I made my way through the school’s busy courtyard with my lunch tray in hand. My meal consisted of a chicken sandwich with a small helping of macaroni and cheese, an apple, and a bottle of juice, and I kept the tray steady as I reached the library.
One thing about Sacred Heart that I was grateful for was the fact that Mrs. Martin, the librarian, ate lunch in the teacher’s lounge. She left the library unlocked because the only students who took an interest in the book-filled room were Helena and myself. Like I said, small school.
Mrs. Martin was leaving the library just as I approached the entrance. She held the door open for me.
“Hi, Mrs. Martin! Thank you.”
“Don’t you get none of that food on my books, Cari,” the librarian warned. Her tone was stern, but her lips were pulled up in a knowing smile as we exchanged our usual greeting.
“Yes, ma’am, I won’t!”
“Mmhmm,” she grunted teasingly, letting go of the door in time for me to enter. With her gone, I made a beeline for mine and Helena’s usual table–the one in the far back corner. I didn’t see her there, but I did see her untouched tray of food, her Jansport backpack, and a couple of books. Figuring she must have been searching for another book, I took my place across from her seat and began to eat.
It was another couple of minutes before I received any other sign of her, and it came in the form of footsteps approaching from the bookcase behind me. “Cari! You’re here early.”
“Yeah, I practically ran from Biology so I could get in line before the big crowd hits,” I bragged, carefully unwrapping my hot sandwich. “Still couldn’t beat you, though.”
Helena smirked and reclaimed her seat. Her third period was Culinary Arts, which was taught right next to the school cafeteria. “By the way, any idea what movies we should watch this weekend?”
I shrugged. “We could check out that movie that comes out on Friday. It’s called The Seventh Day.”
“Oh yeah, that’s that exorcism one, right?”
“Yeah,” I sighed between bites. “Goddess, I can’t wait ‘til the Candyman reboot comes out.”
“Neither can I!” Helena gasped. “We have to binge all the other movies before we go see it in theaters.”
“ ‘Sup, losers.”
We turned in time to see Lilly walking toward us. Behind her were Finn and–to my dismay–Jett and Gunnar. I didn’t know what was worse; the fact that Gunnar would willingly spend the entire lunch period bothering me, or that the werewolf behind him and Finn kept studying me. It was creeping me out!
“Did you guys decide on movies for our marathon this weekend?” asked Lilly. She set her tray down at the head of our table and claimed the seat for herself.
“The Seventh Day,” we said in unison.
Lilly blinked. “What the hell is that? A zombie flick?”
“Lillian, my sweet, naive sister,” Gunnar began. I could barely stifle my groan as he claimed the seat next to mine. “The Seventh Day is an exorcism movie.”
“Oh,” Lillian scrunched up her face and unwrapped her sandwich. “Gross. Alright, I’m down. I bet Flixio will have it up as soon as it’s out.”
I nodded, mouth full of food. “Any other suggestions?” Helena asked.
“I have a few–” Gunnar began, only for Lilly and I to cut him off. “No boys allowed!”
“So, you all attend the same school during the day?” Jett cut in, his tone filled with sincere curiosity. “I haven’t seen Axel or Sage around.”
“Haunters don’t attend mortal school,” I explained. “It doesn’t end well. And all our other classmates from AOA attend schools closer to their homes. Sage lives in the UK, Gal lives in Brazil, Max in Italy…”
Jett blinked. “Whoa, seriously? Gal and Max speak English so well!”
“The beauty of private schools,” Lilly sighed.
“What school did you go to before this?” Helena asked the werewolf, surprising me. Someone’s coming out of her shell.
“Summerville K through twelve. Feels like I was there all my life.”
“It kind of sucks that you had to leave,” said Finn. “Have you kept in touch with your friends?”
“For the most part,” Jett shrugged. “Though my step dad thinks I shouldn’t.”
“Your stepdad sounds like he sucks,” Gunnar sighed. “That’s Zander’s dad, right? Do you and Zan get along?”
“Not, uh, not really,” he admitted. Jett shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “He hasn’t been a dick or anything like that. He’s just crazy distant.”
I thought back to how close Val and I seemed after I told her how I felt. It’s only been less than a day, but I already feel like I know her better. I cleared my throat. “Maybe he doesn’t know how to relate to you. Have you tried asking him to hang out?”
Jett reached behind his head and scratched at his curls. “Actually, I haven’t. I don’t know what he likes or dislikes, so I’ve been hesitant to come up with anything.”
“You should invite him to do something you like,” Lilly said between bites. “That way, you learn something new about each other, and at least you have fun while you do it.”
“That’s a good idea, I’ll consider it.”
“My ideas are always good ones,” muttered Lilly, before adding at a louder volume. “And why’d you guys follow me here, anyway? Don’t you have people to hang out with?”
“My darling sister, don’t you want to spend time with your big brother?” Gunnar asked in the worst British accent I’ve ever heard.
Lilly scoffed. “Like I don’t get enough of you at home? What, are you and Camille fighting again?”
Her brother frowned. “We haven’t been fighting. Why? Did you hear something?”
“Only the sound of your insecurities,” Lilly grinned and stuck her tongue out at Gunnar, who grimaced in disgust and dug into his own meal. There was a sadness in his hazel eyes that I couldn’t place–and before I knew it, I had my hand on his arm. When he met my eyes questioningly, I swallowed hard.
“Camille will come around.”
Gunnar grinned. “Are you trying to make me feel better, Car?”
“Maybe,” I grumbled stubbornly.
“Careful, Car–if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you’re flirting with me.” Then he leaned in close and loudly whispered: “Except I do know better, and I know you prefer red-headed vamps.”
Warmth spread across my face as I wrenched my hand away and resumed eating. Am I that obvious?