"It's the most wonderful time of the-"
"Jeez, Mr. Natal," Jess said, standing on stage in her queen costume. "What crawled up you ass and died?"
"Jessica…." Mr. Natal's voice was warning.
"Okay, I'll shut up."
We were at the brink of the first of December and opening night was on the sixteenth. The problem was not that the cast was forgetting their lines; the problem was we were forgetting our actions. Tory would "accidentally" stab Kevin, I would walk into tables or chairs, and some random people would be out of place causing someone else to mess up. Mr. Natal had to bite his tongue so he wouldn't swear at us as often.
Zach, Rider, and Seth executed their parts with precision and grace, making everyone jealous because Mr. Natal never got mad at them.
Besides the stage direction malfunctions everything was great. The costumes were the best. Zach, Rider, and Seth wore all black breeches, knee high riding boots, white, long sleeve shirts that buttoned at the wrists with high collars that buttoned all the way up. The vests were also black and the long coats they wore were black. I thought it would look very disturbing, but when Zach stood next to Jess in her white ball gown, it was an amazingly elegant contrast.
Jess's costumes were long gowns. She had three: black, white, and dark red. They all had an assortment of ribbons on them and the fell to the ground. The gowns were the type Queen Elizabeth wore and Jess wore a powdered wig along with it. Tory and I were forced to wear ball gowns like Jess's in the ballroom scene. Her dress was baby blue with a robin's egg blue trim and another shade of blue lace that looped around her dress. My dress was emerald green with a white petty coat that showed through a front slit; my dress was not bowed or laced. Our dresses fell from our shoulders like Jess's and didn't have any sleeves. I liked the fencing uniform better that consisted of a simple pair of tan breeches, a white, loose button up shirt that flowed past the hands, and black slender boots with short, slim heels.
Everyone else wore peasant clothes, the few girls chosen to be ladies in waiting wore plain, nice dresses, the knights wore armor or noble clothes, the sorcerer wore a long purple robe and white beard, and so on.
"I swear, Leonard, if you touch my ass one more time-"
"Jessica," Mr. Natal yelled.
"He's touching me inappropriately!"
"Kevin, move away from her! Now! Actually, just go to the dean."
Yay! Kevin is gone!
"Odette, someone wants to talk to you," Mr. Natal said.
"I didn't do it, whatever they say, I'm innocent," I shouted, wide eyed.
Mr. Natal gave me a bored expression and told me to get my "self-condemning" behind of stage before I admit to some secret murder or something. I slowly did as I was told. The funny thing was that I didn't even know where I was going or if I was even in trouble.
"Am I in trouble," I asked, shyly avoiding Mr. Natal's eyes.
"No," he answered without looking up, "and stop acting so timid. We both know your nothing like that. There's someone waiting in the hall for you."
I wasn't sure I wanted to know who was outside. After all the strange encounters with people in malls, parks, stores… public restrooms, I didn't think it was safe to be Zach's girlfriend. It might not have even been worth it.
Without giving my safety another thought I kicked open the theatre doors to see who was in dire need of my presence.
At first I thought the hallway was empty, but after the second glance I noticed a man standing at the end of the hall. He was tall and had light brown hair cut short and styled neatly. He noticed me standing, staring at him and made his way over. I then realized the light blue color of his eyes and how they resembled my dad's. His walk was similar, too.
"Hi," he greeted. When I didn't answer he continued. "You must be, Odette."
I continued to stare at him and not answer.
"I haven't seen you since you were a little girl."
"You've grown up."
It was then I realized he had an accent; a familiar accent that I only heard with my mother. An accent that made itself present in me when I was upset.
"Are you French," I finally asked.
"Yes," he said, giving me a quizzical look. "Odette, you don't know who I am?"
I scoffed. "I haven't the slightest idea who you are."
He shook his head slightly, eyes flashing a shade of grey, before turning back to face me.
"I'm your uncle."
My jaw dropped. "No you're not. All my uncles are blonde and you're no blonde. Besides, I would know who you were."
