Then I thought maybe someone took her away. Then I realized that I would have heard at the very least,” “Wait, she left?” her eyes went wide and worried, “I’m going to call the police, thank you very much,” Mrs. Parker walked away, shocked and tense. I felt bad, I just took away her daughter’s life and it didn’t even matter and now I can’t bring her back. I had a bad feeling deep in the pit of my stomach and I knew it wouldn’t disappear, ever. Just then, I felt a lit tap on my shoulder, I turned around. It was Tristan. This boy would never quit! “You bet, I won’t,” he smiled, “I’m only here to protect you from any harm. Remember that, I’m not enjoying this either,” his smile disappeared, his head facing the ground. “I’ll race you,” I challenged him, because he seemed like he really wasn’t enjoying himself. His smile didn’t reappear but he did smirk, “On three. One. Two.” He ran on two, but I soon caught up to him. The wind on my face was a wonderful feeling. My hair was blowing freely in the wind. I was beating Tristan that was obvious. I turned my head towards Tristan’s direction, and I found that he wasn’t behind me. I stopped in my tracks. I paused, thinking he was only a bit behind. Minutes passed and he still wasn’t there. Whoosh. I glanced all around me, I heard laughter. “Ha, gotcha!” Tristan exclaimed, he fooled me. I chuckled; I had to admit it was pretty funny. Though being pranked is not cool, I was so getting him back. I rushed toward him, passed him. There were leaves still falling down to the surface of the Earth. I was then in my room. I couldn’t focus on anything but getting Tristan back. He seemed to be gone, hopefully. I was so tired, even if I’m a vampire. I still get tired, occasionally. Soon, I fell into a trance of sleep. I awoke to the sound of tumbling books. I shot up, only to find Tristan standing, by my closet. “What are you doing?” I asked drowsily. “Just, uh, nothing,” he looks down, clearly embarrassed to be caught, “Morning.”

“Morning, could you please leave? I have private needs to attend to,” I informed him. IF he still had blood in his veins, he would have blushed. I could easily tell. He left. I swiftly got ready for school, pausing in front of my mirror for just a small glance. I do look… nice, I guess. Well, no matter, off to school. “Layla! You’re going to be late for school!” Leah shouted. I flew down the stairs, nearly giving Leah a heart attack in the process. I had already given my first impression yesterday. Now, I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, completely casual, just like yesterday. When I walked into the halls of the school, I embraced the beauty of it for the first time. I never thought a place could look so peaceful. “Boo,” Tristan whispered in my ear, “You know, everyone’s really sad,” he told me. I flinched, I had completely forgotten about that night… one of my greatest regrets. Tristan must have realized my pain. “Hey, it’s all right, it’s not your fault your instincts took over,” he calmed me. Yes, yes it is. It’s my entire fault. Nothing will change that. He shook his head, he flipped his blonde hair, “It is NOT your fault, Layla,” he walked away. I strolled into algebra. Tristan looked at me, like, ‘Someone seems happy’ type look. “Why, hello there Ms. Fall,” Mr. Henderson said. “Hello,” I replied, flushing, if I had blood at least. I sat next to Dawn, unlike yesterday when she seemed anxious, she was crying. Why was she crying? Oh, yeah, I murdered –as Tristan put it- her best friend. It’s my entire fault, screw what Tristan said. “You going to be okay, Dawn?” I blurted out; I never meant to say it. “Yeah,” she bawled, “No,” she looked at me, “I just… I just can’t live without her, Elaine, you know?” My head was spinning, I felt dizzy. It was my fault, but I couldn’t tell her that. “Yeah, I know. It’s going to be just fine, they’ll find her,” I told her, trying to soothe her, lying to her. “No, that’s just it, she’s dead, and I know it! There’s a weird empty feeling I have inside my gut!” she continued to bawl. Then, I got a bad feeling in mine, too. I’ve never been so nice to a human before. “Class, today, I’ve assigned you a project,” he paused, “Mr. Clayton, could you please hand me that note,” Mr. Henderson ordered him to do and Andrew Clayton stood up. Andrew was blushing like crazy, red as a tomato some say.

“Andrew, will you go out with me? – Zoe. Ms. Anderson, are you aware of the consequence of notepassing?” Zoe flushed, “Yes, Mr. Henderson, I’ll go to the office,” she dashed out the door. Andrew was grinning, planning on saying yes, probably. “Aw, it’s amazing how they can still find reason to be happy on such a sad day,” Dawn muttered to herself. Poor Dawn. Gosh, I wish I had prevented this… tragedy. Then Mr. Henderson continued, “As I was saying, I am going to assign you a project, an individual one. If I find out anyone’s been working together they will have to start their project again. I know that’s a bit harsh but it’s a harsh world. What was that Ms. Kim?” Mr. Henderson suddenly addressed. “Excuse me, Mr. Henderson? I didn’t say anything,” she replied seeming shocked. “All right then, now you’re project will be about Math in the Real World. I would like at least twentyfive pictures and a 450 word report on how it’s on the real world. I expect this to be turned in, in two weeks time.” Dawn raised her hand, “Mr. Henderson, is it okay if we just talk to students about what they’ve already done? Is that acceptable?” she asked. “Yes that would be fine, Ms. Bilson.” Then class continued on. Dawn was still teary-eyed, though, it was unfortunate for her. I was staring at her, trying to understand how she could be so sad, I mean, seriously; bonding is overrated.

Chapter 3 Making Regrets
Tristan
Life goes on, but for me, it just gets worse. Layla couldn’t be any harder to deal with. Just like the week before, she was stressed out. Though, this week she’s trying –trying being the key word- to control herself even if she’s been feeding on humans… Every once in a while… Asking her on the hunting trip was a stupid idea. She automatically said no after the next two days. I knew she was going to because she was trying to be proud. Trying not to show me she’s weak, my family

too. You’d be amazed at what she’s doing though. She’s really controlling herself. Layla so far, has eaten only three humans, well technically four if you count the baby… other than that she’s doing just fine. I took a look at my book, just the same stuff, a paper on math and such. The book was sturdy and old. It was probably written a while ago. “Coming in!” my older brother, Jared, said, barging into my room. “Thanks for the heads up,” I teased. In our house, knocking apparently isn’t an option. Jared chuckled, his blonde hair glistening, his grey eyes sparkling. Yeah, my brother always gets the girls but the girls never get him. If they could see what he really looks like they would die before he even got near them. Thank goodness Jared isn’t into them either or it would’ve have been a major problem, like Amethyst’s problem. Amethyst is my older sister, being twins with Amelia and both being college freshman. Jared is a senior; William is a college junior as well as his twin brother, Weston. Amy is the youngest, she’s only a seventh grader, and Amber is the second to youngest, she’s an eighth grader, and I’m a freshman. “Yep, well… how’s life? Any more chicks falling for your ‘good looks?’” I joked. He chuckled, “Well, we’ll have to add Hailey Wilkins to the list, you know her right? Green eyes, orange hair, really stands out, hippy-ish. Vegetarian, yeah, chick’s nuts. Thinks she stands a chance,” he muttered the last part. I nodded my head, “Well, guess you could say that. Did you fall for any chicks?” “No, but there was this one hot surfer girl, Rose, I recall. She had a real nice body. Doesn’t go to our school. Nice chocolate brown curly hair, probably African-American, very nice bikini,” he teased. “Whatever, dude.” “How ‘bout you? Made up with Layla yet? She still pissed, er, depressed? I mean, like, is she going to be okay?” I shrugged, filled with meaning. I really didn’t know. Layla was a weird person or whatever she is…

Layla
I walked into my room, hoping to find the remains of my pillow. The one I had shredded a couple nights ago, thanks to a nightmare. My nightmare was of a girl with deep red eyes, long black hair like mine, and boy was she scary, but she was human! She didn’t have my ‘teeth’ and she was really scary, she looked like she was going to eat

me. Though not that scary, I could probably tear her to pieces in seconds but this girl was different. She had this weird power over me, controlling me. She also kept shouting, “Stop this injustice,” she was repeating it over and over again. “Layla Kierra Fall, you come and do these dishes now! They’re going to overflow the sink!” Leah demanded. I’ve been meaning to do the dishes but I just couldn’t. With what’s going on, it seems impossible. Existence is excruciating; living with Dawn’s tears, Tristan’s ‘guidance,’ homework, chores, thirst… too much to balance for one… girl? I guess you could call me that. As I glided down the stairs, Martin swiftly dodged me. Though he stumbled towards the end… “I’ve got it Leah,” I told her as I started the chore. As I stepped into my room after my chores, my head filled with wonder. Where would my life go? This life, this torture, this pain. Though, during my process of thought, a boy appeared in my room. “Hi Layla. Enjoying this?” he whispered. “What am I supposed to be enjoying?” I asked. “The torture, the pain, your life,” he teased, “Seriously, you should go on the hunting trip for a little vacation from this madness. It’s really affecting you,” he once again suggested. “I told you no already, Tristan. That’s my final answer.” He shrugged, “Whatever. Well then, good night. I’ll be on your doorstep at seven for an early day,” he said, his fangs showing. I groaned. I needed lots of sleep, tons to be exact. This meant that an early day was bad, very bad. As soon as Tristan left, I got ready for bed. Then, I was brave enough to take one little glimpse in the mirror but then it turned into more of a view. I couldn’t stop looking. My hair was a mess, its length had grown to about above my butt and it looked really bad, it was amazing no one had laughed; it appeared like a haystack with my hairs tangled and knotted, seeming impossible to find the needle in there. My shoulders bare (I was wearing a tank top) yet scathed, for Tristan had scratched me on accident. Most of my body was probably scratched up. Tristan usually was restraining me, trying to prevent another Elaine incident.

My lip split, thanks to the way I bite my lip. My high-lifted cheekbones were red and blotchy. My eyes had shadows under them and my irises were almost a bloody red, though right now they were a light maroon. It was a wonder how nobody said anything. I climbed into my bed. My blanket was warm and cozy, well as close to warm as I could ever get. Then, I drifted off into a deep yet short sleep. I woke up to new surroundings; I was no longer sleeping in my bed but on a grassy meadow. My hand was resting on daisies, my hands and feet lying on clovers, and my head lying on bare grass. The meadow before me was an extraordinary sight; almost impossible to describe. It would be like describing the love of your life to your friends. Not just the person but the way you feel. “Turn around, Layla,” whispered a small, eerie voice. My head shot around. Only to find a man and a woman, right next to each other, “What do you want?” “Why I only want myself to be happy, dear Layla,” said the woman. The woman took a step forward. It was that same girl with the blood red eyes and the long hair. Her hair was up to her bottom; her cheekbones blotchy and red but the shadow under her eyes were gone this time. “Layla, do you know who we are?” asked the scary woman as she approached me. “Um, I have nothing to guess. Why?” I asked, worried. Then the man stepped forward. He had blonde hair and bloodshot eyes as well. Though he appeared to have no desire to hurt me. “You know who we are, it’ll come to a surprise but you do know. But until that time, you will never understand,” the man declared. Just then, the meadow disappeared, and I was once again in my bed. I guess I hadn’t woken up. That was obvious, how did I not guess I was dreaming? The clock read 6:30, so I had half an hour. I ran through my room, searching for appropriate school clothes. I grabbed my purple shirt and black jeans, ran the brush through my hair a few times, put on my fangs, and flew down the stairs. Tristan was waiting on the doorstep, today he had his blonde hair in spikes, but he used more gel than usual. He had a tan overcoat on and some denim jeans, with brown converse.

“Ready to go?” he asked. “I’m never ready, but let’s go,” I replied. And then we were off to school. When I entered the school doors, everyone turned to look at me scanning over my body, from my head to my toes. Cuts and bruises were not such a great thing to show off, especially if they’re everywhere. I could hear them mutter, “Wow, what happened to her? Get in a fight with a lion?” whispered a short, bronze haired girl to her little blonde hair friend, who giggled. The hallway was crowded with teenagers, most of who are staring at me. Most of the studs, jocks, “nerds,” preppies, goths, and skaters were even looking at me. It was getting really creepy, come to think of it; I didn’t even know more than half the students staring at me. “Hey! Get back to your business. Leave the girl alone,” Tristan screamed aloud, catching everyone’s attention and soon everyone went to their own business. That was mortifying. Really embarrassing, Tristan. Are you trying to get people’s attention?! HE chuckled, “As a matter of fact, I thought you hated the attention. I told them to lay off, easy as pie.” “Well then, fine, be that way. Um, I need to get to class, as do you, so let’s head off.” I strolled to the classroom. Every student I passed turned to look at me, even that boy I saw last week, Cedric, I think it was. He was the boy from England, you know the whole fish and chips and such, well he was… attractive, well mildly. He had tan skin, (like most here in California) had a slight muscular figure, he was more slim than scrawny, he had the most luscious chocolate hair (it was skater boy long, not so bad), and soft, warm grey eyes. So what I’m pretty much saying is that Cedric was quite cute. The classroom was filled with many of the students who stared at me earlier, like Cedric Miller, Kate Ramsey, Brooke Conner, and Emily Stevenson. Brooke was a tall girl, she had the appearance of Kristi Yamaguchi, except with green eyes, and she was way chubbier, no offense to her. Kate was an average girl but had a high IQ, she was probably one of the smartest girls in the school, though probably one of the most boring and plain; she had ebony colored hair along with short bangs, had silver braces locked around her teeth, and had stunning blue eyes. Emily was co-captain of the track team, so she was slim and fit, she

was as tall as me, had short pixie styled hair with the color of mustard, gentle green eyes, and she had blue wire-rimmed glasses. “Now class, if you could please take your seats,” Mr. Henderson told aloud to the class, “Now, how far along are you on your projects?” Hands shot into the air, including Dawn’s, with her cream colored skin, and slight goose bumps. The class was excited to show off their intelligence especially Dawn and Brooke. “Miss Conner, please stop trying to jump out of your seat,” Brooke immediately turned red, “Mister Miller, please.” Cedric was caught completely off guard; he was one of the people not raising his hand. He was casually sitting in his seat, when the teacher calls on him. Well then again, Cedric isn’t exactly teacher’s pet. “Well, um, sir, I have at least a hundred words, and um…” he hesitated (what an attractive accent), turning red, “twenty pictures, sir.” “Well, you need some work, Mister Miller. How about you, Miss Fall?” I froze. Though, I did finish the assignment, it was something I didn’t plan to share to the class. “Well, Miss Fall if you fail to answer, I’m going to assume you’re not doing so well.” “No, no, I did it,” I replied. “Well, you did what?” “I… well… I, um, finished it, Mr. Henderson.” I let that sink in, watching the class go dumbstruck. Brooke and Dawn exchanged glances, Mr. Henderson looked proud, whereas all the other students were looking… well… let’s just say they didn’t look jealous. Tristan, especially, was shocked, and Cedric was embarrassed for having such little done and I’m, well, done. “Well, let me see your paper and photographs then, Miss Fall,” Mr. Henderson said, breaking the silence. Dawn looked at me and smiled, supporting me, unlike everybody else. I stood up; everyone looked still dumbstruck, yet still mad a bit. As I walked, Tristan gave me a thumbs-up sign thingamajig. Brooke gave me a disapproving look and I sighed. I was a misfit, though I knew that was true. I’ve known that since I found out I was Layla Kierra Fall, the half-human half-vampire.

Gym, my least favorite class of all time, and to make it even better, my day was terrible. MY mess-up in homeroom was only the first. After that I completely screwed up my day, now to make matters worse, Ryan was on a rampage. Thank goodness that after I blew that ball-and practically got everyone mad- I had no more P.E. mess-ups. Today, we were back to basketball; luckily I’m more experienced than last time. “Fall, if you blow up this ball again… You don’t even want to know!” Ryan fumed, even though there was nothing in this world that would kill me. I nodded and walked over to my position as forward. My team included Tristan, a girl named Penelope, Ryan, Leslie, Zoe, Tyler, and George. Only I, Zoe, Ryan, Leslie, and Tristan were on the court though. Then the game began. Ryan was jumping against Kyle. Ryan smacked it down like a spike in volleyball rather than basketball and Zoe caught it. She dashed off, completely dodging Alexander’s hopeless defense. She shot the ball into the air; it hit the backboard but bounced right off the rim! I caught the rebound, this time I was careful not to pop the ball. I ran slowly, I mean really slow because humans are really slow. Then Faith came and guarded me from passing. I pivoted, searching for someone to pass it to. I saw Tristan waving his arms, but Leslie was closer than him but not as open as Tristan. The decision was hard. So, impulsively, I threw it to Leslie but she missed and now we were defense. Sometimes, I make bad choices. The game continued, and it got more dramatic as it got on. It was fourth quarter and there were five minutes left in the game and it was 29-30, we were losing. I didn’t care but apparently Ryan and Leslie did. “Now, we have to put out the best players,” Ryan announced after he called time-out. “Now, who to pick?” he muttered to himself, “Okay, Tristan, Zoe, George, Leslie, and I will play for the rest of the game. Got it? No complaints? ‘Kay good.” They jogged off. Tyler looked like he had something to say, but he shut his mouth. The last players on the opposing team were unchanged; it was still Jean, Olivia, Damian, Thomas, and Dawn. Coach Remington blew his whistle and off they went. I could hear Penelope and Devin cheering them on. As I just sat there, watching quietly; thinking to myself. Jean had the ball, she zipped past everyone with her speed (she was track team captain) and soon Thomas caught up, she passed and he shot, but missed! Ryan got the rebound, with only three minutes

left in the game. He raced off, but stumbled, luckily before his fall Tristan caught the ball. Tristan turned to smile at me and then he was off, their shoes squeaking as they ran in the opposite direction. George caught up to Tristan and Tristan passed it to him. George shot, with only one minute left in the game, and made it! Then, they took it out. Olivia checked it and ran off. She sped past everyone towards the basket she tried to lay-up but missed! Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. ONE! We won, 31-30! Our team came running, towards us, and they were jumping up and down, though I couldn’t see the big deal. It’s just a game. There were squeals and the sounds of hands slapping against one another. Tristan came by, his hand reaching out to me. I took it, and stood up. “What an exciting game, eh?” Tristan asked, unlike everyone else, he wasn’t panting like crazy or sweating. “I guess. I don’t enjoy sports if you haven’t noticed yet.” “Well, I’m sorry for being so ignorant,” he joked right before we walked into the locker rooms. I was the first one in. So, I took advantage and got ready for the rest of the day. I could overhear so many conversations. “Yay, we won!” I heard Leslie and Penelope squeal with each other in unison. “Eh, good game, bro,” I could hear Ryan and Damian talking. “You almost stepped on my glasses, Leslie!” scolded Dawn. I was out of the locker rooms before they started to argue. “Well, it’s your fault for dropping them in the first place!” Leslie retorted with her blonde hair (put into a ponytail because of the heat). “Well, you should at least watch where you’re walking,” Dawn replied, as she was wiping her black wire-rimmed glasses on her shirt. Then Dawn walked off, into the locker rooms. Leslie then continued talking to her friend, Allison. “Wow, Layla you change fast,” commented Jean as she and Penelope walked to the locker rooms. I smirked, this was actually a good part of the day, and maybe I should be a bit more optimistic. After my last class, I walked straight into the cloudy day here in Lakeview. Today, I could stay out as long as I wanted, as long as I desired. Today, I could act normal, well, as normal as I could get. “Hey, Layla!” Tristan called as he caught up to me.

“Hello Tristan…” then I noticed he wasn’t alone, “hello, Cedric.” “’Ello, Layla, nice to see you. Bad weather, we’re having, aren’t we?” he said with his English accent. “No, it’s nice weather,” I said, gazing up at the clouds. Tristan and Cedric exchanged confused glances, even though Tristan wasn’t the least bit confused. I took a deep breath, enjoying my surroundings. The sun was hidden deep beyond the cloud and now it couldn’t find me. Then I realized, I took a breath too deep. The scent… blood it was everywhere. I covered my nose hoping to deflect the scent from overriding my system. I turned towards Tristan begging for help, but he just stood there and shrugged. Out of nowhere, I ran. Ran towards the closet blood filled creature. Unfortunately, that person was Dawn. I ran to her and she broke into panic, she stood there, in that same place. I ran, but then I stopped right in front of her, my breathing becoming unsteady. She was already panic-stricken. I flashed my teeth right in front of her face and then before I knew it Tristan ran. He was behind me, restraining me. Right now I was a blood-crazed creature and now I relaxed but Dawn just got tenser. Dawn had caught a sight that she shouldn’t have; the sight she saw was my fangs and to make it worse, she heard me growl. I stopped, finally understanding that I needed to be in control. I relaxed, and then I viewed around me only to find half the school staring at me. Some of the half was people I knew, the other half were curious bystanders. “Well, someone’s good at surprises,” Tristan joked, hoping everyone would laugh. Well, I didn’t. I felt like screaming or running but I knew I could do neither. Suddenly, before realizing my actions, I ran. Though, it wasn’t just any type of run, it was a vampire run. I heard gasps, mutters, and shrieks of amazement, but I didn’t care. I continued to run. I ran towards a tree, came to an abrupt stop, and sat down; putting my head to my knees. Then, for the first time ever in my life, I cried. At that moment as well, I figured two things out. The first was that I had cracked; I could not let the damage to myself continue. And second, I needed my parents but the worst part is they would never come.

Tristan

I paused, not being able to believe the sight in front of my very own eyes. Layla sprinted off at the average speed of a vampire; in front of at least two-hundred students. I would have run off too, but than I knew that if I ran, they would immediately suspect something. I mean, isn’t it bad enough to find out that one student was abnormal in almost every way possible? Wouldn’t two make it worse? “Wow, what an amazing magic trick, huh guys?” I tried. The students turned to look at each other, completely dumbfounded with what Layla had just done. “Yeah, I mean didn’t you guys know that Layla’s an amateur magician?” I tried to get everyone to believe; it seemed like they fell for it. “Wait, so then where is she then, eh, Tristan?” called Ryan from behind him. “I don’t know, all she told me was that she was going to do a magic trick in front of some of her peers. So, I just came to watch the magic,” I explained carefully. This seemed to work. Everyone soon went back to whatever they were doing except now they were talking about Layla’s ‘amazing magic trick.’ After the entrance of the school had cleared out, I was going to run and find Layla. Then there was a complication; Dawn wanted to know exactly what was going on because she knew that those fangs and that growl were definitely not a magic trick. “What the hell is going on here?” Dawn demanded as soon as most of the entrance cleared out. “What are you talking about? Wait, do you mean Layla’s magic trick?” I lied. She sighed, “No, I’m talking about chemistry class, what do you think I was talking about?!” she retorted, sarcastically. “I’m sorry about the inconvenience but I still don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m sorry, but I need to get going and find-“ I lied but was interrupted. “Your girlfriend, Layla, I know. Still, I want an explanation! You’re completely failing to answer any of my questions. Well, I’m sorry but I think I’m going to leave too,” she said as she fixed her glasses and stalked off, clearly insulted. “She’s not my girlfriend!” I shouted at her. What an accusation, though she’s not the first; everyday since last week and I helped Layla get through; everyone suspects I have some sort of crush on her.

I couldn’t find Layla; I don’t really know where she could have gone. I know she wouldn’t have gone home or back to school. The possibilities are endless. She could be anywhere on the face of the planet. Plus, her last thought wasn’t that useful; it was, “I have to get away from here.” Then, I heard something. It sounded a lot like sobbing but I didn’t know, Layla was never known to cry. Suddenly, by instinct, I went straight towards the noise. I walked my way through branches and leaves, thankfully it paid off; Layla was there. Though one thing was weird about finding her; she was bawling. She was sitting, her head resting on her knees, head hanging in her hands, crying. She wasn’t drenched but she was quite damp or moist. I walked slow and hesitantly towards her, wondering if comfort –and company- was what she needed at this moment. I have never seen a girl cry, except that one time my sister cried over her boyfriend but that doesn’t count because she’s human. “Go away, Tristan!” she bawled, taking one hand and swatting it towards me. “Layla, are you okay? What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned for her; I could feel nothing but sympathy and pity for her. “I’m fine, just leave me alone!” she yelled. I reached out in a pointless attempt to comfort her; my hand was slowly reaching toward her. But she slapped it down, “Tristan, I told you to go away!” she screamed. “Layla, are you going to be okay? That’s all I need to know,” I told her and she seemed to relax; then again Layla’s an exceptional actress. Just then, she stood up, “Does it look like I’m going to be okay Tristan?” she boomed, still wiping away tears. “No, but you’ll be fine in a couple days, right?” I questioned, still concerned. Then she burst into tears once more. “It’ll be fine Layla,” I consoled as I embraced her. She pushed away. “No, Tristan! It’ll never be ‘okay’ it’ll always be terrible! I will never be happy, I will never smile! I don’t even think I want to live right now!” Layla announced. I could see a tear falling down her cheeks one by one, and then it started to go ten by ten. I suddenly felt the urge to just wipe them away. “You’re blowing this wildly out of proportion! You’re exaggerating and overreacting! This isn’t the end of the world; you’re going to be just fine. It was only one little mistake,” I boomed at her.

She stopped to wipe away the tears, “You don’t understand. It wasn’t just one little mistake, Tristan, it was millions of small ones and then a huge one!” she cried. I didn’t understand all she did was what I did to prank a bunch of kids, way back when. It was totally not a big deal. “Tristan, I can’t take it anymore. Life would be better off without me! It should be without me!” she cried once more. I had to admit that was true but I don’t know if I could live like that; an unsolved problem like her. Abruptly –I was so not planning on doing it- I told her, “That’s a lie. I don’t think I could do that, it seems difficult and challenging. Layla, you know what you are?” “A monster, a demon, a leech, a freak. I hate what I am, Tristan!” she yelled, she still had tears trickling down her face. “No, you’re just different. That’s the way you’re supposed to look at it,” I paused for a breath, “That’s what makes you special Layla,” I added. She looked at me; I know I just hit the wrong button. Then, I don’t know maybe I’m crazy, but I think I saw a smile. “Tristan…” she said, shaking her head to the ground. When she looked up again, she -out of nowhere- wasn’t just Layla. She was a completely different girl. Layla suddenly appeared with such radiance and beauty, it was unexplainable. I couldn’t look at her the same way anymore. “Tristan, I can’t take it anymore,” she said shaking her head back to the ground. I came up to her and hugged her: a comforting, friendly hug. “I cracked, I know it.” “Maybe, but guess what? I’m here and so is my family,” I said trying to soothe her. At that moment, she started to cry again, “That’s just it, Tristan. It’s you and your family. I mean don’t get me wrong, you’re family sounds cool but I don’t want your family now. I want mine!” she bawled, her forehead resting on my shoulder. With that, I understood. She was crying because she had no family to talk to. Her family was gone: forever. I had nothing to help her and I couldn’t resist her when she was like this; seeing her sad makes me sad.

