Louise seemed friendly but didn't say much to start with as we walked down the corridors.
'So why are you here?' She looked at me with an expression I could only read as nervousness. Should I tell her? I knew it was wrong to listen to her thoughts but it was my habit when people wouldn't talk to me.
'I'm a shapeshifter.' She said it very calmly and matter-of-fact. 'It used to be such a problem. Whatever it is you have they'll help you.' She smiled a warm, welcoming smile that made the room seem just a bit brighter. 'What about you? What crime have you committed?' Her joke was enough to relax me and I laughed.
'I can communicate with people with thoughts.' She looked impressed.
'You mean telepathically!'
'I think that's the proper word for it. I read other people's thoughts and can send them mine if I want to.'
'That's so cool. We haven't got anyone else here who can do that.' Our early friendship was now established.
'So what's it like here?'
'It's great.' She reconsidered. 'Well apart from not being able to go anywhere and seeing the same people day in, day out it's great. But you get used to the isolation I guess. Do you have any family.'
'Yes, my mum and dad and an older brother. He's called Tom. I miss him most.'
'Does he know you're here? I'm sure he'll write if you left an address with him.'
'They all think I'm dead.' Her face turned from interested to shocked in a split second.
'I'm so sorry, I -'
'It's OK. You didn't know. It's not your fault.' We walked along in silence until we stopped outside one of the doors.
'This is us. I'll warn you now, the other guys are lovely but they can be a bit ... enthusiastic. They don't see new people that often.' The classroom was buzzing as we walked in. Slowly all the students turned to look at me. I blocked out their thoughts as Louise led me to an empty desk but I couldn't ignore the voids that represented the inpenetrable minds of the vampires. Louise and I sat down together.
'If you don't want to sit with me then that's fine. I don't mind.'
'Nonsense. I like you.' She gave me another of her dazzling smiles. The classroom slowly went back to normal. As the noise levels rose again a dashingly handsome guy with short hair as black as pitch and deep black eyes sauntered over to our desk and gave Louise a quick kiss. His mind was blank.
'So who's the newbie?' He held out his hand. 'Sean Novak. I'm Louise's boyfriend.' Silence. 'And you are...?' My mind snapped back into gear.
'Sorry, in a world of my own. I'm Stephanie, my friends call me Steph.'
'Nice to meet you Steph. I'm sure we'll be good friends.' His smile was more a lopsided grin than anything else but still endearing. I didn't know if I could trust him. The teacher walked in so he returned to his seat and the lesson began.