Not What It Seems

So you think you know Vampires? Blood-suckers, stakes, garlic, only come out at night, sleep in coffins...
I can tell you now, you have no idea. They live amongst us, almost always going unnoticed, and you wouldn’t believe them if they stood in front of you and confessed to being a vampire - and I would know, trust me. They don’t even drink blood, for heaven’s sake!
All it took was two of these ‘vampires’ to change my life - completely and forever.

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2. Chapter 1

Chapter 1

 

April 2013

“Oh my god, have you seen the new boy?” Allie greets me as she dumps her lunch opposite me, sliding into the chair.

  “Not yet, but Hannah told me she had a new kid in her Chemistry class.”

  “Look, over there!” Allie points excitedly over my shoulder and I turn in my seat to look over the sea of people in the school cafe. A boy has just walked through the door and as soon as I see him, I realise what all the fuss is about. I’d tried to ignore Hannah’s rambling earlier when she’d been going on about hot his is, but I assumed she was exaggerating - it wouldn't be the first time.

  His dark, almost black, hair is ruffled as if he’s just gotten out of bed, but for him, it works. His dark blue jumper is rolled up at the sleeves, revealing muscular forearms. He grins at something someone says at it lights up his face. I notice the dimple that appears in his left check. Damn, I have a thing for boys with dimples. I hear Allie sigh wistfully.

  I turn to grin at her, eyebrows raised. “Someone’s got a crush.”

  “Yeah, but so has everyone else - that’s the problem.”

  I glance back at him, only to see exactly what she means. Next to the new boy is London Simpson, flipping her pitch hair over her shoulder and fluttering her eyelashes, heavey with mascara. I can’t help but roll my eyes. “Well, obviously he’s with the populars.” Would I ever expect anything less from the hot new guy?

  Allie sighs again, flipping a strand of red hair over her shoulder. “She’s fawning over him. I had to put up with it all through Art; all she did was flirt with him. I almost felt sorry for the poor guy. Almost being the key word.”

  I see him shoot London a wink and cringe at the scene. “Almost.” I agree. Maybe we would have had more sympathy if he hadn’t been flirting back. I watch as he brushes her hand with his and she practically swoons at his touch. I spin back around in my seat, unable to watch anymore without bring my lunch back up.

  “What’s his name?”

  “Xander.”

  “Oh, we’re talking about the new guy?” A new voice join the conversation as Tia sits herself next to me, looking sour faced. I don’t really blame her.

  Tia has tan skin, thick dark brown hair and hazel eyes that could melt chocolate – in other words, she looks almost identical to her twin sister. Yes, the one and only London Simpson, queen bee of the school, is the sister of quiet, unassuming Tia Simpson. Needless to say, they don’t get on.

  “He looks quiet cosy with your sister,” Points out Allie, forever oblivious to other people’s feelings.

  I roll my eyes, “Nice Allie, real sensitive.”

  “Ergh, I really wish I wasn’t related to her.”

  “On the bright side, if they get together, he might come round to yours more.” Allie’s green eyes light up with a sudden idea. “Oh my god, if he comes to your house, we have to be there!”

  I roll my eyes, “So we’re stalking him?”

  “Don’t pretend you don’t like the idea.” Allie smirks.

  “Why do all the hot boys have such bad taste?” complains Tia, talking a bite out of an apple.

  “Because all hot boys are jerks,” I inform her.

  “Willow!” Allie throws a crust from her pizza at me, but I duck and it soars over my head, hitting a kid on the head who brushes it off, shooting Allie an evil look, but she’s not paying any attention. “That is so not true!”

  I raise an eyebrow, “Name one popular boy who’s not a total idiot.”

  “Erm... James?”

  I laugh, “Remember that time he tripped Lucy up in the corridor?”

  “Oh right, yeah...”

  Tia agrees with me, “She got you there; they’re all idiots.”

  “Thank you Tia!” I high five her and Allie groans.

  “There must be some nice boys in this school.”

  “Hmm... what about Dan?”

   Allie chokes with her mouthful of hot chocolate, trying hard not to spill any. I laugh as her cheeks puff out with hot chocolate and she quickly swallows the scalding drink, coughing. “What? Why’d you bring this into it? I thought we’d agreed never to talk about him again?!”