"I'm Jack's brother."
I stiffened at the name. No one I knew used that name, not even my mother. It was like a lost relic in time that had no chance of resurfacing with the same meaning. I scarcely heard my dad's name anymore.
"My dad didn't have siblings," I told the stranger, now possible family.
"We were half-brothers; same father, different mother. My mom died, and you know how it goes."
There was no way this man could be my uncle, although he did remind me of my dad… only in appearance though. He seemed to know I still doubted him, so he reached into his coat pocket for something. At first I considered running, just incase he was a lunatic or something, but then I saw part of a gold chain, then an entire necklace. The necklace had a pendant on it; a tiny ballet dancer in a white tutu on point, enveloped in a clear glass ball. I recognized it immediately.
"How did you get that," I question eagerly, reaching for the necklace. He pulled it just out of reach.
"Your father gave it to me to give to you when he died. You weren't allowed to see him, so he entrusted me with it, but your mother kept you away from me. That bitch…"
I stared again at him in awe. He just called my mother a bitch… well.
"I'm sorry," he apologized, "a slip of the tongue."
"Don't be," I shook my head with a smile. "You nailed her."
He handed me the necklace, his fingers brushing softly against mine. Not in a sexual way, but more affectionate, to show me he was there to care and love me.
"My name is Jeremy, by the way."
"Uncle Jeremy," I sighed, twisting the beautiful necklace in my hand. "Funny thing is, I actually remember my mom saying something about a Jeremy after the funeral when I was supposed to be in bed. She called you a "good for nothing bastard" and you needed to stay away from me. I never really understood her."
Jeremy smirked at me, his eyes turning cold at my mother's repeated words. "She hates me."
I shrugged. Just then the auditorium doors opened and students started to spill out of the dark, large room. My friends found me; Zach was the first one to say something. He surprised me.
We (Jeremy and I) looked at Zach. Jeremy was the first to speak. "Hey, Zach. How are you?"
"You know each other," I asked in disbelief.
"Yeah," Zach answered me, "he's my cousin."
I froze and the first thought in my mind was…
"It's not incest, my darling nièce." I gave my uncle a sidelong glance; he continued on. "I'm related to Zach by around three marriages and through a few cousins. There's no blood relationship with us."
"We're distant cousins," Zach added.
I nodded my head. Uh huh. Honestly I don't know what to say.
"You're related to Zach," Seth snickered. I had forgotten the whole gang was still there.
"Shut up," Tory scolded.
"Isn't that incest," Jake asked.
"What part of distant don't you understand? And they're separated by four marriages because this guy and Odette's dad are brothers, plus the marriages he's separated by," Jess said. I didn't think she was listening.
"Not to mention," Jeremy added, "Zach is related to my mother's side of the family, not your dad's. It's more distant than you think."
This is just crazy. People just don't pop out of nowhere claiming to be your uncle, and then say that they're related- no matter how far the connection is- to your boyfriend and start talking like you knew the whole time. Grant it I remember his name from when I was a kid and the necklace, but he's a stranger! But he does look like my dad and… he's kind of cute… Okay that was gross.
"EARTH TO ODETTE," Jess was shouting in my ear.
I glared at her. I can hear you…
"You think they're crazy," Rider stated, slinging his arm around my shoulder. "Don't worry I do, too."
Tory suddenly jerked Seth's arm and gave Jess a look. "We have to get going," she announced. "We have to finish shopping for things for the group party tonight."
"What," I asked. "Why was I not invited?"
"Because," Jess started, "you're going to a sexy photo shoot with your boyfriend."
I blushed. It wasn't going to be sexy… hopefully… not. I glanced at Zach. I can't be alone with him… with his shirt off.
Jake's voice broke threw my thoughts. "And anyway you'll be there tonight. We didn't forget you."
The grouped walked off down the hall leaving my uncle, Zach, and I in the deserted after school hallway.
