My mum was the one to take me to the openf day. She didn't find it at all strange that I might accept the invitation to attend the Lupin Scuela Academy for Selected Students: she whole-heartedly encouraged the seizure of this, as she phrased it, special opportunity. I was very curious to see what kind of schooling a Moon Child received and, also, slightly embarrassingly, excited to see Lor.
In any case, it would be nice to see Edward again, and interesting to find out his reason for disliking the Alpha which he hadn't been able to say in the company of my dad.
I even looked forward to seeing Teritt.
When we arrived, by car, at the address that had been given on the reverse of the invitation, I was astounded by the building the Academy claimed to be housed in. It was nothing less than a mansion. My mum beamed with pride: she evidently thought that the invitation to attend this school was an indication that someone had recognised my ‘academic talent' (the term she gave to my consistently good grades and shining reports). She parked on the surface of small white stones in front of the large house and together we walked up the central staircase on the exterior of the building to a pair of double glass doors.
There stood a tall, middle-aged woman with long, straight blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, dressed in a cream suit, the skirt of which reached down to her knees.
"Good morning," she said warmly, offering my mum a hand which she took and shook, smiling back.
"I'm Lindsay Steel," the woman said. "I'm the deputy head teacher at Lupin Scuela. Our headmaster Mr Ironclaw would be here if it weren't for some terribly important business that cropped up at the last minute. I hope you understand?"
I felt sure the woman was lying but Mum seemed taken in by her and replied, "Of course, Ms Steel. I'm Andrea Howler, Penny's mother."
"Oh, do just call me Lindsay," Ms Steel said charmingly. She smiled at me. "Hello, Penny. You've met Ed, Teritt and Lor, I believe."
As if on cue, the three boys appeared, Ed and Teritt smiling but Lor, surprisingly, looking a little bored. Teritt winked so I didn't pay too much attention to the fact that Lor wasn't pleased to see me but I felt a small pang of sadness because of it. Perhaps I had daydreamed our near kiss at my front door.
"Yes, I've met them," I confirmed.
"Well, I shall show your mother around and the boys will give you a pupil's insight into life here at Lupin Scuela."
Lindsay led my mother into the entrance hall beyond the doors.
"So now you have to choose who you want to take you around," Edward said, grinning.
I glanced at Lor but he looked as if there were somewhere else he'd much rather be so I didn't say anything. I looked at Teritt and decided to ease the tension I felt by teasing him a little. In a hushed voice I said, "Well, I was hoping I could choose Edward. You wouldn't mind the two of us touring the school alone together, would you?"
I winked. Beside me I heard Edward stifle a chuckle.
Teritt's expression was mild.
"If you want to die a long and painful death, sure you can take Edward away from me."
Acting purely on impulse, I quickly took Edward's hand.
"Quick - we might be able to get away before he gets the chance," I said, pulling him in through the doorway.
Once inside the brightly lit room I let go, blushing. I worried I had gone too far.
"I'm sorry," I told Edward - "was that too much?"
Edward's expression was kind and empty of shock and disgust.
"Nah. I think it's great you feel so at ease around us. But you might not want to do that too much since Teritt will start being possessive of me."
Teritt walked in, eyeing me in mock (I hoped) wariness.
"Yeah - leave him alone, Penny."
I blushed more deeply.
"Don't feel you've done something wrong," Edward told me. "I personally love your bold casualness. In face, Moon Children are meant to be bold. And wolves are social creatures - anything other than casualness would make interaction awkward. So you're okay."
"You know it's not bold casualness," Teritt said, his tone weary. He almost sounded like an old man. "Darling, she's flirting with you."
"I'm not!" I said, surprised and anxious that Teritt hated me. I hesitated, my worry deepening. "Am I?"
Teritt laughed. "Ha! That'll teach you not to mess around with a gay guy's property."
Edward rolled his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Penny," he said. "He gets competitive when people involve me in their jokes."
"It's fine," I muttered, looking at the ground which was made of beautiful white marble; my cheeks felt like they were on fire. "I'll stop."
"You don't have to do that. Teritt, apologise," Edward said sternly.
Deliberately to Edward, Teritt said, "I am sorry, my beloved almost-fiancé. I have wronged you muchly. Tonight I shall ..."
I looked up alarmed as Edward cried "Teritt!", looking absolutely mortified.
"Are you ashamed of me, oh Divine One of the Night?"
"Teritt!" Edward was so embarrassed that he didn't stop to consider his next sentence. "You can't just talk about our sex li-...!" He stopped as he realised, and his cheeks slowly turned crimson.
I looked away, also blushing.
Teritt roared with laughter.
"Ed! Oh, Ed! You said the word ‘sex'! In female company! When you're about the most polite guy in the world! Oh heavens! That's hilarious!"
"I think we should start the tour," Edward mumbled, sounding very discomfited.
"Are you sure?" Teritt asked, and when I looked back he appeared to have composed himself. "Perhaps she wants to know more."
"Oh, don't," I said passionately, seeing how shamefaced Edward looked.
Teritt frowned, evidently also noticing his lover's distress.
"Darling, you know I'm just teasing, right? No one's really offended by one, silly, word. I'm just immature: you know that."
