• Angela Hudson

The David Files


If you haven't got the updated copy of The Heart's Ashes--I know, there were some MAJOR formatting errors. They've been fixed and will be live in 48 hours--then you may have missed the added content that was placed in the back in 2015. We all know you can't get enough of Dark Secrets, but since there are no new books on the horizon for at least a year, maybe two, it's just as good sinking your teeth in to bonus content, i.e.; things written from David's perspective.

I hope you enjoy scene one of book one, Dark Secrets, as told by David Knight.


The David Files: Falling In Love

I breathed out hard into the empty space the textbooks left behind then slammed my locker, turning slowly. I knew what he was about to ask—knew he would bring his hand down forcefully on my shoulder in some mechanical male attempt to connect—one I had come to despise so deeply with each day passing. But my timing was off. The brute had barely reached the corner, despite his rank cloud of vapour having penetrated my sensitive nostrils at least two minutes ago.

I held my breath, blocking out the aged cologne, sprayed on at his last shower—four days ago—layered thick with the tar-like fog of cigarette smoke and a mix of either seafood bisque or that recycled cheerleader he fucked in the locker-room this morning.

As he came around the corner, I turned away, pretending to close my locker and thereby offering him a shoulder to slap rather than his alternative show of brotherhood: a firm jab in the gut—a place I was really quite sensitive.

“Dave, you coming tonight, bro?”

His clammy, flabby palm flared my inner vampire’s burning hatred as it struck my back. I jolted forward like a human then spun around to cup his grip, drawing my lips into a non-threatening grin. “Still going ahead with that party then?”

“You know it. So, you coming?”

“I always do.” I took another breath to make some smart remark about finishing what I started last month with his new whore, when I saw a flash of yellow outside on the steps.

“Dave, man, what ya frownin’ at?”

“I—” I walked away from Derek, watching the yellow glow come into focus before my eyes as soft, summery fabric. And I knew it well. I knew the way the sunlight bounced off the colour, knew the cut, knew every curve under that simple cotton dress—how it hugged her ribs, the wind pressing it against her hips, leaving her rose-petal skin bare everywhere else. I knew it was her.

Derek waved a hand past my eyes. “Dave?”

“I’ll catch ya later, man,” I said, walking away in a trance, the importance of manners secondary to this sensation in my chest that a long-dead heart suddenly wanted to beat. I’d waited nearly a month to talk to her, to be so near as to look into her eyes—to see what colour they were; to see how she smiled when she thought things she wasn’t supposed to; to see what she thought of me. I’d wanted so many times to let her see me, to just walk up when she sat crying under that oak tree and introduce myself. But the timing never felt right, and I knew from her thoughts that if I ever caught her crying she would avoid me like the plague from then on. I just couldn't risk that. Something in me altered when I first saw her that day, so many weeks ago; something—a physical reaction in my brain, like an elastic band had snapped against the backside of my eye—and, strange as that felt, deny as I might that there was something different about her, I’d not successfully fought the emotions that came with it. So I watched her—sat atop her roof by night, in her garden by day, listening to her thoughts from afar. And each time I did, my heart broke for her—for this human, for this being I had no compassion for yet suddenly cared about. She was sweeter, more pure than anything I had ever encountered. It was like her soul was an open book, a tale of sadness, yet so bright with compassion that she was just waiting to love any creature, be he mad, cruel or kind. Maybe she would even love me.

But she was broken—damaged by a pain she couldn’t move past. Death. Loss. And no one understood this better than a vampire who’d suffered nothing but sadness in his hundred-and-twenty-year existence. I could help her. I could heal her—bring her back to that sweet, pure thing she once was. The pure thing I just knew was still inside.

I stood tall, straight, motionless, like no vampire should, breaking every rule, lured by the thought of seeing her pretty face as she saw me for the first time.

She farewelled her brother by the base of the stairs outside, finally closer than we’d ever been, yet so far away. And it felt oddly frustrating that the only thing between us now was a thin plate of glass, a few steps and the conventions of society. I thought for a moment about smashing it and laughing carelessly just to get her attention, or perhaps introducing myself as the guy who’d stalked her thoughts these past months—excusing my behaviour on the basis that I only meant well. But she stopped dead, her eyes tracing my shoes, flowing up my body to where the long silver door handle blocked the first meet of our eyes.