“Layla, it’ll be fine. My mom, she’ll treat you like one of her own,” I tried, and it worked she seemed to loosen up a bit, “Though, there is a problem with that. Layla, my dad’s human,” I enunciated as I pulled her back, gripping her shoulders, staring her straight in the eye. Then she seemed to tense up, “Oh, well um…” she croaked as she was wiping away her tears. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Now, Layla was this mysterious beauty that I had to discover, like a treasure hunter hunting for the rarest, dazzling treasure on the whole planet; you just had to find it, no matter what it takes. She glanced up at me with a smirk on her face, “I think I can handle it,” she bravely convinced me but mostly herself. Finally, she seemed to relax more, like a lot more. Now, she was laid-back, completely. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” I wondered because, no offense, but if she can’t survive Elaine or Dawn, what should make me think that she’ll make this? “Yes, I swear,” she promised but when she promised she put her head down; as if she was lying to me. And with that, we were running off, and while we were running I couldn’t stop thinking about Layla. Layla was… like implanted into my brain except there was no cure for this. I purposely was falling behind, just so I could watch her run. When she ran her hair flew in the wind, it was exquisite. Layla was all of a sudden, flawless, gorgeous, intelligent, and so much more to me. But what I knew was that I wasn’t in love with her; it was only an infatuation. It wouldn’t ever become love because; number one: it wouldn’t ever get that far and number two: she would never ever love me.

Layla
I was running like the wind, flowing along with it as I was speeding my way to Tristan’s house. Even though I didn’t know where he lived, I was running slowly waiting for him to give me directions. At that exact moment, I realized Tristan wasn’t following behind me or at least he wasn’t giving me any directions whatsoever so, I stopped. Tristan was still running at full speed and with that, I went off to follow him to his home; to finally meet this wonderful family he keeps talking about. I notice we were passing the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen in my life. Each house had a big front yard and a medium sized backyard –big enough for a barbeque- each house had its own significance.

One house I passed by was white with a slope-angled roof, the entrance was a double door and each window was at least a quarter of that size. Each house we’ve passed had double-doors and the same with the windows so you could tell it was starting to become a neighborhood; a large community. At last we reached Tristan’s house, and it was so… big and lovely. It looked almost exactly like the other house except for its size and its windows. There were at least three windows in the whole house; now that’s a more of a vampire house. Plus, it was painted black and grey outside and the backyard was bigger than the front yard. “Welcome to the Carter household,” Tristan greeted, taking his hand and pointing his hand towards his house. “Wow, its lovely,” I complimented and it wasn’t even a lie. I could see Tristan’s smile coming up and I couldn’t help but at least grin back. “My mom would love to hear that. She actually helped paint and choose the colors; she was once an architect and exterior designer.” “Wow, that’s amazing. How old were you when you first moved in?” “I wasn’t even born; my oldest brother and sisters were though.” “Oh I didn’t know, well anyways it’s beautiful.” It truly was incredible and extraordinary. The house had a front porch and with it was a porch swing. Around the house there were flowers like petunias, violets, tulips, and daisies. It seemed like a normal place to live but yet different. I took a step towards the porch, frightened of what the house hides within itself. I took a glimpse at Tristan and he gave me an encouraging smile. “Don’t worry, they don’t bite,” he joked adding a chuckle to the little inside joke. Thanks to that, I gained the confidence to take a step towards his house. I closed my eyes realizing that for the first time in my whole “life” I was going to someone’s house. And this someone was a friend.

Chapter 4 Restraint

Tristan
Layla took one step to the entrance to my house. And she gave me a reassuring look, to try and gain some sort of confidence. Though, I completely understood. Layla was worried about herself and whoever she could possibly hurt. Luckily, more than half of my family isn’t human. When Layla finally reached the door, I came up behind her and opened the door. “Mom, I’m home! I’m having a friend over and it’s not Cedric!” I yelled informing her because the only friend I’ve ever brought home was my best friend, Cedric Miller. “Is it a girl?!” she asked to my embarrassment. “Mom!” I complained and then I gave Layla one last glance, “its Layla!” Then, out of nowhere Jared pops down in front of us. Of course he’s the first one down. Right after that, my whole entire family was in the living room but Dad was already there. “Everyone, meet Layla. Layla, this is my family,” I introduced. Just then my youngest sister, Amy, stood up to introduce herself. My sister was only fourteen years old and she was very scrawny and skinny for a vampire. My sister had the same hair color as my dad, auburn, it was a short wavy bob kind of hairstyle, and like me, had hazel eyes. “Hello, my name is Amy. I’m the youngest and the smallest,” she grinned. Then Jared stood up but instead of being casual he ‘formally’ introduced himself. The way he introduced himself was like he does when he tries to flirt. “Hey, name’s Jared. I’m Tristan’s older brother but I’m not the oldest; the oldest would be Weston. How are you?” he flirted. Layla seemed to not get trapped in his ‘seductive’ ways, “I’m just fine, thank you for asking.” Then, William and Weston stood up. Both had longer hair than Jared and me. They had hair up to their chins and like Amy’s hair, it was auburn; each had different colored eyes as well, Weston had gray eyes and William had hazel eyes. “Hi there, name’s William and this here is my twin, Weston,” Weston wasn’t very social but he waved as his name was called, “and it’s nice to finally see the mysterious Layla our brother talks about.” He noogied me and sat down again and right after them, Amethyst and Amelia stood. Both had shoulder blade length blonde curls and had grey eyes. In other words they looked exactly the same. “Why, it’s nice to meet you Layla,” said Amethyst. “Yeah, it’s a great pleasure.”

“Nice to meet you all as well,” she replied glancing at each and every member of my family but when she looked at William and my mom she seemed to struggle. After she said that my parents stood up and my dad started to talk, “Hello Layla, it really is a pleasure to meet you.” “Oh yes, it is. It really is,” my mom agreed looking away, she seemed deep in thought. Let’s check it out: Layla, the girl who causes so much trouble seems so sweet and innocent. I can’t help but feel suspicious of her; I mean why would my sweet, caring son bring such a dangerous girl to our home? But when he looks at her… Wow, there is so much more to this than I thought. Oh no, Mom thinks I’m falling head over heels for Layla; even if that might be true, I know for a fact it isn’t. “You can call me Chad and my wife Melissa. Please make yourself at home.” And with that more than half the family disappeared, the part of the family that disappeared were: Amethyst, Amelia, mom, dad, William, and Weston. Layla looked at me for support and I smiled at her for I was marveling at her beauty, unfortunately, Amy had a power as well and she had the power to feel, read, and control emotions. So, now Amy knows of my deepest secret. I wasn’t the only one marveling though because my brother, Jared, was marveling her too and at that moment I knew that I had some sort of competition. “So… um, what do you guys want to do?” I prompted. “Can I hang out with Layla?” asked Amy, “alone,” she added. I looked at Layla and she shrugged. “No, we should all hang out so nobody’s secluded. Alright?” I confirmed with nods but one disappointed one from Amy. You know those weird, uncomfortable silences with company? Well, after I stated that nobody has talked for the last ten minutes, long isn’t it? Suddenly, Weston, appeared at my side, “Tristan, did you know that Cedric is coming over right now; remember its movie night!” “Aw, shoot! Thanks for telling me!” I whispered. Layla’s head shot around to me and she mouthed, “More people?”

I nodded, and she quickly frowned. I guess she doesn’t want more people to come and believe me I want to be alone with her too. Weston, as you might have already guessed, can tell the future and it’s always positive: never. When he came over to me I thought –like Jared- he was going to flirt with Layla, but I was wrong. “I’ve got it!” Weston yelled, as he ran towards the door a minute before it rang. Cedric strutted right in, just like it was his own home. When Layla saw him, she grinned; she was gazing as well. As she did that I felt this odd feeling in myself that I’ve never felt before. “Oh. ‘Ello, Layla, what are you doing here?” he asked, shifting his eyes to me in a puzzled way. “Oh, uh… Tristan invited me, I’m sorry if I’m intruding. Maybe I should leave,” she gave an exasperated sigh and started to pick up her stuff. “No! It’s fine; she can stay right?” Cedric asked me, pleading that she stays with his eyes. “Yeah, she can totally stay,” I replied, a little too quickly because Layla gave me this weird look. “Well, okay then. So… What are we going to do?” Layla sighed. “Well, it’s mine and Cedric’s movie night, want to join?” I suggested. “Okay.” “Fine with me.” I went to search for a nice, appropriate movie; for example, no scary movies, –Layla would laugh at the title- no dramas or romance, -no need for an explanation- and no comedies because they’re never really funny. So, I had a wise choice for an action movie,-a classic- Star Wars. As the movie begins, I can hear Cedric fidgeting in his seat; I put Layla in the middle. During the movie, I keep turning to look at Layla, then I would look at Cedric, and every time I looked at Cedric he was staring at Layla (and sometimes she was staring back). In the ending battle of Dark Maul and Qui-Gon Jin, Cedric finally makes his move and scoots closer to Layla. And Layla doesn’t move, in fact she seems quite content. Once again, I got that weird feeling and this time it was stronger. “Well, that was quite an interesting movie,” Layla commented after the credits were finished, during the whole movie Layla seemed intrigued. “Yeah, we should totally do it again sometime; maybe we could all hang out,” I added. Both Cedric and Layla stared at me, Layla stared as if I was crazy and Cedric looked like he was going to fall down to his knees and worship the ground I walk on.

I looked down at the floor, hoping Layla would agree and get it over with. Yuck, there was some sort of goo on my shoe and it didn’t look normal. At long last Layla said something, “Yeah, sure; we should totally hang out.” Cedric gazed at her, content with himself, though after what she told me about the whole forbidden love thing, she was going to reject him. Poor guy. “Well, I should get going then, my mum’s going to throw a fit if I’m late again,” Cedric declared as he left my house; finally leaving Layla and me alone. “So…” “I should be getting home too, see you tomorrow,” and like Cedric she was gone as soon as the words came out. Then, I was alone; I felt real lonely and wished she didn’t leave so abruptly. Finally I realized that I had to fix my room; so I ran upstairs and stopped to gawk at my pigsty of a room. “Hey Tristan, need any help?” Amy startled me. “Yeah, help; that would be wonderful.” Together, we cleaned out the room, and now I can finally see the floor. Before my room appeared as if a tornado swept threw, with all the clothes and papers scattered all around the ground; I never thought I’d see the ground again. Being able to feel others’ emotions, Amy was curious as to why I suddenly was overjoyed. Obviously, she didn’t say it aloud. “I can finally see the floor again,” I told her. “Oh, that makes sense. Oh and by the way, is Layla ever coming over again? I want to talk to her.” “She might, well she probably is…” I paused, bewildered as to why my sister wants to talk to Layla. My sister felt my bewilderment, “I have my reasons Tristan,” and she skipped off to her room. My sister was so weird sometimes, she was unbelievably incredible and right when she gets there: she screws it right back up. I wonder if she was going to tell Mom how I felt earlier this evening. Not that it would matter because mom has her suspicions, but I still don’t even know how I feel yet; well, one way or another, I knew I was going to find out the hard way.

Layla

As I sped my way home, I finally understood how Cedric felt and also knew he couldn’t feel that way: not at all. I saw and felt his body warmth as he moved closer to me but for some reason I didn’t move. I wanted to move but this weird part of me wanted to -at least- stay but yet it wanted to move closer: it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. As I enter the doorway, Martin is walking past me. Martin and I have never spoken to one another; Leah is pretty much the only one who will actually talk to. Today, I felt courage, so I spoke up. “Hello Martin, how are you?” I spoke to him and he looked at me seeming puzzled. “Why, hello Layla. I’m just fine, how are you?” he answered with the most smart and sensitive voice. I grinned, pleased with myself, and Martin seemed pleased as well. His green eyes really stand out against his blonde hair but he could really lose the power suits (most were black or grey). “I’m just fine,” and at that time, I sort of was. Feeling lazy, I didn’t do my homework; I did clean my room though. For some incredible reason, I felt normal, - though there is no such thing- like non-vampire normal. That moment, out of nowhere, I felt like a human; for no apparent reason. Maybe it was faith? Hope? Or just me, believing that I do live? I don’t know and maybe I never will. “Stop!” said a familiar voice behind me. I turn around and there are those two people again; what were they doing here, I don’t know. “You’re making a big mistake!” screamed the girl. The girl was still the same but she didn’t appear as rugged as before. Her eyes still red, hair still long and unruly, but the red blotches on her face were gone. I looked around me, hoping to see the meadow before me; only to end up with disappointment. The meadow was gone; she was now surrounded by walls, no doors, and one window. “Layla, please stop to listen for just one minute,” called the man with his voice as dark as the night sky, as he ran after me. I continued to run, but it seemed as if the window was getting farther and farther away rather than closer; it was an illusion, I kept repeating to myself. “It’s no use, she’s never going to come my friend,” said the woman with deep regret in her voice.

“No, we must not give up! We have to do this,” replied the man, angry as a snake. Out of nowhere, a trap springs out, entangling me within it. The man and woman cackle and rush towards me to discuss something. “Layla, would you please just listen for one minute?” the woman pleaded. I sighed, drawing in as much attention as a toddler on the first day it walks, “You have two minutes starting… now!” “Okay, well...” “Wait, stop! First I want names!” I declared. They looked at me aghast at my demand; they turned to one another and whispered so low that even I couldn’t hear. They nodded and turned to look back at me, “You may call me, Laleh, and you can call him,” she pointed at the man, “Troy…” The man gave her an uncertain look, and she smiled at him. “Well, you should get going, you have school today.” Suddenly, I arrived back into my room. I woke up to my alarm clock beeping. “LAYLA! YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE!” Leah shouted at me. “Five more minutes…” I mumbled. “It’s 8:00, your bus is going to be here in the next five minutes!” Leah alerted me. I couldn’t move because I felt as if I was hit by a bus while I was asleep. My dream was so creepy and weird; yet it was pleasant. What suddenly popped into my head was last night; the movie, the crying, Tristan, Cedric, and the Carters. I knew for a fact that Cedric’s crushing on me. And right at that moment I froze, looking in my mirror accidently; my reflection was fading. Though, I could still see myself fine, but I looked… different. My eyes were back to their original color and my hair was nice and straight, only a couple red spots, but unfortunately my scratches were still there; I smiled in spite of myself. “Layla, want me to drive you to school?” Leah shouted, catching my attention. “No, I’ll be right there!” I hollered, as I sped right through everything. Only one complication happened and that was the fact that my vampire bone door wouldn’t close. Yes, my door was made of vampire bone but only because it’s stronger than human bone. I needed to hide my true identity to all those who are curious; then again, I haven’t had a curious mortal come in, nor was I planning on it either.

I entered through the school doors with pride, and like most days students turned to look-most were boys ogling my “good looks” but most were envious girls. “Hey Layla,” Tristan greeted with that smile of his, as he strode by my side “’Ello, Layla. Nice to see you,” Cedric also greeted coming on my other side. I was nervous for the first time in my life, and I couldn’t have that feeling go away. I’ve never had anyone besides Tristan by my side but having Cedric was actually worse. I look left and right finding several girls whispering and gossiping with one another. “Wow, she scored Tristan and Cedric! She’s not even that pretty, eh Robin?” whispered a 5 foot 4 inched girl with brown hair and green eyes. “Totally, Brittany. I mean, seriously, look at her she’s really fugly,” replied her friend, same height, brown eyes. I was dumbfounded, those girls were going to get it, and it’s not because of the ugly comment because I couldn’t agree more; it was because they thought I had both Cedric and Tristan supposedly “wrapped around my finger.” “Hey, Cedric isn’t your homeroom history?” I asked. He shook his head but walked right off (probably to the bathroom). “So, I guess she likes Tristan,” she giggled, “I understand why but Cedric is way hotter,” “Definitely.” Those mean, nasty, complete… Aw, shoot Tristan’s reading my mind! Hypocrites! Yeah, hypocrites… Nice one Layla. Tristan chuckled and I giggled a bit, and the two girls looked at each other: clueless. “Maybe Tristan made his move first, makes sense since they’ve known each other longer –plus maybe she’s really loyal- but I still would’ve dumped him for Cedric.” “Totally.” I groaned, these girls would never quit; plus, I am so not dating Tristan or Cedric. It will also never happen! I looked at Tristan and he looked sad, sort of glum. I didn’t understand why he was suddenly sad, oh well… it doesn’t matter for the time being, right?

Dawn

I was walking on to homeroom when I saw him… Cedric Miller, the sweet, sensitive boy I’ve been into since middle school. I just wish he would notice me… Then again he is the soccer team all-star and I’m the science/physics know-it-all; so, in other words, I’m a nerd. Once I sat down in homeroom and took out my books, Layla walks in with Tristan by her side. Layla was looking normal again, her hair was radiant and gleaming in the light and Tristan’s blonde hair was glowing. Tristan and Layla make a good couple don’t get me wrong but I just… I mean it’s Tristan! For a good couple months I had a crush on him. Though, I am way over him but I think their relationship is more master and dog than boyfriend and girlfriend; I mean look at the way he’s always following her and plus, they barely even talk to each other. I don’t know what Tristan sees in Layla either, though she is intelligent and stuff, but she is so weird: she growled at me. Who dates girls who growl at other girls? Tristan, I guess. “Miss Bilson, would you please answer the next problem?” Mr. Henderson told me out of nowhere, catching me completely off guard. “Umm… what problem are we on?” I mumbled embarrassed. “We’re on problem number six,” Tristan whispered, smiling with his gleaming teeth. I smiled back, so maybe I wasn’t over Tristan just yet… “The answer I got was X=109.23…” I answered. “That would be correct Miss Bilson. Though next time, please don’t ask Mister Carter for help.” I breathed out a sigh of relief. I looked at Tristan and he was gazing at Layla, but she wasn’t looking back, as a matter of fact she was looking at Cedric. I didn’t care nor did I understand what was going on but I knew well enough that Tristan was into Layla and I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. Just then, Tristan turned to look at me but instead of that charming smile he usually gives me I got this deadly stare; I couldn’t help but shudder. He sighed and looked back to Layla; it looked like he was concentrating on something, really concentrating almost as if he was like trying to read her mind or something. “Three more days until your projects are due people! There better have been progress from last week, especially from you Mister Miller,” Mr. Henderson accused. I turned to focus on Cedric and he flushed as soon as Mr. Henderson had mentioned his name. I couldn’t help but pity him, I mean seriously, who wouldn’t?

The bell rang and students filed out, well most students except for Layla, Tristan, and Cedric who were most likely a “crew.” And so I decided to ‘join’ supposedly because I don’t really want to join a clique even if it’s a unique one like theirs. “Hey guys,” I entered. They glanced at me and smiled but the only smile that caught my attention was Cedric’s, I mean who could possibly ignore that smile? Layla maybe… “Hi Dawn, what’s up?” Layla smiled, she seemed happier today. Cedric finally got the idea of being friends with the ‘nerd’ I guess, because he looked at me for the first time in years. I fixed my glasses to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. “’Ello Dawn.” He waved. Oh my gosh! He said my name! I could just about scream! “Hey Dawn, how’s it hanging?” Tristan also waved. “I’m just fine, I know it sounds a bit weird and hypocritical… well sort of, but can I join your little ‘crew’” I asked, feeling incredibly stupid. They all laughed, but Tristan answered for them, “Ha ha, we’re not a ‘crew’ we’re just three kids who hang out, Dawn. But sure, you can ‘join.’” He chuckled, using air quotes on the word join. I shyly nodded my head and followed them to their lockers, and strange enough Layla was actually not mean like I thought she was. “So, I was thinking that maybe we could like…” Cedric started. “Maybe, we could all go to the amusement park after school, eh?” Tristan finished as soon as Cedric took a breath. “I guess I’m in, how ‘bout you Dawn?” Layla asked kindly. I thought for a moment; these guys were nice but; 1) I barely know them, let alone like them but 2) This could really give me a chance to get to know them. “I think I’ll go, but I want to be home before…” I really had no certain time, I just didn’t want to be with them too long, “How’s 7:15?” “Cool, see you guys later,” Tristan confirmed as we all departed to our next classes. I scurried over to the front of the school so I wasn’t late to my first “hang out” with my “friends.”

“Oh Em Jee! Britt, look at her outfit, totally librarian, isn’t it?” asked Robin, pointing her manicured red nails at me. “Wow, totally. That’s like really sad,” they gossiped. Robin and Brittany were one of the two girls I didn’t understand, not because of their… um… intellect but because of their attitude; in other words: hypocrisy. I rolled my eyes at them and continued to walk to my friends. “Hey Dawn.” “Hi Dawn.” “’Ello Dawn,” I beamed when he said my name. Robin and Brittany turned to gawk at me because Cedric barely talked to them. “Hi guys, so are we going soon?” I wondered because it seemed as if we weren’t leaving in a little while. “Umm… Layla’s not up to the amusement park,” Tristan informed me, giving Layla a sideways glance, “So… I was thinking we could study for tomorrow’s test?” he suggested. And I couldn’t agree more because that was the department I was totally prepared and ready for. When it came to school and books, I was an expert. We were going to Cedric’s house to study; so I made sure to be extra smart. I’ve never been to his house; then again I haven’t been to a lot of peoples’ houses. Cedric’s house was in the richer part of town, he lived closer to the beach. His house was two stories-even thought it’s only him, his parents, and his little brother- and the house was an old-fashioned brick house. The windows were round and the entrance was a single door and the bricks were maroon. “Welcome to the house of the Millers, welcome back Mister Cedric,” said a short man in a suit, most likely to be a butler. “’Ello Walter, thank you for opening the door; I though mum and dad would be home…” “Sorry Mister Cedric but you’re parents are with a client…” Cedric frowned, and yet he was still cute. “Well, let’s head to the study, shall we?” he suggested, still seeming a bit down. I had almost forgotten that Cedric’s parents were workaholics and he barely spent time with them; though Cedric still loved them and didn’t have any troublesome outbursts. “Well, um…” Layla spoke, clearly uncomfortable, “I guess we could um… start homework?”

Tristan nodded and set his backpack on the coffee table besides me. Cedric’s study looked more like a living room rather than a study. “Hmm…. Actually, we’re in my mum’s den, so…” Cedric said aloud because most of us were severely confused. There was a lovely, brown loveseat next to the coffee table besides me, and I was sitting on a threeperson brown couch. As everyone was taking out their homework, I couldn’t help but observe Cedric’s gorgeous den. The room had this peace to it, almost as if you could just sit here and think serenely. “Well, we should probably get started on some stuff…” Layla tried to get us to work. An hour passed and nobody has said a word and it’s starting to get uncomfortable. I didn’t think anyone was trying to start up on a conversation but I wasn’t going to be the one to try and start one. Well nigh over a half hour later, everyone was still silent as a mouse and finally, somebody said something. “Okay… I’ve finished my homework up until next week! We need to do something that won’t put us to sleep!” Tristan blurted. “Yeah, I’ve finished homework for the next three weeks!” Layla busted in, agreeing completely with Tristan. “Well… I got homework done for this week, but I’m up for anything,” Cedric said uncertainly. Then, it all came down to me. I wanted to study because Layla was more ahead of me -it was sort of competitive between us- but I wanted to hang out with Cedric and Tristan. “How about you Dawn?” Cedric asked with his dreamy English voice. I swooned and finally answered, “I guess we could go now…” “All right, let’s go!” Tristan shouted.

Tristan
We were all heading toward the park to play a game of basketball, or at least Cedric and I were. But as we were heading there, Cedric wanted to speak with me privately and possibly with Layla after. When we reached the park, Cedric and I headed to the basketball court and Dawn and Layla headed to the recreation center to chat. “Hey, Tristan! Can I talk to you for a few minutes?” Cedric said as he rushed to my side.

“Yeah, what’s up Cedric?” I asked already knowing what he was most likely say. “Okay, so dude… How do I put this?” he paused lost in deep thought, but yet I didn’t want to know what he was thinking, “Okay, I’m just going to come out with it!” “Dude, just say it. Or ask it or whatever, because I want to play some ball.” “Okay,” Cedric took a deep breath, “Do you like Layla?” “Um…” “Answer me honestly and truthfully.” I couldn’t lie to my best friend… Cedric is the greatest friend I’ve ever had and not telling him my biggest secret kills me enough as it is… “Tristan, now!” I took a deep breath, deciding between a lie that makes him happy, or the honest truth that will wound him… life changing in a way, but not exactly. “Cedric…” “Dude, I want to play some ball too! So hurry up and answer.” “You want the truth?” “Yes, hurry though because I want to play some basketball.” I took a deep breath of recollection and let out what I had to say, truth or lie, it wouldn’t matter because Cedric was my friend until the end. Or so I thought…

Chapter 5 The Key
Tristan
“Friends no matter what, right?” I confirmed with Cedric. “I guess, Tristan. Just answer the damn question!” He replied and we did a handshake. “Dude… I… don’t like her,” I lied, and grinned. “You little…” and he chased me around the court with the ball in his hands, pretending as if he was going to hit me with it. “Okay, okay, let’s play some basketball,” I laughed.