Edward made himself look small and sad. I guessed that he was playing his feelings up to punish Teritt since no gentleman, however polite, would be affected to that extent.
Teritt crossed his arms.
"I'm not stupid."
Ed sighed, his expression normal again.
"I know you're not. I just wish you wouldn't torture our friends like this."
Teritt sighed and reluctantly turned to me, saying, "Sorry, Penny."
Edward turned to me. "I'm sorry, too. I guess I know that Teritt's right but it still feels like I shouldn't talk about ... well, you know, in front of other people."
"You don't need to apologise," I told him. "You're just being polite. Nothing wrong with that."
Ed smiled. "Shall we get on with your tour, then?"
"Sure," I replied. As we began the walk down the surprisingly long corridor leading out of the entrance hall, I asked, "What happened to Lor?"
"He didn't want to kiss you in public?" Teritt suggested.
"Really?" I asked, startled. After seeing Lor's look of utter boredom earlier I had convinced myself that my mind had lied to me last Sunday.
"Didn't you know that he liked you?" Edward asked, regarding me curiously.
"Well, I thought he might," I said slowly. "But he confused me today. Why wasn't he happy to see me?"
"Ah, he's good at covering up his feelings. Plus, he's never really bouncy. But his feelings are always intense underneath that quiet exterior. Do you like him too?"
"I- yes," I said hesitantly.
Edward smiled. In the next moment the hallway opened out into a wide space at the back of the house.
"Right, here we are: first stop," he said.
I gazed around. The only features of this room were the staircases leading to the left and the right of the next storey, the balconies on either side of it, the blue wallpaper rising as high as the midpoint of each staircase and the roof, no ceiling below it, three or four floors above us.
"Wow," I murmured, having never seen a space like this in a house.
"This is the gallery," Edward said. "Here, exhibitions take place - of art..." The hasty addition was a response to the broadening of a cheeky grin on Teritt's face; "concerts, speeches, plays: even talks from famous authors or actors. The audience (usually the students) line the staircase banisters to watch."
"Do you remember that game we played here once, Ed?" Teritt asked musingly.
"If you're talking about that time you got me drunk, shut up now. Penny really doesn't want to hear that kind of thing."
"But she's straight," Teritt pointed out. "Straight girls love to hear what guys get up to in their spare time."
"Where on earth did you get that impression?" I asked, laughing.
"Oh, I must just have met really curious girls," Teritt said, looking shameless.
"Would I be right in saying that they generally lost that curiosity once you'd indulged them?" Edward asked.
"Certainly," Teritt answered. "They had no need of it once I'd told them the story."
Edward's mouth twitched.
"I meant, did they show further curiosity when you'd indulged them once."
"Some did," Teritt replied. "Some girls really enjoy imagining it, I'm sure. Our sexuality has no effect on theirs."
Edward drew Teritt aside. I deliberately stared fixedly at the wall but I heard him whisper "But love, ... wouldn't you prefer our relationship to be secretive?"
I heard a sharp intake of breath and I guessed Edward had done something very sexy.
"Okay," Teritt said, sounding a little like a zombie but more like he was excited.
The pair walked back over to me.
"Penny," Edward called.
I turned to see that he was smiling ruefully at me.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," I replied. "I'm good."
"I was going to have to do that at some point," he told me confidentially: "he just refuses to stop."
"Oh, don't worry," I said, waving a hand dismissively, though inside my heart was fluttering for some reason I didn't dare ponder over. Unwittingly I found myself thinking about the way Edward had talked to Teritt and how the latter had responded. Unconsciously I wondered if it wasn't shy, gentle, kind Edward who had more control in the relationship and considered that Teritt's sometimes possessive attitude was perhaps a façade for when they were in public.
"So, we have to take the left staircase because the other leads to the girls' rooms and the boys aren't allowed in that area." He led me to the crimson-carpeted one (I received the impression of a river of blood pouring down it) and began to ascend, saying, "This leads to the boys' bedrooms."
I glanced back at the other stairs which were carpeted in midnight black before following.
Teritt, who was following a little ways behind me, never took his eyes off of Edward. When we arrived at the top I heard him murmur, "The bedroom corridor."
Edward glanced at him sympathetically.
"Want to have a lie down while I continue the tour, love?" he asked.
"No!" Teritt asked, alarmed. "I'm not tired, sir: I was thinking about what we do before we go to sleep."
"You don't need to call me ‘sir'," Edward said gently. "And you can't think of that sort of thing because Penny's here."
"Actually, you overpowered my will," Teritt said quietly, "and I can't help thinking of ‘that sort of thing' because I can only see you."
"Look, shall I try to find Lor?" I asked, and before Edward could reply, I was striding down the corridor. Each door that branched off to the right had a small wooden plaque on it - queerly reminiscent of those on memorial benches at the park.
I passed two doors before I reached Lor's. The plaques on those read ‘Edward and Teritt' and ‘Donald and David'. The one indicating that the room was Lor's read ‘Lorenzo'. I was surprised at the revelation that his name was Spanish.
Bravely I knocked on the door.
There was a rather frightening snarl. I stepped back.
Luckily, Lor appeared in human form. He looked furious. But on seeing me, his expression turned to one of amusement.
"Why, hello there, Penny."