AN: Enjoy! xx
Chapter Seven: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
After Victoria had finished applying her daily coat of lip gloss the next morning, she moved to where her sleek silver laptop sat on her desk and logged in. There was a new email sitting in her inbox. She smiled.
Re: Biology Project
Don't worry about a thing! We've gotten your bio project out the safe. Why is it in there anyway? It looked like it would fall apart any minute, so we wrapped it up extra tight. It should reach you by tomorrow. Next time remember to bring all-important homework projects WITH you!
Victoria grimaced slightly. Her parents were the only people who still called her Vicky, a remnant of those dark days when she had been plain old Vicky Fallon, wider than she was tall. She automatically looked at the mirror to ensure she still retained her perfect hourglass shape and typed out a response.
Thanks, Mom. Love you too. Vicky xxx
She clicked send. To her irritation the browser seemed to be uncharacteristically slow, pondering the action for several minutes, before finally getting rid of the email.
Tomorrow. The Book would be here tomorrow. Victoria stood up and brushed some non-existent dust off her skirt, then walked out of the door.
Electra Kahn swore colourfully to her herself as she yanked her maths textbook out of her locker. She'd been halfway to her classroom, perfectly on time, before realising she'd left the vital book behind. Then her lock had jammed and refused to open no matter how many times she entered the combination and spun the dial. She'd finally had to resort to bringing the caretaker in so he could pry the door open.
Now it couldn't lock so Electra hurriedly emptied anything of value or incriminating into her pockets. There wasn't much; a plain Tiffany's bracelet her brother Ore had sent her, a packet of cigarettes and a water bottle filled with tequila. She emptied the tequila into one of the sinks in the bathroom nearby. The cigarettes went into the inside pocket of her blazer where the lighter also resided. Thus prepared, she hitched her Burberry bag higher on her shoulder and ran at full speed to maths.
Mr Parker was going to kill her.
Electra slowed down. She was already late; might as well miss more of the lesson while she was at it. She briefly considered going out for a smoke but remembered what she'd found the last time she'd done that.
Then she heard the screaming.
She instantly made a U-turn into the corridor the hastily stifled sound had come from. Monterrey was a very old school, and there were rooms and passageways no longer used. Those were lit only dimly by the bulbs overhead unlike the rest of the school. It might have been creepy, if it wasn't for the fact that the corridor really was too bright and wide to be eerie.
Electra stopped dead when she saw who had made the scream.
Carter Wainwright was on the floor, surrounded by a group of three or four boys. She recognised some of them vaguely. Grant Bitters, wasn't it? And wasn't that Jake Rowley from the football team? Her mouth dropped open in horror when she saw what they were doing to him. Without considering her own safety she marched forward and roared, "STOP!"
They stopped, more from shock than anything else. Electra's chest was heaving in anger as she looked down at Carter on the floor. He was curled in a ball, nose pouring blood, one eye swollen shut. The rest of his face was in shadow. He had been getting beaten up bad.
She suddenly realised it was a very good thing that she'd come when she had.
The one Electra had recognised as Grant Bitters spoke first. "Leave now, Kahn, unless you want to join Wainwright here on the floor."
"I'm not leaving," she barked. "What the hell are you doing to him?"
"He deserves it," someone else said.
"What could he possibly have done to deserve this?" she demanded.
Grant tilted his head, finger tapping chin in mock thought. "Oh, I don't know," he said. "Maybe… fuck my ex-girlfriend while I was still going out with her? And for no good reason too, it turns out!"
"What does that mean?" Electra pressed as the boys laughed.
"He's a fucking queer," Grant answered. "You honestly don't know? Here, take a look." He tapped something on his BlackBerry and showed her. Her breath caught at the image.
Okay, now she understood. But still –
"I want you to go, now," she ordered harshly. "I give you ten seconds to make a run for it."
Grant raised an eyebrow. "You threatening us, little girl?"
In her heeled boots she reached his forehead, but that wasn't the point. "Yeah, I am, loser. So fuck off, yeah?"
He stood toe-to-toe to her, looking down at her face. "Hear that, boys? The little bitch is threatening us. Maybe if we taught her a lesson…"
"You lay a finger on me and the Geek Clique will have your heads," Electra said. There it was, her ace in the hole. She knew the kind of power those girls had over the student population, whatever terrible thing they'd done to earn it, and hoped it would be enough.