"Before you go, Odette," Jeremy said, grabbing my hand. "There is another reason I came to visit you. I think we should get together and talk sometime. All of us." At those words he looked at Zach, who was now staring at the ground.
"Okay," I agreed.
"See you two later. Behave yourselves."
"So we're not going to talk about it."
Zach and I were sitting in his car outside of a tall building with a glass foyer. We had just finished the photo shoot, which was pretty fun. No one had to take off any shirts in front of the camera. In fact Zach and I both wore plain white t-shirts, deep blue jeans, and black and white converse. It had been nice and "intimate."
Now we were sitting in the car. Upset at one another. We weren't arguing. We were having a friendly dispute.
"Why can't we talk about it," I yelled.
Okay so I was being difficult.
"We already had this conversation!"
"Not this one!"
"Odette, you'll find out about it later," Zach told me, starting the car.
"Right," I muttered. "And then Wulf will be there to pick up the pieces."
It became deathly silent in the car.
"What did you say?"
I felt my heart start beating ten times it's humanly rate. "Nothing."
"You said something."
"Zach just leave it
"You said something about Wulf. What does that asshole have to do with this conversation?"
"Why don't you go run off with him." My heart constricted. "Just like Hannah did."
That was unexpected. His ranting about Wulf was expected, but Hannah… I was in no way like that girl- as far as I knew- and would never do what she did.
The whole car ride over to Jake's house was quiet until the last few miles.
"Zach, I'm sorry," I said quietly.
He mumbled something under his breath.
"What was that?"
"It's okay," he muttered. He's voice cracked a little. It was too dark to see his face, but from the sound of his voice I would have bet he was crying.
When we pulled in front of Jake's house everyone was inside, with the cars parked in the large, gated driveway. I jumped out of the car before Zach and made sure I could see his face. I was right, he had been crying. Not like a baby, but enough to see the streaks.
"Zach." I placed my hand on the side of his face, wiping some of the streaks away. "Hey look, I said I was sorry. I'm not upset anymore. And Wulf is a weird-stalker jerk." At that I felt Zach's cheek rise. He was smiling, just a little, but it was still a smile. "I love you Zach and I really mean it. We're probably going to argue a lot, but the best of couples argue."
"I love you, too. I'm just afraid… afraid of some stuff. Some stupid stuff."
I kissed his cheek, slowly moving my kiss over to his mouth. He kissed me back, softly pulling me against him. He was perfect. Except for his secrets…
"Do you two want to stand outside in the cold all night or come have some fun with your pals," Seth asked, coming towards us from the house.
Zach and I broke apart, walking up the steps towards the house. Inside the music was turned up and the television was on. An assortment of food was laid out on the long dining room table: chips, salsa, cheese dip, meat, things for sandwiches, three different types of cake, a small freezer with ice cream in it, jelly bellies, chocolates, sour candies, and sodas in a cooler.
Everyone was playing Twister in the adjoining room to the food. Rach and Jake were fighting for a circle; Rach was currently winning. Jess and Brent were kissing while playing the game, something I would never understand. Amber, Tory, and Rider had decided to orchestrate the whole game and were laughing at everyone's situation.
"Bodies aren't the only things playing Twister in here," Zach said, glancing at Jess and Brent. "Getting enough action, Brent?"
"Oh, yeah," Brent mumbled contently against Jess's lips.
We spent a few hours playing games and eating food before settling down to watch a movie. It was a comedy romance film that ended with the two people living happily ever after, the kind of romance that never, or rarely, happens in real life. I watched Zach during the movie, silently watching the side of his mouth quirk up at funny moments, listening to his laugh, watching his chest rise and fall.
Again I am freaking myself out. Great.
"So," Rach said, yawning during the ending credits, "anyone wanna go get some donuts and coffee?"
Tory stretched out while Seth wrapped his arms around her waist. "Sure," she said. "Let's get more fattening food."
"What time is it," Rider asked.
"About one o'clock in the morning," Zach said staring at his watch.
"Let's go gets some coffee and donuts, maybe some other sweets, and head back here for some quality time together. Without music or television."