The last bell tolled then, sending the humans around me into sudden movement, exciting the dense summer air with their scents, their thoughts—so familiar, so naive but, for some reason, stirring nothing in me of the hatred I normally felt for this species. I wanted to hurt them only enough to make them move—to make them shift from my path so I could wrap this sweet girl in my arms. She was afraid—her hands tight, sweating, her thoughts frozen.

I stepped forward, forgetting the backpack I’d dropped by my feet, and a sweet name left my lips in a whisper—one I’d never dared speak before: “Ara-Rose.”

She stopped walking, taking a quick gasp.

I closed my mouth. There was no way she could have heard that.

“Hey, David,” Emily cheered as she skipped past me, and the battle was lost. She already had Ara-Rose in her sights, stealing my self-appointed role as New Girl Greeting Party and, in turn, ruining my plans to sweep this lovely thing into my friendly proverbial embrace to then show her around for the day.

I shouldered my bag, almost meeting Ara-Rose eye-to-eye for second—were it not for that annoying blonde. “Better sleep with your window locked tonight, Emily,” I said quietly through my teeth, and took off at vampire speed. It didn’t matter. Emily could have the first words with her, but I had the first class.

***

My regular seat at the back of the room was waiting for me—an eager-eyed, periodical friend sitting in the other seat. I scanned the room, counting heads as I went, taking mental notes on who usually sat with who, and it was the unfortunate chess club geek in the front row, right by the door, that chose the wrong place to sit today.

“Move.” I glared down at him, leaning in just enough that my predatory gaze sent at least a dozen thoughts through his head that resulted in his quick shift from my new chosen desk to the far back corner of the room.

I slumped down in the seat closest to the wall, leaving the most likely seat the teacher would pick for the new girl—one that not only had an accessible path, free from school bags and long legs crowding the aisle, but also nearest to his desk—right beside me.

“Why is David Knight sitting in the front row?” a girl whispered to her friend.

I smiled to myself. Apparently I was scary enough to be worthy of a title—not a name: David Knight. No one ever called me David unless they were in my immediate circle of friends.

“I don’t know. Maybe Barry did something to piss him off,” her friend replied.

“What’s with David Knight?” another guy asked the pair in front of him.

“Who cares, man? Long as he’s not sitting beside me.”

I turned my head slowly and glanced over my shoulder. The offending gossipers snapped to silence, turning their gazes swiftly to the front of the room or some random object on their desks.

“Problem?” I said.

The girls shook their heads, the boys staring forward as if nothing had happened.

“Yeah, didn’t think so.” I held a stern gaze in their direction for another few seconds to be sure the gossiping had stopped, then turned around in my chair—trying to look casual enough that Ara-Rose wouldn’t notice I was not the kind of guy who usually sat up front, by myself. Hopefully, she wouldn’t notice the class staring this way either. But then, she’d probably just think they were staring at her because she was new.

“Good morning, class.” Mr. Benson strolled in and closed the door with his heel, keeping his nose in a pile of papers. “Get out a notepad and pen. We’ve got some—” He looked up at the door, hearing a hard rap.

I chewed the inside of my cheek to hold back my grin, forcing my shoulder blades against the back of the chair so I wouldn’t lean eagerly forward. Last thing I wanted was to scare this girl off by crowding her space or watching her every move—every brush of her hand across her face, every timid blink of her eye or move of her tongue across her lip to wet it in a self-conscious attempt to hide the way she was really feeling inside. But what scared me more than scaring her away was the possibility that she might not even like me. It was just a small possibility, but I’d seen pictures of the guy she liked; he and I were very different. She might think I’m arrogant or rude or might even be one of those rare humans who felt fear in the presence of predators like me, rather than excited and lusted.

“Emily?” Mr. Benson popped his head out the door, keeping it closed enough that I couldn’t see the girl. “What can I do for you?”

“This is Ara. She’s new.”

Ara? I sat up straight in my chair. She’d missed out half the girl’s name.

“Ah, yes.” Mr. Benson took a second to recognise the girl. “Of course. Ara, is it, not Amara-Rose?”

I laughed then, tapping my fingers lightly on the desk. The poor girl was so nervous and confused she wasn’t even sure how to answer that question. And it only made me like her so much more. But it was getting hard to hear her thoughts with the masses of the student body throwing paper cannons around behind me.

“Well, Ara, I hope you’re a much quieter student than this lot.” Mr. B jerked his thumb at us.