It would have to be. She didn't want her Nephilim blood showing up to off a few human boys.
Grant stepped back, looking conflicted. "You're lying. Who says you're anything to the Geek Clique? They pick you up and they string you along, and other people's lives are no more than a game to them."
It was similar to what her roommate Cadence and other people had warned her about, and Electra wondered what on earth the Geek Clique had done to warrant that.
"Not mine," she said confidently. "I'm in with them more than you think. They see me with so much as a paper cut, you're dead meat." After all, she was special. She knew about the Unbound.
Jake Rowley spoke up. "Best not to risk it, man. Let's go."
Grant hesitated, looking at her, then swore on an exhale and slumped his shoulders. "Fine." As he left, he shot her a look that told her plainly all the things he'd like to do her if he wasn't so scared of a certain group of girls. She smiled sweetly and flipped him the bird.
When they had sloped off Electra knelt down beside the prone boy on the floor.
An unintelligible groan.
Suddenly he flipped upward and was standing vertical so fast she jumped back in surprise. His face clearly showed the bruising that would look absolutely wicked in a few hours. He was panting heavily, holding a sleeve to his leaking nose.
She frowned. Something about him looked… off.
After a moment she had it pinned. Hadn't she seen Carter Wainwright with his signature emerald eyes in the Facebook picture? But that couldn't be right. Because here he was, right in front of her, his irises so black they seemed to be sucking in all the light available.
Like a black hole, she thought, resisting the impulse to scratch at her shoulder blades. She remembered the wings that had sprouted when she had been fighting Danny and hoped the same thing wasn't about to happen. Maybe he was just wearing contacts or something. She was overthinking this.
Carter was still staring at her blankly. It was seriously unnerving, and Electra shifted in place.
"Well, if you're fine, then I'll just go – "
"You," he said. His voice was low and controlled. Not the rasp she'd expected of someone who'd just been beaten half to death. "You're friends with the Geek Clique, aren't you?
So he'd heard that. Electra realised he hadn't blinked once throughout the whole exchange and her sense that something was wrong about this situation grew. "Uh, yeah," she answered hesitantly. "I guess so."
He nodded. "I thought you were."
After that he fell silent, seemingly content to watch her increasing urge to run. She finally gave into it and gave him an insincere smile, not looking at him directly.
"Well, I have to go now. I'm hideously late for maths. Parker's going to kill me," she babbled. Electra instantly regretted her choice of words when a hungry light leaped into his eyes. "So, um, see you around!"
She took off without waiting for an answer. All the way down the corridor she could feel his eyes boring into her, and only stopped when she was out of sight. Then she leaned against a wall and slid down to the bottom to catch her breath.
Maybe Carter Wainwright had been possessed or something. That would cover it. Electra stood back up, and prepared for a week's worth of detentions.
The Geek Clique had to hear about this.
Their phones all buzzed at exactly the same time, halfway through lunch.
Sandrine pulled hers out first because really, the rule about no phones in the canteen so did not apply to them. She unlocked the iPhone with a swipe and saw she had a new text message. The sender made her eyebrows raise.
"Oh, it's her," Victoria muttered. "What has she got to say now?"
The texts were all identical.
Can you guys meet me in the library by the Romantic Suspense fiction rack in five minutes? There's something urgent I need to tell you about CW.
"CW?" Victoria questioned.
"Carter Wainwright," Imogene clarified. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go."
They rose as one and walked smoothly out of the canteen. The corridors were mostly deserted, most people busy eating, and they reached the library two floors up in exactly three minutes.
Sandrine loved the library. It was as big and well-stocked as one would expect the Monterrey School of Boarding library to be, with a row of computer terminals and tables, armchairs and beanbags scattered haphazardly throughout. Dusty sunlight filtered in through the high arched windows. It was so quiet, people speaking in muted words, like it was separate from the rest of the world.
Imogene jabbed her elbow into Sandrine's side, effectively stopping her inner monologue on all the finer points of the library.
"There she is," Victoria whispered.
Electra Kahn was hovering by the Romantic Suspense books. Sandrine wedged herself into the narrow gap between two shelves first.
