"No way! That's awesome!" I laughed as Jynxx recounted a story of the days when he and the other four boys –who were apparently in his band- had briefly entertained the idea of running a backyard wrestling circuit.
"Yeah… The cheese grater didn't go over very well," he snickered. "Alain's still pissed about the fact that he has a scar on his back from it."
I smirked. "Boys do such stupid things."
"Yes. Yes we do. But it was all in good fun, and no one got seriously hurt, so everything's okay."
I scarfed the last of my grilled cheese sandwich, chugged the half of my strawberry lemonade that was left, and covered my mouth with a fist to cover a burp. We both laughed and Jynxx just shook his head.
"You know, for a spoiled little rich girl, you're alright, Kaysh."
I snorted. "Spoiled? Not hardly. My parents live at the bottom of a bottle five nights a week, I cook any meal that happens in our house, and I paid for my own car –for the most part. That thing's like my baby and my boyfriend all at once." I sucked on a piece of ice, mumbling around it, "When you've got an engine that purrs like that, who the hell needs boys?"
I was an expert subject-changer. My parents inherited money when my Dad's mother passed away. They used the money to get back on their feet, feet which had been so poor that they gave my newborn brother up for adoption not even two months before Gram died. I was too little to remember either of them, my brother or my grandmother, but I've never really forgiven my parents for it. The fact that our initial wealth came from the loss of two family members still turns my stomach.
We came into more money than my parents knew what to do with. Naturally, expensive alcohol and even more expensive cars were responsible for a large chunk of it being spent, to say nothing of the million dollars they spent on our house in the wealthiest part of the suburbs. They both ended up using that wealth to get very credible and lucrative careers, so that wealth could be maintained once they'd obtained it.
Jynxx's laugh made me smile. So natural, so pure… Not rehearsed like my mother's. "Your break's probably almost up by now, Kacea."
I glanced at my watch with a sigh. "I'll go ask Prince if I can duck out early, since they're only open two more hours." I motioned for him to stay put and picked my way through the dwindling crowd to the Viking lord.
Prince bowed his head to me slightly as I approached. He gave me a knowing, almost fatherly smirk. "You can duck out early tonight, kiddo. Go rest that arm of yours. Just make sure you clock out. You can make up the time in the kitchen or doing dishes, okay?"
"My thanks, milord!" I dropped a quick curtsy and went through the kitchen to the backroom, changing and clocking out before heading back up to collect Jynxx.
He chuckled a little and I raised an eyebrow questioningly. "You look like someone just lifted the weight of the world off your shoulders, Kacea."
I shrugged, the weight of the duffle bag on my shoulder making me cringe a little. "I'm a jeans and tee shirts kind of girl. Fancy duds really aren't my bag. Mom's the shopaholic." I smirked. "I could wear the same shirt for three days running as long as it didn't smell bad. If mom'd let me out of the house that way, that is…"
I led him to my car and we were driving when I had a sudden, moronic epiphany. "Uh… Where do you live, Jynxx?"
Jynxx laughed at me, and I couldn't really blame him. "I'll tell you how to get there."
He gave me directions as we drove. We ended up at this cute forest green house with a huge bay window in the front. Several other cars were parked in the driveway. He hopped out onto the gravel covered ground and leaned back into the car. "Thanks for the ride!"
"That's what she said," I replied promptly, causing both of us to laugh.
"I'll see you at school tomorrow, Kaysh."
I watched him walk into the house, thoroughly enjoying the view. As I finally drove off, I felt like something was missing. Like I should have kissed him goodbye or something. It was the weirdest damned thing, because Jynxx definitely didn't deserve that kind of familiarity yet. I shook my head, pushing the thought aside. I had a long ass day; I just wanted to go home and sleep.
"Holy shit!" I slammed on the brakes as something dashed across the road in front of me. Something huge and gray. I pulled over and hammered on the switch for my hazard lights, resting my forehead on the steering wheel and practicing deep meditative breathing for a few moments.
Maple Lane was a long, almost empty road with two houses on it aside from my own. I was almost home and very few cars came out this way, so I didn't know why I bothered with the lights. But with the way today had been going, better to be safe than sorry.
After taking a few moments to collect myself, I double-checked to make sure no one was coming either way before pulling back out onto the road. I was starting to wonder what I'd done to piss off Mother Nature. She sure as hell wasn't happy with me today.
The house was quiet when I pulled in. Mom and Dad were out God-knows-where drinking, but they'd left the living room light on for me. I locked all the doors behind me on my way in; again, better safe than sorry.
I turned on some obnoxiously loud and bouncy Japanese rock as I busied myself with the dishes. Good music isn't exclusive to English-speaking countries. The loud music made it so I wouldn't have to hear all the creaking, settling noises the house made at night. I'd rather have someone sneak up on me and shank me than be paranoid and jumping at every little sound I heard.
I'd been considering getting a pet, of late. Someone to keep me company so I wouldn't be totally by myself. Maybe not a dog, but I'd be content with a cat or even a chinchilla. Mom and Dad weren't much for pets, but they probably wouldn't even notice.
I heard something over the music and I instantly hit the mute button on the stereo remote. I waited in silence, listening for the anomaly again. When it came, it was the long mournful howl of a wolf, shortly echoed by three answering howls. And yes, it was wolves, not coyotes. I've lived by the woods my whole life, so I know the difference. Their lupine song, both haunting and beautiful, sent a chill down my spine.
Since when in the hell had there ever been wolves in Elm Valley, New York?
Notes: Thanks for the reviews so far! Be expecting many more rapid-fire updates to come soonly, since June's Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us. That means 50k (hopefully more) of updates in 30 days! Hope old fans like the changes, and new fans enjoy the story as it is!