“I don’t think you need to worry about that, Mr. Benson,” Emily said. “She’s hardly said two words.”

Mr. Benson stood taller, his thoughts flashing back to the animated little girl he’d seen two summer’s ago when Mr. Thompson brought her to school to meet the teachers. Ara didn’t recognise Mr. B, but he knew her—knew her story—swore to her father he would look out for her. But he hadn’t expected to see such a cold, sad little girl. Her hollow, almost empty eyes scared him a little—made him worry for her, thinking over the concerns Greg Thompson expressed last week when he announced Ara-Rose would be coming today. He saw a future for her then that he didn’t like—pain, isolation, sadness. And the two versions he knew of this girl suddenly just didn’t match. He wanted to wrap his arm around her and tell her it would be okay, but he wasn’t allowed to—teachers just didn’t do that to students. So he searched his mind in that split second for something to say. “Are you nervous, Ara?”

“I’ve never been to a new school before,” she said, and her tiny voice was so timid I placed my hand to my mouth, my hand shaking. I had to stay put. If I moved—if I got up and went to that door to tell her to go home—come back when she was ready, it would result in a tongue lashing from Mr. B, and complete humiliation. Not to mention, she’d probably tell me to mind my own business. So, I sat tight, sending an idea to Mr. B’s mind.

“Well, I tell you what…” He touched his chin, then turned and looked right at me. “I think I have a solution.”

And I was at his side before he’d even realised what the solution was. “Yes, Mr. B.”

I tried to stay out of sight as I stopped behind him, but Ara-Rose saw me before I wanted her to, and I missed the first moment—missed the second her eyes brushed past me, but I caught the gasp, the thought, the sudden race of her heart, and all my fears slipped away. She liked me.

I leaned on the doorframe, presenting myself as this cool, charismatic guy she hoped I was, and took a moment to study her face as she studied mine. She was more beautiful than I’d hoped for. Her eyes, though they were sad and maybe a little lifeless, were so big and so blue I found myself staring too deeply into them for what was considered polite at this stage. But she didn’t care, and I didn’t care. The only people who showed any objection were Emily and Mr. B, and in the greater scheme of things, I really didn’t give a shit what they thought.

I swept my hair back so Ara-Rose could see my face—commit every inch of it to memory, since it was the last face she would ever love. How I was going to find it in my heart to kill this girl at the end of the summer was beyond me. I’d never felt this way about a human, and before she even opened her mouth, I think I’d already considered telling her what I was. Maybe she’d be able love me, and maybe I’d just run away with her. But I’d heard her thoughts—knew her pure heart. There was no way she’d ever accept me for what I was, and she would fall so deeply in love with me by the time I finished with her that death would be the only way to stop her suffering after I left.

I watched her thoughts, counting the seconds that passed so we didn’t get lost too long in this moment. Our bodies were stuck in the world of reality, but our hearts and souls lingered in the realm of fantasy—seeing moments we wanted with each other—unable to speak them aloud for fear of scaring the other away.

Mr. B cleared his throat, momentarily reconsidering his plan. “Ara? This is David.”

Ara suddenly realised where she was—closing her mouth as if she only just gained control again. But she’d needed no introduction. Her mind went back over Emily’s description of the school ‘hot guy’, and she said my name under her breath before Mr. B had the chance.

I thought about shaking her hand, but touching her would be too much for me right now. I had to keep playing it cool. So, I smiled, giving a casual nod. “Hello, Ara.”

She lifted her hand and waved, feeling stupid after, as if maybe I thought she was dumb or childish for it. But there was something so adorably sweet about her awkwardness that I closed my eyes for a second and felt her in my heart—letting myself love her just that little bit more. She wouldn’t die at the end of the summer. I couldn’t let her become my victim. I’d miss her, and I knew she would be the kind of girl I might come back to every few decades just to check in on. It would hurt her when I left, but she’d move on—they all did eventually. I would very much enjoy this small period of time we had, though, just revelling in the quirky simplicity of her pure, sweet little soul.

“Ara, David is my best student,” Mr. Benson said, then looked at me. “David?”

“Yes, sir?” I forced myself to look away from her stunning eyes—the colour almost changing now with each second she looked at me. She knew she’d love me eventually, and felt her heart change then too—letting herself feel something other than agony for a moment. But the pain in her soul came back as our gazes parted. I jammed my hands in my pockets so I wouldn't reach out and hold hers.