“All right but Tristan, are you serious? You’re not interested? I can ask her out and there won’t be a problem?” Cedric asked, continuously. I swallowed down the truth, “Yeah, it totally doesn’t matter. Not even the slightest.” It pained me to lie to my best friend about something like that, but what was worse was that he was going to get turned down… Was he? I mean Layla seems interested, but she couldn’t be. She believes that mortals are terrible, foolish creatures and dating one doesn’t support her opinion. “All that drama…” Cedric mumbled as he tried for his shot in H.O.R.S.E. Then, Dawn came up to us, seeming quite confident in whatever she was doing. I looked for Layla and she was giving Dawn an encouraging smile. Okay, Dawn, now’s your time! Just ask Cedric and suck it up, no matter the answer! I can do this! I could see Dawn’s optimism in her eyes and posture, but Cedric just looked at me; What’s Dawn doing? Why is she coming here? What about Layla and Dawn’s girl talk? I had to stop this, she was going to get rejected badly, but I knew there was absolutely nothing I could possibly do. Dawn was finally coming out of her shell, and Layla helped her do it. Amazing; Layla helped a human being. “Well, I say we should start the game, right Cedric?!” I intervened. Cedric nodded and walked away to the court. Dawn was clearly disappointed. The frown on her face signifies that Dawn must really like Cedric… Oh well, I wasn’t after her. “Toss it man!” Cedric shouted out at me. I threw it at him light enough for him to not break his bones; he caught it, shot it, and finally made it in the basket. Cedric screamed in delight because he finally made it in the basket after two tries. “Finally!” he high-fived me with great confidence, “Dude, do you know what Dawn was going to ask me? I mean, seriously, was it so important that she had to interrupt our conversation?!” “I can’t read minds, dude.” I lied, smirking at the thought of me not reading minds. “That’s true, I mean, really, who could possibly read minds?” he concluded. I looked down; I didn’t want to see his poor, betrayed eyes; though he didn’t even know anything about, I still couldn’t stand it. I sighed and we continued playing but I wasn’t concerned about winning; for the first time in my life I was worried about: Love.

I was walking Layla home because Cedric chickened out and I took the offer of taking her there. I can totally understand why Cedric would lose his courage, the one he usually flaunts; this is Layla we’re talking about; beautiful, magnificent, wonderful, sweet… And yet I couldn’t find they right words to actually describe her. As a matter of fact, no words were worthy of her. “Well, Dawn didn’t get her chance… I feel bad,” I confessed because truthfully, I think Cedric will take the worst possible choice: trying to make Layla jealous. “It’s not your fault; I didn’t really think she had the guts to ask him…” she replied shyly, clapping her hands together. “Well…” I have no idea what to say to her because there was nothing to really say. We continued the rest of the way in silence. I trudged the rest of the way home because I felt that Layla was unhappy and I couldn’t help her. As soon as I walk into the door: I was ambushed. “So… Hey Tristan!” Amethyst greeted with an unreasonable grin. “Welcome home!” Amelia greeted with her in unison. “Hi guys, what’s going on?” “Well… We heard that a certain someone… a special someone…” Amelia started but was interrupted by her twin. “Okay, I’m going straight to the point! We –and the whole family- know that… you’re in love!” Amethyst screamed. I flushed, I felt mortified; my sisters were both smiling like hell. “I knew it! Amy was right, yay! I am so happy for you, Tristan; I never thought that you would fall in love! With a vampire, I always thought of you as the forbidden love type guy…” my sister mumbled the last part to herself. “Mom, Dad, Jared, William, Weston, Amy, get down here! Tristan just admitted his love for, uh… Lila!” Amethyst screamed, thinking about how bad a mouthful that was. “It’s Layla,” I corrected her, and she smiled. My family appeared in the room, my mom with her stunning beauty, -you know with being a vampire and all- shocking red eyes, long, luscious blonde hair, and her perfect smile; my father with his human appearance, –as in he’s not that wonderful looking- had long, shoulder-length auburn hair, a small goatee

with a mustache, and had silver-like yet grey eyes; Jared with his usual self but today he had lipstick on his cheek – don’t ask- and William and Weston were their usual selves as well. “So… love, eh?” dad wondered. “Dad,” I groaned, “It’s not love, it’s just a crush it’ll pass.” “No, honey, it won’t,” Mom said as she touched my hand, “Amy told me the exact emotion you felt that day –and how grossed-out she was at first- and I know exactly what that is. That’s exactly what happened to me and your father -and your sister too- It’s theoretically called ‘igniting’ but so far it hasn’t been proven. She’s your inamorata and one day you will be her inamorato,” mom declared with her terrific soprano voice. I didn’t know if I could handle this information; plus I was definitely not ‘igniting’ Layla; it was only a crush, a crush that developed but will end. I gazed around at my family and they were all smiling at me, but I didn’t know what to say. “I… I don’t know what to say…” I admitted. “That’s a normal reaction, Tristan. That’s exactly what I said after my parents told me…” mom told me, but I didn’t have the guts to tell her how I felt. “Mom… I don’t love Layla, I think it’s only a crush,” I blurted. “Tristan-“ Mom started. “Mom, don’t listen to him, he has no idea what he’s saying!” Amelia interrupted Mom, “Tristan, listen to Mom she knows her stuff. Plus, I know exactly what it feels like to ‘ignite’ the ‘flame’ and trust me it starts with denial. “Not only that but it will always last forever. I’ve looked into it and done some stuff with it. I know that; one, you can choose who it is, just not whenever you want. Two, it lasts forever, as in it will never end but the person you choose can end it but you can’t, And three, it doesn’t matter whether they like, or love, or even hate you, as long as you see that person happy, that’s all it takes!” “Amelia… I don’t love her…” I mumbled loud enough for her to comprehend. She sighed, “You listen to me right now, Tristan; I talk, you listen,” I nodded, “This is mandatory, every vampire must ignite the flame, that’s why we’re all gathered here, right now. So, now you can ignite your candle and do it proudly, please.” “No! For the millionth time, I DO NOT LOVE LAYLA!” I screamed.

Amy rushed out to grab the candles despite what I said; I turned to Weston and he smiled, “Tristan, light the candle,” he said. I couldn’t say no because he already foresaw me lighting the candle. Amy came back with one of those Jewish candles usually used for Hanukah, but it had ten candles. The candles appeared as any candle but the ones that were lit had eternal flames. Each candle had a name inscribed beneath it, and I saw mine. I took a sharp intake of breath, I was igniting my candle, this was final; there’s no going back but I wanted to, but my family won’t let me so therefore, I have no choice. “Tristan, light your candle with the eternal flame when I finish the ritual,” Mom ordered. Mom was gazing up at the ceiling, “Today the Carter family has a son whom will ‘ignite’ his candle and will never neither withdraw nor cancel his eternal flame. My son, Tristan Ethan Carter, will step to his candle to light the very candle he owns and then he will sign the immortal contract with his own blood from birth,” Mom raised the candlestick holder, “May he forevermore keep his word,” she set it back down onto the dining table. I took a deep, reassuring breath because what I was about to do was final and wasn’t cancelable. I took a step towards my candle, the candle I was going to ignite with eternal flame. “Tristan, please ignite your candle,” Mom ordered. My movement was very hesitant; I almost took everything back because I was afraid of commitment. My whole family bowed their heads when I was in the presence of my candle. Mom held out the eternal flame and I took my candle and put it right under the flame, “Now that Tristan’s candle has touched the eternal, everlasting flame he will walk back to the candlestick holder and set it in its rightful place.” I gulped, I had just finished igniting my candle but I was still confused, very confused. When did I choose Layla? I never said it out loud nor mentally; I still don’t understand. I reached my destination and set it down, Mom looked back up, “The ritual is over, my son, Tristan Ethan Carter, has just ignited his candle and will stay to his commitment until the end of time. Let him first sign the contract and then may we celebrate!” Mom exclaimed –yet with a whisper- with joy and praise. Amy came from behind Mom carrying the contract with her delicate fingers. She flashed me a grin before she returned back to her spot. “Thank you. Tristan please take this pen filled with the ink of your blood of birth and sign your name to officially declare yourself ignited.”

My hand was shaking as I signed my name for I was still filled with troubles and couldn’t concentrate. The pen’s tip was resting on the paper, idle because I wasn’t positive; I wasn’t sure I could sign this contract. I wasn’t sure of anything but I had already gone through the ritual, even though I don’t love Layla, I might as well make my family happy by igniting. I finally gained the bravery to sign the paper with relief yet I was still a bit tense. I took a loud, deep gulp and smiled at my family. “See, that wasn’t so bad!” Amy congratulated me. “Gosh, why did he have to choose Layla?” Jared murmured to himself. “You never even stood a chance Jared. I know that I will one day win her heart, and I will be an inamorato, hers specifically,” I joked, slapping him on the back. My mom grinned, and my dad smirked because they knew at the same time I did: I, Tristan Ethan Carter, for the first time in at least ten years, have faith.

Layla
Life was beginning to get boring, really boring. I couldn’t pull anything through this portal of boredom and I don’t think I will for quite some time; I was lying on my bed, my body sprawled on top of my blanket and I was staring at the ceiling. Wonderment, dreams, hatred, irritation; these are some of the words and subjects that randomly pop into my head. But mostly I was focused on my dreams, the ones I have at night. Each time I have this dream the two people are nicer and kinder each time but yet they still appear vicious and cruel; Troy and Laleh, they were the two people that were either A: just illusions, B: a message being sent through a dream, or C: I am a crazy dreamer. Yet I always believed it was A but at times I think it’s B, but I always come up with conclusion C; how’s that for indecisive? “Layla, a friend’s at the door,” Leah called. “Be there in a few,” I replied. It was Dawn; I could smell the human scent and could hear her talking to Leah discreetly. I couldn’t let Dawn see my room, which would be terrible considering the fact that she can get nosy and curious most of the time. Plus, a room without a window and has a very rough door wasn’t a good sign; it usually meant that the person was to be locked up in some sort of cell due to various reasons.

I hesitantly walked down the stairs, wondering why on earth Dawn was standing in my doorway; I mean, she wasn’t exactly my best friend or –like Tristan- my ‘protector’ so, why was she here? Dawn caught me as I was halfway down the stairs, “Hey, Layla,” she waved, “I need to talk to you about ‘you-know-who,’” she smirked. “Oh all right, I’m coming,” I came down the stairs less hesitant, trying to remember who you-knowwho was… Leah left us in the living room, which was small enough to fit four people but with these small quarters we really couldn’t stretch out. Then again, Martin and Leah weren’t planning on me really coming out of my room since the day my dad left me here. “So… what’s up?” I questioned. “Only trying to get Cedric to notice me, like me, not the fake me, you know?” she replied, obviously at that moment I figured out who you-know-who was. I sighed, Dawn was pretty much -in short terms- in love with Cedric Miller, the England boy; but I had to admit that he was quite cute… Every since we all went to the public park, Dawn’s been trying to ask Cedric out, due to the fact that I encouraged her. Dawn’s hair was quite different today, because instead of being down, she had it pulled back by a clip, showing her face more. For the first time ever, I noticed her wearing makeup; she was wearing a light, bright pink blush, with glowing, radiant pink lip gloss, and she had eyeliner on… “Wow, you’re really dressed up, aren’t you Dawn? Finally ask Cedric?” I wondered. She flushed making her cheeks becoming rosier, “No… I was planning on running into him but it’s too late…” I chuckled, “Well then what’s with the getup?” I teased. “I told you, I thought I was going to bump into Cedric,” she explained again. I nodded my head; I don’t understand humans, especially when it came to love or crushes, or whatever they called it… “Anyways, like I was saying I thought I was going to bump into him but… I ended up going somewhere completely different,” she flushed a bright red. “Where were you heading and where did you go instead?” I asked, truly curious as to why she would flush like that so suddenly.

“Well… I was heading to the mall, to the sports store supposedly searching for a gift for my dad but I was going to purposely bump into Cedric but instead I headed for the library for this awesome new book that just got published! It was a pretty good book but Cedric saw me and didn’t even say hi… Maybe he’s too cool for me, but still, we should be friends; I’ve known him since 1st grade!” she confessed, uneasily. “Relax Dawn, you’ll be just fine. It’s only one itsy-bitsy mistake; you have no need to worry,” I soothed with calming hands. That was a completely bad turn in the conversation because now, Dawn wasn’t exactly calm or soothed; as a matter of fact, she was quite disappointed. She sighed, “Let’s just face it… He’ll never go out with me,” she confessed, “I never stood a chance Layla. “He never liked me and he never ever will…” she continued. There was a silent pause as I collected this information and processed it; so what Dawn was implying was that she was going to give up, but I wasn’t going to let her give up. “Dawn, you’re an ambitious girl right?” she nodded, “Well then, what I don’t understand is why you’re giving up so easily,” I told her in a negative tone. “Well, I mean what’s the use, he’s not going to like me and therefore he’s going to reject me, and I don’t want to be embarrassed; or known as the ‘girl who thought she had a chance,’ Layla.” “But… Dawn, shouldn’t that make you want to try harder? I thought you always loved a challenge –I figured out through your project- so why would this one make a difference. All you’re doing is switching the competition from academics to relationships. Therefore, you should be trying harder rather than letting this pass because I know for a fact that soon you’ll regret this; regret giving up hope…” I retorted annoyed because Dawn was suddenly giving up after she had told me that this was practically a ‘long-time crush’ and now here she was in front of me, giving up. “I… I… I see your point,” she said, “I’ll try a little harder.” “Atta girl,” I praised with sympathy and now I could see the confident gleam in her green eyes. She waved and was out of my door and then I took a deep breath, now that that is done I can finally relax a little bit. Leah came around the corner, “So your friends with a Bilson, Layla? That’s good; they’re a courteous, respectful family you know? Mr. Patrick Bilson is a head of the motel, over by the supermarket, called Wonder Inn. Cute name, eh?”

“Oh, I didn’t know that… But that name is quite cute.” I mumbled the first part; I had no idea that Dawn’s dad owned a motel. “Yeah, but her parents are divorced and she lives with her mom, so… technically, her dad is the only owner of the motel but Ms. Emily Bilson is quite known around the town, because she’s the best dentist in the whole town.” “That is rather interesting…” I murmured once again, “Well that’s considerable information Leah, thank you.” “Why, your welcome,” she smirked, the tips of her hair lifting along with her lips, “Oh and can you do me a favor?” “Yes?” “Can you either stay in your room for a few hours or you can go to a friend’s house? It’s Timothy’s and Jeremy’s birthday party today and no offense but I don’t exactly think you should be there with… humans,” Leah acknowledged. “Um… I’ll see if anyone’s available… I’ll be sure to stay out of the way and trouble.” “All right, thank you,” she thanked me. And I was off, I, first was heading to Tristan’s house, because I think I was most welcome there than most houses. Once again, I passed by each of the houses on Tristan’s street; the houses were purely incredible. Each of them gave off the ‘home’ vibe; I mean how could you look at these incredibly beautiful, creative, breathtaking homes and not want one? Though, you could see the simplicity of having it, the houses were the old, Victorian styled houses but somewhat cottage for a few of them. The roof shingles were rounded and the windows were as well. The way I describe them is: breathtaking, yet simple. I knocked on the door, Amy answered, “Oh, hello Layla what a surprise seeing you here…” she greeted, “come on in, I’ll call Tristan down.” “Oh ok, um… I was actually just wondering if I could stay over for a few hours because my…” I searched for the best thing to call them, “brothers, I guess you could say, are having a birthday party today and as some of you may already know, I can’t handle birthdays…” “Oh,” she enunciated the word with a long-lasting breath, “Well, I think you could stay over,” she paused for a minute, “Yes, you definitely can,” she confirmed with a nod as she lead me into the living room.

I smiled at the site before me, the house looked exactly the same since I last got here but it felt more… roomy? I don’t know but whatever it was it kept me smiling for quite a while; so much so, that I didn’t even take notice to the fact that Tristan was standing at the doorway. I wonder how long I was standing there… “You’ve been standing idle like this for about… four minutes, Layla,” Tristan answered my thought with a slight smirk on his face. I sighed, “Thanks Tristan, even though that was a rhetorical question,” I replied annoyed because he still wouldn’t leave me alone. “It’s only for your own good, Layla,” he replied to my thought again. I groaned, “Shut up Tristan, and let me keep my thoughts to myself please, at least give me that.” “What else have I done? All I really do is read your mind occasionally because I respect your privacy to not read it too much,” he asked bewildered. “Where’s my freedom? Do you always have to follow me around with your crazy, deranged stalker ways?!” I demanded, feeling suddenly angry. “Wow, what happen to calm, serene Layla a couple of minutes ago?” he wondered with the weirdest expression on his face. “She had to take a break, I’ve been too relaxed for too long. Answer me Tristan, please,” suddenly I stooped down to my knees. I was confused, befuddled, discombobulated; I was having sudden mood swings, crazy as that seems. Tristan was probably just as confused as I was, but it was worse for him because I could understand myself, I think. “Layla, are you okay?” Tristan worried with much more concern than necessary. “I… I…” the room started to spin, my thoughts blurry, “help,” I gasped as I collapsed to the floor.

Tristan
Layla had fainted but I had no idea why; plus she had slight mood swings. This was all so quick and confusing, muddled. I hurriedly carried her up the stairs, enjoying the feeling of her in my arms: it was pleasant, comforting, like all my pain had been washed away. Well, that’s probably how it’s going to be forever considering the fact that I ignited… “Mom, Layla fainted!” I yelled worriedly.

My mom rushed to my side her hair gently sweeping to the side as she skidded to a stop, “What happened honey? Explain.” I told her everything, starting from the greeting at the door to ending with the mood swings and sudden fainting. “How odd… That’s quite an extreme, I mean sudden mood swings, fainting, loving our house –even though I love it too- but that’s quite… eerie and bizarre.” I nodded; mom and I carried her to the guest room, and Amy and Jared abruptly appeared by my side. “Is she going to be okay?” Jared asked almost as worried as I was. I scowled at him, because he knew that Layla would one day be mine. That’s the way it always happened with igniting. You choose who but not when and how long… but they do eventually realize they love you, no matter what. “Jared, you should totally forget about Layla, because she’s mine!” I growled. “Jeez, relax bro, I was only concerned for your future paramour…” he grumbled. “Stop it you two, this isn’t about love at the moment, it’s about Layla’s health,” Amy protested. And mom agreed, and I was irritated; maybe getting mood swings is part of being a vampire… Then realization hit me, I knew that Layla wouldn’t want to wake up to a bunch of people crowding around her so I tried to convince Jared and Amy to leave but neither of them budged. “Come on guys! It’s for Layla’s sake, she hates crowds.” “I want to be here when she wakes up,” Amy complained. “I know why you want to stay Tristan so I thought I shouldn’t leave so I could prevent anything like that from happening,” my brother teased. I groaned. “How about all of you leave?” Mom tried, “NO!” I shouted at her, nearly causing a tremor. “Gosh, I’ll just leave if it’s that important to you,” Jared stated right before he left. I smirked, and Amy was astonished to the fact that Jared actually listened to me, plus she also felt my relief and joy. “Well, at least somebody left,” Mom joked, “Now, I don’t have any idea of what happened… Maybe stress, or depression -or worse, post traumatic stress- of some sort hit her a little later than planned. I just

don’t know Tristan; I’m not a doctor… but I think I might be able to figure it out with some research of some sort. I mean, after all, I am one hundred and twenty-two years old, right?” she grinned, “Sorry, Tristan, she might be asleep for quite sometime… Perhaps, maybe a coma, I’m so sorry Tristan,” she said, running her fingers through my hair. My Layla, or my soon-to-be Layla, was asleep, a coma… I couldn’t stand it, it was painful, “All right Mom but I will skip school until she wakes up… I’m not leaving her side and perhaps, possibly, hopefully, she’ll wake up feeling the same way I feel about her…” I trailed off, starting to really grasp the actual possibility of that. Layla falls asleep and wakes up in love with me; that would be simple but it was a wonderful feeling… Still, only a possibility… A dream, a wish, a preference… Interrupting my thoughts, Weston appears by my side, “Tristan…” he grasps my shoulder with a firm grip, “She’s going to be just fine,” he smiled satisfied. I ran through his thoughts searching for her future; I found it. It was something like this: I was standing on Layla’s right side –closest to the window- gripping her hand, anxiously awaiting her awakening, and as I had anticipated for a while; she wakes up in a daze, stunned and silent as I explain every detail to her. Her eyes turning brighter and brighter each time I tell her that I was always waiting for her to wake up, in other words, a confession of my love to her. I didn’t fully understand why I would do that, I mean, I could have made that move anytime from where I first found out but I never did, so why then? Layla’s mouth slowly forms into a minuscule ‘O.’ She gasps, staring wide-eyed at me, mumbles something and runs away. Tears form very slowly and gently into my eyes-in the ‘dream’ and real lifeLayla had run away forever… I returned to the present, Weston still standing firmly in place. I turned to him, my eyes overflowing with tears, “Why? Why, oh why?” I blubbered. “Tristan, it’ll be okay. I just came to warn you, to prevent you, from your idiotic mistake.” “I… I… I don’t understand how I could be so stupid,” I told him. “Ah,” he sighed, “You were simply overwhelmed that she was alive, Tristan. In your head, you thought she’d never looked so… amazing and your mind overflowed pouring out, like a pitcher with water; whatever was in there came out. It shocked her, she doesn’t even know how she feels, unlike you, and she comprehends slower. “But, still, I don’t even know where to begin on your stupid outburst of joy,” he mumbled.

“No need to explain that, Weston. Get back to school.” I acknowledged him with great grief. He nodded and took off at the speed of light. I gazed down at my poor Layla; she was asleep, unaware about anything. Her eyes were shut tight, her chest heaving as she breathed in her rest, and her hair falling beside her -stopping around her bottomas she slept dreamful and painless… hopefully. Layla has been asleep –or comatose- for a mere six hours and I was already getting anxious. I was still standing by her side until she was awakened, but my mother began to worry about me because I haven’t ‘eaten’ in five days, she thought I was going to starve. I started calming her down but she was still freaking out on me. “Mom, I’m fine, really. The only thirst I have is the thirst for Layla but what I mean by that is I want her to wake up.” Amy was next to Mom and she rolled her eyes, “That was the cheesiest line I’ve ever heard,” she muttered under her breath. Mom chuckled then went back to her moping, “Honey, don’t worry too much. Please, take a break and eat.” “No! I want to be here when she wakes up!” I yelled, demandingly. Mom sighed but finally gave in to my pleas and let me stay home. My family was going on an annual hunting trip we take every month –obviously humans stay home- and for the first time ever; I was staying. I hesitantly caressed Layla’s arm, leaving a small trail of goosebumps; strange, how could that chill her like that? “Red, I know you’re there,” I shouted angrily. “Jeez Tristan, I was only watching out for you. I mean, I was watching to make sure you won’t do something stupid like Weston said,” and Jared covered his mouth. “How the hell would you know about that?! Weren’t you out with some girl?!” I screamed, angrier than usual. Jared gave me a pleading look, “Look, I’m sorry. You know me, I get curious-“ “More like nosy!” I retorted. “Now wait a minute there Tristan. I am only looking out for what’s best for you, okay?”

“No! I know that you’re here for the same reason I am! For her!” I jabbed my index finger in Layla’s direction. She seemed unaware of the argument taking place in this room due to the fact of her comatose. “Now Tristan, you know I respect the fact that you ignited and all but that’s not why I’m here. Weston sent me to keep an eye on you.” “Liar!” I yelled. I was fuming angry. I could picture myself right now at this exact moment; my eyes widened and filled with anger and rage, my fists ready to take a jump towards Jared’s jaw, my lips moving with such speed for I was swearing and cursing him under my breath, and my pale white skin red along with my eyes. “Tristan, please calm down!” my brother tried, but failed. I was ready to leap toward him and strangle him until he couldn’t breathe. I was steps away from attacking him, his neck almost in my grasp, but then suddenly a person –I think- emerged from the window, panting. “Jared!” she screamed. I turned around, stunned and perplexed. There was a vampire at my window; I knew it was a vampire by the pale skin, red eyes, and teeth but one thing that surprised me was that she was a vampire with orange hair. I have never in my life seen a vampire with orange hair. What confused me was that this girl somehow knew my brother. “Jared, please be careful,” she whimpered. I was dumbfounded, before me was a scathed and impaired vampire; on every showing part of her body had a scratch or scar of some sort. Her eyes were filled with concern and despair, “Jared…” she breathed as she suddenly collapsed onto the hard wooden floor. “No!” Jared abruptly shrieked, “No, no, no, no…” “What the hell is going on here Red?!” I yelled. “No, it can’t be… it’s just not possible,” he muttered. “Jared, what is going on?!” I demanded and he turned to me, frowning but I could tell that behind that was a scowl. “They did this to her…” her groaned. “Who is that?!” I yelled, for I was still worried.

Jared was angry, his fists were clenched, but he was shaking his head in disbelief, his body was practically shaking. I was standing there, feeling completely useless and like I shouldn’t be there. “Tristan, remember that girl I mentioned a few weeks ago?” Jared glanced up at me with hopeful eyes. “Umm… Which one?” He sighed but then chuckled a little but it didn’t have the feeling of humor, “Hailey Wilkins? I feel so stupid… I thought she couldn’t win my heart but I was wrong but here she is, in my arms, approximately as weak as Layla might be… Tristan, I was trying to tell you that I moved on, but you didn’t believe me…” “Red, I am so sorry… how was I supposed to know? You tried to hit on Layla and didn’t lay off, so I was suspicious…” “It’s all right,” he mumbled. He was caressing her, slowly tracing her scars and I watched with great agony because the love of my life was sitting in the same room but I couldn’t do so since she doesn’t love me… “Wait, I have one more question Jared.” “Yes, what is it?” he asked, not stopping to look at me for he was staring at Hailey’s face. “How are they?” I wondered. He finally turned to look at me with a deadly stare, his eyebrows rising with disbelief, “They are the werewolves, and you know, the witless, hot-headed, vulgar, filthy creatures they are. As you can see, my dear Hailey was attacked,” he scowled but hidden -like his scowl earlier- deep within was a frown. I shuddered, those brutes with their wolf-man figures and bizarre, glowing yellow eyes and their claws the size of my hand. Their claws could rip through two and a half telephone books but their bite was worse, not only was it like a poison to vampires but it alters a human in just one mere day. “Are there bite marks anywhere?” I asked concerned. “That’s what I’m searching for…” he answered, deeply involved in what he was doing. I stood there silently watching my brother. I was starting to drift off to sleep when my brother suddenly nudged my leg, “Tristan, call Mom.” “What? Why?” I asked befuddled. His expression was cross and he just demanded, “Now!” I ran down to the phone, suddenly wondering where my father had gone to… I dialed my Mom’s number with lightning fast speed, she answered after three rings.

