Chapter 1: Change of Tides
My parents were downstairs making breakfast again. It was pretty obvious due to their laughter and the clinking of the pots and pans. I glanced at my alarm clock, my vision still blurry. It was just half past six. Rolling over, I fell back into my slumber. Mornings were the bane of my life. It wasn't just weekday mornings; school wasn't the reason why I hated them so much. My body simply didn't react well to waking up too early.
My mother, Mrs. Monica Gessner, knocked gently on the door.
"I'm awake." I groaned as I tried to sit up, though my body inevitably tumbled back down onto the bed.
She pushed the door slightly open. 'Jane sweetie, it's time for school." Her voice was perky and high-pitched, which sounded nothing like mine—it had a mellower tone. Sometimes I wondered if we were truly related, my parents were very different from me. My features were sharper and finer than their rounded faces. Even our hairs were colored differently. I had long wavy jet black hair, while they were brunettes.
It puzzled me greatly but whenever I asked them about it, they would reaffirm that I was a hundred percent theirs. Others weren't so kind though— people gossip. "Haven't you heard? She's adopted." That's what they all said in school.
"Hmmm," I mumbled as I readied myself to get up; my eyes were still closed. My mother was waiting patiently. I threw my sheets to my side, paused, before taking in a deep breath. Why do mornings have to suck so much? It needed forever but I finally managed to seat myself up. My eyelids were half-open. "I'm awake," I said again. But my mind was still clouded.
"Get ready quickly then you can nap in the car later okay? Your dad made pancakes." My dad made pancakes every day. I was entirely sick of it and was short of telling my mother off, but I couldn't hurt their feelings, they were such lovely people.
I gave her a faint smile. "Okay mom," I said as I steadied my dizzy head. She smiled back at me before leaving my room.
Slowly I made my way to my wardrobe. I picked up a dress and shrugged it on, not bothering how it looked like. They all looked the same; decorated with grandmother lace and old-fashioned flowery textiles. Grandma sent all my clothing to me. Her terrible taste obviously influenced her sewing. Not that it mattered—those people at school would gawk at me regardless of what I wore. Besides, it was really nice of her to send them to me. Each one of them must have required a lot of effort.
I scowled at myself when I glanced at the mirror. My mother told me that I had a beautiful face, but I looked at my eyes with disgust. Perhaps it was their odd sea-green color or my pale face that made everyone not like me. Monster. I shook my head. No, it wasn't my appearance. I just didn't want to accept that I did all those things before. I could hurt people… easily. Angrily I faced the mirror down, not wanting to look at myself.
Breakfast tasted like the usual. Pancakes again. I picked on my food. Never was I a big eater anyway.
I was a small town girl, living in a sub-urban sprawl with houses never getting any taller than two stories. Everybody knew everybody in Whiterly Oaks. They sure knew me, and definitely all those rumors about me. Half of them were true. I tapped my fingers on the leather seat as my mother drove through the town.
"Thanks mom," I kissed her cheek and waved her goodbye when I reached school. As part of the daily routine, my mother hugged me and wished me luck before driving off. I gave her the best fake smile I had. Whatever. I kicked a can on the sidewalk and tucked my hands into the pockets Grandma sewed in. I'm never lucky at school.
As I walked through the halls, people parted as if I were Moses walking through the Red Sea; just that instead of making me feel great and powerful, I felt like a disgusting piece of garbage that nobody wanted to touch. I tried to get used to their stares and whispers, but it was something that was impossible to get used to. I walked past them with a hunch, trying to guard myself from their onslaughts of gossip. Some of my schoolmates backed off slightly when I flashed them a foul look. I hate them.
My first class that day was algebra. Math was my worst subject, but I still could get an A in it, though I would much rather prefer sitting in a literature class. All my schoolmates always gossiped about my good grades - they say I cheat.
Ms. Scott, our teacher, strolled casually into the classroom. She was stoic, like most math teachers. I furrowed my brows when I saw the guy that followed her in. He wasn't from around here, a new student most likely. He was good looking, though I didn't pay much attention; I went back to reading my notes after I saw him. The only thing that stood out to me was his black hair, because it was similar to mine. The other students were more interested in him however. They started chattering more loudly when he entered, no doubt sizing him up or having some bimbo talk about his "hotness".
"Attention students," Ms. Scott said. Her tone was always reprimanding. It was because of that stuck-up personality of hers. "We have someone new joining us today."
The new guy didn't smile or say hi, just nodded. He narrowed his eyes and scanned the classroom for something; quirky fellow. Some of the girls sighed when his gaze met theirs. Is he really that good looking? I was about to look down, but then I froze— his eyes were staring straight into mine.
I let out an inaudible gasp. What the hell? I just froze. I didn't like guys like him; most of the good looking ones always thought that they were all that and treated everyone like trash. So why do I feel so attracted to him? The new guy then smirked, and I nearly thought that I stopped breathing. My cheeks flushed. I looked down quickly, hiding my face.
