RED

When sixteen year old Rowan Rose is forced to leave her beloved Ireland and move thousands of miles to America and the small town of Hobbes Well she triggers
a feud lain dormant for centuries. The Hunters are unleashed and boundaries between friends and enemies become blurred as all trust is lost.
Rowan finds herself drawn to bad boy Zayn....but is he ally or foe?

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2. Hope?

Desperately channelling invisibility, I pushed my way through the wall of kids headed towards the cafeteria and went to find my locker. After my star turn in Computer Science I was attracting far too many stares and pointing fingers. I needed peace and fresh air to collect my thoughts.  I’d fantasised many scenarios around my first day at an American High School, most of which included being propelled to most popular girl in school by lunchtime and none of which included being labelled a Boy Crazy Bad Ass.

  Worse was the message. I know. My stomach churned at thought of those two simple words, the implied threat they held, the possibility someone at school could know my secret. What did they intend to do with their knowledge? Of course, the message could’ve have been completely harmless, an unfortunate co-incidence, an incomplete sentence? All of those things? Nothing at all? Maybe I was being paranoid.  I hoped I was.

  'Her bark’s worse than her bite you know.’

  Startled, I turned to find the girl with the amazing curls from my computer science class.

  I studied the combination for my locker and said nothing. Under normal circumstances I would’ve jumped at the chance to get to know her - right now I just wanted her to leave me alone.

  ‘Underneath that evil ‘I drown kittens for kicks’ facade Old Spike’s a sweetie really.’
  My computer science textbook landed with a thud inside the locker. ‘Really? She hides it well.’

  The girl shrugged, ‘‘First day of term. You wait, next lesson it’ll be all group hugd friendship bracelets.’

  I smiled at the unlikely scenario.  Big mistake: the girl took this as an invitation to follow me out to the Quad and settle herself on the grass beside me.

  ‘Kat McKinley,’ she stretched out a languid hand in my direction. Kat’s fingernails were painted black and she’d scrawled the word Alltheist on her hand in blue marker. I had no idea what that meant but I shook the offered hand.

  ‘I’m...’

  ‘A Hobbes Well High record-breaker,’ an amused voice cut in behind us. ‘No need for introduction - Four red slips – must be the legendary Rowan Rose.’

  ‘Tyler!’ Kat squealed. ‘You made it.’

   Tyler - turned out to be the boy in the iconic Smiths T.Shirt from Computer science. Like Kat he also totally failed in picking up my signal of wanting to be left alone and stretched out on the grass beside us. 

  ‘Thought I’d come and meet the new school bad ass in person, before the whole school celebrity thing kicks in and Mallory Dell, evil dictator of Planet Plastic claims you for her own.’

  ‘I don’t think I’ll be teaming up with Mallory any time soon,’ I muttered.

  ‘The girl’s got taste,’ said Tyler. ‘I think we’ll keep you. Although, I have to say I am a little cross with you.’

  ‘Join the ever expanding list.’

  ‘You totally ruined my big plans for you Friday: The Grand Tour,’ he adopted a saccharine TV travel host accent. ‘Lido, Ice Rink, Slicketty Jim’s: the all-you-can-contract-salmonella- diner.  Hobbes Well – party capital of the Universe.’
  ‘That bad?’

  Kat pulled a face. ‘The worst - when they built this town, teenagers hadn’t been invented.’

  'So,’ said Tyler. ‘I’m imagining whatever bit of Ireland you’re from must really suck if your family moved here.’

  Homesickness gripped my heart as I thought of my beautiful hometown Dublin. After three days in the sultry climes of Hobbes Well I even missed the rain.  ‘Something like that’ I muttered grimly.

Pasting on a fake smile I trotted out the story Dad had made me rehearse to the point where I almost believed it myself.  ‘Dad’s a History Professor: research mostly. He transferred here as part of a university exchange.  We’re here for about a year.’

   ‘‘Wow. You’d do less time for a Class E felony. Probably have more fun too.  Your Aunt’s place is a little bit off the beaten track.’

  So. They thought Judith was my aunt – interesting. The surprise on my face didn’t go unnoticed but thankfully it was misinterpreted.

  ‘Small town,’ Kat winked.  ‘And your Aunt Judith is the doting type.’

  ‘How is the dancing going by the way?’ Tyler asked a small playing around his lips.

  I would obviously need to have words with doting ‘Aunt’ Judith.  ‘I haven’t danced in a while: ankle injury,’ I forced a wry smile. ‘But you do disappoint me. I’m surprised you didn’t know that already.’

   ‘What can I say?’ Tyler laughed. ‘Even the Omnipotent has off days.’

   ‘Bet you were upset leaving your school and all your friends behind,’ said Kat. 

   I thought of Orla and Maire, my oldest friends, friends who could barely look me in the eye by the time I left. It had hurt deeply that neither of them had come to the airport to say goodbye but I couldn't blame them really after what had happened.

  "We've promised to keep in touch online,' I lied smoothly.

  'Well, Hallelujah for the internet and whichever little British nerd invented it. I'd go crazy without it, the shopping in Hobbes Hell is beyond terrible,’ Kat pulled a face.  'Jesses Dresses' - the name tells you all you need to know.’

  ‘You’re so picky, Kat,’ Tyler eye’s were full of mischief. ‘It’s my favourite shop.’

  In spite of my glum mood I burst out laughing. I couldn't really remember the last time I'd laughed and it felt good. Kat and Tyler were so easy to get along with.  Despite the awful start to the day I began to feel the tiniest glimmer of hope about my exile to Hobbes Well.  The bell signalling the end of lunch rang all too soon and with promises to meet up later the three of us went our separate ways to our next class.

  I sensed it before I actually saw it, so in a way I should have been prepared, but the sight of it stuck so brazenly on the front of my locker still caused me to catch my breath. Fifteen small leaves arranged in pairs with a single leaf at the tip, the fruit of the rowan tree in all its scarlet glory.  Some cultures believed the rowan to have magical properties of protection against evil. 

I contemplated its autumn perfection for a few seconds before dropping the leaf to the floor and crushing it underfoot.  Whoever was threatening me would have to do a lot better than a few twigs and berries.

  I punched in my combination and took the books I needed for the next class.

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