I stiffened as into the living room walked a tall, slender girl with dark red hair and unusually pale skin. She was incredibly beautiful but in a way that chilled me to the core.
"H-hi," I stammered, trying to disguise my fear as shyness.
My parents seemed to be immune to the effect the girl (Flavia?) was having on me. My dad stood up and held out his hand to shake Flavia's. She shook it, smiling.
The fear that was slowly growing inside me, even though Flavia wasn't doing anything threatening, was like something primal. Adrenaline was rushing through me either in preparation for me to fight or flee.
"Would you like to stay with us and share dessert with us?" my mother asked.
Flavia smiled in a way that might be considered sweet by anyone who wasn't terrified.
"No, thank you, Dawn, Don. I don't eat cake. But thanks for the offer." Her voice was pleasant-sounding, with an undercurrent like the rustling of leaves in the wind. It was slightly haunting and I had the feeling that if she sang or spoke in a lilt, it would be a captivating sound.
"But surely you'll stay and tell us a little bit more about this neighbourhood - about yourself?"
Flavia glanced at her watch. "I really should be off -"
"Just for five minutes?"
'Please say no,' I prayed silently.
Flavia looked sorry. "I really can't. I told my sister I would help with the chores - she'll be waiting for me. I only came round to deliver this cake."
My mother looked disappointed. "Well, that's a shame. We hope to see you soon. And hopefully you and Rosemary will become good friends."
Flavia smiled at me. I swallowed hard, fighting the urge to scream. "I'm sure we will," she said, and her words sent shudders down my spine.
"Goodbye then," she said, turning to leave.
As she went, I was filled with such overwhelming relief that I could have burst into tears. As it was, I let out a huge sigh which thankfully escaped my parents' notice.
I hoped I would never see her again. And I also wished that Marcus was here. Oh where could he be?