"Why don't you introduce yourself," Ms. Scott said, sounding very impatient. She was definitely annoyed by the long silence.
"Jason Hearth," he replied. It seemed like he was brushing her off from the tone of his voice.
"Well, Mr. Hearth, why don't you take that seat behind Ms. Gessner over there?" Behind me! My body tensed when he moved past me. I kept my eyes focused on the desk, not wanting to exchange glances with him once more.
Just minutes after he took his seat, there was a tap on my shoulder.
"Yes?" I turned around and hissed. I didn't intend to sound harsh, but this guy was getting me really agitated, not that I knew why. He was making me feel so weird.
"May I borrow a pen? I seem to have forgotten my pencil case." I gaped at him rudely. Now that I had a closer look at him I could see his eyes clearly—breathtaking. They were glowing silver, with a tinge of violet around his irises. Glowing. Do these kinds of eyes even exist? Then I thought about my own.
"Well can I?" His smooth, dark voice broke me out of my trance; I was ashamed to find myself staring.
"Sorry?" I asked, absent-mindedly. I must have looked like a complete fool.
"I need a pen; do you have one darling?" Darling? Who said that he could be this familiar with me? I tried to mask my anger.
"Oh yes, sure, right, a pen." I quickly passed him my blue gel pen before turning back around.
Algebra was a pain. I knew all the equations and rules Mrs. Lee was talking about rather well. What irked me was the man that was sitting behind me. It could have been my imagination, but throughout the whole lesson I felt his eyes burning into my back. It was a feeling that was incredibly difficult to shake off.
I turned around again and scowled at him. "Will you please stop that?"
I bit my lip and glared at him silently, having nothing to say. Accusing him of staring at me would be weird, since I didn't actually see him do it, but that stomach churning feeling I had assured me that he most probably was.
"It's nothing," I said. Then I turned back around and tried to pay attention to algebra. I was having an urge to scold the man behind me. I steeled my resolve to look ahead, afraid to make a mockery out of myself once more.
At the end of class I hurriedly packed my belongings and walked swiftly towards the door, wanting to avoid the new 'Jason' guy. Unfortunately he was able to keep up with me very easily.
He bent down closer and whispered into my ear. "Come with me for lunch."
"Who the hell wants to have lunch with y—"
"I insist," he said, grabbing a hold of my hand before I could refuse. This guy was acting like he owned me, and I only met him just an hour ago!
As he walked me toward the canteen I felt the stares of others glaring into my soul, mostly girls. They hated me for being next to him, as if it was against the social law that I had somebody to accompany me. I don't even want him holding my hand, he's a total jerk. I rolled my eyes at them, sickened by how childish the girls were acting.
"Sit," he commanded, pushing me down onto the seat. "I'll get something for us to eat, don't move."
"You're not my father."
He patted my back. "Just wait here." He walked to one of the food stalls.
He must be stupid if he thinks that I'm going to listen to him that easily. I threw my schoolbag over my shoulder and got up, ready to walk to my usual table.
I was about to take a step forward when a hand pulled me back. "I said wait." It was Jason's voice. I looked behind me and saw him towering over me; he was just a few centimeters away.
"How did you…" He was at least thirty meters away from us just a minute ago. How did he get here so fast? "You were right there," I said, pointing at the spot where he was just standing.
"You must be imagining things; I was right next to you darling."
"Stop calling me darling."
He shrugged. "Are you going to sit and wait or what?"
Jason was such a pushover. "Fine," I said, letting my bag flop onto the floor.
He smiled. "Good girl." Then, he lifted my hand to his lips and placed a gentle peck on it.
I gasped, and then blushed. "I'm not a girl," I said, trying to sound as annoyed as I could. But my words sounded more like a whine. "Go get me my food." I needed some space, my heart felt like it was going to explode.
The man laughed. It sounded like music to my ears. "Yes my Lady." He stalked away and I waited as promised. His back was muscular and strong, it looked dependable. Though, there was a menacing air around him which I tried to push it away. It made me feel queasy but I was sure that it was simply because of him acting like a jerk.
As I was admiring him Kayla walked up to me. She was a tall brunette that was an eye-stunner because of her large bosom and chest. Apparently being attractive gave her the right to boss everyone in school around.
"Looks like you finally have a friend," Kayla said. She had an obnoxious smirk on her face and her hands were crossed.
"I'm not his friend."
Her face fell. "You were ogling him."
I stood up. She was still taller than me but I was sure that I looked more menacing. "Have a problem with that?" Does she want her behind on fire? She knows what I've done to people before.
She took a step toward me. "Stay away from what's mine."
"Yours?" I scoffed at her. "You haven't even talked to him yet." Slowly, a burning sensation crept into my hand. I'm going to smash her face.
I looked around us and noticed that the other students were all looking at us now, eagerly wanting to see what happens. Jason was holding a tray of food and standing a few meters away from us. He's not coming here to help? What a jerk.
"Oh he will be mine," Kayla said. "He'll like me cause' I'm awesome and you're a monster."