  I try to stop my laughter, but Tia’s giggling sets me off again. “You’re face is priceless!” I point at Allie’s outraged expression and laugh harder.

  “It is not funny!” Allie protests, putting her hands on her hips, trying to look annoyed, but I can see the smile pulling at the corner of her mouth.

  “Allie, you broke up with him because he didn’t like coffee.”

  “And?” Allie glares at Tia, “Coffee is mans best invention. Just because this stupid school doesn’t sell it...”

  I roll my eyes at her much voiced complaint. “I still can’t believe you did that, you were the cutest couple ever – he was really upset afterwards you know.”
  “Are you trying to play the guilt card? ‘Coz it’s not going to work.”

  I’m about to make another jab at her about Dan, when we’re cut off by the sound of loud, familiar laughter. Two seconds later, London passes by our table – no prizes for guess who she’s with - laughing too loudly and very falsely at something Xander must have said. She shoots us a malicious look as she catches us watching them as if to tell us to back the hell off. She looks like she’s already staked a claim on him. It’s not as if anyone, especially not Xander, is going to object. Well, unless they want their head bitten off.

  Xander notices her look and glances over his shoulder. When he spots us he smiles again and, for the briefest moment, we make eye contact.

  Damn.

  I know right in this second that something is different. I might his eyes and it feels like we’re the only two people in the busy canteen. All I can see are his bright blue eyes, out eyes catch velcro. There’s something different in his eyes. Something I’ve never seen before. Something almost un-human. What ever it is I have the sudden urge to find out what it is. I want to know what makes him different. I want to know all his secrets. I want to-

  No, I cut myself off, you’re just reading into it. He’s just the new kid, so obviously you want to know about him – nothing strange about him.

  I tear my eyes away from his in time to see Allie send him a flirtatious wave. Beside me, Tia buries her face in her hands, hiding behind her curtain of black hair. She shakes her head, looking up at Allie, “Could you please not wind up my sister?”

  Allie shrugs, grinning unashamedly, “Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

  I can’t concentrate on their banter. I can feel Xander’s presence from across the room. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that I can feel his eye on my face, but I know better. Why would he be looking a boring old me? Especially with these two goddesses with me; they both look like they’ve stepped right out from the cover of a magazine. The only difference is that Tia remains ignorant to her looks, whereas Allie uses them to full boy-attracting effect.

  “He looks too nice to be a jerk.”

  Tia rolls her eyes, “You’ve just seen him walk past; you can’t know what he’s like. I mean, if he’s flilrting with my sister, I’d say he was a jerk.”

  Allie shakes her head. She hunches over, lets her hair fall to the side of her face, placing her cup in front of her. She swishes the remaining contents of her cup before placing it on the table, like a fortune teller reading tea leaves.

  “I see... I see... Xander!” Allie adopts a dramatic voice, and I laugh at her silliness.

  Tia plays along, “What? What do you see?”

  “It’s... it’s becoming clearer... yes! I see him on a date... he’s with... Willow!” She points a finger at me her eyes bulging, “Yes! Willow and Xander!”

  I shake my head and laugh, “As is!”

  Allie narrows her eyes, “You can’t argue with the power of the tea leaves.”

  “You haven’t got tea.” I point out, raising an eyebrow.

  She shrugs, dropping the act. “The power of the chocolate powder then, either way, you’re going on a date with him.”

  Tia laughs, “Well, Miss Allie has spoken.”

  “What makes you think I want to go on a date with him?” I say, suddenly defensive, crossing my arms over my chest.

  “Because you were soooo staring at him.”

  “No I wasn’t.” But I can feel my blush giving me away.

  “You so were.” Smirks Tia.

  Allie smirks knowingly and I turn my head away from her, only to find myself looking at Xander again. Allie takes my silence as conformation, smiling widely. “Yup, you’re a goner.”

 

*

 

All anyone could talk about for the rest of the day was Xander. All the girls in our year seem to have a crush on him, so obviously I’m not the only one – No! I do not have a crush on him, I’m just... interested. Yeah, I’m interested

  “What am I meant to do for eye candy?” Allie asks as we walk to last-period English.

  “What did you do for eye candy when he wasn’t here?” We’ve had this conversation so many times today that I know it by heart. So far Xander is in none of Allie’s classes, but he’s been in all my lessons and Allie’s jealous.