"Alright, spit it out," she said. "What is it?"
Electra took a deep fortifying breath – because they could still scare her, even now – and said in a rush of air, "IthinkCarterWainwighthasbeen possessed."
"What the hell?" Imogene stared.
Victoria raised a sardonically impressed eyebrow. "That was fast. I never knew the human tongue could work at such speeds."
"I think Carter Wainwright has been possessed," Electra repeated slowly. "Or cursed, or spelled on, or something. It's the only reason I can think of."
"Reason for what?" Sandrine enquired.
"His eyes. I stopped him getting pounded by Grant Bitters and Co. this morning and when he looked at me his eyes were all… weird." She paused, trying to find the right words to describe it. "His irises were really big and black. Like they were taking over the whites or something. And he wouldn't blink. I swear, they were just like black holes, dragging everything in."
Electra missed the sudden sharp intakes of breath the Geek Clique performed simultaneously, but she caught the way Sandrine's eyes flicked to the other two.
"Do you know what that means?" she asked hopefully. After all, Sandrine had been the nicest and most forthcoming with her.
But Sandrine had seen Victoria's tiny head-shake, so she shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, but no. We've never heard of changing eye colour before. You probably just imagined it."
Electra drooped. "But I'm pretty sure I – Look! Over there!"
Imogene twisted as much as she could in the limited space available. Sure enough, Carter Wainwright was standing at the librarian's desk, borrowing a book on Jesse James. She wriggled out.
"I'll go have a look," she volunteered. Picking up the nearest book, she made a beeline for the desk and queued behind him. To Imogene's irritation his head was faced resolutely forward. She tapped his shoulder and put on her best smirk.
"Hey there, Wainwright. How's that boyfriend of yours?"
He snapped his head around so fast she was surprised his neck hadn't broken. She noticed his grip on his book tightening, knuckles turning white. But his face was devoid of emotion.
Yet Imogene, master of the poker face, saw the rage brimming in the depths of his eyes – brilliant green eyes, famous throughout school for their clarity, and currently ringed with black.
She smiled at him and nodded. "See you around, Wainwright. Maybe I'll walk in on another illicit tryst, eh?" She walked away, deliberately sashaying her hips. The others were waiting for her.
"Well?" Electra said eagerly.
"Sorry, kiddo," Imogene said lazily, "but his eyes are as green as they've ever been. You sure you've been drinking eight cups of water a day?"
"Of course," Electra snapped, then realised the tone of voice she'd said it in and clapped a hand over her mouth. "Uh, I mean, yeah. It's okay. Don't worry about it." She left, walking dejectedly out of the library.
When she had gone Victoria rounded on Imogene. "So what did you really see? Was it green?"
"Yeah, but there was black around the edges," she said. "What do you reckon that means?"
Sandrine rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "Than had black eyes."
"Than was an Unbound Being, something Wainwright most certainly is not," Victoria retorted.
"He might not be an Unbound Being," Imogene said, "but what if he's been contracted by one? Entered a Deal with them for revenge against me? I could tell he was pretty angry I'd double-crossed him." She laughed easily, not in the least concerned.
"Our eyes never turned black," Sandrine pointed out. "So clearly, he's different. We have to wait until the Book comes tomorrow so we know what he is… and how best to get information out of him. We'll also have to wait for the Book for a Reveal."
Victoria looked confused. "A Reveal?"
"I saw it the last time I flipped through the Book," Sandrine said. "A Reveal will tell us who the last person to do an action was. If we did it on Dee's necklace, it could tell us who took her. It works by magnetising the traces of Unbound on a surface, then when a solution of blood and vinegar is added, it depletes the magical resources within – "
Imogene yawned exaggeratedly. "Back to Wainwright. What do we do about him?"
"Set Electra on his trail?" Sandrine suggested.
Victoria shook her head. "We can't. She might find out something we don't want her to."
"It'll have to be one of us then," Imogene concluded. "But none of can be spared – we'll have enough work to do with the Reveal and getting the blood."
"Wainwright will have to be left free for now then," Victoria said. "He hasn't done anything too bad yet. Come now, the bell's about to ring."
She swept out of the library, the other two girls trailing along in her wake. A pair of black eyes watched them go.