Meena raised her eyebrows at Willow, who scowled as her theory was uncovered.
“Um… how can you tell?” I asked, feeling more idiotic by the minute.
“I don’t know… you just can. Sometimes there’s a lingering smell.”
“But you guys are -” I shied mentally from the word “- Immortals, and you don’t smell.”
Meena rolled her eyes. “Part of the illusion, girl. Try harder.”
So I did. I tried to inhale through my nose without sniffing like an idiot, filtering the food and cheap perfume versus overpowering aftershave smells for anything more potent or unusual.
Then I caught a scent I had never smelled before in my life, because if I had I would not have forgotten it. Something intensely sweet, like melted chocolate and icing sugar, mingled with something more earthy, like damp leaves, wild flowers and rain.
“What is that?” I cried. “Is that you two?”
They nodded smugly.
“Attractive scents are helpful sometimes.”
I didn’t question that. The bell trilled much too loudly and the room was filled with the screeching of chairs being pushed back and chatter. The deafening cacophony drowned out everything. Meena clutched both of our arms as we fought down the packed corridor to our History classroom.
We sank into our seats with sighs of relief. I had expected Willow to say goodbye at the door. She had instead came into the room and sat down with us.
“Teachers won’t miss me. They never know either of us are there,” she said with a casual shrug.
We didn’t talk much through that lesson or the last of the day. I had been bursting with questions, but all our time was taken up with school or their guard duty. I had come up with an idea during Maths.
When the last bell went we paused in the crowd gathered in the courtyard space before the school. Meena and Willow hung around with raised eyebrows as I dug my phone out of my pocket. I turned my back on them and spoke quietly but the noise of everyone else probably stopped them from hearing me, even with their super sensitive ears.
“Thanks, Mum! Bye.”
I stashed my mobile away and turned back to them.
“So who’s on ‘guard duty’ tonight?”
“My turn,” Meena gave a long suffering sigh and Willow gave her a dirty look which she ignored, as usual.
“I can do it if you’re that bothered,” Willow snapped.
“Oh please,” Meena snorted. Willow‘s mood changes were almost as ineffectual on her as on Phoenix. “You only don’t mind because over work would look good in front of Lycan.”
Willow flushed angrily and opened her mouth to retort, but I cut her off.
“Why don’t you do it together for once?”
“What?” Willow said. She knew I didn’t like being babysat. Well, in a way.
“You can tell me about it at my sleepover tonight.”
“Wha - ?”
“Ohmygod, really?!” Meena squealed. She actually jumped a little, making her even taller for a second. “I never got to go to an actual teenage sleepover!”
She beamed at me and I bit back the wave of questions her statement had created in my head. There would be time for them to be answered tonight.
I think my mother was just so glad that I’d made a couple of friends up here that she would have let me go skydiving with them on short notice if it meant I settled in more. Well, maybe not that far.
“Be at my house whenever you want. Bring some pyjamas and a duvet, okay?” I shouted as I ran for my bus.