We all agreed to the plan and the guys left, equipped with a list of what to get and a phone (boys forget everything), and the girls cleaned up the party stuff. After we finished we sat up the living room and took a seat, waiting for the boys to get back.
Like we expected, the boys took twice as long because they had lost the list of food and didn't want to lose any of their manly pride by calling the girls. They were so ridiculous.
We were now sitting on the floor in an uneven circle attempting to pop M&Ms into each other's mouths. Seth was a vacuum… actually a black hole. He went through half a bag off the huge sacks of candy and was still going. Luckily the guys had gotten five bags of the stuff so we wouldn't be out the yummy goodies.
"Okay," Jess said, shoving Seth over so he missed the airborne M&M. "Let's play a game…"
"No," we all said in unison.
Seth set back up. "Because it'll probably be Truth or Dare. That game always gets heated."
I shook my head and started to stand up. No way was I going to play that game. "Why can't we just do something civil? Like charades or backgammon?"
They all stared at me. Ugh.
"Come on, Odette, and play the game," Zach begged.
Zach was so unfair. He sat against the couch with his legs extended and the left crossed over the right. His arms were opened and extended out to me, beckoning me towards him with a gorgeous smirk. I think he knew he affected me.
"Fine," I muttered, grabbing a hand full of M&Ms and sitting in his lap.
We started the terrible game of life and death. Of course it really wasn't about life or death but these games usually felt like it came down to it. At my boarding school in France we didn't meddle in games like this, not because we couldn't but because we knew better than to abuse the rules of a game to hurt someone's pride and integrity. And yes it was a coed.
"So… who to start off with," Jessica began. "Who to start off with…"
"Why don't we start off with you," Jake said.
"Well," Jess sighed.
"Bring it on."
First truth or dare is always the easiest. So naturally:
"Truth or Dare," Tory asked.
"Truth," Jess answered.
"Ask the frickn' question!"
There was a dramatic pause before: "Where's your tattoo?"
I raised my eyebrow.
"It's on my… ugh come on!"
"Left or right," I asked.
"OH," Everyone exclaimed.
"Where is it," Zach asked. "Chest or ass?"
"Zach," I muttered, "shut up."
"Answer the question, Jessica. This was your idea," Amber stated.
"Chest," Jess mumbled angrily.
"What is it?"
We laughed and moved around the circle. No one took a dare, but in my opinion truth was more embarrassing.
"Okay, Odette, your turn."
I stopped stuffing my face full chocolaty goodness to look at my insane friends. They were all looking at me expectantly. Great…
"So because you're the newest best friend," Jess started, "you get only one choice."
"Wait, wait, wait," I yelled, jumping off of Zach's lap. "No way. I know what my choice will be and I know what you will dare me to do!"
Zach stood up. "Hey, Odette, maybe we should just get you're turn over with so we can continue." I just glared at him. "Please," he begged wrapping his arms around me. You must be joking!
Two seconds later Jess was saying, "You're dare is to-" smirk.
"Hold it!" Tory cleared her voice before continuing, "Let's keeping it PG13."
I swallowed. It's going to be a kiss… duh.
Jess rolled her eyes dramatically, "I dare you to go up to the attic."
Everyone stared. Okay…
"Are you stupid," Tory asked.
"The attic," I muttered. "Wow."
"It's scary," Jess defended herself.
"She is stupid," we all said in unison.
"It's a dare! Go do it!"
I stood slowly staring at the entrance form the large living room into the dark abyss of the hallway that lead to the creaky, dark, demented, stairs that lead to another dark, scary hallway… okay you get the picture. I didn't really want to do this dare, because it was a stupid dare. I walked away from the lights and everyone in the room into the empty hallway. I didn't turn around to see if anyone was going to follow me.
The faster I do this the faster it's over.
The dare wasn't bad. When I reached the attic it was pretty cool… until my stupid friends locked me up there. I hadn't even realized they had followed me. The little stinks.
"Okay," I said after five minutes of panic, "let me go now."
