(one of my first books that I published)
“Mr. Moser is not happy.”
That was my greeting as I dropped my books on the library table and plopped down next to my roommate. She was the originator of my stupid hotline volunteer career. The career that was finito, done, and over with. I snuck inside that morning, slipped the envelope underneath the door, and bolted.
There are occasions where I’m very much a coward, and this was one of those times.
“I’m not surprised,” I muttered and bent to grab a pencil out of my bag. The location of the bag was just opportune. It was on the floor so I was able to turn and present my back to my roommate. I hoped she’d take the hint.
“What do you mean you’re not surprised? Why aren’t you surprised?” Emily hadn’t taken the hint. Then again, she never did.
She had been my roommate for the last three months. Her entire life plan was written in detail with bulleted expenditure costs, but it all revolved around her career choice in social work. She was the one to volunteer at the hotline. She was the one who dragged me there. She was even the one that pointed out Adam. Emily wasn’t the reason why I stayed. Adam was that reason.
I like boys. Most people would say that I’m boy-crazy, but the truth is I just find them entertaining. I would never ever kill myself over a guy. They’re not worth that much, but they are worth a fun activity or a cuddle during a movie. When I saw his rich chestnut hair and almond eyes, I knew that Adam would make a great movie-cuddler.
“Davina!” Emily called out sharply. She was being ignored. That made her pissy.
I sighed and fought the urge to bury my head in my book. No. Why fight it? I buried my head into my book and groaned dramatically. I knew one thing. It would make Emily shut up. If there was one thing that made her uncomfortable, it was when someone was in need of emotional reassurance. I once saw her spill a drink and use that as an excuse to leave a group when one of the girls started crying. I highly doubted Emily’s social work career would make it past the paper it was written on, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell her.
On another note, I hated being called Davina. It’s Davy. It’ll always be Davy. It’ll never be Davina. Then I realized there was silence. Emily had quieted. I risked a look, and saw that her eyes were downcast on her own pile of books. I thanked my own quick wits for this reprieve.
I stiffened at the name, but when I looked over my shoulder I melted into a gooey feeling inside. Adam was approaching with an eager stride. His almond eyes sharpened with warmth, and I saw the earnest grin on his face. Tall, dark, and just pretty. That’s how I’d describe my perfect guy, and Adam easily fit the bill. Plus, he wore Abercrombie. What girl didn’t like that? Well, probably a lot, but it looked yummy on him.
“Hi, Adam.” I was warm. I was always warm around him.
He stood at the end of our table and seemed riveted by me. I wondered why and then let it go. Obviously, the guy had woken up and realized his love for me.
“I heard about the suicide last night. Are you okay? You were there, right? That’s what Shelly said.”
Shelly. All the gooeyness dried up. Shelly was my competition. I cheated on my empath rules and took a peek inside her once. The feeling was mutual. She hated me even more and I didn’t need to be psychic to know that she planned to murder me.
I was only joking…somewhat.
I was a short girl at five foot six inches with an average build, not slim, but not big either. I had brown curls on a good day, and a frizzy fray on a bad, but I knew my dark brown eyes and my full lips were my best features. Guys liked to stare at both of them, but Shelly was a tall willowy blonde with absolutely beautiful blue eyes. I always felt like I was swimming in a lake when I looked at them.
Shelly liked Adam. I liked Adam, but I wasn’t sure who Adam liked.
“What else did Shelly say?” I couldn’t hide my sarcasm.
Adam’s smile dimmed slightly, but he pressed, “Is it true? You answered the phone and she was on the roof?”
The boy was goal oriented. “Yes. I was there, but she jumped.”
Emily looked up with wide eyes. Adam shifted a little and his eyes skirted from me to Emily. “Are you… are you okay? Shelly said that you quit the hotline.”
“I can’t believe you quit.” Emily had to put her two cents in.
“Yeah, I mean…” Adam took the seat next to mine and lowered his voice. It was soothing and seductive to my ears. “I mean…the place won’t be the same without you, you know?”
Of course I knew, but that was the point of it. I wanted to get as far away as possible. It would always remind me of the girl from last night. I wasn’t freaked out with agony and so forth, but the truth was that I was freaked out by the gut-wrenching feeling that something worldly awful had happened and that it was connected to me. “I just… it’s too much, you know? I can’t handle—she died in front of me. I can’t…it’s just too much for me.”
I saw the sympathy in Adam. He placed his hand on mine. “I know exactly what you mean. If you ever need anything, call me. Okay? I want to help you through this tough time.”
Emily fled the scene. I almost caught a back draft from her sprint. “I’d really like that, Adam.”
He squeezed my hand. “Any time. Remember that, Davina.”
I’d remind him another time not to call me that name.
Then the happily-ever-after feeling was gone as I felt a vampire walk past us. A cold wind slapped my insides and I looked up. Normally, vamps ignore me. They can’t feel me like I can feel them so they just believe that they’re not noticed.
Not this time.
I gasped when I saw a pair of coal-black eyes staring right back at me. The vamp was tall with jet black hair. He wore a white buttoned-down shirt over jeans. He kept going, but I still felt his eyes after he turned the corner.
“Davina,” Adam said sharply, confused.
“What…what were you saying?” His hand was gone. I wanted his hand back.
“I…” He frowned again and asked, “Are you okay? You pushed me away and I mean, that’s okay if that’s what you need right now. I just thought…” He trailed off and looked away.