“Ara’s a little worried about coming to a new class,” Mr. Benson said. “Would you take her to the library and fill her in on last week’s lessons, please?”

Her relief could be felt from miles away. I looked at her again, knowing she was worried I’d reject the idea—turn Mr. B down because I was too good to spend forty minutes with this nobody.

“Of course.” I smiled at her gently—offering all of me—my friendship, love, kindness and protection in that one look, hoping it made her feel comfortable.

“Excellent.” Mr. Benson went to walk away but stopped, waking from the spell he’d been under by the idea I planted, realising suddenly he’d just sent this sweet little lamb into the wilderness with a predatory lion—one well-known for womanising. “And keep your charms to yourself, young man.”

“I’ll do my best, sir,” I said, giving Ara-Rose a look that she interpreted as playfulness. But I had no intensions of keeping any charms away from her. By the end of first period, she’d be putty in my hands.

“Okay. Well, Ara, you take care, and I’ll see you in class tomorrow.” Mr. Benson patted her shoulder—a gesture he felt seemed forced when, the truth was, he just wanted to give her a hug.

She looked up, the wide, girlish grin on her lips slipping away as relief cooled her eyes. “Thank you.”

“You are more than welcome.” Mr. B turned back to me, relieved Ara-Rose hadn’t broken down to the tears he could sense rising a minute ago. And the idea of pairing her with the school heartthrob suddenly didn’t seem so foolish to him then. Of course, my cerebral assistance may have eased his worries a little. “David, you can get your stuff.”

I strolled over to the desk I’d commissioned for her and me, and grabbed my bag and books, stopping by Mr. B’s desk on the way out.

“This pile is for Amara-Rose,” he said, then looked out into the hall. “Ara, I mean.”

I grouped the books and tucked them under my arm.

“And you need to cover these topics.” He grabbed a sticky note and scribbled a few words down. I could hear Emily and Ara-Rose talking in hushed whispers outside. I wanted desperately to get back out and shoo Emily away, but Mr. B took his time jotting his notes down.

“Trust me, Ara. You’re going to love David,” Emily said.

“He’s not that cute,” Ara-Rose muttered, but my gut only dropped for a second. She was a terrible liar. She liked me more than she wanted to admit, and that scared her as much as it excited her.

“Make sure she reads over passages six and nine,” Mr. B said. I nodded, listing carefully to both conversations while shutting out the curious thoughts of the rest of the class.

“Does he have a girlfriend?” Ara-Rose asked, and my nerves froze then burned everything inside me. Emily knew my history with girls only too well. Ara-Rose couldn’t know any of it, or she’d never want me—her self-consciousness wouldn’t allow her to believe she was good enough for me if she knew I’d had cheerleaders before.

“Also—”

“Sure thing, Mr. Benson,” I cut him off as he outlined another passage, and turned away, sweeping into the corridor just as Emily opened her fat mouth. “Everything all right, Emily?” I asked.

“Mm-hm.” She stood taller, shoving her hands behind her back.

Ara-Rose held her breath, afraid I’d scold them for gossiping. And on any other day, Emily would have copped a stern warning, but Ara needed to see my kind side for now. She was scared of me as it was. I didn’t need her knowing I terrified everyone else in the school as well. But her thoughts, as I looked at her, trying to gauge her emotions, were quite guarded—almost like she was blocking me from something. I tried harder to get in, but too much time had passed with me staring at her. I had to switch focus. “You ready, new girl?”

She nodded once, imagining an immediate future where she tripped on her own feet or spat when she talked or some other horribly embarrassing scenario that would lead me to dislike her.

“Don’t worry,” Emily said, sensing Ara-Rose’s discomfort. “David will take good care of you.”

I looked at my watch, ready to snap Emily’s neck if she didn’t piss off. “You’re late for class, Emily.”

“Okay, well. Have fun, Ara, and… I’ll see you at lunch?” she asked, and I rolled my eyes. The last thing I needed was Emily Pierce befriending the girl I wanted. She knew too much about me.

“Thanks, Emily,” Ara-Rose said, but she didn’t mean it. “And yeah, sure, I’ll see you at lunch, then.”

Emily was quite satisfied with that. She knew I was taken with this girl—else I would have given some excuse not to sit with her in the library—and she was damn well going to make sure Ara knew everything about me. Something would have to be done about that. But not today.

