"Hey, let's trade cellphone numbers. I might have to call you to talk to you about what happened," he said and took out a napkin and a pen. They were sitting together on a wooden bench outside of school. The groups of students slowly got less and less as the buses came to pick them up. The wind blew pleasantly reminding Layla that everything that was happening was real. It was an interesting first day of school.
She barely knew Matthew Nobles, but Layla felt closer to him than most of the people she met so far. It turned out he was as interesting as he looked. She was able to discover in the little time she met him that he was kind and easygoing. He seemed confident when the time called it, and she knew he would deny authority for what was right. But Layla could not always figure him out. There were times when Layla could sense some bitterness in Matthew. One thing was for sure though; he made her feel safe.
"I'm still wrapping my head around the demon dog," Layla admitted.
"More like a wolf on steroids. It was massive." He stretched his arms out to demonstrate the size.
"Yeah thanks," she said. "But what I can't understand is the disappearing and appearing trick it did. We must really be facing the supernatural here."
He clasped her shoulder. "I promise we'll find out why it attacked you. You're not in danger as long as I'm around anyways." Matthew mustered an admiring sigh. "I'm pretty cool. Did you see that hit to the head with the stapler? Dang. That was sweet."
Layla rolled her eyes. He couldn't be more full of himself. "Yeah, yeah, you're my hero. Happy?"
He dropped his hand when Rachel approached them. Layla grinned and waved.
"Layla! Who's this?" she asked. She made a quick sweeping gesture toward Matthew and eyed him approvingly.
"Oh. I'm Rachel," she said turning to him. "You better not hurt this girl okay? Layla's my best friend and you'll be the one talking to my fists if you ever ever break her heart. But I'm sure that won't happen since you seem like a nice guy. Right?"
Layla looked down embarrassed. "Rachel. We're not going out or anything."
Matthew was bemused. "You don't have to worry about Layla. And as much as I'd like to stay…" He stood up, showing his tall stature. The sun shined on his brown hair and made it golden. "My bus is here. I'll see you, Layla." Matthew's bright electric blue eyes lingered on her and then he left, leaving her pink in the cheeks.
Rachel replaced his spot and mouthed "Wow."
"He's a new friend of yours now?" She nudged Layla. "Nice going, sexy. He's A+ material. And you're blushing just so you know."
"I am?" Although Layla knew full well that she was.
He studied his father while standing nearby, focusing his eyes on nothing else but the still figure sitting on the living room couch. His father was Ethan Nobles, and the mysterious man has been the one to raise him when his mother had passed away. He always felt love for his father, the only one he truly trusted his whole life, but there was always an aloof and empty look on his face that Matthew didn't understand. Not that his father didn't smile or laugh occasionally, but more often than not, Matthew would see his dad's face without emotion. He never knew what his father was thinking either because of the mask. There was so much he didn't know about his father and so much he wouldn't tell him. When Matthew was younger, his mother died and ever since then he became sealed. He wouldn't talk about his mother or about things that Matthew wanted to know. It bugged him to death, but it was difficult to get past the concrete wall he put up.
The figure turned toward Matthew and his brown eyes showed the same love he had always shown since he was born. His father was still wearing his navy tie and suit pants from work. He looked just like him—beautiful as everyone said—but he was glad that he inherited his mother's eyes. Matthew had his father's sculpted jaw, his sharp nose, his lips, and his dark hair.
Ethan continued to stare at him, so Matthew broke the silence. "You're back, Dad."
Surprised, he answered back in his deep voice. "I am. I told you I would be. How was school?"
"Good." Matthew said and sat down next to his father. "I'm really happy you're back."
"Me too," Ethan responded in a tired whisper. His father turned on the television, his favorite past time, and they quietly watched.
It had always been like this since he could remember. They moved regularly from state to state because of his work. It wasn't the life he wanted and he never kept friends for long. When his dad went to work, he came back late at night or even until the next afternoon. Worse was the tired look on his face every time his father entered through the door. Matthew did not know what to think of the "big corporate job". What kind of job required such inconsistent hours?
"Dad," he started. Matthew shifted into a more comfortable position facing his father. "I need to talk to you about something."
Ethan noticed Matthew's urgent tone and turned off the TV.
"Shoot." he said.
Matthew took a deep breath. He spoke calmly as if speaking to a patient in a hospital. "Dad, something happened today that I can't exactly find an explanation for. There is this girl, Layla, and she was attacked in school today. I saw what attacked her, Dad. It wasn't a student or a teacher. It was a large black dog with red glowing eyes. I know what I saw and so did Layla, but it disappeared into thin air." He paused, swallowing. "Dad, I can hear what you say on the phone, and sometimes you talk about non-sense like demons. I know what I saw today. Are they real? Is this what I saw at school?"
Ethan remained expressionless and rigid. A few seconds turned into a minute yet he was still silent.
"Dad," Matthew said desperately, "tell me. Please."
Ethan exhaled and he turned his ominous eyes to his son, dread clearly evident.
"Demons are real Matt, but I never thought you would have to know."