Shadow Bound

Chapter two

© Copyright Sloane Murphy 2021

English with Mr. Davenport was… well distracting. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t enjoy the attention from Luc, especially when he shut Kate down quite as hard as he did. The rest of my morning however, has been dull and dreary. Just how I expected this year to play out. 

Not that I haven’t noticed the whispers about the new guy talking to me, because despite having gone to this school for years, so many people have no fucking idea who I am. Kate’s glares all morning haven’t exactly been missed either. I guess being rejected isn’t something that happens to cheerleaders all that often. 

I grab my lunch in the cafeteria, small mercies for it being pizza day, and hide in the far back corner like always. The only advantage to being cast out, is I can put in my headphones and read my book. No one wants to talk to me, so I get to lose myself in another world. 

In my peripheral, I see someone sit opposite me, and one of my headphones is tugged from my ear. “What are you reading?”

I look up and see the new guy. Luc. 

“Why are you sitting there?” I don’t mean to sound rude, mainly I’m just shocked. Then I notice the eyes on us and heat creeps up my neck. While I might not always like being ignored, I sure as hell dislike this amount of attention more. 

“Am I not allowed to sit here?” he asks, a smirk on his face as he picks at his fries. 

“Of course you are. I just meant—”

“I knew what you mean,” he cuts me off and waves back at my book. “So what are you reading?”

“I don’t know that you’d like it.” I close the book and tuck it back in my bag, having no real idea what to say or do right now. Apparently not having friends has more than stunted my ability to speak. I literally have zero social skills.

“Is it one of those romanticized vampire novels, where the centuries old vampire falls hopelessly in love with the mortal girl?” The smirk on his face grows, and I get the unreasonable want to throat punch him. So what if that’s what I’m reading, who is he to judge?

“So what if it is?” I cross my arms and raise an eyebrow, daring him to shame me. He doesn’t have to know that what I was reading was actually nothing like that. I know that monsters exist, I don’t need the romanticized version of them.

“So if it is, I want to read it,” he says with a shrug, and I bark out a laugh.

“Really?” I question, my shock and skepticism at full tilt.

“Now who’s judging,” he teases and I blush a bit. Oops.

“I’m not judging, I just… No, I guess I am judging. Sorry.”

“It’s okay, I’m only messing with you.” He grins and I can’t help but relax. There’s just something about him that puts me at ease. Which is weird, because I’m terrible with people I don’t know. Hell, I’m not great with people I do know. 

“How are you finding your first day?” I ask, wanting to beat myself in the head with my book. I might as well have told him ‘I carried a watermelon’. Fuck me.

He just grins at me again, leaning back in his chair like he knows exactly what’s running through my mind and eats another one of his fries. I look at my untouched pizza, but I can still feel the gazes of people in the room on me. I’ve never been one to not eat in front of people, but also, I just know if I pick up the pizza, I’m going to make a mess. I don’t know how, but I know it’s going to happen.

“Want a fry?” he asks, pushing his tray towards me. I take one, thankful because I’m hungry as fuck, and that he just seemed to know. “Yeah, my day has been okay, though I had math with Mr. Tooley and his breath… oh my god.”

“Right!” That man really needs to discover breath mints or something. “What do you have this afternoon?”

He pulls his schedule from his pocket, straightening out the creases before groaning. “I’ve got History with Miss DeVita and then gym with Coach Callan.” 

“Well, I guess you’re spending the afternoon with me. Aren’t you lucky.” He grins up at me and I swear I feel it in my soul.

Please don’t let him be a monster.

“I guess I am lucky indeed.”

 

#

 

Want to know the worst thing about having gym as a mixed class? Having the new guy see you in the worst, and most unflattering outfit that exists on earth, while getting super sweaty… and falling flat on your face when one of the super squad trips you, just because he happens to be looking. 

I am so glad this day is over, though the nearly broken nose I got from face planting was so not how I wanted my day to end.