I didn’t have to be empathic to see his insecurity. “It’s not that. That guy scared me just now. I’m sorry. I want your help, I really do.”
His eyes twinkled.
I sighed again. How could any girl not fall in love with how adorable he was?
“Can you two stop with the sappy moment?” Emily returned with a storm at her backside. She slumped in her seat. “I’m trying to study.”
“Oh, yeah,” Adam laughed, a little embarrassed. “I-uh—I’ll talk to you later, Davina?”
I nodded. Hell yeah, we’d talk.
“Good. See you later then.”
I glanced at Emily as he left and saw her sharp green eyes on me. She narrowed them in disgust.
“You make me sick.”
“What? Why?” I was innocent.
“You totally lied to him just now. I had to run to the bathroom to keep from barfing. Really?! You can’t handle it? She died in front of you? Mr. Moser told me that you need to get back to the hotline. You broke protocol and that’s why you quit, not because you’re ‘emotionally shaken.’ Seriously, Davina.”
Maybe my roommate knew me a little better than I realized.
“Can you blame me?! Adam is to die for.” I could not believe I just said those words.
“I can’t believe you said that.” Emily reiterated my thoughts.
I flushed, embarrassed, and leaned back in my chair. “What am I supposed to do? I didn’t quit because of protocol, okay? And I need any advantage with Adam. You know Shelly Whistworth has her claws in him.”
Emily was annoyed. “You have to go and talk to Mr. Moser. You did break the rules and he’s worried about a lawsuit. And Adam Darley is not worth your time to lie and lower yourself. If he’s a stand-up guy, he’ll recognize that you’re much more fun to be with than Shelly Witless. If he’s not and he goes to her, he’s not the guy that you’ll want anyway.”
“I’m not lowering myself,” I remarked, and crossed my arms. “I’m just being manipulative.”
Emily looked at me knowingly. “Well, stop. It’s annoying.”
Emily opened her mouth and started to say something, but I felt the blast of cold race through me. My heart slowed as the vamp walked towards me from the opposite direction. His eyes were on me again. He seemed to look right through me, but he didn’t slow his pace. He walked right past.
I hated vampires. I knew what they could do from personal experience. However, there were a lot of good vampires that liked to hang out on campus. Some of them even took classes and wanted to learn. This guy looked like a regular college student and he walked like one. Right to the computer lab, and back out again for a Mountain Dew. Typical college behavior, but I was betting he wasn’t one of the ‘good’ vampires.
“Do you know who that is?”
“You interrupted me. I was talking.”
I watched as he returned from the vending machines and sat back down at a computer. “That guy. Do you know him?”
“We’re at a school with six thousand students. Really?! We’re freshmen, Davina. How can you expect that I’d know him?”
I turned and regarded her. “Do you know him or not?”
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
“Who is he, Emily?” I leaned closer and hoped he couldn’t hear us. There were two glass walls between us and the computer lab always buzzed with conversations and printing papers. If he tuned in, he could hear us, but for once I hoped that I wasn’t a speck on this guy’s radar. Correction—make that this vampire’s radar.
“He’s in my social work class.”
“Yeah. He’s a junior and he’s fulfilling a requirement.” She sounded like she’d practiced that. Something felt off with her. She liked to share her opinions on people, but she didn’t with this guy.
“You like him.” I couldn’t fault her. Vamps had seductive appeal down to perfection. Emily was a girl. Even she would fall under their power whether they intended it or not. The only way you could fight against their pull is if you knew what they were.
“I do not!” Emily cried out. She started to gather her books back up, but I laid a hand on them.
“It’s okay. He’s dreamy. I understand.” I glanced back over, but sighed in disgust.
He just sat there at the computer. His hands didn’t move on the keyboard. “Who is he?” I asked again, still watching the back of his head.
He sat rigidly.
“Luke Roane,” Emily sighed. She’d be mortified at how dreamy it sounded.
“Roane?” I arched my eyebrows.
What kind of name was that? I’d heard of a Roane back home, but the name was only spoken about as a legend. Most of the vamps didn’t believe he existed. I didn’t like this new twist. My college life wasn’t supposed to deal with supernatural things like this. I wanted an Adam in my life, not a vampire named Roane.
“He’s really intelligent.” Emily had opened her floodgates. Now her opinions flew freely. “He cares about the world and he’s got some super insights into humanity.”
I bet he did.
“Even Professor Sulls asks his opinions on matters. Luke’s like no other guy that I know. I mean, I respect him. I have really high standards and I only respect two other guys,” she said, casually.
“I know.” I said dryly, “Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr.”
“Can you believe it?” Emily sighed again. She was on the fast track for her first college lovecrush. It was my little name for those crushes when a girl thinks she’s in love. They were annoying… to everybody.
Lovecrushes aside—or maybe front and center—I hadn’t moved my eyes off Roane’s back, but then my eyes slid past his shoulders to his black computer screen. I found myself staring smack head-on with him. I gasped in mortification. He’d been staring right at me the whole time. This was not good, not at all. He knew that I knew. I knew that he knew I knew. I could’ve pretended that I didn’t know he was listening to us, but now all bets were off.
I smiled smugly and whispered, “I know what you are.”
His face didn’t move. His eyes didn’t react, but I knew I’d made him angry.