Ara-Rose looked past me then and smiled. I turned, catching Emily fanning herself as she skipped away—her attempt, I think, to show that Ara wasn’t the only one who liked me, and that if she thought for a second she had a chance when a cheerleader stood two steps higher than her on the chain of social hierarchy, she was kidding herself. Ara-Rose didn’t get that message though. She just laughed at Emily’s embarrassment, feeling her fears and nerves slip back in with too much weight once her and I were alone again.

She looked up at me slowly, not sure if she’d seen correctly before just how—her words—beautiful I was. But as our eyes met, her heart skipped a beat—falling in love with my green gaze and dark-pink lips, and I knew I had her right where I wanted her. All I had to do now was play it cool and not do anything too creepy.

“Come.” I started walking. “I’ll show you to the library.”

But she didn’t move. I kept walking as if I wasn’t aware, given that my back was to her, but the further I got, the more concerned I grew. She was pretty and sweet and so lovely I wanted to tell her all my secrets right now, but there was nothing worse than a disobedient girl. And I was starting to the get the feeling she was exactly that.

I glanced back over my shoulder, and her thoughts halted somewhere on the idea that I was well-mannered—an idea she quite liked. So, I played the role for her and smiled, turning my body to face hers—opening my arms out so as not to seem threatening. “Hey, are you coming?”

“Um, yeah. Sorry.” She followed, hiding a sweet giggle under her breath. She was completely infatuated, and extremely uncomfortable in my presence. Which was strange for me because, so far, most girls were all over me on first meeting—until they learned how dangerous and cruel I could be if I didn’t want their affections. That usually sent them packing. Ara-Rose, however, had none of that flair I was used to in girls, and it was one of the most charming things about her—so charming I couldn’t wipe the grin from my face. I’d finally found that special something I’d been looking for my whole life. It was sad that I had to kill her or leave her, but I was damn-well going to enjoy her while I had the chance. And from the thoughts she was having, it wouldn’t be long until I ravished that purity she was imagining giving me right now.

But, if I was to get her in my arms or my bed, I had to get through that barrier—break the ice—at least start with a conversation. “What were you focusing on in your last school—for English studies?” I asked, waking her mind.

“The standard stuff,” she murmured. “I wasn’t in any advanced classes or anything.”

I nodded. That was okay. She didn’t think it was okay; she thought she needed to be smarter or prettier for me to like her. But she didn’t need anything other than what she already had. “Do you read much?”

“Not anymore.”

I looked at my feet. This wasn’t going so well. She was clearly shier than I thought, and not coping as well with a new school as her dad hoped. And the worst part—the part that made me look at her more carefully, seeing her with eyes of a little more compassion than before—was that she was afraid her answer was short and rude.

I just… I wanted him to keep talking, she thought. But… not ask any questions.

“Why not?” I asked, realising then that I’d questioned her on a thought. I hid my grimace behind a grin, hoping she wouldn’t notice.

“Why not what?”

I went back over our last few words and, when that question sort of matched up with her last response, my tight smile relaxed. “Why don't you read anymore?”

“Um, no reason.” She looked away quickly, swallowing a sudden rush of pain in her chest—flashes of her mother, a child, and a book in their laps coming to mind. “What do you like to read?”

I held back a small laugh. She was trying to throw the conversation back my way—keep me talking. Okay, sweetheart. I can play this game, I thought. “Dracula, Jamaica Inn, Pride and Prejudice. I actually read quite a bit. Though not so much anymore, myself.”

“Why not?” she asked, when what she really wanted to say was Why the hell did you read Pride and Prejudice?

“Well, let’s just say” –I leaned against the wall beside the library— “I have better things to do with my time at the moment.” Like stalking a sweet young girl—making sure she doesn’t kill herself before I get the chance to taste her blood.

“Er, yeah me too,” she said nervously, looking at the door as if it led to a vortex of insecurity.

I laughed at her timidity and placed my hand on the door. “So, this is the library.” Not a prison camp, sweetheart.

“Really?” She frowned at the door, picturing the grand glass windows of the library at her old school.

“Don’t let looks deceive you,” I said, opening the door. “It’s actually quite well-stocked.”

