As I expected, no one believed me the next day at school. They said I'd either heard some ballsy coyotes who were daring enough to come right up to our well-lit lawn, or that I was hallucinating from my massive blood loss.
I didn't bother wasting my breath by arguing. When the Big Bad Wolf came along to show them what big teeth he had, he could rip their faces off for all I cared.
It was third period and I was in study hall, working on my homework from Shakespeare Lit and Geometry. I was beat and had been relatively quiet all morning, so Jynxx sat down next to me warily with a public display of friendliness that I honestly never would have expected. "What's buggin' ya, Kaysh?"
I sighed and shook my head a little, resting my chin on my hand. "I'm exhausted because a small wolf pack kept me up all night with their howling. And everyone seems to believe me to be too retarded to know the difference between coyote and wolf noises."
Jynxx cocked an eyebrow in reply. "The two breeds don't sound even remotely similar."
"Thank you! I've lived out on Maple Lane, essentially in the middle of the woods, my entire life. I know what a damn coyote sounds like, and these were definitely not it."
He nodded. "But wolves aren't native to the area…" Jynxx seemed to ponder for a moment. "Maybe it's some adolescents passing through. They were old enough to get kicked out of their packs and are forming their own."
"Yeah, but groups of male wolves don't usually travel together. It's like this weirdo masculine dominance power struggle thing."
Jynxx shrugged. "Maybe they've already established a power structure amongst themselves. Probably just looking for territory of their own. And maybe mates," he added, almost as an afterthought.
"But if there aren't usually male wolves in the area, there likely aren't lady wolves either." I retorted.
"Could be some weird environmental factors pushing them out of their natural habitat higher up into the mountains, even."
I nodded. "Maybe," I sighed, letting my head drop onto the table. "This is such a shitty day... I'm exhausted and I just want to go home." I looked to Jynxx with a sparkle of hope in my eyes. "Knock me over again so I can go to the hospital this time and leave school early?"
Jynxx laughed like it was the funniest thing the kid had ever heard. "You're not serious, Kacea."
I sat up, straightening my back. "I believe, sir that you underestimate how badly I don't friggin' want to be here right now..."
He patted my head with a little smirk. "Keep dreaming, Kaysh. I never hit girls on purpose. But sometimes I'm just a big lummox and I crash into them, anyway."
I snickered at his comment and punched him lightly on the arm, shaking out my fingers since it felt like I whacked a brick wall with it. "Yeah, you are kind of clumsy for a guy who's in such good shape..." I teased.
He half frowned. "Well, screw you too!" And then he proceeded to tickle me until I was afraid I was going to wet myself and it was hard to breathe. After me writhing and squirming about, giggling madly for what seemed like an eternity, he finally stopped and I gasped to regain my breath.
"Holy Jesus..." I wheezed, hunching forward and holding onto my sides. "I think that was a better workout than gym class." I coughed and laughed at the same time. Hell must have frozen over, because I never would have pegged him as the tickling type.
Jynxx gave me a smile then, one full of heat and dark things that my mind didn't even want to bother attempting to process. "You have no idea how awesome of a workout I can be..."
Humor faded from me then, and my pulse pounded wildly in my ears. It roared so loudly that I was almost certain Jynxx would be able to hear it. His dark eyes gazed deeply into mine and he leaned in closer. So close that the scent of his cologne seemed like it would cling to my clothes and stay with me always. The cacophony of sounds in the lunchroom faded, becoming muffled and quiet so that everything was gone but the frantic racing of my pulse.
As I looked into his eyes, with the sheer heat radiating off of him prickling my skin, their color changed. A flash for the briefest of seconds. So quick that I must have imagined it, his eyes went from a glossy black to a predatory amber, then reverted back to normal.
It was so sudden that it must not have really happened, but it startled me badly enough to make me jerk backwards. In my infinite wisdom, my body moved so quickly that I tottered and was about to fall right off the back of the bench. Jynxx's reflexes were quicker and his hand shot out in a blur to catch me, his big hand wrapping around my wrist and hoisting me back into an upright seated position like I weighed nothing.
I shook my head with a nervous laugh, making a point of avoiding eye contact with him for a few moments. "Never a dull moment with you around, is there Jynxxie?"
"Oh, God... Please don't call me that." He groaned.
I raised a brow questioningly. "Why not?"
