“I know it’s an embarrassing happenstance to have your clothes soaked with juice, Lauren, but you have to know you can’t simply leave school without warning anyone.”
Principal Rodney was probably the most boring person in history. He talked shatner-style; like every word was a sentence of it’s own, taking half a minute to say what should take five second. He wasn’t very good to be with either; An aging, balding black man with a truly horrible pornstache who always smelled like baby powder. “You should have come to my office and we’d have taken steps to rectify the situation"
“I know, I know.” I said, rolling my eyes and mustering that level teenage insolence that made adults think we were nothing but wastes of oxygen.
Maybe normally I’d be nicer, but after an attempted assassination and being sworn into service to a vampire. Being sent to the principal’s office seemed irrelevant to my existence. I was acting like a jerk, but he didn’t seem to care, a skin thick enough to stop bullets was probably a requirement for dealing with four hundred people like me. He continued to talk and I only paid the most cursory attention to what he was saying.
“Which is why I’ll have to give you detention during the lunch period.”
Of course he was completely oblivious as to why that whole disaster had happened. To him, it was just a case of ‘Student embarrass herself in front of the class and panics’
“Can I go back to class?”
He sighed. “Yes, Lauren.”
I grabbed my bag and left. As Lionel had said, my legs had healed almost perfectly overnight, I still had a tiny limp, but nobody had questioned it. Whatever the mixture had been, it was magical, probably literally.
I came into classes as it had already started fifteen minutes ago. I gave the teacher, Mr Greenfield, my permission slip and sat down at the last available seat, carefully checking it for liquid, tacks or similar nasty surprises. Assigned seating was a pain as it allowed people to easily leave gifts for me. I opened my geography manual and listened to the teacher.
The day’s lesson was on Emerald Bay’s history, or rather how little impact the city has had on history. From it’s foundation in 1782 and it’s incorporation in 1854, the city had been overshadowed by just about every other city in California in term of population, culture and anything that really mattered, the 3rd biggest city in California was nothing but a footnote in history, nobody famous had come from here and no significant event had happened. The thought was kind of depressing; a city condemned to mediocrity…
And yet, the Vampire lord of California had made it it’s home and by the look of it, the supernatural community was large… There had to be a reason, right?
“Lauren.” The teacher said, stirring from my daydreaming. “Would you tell us who the architect who designed the Financial district was?”
“Adolf Horowitz.” I answered. I’d always had a great memory, I never really needed to study, just reading a factoid once seemed to permanently brand it into my mind. This really didn’t help my reputation as being a colossal nerd… It was probably something to do with my vampiric heritage.
“And you’re right. Mr Horowitz was a German architect who designed the famous St. Michael Square where the Emerald Needle now stands.” The teacher continued droning on about factoids that nobody could possibly care about. The Emerald Needle was what happened if you stole the CN tower in Toronto and painted it green. How bad is your city when even your landmarks are copies of another city?
I put my head against my crossed arms on the desk. I was so tired, having come home at three in the morning hadn’t left me much time to sleep. Thankfully my mom had been completely oblivious as to my nightly activity.
Without warning my left hand jerked upward and before I knew it I was holding something. I lowered it to my eye level and saw the eraser someone had thrown my way. I raised my head and saw one of the boy who’d sometimes hang out with Emma with a look that screamed ‘busted’ on his face.
I let out a small growl and pulverized the eraser in my hand, letting the debris fall on the desk. I wondered if the power over the police Coil had claimed to possess would let me break someone’s face and walk away cleanly… I opted against it, was better not to try to abuse his influence maybe eight hours after signing up… Beside, my mom would have been so disappointed if I did… She would have also been horrified to know what had happened the night prior, but I’d keep it a secret as long as possible.
The rest of the day was a slow crawl. Second period was Gym which meant sitting on the bench studying. It didn’t matter if it was serious or not, sport made my blood boil, letting that predatory instinct out. Result, I skipped on all of it, it hadn’t been too hard to fake being ill, my heart naturally beat slowly and if I’d get excited, It went the opposite, beating to ridiculous height. The doctor had signed me as unfit for physical activity… Not that I needed it, a perk of vampiric heritage was remaining at peak physical condition, even if I spent all my evenings watching tv and eating chips.
Detention meant I only had 20 minutes to eat lunch and had to spend the rest of the hour and a half in a classroom turning my thumbs, not much of a punishment for me as it was always what I did during lunch regardless. I hadn’t had any friends since I’d came out three years ago… Well, Jimmy had stuck for a while, but he’d left because of the bullying for associating with me. Still, I didn’t blame him.
