Iris Hale: HUNTER *NaNoWriMo Draft 2016*

*NaNoWriMo 2016*/
Periliares are a crafty bunch. You might know them as 'demons'. They hate that word. The idea that all of them are evil is idiotic. The same way all humans aren't evil, not all periliares are evil. Just top of the food chain. And a lot of them have superiority complexes. That's where I come in. Most of them view themselves as gods, which is fine, whatever. But the second they think they can kill more than their fill, I have an issue.
My name is Iris Hale, and I'm a hunter.
/©Molly Looby

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19. Nineteen

I spent the last minute or so of break in the nearest toilet, locked in a cubicle. My breaths were all over the place and tears were falling from my chin, though I didn’t feel like I was crying. I was hyperventilating and shaking, but crying?

How could he know all that? Well, of course he’d found my birth certificate somehow. But the rest? Fine, if you knew periliares well enough — which I didn’t think he did as he still referred to them with the wrong name — you could have a good guess that my mother was one, but he was so sure, so confident.

Unless he’d heard of her.

I shook that thought away. He would’ve said. Plus, in the almost two years I’d been hunting, I hadn’t heard anyone mention her. I hoped she was in another country or something. Or dead for all I cared. It didn’t matter to me, as long as we didn’t cross paths.

It took maybe five minutes to get my breathing under control and give myself a little internal pep talk. After checking myself out in my compact mirror, I knew it was obvious I’d been crying, and unlike Erin, there was no makeup in my pockets. So I’d just have to get on with it. I wiped my eyes and made my way to English.

Mr Collins turned to look at me as I entered the classroom. It looked as though he was about to say something — his mouth was open and everything — but then he shut it and ignored me. I guessed he saw that I’d been crying and wanted nothing to do with it. Fine by me.

“Oh my God,” Erin hissed as I sat down. “What’s wrong? What did he say to you? I’ll kill him.”

I just shook my head. “I’ll tell you later.”

She just watched me, chewing her lip. She didn’t stop looking all lesson and grabbed my wrist as we left the classroom, dragging me to our lockers and then to our usual picnic bench at lunchtime.

“Now, what on earth did he say to you?”

“It was about my parents.” The more of the truth I could get away with, the better.

Her mouth dropped open. “Why? What did he want?”

I kept my cool. The hour of English had been spent reading and commenting on poems, so I’d had plenty of time to calm down. Thank God I hadn’t had science. “I’m not sure.”

“What did he say?”

“Just stuff about my dad dying and my mother… What was it he said? Oh yeah, not wanting me.”

Erin’s lips were pressed together in a hard line, and her freckled face was turning red. “How dare he? What right does he have to say that to you? To anyone? My God if I could give him a piece of my mind.”

I gave her a small smile. For all her talk, I knew she wouldn’t squeak a word.

“He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t know what it’s like.”

“He was kinda right though.”

Her eyebrows came together. “You don’t know that.”

I gave a laugh with no humour. “Oh, I know it all right.”

“You don’t know what she was thinking.”

That was true, but the facts were what they were. Anima ‘Smith’ waited for my grandparents to leave the house before she left me with a note addressed to Sylvie. According to it, Anima had wanted me to go to Sylvie and not my grandparents, which was a good call as I know, much as they love me now, they would’ve given me up for adoption. The note said she knew how much my father had loved his sister, and he would’ve wanted me to go to her. It also said she was sorry.

Sorry.

Like that made it better.

Whatever his death certificate said, my father did not die of alcohol poisoning. He was murdered. Because of me. And I had to live with that every day.

True, as Sylvie had hammered home time and time again, we didn’t know that for fact. As convinced as we both were that she killed him, there was no proof that it was because of me. But how could it not be? The timeline was too perfect.

The note also said she loved him. Whatever. Like that monster could feel love. She didn’t write any such thing about me. I wasn’t sure why she didn’t get rid of me while she had the chance. She didn’t even care enough to name me, not that I wanted some stupid periliare name anyway. Okay, Iris wasn’t the greatest name in history, but Sylvie picked it for me, and that meant more to me than anything else that was mine.

Iris Hale was my name, and it had no part of my mother in sight.

“Okay, fine,” I said. “I don’t wanna know what she was thinking though.”

Erin knew me well enough to stay quiet on that. “I still think Corey deserves a slap.”

“You’re not wrong.”

“You want me to say something?” There was real sincerity in her eyes, like she truly believed she could do it. Maybe her loyalty outshone her fear.

“No, really. It’s okay.” At that moment, Corey exited the cafeteria and walked by us, not looking at us in such an obvious way. “On the other hand…”

Erin jumped up and raced after him. It took me two full seconds to chase after her. I was too busy gawping at her newfound bravery.

“Hey!”

Corey turned at the sharp voice.

“You leave Iris alone.”

He just looked at her like he wasn’t sure what was going on.

“You have no right to keep picking on her.”

I stood next to Erin and crossed my arms, raising my eyebrows at him.

When he saw me, it was like something twigged in his head because that stupid smirk was back like the first time he’d tried to talk to me. “Oh.” He nodded. “I see. I guess Iris doesn’t fight her own battles.”

I couldn’t help myself. I laughed, too loud and too hard.

“Who do you think you are?” Erin had her finger pointed at him. “How can you say things like that? You don’t know her. You don’t know her family. How dare you?”

“Look.” He showed her his palms. “I’m sorry, okay?”

“I don’t think that’s good enough.” She crossed her arms. “She was really upset.”

My stomach dropped a little. There goes my hunter cred.

“I am. I didn’t mean to upset anyone.” He looked me dead in the eyes this time, and the smirk faded.

“So you wanted to talk about that stuff and not upset her?”

“Exactly.”

“I think you’re a liar. Why else did you even try?”

“I just wanted to talk to her.”

“Well, maybe you should’ve started with something else. You don’t know what it’s like.”

“I don’t?”

“No. You don’t.”

“All right.” He took a deep breath. “If you must know, my mother died in childbirth.” He looked at me again. “I know what it’s like, Iris. I truly didn’t mean to upset you. I wanted to talk to you. I still do. I want to be friends.”

Erin’s face was blank and the anger was fading.

“Maybe I got too personal, and I’m sorry. And, okay, I don’t know what it’s like to have both your parents gone, but I kinda know about one. All right?”

I just stared into his big, brown eyes. I couldn’t quite work him out.

Erin’s posture dropped a little into something more familiar, and she took a step away from Corey and closer to me.

“I am sorry, Iris.”

I took a step closer and dropped my voice. “I heard you, all right? I heard you. I’m not afraid to admit that you scared the crap outta me.”

“I told you I didn’t want to say anything.”

“What do you want?”

“I told you.” He gave a glance to Erin before leaning forward just a little more. “I want to be your friend. And I told you why. Just think about it, please.” He stood to his full height again. “You’ve got a good friend there, Iris.”

I could almost feel Erin blushing beside me.

“Maybe I need to get one like that.”

I smiled. “You’ll never find one quite like Erin.”

“Then maybe I’ll just need to steal this one.”

Erin’s eyes were wide as she stared at Corey. It was almost a glare, but not quite.

He shot her his beautiful, practised smile and left us standing there.

Erin didn’t drag her eyes off him, and when she did it was like she came back down to earth. “Did that just happen?”

“Yeah.” I smiled at her. “And I love you. You know that?”

Her face looked a little pale, and her hand was trembling as she pushed a piece of hair back.

“Come on.” I steered her towards the bench we’d left all our stuff on. “I’ll buy you a cookie.”

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