The room Demitri was taking me into was something out of my worst nightmare. It was a personal gym. My heart-rate increased at the thought of doing exercise and my palms began to sweat. But this wasn't any old gym room. In a corner there was a rack of knives and I could see targets for archery stacked up at the other end of the room.
'OK then let's start.' Demitri pulled a mat out from a cupboard and put it in the centre of the floor.
'Should we get changed and warm up to start.' I looked at my skirt and the heel on my school shoes. Not exactly appropriate clothing for hand-to-hand combat.
'OK then, I'll leave while you get changed.' Demitri headed for the door but I stopped him.
'Umm what am I meant to change into?' Demitri looked annoyed.
'You mean you haven't brought anything?' I nodded, trying to look as sheepish as possible in the hope that he might take pity on me. 'Fine, I'll find you something to wear.'
'Thanks.' Demitri disappeared and returned shortly with a worn pair of trackies and a t-shirt. He handed them to me without saying a word and left again.
'OK then so you stand like this.' Demitri stood opposite me on the mat, his feet spread about a shoulder-width apart, his whole body ready to spring. I tried to copy him. When I thought I'd got it Demitri came over and shoved me. I stumbled backwards. 'You need to stay strong and resist any attack. Try it again.' I took up the stance a few more times before Demitri was satisfied. 'OK then moving on, defence.'
'Isn't it better to learn how to attack first?' I asked.
'The best method of attack is defence. If you are suprised then you will automatically be on the defensive so attacking manouvers will be useless to you. Once you can defend yourself then we will move on to attack, understood?'
'Understood,' I mumbled. I wasn't sure I liked Demitri when he was in trainer mode, it slightly scared me. He taught me two basic blocks, one above and one below, and drilled me in them over and over again.
'You will need to keep practising these moves every day. They are the basics and will help you to learn all sorts of other movements. OK, next a basic punch. Show me how you form a fist when you are going to hit someone.' I balled my hand into a fist and held it out for Demitri to see. 'No that's wrong.'
'What? How can it be wrong?' Demitri unclenched my hand and reformed my fist.
'Your thumb was on the inside of your fist. You should never hit someone with your thumb like that, you could do more damage to yourself than to the other person.' I rolled my eyes. Trust Demitri to know something like that. 'Now try hitting me.'
'I'm not going to hit you.' I stepped backwards.
'No honestly hit me, right here.' He pointed to his jaw and stood waiting for the blow.
'No way. That could do you some serious damage.'
'Somehow I don't think you're going to be breaking my jaw anytime soon Cassie. Now come on hit me.' My instincts were screaming at me. Part of me really wanted to hit him but my rational half told me to leave. This guy was obviously insane or why else would he be asking me to hit him? 'For goodness sake get on with it Cassie, we haven't got all day.'
In one movement I pulled back my arm and threw the punch, hitting Demitri square in the jaw. He took one step back but looked otherwise unfazed. 'Not bad for a beginner. We're going to have to build up the muscles in those arms, you need some more power behind your punch.' He went on like this for another few minutes, reforming the swing of my punch. I couldn't quite believe what I had just done but Demitri didn't give me time to think about it, teaching me the different ways to hit someone and how to find someone's weakspot.
After an hour or so Mark walked in with two bottles of water. 'I thought you might need these.' He handed one to me and one to Demitri. 'I can see he's been working you hard.'
'I'm easing her in gently.' Demitri took a swig of water and put the bottle on the floor. 'I think we'll need to go soon. Savannah will be waiting for you, and she doesn't like it when people are late.' My stomach started to fill with butterflies as I thought of what Savannah might do to me if I was late.
'Do you mind if I jump in the shower first?' I knew it was a long shot but it was worth a try. Demitri looked at his watch.
'Alright, but only of you're quick.' I smiled thankfully at him, grabbed my stuff and followed Mark upstairs to a bathroom. Everything in the bathroom was beautifully tiled and clean but I didn't have time to notice it, I could feel Demitri getting impatient as I stood in the shower washing my hair with whatever shampoo I could find.
As I was getting dressed and reapplying make up I heard a knock on the door. 'Cassie? Are you nearly ready?'
'I'll be out in a second.' I looked at myself in the slightly steamed up mirror. My hair was still wet but there was nothing I could do about that. I took one last deep breath and unlocked the bathroom door. 'OK I'm ready.'