“Hello, this is Mellissa Carter speaking,” she answered. “Mom! It’s me, it’s an emergency!” I yelled so loud that the house wall shook. “Oh, what’s wrong? Is that stove not turning on again? Ugh, stupid mechanics.” “No! We have a vampire down! Repeat, vampire down!” I repeated over six times. Mom answered, “I’ll be there in three minutes, more or less.” I hung up the phone and I rapidly sped my actions, I was next to Jared, “Jared, you found a bite, didn’t you?” I asked once again with concern. “Yes,” he blubbered, and suddenly Hailey woke up. “Jared, it’ll be fine. I’ll be okay, like you said, your mom’s practically a doctor,” she smiled as she touched his cheek with the most delicate touch. “I’m trying to relax but you don’t understand…” he answered her with grief. Anon, Mom was there, standing next to me. “What’s wrong and who is this?” Mom immediately demanded of us. Jared was sitting on the ground holding Hailey close to him, therefore I answered, “Hailey Wilkins, Jared’s girlfriend,” I introduced her and Mom gave me this ‘what?’ look and I nodded, “And unfortunately, she was bitten…” Mom looked at me like I was crazy or some sort of loon. “She was bitten by a werewolf, Mom,” I told her. She shuddered as I had earlier and then she pulled Jared away from her and set her down on the other guest bed. “All right, I need to mix an antidote. It’ll take a couple days Jared, I’m sorry. I can’t believe this; I leave you home alone for a few hours and this happens,” she shakes her head in disappointment. I didn’t care, because not only had a whole load been lifted off of Jared’s shoulders but I had finally relaxed about the Layla situation also at hand but then again, Layla’s situation wasn’t as bad as this, thank God or else I would’ve died. Jared hid his face in his hands and left the room, discouraged. I looked at Mom and she gave me a faithful smile. “Finally, at least two of my sons have their true loves but now we need to do that ritual for Jared…” I groaned, for I was done for the day. I needed a break and I was going to lie down right next to Layla so that way if and when she wakes up, I’ll be right there with her. But that’s how it’s always going to be

until the ends of the Earth, wait no… not even then, that would be too early; the time was immeasurable, everlasting, and the love is unconditional. I would always be by Layla’s side, through morning and night, life and death, yes and no, decision after decision; I would always be there to support her.

Layla

The dream never ended, it was a continuous circuit, like a conveyer belt, never moving out of place. The sides were blurred but I could see all I needed to. My parents, they were in the hospital. It was late night and my mom was almost in labor, obviously I wasn’t born yet. “It’s going to be fine honey, just breathe. In. Out. In. Out.” My father repeated over and over as my mom firmly gripped his hand. My mom was stunningly attractive, she was taller than me by four inches, she has my eyes, and her skin appeared as delicate and light as a feather but dark as sand at a beach, and she had copper colored hair with medium-length waves. My mother was screaming and sweating with tremendous speed, and at that moment, I questioned whether the kids were worth the pain. I soon regretted it because after I was born –I was crying, I might add- I had a feeling it was worth seeing the child. Your child, the one with your eyes, your cheekbones, and your smile. Children were worth the pain and effort, coming from nonexperienced, so it was practically useless to know. “Oh, I need some sleep… But right now, if it wasn’t for my drowsiness, I’d scream with joy,” she grinned right before she fell asleep. “Sleep, my darling, sleep. The baby and I don’t need you just yet,” my dad smiled, his fangs showing slightly. For the first time in a while, I smiled wide with every single on of my teeth showing. Obviously, I had my father’s skin and instincts, plus I am more like him in more ways than my mom; but I still loved her. “Mr. Fall would you like to name your child?” the nurse said as she wondered into the room, “We’re going to need her name so we can identify the child later on…” “I refuse to name my child without my wife’s word along with mine. So, can we wait until later?” he replied as polite as a gentleman would be. I always did remember my father being kind-hearted for a man who had no beating heart. Besides the fact that he abandoned me, he was an all-right guy. Suddenly, the room twisted away and I was in a new set of surroundings. It was a room, a room with a familiar scent: mom’s perfume. Although, she never needed it because she always smelled pretty.

The walls were painted with a soft grey and the floor was cedar wooden panels, on the right rested a grey crib, sleigh-like styled, and within that crib was a child: me. “Our baby, oh, little Layla, that’ll be her nickname…” Mom cooed. My father chuckled, “Ah, yes, little Layla… Ha-ha, it suits her, my darling…” Dad had dark red eyes, he was thirsty but yet he was able to control his thirst. That was so unlike me, when I got thirsty, I was thirsty and there was no stopping me from hunting. Especially when I was thirsty, I was always faster. The doorbell rang, ruining the moment. My mother got up and answered it (my room was in the hallway, five giant steps away from the door); a man was standing in the doorway. He was grinning. “Hello there, Mr. and Mrs. Fall, I heard about your wonderful baby girl can I see her?” the man asked with a smirk. My dad only chuckled, “Only if you promise not to eat her, Lucifer. Please, I don’t want to lose my first child.” The man laughed with him, “All right, I already ate though Nox.” Once again my father laughed, “I haven’t been referred as Nox in a while, my friend.” The man gave off this weird aura, he had quite an amount of facial hair around his lips, and he had the darkest black hair, almost like mine, and he had red eyes, which means he was lying to my father; his friend. He came closer to me –the baby form of me-, suddenly I began to scream and wail. My parents looked at each other and nodded, “I don’t think the baby likes you Lucifer,” Dad told him as he sniffed the air, “ah, I see…” “My foolish friend, how can you love such a creature so much? This filthy half-breed is almost as bad as a werewolf or the werepire! It must be killed, I’m sorry my brother but you have been called a fiend, a traitor, and a disgrace, we –we meaning they want me to- are going to kill it,” he said pointing a finger to me. I was defenseless, and my father looked at my mother and me. Who’s we? Who are they? I kept wondering in my head though there wouldn’t ever be an answer, for now… “I’m sorry my friend, but I am going to have to point the finger at you. You’re a traitor too, you knew about this and you didn’t care until now. Plus, you’re betraying me. Doesn’t that make you a traitor too?” my father retorted calmly and psychologically.

“I…I… No, I didn’t betray you. I’m helping you for the greater good; your child must die.” “No!” my mother shouted from her seat by my crib, “Will they kill another in exchange for killing my child?” Lucifer was caught off guard, “I think they will, why?” he was obviously a clueless man. My parents gazed at each other, my father trying to find out what that must mean, “No… Rebecca, don’t please… No…” my father mumbled, tears beginning to fall. I didn’t understand, what was my mother thinking? Of sacrificing Dad? “Please Rebecca, don’t do this, you know I love you. Don’t… Please…” he pleaded helplessly but it was useless, my mother had put her foot down and made a decision. “I’m willing to sacrifice myself for my daughter!” she demanded. I screamed, “NO! Mom don’t do it! Please, listen to Dad! NO!” She obviously couldn’t hear me therefore screaming was useless… “Oh… you are?” Lucifer said clearly intrigued by her little plan. “Yes,” she nodded. Dad was standing there, inert, for he couldn’t do anything to prevent her from this cruel decision, “Rebecca, please listen to me. I’ll do it!” Dad volunteered. “No, we need you Nox, you can’t die, but we are willing to sacrifice the human. The planet could use less…” he trailed off, because he didn’t want to enrage my father more than he already was. “I will sacrifice myself for my child because I love her, Nox… I will go to the ends of the earth to save her from any hazards, any dangers… any terrible thing…” “What a pleasant speech, Rambunctious Rebecca… They are willing to accept your offer. You have three days to say your little good-byes…” Lucifer stated right before he ran off into the distance. Once again, the surroundings disappeared, and I appeared around a new area. This area was the front of Leah and Martin’s house. My father was standing in front of the door holding me in the carrier. “Dada, whewe aw we?” I asked with my little high-pitched baby voice. “We are at Auntie Leah and Uncle Martin’s house sweetie.” “Okay, Do dey hab food fow me?” I asked again. “No honey, I’m sorry but they don’t… But you still have to stay here,” he told me sympathetically. “Why?” I asked him, I seemed worried.

My hair was long even then; it was up to my waist and my eyes were still that dark sepia and obviously I had pale skin. The pain flooded to my face, my father was giving me away… Tears swelled in my eyes; I wish I could stop him from giving me up but I still didn’t understand one thing: why? “I can’t stay with you sweetheart, I’m sorry. I wish I could keep you but I can’t…” he replied, disappointment rising in his voice. He was clearly hiding something… “Dada, pwease dond leab me,” I mumbled right before I started to cry. I started to cry there and I was already crying here. It was a tearjerker movie right in front of me but instead of it being just a movie, this was my past; something that had already happened. My father seemed as if he was on the verge of tears as well, but like it was a routine, he calmly put something into the carrier along with a letter, put me on the doorstep and he ran away. I was bawling almost as much as I had cried in the forest… tears flowing down my face, I couldn’t stand it! I slammed my foot down into the ground but then I stopped; throwing a tantrum wouldn’t bring either of them back. I started to calm down, taking long, deep breaths, and I lay down. Leah answers the door; her hair was shorter then for it wasn’t even up to her ears. Martin was beside her, he seemed protective at that moment. “What’s this?” Martin says with that smart, yet sensitive voice of his. Leah picks up the letter, “It’s…” her lips form an ‘O’ and she puts her hand in front of it, “She’s Rebecca’s baby!” she pauses reading further, “Her name is Layla Kierra Fall…” “Well… It seems I was right about Nathaniel being abnormal… Layla Kierra Fall… This is a bit of a shock; how do we take care of her? We don’t even have kids…” Martin pointed out. Nathaniel? Was that my dad’s fake name? Do all vampires have a fake name? Wait, so does that mean that my name isn’t really Layla? “Rebecca has her reasons as to why she chose us Martin, and I’m glad she did,” Leah smiled, “I’ve always wanted to ‘adopt’…” Martin sighed, “Well… this is hard…” “I think we should keep her,” Layla decided immediately, “Layla is going to be just fine. I love her already…” she mumbled, “My best friend’s child will be taken in as my own whether you like it or not,” she said stiffly and walked away with me in her arms. I was still crying… here and there. Leah loved me, and Martin didn’t want me… Dad’s gone, Mom’s dead, but wait what is that that Dad gave me before he left? I can’t rewind but I can search the scene.

I got closer, I was inches from taking the carrier off of the ground but Martin beat me to the punch. He picked it up and took it in. Something fell to the floor right before he entered the door, I picked it up. That’s weird, I thought I couldn’t interact in the past… I turned it around; it seemed to be a charm of some sort, in the shape of a bat… The bat’s head had a key attached to the top, but other than that it appeared as a bat. Weird. I stuck it in my pocket. Again, my surroundings altered to a new place. It was that meadow again, I smiled. The meadow was so quiet and peaceful and I could use it to rest; so I laid my head down on a patch of clovers and I shut my eyes. “Layla, wake up!” shouted a womanly voice from above. I woke up stirred, I was still in the meadow but I wasn’t alone. There in front of me was Troy and Laleh. “Darling, please don’t go to sleep,” whispered Laleh. “If you fall asleep, you will never wake up again!” Troy explained. “So what? It’s not like anybody’s going to care, nobody will care if I die,” I mumbled as I began to rest my head on the pillow. Abruptly, it was raised back up by force. “A lot of people will care, like; Leah! The Carters! Dawn… Cedric… Tristan will especially care…” Troy yelled at me, but I was puzzled; why would Dawn, Cedric, and Tristan care? I mean I hang out with them but not like 24/7 or anything… Wait, why especially Tristan? I thought to myself. My thought was answered by Troy, “For a reason Layla, for a reason… But Layla, please don’t get all ‘suicidal’ on us, please…” he mumbled but loud enough for me to hear him. I sighed; I guess I didn’t like to disappoint people because I finally agreed to stay awake, no matter how tired I am. “Thank you for listening,” Laleh thanked with a smile on her face, “Did you grab it?” “Huh, grab what?” I asked surprised. Her expression suddenly went from serious to embarrassed, “The key,” she whispered. I nodded, “Why are you whispering, no one will hear you?” I asked. She nodded back, “Then you’re done here, you can return back to the real world. One time it will come, the reason for that key and you’ll find the answers to your questions… One day…” Laleh explained right before she disappeared out of thin air.

I opened my eyes, blinking at least twenty times before confirming that I was awake; I awoke in a daze and slightly stirred. Tristan was standing right beside me; he was gripping my hand so hard I could barely even feel it… I shook my head, and Tristan looked at me, smiled but then he looked at our hands and he immediately let go. Deep down, I wished he hadn’t let go… There was a girl across the room on another bed, she had red hair pulled into a bun, pale skin, and dark green eyes –otherwise known as jade- and she was scathed everywhere but one thing that caught my attention was the bite mark on her thigh. Tristan followed my gaze and nodded like he understood the shock that rested on my face. “Layla…” Tristan whispered. I looked up at him and he smiled, “Yeah?” “You’re awake, finally. You had us all worried… especially me…” he muttered the last part so low that I wasn’t even sure that that was what he said. “How long have I been asleep?” I wondered, somewhat changing the subject. “Four long, anxiety-filled days,” he joked with a smile appearing on his face, “I’m going to go get everyone, please don’t move and be quiet…” he walked off, leaving me to collect my thoughts and memories. Was that all really a dream? That flashback, was it fake memories or real ones? My hand reached into my pocket and I pulled out that key again. It was real, and I swear that at any moment I would start to hyperventilate out of this fright but Tristan and his family appeared around me. “Layla, you had us all worried,” Mellissa told me, looking at everyone, “Do you remember what happened before you fainted?” “I remember talking to Tristan and then my thoughts blurred and the room became dizzy… and that’s all, sorry I couldn’t be more informative,” I apologized. “It’s all right Layla, that memory must be blurred and sketchy to you,” Tristan replied, grinning like an idiot, but yet I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot back. Everyone left the room one by one, leaving me, Tristan, and that other girl in the room all alone. “Well…” I said, trying to start a conversation.

“Hey, what’s that thing you were holding in your hand before we came in? It seemed to have freaked you out a little,” he laughed. I laughed too, during those days of sleep I sort of missed Tristan’s humor, but I hated that he could still read my mind. “I wasn’t holding anything; I was just thinking I was…” I lied but I failed to fool him. “Layla, what is it?” he replied, just a little frustrated at me. I sighed, “There’s no use in lying to you…” I took the key out. “What is that? I see it’s a key, but to what?” he scratched his chin. “I don’t know. I found it in my dream. And I freaked out because I saw it in my pocket when it shouldn’t be because it was only a dream…” Tristan nodded, his blonde hair moving gracefully out his face as he flipped it; ugh, why am I watching? Tristan calls out for his mom to come here and she immediately appears by his side, “What is it honey?” “Layla found this key in her dream; do you know what it’s for?” Mellissa got wide-eyed and snatched from out of his hands, “This is… outstanding… Layla, do you know what this is?” “No mom, if she did then why would I be asking?” he smart-mouthed her and she gave him a disapproving look. “This is a key to the locked realm for the Code of the Bats, they are the decision-makers of our time but they locked their realm years ago and it hasn’t been found since. Apparently, they left a key, a key which your father inherited to you Layla. Your father must have been one, that’s truly extraordinary… They are like the origin, almost creators but aren’t for they were here after our race was created…” Mellissa twirled it around her fingers, she was stunned and amazed. “This is a true sight…” she mumbled. “Yeah, but there’s one problem; where is the door?!” I yelled. Tristan gripped my shoulder, for I was going to jump out of my seat. “Ah, nobody knows. They make it challenging and tricky therefore no one will find it… Layla, do you have any idea how wonderful this truly is? This key is an exceptional discovery, but what is truly bizarre is that you uncovered merely in a dream of the past, odd…

“I don’t know very much about the Code of the Bats but I do know is that they are incredibly powerful, mightier than an average vampire and they are much more beautiful, yes, and cunning too…” she continued. “Wow Layla, I wonder if that was supposed to happen… you fainting and having your strange dream…” Tristan muttered as his mom finished up her explanation on the Code of the Bats. “These, Code of the Bats, were they unexceptionally cruel?” I asked curiously. “They tended to be, why Layla?” she asked, a little bit upset because I interrupted her. “Because, I think they might have kidnapped my father,” and that was all it took. I knew then that my father was there due to the fact that he gave me the key in the first place but obviously I still had one major yet minor problem; where was the door?

Chapter 6 Discovery

Tristan

Layla was making up a mishap; she was going crazy or something because she just accused the Code of the Bats of kidnapping her father; that’s impossible. The code of the Bats never would make such a dim-witted maneuver, but still it was what Layla believed. My mother shook her head, “That’s nonsense Layla, the Code of the Bats could do no such thing, and it’s against their own laws, their own principles!” “Ah, but don’t we all? Mellissa,” I shuddered as Layla called my mother by her name, “don’t we all break the rules, even our own? You have to admit that you broke one of your own rules, right?” Layla observed with great wisdom. I was amazed because at that instant it sort of made sense, I mean, the Code of the Bats have been known to be cruel and unreasonable but that was a true possibility. Still, I doubt that they would’ve kidnapped Layla’s dad… “Of course, but rules are made to be followed as well as broken Layla; but it’s true that I haven’t seen or heard about the Code of the Bats since long before Amelia and Amethyst were born. They

disappeared and went into hiding numerous years ago… and they left on man with the key, which means that they are out there somewhere.” “My father is there, I know it. I have a strong feeling he is there; maybe not there by force but by decision. Either way, I’m going to search for this Code of the Bats realm and find my father,” Layla confirmed with a nod. “No, you can’t Layla. You don’t know the power they possess, the force and strength of their clan; for all you know they can kill you in a heartbeat, well… maybe less. But still, you have very little information about them, you should study on it, bring it together. Therefore, you must stay but Layla be forewarned, if you go searching for him; you might not be alone,” my mother warned Layla right before she strut out of the room. “Wow, that’s a lot to grasp,” I mumbled and Layla turned to look at me, and she shook her head. “Um…” was all that came out of her mouth. This is way too much for a girl to handle, what Tristan said was an understatement. Is his father possibly kidnapped? Did he see his Mom ask to be killed and was soon sentenced to? No, nobody understands what I’m going through. Ugh, this is worse than puberty… I chuckled, “Something worse than puberty? Wow, then that’s pretty bad,” I continued to chuckle. Layla smiled a gleaming smile but then soon shut her mouth again. It was quiet for a few minutes, it was so quiet that I could even hear the wind whistling but then again, I always do… “Aw shoot! Tristan, do Leah and Martin know where I am and what’s going on?” Layla suddenly blurted with worry filling her tone, her expression going from thoughtful to concern. I thought about that for a minute and finally came up with the answer, “Yes, they know, but they thought you crashed into something or other but they also believe my mom is a doctor so… Yeah…” I answered her honestly. She seemed to relax just a little bit, “All righty then…” She walked to the bed and laid down, “Tristan, did I miss anything important?” I thought about how to answer this, honestly or a lie… Honesty is the best quality but sometimes the truth hurts and Weston’s vision will come true; Weston can intervene and tamper with the future by either warning or actually going to the scene and stop it himself. If I lied to Layla she’ll find out and probably feel betrayed considering the fact that I love her and that Layla’s not big on liars.

“Well…” I stalled, “I wouldn’t really know…” I decided on the truth because the truth is more important and… true, “I’ve been waiting for you to wake up… I haven’t left your side since you fainted...” I paused, closing my eyes, waiting for her to yell or freak out or something but I heard silence. “Tristan…” Layla began, “You don’t need to do that if you don’t want to, it’s fine to ignore me every now and then; trust me, and I won’t get upset or anything.” I frowned at her reply, “I wanted to wait for you…” I muttered so low that I not even I really heard it. Layla’s reply was so… emotionless; she obviously didn’t wake up the way I was hoping and anticipating for. I gazed up at her and she was staring out the window, her mind racing through many pictures, I didn’t understand. Of course, she was searching for a specific mental picture she had but why? Finally, she settled on one, it was a picture of a lady who looked like Layla but she had tanner skin, copper hair, and she was taller; who was she? Layla caught me staring –if I had blood in my vein, I would’ve blushed- and she grinned, “Tristan, please stop reading my mind,” she teased as she playfully ruffled her hand in my hair. The feeling was pleasantly refreshing, I adored it; it made me smile like an idiot again. But Layla smiled back. Undoubtedly, she continued to look at the mental picture, but this time, there was a baby in the picture. Apparently, it was a mother and a child but who were they? One looked amazingly familiar but the other was new and slightly different. Soon, it became a little video. The mother was sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room by the wooden crib –the room was a bright grey and had a white stripe around the room- and she was rocking the baby to sleep. The baby was cooing, it seemed, and the mother smiled a smile so wide it was possible it would explode. Then, a man showed up, a bottle in his right hand, handed it to the mother, and left. She took the bottle and put it in the baby’s mouth and ever so delicately, shifted her position. The baby widened its eyes at the sudden shift of movement and I saw the baby’s eyes, dark sepia. The mother was still rocking the baby as she fed it and she was gently caressing the baby’s face, smiling. She lightly pulled the bottle out of the baby’s mouth and the baby began to close its eyes but right before it fell asleep, it smiled a heart-warming smile, but there was one thing that was different: its teeth. The baby had fangs and yet it was still a gorgeous baby. Hesitantly, the mom placed her child in the crib and kissed its forehead, and left the room. Then it hit me, it was Layla, Layla as a baby. She was even beautiful then…

Layla looked at me again but she chuckled a little, “Why am I not surprised that you’re prying into my thoughts again? I told you to stop,” she lightly and playfully punched my shoulder and I grinned. “Well, it’s not my fault that what you’re thinking is interesting…” I told her, punching her back. “Mmm… Yeah, which means you saw me as a baby, did you not? And my mother too… before she died, she was beautiful wasn’t she?” she replied, staring at the ground, sad I could tell. “Yeah, I guess you’re mom was beautiful but I know someone who could compete with it,” I hinted at her. She didn’t get the hint, “Yeah… yeah… Your mom, I know, I know, your mom is pretty too Tristan,” she replied, with a trace of smirk on her face. I sighed, she wouldn’t get it for a while… Layla climbed into bed and gazed at our translucent ceiling, staring at the stars. She seemed deeply concentrated on something, she smiled, and so then I pried through her thoughts. Again, she was a baby but this time with a man… The man was her father I soon figured out, they were sitting on the balcony in her old house I guess… The man was a vampire, the origin for half of her. They were looking out at the stars but in this memory, they spoke. “Layla, you see that giant circle over there? That’s the moon, beautiful, yes? Reminds me of your mother…” he mumbled loud enough for Layla to hear it but he started to get teary-eyed. “Yes Dada,” she replied with those cute little baby voices, I still adored her voice. He hummed some sort of song, it was pleasant and soothing, a lullaby maybe… “Little Layla, please sleep… You mother…” he prevented the tears from flowing out of his eyes by wiping them away, “Please…” “I know, Dada. I’ll twy…” she mumbled right before she shut her eyes. Layla was now a miniature toddler, so she was heavier to carry into the room, but after her father set Layla down, the memory blurred and ended. I looked around stirred, I was a bit bamboozled. But I searched only to find Layla was sleeping. I sighed, for such a forgetful girl she has remembered some good memories… “Tristan, can you come here please?” Amy called from downstairs. And I rushed down the stairs after. “Yes? What’s up?” I wondered.

“Well… There are many mixed emotions in that room and now I can’t tell one emotion from the other and whose from whose, therefore I can’t uncover whether Layla feels the same way around you but there is a lot of love in there…” she smiled at me. “Nice try, but I’m not stupid; Layla doesn’t love me, we’re only friends…” I replied, but unhappy with what I said, it wasn’t enough. Friends was too little. Amy had a cross expression on her face, “I see why… you’re such a downer, a pessimist, and with such negativity, you’re unattractive; isn’t first and true love supposed to make you jolly, optimistic, and perky?” Amy questioned, thoughts of love swirling around in her head. I thought for a reply, “Well, Amy, those… circumstances are for those who are in love, in love meaning both people are participants in the love,” I proclaimed. She sighed, “Tristan, you know what I mean, you should be happy around the person, whenever they’re around,” she rolled her eyes as if I was a stupid, clueless dude; maybe it’s because I was… “Oh okay,” I replied, half-listening to what she had just said. Amy knew that I wasn’t listening so she walked off into her room, clearly angry. Jared walked by me with frightened thoughts and memories of Hailey. I reached out for him with my hand but he shook it off. “Jared, please relax…” I tried. He chuckled a little, “Tristan, this was exactly how you were when Layla wasn’t… healthy. And now here you are telling me to relax? The nerve…” he replied upset. I ignored him and returned to my love. She was asleep again, but this time, she was going to wake up. Layla was tossing in her sleep and I sat there curiously wondering what she was dreaming about. While she tossed, she was smiling, as if she didn’t object to whatever she was dreaming about… Then, I began to pry… Her dream included Layla in a small meadow, it was beautiful but the sun was hidden behind the clouds, the light hiding from her. Layla was comfortably sleeping in a patch of clovers when suddenly two silhouettes appeared by Layla’s side, shaking her around. I could only hear little mumbles, but I couldn’t her any noises or voices. Layla’s eyes opened and the two people seemed to have smiled, if not than smirked. Layla was angry now and she looked at the two with a very cross expression on her face. Suddenly, I could hear voices. “What is wrong with you two?!” Layla screamed, pointing her index finger back and forth between the two.