I finish getting dressed and pull my bag, and the extra books that just won’t fit in it out of my locker. I’m the last one in here, having purposely waited for the last shower, and staying in longer just so I don’t have to deal with the bitches in my class. I suppose I should just be thankful that no one took my stuff. 

It wouldn’t be the first time.

I take a deep breath and head out of the locker room, the heels of my shoes echoing in the empty halls. It’s weird, but I kind of prefer the school like this. Most people would think it’s creepy, me, I just like the peace. 

Maybe it’s my weird ass heritage, maybe it’s just me. But something about the shadows is welcoming. If nothing else, today showed me that I probably shouldn’t be that unhappy about not being one of the ‘in crowd’. I totally don’t like the attention.

I leave the building heading to the bus stop, thankful for my extra layers as the breeze picks up, and try to work out why it is the new guy even spoke to me. Sure, he was sat next to me in English… but he didn’t have to sit with me at lunch. Maybe he feels sorry for the lonely girl. I shake my head, dismissing the thought. I’ve never been the girl who dismisses her worth like that, and I’m not about to start now. So what if my life sucks and is all planned out for me, I’m still worth more than someone’s attention for pity.

“You need a ride?” I squeal, jumping out of my goddamn skin as I turn and spot Luc in his car, idling beside me. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I thought you’d hear the car.”

“Lost in my own world,” I say, clutching the books in my arms. At least they didn’t go flying. 

“You did look deep in thought, I figured you were just trying not to think about the cold. So, do you want a ride?” I look over his shiny black car, it’s beautiful, if you can ever call a machine that. He peers over at me from the driver’s side while I weigh the options. Get in a car with a guy I barely know, even though he seems nice, or brave the cold on the walk home, with the potential incoming storm.

I’m going to be like that stupid girl in the horror film. I swear, if I end up dead, I’m coming back to haunt this guy for all of eternity. “Are you sure? You don’t even know where I live.”

“I’m sure, I like driving, and this way, I get to avoid going home for a little longer.” He gives me a tight smile and my heart pangs. I guess his life isn’t perfect either.

“Then thanks, I live out in Eppingworth. It’s a bit of a way though, so you can change your mind. I’m used to the bus.”

“Everly, get in the car. This storm looks like it’s going to break any minute, and my Nonnie would have my hide if she ever found out I let a girl walk home in a storm when I had the chance to save her that fate. So please, get in. You’ll be doing me a favor, I swear it.”

“Okay fine,” I sigh, rolling my eyes while trying not to smile. “If you insist, but I swear, if you’re a serial killer…”

“I promise to be on my best behavior, scouts honor,” he says, giving me a cheesy grin while he lifts his hand and gives the scout salute. 

“There is no way you were a Boy Scout,” I mutter as I throw my books and bag in the back of the car and close the door. 

He grins over at me, revving the engine as I pull on my belt, already starting to regret my decision. “Oh you have no idea.”

 

#

 

The drive home was… well it was hilarious. Who knew the new guy would be so funny? I literally cried laughing at one point, and I thought he was going to have to pull the car over in case we crashed. 

“Do you need me to grab you in the morning?” I look up and find him out of the car, looking over the roof at me as I stand from grabbing my stuff from the back.

“Erm,” I bite my lip, wanting to say yes, but also, how do I explain this to my mom? 

“Everly?” I turn and groan, finding my mom stood in the doorway to the house. “Who is this?”

“Mommmm,” I groan, looking over at Luc, hoping he reads the apology on my face.

“Hi, Mrs. Bennett. I’m Luc. I just started at Salem’s Bay today.” He grins at her, that stupid smile that made most of the girls in my class turn to putty, and my jaw drops as I watch my mom do the exact damn thing. “It’s lovely to meet you.”

“Oh, well, its lovely to meet you too, dear. Don’t be out here much longer, Everly. The storm is coming.” Her eyes narrow at me, and I get the feeling she’s talking about more than a natural storm. Our darling benefactor Archangel has the power to control a storm, or so I’ve been told. I’ve never actually seen any of it with my own eyes. 