"Because that's what Gavin calls me. Like I'm a pretty lady or a little kid who needs some dorky ass nickname." He rolled his eyes, clearly not a fan of the childishly diminutive moniker.
The mere mention of Gavin made the heat in my body instantly cool, my blood running cold at the thought of the dark promises and threats that dwelled within his artificially red eyes. What the hell kind of guy always wore red contacts anyway? Certainly not a good guy, that's who.
Aloud I said, "Ah, I see. At least my name doesn't really leave room for retarded nicknames. 'Kaysh' is about the only way to abbreviate me."
He snorted lightly, his arms crossed over his chest and a hilarious pout was on his lips. "Lucky you, Kacea."
Our little pow-wow was interrupted by Tarren coming over and taking a seat across from us. "How's the arm doing, Kaysh? I heard Sir Meathead over here banged you up pretty badly yesterday."
I couldn't contain my laughter at his horrendously bad phrasing. When I could breathe again, the stitch in my side growing worse and worse the more I laughed, I said: "Tarren... Could you have possibly strung together a more horrible sentence?"
"What do you..." He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Pervert," was his reply.
I shrugged. "What can I say? It takes talent, luv." I winked, mimicking his British accent.
"Oi... What the hell, Kacea."
I shrugged. "Sorry, Tarren. Being a repressed hentai is just how I roll." Jynxx laughed, and I was momentarily shocked. He'd actually gotten my reference to humorous perversion usually displayed in Japanese anime. Which could only mean that he was secretly a fan as well.
I dramatically pointed at him with an accusatory finger. "You're a closet otaku!"
Jynxx hung his head in shame, all that pretty black hair falling forward to cover his face. "Dear God, don't tell anyone..."
I laughed and clapped him on the back. "No need to worry and hide. You're among fellow losers and nerds here, my friend." That made me realize something. "The other guys in your band, the ones you introduced me to when I was at work the other night… They don't go to our school. Teigan's graduated obviously, but what do the others do for classes, if they're our age?"
Jynxx pondered it over briefly. "Kenshin's still a senior over at Savage, but Conner and Gavin dropped out last year and got their G.E.D.s. They both have jobs, but they're still trying to figure out whether or not they want to go off to college when everyone else does next fall."
Tarren nodded. "Good that they're considering getting more useful degrees."
"Where do they work?" I asked, suddenly curious about what two seventeen year olds could be doing that would give them full-time employment.
"Conner works at a garage, so he's the one to go to if you ever have any issues with that beat-up monster car of yours. Gav's been working construction lately, but he worked at a gas station before that. He pretty much works where he wants until he gets bored with it, then he moves on to something else random." Jynxx shrugged. "As long as he's paying his part of the mortgage, I'm sure the other guys don't care."
"Mortgage? What did they do, all buy a house together?"
He nodded. "I'm in on it, too. We worked our asses off to have it and fix it up, but it's pretty nice."
I was very careful with the phrasing of my next question. "What about their parents? Did they get kicked out because they chose to become productive members of society rather than being babysat by the public school system and learning nothing useful five days a week?"
He tilted his head to the side slightly, almost like a dog does when you ask them a question and they're trying to process what you've said. "Gavin's parents kicked him out because he's an asshole. Conner's kicked him out because he got into a … really bad fight. Kenshin still stays at his family's house sometimes. And Teig… He's kind of like the house mother. Go figure," he laughed, and I couldn't help joining in, glad to be off the touchy subject.
Then something struck me. Just a moment ago Jynxx had said that Kenshin was going to Savage... "Wait a minute," I put in, now that my brain seemed to have regained its normal level of functionality. "Savage Academy? The place with the uniforms and all that nonsense? If the four of them went there, why didn't you?"
Jynxx laughed. "Yes, Savage Academy. With the fancy ass uniforms and the shiny shoes. We did all grow up together, but my parents' house is right on the line between the two districts. My parents didn't want me to be in a uniformed environment, and they honestly couldn't afford for me to go to a prep school." He shrugged. "Oberon Public High School was a much more financially accessible option for me and Jimmy, my little brother."