“Nothing is wrong with us. You’re the one with the problem, yes?” one of the people said with a deep, sensitive voice which led me to find that it was a man that was speaking. Layla’s hand rapidly smacked her right in the forehead, “No, what I mean is, why do you wake me up? That other dream is over,” she claimed but the two still argued with her. Then, it came to a point where Layla began to run, but for some reason she was exceptionally slow. The man and… woman; yes, the other person was a lady. They chased her and they were also incredibly slow. Then, abruptly, the dream came to a sudden halt. I returned back to the room and Layla was awake, staring at me. I smiled, but then I noticed she wasn’t staring at me, she was staring at Hailey, who had suddenly woke up. And Hailey appeared to be struggling for air and Jared was beside her. “Please Hailey, relax… Mom will be done with the antidote in a couple days. We’ll make the pain go away Hailey…” Jared kept saying constantly. Layla seemed to have somehow heard Hailey and her whimpers and struggles for air, but she was dreaming and sleeping. Maybe, it was a nightmare or something and she couldn’t wait for it to end. Layla had content, neutral thoughts about the Code of the Bats but some were relatively horrid thoughts about them. Amy appeared in the room and groaned irritably, “There is too much love in this room. It is rather frustrating,” she complained. Jared looked at Layla and me, gazing back-and-forth, from me to Layla, “Well, maybe it’s because of Hailey and me. I mean, Tristan and Layla aren’t in love, right guys?” Jared retorted, trying to cover it up. My sister scowled, “One day… Layla and Tristan, I am so going to show you two…” Amy said, being totally random. She skipped out of the room as if nothing happened at all. It was rather eerie and creepy, even Jared shuddered. Layla and I looked at each other and then back at Jared and Hailey. Jared was caressing Hailey’s cheeks with the most delicate touch I could tell. Suddenly, I don’t know what happened, but I triggered some sort of flashback. It was a week ago with Jared and we were talking about Hailey and he told me she was human… Now, she’s a vampire? I’m majorly befuddled, it was so bizarre, but maybe she was a vampire all along but she was just hiding it… Out of the blue, I asked Jared, “Wait a minute; Hailey’s a human, isn’t she?” Jared flinched; “Umm…” he was at a loss for words.

Layla just sat there completely silent, her own thoughts to herself. Boy, did I want to just browse through for just one second, one tiny, minuscule moment… Out of nowhere, Hailey started to wail and shriek; a signal to indicate that this was it. She has to have that antidote to live, without it she was going to die or –if she is human- transform. Jared was as still as a statue and had the most frightened expression in the room. My mother barged into the room also with a worried expression. “The antidote isn’t ready quite yet; what are we supposed to do?!” my mother questioned demandingly. Layla and I shrugged but Jared screamed back a reply, “There’s nothing we can do… but we can’t just sit here! Mom, can you please fix the antidote faster?” “That’s unfeasible… we need one ingredient but that will take one more day! I need werewolf hair and the full moon is tomorrow! How can I work that out Jared?!” Mom screamed at him and Jared gave her his frightened expression and she froze. “Just skip it! She needs to heal… she cannot -must not- die! I won’t allow it, because if she dies, I go with her!” her yelled and then I heard somebody go, “aww…” and I turned around only to find Amy observing us. “That’s so romantic Jared, Tristan you really need to learn from him…” Amy thought to herself, smirking in spite of it. My mom was dumbfounded and she refused to let Hailey drink the antidote until it was finished but Jared was putting up a fight, “Mom, if we don’t give it to her today, she won’t be able to drink it!” She sighed and being very generous and sympathetic, she finally agreed. Jared’s expression brightened but was still had just a hint of terror (Hailey had also quieted down a little). Mom ran out of the room and Hailey was screaming her head off and Jared was trying his hardest and Layla ran off with my mother to help search but I was just sitting on the bed doing absolutely nothing; but Amy wasn’t doing anything to help either, therefore I wasn’t alone. Sooner or later, Layla and mom came back. Layla had a stunned expression on her face and was silent as a mouse. “Okay, I’m not going to guarantee that she’ll be one-hundred percent healthy… is that okay?” Mom wondered with a concerned look on her face. Jared hesitated, “Well… I’m not worried. She’ll be fine; she’s practically immune to illnesses. Never got a cold, a fever, or chickenpox, nothing…” Jared replied but with an unsure tone.

Mom came up to him and gave him a hug, “You give it to her… I can’t do it…” Mom said as she handed the antidote to Jared; the antidote was in a baby bottle. Jared gulped; “All right…” he took it and softly inserted the bottle’s tip into her mouth, you could hear her sip it. Hailey’s body slowly began to relax and settle down; she wasn’t shaking or tossing and turning as she had earlier. Jared’s face transformed from frightened to tranquil as he watched Hailey calm down and soon drifts off into sleep along with Hailey for they’ve had a rough few days. Mom’s facial expression was still a little tense because the remedy wasn’t yet completed and she was hoping that it would still work whether it had that one ingredient or not. Layla was still silent and she didn’t look me in the eye and I kept catching glimpses of her not looking at me; I began to become anxious. And her thoughts didn’t give off any hints either, so then I was even more anxious. I glanced at Mom wondering if she had done something to make her so afraid of me. Then, I thought of Amy and how she’d said that she’d show Layla and me. I swear I was going to have an anxiety attack. “I’m going to go to bed…” Mom announced before she left the room. I gazed at Layla and she was still staring intently at the ground. I let out an exasperated sigh and she finally looked up at me. She appeared worried. “Tristan, I’m going to go home. See you tomorrow…” she whispered as she escaped through the room. Then, I became panicky; what if something happened to her like Hailey? I wanted to follow her home to make sure she got there safely but I don’t think she wants to see me right now… Amy skips into the room and smiles at me, “Hello Tristan. Thinking about Layla?” “Somewhat… why?” She started to swing back and forth on her toes, “Well… Layla knows now…” “Knows what?” I asked bewildered, befuddled, and anxious. “Um…” she replied, trailing off. I’m going to just come out with it!, she thought to herself, “What is it?!” I yelled, still panicky from Layla’s departure. “Well… the uh… you… and… the stuff… and um…” she mumbled. “That’s not very helpful Amy!” I scolded her, starting to get really shaky. She took a long, deep breath, “Layla knows you ignited her,” Amy admitted.

Layla

My mind was racing and confused, my brain was clouded over with overwhelming thoughts, and my breathing was off. I was dumbstruck; I swear I probably wouldn’t talk for a very long time. Tristan… candles… me… oh dear… I’m not going to think about it, not going to think about it, I kept repeating in my head. I knocked on the door and Leah answered, and she smiled and I smiled back. For the first time in my life, I was happy to see Leah. I could finally see that she wasn’t that bad. She pulled me in for a hug, “What are you doing out at this hour?” she teased. I chuckled, “Oh, you know, the usual,” I teased back and she smiled. “Are you okay?” she asked, concern filling her tone. “Yeah, I just want to go home…” I muttered to her as I walked up the stairs. My room was still the same; my shady purple sheets strewn everywhere on my bed, the pillows torn into millions of feathers, and my mirror and closet scratched up out of rage. Home sweet some, I repeated to myself as I –light as a feather- fell onto my bed. I took a deep breath of reality and ran my fingers across my bed; I’ve never been so happy to see this room before in my life. But, I knew why it was so wonderful and at that particular moment, the dreading returned; I couldn’t ever face Tristan again. I sighed regaining my memory from the Carter household. I was seconds from exiting the Carter household when Amy pulls me to the side for a ‘chat.’ “Layla, look… I need to tell you something very…” she searched for the right word, “vital to your life; it’s about a special someone…” Amy muttered to me. I raised my eyebrow in suspicion and she sighed, “What are you talking about?” I asked her nicely. “I’m going to just tell you all right? But… um… just… don’t spread it around and uh… please don’t freak, but I want you to react the way a lot of people want you to…” Amy hinted at me but I didn’t get the hint, I motioned with my hands for her to carry on. She took a deep breath, “Tristan ignited… a certain somebody… and um… you know her…” she paused for a deep breath, “you know her the most, as a matter of fact, the best and I just wanted you to know that… okay?” she confessed and I gave her a confused look. “Dawn? I don’t know her very well, but she is pretty cool –no pun intended-, I must admit. Still, why would I care?” I wondered as I felt so befuddled. Amy slapped her forehead with tremendous force, “No not Dawn, you big stupid-head! You!” she yelled in a whispered tone.

I froze, that cleared a lot of stuff, but I was still baffled. My emotions were mixed and uncontrolled. I didn’t know what to say, I was stunned with fear and confusion but still I somehow found the ability to run away. I returned to the present, my grief even worse than minutes before. I let my head fall into my hands and felt the grief and dread flowing everywhere through me. How Tristan feels explains so much, I can’t even say it but still I don’t think I can even think about it; it scares me. I reach towards the light switch with a sigh and get myself ready to sleep in my own bed. I took a deep breath, and soon fell into a trance of deep sleep… and nightmares. I was floating on top of water, an abnormal destination. I wanted to take a deep breath but I was afraid it would ruin the moment or worse, send me into the oceanic depths; therefore, I just lay there, immobile. Then, I moved my arms as if I was making a snow angel and I smiled, because I felt content. Then, it began to rain, the raindrops falling down slowly and landing so forcefully. They pounded one by one on my entire body, only to make it appear as if I had just finished swimming. Unexpectedly, I was starting to sink, the weight of the rain finally coming down on me. My head was barely bobbing above the water, my hair was already soaking wet, and I was beginning to sink faster as if it was quicksand rather than the ocean below me. My lungs were tiring and my hands were flailing in the water. I’ve never felt this much physical pain in my whole entire life! I was so vulnerable at this moment. Abruptly, my lungs hurt more, my arms were exhausted, and I was barely able to float anymore… “Layla! Look up!” a voice said out of nowhere; so out of nowhere I wasn’t even sure if I heard it. I glanced up and found Tristan’s awaiting hand above me and being me, I reached toward it and he pulled me over the oceanic depths. He smiled at me but I turned away from him. He reached for my hand but I pulled away, “Tristan… what are you doing?” He was quiet for a moment seeming to be in deep concentration, “Only trying to make the first move,” he joked with a smirk. I didn’t smile back, because of my stubbornness he began to become concerned, “Layla, please relax. I don’t really want your love, only your happiness…” Tristan sighed. I still made no movement or reaction to his words and plus I knew he was lying. “Layla, please believe me… I didn’t want to do this…” he mumbled as he reached out to brush the wet hair on my face to the back of my head.

I shuddered at even the gentlest touch, and I gazed down at the ground beneath me. Thank goodness I was sitting down this time. Suddenly, Tristan stared to float into the sky, his arms flailing begging for me to take grasp but I was afraid of him taking it the wrong way. He started calling my name and I still sat there ignoring him. Finally, I looked up at him, his eyes had something in them but not physically, more like mentally or spiritually. He gave me a puppy-dog look and I tried to grab his hand but he was floating beyond my reach, then I was the one screaming for him but he couldn’t do anything. Tears started to betray me; they were falling out of my eyes when I didn’t really need them. Tristan’s hand came down before me and I reached for it but due to the tears, my hand was slightly wet and his hand slipped away and he was gone. I began screaming for him to come back and that this wasn’t a funny joke, but no one answered. “Tristan, please come back! Don’t leave me here!” I yelled as I ran around everywhere searching for him but still nobody answered. The tears were coming out so much that there was a “clog” and now the tears stopped flowing out. I don’t understand; my feelings for Tristan are mutual. I was still frantically searching for Tristan and I got down on my knees and began to sob. This was a mess; I didn’t even understand half of it. I woke up to beeping noises from an alarm clock, somewhere. I looked around for it and saw that it was on top of my wardrobe. It was weird considering that I never had one there before. The clock rang with a shrill tone and I finally just hit the off button. “Where in the world did this stupid clock come from?!” I growled. “Sorry, it’s a gift from me…” a voice from behind me answered. I flinched, it was Tristan. Don’t turn around. Don’t turn around. Stay in one place, do NOT move. Tristan tapped my shoulder, I winced at his tap and I still stayed put. He gave out a loud sigh and whispered, “Layla, please don’t be like this…” I let out a shaky breath, it was quite awkward and Tristan forced me to turn around by grabbing my arms and turning me towards him but still I didn’t look him in the eyes. “Layla, please talk to me…” he muttered, with quite a gentle voice. I bolted out of the house, stopping hastily at the school grounds. Dawn came running up to me, “Layla, are you all right? You’ve been out all week! I need to tell you something,” she hugged me and then guided me to the library.

My mind was still on Tristan, but yet I found a way to still converse with her, “What is it that is so important that you had to drag me all the way to the library?” “Okay, so while you were out, I tried to ask Cedric out again,” blah blah blah, I thought to myself. I didn’t care about you and Cedric but Dawn seemed eager to tell me so I was able to pay attention just a little. “And when I came out of the classroom, he was standing right by the door!” she yelled but whispered it obviously; Dawn had the hugest smile on her face and it was becoming very creepy. “All right and then what happened?” I replied as if I actually cared about her and Cedric. I seemed to have nodded at all the right times because she thought I was actually listening to her. “So, yesterday, I went up to him and asked him out…” she mumbled that as if she wasn’t proud of it but then her expression brightened up, “and he said yes!” she whispered loudly. I smiled at her, but didn’t truly care about it in anyway. The only thing I was focused on was finding the door to the realm of the Code of the Bats and avoiding Tristan at all costs. Dawn tugged on my sleeve, “Layla, come on we have to get to class. Wait, do you have the project for Mr. Henderson?” Dawn asked. I nodded and we walked to class together. Students glanced to point and stare most likely because they noticed my absence but still I didn’t know I was such an attention grabber. The two girls, Robin and Brittany, gaped at me but they still gossiped between each other. They tend to get on my nerves constantly but then again they get on a lot of peoples’ nerves but especially the non-preppies, like Dawn and I for example. Mr. Henderson was taking role call as Dawn and I came into the classroom. He looked at us and marked us late, “Ms. Bilson and Ms. Fall, please take your seats, but make note that I’m marking you tardy.” Dawn gasped then blushed, and took a seat down at her seat. I strolled slowly behind her. Tristan flashed me a disapproving frown but I only looked for a second. When I reached my seat I took a deep breath, and for the first time in forever I paid attention in class. “Now, if you watch what I do, you may actually learn something today, Mr. Miller,” Mr. Henderson suddenly said alerting Cedric who immediately looked at the board. I watched Mr. Henderson as he displayed how to solve algebraic equations and I wrote notes down as thoroughly as Dawn does. Mr. Henderson usually takes notes from students and sometimes uses them for future references but he gives back the useless ones. For that reason I scribbled my name at the top so I

could get credit for my notes. Mr. Henderson ended the lesson, leaving everything on the board and he walked through the room glancing down at papers that people are using for notes and he picks up the finished ones. As he passed by Cedric’s desk he gave a “tsk-tsk-tsk” with his index finger, and continued down the aisle. Once he stopped by my desk, Tristan looked at me; I could feel his lingering eyes landing upon my face. Mr. Henderson’s face appeared shocked and amazed –I could tell by his mustache lifting along with his lips- at the same time as he picked up my notes. Then he walked by Dawn’s desk and gave almost an exact facial expression. I sighed; nothing about Tristan popped into my head the whole entire lesson: perfect. The bell rang abruptly, “Class dismissed,” Mr. Henderson acknowledged the class but almost half the kids had gotten up the second the bell rang. As usual, I met Cedric, Dawn, and –unfortunately- Tristan by the door. Cedric gave the impression of being vastly eager for something. I still couldn’t face Tristan, it wasn’t painful whereas frightful. I heard Cedric’s voice, “Well… glad to have you guys back.” “Oh yes of course, it’s wonderful,” Dawn stated, her left hand gripping her right arm, securely, her head faced down towards the ground. I could tell Dawn felt a slight bit insecure now that I’m back. “It’s nice to be back,” Tristan agreed; I flinched at the sound of his voice. “Yeah, just swell,” I mumbled so silent that I’m not sure if anybody even heard it. I continued through the day normally except I was avoiding Tristan. Every now and then Tristan would show up and try to talk to me but I paid no attention to him whatsoever. So he just avoided me as I avoided him. The whole thing terrified me; the thought of igniting, but my candle was gone. I couldn’t find it, not at all, but I didn’t want to find it. My father probably knew where my candle was… I froze, I complete forgot that I have to find that damned door. My father is there, maybe not kidnapped but not there by choice. That Lucifer man must have done something but it’s all so confusing. That dream was definitely true because that little carrier my father had, it was in the attic. And the key was here with me, and plus I remember being dropped off here. Two things that are good about that dream is that I got to learn my history and see my mother again but not see her tragic death but one bad thing is that I didn’t know why my father left me.

As I proceeded home without Tristan following me, I couldn’t help but feel a little troubled. Without Tristan protecting me wouldn’t that make me a bit more defenseless because I’m more of a runner than a fighter? “Yes, that’s true. You are much weaker when you have no guardian,” Tristan informed me giving me a fright. I turned to yell at him but he seemed so… heartbroken. I didn’t have the guts to yell at him but I gained the ability to dart away. Tristan tried to reach out to me but I was too fast for him to seize me. As I ran I felt worse just running away from the evident, the truth. I came to a stop at an accurate time considering that I stopped right in front of the house. I entered my room feeling awful and guilty. I felt as if I was the cause to Tristan’s grief but that’s the problem: I was the cause behind it. There was a tiny rap on my door and I just sat on my bed paying no attention to it. Subsequently the raps got louder and faster, so I just opened the door and collapsed onto my bed but to my surprise it was Dawn. “Well, you could at least tell me to leave, gosh. Why didn’t you answer?” Dawn wondered but she wasn’t looking at me, she was twisting her head around my room looking for a window. “I thought you were somebody else…” I told her and her head snapped towards me. “Where’s your window?” she asked; just as I was dreading. I took a deep breath, I had to evade the question so I just changed the subject, “That doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is your date with Cedric,” I lied to my utmost disgust. I hated this subject more than the window one but Dawn couldn’t know why I didn’t have one. She smiled, “Okay, so on Friday night he’s going to meet me for dinner at the diner,” she squealed just to annoy me, “and then he’s going to have to walk me home since the closest bus stop is two blocks away and neither of us can drive. I’m just so excited and keyed up!” she yelled. Dawn kept going on and on about how wonderful her date was going to be as if she was physic, like she knew precisely what was going to happen. I swear I’ve never been more annoyed in my life. As her imagination came to a conclusion she said bye and left me alone to rest in serenity. I gazed around my room, morosely hoping for something to happen, good or bad. My room could use a proper clean-up but I wasn’t in the mood to clean. Then again, I needed to occupy myself before I started thinking about something I knew I would regret. So, I worked my way around the room cleaning and remodeling if needed. I started on my bed where it was cleaner so I wouldn’t have to work hard on that part but as I started to get near my mirror I stiffened. I was afraid to look at myself; I went on the whole

day clueless and unaware of how I looked. At last I cleaned the mirror but as I was cleaning the edges, I felt something leathery, with paper-like materiel. It was a note of some sort:

My Little Layla, I see you’ve finally found my note; I knew to leave it there because I know that my daughter is and will always be beautiful therefore a mirror is key. I left this note here before I officially left you but I’m not sure how old you are, or if this even you reading this note nor am I sure I’ll even be alive when you’re reading this. But I must inform you to still find the key and the door. The door is quite easy to find if you use your senses and your mind. The key might be tricky because I didn’t exactly leave it with you but I was able to send you message through telepathy but Layla I’m not sure when or whether you even got my message but please take caution to this. If I’m alive I’ll explain much, much more but all I want you to do is find and stop them. Please take care of yourself but I have assigned another family to take care of you besides Leah and Martin. I love you Layla, please know that. I miss you, forever and always. Your loving father, Nox Fall
I held the paper close to my chest and cried. I reread it over and over again until I knew it by heart. My father left me a note but he carefully made sure that it was in a place I’d never look. I smiled in spite of myself. For all these years, I thought he didn’t care, thought he didn’t know. My father loves and misses me… he called me beautiful. I tried to wipe away my tears but every time I wiped them away a whole new

set poured out. This time I didn’t care that they kept pouring out and that it never stopped because this time I knew that I wasn’t crying because of pain or despair but because of joy. I cried myself to sleep last night and I was happy about it. The note was a bit moist but I ignored it, the words were already set in stone in my head. The paper could always vanish but the words will forever live in my mind. There are still some things that I don’t understand in the letter but I still find it a necessity. I have to show… nobody… Tristan and I were avoiding each other… this was going to be very tricky. Maybe I could go to his house when I knew he wasn’t going to be home. Maybe discuss it with his family then leave as soon as I know he’s coming home? It was a solid plan but it was going to be very difficult to accomplish. As usual, I rushed through my daily process of ‘getting ready’ and I made it just in time to the school. Today –for a nice change- I was ignored but the other students. Maybe I was finally becoming uninteresting, that may be bad in some people’s books but that’s great in mine; it makes it easier to blend in. Dawn met me at my locker, talking ecstatically about her date with Cedric tonight. Today Dawn was going to my house to get back into that getup that she wore when she tried to ‘woo’ Cedric. And she was going to go into a monologue about how excited she was and how spectacular her date was going to be. I bet she’s going to jinx it and she’s going to have the worst date in the world. I sort of hoped she did that way she would finally stop talking about her stupid dates, no offense to her… “Okay, thanks for letting me go to your house Layla, you’re the best,” she thanked me before she took her seat in class. I trudged down the aisle as she took her seat and I looked grumpily up at the board. Today we were learning about more algebra, I’m delighted, I thought sarcastically. I heard Tristan snicker in the background. I sighed, wanting to fade away from this class and escape to Tristan’s house to discuss the note with his family but I would do that during study hall because I knew that he wouldn’t dare leave school during school hours. Right now, I’m only hoping that he doesn’t read my mind. “Okay classes, please, take a deep breath and put your books back into your book bags. Today, we’re taking a field trip to the supermarket. Don’t get excited,” he joked as half the class groaned, “We’re only

going because the district highly recommends that students take a break from their studies by taking a non-school related field trip,” Mr. Henderson announced. Half the class groaned and the other half remained silent. Zoe raised her hand, “Mr. Henderson, wouldn’t this field trip be somewhat school related?” she asked him. “If that’s what you think Ms. Anderson but this isn’t exactly school-related whereas nutrition-related,” Mr. Henderson answered, the class nodding their heads as if they understood. Everyone stood up and partnered up. I didn’t understand why but Mr. Henderson soon explained, “The school district doesn’t permit lone cross-walking for walking field trips.” I groaned because right I was walking towards Dawn, she scurried over to Cedric and partners up with him, and all I’m left with is Tristan. Tristan smiled and I looked down, disappointed and sorrowful. “Okay class, let’s get going,” Mr. Henderson announced to my utmost displeasure. Tristan and I walked side-by-side and Tristan kept trying to start up a conversation but always came short with words. So far all we’ve said is, “Hi.” Thank goodness that it wasn’t anymore. I was majorly irritated and afraid of speaking to Tristan. To my extreme disapproval Tristan finally thought of something to say to me. “Layla, can you please explain to me as to why we’re not on speaking terms?” he asked, giving me those puppy-dog eyes again. I sighed; I decided to give him the silent treatment. For moments it was just silent. The only voices I was able to hear were the ones surrounding us but nothing came from either of our mouths. Catching me completely off guard, Tristan finally spoke. “Layla, don’t give me the silent treatment, I’m sick of it. If you want I could get a lot of people to join in your little game and have them not talk to you. Please just answer that question and I promise I’ll never talk to you again,” he said but there was agony behind his promise. “Do you really mean that?” I asked him with a whispered tone. I swear I saw the corner of his mouth lift just a little, “Only if you want me to.” I took a deep breath and answered him, “I don’t want to talk to you for a while but not forever.” “All right, that’s okay: for now. Now first off, I would like you to answer my question.” “We aren’t on speaking terms because… because… well… because…” for the first time, I couldn’t find the precise words to say to Tristan. “Because,” he prompted.

“Of what your sister told me,” I blurted out. He sighed, “I knew that was what you were going to say…” he replied with grief filling his tone. I looked at him and he had that heartbroken look on his face again. I desired to make it go away but only because I felt guilty. “I guess that means that it hasn’t kicked in yet?” he guessed, teasing me. I grinned at him, “Not for a while but I’ll allow you to talk to me,” she replied. “Seriously?” he grinned back at me. “Sure, I guess.” Then we arrived at the supermarket and finished class there. When we returned, the bell rang. “Oh it seems we’re late, I’ll write you all notes,” Mr. Henderson exclaimed as we followed him back into the classroom to grab our bags. Each student picked up a note as they walked to their next class. Unlike yesterday I walked to class with Tristan but for some reason I couldn’t figure out why I’d even ignored him yesterday. It was only just a misunderstanding, I mean, he says that it was what his family wanted for him and he only wanted them happy. So, what I’ve concluded is that neither Tristan nor I love each other. Or, that’s my conclusion right now. Tristan’s a practiced liar. During study hall, I left the school building. I moved hesitantly through the building, terrified of being caught, even if the teachers here were weak and defenseless. Each time I crossed a hall, I would look side to side then side step slowly. Abruptly, a door was opened, I pinned up against the wall. If I had a heart and pulse right now it would be racing. Mr. Henderson was there talking to the school secretary, Mrs. Brians. “Of course, I’ll get right on it, Delilah. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he waved and walked towards his classroom. I let out a breath and advanced all the way to the doorway and I stuck my head out to make sure no teachers were out strolling or taking a breath of fresh air. Nobody was there. I took three steps in front of the school and dashed off. No one was going to be able to see me. No one was able to catch me. I was a block away from his house when suddenly I was snatched into the air. I began to flail my arms searching for a way to harm this thing behind me. The hands were rough and felt like snake skin, but hairier. I kicked my legs, flailed my arms, and hastily throwing punches in every direction. The thing hold me was grabbing me around my stomach making it harder to move around but I was still able to through in some tough punches. But whoever it was either got hit really hard or weakened up and let me go. I daren’t

look back, thus I continued to Tristan’s house. But I dare heard the thing whisper my name with sheer pain, “Layla Fall…” I arrived and rang the doorbell several times, urgently, afraid that the creature was on my trail. Thank goodness, Mellissa (Tristan’s mom) answered the door. “Mrs. Carter! Please, don’t take this the wrong way,” I begged, because she looked at me skeptically, “I need your help but Tristan can’t know; I don’t want to worry him.” She nodded and let me in. My mind was racing; I made it al the way to the Carter household, somewhat. I let a deep breath and Mellissa grinned at me. “What brings you here so urgently?” “This,” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my father’s note. I had trouble letting it go, but I released it. Mellissa smiled, “Oh… my oh my…. This note, I have almost an exact replica,” she ran to up the stairs and came down with a paper in her hands. It was the same leathery paper I had but it was smaller. It was the size of my hand, but the letter was short and simple. I snatched it from her and read it.