She closes the door and I turn back to Luc, trying not to be mortified about my mother’s obvious standing just behind said door. 

“So, do you want a ride in the morning?” he asks again, looking up at the storm clouds.

“If you don’t mind, then that would be awesome. But you really should get home, driving those roads if there’s a storm could be dangerous.” I bite my lip, wondering if I should invite him in until the storm passes, but I know my mom will literally go nuclear. 

“Oh you don’t need to worry about me, I’m practically indestructible,” he winks at me and climbs back in the car. “I’ll be here nice and early to get you, we can grab some breakfast before we head in!”

The engine roars as he starts the car back up, and I watch as he drives away, realizing he never even commented on the manor. God, I hope he doesn’t think I’m one of those stuck-up rich bitches for not inviting him inside. Mom was snotty enough to be a wasp. Shit.

I’ll deal with that tomorrow. For now, I need to deal with my snooping mother, and the hints of an incoming Archangel. I drop my bag just inside the door, and I hear my mom in the kitchen, singing like she’s been there this whole time.

I was not born yesterday and she isn’t fooling anyone.

“How long till dinner?” I ask, as I enter the kitchen and take a perch on one of the stools.

“Not too long… so I see you made a friend after all of your drama this morning.” She looks at me like she thinks I hold state secrets in my mind, so I just shrug, knowing it’ll piss her off.

“He’s just the new kid. But he’s giving me a ride in the morning, so you won’t have to.”

“Well, isn’t that nice of him.” She smiles at me, like she knows something I don’t, and then pulls out a small black bag from under the counter. “This is for you… from Leviathan.”

“For me?” I gulp, taking the bag. What on earth would the Archangel be doing getting me a gift?

“Yes, that’s what I said,” she huffs, rolling her eyes and stirs the sauce on the stove again. So I peer into the bag and see a violet velvet box. 

Interesting.

My curiosity wins out, so I pull out the box and open it. Inside lies a dainty chain, and on the end of it is a crystal. It’s so dark it almost looks black, but when the light hits it, it’s actually red. 

“It’s… pretty?” I say, trying to sound thankful, but this isn’t exactly something I’d pick for myself.

“Yes, it is pretty. But its more than that. It’s a protection stone. The stone will protect you from all sorts, including magic, and the touch of a Dracul’s mind,” she says, showing me the ring on her finger that has a similar stone. She’s always had it, I just had no idea what it was. “The faction activity is growing in the area apparently, so Leviathan got you yours early. Usually, you get them when you turn eighteen. It’s something of a tradition.”

“’Cause we don’t have enough of those,” I mutter, rolling my eyes.

“Everly Bennett, you will tone down your sass, right the hell now. This was a kind gift, he is trying to keep you safe, as he has done for our entire family. You should be a little more thankful. Who knows where we’d be, or if we’d even exist if it weren’t for his kindness.” I drop my head down, shame crawling up my throat. I’ve heard it a thousand times, but it doesn’t make my reality any easier to live with. That being said, I could probably be nicer about it all sometimes.

“Sorry, Mom.”

“It’s not me you should be sorry to. Leviathan doesn’t need to do any of the things he does for us. But we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and we never go without. You should be a little more grateful. Now put on the damn necklace and go wash up. Dinner is ready.”

I skulk out of the kitchen, slipping the necklace over my head. The crystal sits pretty low on my chest, so it’ll be hidden at least. Then I feel guilty for the thought. Mom’s right, he doesn’t have to do anything he does, and this will at least protect me from the things that go bump in the dark.

I smile as I think about the possibility of the factions in my school. At least this way I know if I see something, I’ll actually remember it. Not have my mind wiped like my mom told me the Dracul can do. I shudder at the thought.

I really hope I never come into contact with any of the monsters.

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© Copyright Sloane Murphy 2021