The burning sensation increased when I heard the word 'monster'. "I dare you to say that again."
She grinned. "It's no secret. Everybody hates you because you're a monster. You burn kittens and cute little bunnies because it's fun."
"I do not," I said. She was provoking me.
"You can't hide it forever."
I glared at her. "Shut up."
"Hate me? Don't worry I hate you too monster."
I could imagine her groveling on the floor and begging for forgiveness.
She continued, as if she hadn't tormented me enough. "You're an ugly little monster of a bitc—"
And right then, I clenched my fists and her hair erupted in flames. She screamed and patted her hair frantically.
She fell onto the floor, thrashing around to no avail. "Oh my god, make it stop!" All around the canteen was thrown into chaos. Some students fled the scene while others tried to rush to Kayla's side, only to stop when they didn't dare get any closer to the raging fire.
I stood there speechless, clueless about what to do. My feet were nailed in place. "Murderer!" some shouted, although that was entirely false since I've never killed anybody. It seemed like Kayla could just be my very first victim.
"I didn't want to do this again," I mumbled; nobody heard me. "I'm so sorry." I knew that I had to bend down to help but shock overwhelmed me.
"You should be the one burning!" said another person.
Tears started to streak down my face. "I'm sorry, so sorry." My apology was drowned out by the screams of both Kayla and the other students.
What did I do to deserve this terrible power?
"Enough!" A loud voice thundered over the chaos, and everyone turned toward its owner. It was Jason. He calmly pushed past the crowd and made his way to me. Then, with a swish of his hand, the fire was extinguished. Kayla was still screaming on the floor, covered with fear and panic. "It is over," he said.
I stood there, still filled with shock.
Jason placed both his hands on my shoulders. "Jane I want you to go to our next class now."
"What? That's crazy they're going to want to interrogate—"
"Just go I'll take care of this."
"No they'll punish me more if I flee."
"Listen to me."
I frowned at him. "No."
I looked at him like he was mad. "Okay fine I'll go."
He nodded his head and released me. I picked up my bags and left, but not before looking at the chaos I created. Kayla was lying still on the floor. Her eyes were wide open, her chest still moving. Thank god, she's still alive. Nobody dared to let me come close to them. The students moved away from me as I walked past.
I had expected terrified faces and a teacher sending me to the principal's office when I entered biology class, but everybody acted normally. Word had not travelled. My classmates were laughing at jokes they made and chatting away. There were a few people that were gossiping about me. It was made obvious through the way they were sizing me down; but it was nothing different from the usual. What's going on?
I walked to my seat and sat down, all the while looking around suspiciously. I'm supposed to be in trouble right now. But still, nothing happened.
Moments later Jason strolled into the classroom and the teacher made him introduce himself again. The girls sighed at his attractiveness once more. He walked over to the seat behind me and sat down. Why is he always sitting right behind me?
"What did you just do?" I asked; I was dying to know what was going on.
He shook his head. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Stop playing with me Jason, you said that you'd handle it." Who was Jason really?
"Nothing much." He winked at me. "Just played some of my charm on the students."
"Don't kid with me. The last time this happened, they made the police come here and they dragged me away for interrogation."
"There was a last time?"
He was trying to change the subject. "I don't want to talk about it," I said.
He leaned towards me. "Tell me more, I'm interested."
"Then you should tell me about what you did."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Does he think that I'm a five year old? "How did you make everyone… not react?"
"Ms. Gressner!" The teacher's voice boomed over our whispers. I immediately turned back around. My biology teacher, Mrs. Bailey, was an old woman with her hair turning white. Age hadn't reduced her ability to shout one bit.
"Yes Mam?" I said.
"What form of respiration occurs at the mitochondrial cristae?" she asked. Her arms were crossed and she looked at me with her piercing gaze. Oh crap I totally forgot. I bit my lip and fidgeted my hands, feeling like a prey that was about to be eaten.
"Oxidative phosphorylation," Jason said. I breathed out a large sigh of relief. He saved me.
"It wasn't your question Mr. Hearth," Mrs. Bailey said. "Pay attention next time Jane." She looked into her textbook and resumed droning about respiration.
"Thank you," I said.
"No problem," Jason replied. "But we can't talk here."
"Tell me how you did that."
Jason raised a brow and shifted his gaze to Mrs. Bailey. "You want to be questioned again?"
I bit my lip. "No, but I really want to find out what happened."
He sighed. "Fine I'll tell you."
I smiled. "Really?"
"But not now, if you go on a date with me tomorrow, I'll tell you how."
I considered his offer. A date with this jerk? "Okay, I'll go." It was just a date…
Jason grinned. "Good, meet you tomorrow at your house."
"You know where I live?"
"Text me your address," he said. He scribbled something on a piece of paper and passed it to me. It was his number. I didn't want to give him all of my personal information but whatever. Knowing how he made everyone act so normal was more important.
"I will," I murmured. Then, I faced the front and paid attention to class. Respiration was so boring. I tapped my pen on the desk; excitement and uncertainty were building up in my chest.