Sleep that night came blissfully easy and I was able to enjoy an undisturbed, dreamless slumber. I woke up Saturday morning feeling wonderfully…. Sore. Sore, I felt sore. The run to and around the school along being tossed around like a ragdoll by Snow had left a fair share of bruises on my body. Sleeping on the couch instead of my far more comfortable bed probably didn't help much either.

Still, I was no longer on a route and that was enough to make the pain worth it.

I decided to start the morning, well more specifically afternoon, with a full breakfast. I was halfway through the preparation when my phone went off. I glanced at the screen as I absentmindedly flipped the bacon over before it started to burn.

I've always preferred my bacon a little chewy. Not much of a fan of cooking it crispy.

The number displayed by the caller ID was not a number at all, just a single X. I frowned and reached over the counter to ignore the call.

Probably a spam number or something.

Continuing on cooking I was slightly surprised when the phone rang again, the X appearing on the screen.

I ignored it again.

It rang a third time. Again I reached over to press the red button, but before my finger could touch the screen the call answered itself. I hesitated for a moment as the phone switched to speakerphone and someone began to speak.

"Asher, please pick up the phone."

Ah… Shit.

Turning off the burners I took a moment co compose myself before picking up the phone and placing it to my ear.

"Hello, Ms. Thorne."

"Hello Asher. It seems something is wrong with your phone. I had a terribly difficult time getting through to you. It's almost like changed your phone number."

That would have been because I had. I didn't need to tell her that though, not that it mattered munch.

"Ah, must have been entered in wrong."

"I'm sure… And why did I have to call you three times to get an answer?"

"I'm sorry. I was making breakfast."

"It's lunch time. Don't tell me you just woke up."

"Okay. I did not just wake up."

Soft laughter filled my ear.

"You don't have to be such a smartass. I am just calling to check in on you, nothing else."

I was not convinced.


"Cross my heart."

I smiled despite myself.

"Swear to die?"

"I'd really rather not, if it's all the same to you."

"That's fair."

"Wonderful. The how have you been doing Asher? It has been a while."

That was a loaded question and I thought about it for a moment. I had cleared all current routes, but there was still the matter of a certain Vampire that had yet to make her intentions entirely clear. Still…

"Fine, I guess."

"Not a very encouraging answer. Well how is your school going?"

I struggled to answer that question as well.

"School is… school."

"That is not an answer."

"It's different than what I was expecting."

"How so?"

"The student council is more involved than they are supposed to be, I think."

"Isn't that a good thing?"

In my opinion no, but I'm sure some people liked it.

"Depends who you ask."

"Is that all?"

"The clubs are kind of… Intense. Their recruiting efforts were interesting."

"I didn't think you were the type to join a club."

"It wasn't really a choice."

"Well, I did send you to a rather prodigious institution. I supposed it makes sense. Though it was the only one within walking distance from your home. You made it clear that time of travel to school and a grocery store were the two most important things."

That was true. I had no intention of relying on a bus to get to school. While they were an excellent source of transportation, they also served as their own little world. A world run by students and that was trouble that I had no interest in.

"I know."

She let out a thoughtful sound.

"Perhaps you would have been better off in a regular public school. The sudden switch may have been more jarring than I anticipated. If you'd like I could look into having you transferred. It's not too far in the year, yet. If transportation is an issue I could always have something arranged."

I shook my head. While changing schools could possibly alleviate some of my current issues, it could also create something completely new and maybe worse. Better to stay and work through the familiar than venture out into the unknown. Besides, I was already into a large enough debt to her as it were.

"No, I'm okay."

"Are you sure?"


"Well if you are sure. So, are you at least making friends alright?"

Felicity, Snow, Harlow, Emi, Violet, and a whole host of other troublesome entities flashed through my mind.

"You could say that."

"But you wouldn't, isn't that right?"


She sighed heavily.

"Descriptive as always. It would do you well to be a little more expressive, a little friendlier. Maybe smile sometimes. "

"I'll try."

"You're a terrible liar."

I didn't necessarily agree with that, but it was true to the extent that I had never successfully lied to her. She had an unnerving ability to see the truth, even if no one else could. I suppose that's why she was so good at her job.

There was a lull in the conversation and I found a question slipping over my lips before I could stop it.

"How is he?"

Ms. Thorn hesitated, if only for a moment.

"He is doing quite well."

I did not press her for more information. She wouldn't be able to give me anymore than what she had. Honestly, she wasn't even supposed to tell me what little she had. That was the agreement I had made.

"That's… That's good to know. Thank you."

The conversation lulled again, but there was really nothing more to say. Ms. Thorn knew it as well.

"Well Asher, I will call again to check in on you in the future. Please consider answering next time. And don't change you number again. It creates an annoyance for me."

"I won't. Good bye, ma'am."

The line clicked silent and I put the phone back down on the counter. Silently I finished cooking breakfast, but somewhere along the way my appetite had died.

I ended up throwing the food away and going back to sleep.

I didn't leave the house again until Monday morning.