I nodded my understanding. "My parents could have sent me to Savage, but I begged them not to. I wasn't born into money, so I've never really gotten along all that well with the other well-to-do kids in our area." I laughed as a memory resurfaced, and it was hilarious enough that I decided to share it with the boys. "I remember when I was younger, seven or eight, and Mom was trying to get me to 'socialize' with this other ritzy family's son. The little chubby pervert chased me down and tried to kiss me, so the kick-boxing lessons Dad had insisted I take kicked in instinctively and... I totally pummeled the little porker." I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye and sighed, shaking my head. "Broke his nose in two places and bent his wrist the wrong way. He learned not to mess with me ever again."
"And your parents decided that a snobby prep school wasn't a good idea?" Tarren put in, barely able to control his sniggering.
I shrugged. "Mom still wanted to push for it, but she's always been the status whore. Dad could've given a shit less about which school I went to, as long as I showed up and got good grades."
"That's really the way it should be," Tarren put in. "Mum and Dad moved us Stateside because people aren't very tolerant of those who are different." He ran fingers lightly through his fashionably long and espresso dark curls nonchalantly, his honey colored eyes giving away how much it really bothered him. "They learned rather quickly that even a fat checkbook doesn't buy the tolerance of the ignorant. A few of the prep schools here had about the same result… An early reason for some brats to get a nose job after I rearranged their faces for them."
The three of us laughed and I couldn't help smiling in spite of my bad mood. Then I caught Tarren nodding at someone behind me and a familiar smell assaulted my nose at the same second an icy moisture was pressed to the back of my neck. A squeak escaped me involuntarily and I reached backwards, grabbing the chilly bottle of soda and hitting a set of abs I knew all too well with a back fist. As the breath whooshed from his lungs I simultaneously set the soda down and reached higher, grabbing a fistful of hoody at chest level and tugging hard so his chin almost slammed into my shoulder.
"I've killed people for less, Raul…" I half-growled, earning nothing but his laughter in return. Tarren was only slightly put off, but Jynxx seemed much more disturbed by my ninja skills and Raul's total disregard for my threats of permanent damage to his body. Raul's next move set both of the other boys into hysterics as he slurped the entire side of my face with his tongue, jumping back out of my grip as I made a disgusted noise and swung for him again blindly. He sat down beside me with a grin on his lightly freckled face and I narrowed my eyes at him icily, wiping the slime from my face with the cuff of my own sweatshirt.
"Mornin', Kaysh!" the redhead gushed, and I couldn't help getting caught up in the infectious mirth in those emerald green eyes of his.
"Douchebag…" I murmured affectionately, giving him a bone crushing hug and not letting him squirm away when I licked his face in return.
"Morning, Raul." Tarren smirked, trying not to laugh.
I let him go and we called a non-verbal truce. "I could have destroyed your hair, ya know. But I didn't do it. I was nice." I added the last with a grin.
"Pfffft," he waved it off like it was nothing. He leaned back in his chair slightly, folding his hands behind his head. "Your tongue could have much better uses."
"Perv!" I gasped, slapping his chest as he laughed again. Raul and I had been friends since we were in diapers, so we were creepily close and not close all at the same time.
"Whaaaat?" he held up his hands innocently. "We do have anatomy class together and all."
"Yeah, anatomy class. We're not five and playing doctor anymore, butthead." I covered my mouth with my hands, surprised I'd let it slip.
Tarren smirked again, arching a perfectly waxed brow. "…Anymore, eh?"
As I sputtered for a response that wouldn't dig the hole deeper, Taylea and Mia came to my rescue, the blonde giving Jynxx a wary look that made me curious. Everyone engaged in casual chitchat about potentially trying out for sports teams this year, and clubs, and all that other trivial school nonsense until the bell rang.
The rest of the day was washed away in a sea of normal activity. So normal that it was almost boring. Little did I know that, before the school year was out, I'd be begging on hands and knees for everything to be mundane and uneventful again.
Notes: Thanks to all the new readers! I wish some more of you would leave me reviews! I'm very pleased with the progress so far, and using this month of Camp NaNoWriMo to do revisions/rewriting is working out quite well! I'm hoping to have this draft complete by summer's end, and be looking into publishing of some sort (even if it's only digital) this fall.
On that note: for anyone who reads eBooks, what do you think is a reasonable price for an eBook? Remember that the authors put a lot of time and effort into kicking out stories, so be reasonable. While they're not expensive to make like actual bound books, they still take work. So, $1, $2, $3? An average paperback is between $6 and $7. I think $3 for a novel-length eBook is decent, personally.