"Um, thanks..." I said.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to say that out loud," she murmured.
"My name's Zoe," she said.
"That's a cool name."
"Thanks." I turned to Darran who was pretending not to listen to our conversation. "Darran, when are we getting off?"
"Well, depends who cracks first," he said, opening an eye to look at me directly with a hint of a smirk on his face.
"That's very comforting. Just because you and Riley are fine with all this."
"That makes you the freak then, doesn’t it?"
“Just because I have morals,” I muttered.
I glared at him, the glanced at the girl who’d introduced herself as Zoe. He seemed to get the message.
Give away our entire existence, why don’t you, I projected to him. He just smiled and relaxed. I envied him, I envied Riley too. They could just relax around humans; they didn’t need to worry, whereas I always had to be on my guard in case I lost control. That was part of the reason we travelled as a group.
“Ace?” said Darran.
“What?” I asked sharply.
“Calm down, for starters. God.”
“I’ll calm down when we get off, or you stop talking – whichever happens first.”
“If you’re struggling, why don’t we just get off?” he asked caringly.
I shook my head. “I’ll be alright.” I could tell he didn’t believe me. “And besides, Riley likes to play with his food.”
Zoe gave me a weird look, and then looked over at Riley. She didn’t seem to understand, for which I was grateful. We didn’t need her running up and down the bus, screaming “vampire”. I looked up at the sky. It was still overcast so I pulled my hood down. I unzipped my hoodie and shrugged it off. I stuffed it into the rucksack between my legs.
Zoe glanced at my arms. She saw the first bit of my tattoo. It started on the back of my hand, continued up my arm, went across my chest and ended at my neck. It was just a simple tribal design but I liked it. My mum had got really pissed when I’d got it done. I was 16 and my dad had been fine with it. He’d even paid for it, it was a birthday present.
I did my best to hide my arms most of the time, but I was getting really hot in that bus. Darran had a few tattoos, and Riley had a small one on the inside of his forearm. They’d got theirs done to hide the scars and Darran got a bit obsessed. My scar was on the other arm and I didn’t really feel like getting another tattoo.
I sighed and slowly traced the scar. Darran saw me and raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. I did it when I was stressed or bored. He probably couldn’t work out which it was this time. It was both if I’m honest.
I watched Zoe out the corner of my eye. She was still on her phone, though she wasn’t really doing anything with it.
“Cool, uh, tattoo,” she said.
“Thanks,” I replied. I turned to face her. “Do you always talk to people on buss?”
“Not usually, sorry,” she said, blushing again. I hadn’t spoken to a girl in months, probably about a year.
I shook my head. “It’s alright. So whereabouts in England are you from?”
“London, though we’ve not been back for...”
“Fifteen years,” said Darran.
“Oh, why?” She looked a bit confused, seeing as we appeared to be nineteen.
“Why did we leave Darran? It was before... all this happened.”
“Pfft, I left because you were leaving, and Riley came with us. A year later, we got into some deep shit,” he chuckled.
“What happened?” Zoe asked.
I looked at Darran. We’d never had to answer that question before. We could hardly say we were attacked by vampires, could we? Darran managed to come up with an event that actually happened two years before we left, when we were 16.
He shrugged in answer to Zoe’s question. “I got a girl pregnant.”