Mellissa Carter: Take care of my daughter. Yours truly, Nox Fall

I stared at it in disbelief. So, the Carter family was the family to watch over me, what a coincidence. Then again, it probably wasn’t because this is the closest family to me. “So, you’re Nox’s daughter…” Mellissa sighed, “Well that’s unexpected but that’s why you’re so… stubborn and determined.” I stood there in disbelief. I couldn’t answer her. Minutes passed. “Did you read further down? Did you read about the door and key? And finding and stopping them? Who do you think they are?” I asked continuously, not stopping to let her answer. “Well, I did read it all but I don’t know who he could possibly mean. There are many who are to be stopped. There are the… werewolves but I doubt that’s what he wants you to do; that would be too big a job for you…” “We can discuss this later. I have something else to say…”

She motioned for me to proceed on. I told her about somebody snatching me into the air and she gasped. “Layla, you mustn’t do that again! It’s too dangerous for you, I’ll have Amethyst or Amelia drop you off at school…” I nodded but inside I wanted to groan. Tristan’s sisters were very neat and friendly –I really have nothing against them- but I didn’t want to call any consideration to me. Yet, still I went with the both of them. We said nothing the whole entire ride and I was at school minutes before the bell rang. I rushed to my locker and grabbed a couple books and headed back onto the regular routine. When the bell rang Tristan, without delay, was alongside me. Hoping unsuspecting of what had just happened…

Tristan
Layla and I were on speaking terms again but I still knew that deep down she’s afraid. I couldn’t help but gaze longingly at her. Each time she caught me staring she would wave and get back to whatever she was doing. But she was still terrified inside; I was in love with her, she couldn’t help but feel insecure and troubled. I hadn’t seen Layla at all during study hall, I began to get anxious but I knew that she was probably just doing some sort of experiment or hunting. Then a whole forty-five minutes passed and I would’ve had an anxiety attack if it wasn’t for the fact that I could feel her presence within the school. When the bell rang, I rushed out to meet her by her locker where she would usually go to after study hall. “Hey Layla, where were you?” I asked. She flinched and it took her a minute to answer, “I… was… out hunting,” she whispered so low that not even a human with the hearing skills of an owl would have heard her. I nodded, but she didn’t seem as if she had just gone hunting. Though, she did look slightly rugged. I couldn’t smell any blood dwelling in her mouth. “Okay… let’s head off to class,” she insisted, as she gave me a little push to make me move. It was more of a gentle nudge though. Gym came and Layla seemed to be anxious to leave as soon as we came into the gym. I told her, “Layla, it’s going to be okay. Don’t get over anxious because I’ll have it worse,” I winked then went to coach. I trailed after him and stood beside Dawn. She smiled at me and turned back to coach. Shockingly so, we’re playing… basketball! Layla thought to herself.

I snickered and we were divided into two teams. I was opposite Layla but Ryan and Thomas were on my team and they were both talented players, especially Ryan; thought I wish he would stop bragging about it. I sat out for first quarter but at least I got to watch Layla play. She ran back and forth with the other players. She appeared to be getting the hang of it. I watched her as she weaved her way through other players and make a couple baskets but she still needed some tweaking. Then I saw Layla stumble on her own foot and I snickered out loud but tried to cover it with a sneeze. She scowled at me and went back to the game, seeming to be in deep focus. Then came the second quarter and I got up but Layla sat out. Now, it was her turn to watch me. I just absolutely have to do the best and be the best but I need to go vampire on everyone else. Gym ended with its usual drama but the game went well; it was a tie. Tomorrow was tie-breaker though. “Okay, so… Dawn, see you at my place at 6?” I overheard Layla ask Dawn. Why would Dawn be coming over? That’s odd. “Yeah, I’ll see you there. Later,” they waved good-bye and I tagged along with Layla. “What was that all about?” I wondered. Layla answered without any trouble or hesitation, “Oh Dawn’s going on a date with Cedric. Didn’t you know, I mean you’re his best friend, you should’ve figured out before I did.” I shrugged but was still a little upset. I’ve known Cedric for a long time and he didn’t tell me about his date? How strange. It, to some extent, hurts my “feelings” that Cedric hadn’t told me anything about it but we haven’t really talked all week so it’s reasonable. Layla glanced at me, looking as if she was going to speak but she quickly glanced away. Then we parted into the locker rooms. I changed rapidly and waited outside for her but she must have been sidetracked because it took her longer than usual today. Once she came out we walked toward the last class of the day: biology. As we sat down next to each other, Layla seemed truly all ears to this class, even though it was one of her least favorites. Our teacher, Mrs. Roberts went on to teaching us about the phases of meiosis. This was an independent assignment and we have to do a word search –Mrs. Roberts wanted to make it fun- on the phases about meiosis. How exciting!

As I wrote down notes I always sideways glance at the other students to see their reaction to the teacher, sometimes it’s quite entertaining. Today my eyes were glued to Ryan –the one from gym- as he fumbled with his pencil because he was having trouble keeping up with Mrs. Roberts. Unexpectedly, Mrs. Roberts called on Ryan to answer a question. “Ryan, what does meiosis begin with?” she asked with pessimism in her tone, but her tone was very loud and clear. Ryan hesitated for a moment; he just sat quietly, thinking about the answer –obviously I knew what he was thinking about- but Leslie, the girl sitting directly behind him, whispered, “Interphase one.” He repeated her answer and Mrs. Roberts gaped for she didn’t think Ryan would answer her. Then she continued on with her lesson. Ryan thanked Leslie by asking her out and she replied with a yes, – though it was through note passing, I read both of their minds- both smiling after their little exchange. As class ended, Layla jumped out of her seat and left the classroom. I didn’t have a chance to even say her name before she went off. My first though was to follow shortly behind her but I knew that I wouldn’t catch up. When I left the classroom, I gazed around searching for Cedric in the hallway but he was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, I spotted Cedric’s usual tiny swarm of girls trailing behind him but I did also notice his hair. “Hey Tristan, where’ve you been all week?” Cedric asked. “I was here the whole week buddy. Though I’m amazed that you didn’t tell me that you’re going out on a date with Dawn tonight!” I told him and he blushed a little. He started to play with his fingers and the swarm of girls crowding around him all groaned with disappointment. “Yes I am, but I don’t really think I like Dawn that way? Y’know?” I nodded, waved good-bye, and went home. I needed a break from anxiety and –I hated to admit- Layla. Though I loved her dearly, and I missed seeing her smile, I needed to not see her for right now. I wasn’t in love with her, just infatuated, I kept repeating to myself. Though ravishing as she is with her long, sleek midnight black hair, her dark sepia eyes, her delicate but tough skin, and her personality. She had a great significance that in fact drew me to her like she was a magnet. She always had a way to make me smile, even when I’m angry and disappointed with her. But what truly gets to me is the way she can accomplish things with a strong determination but still sometimes she can get stubborn with herself; I can handle that. I smirked in spite of myself. Layla, not mine, not yet, but thinking that she can be handled is impossible. Handling Layla is on

one of the lists of hopelessness because Layla was unpredictable all the time. Out of nowhere, she’d faint, or she’d turn around and growl at you, or worse, attack someone you know… I shook off those thoughts. I was denying that Layla was a cruel creature because deep down, I bet you anything she’s as sensitive as paper. One accidental thing and you can crease her or maybe lowering her self-esteem and she’ll rip apart, or worse, hurt her in anyway and she crumples up. Either way, I have a tiny, minuscule feeling inside me that I could possibly, maybe, handle Layla. She was worth it; worth life, worth death, worth losing me to have her.

Chapter 7 Total Disaster Dawn
As I waited for Cedric to pick me up, I thought about Layla’s house. Whenever I entered her room, a strange chill went down my spine sending shivers down along it. Whenever I was with Layla, deep down, I knew that being her friend was a risk. Still, friendship is the boat that never sinks, and Layla and I have a sturdy boat. I stared at the mirror, stunned at what transformation I went through with just make-up and taking of my glasses. I ran my fingers down my hair, it felt so silky. I brushed my fingertips against my lips, feeling its smoothness, but it did have some salmon pink lip gloss on it, yet it was still nice. But now my fingers were sparkling. There was a minute touch of eyeliner on me but that was all the make-up I needed to look pretty, or at least Layla says so. I’m hoping Cedric agrees. I gazed up and down my full length mirror, still admiring myself (hoping not to become too shallow). I was wearing a knee-length white skirt, that sort of curved around the bottom, a light pink blouse that fit my figure just right, and I was wearing my lucky necklace. My lucky necklace is beaded with an elegant music note hanging directly in the middle. It was the last present my father gave me before he left my mother and I. I held it delicately in my hand and twirled it in circles. Just then, the doorbell rang, and I rushed to answer it. My skirt was twirling as I opened it and Cedric was standing outside, with a chic shirt on, it was casual yet stylish and he was wearing tan slacks. I smiled at him and he grinned back.

The world around me disappeared. I was no longer standing in my house, I was flying in the air, but I daren’t move anywhere. It might affect the illusion and injure my profound thought. Suddenly, Cedric snaps me out of my trance and he takes my hand in his and we walk outside. His hand was soft and warm; it had a lovely sensation to it. I began to shift my thumb up and down his hand. But he let go and whispered to me, “Slow it down. We haven’t even gotten to where we need to go.” It sent shivery pleasure all over me, making me smile. We got onto the bus together and talked about what a week it’s been. He seemed to always gaze down at my face every time I said something about another guy. Of course he had to look down; he was three inches taller than me. We got of the bus at our stop and I saw the diner. It was the diner (it was one of those 50’s themed diners, the main color was red) that my family and I used to go to all the time… at least before my father left my mother and I. Tears started to form in my eyes but I pushed them back with all my will and put on a poker face. Cedric opened the door for me, unlike most guys, they never do that anymore. I thanked him and he said that we had reservations but the diner seemed quiet and bare. Though, better to be safe than sorry. We sat down in a booth table and they took our orders for drinks. “So… um…” Cedric prompted, clearly not knowing what to say. “Well, are you signing up for basketball?” I asked him. He nodded, then looked around the room, giving the impression that he was looking for a distraction. Then, Leslie and Ryan pop into the restaurant. I sighed and flushed, gazing down at the table. I was mortified; I thought this was a single date not a double date. Cedric motioned for them to join us. As I looked up, Leslie gave me a look of disgust but somewhere in that expression I could tell she was a little envious. I still felt mortified. Either both Cedric and Ryan accidently double booked or he purposely invited them. Either way it was embarrassing for somebody. Leslie tried to be a conversation starter but fell short by about an inch. It was silent for several minutes but when the server came (who which was female) and she came to take our orders. Nobody said anything. “Miss, what would you like to order?” she asked, looking directly at me. Everyone at the table turned to me, expecting me to answer her but I sat in sheer silence. The waitress glanced around our table, puzzled, “Are you guys, like, sick or something?” she asked, sounding

completely ridiculous. Everyone at the table appeared as if they were going to start cracking up. Finally she gave in, “Fine, I’ll take your orders later… stubborn brats,” she muttered the last part to herself. When she left, we all looked at each other, and Ryan started guffawing. Then we all joined in the laughter. “Oh, my gosh, did you hear what she said before she left?” I laughed. “What’d she say?” Cedric asked me, his eyes brightening up with laughter. “Stubborn brats, ha-ha, just a joke, lady!” I somewhat yelled and she glanced up and we all went back to being silent. When she turned back around we all started laughing again. Until, I felt something graze against my hand. My head shot upward and I stopped laughing with everyone. I glance at Cedric and he grins at me, as if we were sharing a private joke. I grin back then start to laugh with them again. Then, we when finally stopped laughing the waitress came and giggled at our practical joke on her. She finally took our orders and the date went really well. I could tell that even Leslie, who despised me through and through, enjoyed herself. It was fun but deep down I wished that it was a date for just Cedric and me. As we all left the diner, Leslie and Ryan were holding hands as Cedric and I were but Cedric refused to hold mine… I looked at them then at him with a hopeful smile. He shook his head and mouthed, “Later.” I sighed but continued to walk along with them. Then, Ryan and Leslie were heading in the opposite direction of us and we said our good-byes and left. I was a little mad at Cedric because I have a feeling that he’s embarrassed of being with me. Especially around his friends, so I folded my arms. “What’s your problem?” he asked me, giving me a hard stare. I refused to answer him; I looked in a different direction. I felt like a fool for thinking that he liked me… He was ashamed of me, he didn’t want to even hold my hand in front of two people that he happened to be good friends with. How shallow can you get? I felt devastated; I actually thought that he wanted to go on a date with me but nope, it was a pity date. My heartbeat began to ache and Cedric kept asking what was wrong and I ignored him. Almost as if he wasn’t standing beside me. “Dawn, please tell me what’s going on. I haven’t a clue of why you’re doing this…” he muttered to me as he reached for my arm but I jerked it away from him. I was deluded, bamboozled. It was peccadillo; it was very offensive and painful to think of a pity date. My heart was aching so much that Cedric didn’t even know the half of it. And by the time we reached the bus stop I desired for him to leave. I wished that the date had never happened but when I get home,

I’m going to pray for Cedric; pray for him to learn the error of his ways. He led me on and now, I felt so stupid for not noticing that I was disgusted with myself. I was wishing that guys were attracted to me and not in a bad way. Finally Cedric spoke up, “Dawn, I want you to start answering me right now,” he demanded with authority and his English accent really stood out when he said it. I shook my head and he sighed. Cedric kept getting me to talk to him but I was able to ignore him until we reached my stop and he walked out with me. I glared at him and finally answered him. “Cedric, I hate to tell you this but… you’re a complete arrogant jerk! I can’t stand the fact that unless nobody’s around you’ll flirt or something! It’s an insult, you know that?!” I huffed, crossing my arms as we stood in front of the bus stop. He gave me a puzzled look, “What are you talking about Dawn?” he asked as he reached out to caress my cheek. I scowled and slapped his hand away. “Dawn, relax! I don’t even know what you’re talking about!” he yelled as he looked at his hands. “I cannot believe that you’re this oblivious to your… ugh, I can’t think of the word because I’m so upset with you! Cedric, if you liked me, and I’m implying as a friend, you wouldn’t have taken me on a pity date, you would have said, ‘no.’ and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings but still you have to be all cruel and trick me! You are a complete arrogant, dimwitted jerk!” I shrieked as I slammed down on his foot, though that wasn’t necessary, I felt like I had to for all the times he was mean to me. I stomped off, not knowing at all where I was heading to. Cedric came limping to me, reaching out for me, but I just walked faster. He called my name, but it came to a point where it sounded like a whisper. I stopped walking and let him catch hoping that he might actually have a comeback so I could totally outsmart him but I turned around and he wasn’t there. I began to panic. The sun was setting and I was in the forest but I was close enough to see the houses but they were about three blocks away. And that was a long way with my blistered feet. I took long strides but I tripped on a root. I manage to stagger back up but then I heard a twig crack. I shot my head around. The moon was coming out and it appeared to be almost full. I looked up at it and just stared at it. Then I fell but not by myself but by the force of something else. It was neither animal nor human, I knew that but I never knew. I was soon knocked out unconscious.

I woke up in a daze surrounding by many men and a couple women. As soon as I regained the ability to see, I spotted my father, standing there, half-naked. I looked left and right, I was completely bewildered. My father walked towards me and said, “Its all right honey… just close your eyes again. Everything will be fine when you wake up, I promise.” I listened to him, I succumbed to it, and it was by force. I had no control over my actions. It made me afraid but I did close my eyes. Then, I fell asleep. I screamed. The pain, it was everywhere! I was shrieking and my body jerking back and forth. But that only made the pain even worse. The pain was excruciating and I couldn’t see anything. It was dark everywhere and I squeezed myself; I felt fur all round my body. Strange, I don’t, and never was, wearing fur. The pain, it was screaming, moving everywhere as if it was running from me. There was nothing I could do, no matter how much I tried to quiet, it would only get worse! My eyes didn’t open, my mouth was too open, and my skin was furry. My body began to shake and I started to wonder whether I was having a seizure or not. My hearing was there and all I could hear was shrieking –coming from me of course- and then, I could the wind whistling, the leafs flowing with the ghostly wind, and the sounds of passing cars. I attempted to open my eyes and it took a while but I was finally able to. It was blurry and the first thing I thought was that my glasses were off but nope. There they were sitting at the top of my nose. I took them off, and I could see perfectly clearly. And the pain was gone. I gasped, my hand clasping my mouth. “Dawn, darling, are you okay?” my father whispered as he came behind me. “What’s… what’s… what’s going on, dad?” I whimpered. I turned to him and screamed. My father wasn’t behind me, it was a giant bear. I heard a voice come from the bear, “No, honey, it’s me. It’s your father, relax.” He came out of the shadows and I gasped; it wasn’t a bear at all. It was a giant wolf but that made matters worse. I screamed even louder. “You’re not my father!” I yelled and then ran away. This time the speed was faster than I’ve ever run… it was inhuman, abnormally fast. I stopped in my tracks. I stopped and gazed down below me. I yelled again and I found that I was covered in fur, everywhere. A hand gripped my shoulder, I flinched and I saw that same wolf in front of me. “Dawn, you won’t believe what’s going on… I know, trust me. I never really believed it either. But still, I know it was bound to happen every time,” he pointed skyward, “that happens.”

I looked up, it was a full moon. How ironic. “Dawn, this is who you are… I’m sorry, but this is how you had to find out. When you’re mother found out, she wasn’t happy. That’s why we aren’t together… I told her that our first born was to be like me but she never wanted it, especially when we found out that you were… you…” he looked down, “I’m sorry to have brought this upon you but, if I hadn’t… you don’t know that consequences…” He shook his head with guilt and I reached my hand out to him but he snapped at it. He ran away, first growling at me then taking off. No… this… this just can’t be… I am not a werewolf! It’s impossible, they are just myths… It’s just a dream… just a dream… I sat on a rock, my head hanging in my hands. I was filled with anger and disbelief but I didn’t want to fume it out the way I was supposed to. I wasn’t going to attack. Not going to harm, not going to growl. The craving to hurt or harm another creature grew each time I restrained myself. I got up and took a deep breath. I was going to have to do this; I was going to have to hurt somebody. I must do something, for if I didn’t there would, most likely, be costs to such a mistake. This was going to be the most complicated thing to ever happen to me and I prayed that my father would be forgiven for his errors; that I would be forgiven for mine; that all those who are like us were to be forgiven for all terrible, unforgettable memories of dread.

Layla
I stood atop a rock on the beach, watching humans swim and surf. Dawn said she was going to meet Cedric and I was going to watch over them. For the last week, Dawn’s tried countless attempts to get Cedric on another date but since she purposely stepped on his foot, he was neglecting her. I couldn’t spy their exact location but I know that they’re somewhere by the polka-dot burger stand. I held my breath, hoping that the human scent would wash away along with the waves. But sure enough, it was still apparent in the air, leaving me no choice but to not inhale nor exhale. I spotted Dawn; she was approaching him in the bikini she bought two days ago, on a regrettable trip to the mall I took with her. I groaned, for she stumbled straight into his arms. Whether it was on purpose or accident, it was a stupid move. I could hear them. “Oh, it’s you…” he said as he dropped her to the floor. “Cedric, please come back. I’m sorry. I was only upset with you! Plus, you know that that’s true!” she yelled as she tried to get up but he pushed her down hard.

He scoffed but eventually turned around, “All right… I’m sorry I was neglecting you that night a week ago! There I said it! It was wrong but it doesn’t matter! I don’t like you!” he yelled. I could see Dawn’s face. Tears swelled, she tried to wipe them away but they kept coming back; seeming to betray her. “You know what? I’m glad you don’t like me! You are so not worth it! You’re a complete arrogant, retarded oaf! I can’t believe I liked you! You’re so narcissistic that you can’t even notice the damage you leave when you lead people on like you did to me! That is so cowardly, selfish, and cruel! You know that?!” she scolded with rage. Cedric stood there dumbfounded but still gained the courage to nod at her with shame; he just stared at her… I wish I could read minds, specifically his mind at this moment. Dawn stood there, her foot tapping on the boardwalk, “Anything to say Cedric?” She was still angry, it was in her tone and voice that Cedric probably noticed too. “I… um… Dawn, I’m sorry…” he muttered but Dawn didn’t hear him. She scoffed, “That’s what I thought!” she turned but Cedric caught her arm. “Dawn… I… I… am sorry. There,” he released her arm. “You don’t mean it… I know you don’t. You care about nobody but yourself. You were raised spoiled, egotistic, and cruelly and there’s no denying it! I’m over you Cedric, and there’s nothing you can do to make me change my mind and plus, it’s not like you want me to.” He just stared after her as she stomped off. But he was hurt deeply. There was nothing that could prove that wrong. He probably didn’t even know half of those words. Dawn saw me and dashed over. There was something different about her, I mean besides the obvious backbone she grew. Her reflexes seemed faster and whenever I’ve seen her mad, you can see the weakness in her voice. But this time, her face was red and she looked as if she was going to attack. Her arms were crossed as she approached me, “That oaf… that stupid little...” she muttered many swear words. “Dawn, I just saw what happened, are you okay?” I asked her. She didn’t answer, for Cedric was coming towards and I told her. She stiffened and said, “Doesn’t he know that neither of us wants to talk to him?!” I shrugged and said that I’d be back but that she had to talk to him. She moaned but agreed.

Dawn
When Cedric approached me I watched as Layla ran off into the distance, wishing that she hadn’t left me alone. I was so mad… I was miffed off; I couldn’t even look at Cedric. HE stopped behind me, already knowing that I wouldn’t want to talk to him. “What do you want?!” I yelled. I could feel him flinch even though he was two feet behind me. “Dawn, I just… nobody’s ever told me that before…” “Maybe not to your face,” she retorted. “That’s not what I meant. I mean that… nobody’s ever stood up to me and I admire you for having a backbone. It’s nice to know that some people don’t always get all walked over on.” “I don’t care…” “I knew you’d say that… I just… I never led you on…” “Cedric, I wasn’t born yesterday!” I turned around at him and froze in my spot. He was inches away from me. My breathing grew funny. It was awkward doing it with him here. “Dawn, you have no idea do you?” “I talked to Tristan and he said you weren’t into me, though unlike you, I can spot the obvious!” she yelled but still immobile in her spot. He moved even closer, “I said that because there was a hallway full of students and I didn’t want anybody to know…” “Aha! You’re ashamed of me, it’s embarrassing to be seen with me right?! That’s why you called over Ryan and Leslie that night because you were afraid somebody would spot ‘Cedric the Cool’ with ‘Dawn the Dorky,’ correct?!” He sighed, his breath falling on my face, it smelled yummy. Ugh, gross, I was complimenting the enemy. “No… You are not ‘Dawn the Dorky’ you’re…” “Jeez, with such close proximity, I think you’re either going to rape me, or trying to get me into your pants, whichever you want to call it…” He chuckled, “No… I’m going to do that. Aha… I have a name…. you’re not ‘Dawn the Dorky,’ you’re ‘Dawn the Amazing.’”

He put his hands on either side of my face and I tried to back away but I didn’t move. I just stared into those glorious eyes of his and giggled. “Amazing doesn’t start with a ‘D,’” I giggled. He smiled, “I don’t care but the word suits you…” He moved closer but I hesitated. I knew exactly what was going to happen; he was going to kiss me but I am still angry at him. Then again, he’s going to kiss me in a public place… His lips were centimeters from my face but I got eager and moved my lips to his. His lips were soft and delicate… almost like his ego; one little insult could send him straight to hell. His hands brought my face closer to his and I pulled away. His breathing was heavier and he grinned. He muttered my name but I stood away from him. I was going to run away from him. I wasn’t going to be pulled in like he was a tractor beam. I turned away as fast as possible and ran. “Dawn! Please… I… I’m not sorry about that! But I am sorry if I hurt you!” I ignored him and continued to run. Then, I realized what an idiotic move I was making. I’ve liked Cedric for so many years and here I was running away from him. I knew that he was running after me. But once I stopped running, he started to push himself harder. He reached me and grabbed my hand, “Dawn… I know that wasn’t what you wanted… but I’m not sorry.” I put my hand on his face, “Don’t be.” I pulled his face to mine for another kiss. This one was shorter than the first one but was almost as pleasant. He smiled to me and he told me, “You know, I was going to ask you out after the Friday you stepped on my foot?” he winked and held my hand, “I’ve never met a girl who can stand up for herself like you do…” I smiled and he walked me home. I felt so blissful and I couldn’t believe that this was happening; it felt as if it was a dream but I closed my eyes and it didn’t disappear. I grinned. Cedric really was here holding my hand, looking at me dearly. This is the ending I’ve always pictured but this definitely isn’t happily ever after; there’s no such thing.