As soon as she stepped in and scanned the room with her eyes, she agreed with me, giving a small nod of approval—seeing herself sitting here for long hours during lunch, hiding from the kids she was sure wouldn’t want to be friends with her.

I stood stark still, listening to everything in her head, and the battle between killing her or leaving her alive leaned another few notches toward… uncertainty.

“They fit a lot into a small room, don't they?” she said sweetly, smiling up at me after.

“Yes,” I said, a little caught off-guard by the sparkle in her eyes. “Would you like a seat?”

I have plenty at home, thanks, she thought, but didn’t say it—afraid I’d think she was silly. But I didn’t. It was a silly joke, but I was glad she even came up with it; it gave me hope for her.

She wandered over and sat next to another kid—an attempt to seem social, I guess, and stared at him for a second.

“Are we allowed iPods in here?” she asked, looking up to meet my eyes.

Boy, she was used to a very strict set of rules at her old school, wasn’t she? I knew then that she would love it here, even after I left. “Yes,” I said simply, knowing my stare made her slightly uncomfortable—but in a good way. And that pleased me very much.

“We weren’t allowed iPods at my old school,” she added in case I thought she was weird for asking that question. “Private school.”

“Figured as much.” I shrugged.

“Is it that obvious?”

“No.” I tilted my head, studying her face. “I just have a knack for categorisation.”

“Hm, me too.”

“Then we should get along great.” Which I already knew. But getting to know her wouldn’t be as boring as with other humans because, even though I could read her mind and knew almost everything about her, I could never guess what she was about to say until she’d said it—considering that neither could she. I dropped the books on the table and slid one over to her. “This one’s for you.”

“Yay,” she said sarcastically, studying the book. And the silence that followed seemed to be a comfortable one—contemplative. But I just wanted her to keep talking. The very sound of her voice made my ears prick to attention like a cat hunting a rustle in the bush. I just wanted to know her. “You know” –I sat down— “you’re awfully quiet. I expected you to say more by now.” She was so vocal at home, chatting like nothing in the world was wrong. But I realised now that it was just a front for her parents. Her dad had been right: she was hiding her grief from them.

“We’re in a library,” she whispered.

“We don’t have teachers in here.” I motioned around the room. “No one cares if you talk.”

She sat up a bit and glanced around, calming a little more then. “Cool.”

“Yeah.” I sat back and chewed the end of my pen gently—didn’t need a mouth full of ink again—especially not in front of a girl I was trying to woo. “It’s pretty cool.”

And I thought that would be it, that she’d talk to me now. But she opened her book instead and said, “What page?”

Damn it. I sat forward a little, clasping my hands on the table. “You know, it’s your first day, so we can either fill you in on Mr. Benson’s class, or—” I looked over at the other kid. He was listing in to everything we were saying.

“I already prefer the or,” Ara-Rose said, and my eyes went wider. I had not expected that response. Not in a million years.

She wanted to hide under a rock then, thinking I was offended. I was far from it.

“You know, I think I’m beginning to like you already, Ara-Rose,” I said, and as soon as her name slipped from my lips, I held still, hoping she wouldn't notice I’d been told it was Ara.

“It’s just Ara, by the way,” she said casually, without giving it a second thought, which was sad, because this was coming from the girl who wore her name with such pride—an aspect about her I had been quite attracted to, like the way I despised being called Dave. I thought it meant something to her to be strong about the one thing she owned—that no one else could take or change about her. And here she was, changing it for popularity.

I recollected my thoughts and pulled myself in check, realising my face was projecting my objections. “Okay, Ara,” I said, adding a bit of spite to the shortened name. “What’s your next class?”

“Uh, hold on a sec.” She reached into her bag, but I already knew what her next class was before she even handed me the map and schedule. I read over it anyway, though, smiling the whole time.

“What?”

“We have quite a few classes together,” I said playfully.

“Oh. Okay.”

“Including music.” I cleared my throat into my fist to make a point that this class would hold some awkward, possibly socially devastating ramifications for her.

“Is that… bad?”

I shook my head, seeing the blood run from her face. “I mean, not all bad. We have Mr. Grant, but I’m in your class.”

“Is he… nice?”

Nice? I wanted to laugh. Dickhead would be a better word to describe him. Dickhead on a high-horse. “It’s okay,” I said. “I’ll be there with you.”

She bit her lip, clearly not consoled by that.

“He doesn’t stay in the room long,” I added. “Mr. Grant. He comes in, tells us what to do and leaves.”