  “That’s different.”

  I raise an eyebrow, “How?”

  “Because I can’t miss something I never had.” She explains, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “It’s impossible to sit through lessons knowing that someone else is getting to stare at him and not me.”

  I shake my head, laughing, “You sound like an obsessed stalker - you know that, right?”

  “So sue me for staring at the hot new guy.”

  We enter the half full classroom full of students standing around before the teacher comes in. Allie leads us to out usual desk near the back and as I’m dragged along, I overhear other conversations just like ours;

  “OMG, I heard he’s from America – do you think he has an accent?”

  “No, he’s from Sweden or something?”

  “I think he has a brother.”

  “Is he as fit as Xander?”

  “Someone said they live down by the river.”

  “Yeah, my mum’s the Estate Agent; they bought the place on Hamilton.”

    Allie freezes as she hears the last comment. I walk straight into her back, stepping back and blinking in surprise. “Allie, what the he-”

  But she’s turned around, eyes shinning. “Hamilton!”

  “What are you on about-” I stop, suddenly realising where she’s going. “No! I swear to God if you make me do something stupid...”

  “Aw come on they need a welcoming party – who better than the girls across the street?”

  “I live across the street, not you.”

  Allie grins, undeterred by my reluctance, “Well, I practically live at your house anyway.”

  I sigh, knowing she isn’t going to let this go. “Fine, we’ll get Tia to bake some cookies.”

  “Oh my God, this is the best!” She squeals, but before she can make any more plans, Mr Tailor enters the room and calls for everyone to settle down.

   We’ve manage to sit down when I see the boy standing at the front of the class. The rest of the class seem to see him too because the girls around me, including Allie, who can barely contain her happiness, are grinning broadly and the boys groan. My mouth just drops open. What the hell? Is he stalking me or something? He’s in all of my classes – is that normal? I thought maybe in English I could escape, but no, he’s here as well.

  “Class, we have a new student with us today,” Mr Tailor turns to Xander, smiling, “Why don’t you introduce yourself.”

  I almost think, poor guy, but then I see him adjust his bag on his shoulder, looking casual, and I stop myself.

  “Er, I’m Xander, I turned seventeen in November and I’ve just moved from a small town in Cornwall with my older brother.”

  A hand shoots up in the class and Mr Tailor says, “Yes Charlene?”

  “Why do you have a Scottish accent?” She gushes, blushing deeply as she says it.

  Xander chuckles, “I lived in Scotland for a while when I was little, I sort of picked up the accent.”

  Charlene giggles in response. “Okay, take a seat at the back Xander.” Mr Tailor points to the spare desk behind me and Allie. Across the classroom, London glares at the girl next to her, as though if she hadn’t been there, Mr Tailor would have sat him next to her.

  “OMG, you have a thing for Scottish boys.” Allie whispers to me, without taking her eyes off Xander, making his way toward us.

  “Since when?” I deliberately don’t look up at him.

  She smiles widely at him as he sits behind us then looks at me, “That time you did that quiz, you said your favourite item of clothing was a kilt.”

  Okay, so I have a thing for Scottish boys, but I can’t help it, I love the accent. Not that I’m going to admit that now. “Allie! The options were a kilt, a cloak or a tweed jacket.”

  She shrugs in differently, “You still have a thing for Scots.”

  I glare at her, my eyes automatically flickering back to Xander to see if he’s listening. “Shut up, he might hear you!”

  “So?”

  “Right class,” Mr Tailor claps his hands to quieten the class, “we’re continuing with your essay notes. You should all have your own copies of the play, so I’ll let you get on.” His voice is lost in all the sudden chatter – and I’d bet that none of the conversations are about Romeo and Juliet.

  Mr Tailor approaches Xander as I pull out my books from my bag.

  “I wonder where his parents are.”  Allie muses, tapping her chin thoughtfully.

  “Maybe he doesn’t have any.” I suggest.

  She sends me a withering look, “Everyone has parents Willow, do you really want me to explain that to you?”

  I roll my eyes, “You know what I mean, maybe they,” I lower my voice, “maybe they’re dead.”

  “Willow?” I turn quickly at the sound of the teacher’s voice. “You’re nearly finished - can you explain to Xander what we’re doing?”