It was Sunday, and I had absolutely nothing to do! I didn’t want to go out with Cedric because I thought it would make me sound… too eager. I sat down in my room, watching TV. I began flipping through channels, finally stopping at channel 36, which was playing “Jon and Kate Plus 8” which I absolutely adore, considering the fact that my family’s completely broken unlike theirs… I mean, my dad’s gone and my mom’s always working and me? I’m an only child! When you put it like that, it makes it sound terrible but my parents are caring and loving (just not towards each other) and they spend as much time as possible with me. My phone rang, and I saw the caller ID, it was Cedric. I gasped, for Cedric was calling me; not vice versa. I smiled; at least it made him sound desperate rather than me. I answered, “Hello?” “Hey, Dawn,” he greeted with that English accent of his, “I was kinda wondering if you wanted to hang out today… but it makes sense if you don’t want to… I mean if like yesterday was a fluke…” “Are you trying to get rid of me?” I teased. “Well… if you step on my foot again, maybe.” “Ha-ha. Now, I might go, but I’m busy with… someone… call you later,” I lied, teasingly. “What?! Who are you with?! Oh oops sorry, I didn’t mean to do that… I mean, I know you’re not my girlfriend so... It wouldn’t matter or anything…” “Okay. Good.” There was silence. I smiled and started to laugh, “Are you jealous Cedric Miller?” “No… I just…” “Feel jealous, I mean… Why would you be, I don’t know but it’s funny to see your ‘fake’ reactions…” “I’m going to hang up now…” I pushed the end button, feeling completely foolish. Of course Cedric didn’t like me… he was trying to get rid of me and he only persuaded me to by doing that… He was probably dreading it inside. Great, now I feel like a doofus. The feeling of rejection flowed through me and now I was down in the dumps… Again, my phone rang, but I ignored it… It was probably Mom telling me that she was sorry that she couldn’t make it to lunch. I groaned. It didn’t stop ringing, so I just wanted to hear the voicemail when she stopped calling. Minutes later, it stopped. But, there were two calls. I listened to the first one, “Hey honey… I’m sorry but I can’t make it to lunch but I will make dinner. Anyways, don’t forget to pick up the dry-cleaning darling! I love you, bye.”

A typical excuse and I deleted it. Then, I listened to the second one. “Hey, Dawn. I’m sorry about that I guess I was a little jealous… But I have a feeling you’re just teasing… anyways, call me when you forgive me…” I looked at my phone and dialed his number… I wasn’t calling to accept apologies. I was calling to yell at him because I know this is some sort of prank he’s pulling, as usual. Therefore, I’m going to yell or lie… or both. The phone was dialing and it rang once before it was answered. “Dawn! I’m glad you called!” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, Cedric… I know you’re pulling some sort of practical joke on me, I’m not stupid! Plus, I can’t believe how much of a jerk you are to leave such a stupid message, which I know was a lie!” I breathed, “And plus, how do you know I’m not making out with Tyler or something!?” Then, I pretended to be shocked and as if I never meant to say that and then, for about five minutes, there was silence. At first, I thought that he hung up but I could hear him breathing. “Cedric?” I murmured. No answer. “Cedric? Are you there? I’m going to hang up…” Still no answer. “Cedric! If you don’t answer me, I’m going to hurt you! Cedric?!” Nothing, but I could suddenly hear some sort of background sounds and I couldn’t identify it. There was an abrupt and loud pound on the door but I ignored it. I lay on my bed, my head facing the ceiling. I didn’t care but then I realized that it could easily be Mom with a surprise lunch like last time. So, I jumped out of bed, changed into sweatpants and a white shirt (because Mom usually takes me for a jog to work off the extra calories from lunch) and answered the door. I froze in place. My face flushed red and I just kinda tried to shut the door. But he caught it before I could close it. “Hi Cedric.” He gave me an angry glare. “If you’re not here to talk then I suggest that you leave immediately.” He was standing there just staring at me and I got up in his face, “Cedric, if you don’t leave this property I will make you!”

My werewolf side taking control of my anger. He relaxed his position and moved towards me and pulled me into an embrace. “I’m sorry…” It was my turn to be silent. He was tricking me, my werewolf instincts knew. This was a foolery. I pushed him away, “You liar,” I muttered to his face but I wasn’t able to truly say it. “Are you really making out with Tyler?” “Go away,” I muttered even louder than before. He sighed, “dawn, I’m not lying to you. Trust me,” he said, as he reached out towards my hand. I pulled it away. “Never…” He stood there, hand extended, hoping for me to reach out for it, but nope, I shut the door in his face and ran to my room. My body was sprawled all over the bed, for hours with the TV on in the background. My phone was ringing off the hook. But I ignored it, just wishing that it would stop and that Cedric wasn’t such an oaf! A complete belligerent, stupid, mean oaf… still, I knew that I still liked him, no matter how hard it was to admit. The doorbell rang, rapidly and continuously. I knew Cedric was still here but I went down anyways. I opened the door with mighty force and said, “What?!” I froze. “Hey darling, Daddy’s here…” I mumbled something, and then turned into my room. I was afraid of my own father.

Layla
Something wrong was happening, my head started to ache. But just a couple minutes ago, I had been staring at my floor. I was angry now rather than calm. It felt like déjà vu, almost as if it had happened before. My hand rested on my forehead but I fell hard to the wooden floor. It ached, it ached everywhere. Then, once again, I fell into a trance of slumber.

Once again, the meadow was before me, but I wasn’t alone. My father, appearing older than when I last saw him in my dream. Tears formed in my eyes but they did only that; they never came out. I ran to hug him but my hands flew right through. “Dad!” I yelled, waving my hands up and down in front of him but he stood motionless. “Layla, are you there?” “Dad! I’m right here!” I yelled louder than before but I ran closer to him, he moved his arm but only to stretch. “Layla, it’s your sixteenth birthday today correct?” “Yes…” I muttered, my hand clinging onto my chest. “I can’t hear you, but when I sent you this message it was year 2007, now, but I must tell you that I am alive, darling…” The tears were still holding back… not attacking until I least expected, waiting to ambush. “Now, please… the only way for me to hear you is if you take the letter I hid and hand it to me… that is a fragment of my self… a part of my mind chipped away so you could contact me. If there is no answer, then… I’m unavailable… I’m sorry darling.” Then, in a sudden ambush, the tears flowed down, “Dad! No! I have it right here! Don’t… don’t leave me!” I searched my pockets for the letter. I gently put it in his hands. He smiled. “I can finally see your face… Honey, you are so beautiful… just like your mother. Now, I see that you received my message immediately…” I paused, finally remembering something, “It’s my birthday today?” He nodded and put his hand on my cheek, “Yes, it is October twentieth correct?” I nodded and walked closer to him, hoping to wrap my arms around him for a hug. He stepped away. “I’m sorry my Little Layla but please… no physical contact between the two of us; it could ruin the signal…” I smiled for him and he smiled back, “So beautiful…” he murmured. “Dad… is mom alive? Is that why you’re acting so… weird?” He abruptly turned around, “My darling Little Layla, we must depart. There is terrible danger coming my way,” he paused, taking a breath, “I love you…” “Love you too, dad…”

He smiled, “I’ve always wanted to hear you say that…” Then, he disappeared. The letter floated down, and I caught it. This time, I held it closer and protectively. The dream was pleasant and wonderful, for there was nothing more beautiful than hearing the voice of a loved one; yeah, that’s right, a loved one. My eyes flickered and I gazed at the mirror. I smiled, my fangs showing and I just sat there, inert. The tears, the never stopped, it was an endless crying fest. This whole emotion concept is tough to handle. It is so complicated. Once again, but without agony, I fell asleep but this time at night. I tried to stay awake; I have to feed, I haven’t fed in almost five days… Something bad will happen if I don’t eat… I was too weak to fight back, so I fell asleep within minutes; completely forgetting the consequences when I awaken from my dreamless trance. My head shot up, it was morning. I couldn’t feel the sun but I could feel the presence of it outside the house. The progress of everyday mornings was the same but today, Tristan wasn’t standing by the door, waiting for me to come out. I glanced back-and-forth hoping to spot him hiding but he was nowhere to be found. I took a small step outside but was swooped into the air. It was the same feeling as before, the one who ambushed me when I was going to the Carter household. “I finally have you…” the voice said. It was manly, muscular sounding, like a street thug but worse. I flailed my arms and kicked my legs but it didn’t weaken the creature behind me. I screamed but no one was there to help me for everyone had already left the house. The creature cackled, “You evil leech, stop that. It only fortifies my kind.” Leech? This creature of the male form knew my secret. Suddenly, I was hit in the gut by a creature in front of me. “This won’t hurt you half-breed!” Half-breed? “Half-human, half-vampire… almost as shameful as the werepire! A terrible waste, a disgrace to the world…” “As are you!” I retorted.

“Oh, be quiet you half-breed!” They pulled me aside. When the finally let go of my mouth I yelled, “Tristan!” Then, I was hit right in the face. It was painful, agonizing. I was hit right below the eye with unbearable strength; it was sending endless pain around my face. I mumbled, “Stop…” but was hit again but in the opposite side. I shrieked. This agony, was it to be like this? Was this the terrible danger my father foretold? Anxiety filled me but was soon spilled over and replaced by torture. I opened one eye and was able to spot one attacker. It was a vampire but a pure one. They weren’t like me; they weren’t half-breeds, like Tristan and me. I spotted the woman and she had short black hair (almost like mine) and her eyes were a deep red. Pale as the moon, she was swift, for she caught me staring at her. I was smacked in the face with tremendous might. I called out Tristan’s name again… no answer, no rescuing. It was coming. I knew it was since the first hit. I was kicked, pulled. I felt only numbness; I was numbing out the actual pain. My eyes were shut, my senses were absolutely useless and I was vulnerable. I heard screaming but it was probably from me, but like I said, it was hard to tell. It was time; it was coming. Death. But I was ready and waiting. Welcoming it. Good-bye cruel world. Enjoy life without me…

Tristan
Must hurry, must hurry. I repeated as I ran faster and faster. Layla was in deep trouble. I pushed myself to move faster. This was a terrible problem, a life-or-death situation people always talk about. They definitely are not fun. I could hear shrieking but it sounded far away. Before I left I begged for help and the only support I have is Jared and Amy. Amy was a balanced attacker but she was a bit on the weaker side. Jared was physically powerful but fast, he is not. The screaming was louder, the anxiety was… superior. I couldn’t see where but I could hear. Tree after tree I looked. I froze. But then I lunged forward, I blocked them from attacking Layla. She was lying down, motionless, as if she was… dead. Jared and Amy were fighting I could hear punches being thrown back and forth.

“You are siding with the half-breed! You foolish, imprudent… brutes!” one yelled but the other gasped. “The boy… that one over there,” he jabbed his finger toward me, but I stared down into Layla’s expressionless face, “he’s one too! Get them, Laleh!” Layla screamed, her body jerking up and down. I gripped her hard and cold. I didn’t even take in the satisfaction of her movement. I was far too angry. Screw being late to school. Jared growled then lunged at the person who was called, ‘Laleh.’ Layla continued to shriek, almost as loud as Elaine. I could hear the small battle going on behind me but I couldn’t just abandon Layla like this. With her power she could barely punch someone. I heard a yelp. I shot my head around but soon regretted because I was punched right below my lips. That was all it took, I punched right back. Layla was okay but Amy was not. “Ow! Tristan, stay out of this, Layla needs you more than we do!” Amy shouted as she stumbled back. I looked at her, giving her a pleading expression. She shook her head but I didn’t care. I threw another punch at the man but he luckily dodged it just before I hit him. It sent me staggering forward. My lip was throbbing with extreme pain but not as bad as Layla. Her face was bruised everywhere (she appeared as if she wrestled a tiger) and her skin was scratched everywhere. It ached to see her looking so scathed. The man ran towards Layla and picked her up; carrying her like you would to a toddler human. “Laleh, we must depart now… master, is awaiting our return!” the man shouted. “Wait Troy, I must this unpleasant child once more!” she replied and turned and lunged to strike my sister with her rock-hard fist. I dived for it, hoping to tackle the man holding Layla in his arms. Luck was with me, Layla fell to the floor and the man scowled at me. “You dare disobey the law of the Code of the Bats! You will regret this day infamous child! My wife and I shall return!” The woman hissed and they ran off together. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I hastily ran to Layla’s side. I gripped her hand hard in mine. “Layla… are you okay?” I asked filled with concern. She was so… scathed and dreary. She gave the impression that she was what I feared her to be most: dead.

I gently moved my finger down her cheek to her arm and back, repeatedly. I was hoping it would soothe her and wake her up or some sort of reaction. I was starting to lose hope… She wasn’t moving, breathing, or giving any signs of life. Then, she cracked a smile. “Layla?” I asked as I gave her hand a gentle squeeze. She moaned, “It hurts… Tristan?” “I’m here… Amy and Jared are here too…” She nodded and then shifted her face to me. She smiled but her eyes never opened. I gripped her hand harder. “Layla, can you open your eyes?” I questioned. “I don’t need to open them to see you…” she mumbled loud enough for only me to hear. My heart fluttered. No beating just fluttered, strange as that was. Her eyes flickered open and she grinned at me. Then, I thought that maybe the igniting finally kicked in but I didn’t want it to. The faster it is, the faster it ends but the longer it takes, the longer it lasts. “Why… why are you guys here?” she asked but the question was directed at Jared and Amy. “I’m here because Tristan needed help, and I’ve never said no to a fight,” Jared joked. “I’ll tell you later,” my sister answered but then she looked up, “You guys, we should probably leave. Their anger and rage is still in my system. It’s not very satisfying.” I nodded and I helped Layla up. I didn’t hold her hand, I just left it alone. She didn’t seem to disagree. “Well, see you later Amy…” Layla waved then ran. “That girl recovers pretty fast,” Jared commented. I smiled, “My girl…” I teased, “Speaking of girls how’s Hailey? Is she in good health? And is she… one of us?” My brother didn’t answer any questions. He just simply nodded and left as well. “What is it Amy?” I asked her for she was still standing in her same position. “Nothing important to you Tristan… I must be leaving…” Then, she left. I ran also. Layla, my Layla, injured by two strange vampires. These are the same ones… the ones who attacked Damian… Damian was my only friend like me, although he was twenty-two, he was still like me and understood my troubles. Laleh and Troy, they seemed familiar. It was the couple who were in

Layla’s dream and they must’ve been the people in Damian’s strange nightmares as well. The seeminginnocent couple but they were cruel and mean. Code of the Bats! That’s where they’re from! This is some handy information, Layla would appreciate it… this takes one step up from where we currently are. This isn’t over… it’ll never be over… The Code of the Bat disapprove of half-breeds. That’s what. Well, if fighting’s what they want, then fighting’s what they’ll get.

Chapter 8 Troubles
Dawn
Dad… he just makes too many mistakes. Knocking at my door on a Sunday morning and thinking that I won’t freak after my ‘transformation.’ A stupid move if you ask me… I thought to myself during homeroom. Cedric’s left me six voicemails since yesterday. He thinks I’m stupid enough to start trusting him again. I wish I could but he just wasn’t very persuasive… I saw him flirt with a couple girls this morning but that was before he knew I arrived… a terrible shame. He’s already cheating on me but it didn’t bother me as much I as I thought it would. I glanced at the empty seat beside me. Layla wasn’t here, nor Tristan. What a coincidence… making out somewhere I presume? The class was the usual boring monologue the teacher gives everyday. This time, it was without Layla or Tristan cracking jokes about it. Today, they were hooking up somewhere. After class, I immediately seeked out Cedric and he paused at the door, waiting for me. “Hey, nice to see you…” I nodded, “So… flirt with any girls recently?” “I can’t help it…” “Can’t help but flirt with people other than the person you’re supposed to flirt with right? I’m not repeating the conversation on Saturday and I think Saturday was a fluke. I shouldn’t have asked for a second chance; I should’ve left it alone and never asked you out again…” He flinched, “That’s not… don’t…” I walked away.

“Dawn…” he murmured as I carried on down the hall. Cedric just wasn’t the person I was in the mood to talk to. Right now, I was searching for Layla. I scanned the hallway for even her slightest presence but I felt nothing. Almost as if she wasn’t coming but suddenly, a sudden gush of wind bursted through the room. Then, along came Layla but she wasn’t beautiful, with her wind flowing in the wind like a movie, no. She was all torn and beat up. The hallways crowded with students gasped and froze, stopping any further conversations. All was silent but not calm. Layla didn’t move either, which didn’t improve the moment in any way whatsoever. I sighed. “Hello Layla. Where the heck were you?” I asked in a whisper. She moved her index finger in front of her lips, giving me the “shh” signal. I nodded in agreement, though I was still curious about her injuries in every possible area of her body. We were strolling towards the bathrooms, completely ignoring the lingering eye facing us. Cedric was calling my name, though I could scarcely hear it, I knew he was. Neglecting him was part of the plan. “Can you answer my question now?” I asked Layla. “Yes. I was… distracted…” I motioned with my hand to continue, “Go on…” “Well… I overslept…” “Where’s Tristan?” She put on a poker face. Then a concerned face appeared on her expression, “You mean he’s not here yet?” “Yes…” I nodded. She tensed a little but soon relaxed. “I must get going now…” I nodded and she shoved her way through the door, pushing it irritably open. It seemed as though she was mumbling to herself but I paid no attention to it because Leslie entered the bathroom as soon as Layla exited. I wasn’t sure whether we were friends or not. Leslie froze as she stepped in, but she waved and went in front of the mirror. I waved back, “Hey, um, Leslie…” “Hi…” She was applying eye shadow and was focusing on the mirror. Then, abruptly, she asked, “Hey, do you think this is my color?”

I looked at her face, which she turned to face me; it was a light burgundy. It really protruded her sky blue eyes. I nodded. “You look really pretty Leslie.” “Thank you…” She turned back to her reflection and I left. After that little exchange I couldn’t help but feel like a friend to her. Leslie wasn’t half bad when she wasn’t cranky or PMSing. She actually was polite to me, me of all people. Though I find it incredibly unordinary, it was pleasant to see such a mean person act kind and polite to me. The bell rang, indicating that class was starting. I rushed to class. Once again, I had no concerns in this class, which was Geography. It passed as a blur. I could hear Cedric calling out my name but I couldn’t talk to him, not since I felt that strange vibe from him. This time, he was not evadable because he gripped my arm, cold and rough. He was panting for we ran halfway across the hallway, I mean ran. “Dawn… why… are… you… avoiding… me?” he huffed. For an in-shape guy, he was pretty winded. “Me? Little ol’ me? I am not avoiding you… why would you ever say that Cedric?” “Because of the way you reacted after I was talking to Brittany and Robin… you sounded jealous or something…” “Oh, yeah, that’s right. I’m just a crazy jealous girl that you’re dating and cheating on! Yeah, that makes perfect sense Cedric!” I yelled, turning several heads in our directions. Suddenly, Robin and Brittany appeared by Cedric’s side. “Oh, so you’re dating her?” Brittany proclaimed. “Yeah, are you?! I mean, you could totally do better. I mean, no offense, but she’s a nerd! Look at how she dresses,” she waved her hands up and down my body, making me flush, “and look at her grades! She has a four point four grade point average! Plus, she’s completely like… anti-social…” Cedric was standing there, “I have nothing against her grades or looks, plus she’s looking really pretty right now. And, people skills don’t matter, I mean, she talks to me, Layla, and Tristan…” Brittany and Robin stood there, mouths open, amazed, “Wait, so what you’re saying is that she’s better than us?” Robin demanded.

“Maybe not better, but definitely worth the trouble. You guys, I don’t know…” he replied, putting his arm around my shoulder. I flinched at his sudden touch. Suddenly, Brittany shouted, “I don’t think she’s ready to date you… I mean, has she ever had a boyfriend?” I shook my head and moved Cedric’s arm away. I took off to class and I didn’t care that now that I left, Cedric would flirt with those girls… and they would flirt right back. It didn’t matter. Though, I was thoroughly surprised to find Cedric trailing behind me, calling my name. “Dawn… please… wait… I’m sorry. What they said, just don’t listen!” he said, but I still walked away from him. I strode into class where I knew that he couldn’t get to me for he wasn’t in this class, at least not now. At 4:30, I was just leaving the school building. Yes, that was later than usual for I was hoping that if I stayed at the library for a while, Cedric would go home. But, he was there. He waved at me. “Dawn… Please, talk to me…” I sighed, “Fine…” His face brightened up, “Okay, please please please, believe me.” I nodded; what do I have to lose? “Okay, look, Robin and Brittany… they were flirting with me and since I wasn’t used to –or capable of- dating or liking a girl, I completely forgot about you… but I felt absolutely guilty afterwards… I’m sorry if I hurt you Dawn… I really am… would you give me another chance?” I paused, my instincts felt as if he actually meant it, so I decided to trust him… he smiled. “You won’t regret this!” he exclaimed before he kissed me on the cheek and walked me home. I don’t think I will, I, contently, thought to myself. No, I don’t think I will at all.

Tristan
Cedric was coming over to my house in half an hour; his reason was “I’m walking Dawn home.” This is pretty weird considering the fact that Dawn is mad at him.

I didn’t go to school today because I was afraid of everyone seeing the huge scar on my face. Though, I should’ve gone because Layla had gone but I don’t think that she was really looking forward to seeing me as much I was to her. I jumped. “Tristan, are you okay?” Layla said at my window, scaring the bejeebers out of me. She climbed through the window, gently touched my cheek for she was afraid of hurting me. Right then I wanted to lean in and kiss her but it wasn’t the time. “It’s okay… it doesn’t hurt but I should be asking you the same question…” “It hurts but I’ll leave through it.” “I hope you do.” She flinched; apparently, Layla heard me but she grinned somewhat. She shut her eyes and shook her head, “Tristan, do you really mean that?” I nodded and she smiled, “Okay.” We didn’t move for minutes, I just stared at her, and Layla was doing the same thing; it was starting to get all awkward. Just then a question popped into my head, “Layla, did you know those people?” “Huh?” she asked, seeming befuddled. “The people who attacked you… and me… Them… Laleh and Troy, I think?” She nodded, “They are the two who are always in my dream… I always thought they meant no harm. That they were just trying to help me but no, they were tricking… fooling me… When I first saw them, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I always thought that they were a figment of my imagination but they were standing right in front of me: killing me.” She stopped there, knowing that I was afraid for her. “Thank you Tristan,” she mumbled. “It’s no problem.” “No, thank you.” “I got that… You are always welcome.” “You still don’t get it do you? I mean, thank you!” “I know!”

She sighed; she moved her head forward and rested it on my shoulder, “Thank you for everything… for lending me a shoulder for those tough times,” she joked, “for helping me… supporting me, saving me… I am eternally grateful.” I nodded, “Like I said a couple times already, “You are very welcome… always… forever…” She didn’t move. She stayed in that position, immobile. It started to get comfortable until I realized that Cedric was coming over in about five minutes! “Layla…” “Hmm?” she replied, completely out of it; it made me smile for I thought that she didn’t want to move. “Cedric’s coming…” “And?” “And I think you should go…” “Right… good bye Tristan…” she stood up, smiled, and leaped out of my window. Now, I wish Cedric wasn’t coming because that moment could’ve lasted longer. Layla actually touched me in an intimate way! If I was a normal human boy, something would’ve happened… something inappropriate to think about right now… Half an hour later, Cedric pounded on the door. “Hey, Dawn falling for you again?” I greeted. “Not exactly… just a second chance…” “So you like Dawn now?” “That’s not what I came here to ask you…” he said, as he walked over to the coffee table and sipped some of my water, “You don’t mind if I drink this do you?” “Is that what you came to ask? That’s an odd question…” “Oh, ha-ha. As a matter of fact, I came to ask you if you knew why Dawn was avoiding me…” “I’ve been out of school all day and you think I know what’s wrong with your relationship with Dawn? I have barely talked to you in the past week!” “True as that may be… I still think that you should know something… anything!” “You like Dawn correct?” He nodded but he was pacing in front of the coffee table.

Why is she being so mean to me? I didn’t mean to… “Cedric, are you what I think you are?” I asked. “What does that mean?” “It means… do you like girls you know that’ll be a little more challenging or hard-to-get than other girls?” “No…” he replied, sounding unsure, “Well… it’s time for dinner! I got to go! See you later!” Odd… strange… Cedric was in the weirdest “mode” ever. Dawn liked Cedric and Cedric liked Dawn, but Cedric won’t admit it because he doesn’t think he does. Cedric doesn’t think he’ll ever like a girl but maybe that’s true. Maybe his new little saying is, “I’ll never like a girl as much as I liked Dawn.” Yeah, and then she’ll crucially dump him instead of vice versa. That would be absolutely spectacular. I moaned. I wished Layla were here right now and that I hadn’t turned her away. I wanted her to use my shoulder… This was a hopeless and foolish request. Then, I felt the urge to just get up and walk to her house. Then, out of nowhere, I stood up and made me urge reality. I wanted this… As I stood outside of Layla’s house, I was suddenly afraid to knock on the door even if it was only 7:00 P.M. I still gained the nerve to ring the doorbell. “Hello?” Layla’s caretaker greeted me, “Oh, it’s you again! Layla’s in her room.” “Okay…” “Don’t even think of trying anything funny mister. You’ll regret it; Layla isn’t your average girl!” I thought it was from the female caretaker but it was from a man. His comment made me laugh. I knew that Layla was far from average, especially an average girl. Who would?

Layla
I was fiddling with my mechanical pencil when Tristan barged into my room, not even daring to knock. He stood there, staring adoringly at my face, I smiled at him. His whole posture and expression perked up. He sat down next to me. “Hello… what are you doing here?” I asked him when he sat down beside me. “Hey,” he waved, “I’m here… I’m here… to ask you something…” “Yes?” I asked him, motioning him to proceed.

“Well… I was wondering if you wanted to… I don’t know… be…” “Um… I think I know what you’re going to say and I hate to be rude and discourteous for not ‘giving you a chance’ or something like that but sorry Tristan…” I answered before he could finish. I could see rejection flooding through him. “Oh… okay…” he stood up. Great, make me feel all malicious and guilt, I thought to myself. I sighed, took his hand, and pulled him to me. He jerked forward. “Layla… I must be leaving…” Is that all he came here for; to ask me on a date or whatever? I thought to myself. “Tristan… please… what I’m trying to say is… I don’t know.” “What do you mean ‘I don’t know’?” he asked me, but to which I had no reply. I sighed, “Tristan…” “I know… you don’t want to see me and maybe being friends was a mistake…” That hurt my heart; not only to see him in such despair but for him to state such a lie, it aches. This emotion was new and fresh to me, I didn’t understand remotely. I reached my hand to Tristan’s and took hold of it, and gave it a squeeze. “It wasn’t a mistake… it was a phase,” I replied but I was looking at his face, he wasn’t smiling but he wasn’t frowning but I could sense his happiness in my gripping his hand. “A phase? You mean that it’s all over? We aren’t friends?” he asked, seeming to be disappointed. “Yes, that’s right… we aren’t friends…” I replied and his expression looked pained. IT was true and at that moment it was finally realized. “Oh…” he tried to pull away, but I didn’t let go, he stared at me and I stared back. We were waiting for someone to say something but I knew that I had to be the one to say something. “Tristan, we aren’t just friends. We’re more than friends…” I muttered but I didn’t think he heard it. “Layla…” he murmured, he took hold of my other hand. I gazed up at him. “Yes?” I replied. “Can I kiss you?” he asked me avidly. I giggled, “What kind of question is that?” “A serious and personal one,” he replied with a smile. “I just might let you…” I said, I leaned in but Tristan pulled back.

