“He's right, Greg,” Karen drawled, clearly bored at she studied her claw-like nails. “William may be controversial, but he wouldn't talk to some pup.” Greg seemed to mull that over, before finally moving away a few steps. I felt myself release a breath. I hadn't realise I'd been holding it.
“Nice catching up,” Greg said, with a smug grin. Not. I didn't say it, I just turned and left. Aware there was nothing between them and my exposed back. There were a few steps to go, but they didn't reach out and stop me. I felt my body shudder with relief as muted sunlight reached me through the clouds. I walked along random streets, trying to lower my heart rate. I pulled out my phone and paused. What was I going to do? Call dad and say they did nothing? If I had William's number I guess I could call him. He'd make them back off. Except I didn't have his number. I did know where he lived though. It wasn't like I was making an excuse. I had serious self-preservation concerns here.
I stood on the corner, under the awning of a bookshop, arguing with myself. I stamped a foot in annoyance at the whole thing. Maybe I should ignore it. Karen was right, I knew nothing about the elders and their thinking. There was no reason to think they'd bother me again. I let out an audible snort at the thought. Who was I kidding? They probably had friends. And after everything with Diane's family and the council getting involved, someone was going to be out for revenge. If it wasn't me, it would be Penny or Bryan. Or worse Diane. Someone bumped me in the street, muttering under his breath about idiot teenagers in the middle of the path.
I took the hint and went inside the bookshop. At least it was quiet in here. Less people. It'd been a while since I'd looked at any new manga anyway. Figured I might as well get something good out of this trip. I texted Diane to ask her what was happening before crouching by the shelves to browse the books. Most of the popular titles were there, but there was always a few new ones to check out. I started flicking through a random one, quickly ignoring the vampire ones.
“So this is what kids are reading nowadays?” I paused in turning a page. I put the book back on the shelf and stood up. Unexpected nerves making it hard for me to look directly at William.
“Not all of us have time to read big books,” I replied, shrugging. I wasn't actually interesting in debating the topic. I should probably just leave. Hadn't I just been outside telling myself to keep away from him? It was starting to feel like way too much of a coincidence. Greg's earlier words flashed through my mind. But I couldn't see how William could have any plan that involved me.
“How's your friend?” he asked.
“She's fine. Pretty sure her family are going away for a while,” I replied.
“Can't blame them,” William said with a grim smile. “I'm glad everything worked out.”
“Yeah,” I said, trying not to think about Francis and Greg. Those two weren't finished yet. I shifted nervously, aware that William could probably sense my apprehension right now. “I should go,” I murmured, moving to walk past. He touched my wrist lightly, stopping me. I glanced at him, wondering what he was thinking. Was he going to kiss and run again? I couldn't decide if I minded so much after that first kiss.
“I'm sorry about before, that was selfish” he said. I blinked at him. I'd been expecting him to avoid the whole thing, it's what I was trying to do. “I remember what it's like to feel like you have to hide,” he continued. I stared at him, unsure what he was trying to say. Was he sorry about running off then? Not the kiss? “What I did was stupid,” he said. So much for that idea. I ignored the scarily huge part of me that was upset by that.
“Is there a point to this monologue?” I asked, feeling that bitterness from earlier returning. William shot me that knowing smile again, but it was quickly replaced by a sad one.
“If you need to talk to someone about it, I'm here,” he finished. I stared at him, completely thrown. The idea of just talking to someone else who was also gay had never entered my mind. I had never had the guts to go to the LGBT groups, worried someone from the pack would notice. Would someone notice me hanging out with William? I gulped and glanced down at where his fingers were still holding my wrist. He let go, some colour touching his cheeks. Who would have thought a vampire got embarrassed?
“Okay,” I said nervously. “Let's talk. As friends,” I added quickly. I half-expected William to do that know-it-all smirk again, but instead it was just a simple smile. With dimples.
“As friends,” he agreed. I'm so screwed.