He had heard her climbing up the stairs twenty minutes past dawn. He had resisted the urge to step out of his room and mock her; he knew better than to do that. After all, he wasn’t here to share his piece of mind with her, but to protect her from the looming shadows. However, something didn’t feel right. How did Arianna fit in this battle, she was far too weak and emotional to be a good warrior, and too innocent to understand the magical and dangerous world she belonged to. Why Agatha didn’t allow them to tell her and take her away?
Those questions had kept sleep at bay, and Damian grunted when the first rays of lights pierced the thinning clouds in the horizon.
Damian walked down the stairs. Downstairs he saw an angry Arianna standing beside a black Elantra sedan, with her arms crossed. Damian greeted both James and Isabella, taking bread from the kitchen island.
“Oh Damian,” Isabella called when Damian went straight to the door. “I know your coupe hasn’t been shipped from New York yet and you must miss your car terribly. I was thinking that maybe you should drive Arianna’s sedan to school today.”
Damian shrugged. “Would Arianna mind?”
Isabella smiled, “Of course she doesn’t.”
“Of course I do!” Arianna shouted at Damian when he pulled out of the driveway. Arianna jolted in her seat and looked terrified. She quickly strapped her seatbelt before Damian stepped full-force on the accelerator, her body was pressed against the seat when the car accelerated into the freeway.
“Isabella said you didn’t mind, that you were kind in offering your car to drive us to school today,” Damian said, innocently.
“She thinks your every whim should be satisfied,” Arianna said disgustingly. “But I’m not playing your way, I am unconcerned to whatever you want or feel. And can you please stop driving like a maniac; you’re over the driving speed limit!”
“You’re scared?” Damian asked truly amused, but slowed their pace. “Now thanks to you, we have to spend more time together in this contraption. You’re a cunning little witch, aren’t you?”
“I beg your pardon?” her eyes narrowed and scrutinized his face.
Damian cringed at his rash mistake and said nothing more. Arianna didn’t push the topic and gave him the directions to their school. When Damian parked the car, Arianna stepped out of the car and strode out of the parking lot without a second look at him.
The place was enormous, the buildings tall and white and the parking lot filled with high-end cars. Across the parking lot, swarms of teenagers were chatting and walking about. This was nothing Damian had ever seen, and for the first time, he felt what it was like to be around normal teenagers. He sprinted to catch up to Arianna.
“Hey, I think your school is very crowded,” Damian commented. Much to his surprise, the girls winked at him, and giggled among themselves when he smiled back at them.
“I think you should get lost,” Arianna seethed. “Great, people are looking our way. Can you please get away from me? Unlike you, I don’t like being the center of attention.”
“But I don’t know my way in this place, you have to help me.”
Arianna sighed and almost cringed when she saw a tall, slender, and beautiful girl walk their way. Her black hair was flowing gracefully behind her and her sapphire eyes were locked with Damian’s.
“My mother arranged everything,” Arianna said hurriedly, as if she wanted to disappear before Damian flirted with the other girls. “Just go to that building with the clock tower and give them this paper. They’ll know what to do.”
“Why don’t you come with me? Are you in a hurry?”
“Yeah, to get away from you, naturally.” And for the first time, she smiled (in a sarcastic way) at him.
Those were the last words before she disappeared among the students.
“Hey, where did she go? I was hoping to get introduced to her,” Helena pouted when she arrived, staring at the place Arianna had disappeared into. “She seems like a nice person.”
“Looks deceive us,” Damian said, then lowered his voice. “Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary? Have you seen Jayden?”
“Jayden is stuck in class, and everything seems perfectly normal,” Helena shrugged, “except, I don’t like those boys staring at me.”
“Neither do I like all those girls staring at me.”
It was noon, lunch break. Damian had a hard time adjusting to the boring classes the commoners took, and the attention he was getting from the girls who gaped at him whenever he walked past them was started to get annoying. He felt fidgety when he didn’t see Arianna the entire morning and was rushing to find her. He stepped into the crowd and loud cafeteria and scanned the room for signs of Arianna, Helena, or Jayden. Finally, he spotted her and walked to her.
Before he got there, he noticed her friends staring at him. “Hey.”
Arianna turn abruptly and grunted, “What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“What makes you think I wanted to find you?” Damian winked at her. “How was your day?”
“Why do you care?”
“I am your stepbrother, it should mean something.”
Her friends gasped and spoke to Arianna in hush tones, asking her “is this gorgeous boy your stepbrother?”
Arianna rolled her eyes and pushed her lunch tray away. “I’m not hungry anymore; I’ll go to my locker and get my book for History.” She stood and turned to Damian, “don’t follow me.” She walked out of the cafeteria, with Damian trailing behind her.
“What part of ‘don’t follow me don’t you get?’” she asked, shoving the book in her bag. Both of them were standing on the hallways with the endless rows of lockers.
Damian shrugged. “I think it was the ‘don’t’.”
Arianna sighed in desperation.
A dark feeling settled on Damian and everything seemed to slow down. His senses were more acute and he sensed danger. He looked around to determine the source of the eerie sensation he was feeling, and he spotted it. It was a teenage boy, with dark hair and equally dark eyes. He was strolling to them and waved at Arianna. Damian was surprised that she waved back.
When the boy came close enough, Damian felt a chill and before he could stop himself, his hand connected with the boy’s shoulder and slammed his against the lockers.
“What are you doing?!” Arianna protested, her hands gripping his arm. “Let him go Damian!”
Damian was already curling his fingers into a fist. Somehow, the serene and cold expression on the boy’s face staring back at him didn’t feel right.