“Tristan… what’s wrong?” I asked him. “Nothing… I have to go… you have to come with me…” he muttered, twisting his head around the room. “What is it?!” I yelled, demanding to know what interrupted our moment. He took hold of my hand, and I squeezed it, “What is it Tristan?” Suddenly, I felt the presence of another being and it sure wasn’t a kind one. I followed Tristan. I could feel his tension and fear, plus I could feel my own. “We’re going to see my family, now.” I nodded and we ran out of the house. Leah and Martin not even knowing anything but it didn’t matter for if it was Laleh and Troy again, I knew exactly what to do. If it was them, then death was their goal. When we reached Tristan’s house, he immediately notified the whole house of the emergency at hand. I sat down on the couch, practically hyperventilating. Tristan lightly caressed my face, I smiled but terror was still everywhere. Gosh, I couldn’t be happy for even three minutes?! When Mellissa reached me, she asked me multiple questions. “Layla, do you know the people attacking you?” she asked. “I had many dreams of them the past couple weeks… they seemed so kind and peaceful but now they’re out to kill me… or any other half-breed out there!” She nodded, and looked and Tristan, “Code of the Bats?” He nodded, “When Layla was unconscious they tried to take her to ‘Master’ and they threatened to kill all half-breeds, who either stand in their way or just because…” His mom looked concerned. Amy sat beside me, “They’re here… hatred! Mom, so much hatred, make it go away!” she shouted, seeming to be under some sort of spell. “Breathe Amy. Let it all vent, let it vent on those good-for-nothing punks!” Jared exclaimed. Tristan held my hand, “I’m staying here beside Layla. She’s their main target…” “No Tristan, support your family… it’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.” Jared stiffened in his position, “I’ve heard that before…” he muttered to himself.

Tristan

I stood up, letting Layla just lie down on my couch, screaming. For some strange reason, she was freaking out more than my family (mostly Amy); which isn’t exactly shocking but you get the idea. The back screen door made the loudest screech and in jumped Troy, the man from last time but this time there were reinforcements. Besides Laleh, there were three more people, two men, and one woman. They glared at us but especially at my mother. “You,” Troy declared, pointing his white, bony finger at my mother, “you are a traitor! You should be siding with us, you, yourself, know that!” My mother shook her head, “No… I do not…” “Mellissa, you know who and what you are. This should be an easy decision for you, for, you’ve always belonged here: always.” My mother took three steps forward, “I finally experienced happiness… this family I’ve created may consist of what I’m usually against but I realized that… half-breeds shouldn’t be prejudiced.” “Happiness?! You think you’ve experienced happiness?! Mellissa, happiness is a wasted effort; like master says, ‘Why be happy when it dies down?’ Mellissa you are speaking nonsense! Nonsense!” Troy shouted, standing in front of my mother with his fists clenched. “I understand that Laleh is your wife, yes, but for what reasons my brother?” mom retorted, backing away, shaking her head at the ground, “Happiness can be found in other ways than forced marriage and membership of a terrible clan…” I shook my head; brother? What does that mean? That he’s my uncle? There’s no way… It’s impossible… I refuse to accept that cruel man that tried to kill my love, as my uncle. Impossible, mom never spoke of any relatives… or at least visit able ones… Troy shook his head, “I love Laleh… it wasn’t a forced marriage…” he muttered but I could hear the doubt in his voice, but it suddenly perked up with rage, “Get the girl!” he ordered, sending the opposing vampires to attack us. Layla screamed for Laleh had picked her up. “Put me down, you monster!” she yelled. “Shut your trap, you worthless disgrace!” she retorted, jumping out the door. I followed. They were out of my sight but I could hear Layla’s wailing.

When I found them, they were before the trees and the moon was shining right through the branches. It was quite a sight but it was terrible timing for such a gorgeous night, for there was a horrifying fight going on inside the house. “Now, Layla, I understand that you were hoping for your father to stop us… but he’s dead!” Laleh screamed, stepping on Layla’s arm with tremendous strength, causing her to scream. I ran over to them, lunging for Laleh, hoping to tackle her. I got her, but we fought and Layla’s pain was harming me. Seeing her in pain didn’t bring satisfaction but aiding her in the best way I could, helped, somewhat. Amy came out, and was soothing Layla in the best way she could. She took Layla inside. “You hurt her!” I yelled as I darted forward to throw another punch at Laleh. She yelped. “You foolish half-breed, have you any idea of what sort of disgrace you are?! You are an outcast… your little girlfriend, she hopes but look at what happens to her. You’re just watching it happen! Which is quite the disgraceful thing to do if you love her,” she declared as she stumbled backwards. I shook my head in disbelief, “Shut up!” I screamed as I threw in another punch but my hand was caught and twisted. I screamed. The pain was excruciating. My hand was in so much pain, it was actually throbbing. I staggered backwards and fell. Laleh cackled, “You silly little half-breed…” she ran away through the woods. I was left in the dust, on the ground. The pain stung and it left me no choice but to stand ground; well, technically lie down on the ground. The abnormal strength of Laleh was easily underestimated. She gives off the fast (meaning she looks like she’s fast) vibe but she was stronger than me, than Jared. I felt like a coward. Here I was hoping to save Layla, but Amy did and I hurt myself in the process. I tried to stand up but my arm was severely injured. I tried to crawl my way there but that hurt almost as much, but Layla came and helped me up. “Oh, my gosh, Tristan, are you okay?!” she asked in alarm. I nodded but it pained me to be lifted up, but then I heard a window crash. I ran. Layla grabbed my arm sending pain through the arm. I screamed, “Ow!” “I’m so sorry… I was worried but Amy said you’d be just fine but then… I’m so sorry!” she yelled, trying to hug me, but, in my pain, I pushed her away. She frowned but said that she wouldn’t go back in. I shook my head at her, “Layla, please. Just go, it’s safer in there.”

I pointed towards the house but I spoke too soon because out flew the two reinforcements and they ran away. I held Layla closer to me, away from the shattering window, even if she wouldn’t feel it; it would leave a scratch; for she was fragile and delicate. It was amazing how the neighbors didn’t notice but I bet they just thought we were watching some sort of movie or something. Though, it was still weird. Suddenly, there was a panting coming from behind me. Layla and I shot around, only to find Jared watching us. The two men he was fighting were running away. Then, the woman left but before she did, she looked at Layla straight in the eye, seeming to want to cry. My family (the vampire part at least) approached Layla and me, the battle was over… for now. Troy came out, for he was battling my mother; they were using hand to hand combat. It was a fair battle but my mom appeared to be coming out on top. “My sister Mellissa, one day you’ll apprehend your appalling mistake. You will want to join the COBs. We will return…” he waved but whimpered as he skedaddled away. Layla took my non-injured hand and whispered; “I have to go home…” she was spooked, I could sense it. She may not have been shaking or fidgeting but she was frightened to the core. I told my family that I’d be back tomorrow. Although they all wondered why, they just accepted it. When we finally arrived at Layla’s house she led me to her room. “I’m sorry Tristan…” she whispered as she climbed into her bed. “It’s okay… my hand doesn’t hurt and-“ I replied but was interrupted. “No, I mean for bringing you into this terrible situation; and to get your family involved as well. Please, forgive me…” she whispered. “I told you, it’s fine! It Is Okay!” I whispered but in a yelling sort of style. “You don’t understand… I brought you into this unnecessary situation! They were originally after me, but now, they’re after us!” she explained. I touched her cheek, “We’re going to be just fine… Layla… it’s okay.” She moved her face into my hand. She was lying down comfortably in her bed. Her left cheek resting on her pillow. Her right cheek relying on my hand. “Tristan… can… I ask you something?” Layla asked, suddenly seeming nervous. “Of course, anything…” I replied, eager. “Can… we continue from where we left off?” she asked, really fast. I tried to process this question in my head. Then, I perked up and smiled.

“Of course we can Layla…” I leaned in and she froze. It seemed like she was anticipating it, waiting for me to start first. It was more than a peck but less than a ‘passionate kiss’ and it was just wonderful. The kiss lingered, but was finally over when Layla pulled away. She didn’t smile but she peacefully fell asleep on her bed. Well, that’s weird. Isn’t it vice versa; isn’t the kiss supposed to wake her up? Then again, this wasn’t some little sleeping beauty. Layla had more to her than beauty and a stunning voice. As did I, her prince charming, but I still laugh at the thought of her being sleeping beauty. I mean, really, what sleeping beauty snores in her slumber? In the morning, Layla had awakened with great impatience as she tugged me up along the stairway to her caretaker’s attic. “What is so important up here that you just had to bring me up?” I whispered, stepping over some sort of ancient box, which Layla picked up and opened. “What is so important, is that I know that there is something here… something to take us to the next step. The note that my father sent me,” she reached into her pocket, “I used it tonight. I needed to contact him, to confirm that he’s alive. And he said to look above the ground but below the sky; to look in the house, and to look very high. That’s all he could tell me before COBs got to him.” I nodded, “So, what are we searching for?” “Writing stationery, some writing supplements,” she whispered, teasingly, “We’re just searching for a piece of paper you nincompoop.” I nodded, “Thank you ‘Little Layla,’ I am grateful for such information,” I smiled back jokingly but she froze and tears swelled up into her eyes. “Let’s just locate that paper…” she mumbled, wiping away her tears, but I came to her and wiped them away for her. “Tristan, please go look for that paper…” she muttered after I wiped it away. I nodded feeling crest-fallen. Layla obviously felt my emotion somehow and she gave me a little hug. “Please, relax. I really need to find this paper. It is a complete necessity to finding my father! I need to find this paper…” I nodded, but somehow I knew I triggered a nerve.

I went searching for the whereabouts of this piece of paper. This paper made me curious as to why Layla was so anxious for it; it’s a piece of paper! As I shoved objects across the room, I really started to wonder if this paper was worth this trouble. Layla looked as if she was going to die if she never found this simple piece of paper. Layla screamed. I jumped and turned around; she was sitting on her butt. I laughed but jogged to help her up. “What happened?” I asked her, a little bit alarmed. “I kinda fell you retard!” she said as she wiped away the dust and lint of her jeans. She scoffed at me and continued looking. I looked at the remnants of the box Layla fell on. As I looked through it there were shattered pictures of children but covered with dust. I blew on it, and dust flew off. I gazed at the photo. I gasped. It was Layla as a baby, but how could it possibly be there? Layla was dressed in a little straw hat with an orange button-up shirt, and she had blue jeans. I gaped at the photo and called Layla over. She stared at the photo for several minutes but maybe not staring at the same thing I was staring at. “That’s… that’s my mom! And my dad! They’re together… with me… but where are they?” she mumbled to herself. I stared contently at her; she, herself, was a mystery. She traced her finger around the frames. I looked back down at the box. I saw a paper. I picked it up and read it aloud:

Dear Little Layla, You must find that door sweetheart. I must give you only one hint, but I will tell you only little. Please take this information wisely; The sun shines bright, each and every day Except for the occasional clouds and rain. The sun beats down on a church by a beach Behind a grocery store where the prices can’t be beat The church’s name is after a saint

Layla, I can only tell you this; the church is in one of the sunniest places in the United States. Thy church is unmentionable but thy name of town isn’t. The name of this town is San Diego. I bid you farewell on your woeful journey. I hope to once again see your face. Your ever-loving father, Nox Fall
Layla snatched the paper from my fingers. She reread each word at a minimum of a million. Then, she rapidly stuffed it into her pocket. “We have to go to San Diego! Tristan, my father is counting on me!” she exclaimed. I shook my head, “No, Layla, we can’t just suddenly flee the town. It would be weird and cause multiple rumors to come up.” She rolled her eyes, “Come on Tristan… that’s the most retarded thing I’ve ever heard.” I stepped in, “Have you recently heard any rumors that are currently swarming around the school?” I implied. She shook her head, “I think there’s a rumor about us… and a rumor about Cedric and Dawn… that’s it.” “What’s the one about us?” “Everyone thinks we are in love or something…” she looked down at the ground, clasping her hands together, “I think you need to get going now Tristan…” she added, pushing me out of the attic. I had no objection to her decision as I left the door but I knew that she was going to feel terrible later… she had to.

Chapter 9

Happiness is Overrated
Dawn
The signs were everywhere, only mocking me of what I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy. ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ signs were strewn around the whole town. It seemed as if this time of year was meant to be wonderful and so far, its meaning was just right. Two months, I’ve been dating Cedric for two whole months and he still flirts with other girls. Oh, well. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I was shopping for everyone’s birthday present today. It was December 5th and all of my Christmas decorations are up. Well, half the town’s décor is up. I knew it was only the ‘surface’ because most people only came by because we live near the mountains; camping, snowboarding, and such. I entered Wal-Mart, with reassurance of the fact that this is out of caring but my major concern was Layla and Cedric’s gift. Layla was my best friend and she was nothing like… Elaine… and Cedric was my boyfriend now; er, I mean, we’re dating now. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a nice sweater for Tristan, that I knew Layla would love to see on him. Plus, it was easy to find a gift for my family… but maybe not my dad. I felt a tap on my shoulder, “Hey.” I turned around and grinned, “Hello.” It was Cedric, and he was wearing the jacket I bought him last week, as I was wearing the shirt he bought me as well. His hair was slicked down with gel and he was wearing cargo pants, with his hands stuck in his pockets; but one hand came out and grasped my hand. He tugged on me, pulling me closer to him. He smirked at me. “Were you buying my gift, Dawn?” he said with his dreamy English voice. “You’ll find out… on Christmas Day.” His hand moved to my cheek, pulling my face closer to his, “Well, can I have an early Christmas gift?” His breathe fluttered onto my face, it smelled of mint… yum. I leaned in closer, “Of course.”

Our lips touched, creating a sensation in my heart… and stomach. His other hand went around my back and his other hand cupped my face. I pulled away, realizing we were in public. “Don’t want to use it all up, do you?” I teased him but he got a serious look on his face. “I gotta go…” he muttered as he walked through the Christmas shoppers. I stood at my shopping cart, just a little dazed. I shook my head and proceeded onward to the technology section. I was seconds from grabbing a family Christmas movie but someone tapped on my shoulder and once again, it was Cedric. “Sorry, I had a minor phone call to make…” he explained as he gripped my hand. “Mhmm…” I replied under my breath, “was is one of your ‘little friends’?” I asked with slight suspicion. “It was my mother. Relax, please, Dawn, for the millionth time, I. Am. Not. Cheating. On. You.” he replied, gripping my arms sternly. I rolled my eyes, “I’m only joking Cedric. Why were you implying such a fib?” “Fib? What the hell is a fib?” he asked, angrily. “A fib is merely a synonym for lie, of course you wouldn’t know…” I retorted, putting my hands on my hips. Cedric stood there, flabbergasted, “If you want to make fun of my intelligence, then make sure it’s not during the jolly season,” he replied, seeming cool and collected. I nodded, “Okay, you gotta go then. I’m going to buy your gift.” He kissed my forehead lightly and left. I walked contently down the aisles searching for a nice little movie for Cedric. I curiously picked up a movie I’d thought he talked about. Unsure, I picked up two movies, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Being hesitant and indecisive, I called Tristan. “Tristan?” “Yo. Dawn, what’s up?” he answered. I sighed, “I’m buying Cedric’s Christmas gift. What do I buy him? I have two movies.” He coughed, “What are the two movies?” “Um… Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I know he’s seen the first Terminator movie, because I was there with him, but which one do I buy him?” I could sense the hesitation on the other side of the line.

It was silent, I read the movie’s descriptions and finally Tristan answered, “I’d have to say… the Pirates movie. Cedric and I saw Terminator 2 at his place. And I don’t think he’s seen the Pirates thing…” I sighed with satisfaction, “Okay, thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow.” “Adios!” I hung up and dropped the Pirates movie into the cart. Then continued on with my shopping. When I finished, and got the check-out line, I smiled. It was Jean Black. Jean was a very hard worker, and a very kind person. She had long, sleek black hair that draped down to her shoulders. She had very tan skin and light brown eyes. I waved at her as I handed her the cash for the gifts at the register. “Hey Dawn. So, find a gift for everyone?” I nodded, “The hardest gifts were Layla’s and Cedric’s,” I laughed. She laughed too and handed me my bags. I unlocked the door, “Hey mom.” “Hello Dawn, how’s the Christmas shopping coming along?” she replied. “I’m all done Mom! Wal Mart’s having a really big Christmas sale, you wouldn’t believe the prices they have.” “Mhmm… of course darling. Are you washing the laundry today?” she asked. I sighed, my mom wasn’t in a very good mood today apparently. I turned to my mother after I set down the Wal Mart bags. Her chocolate brown hair was pulled back into a black ponytail, resting above her bottom. Her skin was a beige with a slight tan coming along even if it is December. Her blue eyes really stood out on her body, making them seem to pop out at you. She was wearing her usual skirt with a blouse with her office jacket on her. “No, I thought Lindsey was going to do it today.” Lindsey was our ‘maid’ I guess you could say, she mostly took care of me when Mom was at the office or when Mom had a last minute work thing. And sometimes did chores around the house for some commission. “Oh, right. I’m sorry.” She gave me a little hug, “Guess what, Dawn?” I sighed, “Yes?” “I got you…” she paused, as I watched her expression seemed happier, “I got you… a job!”

She gave me an even bigger hug, squealing a little, but I wasn’t as excited as her. “As a what?” “You get to work at Wal Mart, starting in January! Aren’t you excited? You get a 15% discount on all items! Isn’t that wonderful?” she said pulling away from the hug, gripping my shoulders. I smiled not as enthusiastic but still smiling. Mom pulled away, “I need to pick up dinner. I’ll be right back honey.” I have a job… I thought to myself. I am now going to make some hard-earned money. At my age, I’d make about… $3.50 an hour. At least, I wouldn’t be pestering my mother about money anymore. The phone rang. I rushed to pick it up. “Hello, Bilson residence, how may I help you?” a ridiculous answer, I know. Mom’s idea. Already sounding like a Wal Mart employee. “Hi Dawn, darling. It’s Dad. You know what tonight is right?” he answered. I still haven’t exactly kept in contact with my father. He breathed hard on the other side. “Excuse me? I have no idea about what your talking about…” “Dawn. Please, listen to me…” “Daddy… I don’t want this!” He sighed, “Don’t I know it. I hate it too sunshine.” “Don’t call me that!” “Honey, please. Listen to reasoning.” “No!” I hung up then. The phone rang again and again but I ignored it. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. I was anxious to answer it. I gazed through the peephole. It was only Cedric. “Oh, it’s you,” I greeted as I opened the door. “Thanks. It’s nice to see you too,” he joked, pulling me for a hug. I giggled, “Oh, you know me. When someone takes off for no reason…” He rolled his eyes, “Shut up.” “You know I like you, and that I’m merely joking, darling.” “Ugh, stop. Your starting to sound like my mother!” “Ha-ha!” I kissed his cheek.

Three months… I reminded myself. Right, three? I sighed, catching Cedric’s attention. We started to walk off into a short distance of my house. “I need to call my mom.” I speed-dialed her, “Mom?” “Dawn, what is it?” “Cedric’s taking me out tonight. See you later.” “Uh-unh. He can’t today. We are going to have dinner together. As a matter of fact, I’d like to meet him. Invite him to dinner.” I flinched, “Yes mother.” I flipped the phone closed and turned to Cedric and feigned a smile. He gave me a skeptical look, his eyes penetrating my terrible acting, or defenses. “What is it Dawn?” “My mom… wants you to have dinner with us,” I replied, closing my eyes so I couldn’t see his response. He sighed, “Okay. That’s fine. Free dinner.” I opened my eyes and gave him a playful smack on the arm, “You meanie poop!” “Meanie poop? Is that the best you can come up with?!” he urged, a teasing expression on his face. I smirked. “If you want a nickname that suits you, I’ll be happy to give you one but right now…but, I need to get home,” I replied, taking his hand. He sighed but complied, and we walked back to my house. So far, the night went by fine. My mother got home a little later than expected, giving Cedric and I some discussion time. And a little romantic time… Luckily, my mother didn’t barge in during ‘that time’ and dinner was in her hands. Dinner was her making spaghetti. My mom wasn’t the best cook in the world, therefore, I wasn’t sure if Cedric would accept that, considering the fact that day by day, wonderful and talented cooks serve him. First off, though, I introduced my mother to Cedric and at first she seemed impressed until she realized that his grades weren’t as great as his hair. I laughed when my mother asked if he was one of the

‘famous’ Millers and when he said yes, she immediately acted more courteous. Impressing the superior is what she usually does. I helped Mom set the table; she shared with me her opinion on Cedric. She whispered, “He seems like a nice boy Dawn. I just don’t like his… below average intellect and his… attraction to other woman. You might need to fight for him one day.” “Don’t I know it,” I muttered in reply. We all sat around my tiny table. My mother and I said a prayer, and I made Cedric join (Cedric was a Christian but he never really prayed except at mass). “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” my mother started. I finished, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.” We bowed our heads and released hands, taking a seat in our chairs. “Dig in!” my mother declared. Cedric kissed the top of my head, making it linger a little. Once he pulled away he smiled, “You’re mother’s a great cook.” “Of course, thank you Cedric!” my mom called from the hallway, going to bed from a long day from work. Cedric smiled at me. “Wanna go out for a while?” he asked. “Just for a walk around the block,” I replied, smiling back at him as happy as I could make it seem. We walked side by side down my sidewalk talking nonchalantly about items of interest, like when we were going to see each other on Christmas. Suddenly, I get this weird pulsing feeling throughout my body and I started to feel really blistering. There was pain everywhere! “Ow! Ow! Ow!” I exclaimed in pain. Cedric took a step back, “What the hell is wrong with you?!” “I don’t know!”

I started prancing around in agony. The heat was strong and all over the place. Then, I realized the problem, I gasped; not only because of my sudden realization but because of the pain. “Cedric, run away!” “What?! Why?! You’re the one screaming in pain! I should call 911.” I screamed no, and tackled him to the ground. Cedric gasped and his eyes went wide. I grit my teeth, “What?” “Your… your… you are… a giant wolf!” I put my hands against my mouth, hair flew in and I spit it right back out. Cedric was hyperventilating, “I’m… going… to… leave…” he breathed. “Cedric, please… understand!” “You’re a giant, ugly, hairy beast! What else is there to understand?!” he exclaimed taking a step back. “Cedric…” I muttered, but I have a feeling that he couldn’t understand me anymore. I went full wolf on him. “Dawn… I’m going to leave. And… I would just like to say… that… I don’t think that this is going to work between us… I’m sorry. Bye,” he declared. For some reason, I wasn’t devastated. Sure, my heart ached a little but I’m still here. I guess I never really liked Cedric that much. That’s fine. I sighed, he wasn’t worth it but I was still giving him a Christmas present. I growled at myself then ran into the woods. No other human being could spot me. I ran too fast, too swift for the human eye. I felt a tap on my shoulder. I snarled and then I shot my head around. There was no one there, but I realized a tiny little creature on the ground, it was a little squirrel. I smiled at it but then I dived for it. I stuffed it into my mouth. My teeth tore it into tiny little pieces. The flesh, the fur, the head flying off, all landing in different places. “Dismembering a squirrel are we?” “They are very irritating and they’re over-populating the Earth…” I replied with a scowl. I turned around and my father was standing there with his arms out. “Does Dad get punished for life?”

I rolled my eyes and hugged him. Although, he was what he was, he was still my father. And I loved him. He gave me a squeeze. “I’m so sorry about Cedric. I brought this on you…” he apologized but I disagreed. “It’s not that big a deal… I guess… he was a jerk Dad.” He smiled but backed up, “I must find the pack. Good-bye darling.” “Bye…” I tumbled to the front of the porch steps of my house as the sun started to rise. Then, I fell hard and cold onto the porch steps. My eyes shut and I began to transform. But an hour later they fluttered back open only to see my mother standing there wide-eyed at me. “What is it Mom?” “What are you doing on the floor?!” she asked alarmed. I stuttered out an answer, “Um… I… I… j-j-just um… stayed up to watch the st-tars?” I answered, questioning the answer myself. “You fell asleep. On the porch. Watching the stars?” my mother repeated, comprehendingly. I nodded, “Ugh, it’s Saturday and I need a nap. Just… no more shenanigans. Okay?” Mom says as she trudges back into the house. I nodded and walked into the house and collapsed onto my bed.

Layla
I needed to get to San Diego, but I can’t afford to get over there. It’s a huge risk. I frown at myself as I walk over to Tristan’s house. Tristan wanted to take me out to dinner. I wasn’t dressed formally. Just a sweater and a pair of jeans. I knock on the door and Amy answers, “Hello Layla. He should be here in a second,” she leans in closer to me and whispers, “Don’t ruin it for him. He was really excited when you said yes. Now, I think Amethyst should change you into something a bit more… formal.” I sighed. What’s wrong with what I’ m wearing? I look nice, don’t I? What’s with this whole formal thing? Amethyst arrives at my side and gives me a skirt, “Change your pants into this,” she mutters.

I took them and changed immediately. Was this family hell-bent on making him happy? Gosh, it’s just a date! Might be the only one… Tristan comes down the stairs and he looks very… handsome. He had a tan button-up shirt with a nice pair of black slacks. But what I love is that he didn’t go all formal; he had on a pair of Converse on. I smirk and he smiles back, he goes up to me, his face inches away from my face. “Let’s go, shall we?” “We shall.” We arrived at the new restaurant, Miguel’s. A Mexican restaurant, it’s in the Brigantine restaurant family. Tristan says they’re all delicious.

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