The weekend came around quickly. After all the 'excitement' of last weekends escapades I was in need of something quieter and managed to convince the group to go to the cinema. There eight of us in total, five girls and three guys. As we walked there in a group I fell into step with Andy. I'd always felt comfortable around Andy, even though he was good friends with Mark. He knew well enough not to try and mix his two circles.
"You alright Scarlet? You're awfully quiet," he cocked his head while he asked, making me smile.
"Yeah I'm fine Andy, just stuck in my own head."
He raised an eyebrow at me but wisely chose not to comment on my strange reply. He remained next to me however for the rest of the walk and settled down next to me in the cinema laden with the biggest box of popcorn I'd ever seen. He clocked me eyeing it skeptically and smiled.
"It's not all for me, I thought we could share?"
I nodded and smiled at his kindness. Andy was the kind of guy you wanted as a friend. He was easy to be around.
The film was a horror (in hindsight probably not what I needed) and about halfway through a particularly jumpy bit made me turn and shriek in Andy's shoulder. He laughed slightly and put a reassuring arm around my shoulder. I smiled at him and sat back up, but his arm stayed there. For the next ten minutes I was painfully aware of the arm draped casually around me and had just managed to argue myself into thinking he was just being nice when he started to gently caress my neck. I turned to give him a questioning look but he remained facing the screen, a small smile playing on his lips. He finally turned to face me and began to lean in, lips pursed. I shot up out of my seat, mumbling something about the toilet and ran for the doors.
I leaned on the wall in the corridor outside the screen and slid down it until I was sat on my heels. What was Andy doing? Trying to grab a quick snog in the darkened cinema. Seriously, were we fourteen?
I didn't need this right now. Andy was my friend, I'd never looked at him in that way and I wasn't sure I ever could. He was a lovely guy but there was no spark, no excitement.
I couldn't face going back in. I sighed resigning myself to the lonely walk home, and then having to explain my hasty departure to Meg later on.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
My head snapped up as I recognised that voice. The vampire stood in front of me, a curious smile playing over his features.
"Seriously? Vampires go to the cinema!"
"Keep your voice down," he growled whilst shifting uncomfortably as a staff member walked past, "why wouldn't I go to the cinema? I need entertaining just as much as you."
"Isn't the mutilation of innocent girls entertainment enough?" I shot back causing his eyes to flash momentarily red.
"Your opinion of me is rather warped Scarlet,"
I blanched at his use of my name but before I could question how he knew it he carried on.
"Please tell me when you have seen me mutilate a girl. Did I mutilate you?"
"You bit me and drank my blood!"
"But does that equate to mutilation? I can see your neck, there are no scars. I can hear your heart beating, no less healthy for the loss of a little blood. Tell me, how have my actions mutilated you?"
"It's not my body, it's my mind! I don't even know how to go about processing your existence, what if those other girls struggle more than me?"
He sighed before responding, "the people that I drink from do not remember it." He cut me off as I began to speak. "You remember it because I allowed you to. Vampires have a certain power over humans, we can influence their thoughts and mind. It's essential to keep our existence a secret."
"So why let me remember, I would gladly have forgotten this, forgotten you."
I thought I saw a hurt expression on his face at my last words, but it was so brief I'm sure I imagined it.
"Honestly? I don't know. I've never encountered a human so strong. I guess I thought you could handle it."
"I'm not strong. I've just had a lot of experience pretending to be." I lowered my head and stared at the floor. "My mum died giving birth to me and my dad died the year before I came to uni. I'm pretty much on my own, and therefore I have to be strong, or at least appear to be."
Why was I doing this? Exposing myself to a vampire, a vampire who's name I didn't even know.
"It's Jack, Jack Culverhouse."
I blanched for a second time. "You can read my mind?"
He laughed before replying. "No, nothing nearly as cool as that. Occasionally we get images or feelings of what humans are thinking. Particularly if it's a strong feeling."
"Oh," was my rather inadequate reply, "well I'm Scarlet Hale."
He smiled again, a lopsided smile that was so infectious I found myself grinning like an idiot back. Before I knew it, and for no apparent reason at all, I was giggling like a school girl. He watched me for a moment before a laugh escaped from his mouth too. He sat down beside me as we both laughed like fools, tears starting to stream down my cheeks. A few people walked past shooting us quizzical glances which only made me laugh harder.
"Scarlet what are you doing out here?" Andy appeared in the corridor with Meg in tow. It was Andy that spoke but Meg was the one that looked concerned. She was looking between Jack and I, studying the stupid grins on our faces.
"Come back inside Scarlet." Meg said, slightly pleading and eyeing Jack with extreme caution. Andy took a step forward and went to lift me to my feet, assuming I would go with him.
"No, you know what I'm just going to go home. I think I've had enough fun for one day." I added looking straight at Andy.
Jack sniggered next to me before standing up and pulling me to my feet in one lithe movement. He slung an arm casually around my shoulders and looked directly in Andy's eyes saying, "it's OK ace, I'll walk her home. Go back and watch your film." Andy blinked, then nodded before turning back through the screen doors. Meg remained for a moment but I nodded and she left too.
Her words echoed through my head, "maybe you shouldn't be alone...who knows what could have happened." Jack began to lead me from the cinema, arm still around my shoulders. It didn't feel intrusive as it had done with Andy. It didn't feel sexual as it had done with Mark. It just felt protective, like it would with a friend. I realised that what I'd said to him yesterday really were true, I wasn't afraid of him. Jack turned and something devilish flickered in his eyes.
"You know what, I don't feel like walking." Before I could ask what he meant he slung me over his shoulder and ran.