"This is not cool!"
And… shocker! More silence.
There was a window that I was contemplating braking to escape. It was dark and, I wasn't a wimp, but the room was pretty scary, now that I was conveniently locked in it. There were old toys and things covered in sheets and layers of dust coating the white, ghostly linen. The floorboards didn't squeak or creak, but the sound of every step I made echoed through the small, closed in space.
I wasn't about to continue to yell and shout in a weak attempt at begging to get out. So instead I decided to sit by the one window, which was also coated in dust, and quietly count until they let me out. About ten minutes past and nothing happened. It wasn't until I started to fall asleep did something happen.
I focused my eyes to see nothing.
I did the same thing again before closing my eyes.
"Odette, don't be like that."
This time I opened my eyes and stood up, glancing around the room. I was scared at first before I realized that it could just be my "friends" trying to scare me.
"Okay guys this isn't funny," I said, loud and clear. "I'm not scared."
"I wouldn't want you to be," the voice responded. I actually didn't sound like any of my friends. Although it did sound familiar…
"Okay this really isn't funny at all," I whispered more to myself.
"It's not funny, I agree," the voice responded, behind me now and a little closer.
I took a step forward, tripping on the corner of a large chest. Honestly, what did Jake's family do with all this stuff? Anyway, whomever the voice belonged to grabbed me before I hit the floor.
"Watch your step," he said.
Okay… I think I identified the voice.
"Hush," he ordered me, covering my mouth. "I thought we had already been through this. I don't want to hold your mouth again. You tend to drool a bit."
I shoved the hand away from my mouth. "I do not."
"You did the last time," he shot back, wrapping his hand around my mouth again. "Oh, and I'm not a stalker or murderer or whatever you think I am… and don't say you weren't thinking it."
Freak, I thought desperately.
"You promise not to scream," he asked.
I nodded my head.
I nodded again.
I didn't even nodded. I just kind of gave the darkness in front of me a dull stare.
"Well do you," he asked sharply, shaking me slightly.
I nodded quickly mumbling "yes" into his hand.
He slowly removed his hand from my mouth and I turned to face him in the darkness. It was definitely the same guy who was in my bedroom the time I was sick. One eye was red, one eye violet, and skin porcelain. He was a little taller than me, about two inches maybe. I couldn't tell anything else about him because the room was too dark.
I opened my mouth to say something and he clapped his hand back over my mouth.
"You promised you wouldn't scream," he whined. I realized he had an accent.
I threw is hand off. "I wasn't you idiot."
"Well, then what were you going to do?"
"Ask you your stupid name."
"Oh. My name's Remy."
I smiled. "Seems you already know my name."
"You're not scared?"
"If you wanted to kill me or something you would have already done it."
Remy was quiet for a few moments before saying, "Okay."
"So how do you know my name," I asked him.
"My dad told me."
I waited a seconded. "And how does he know me?"
"He's your uncle."
I stared at Remy for a while. "My uncle?"
No way. I froze. "My Uncle Jeremy. Are you serious! You're his kid? I can't believe this! Wait… how did you get up here?"
This time it wasn't Remy yelling my name; it was Zach.
"Odette," Zach continued, "you can come down now. The idiots were holding me captive so I couldn't come and get you… Remy?"
"Hey, Zach," Remy greeted.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"That's what I wanted to know," I added. "And how did you get here?"
Remy swallowed. "Well, I just wanted to see you. And I ran here."
"And how did you get inside the house," I asked.
"Odette," Zach warned.
"I crept in through the window," Remy told us.
"But the window is practically three stories up," I stated.
"Well, I'm kinda…" He trailed off before swallowing hard. "I can do stuff like that."
"… The… truth?"
"Um… I'm something like a… vampire."
I laughed. Hard.
"Odette, he's serious," Zach said.
"How would you know?"
"Because I'm one, too."
I stopped laughing and stared at their serious faces in the dark. I think I believed things to easily.
Oh yeah and… OH MY GOSH!!