Then the next period was English. No assigned seating, so I was safe. I chose a seat near the back. Although I didn’t like English class much, nor the teacher, it was always a breather because Miss Bishop had the eyes of a hawk, she’d catch any foul play going on.
The last class of the day was French with Ms. Snow. The old woman was always nice or at least polite seeing as I was her best student. Having a French Canadian mother had some advantage even if you couldn’t remember having ever been in your home country.
When school finished, I was just about to pass out from how tired I was. I dragged my feet to the bus stop, too tired to even register the handful of derogatory comments thrown my way. They were getting pretty repetitive, there were only so many way one could call me a shemale, a he-she or a faggot. I didn’t have to stand it for long, busses were very frequent near the time school ended.
I almost feel asleep on the bus, but made it home before crashing on the couch, I dozed off on it really soon.
“Lauren.” Someone said. “Lauren.”
“Uh?” I muttered, half-asleep.
“Are you alright?” It was my mom or a blurry blob shaped like her using her voice. It was hard to tell without glasses.
“Yeah, just tired, didn’t sleep much last night.”
“Did something happen?”
“No, just a little stress I think.” I answered, not very believably.
“Alright then.” She responded. I wasn’t sure she was convinced. I just hoped she’d chalk it up to school matters. “Can you set the table?”
Setting the table was more an expression than anything as we didn’t have one, just the breakfast bar. I was so drowsy that it took me a moment to smell the food, my mother had elected to let me sleep while she had prepared dinner. Soon enough, she dropped a plate of Chili in front of me before sitting down to my left.
“How was your day?” She asked.
“Was fine.” I said between two spoonful of food. “Yours?”
“Busy and cold, I’ve been put in charge of the terrace.”
My mother had left home without so much as a high school diploma, over the next fifteen years, she’d sunk all of her time into providing and raising for me, so she had to work two jobs; one was as a waitress a small restaurant in the southern edge of the boardwalk, not far from Chinatown, the other was serving coffee at a Starbucks, neither of which paid well.
“You know… I could get a job and help you.” I offered. “I have the spare time.” What I didn’t mention were the two hundred and fifty grand in my metaphorical pocket.
“It’s alright, sweetheart, I can handle it. Beside, it’s better you focus on school.”
“Okay…” I felt cowed by her answer.
She was about to say something. When she was interrupted by beeping. I’d forgotten to turn my phone off. This was bad. I sheepishly took it out.
“Since when do you have a phone?” she asked me.
“A friend gave me his old one.” I lied, but the model looked not too far from an old Nokia. “Do you mind?” She made a sign to go ahead.
“Hello?” I answered, walking to my room. Not that it gave much privacy with the walls as thin as cardboard.
“Hello miss Lauren. Do you require a lift for tonight? You’re due to be here in an hour and a half.” It was Lionel.
“Oh, hello, Lionel, it would be great if you could pick me up.”
“Alright, Mr Shinoda will be here within twenty minutes. We’ll see you later.” He hung up without waiting for my response.
“See ya.” I told nobody.
I walked out of the room and my mom gave me an inquisitive glare.
“Who was that.”
“My friend Lionel, I forgot we had a thing scheduled tonight.”
“You never told me about him.”
I started blushing, more because I was feeling cornered and pressured, but maybe my mom read it as embarrassment. “He’s really nice, I met him and Seb a bit ago. They’ve invited me to their place.”
“Where is it?” She looked suspicious.
“Somewhere on Mountainside, I don’t know the address.”
She looked extremely suspicious. She wasn’t buying it.
“I’ll have to go soon, ‘kay.” I hated lying to her.
“Please be careful.” She said, wrapping her mama-bear arms around me. “I’m always afraid when you’re away that someone will hurt or use you.”
“Don’t worry, mom, I can take care of myself.” I kept hugging her, losing myself in her warmth. After a while, I heard someone press their car’s horn a few times. I looked out the door and saw the way too nice car for the ghetto waiting below. “Bye.” was all I managed to say.
I practically jumped down the stairs, landing by landing and hopped into the car where Mr. No-first-name-provided Shinoda was waiting. He was a Japanese man somewhere in his mid 20’s wearing formal clothes that had been casually messed-up and his hair gelled and swept.
“Where to?” He asked in his slightly baritone voice.
“Coil’s Mansion.” I declared.