“And then what?”

“We usually just have a jam-session.”

She grinned. “Wicked.”

I watched the text book slam shut in front of her, the energy in the room warming, settling with her change in temperature. And I suddenly couldn't think of anything to say.

“So? What instrument do you play?” she asked, planning to sum me up based on that fact.

I sat back a little, drumming my fingers on the desk. “Well, I actually play all instruments. But this year I’m focusing on the guitar.”

She didn’t like that. I mean, she liked that I played a few more instruments than the average guy, but she didn’t like my tact. “Hm,” she muttered. “I would’ve figured you for a bass guy.”

“Bass?” I leaned forward a little, resting my knuckles by my lip to hide my smile. “And… what exactly would that say about me?”

“Cool? Confident?” She exhaled slowly, reliving that moment we first met. “Sexy?”

Sexy? My jaw dropped. I couldn’t find anything to say but What!? Where the hell did she get a word like that? It sounded so oddly… sexy to hear it come from that sweet mouth of hers.

“I’m sorry,” she said, blushing. “That was so rude of me.”

“No, really, it wasn’t at all. It was just…” I felt my brow crease into frown, my eyes studying every inch of her pretty face. “Unexpected.”

She looked down at her books, not sure what to say.

“You just seem so shy and quiet, now,” I added. “I never expected you to say something so—honest.”

“I’m not really shy.” She traced the edge of her book. “I’m just quiet because I’m new. But you won’t be able to shut me up in a few weeks.”

And though this would normally send me running for the hills, my one and only thought then was… “Well, I look forward to seeing your more talkative side.”

The girl was taken aback, sure her promise to get chatty would make me avoid her from now on. But she just didn’t know how badly I wanted that with her. In fact, she was so clueless about my feelings for her that she was practically screaming her thoughts at me to run away now and never look back, even going as far as to call herself a psycho.

“What? What are you laughing at?” she asked.

I dropped my smile instantly. “Nothing.”

“Normally,” she said casually. “People don't laugh at nothing.”

I moved one shoulder up to my ear, chastising myself for getting lost in her thoughts enough to forget how to behave outside my head. “Maybe I'm not normal.”

“Hm.” She nodded once, happy enough with that. “So, are the people here nice?” were the words that came from her mouth, but her mind said, “Hey, let’s be rebels and ditch class—go somewhere quiet, talk for hours and get to know each other.”

And I nodded, secretly answering the real question on her mind. “Yeah, mostly. You shouldn’t have a problem, though. Seems you’ve struck up a friendship with Emily Pierce?”

“Is that good?” she asked, but before I could answer, she slashed my heart in half with her thought: I’d hate to have ended up friends with the school bully.

“Uh, yes.” I cleared my throat, looking away. “It’s good. Emily has… a special gift for making people like her.”

“You like her, then?”

More than other humans. “She’s just easy to be around. I think you two will be good friends.”

Does that mean I’m easy to be around? She thought. And there I go again, looking for hidden meanings in words that aren’t there.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine here, Ara.” I tried to hold back my grin. She was easy to be around, and I loved the way she overanalysed everything. It was quickly becoming her most endearing trait—among all the others I’d come to love in this short time knowing her. “You’ve already made two friends today,” I added. “And school has only just begun.”

She wasn’t sure what to say to that—eyeing me carefully to see if I was joking, or if maybe I meant someone other than myself had become her friend. But she let herself believe it—that I was actually being nice to her—not responding verbally to what I’d just said at all. Her mind went off a tangent then, thinking about the processes she’d been through this morning; how she woke in a state of despair, then made several attempts to avoid coming to school at all. But now, sitting here with me—me, not anyone else; not Emily or her brother or any other guy. Me—she actually felt glad she’d come and that, maybe, she might just be okay.

“Well, thanks,” she said, having let too much time pass without realising she hadn’t answered before, and her sweet smile as she shyly looked away was the most honest and real smile I’d seen from her all morning.

I decided then and there that I would never kill her.

She was right. She would be okay—she would heal from the grief she was suffering, and her life would go on. Because I was going to stay by her side until it did.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the David Files, and make sure to check out the newly formatted book 2 (The Heart's Ashes) if your copy had formatting errors. Also, there's a new edition of Dark Secrets coming out in a few weeks.

#DavidKnight #Vampires

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