  I want to say, ‘No, why can’t you do it?’, but I grit my teeth and send him a force smile, “Okay sir.” Mr Tailor walks off, leaving my to face Xander, but I deliberately don’t catch his eye or I don’t think I’ll be able to look away. “You’ve read Romeo and Juliet, right?”

  “Yeah,” he grins, teasingly, “Who takes English Lit and hasn’t read Romeo and Juliet?” Oh, that accent. Being this close to him I can smell his cologne – It makes it hard to keep my head on the subject.

  Romeo and Juliet, we’re talking about Romeo and Juliet.

  “Erm, yeah, of course, err,” I try to gather my thoughts, “Well, we have to choose a secondary character and write an essay on how they are portrayed.”

  “Who have you chosen?”
  “Paris.”

  He raises an eyebrow, but I keep my eyes focused on his forehead, refusing to let my eyes drop. “Paris?”

  I laugh, slightly more nervously than I’d have liked. “Yeah, I get that reaction a lot, but I feel sorry for him. I mean, he’s just the nice guy who wants to marry Juliet; it’s not his fault that she doesn’t love him. He could be so much better for her than Romeo.”

  “But wouldn’t you rather Juliet end up with the man she loves?”

  I shrug, “She ends up dead because of Romeo; sure, it’s not his fault, but if she married Paris, she wouldn’t have ended up dead.”

  “That doesn’t really answer the question.”

  I shake my head - What are we doing? My first conversation with Xander and we’re arguing about who Juliet should have chosen? This is messed up; most girls would be flirting with him right now, but here I am arguing with him. And he’s starting to really annoy me.

  “Well, what more do you want? No, I think Juliet should have married Paris instead of Romeo.”

  “You don’t believe in true love?” He asks, surprised.

  “No. Maybe she does love Romeo, but she’s only thirteen, how does she know? I wouldn’t know love if it came up to me and hit me in the face, so I don’t see how she would. She might think he’s the only one for her, but really? Is he? It’s not like she’ll never love anyone again. She might have loved Paris if she’d just given him a chance.”

   Okay, I need to calm down - I’m getting too worked up about something so unimportant. Chill Willow, it’s just a play.

  “You’ve never been in love.” He states plainly.

  My eyes, that had been skirting the edge of the table, shoot up, and, unthinkingly, I meet his serious gaze. My argument catches in my throat. I sit, transfixed by him, but he doesn’t look away, or look uncomfortable, but looks right back at me. I could get lost in those eyes...

  Allie coughs discretely and shuffles in her chair, making my snap out of whatever trance I was in. Silently, I thank her for saving me from total embarrassment. Somehow, I find my voice. “Erm, no, but what does it matter? Have you ever been in love?” I feel awkward asking the question and I look down, feeling my cheeks turn hot.

  Xander chuckles, “No, but I think you can safely assume that if you haven’t been in love you can’t judge.”

  “Hm. I suppose.” I reluctantly agree. “But I can’t imagine ever being driven to suicide because of it.”

  He shrugs, “Then you haven’t got much imagination.”

  I narrow my eyes and glare at him. “There is nothing wrong with my imagination. Anyway, I don’t plan on falling in love any time soon.” I wave my hand dismissively. I want to make something of my life first before wasting it on love. Well, that’s my excuse, anyway.

  “You don’t want to fall in love?” An incredulous look is plastered over his face.

  “Not really,” I laugh at his expression, “Don’t act so surprised; love just seems like a waste of time.”

  His expression turns serious, “I don’t think so.”

  I sigh, sick of arguing with him, “Well that’s where you and I disagree.” I turn back to the front, ending the conversation. I just catch a hint of a smile before he’s out of my field of vision, but I can still feel his eyes on my back.

  Allie leans toward me, putting her hair between us and him. She stares at me and hisses, “What was that about?”

  I shrug, “He was getting on my nerves.”

  “You just got into an argument with the new guy, real smooth.” She rolls eyes. “I think he likes you.”

  It’s my turn to stare at her. I really don’t know what goes through her head sometimes. “You think he likes me? Did you not here anything? We were arguing!”

  “Yeah, but you were talking about loooovve.” I pointedly ignore her, so she carries on. “You had you’re little moment there too. I think he’s your true love, you can be like the next Romeo and Juliet...”

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