I tried to force myself to sleep, but every time I closed my eyes all I could see was the image of Evan’s small urn being lowered into the ground. I had spent the past week in tears, but I was nowhere near as bad as my mother. She would down a bottle of wine every evening at the dining room table until she passed out. If it was after my father had gone to bed, I would slide a pillow under her head and put the bottle of wine in the fridge. Then, I would return to my room where I would break down into tears again because there was nothing that I could do for my mother. It was on one of these nights that I learned the devastating reason why my mother had drove herself to drinking.
My mother was seated at the table and her face was resting on the crook of her arm. I grabbed a pillow from the living room and slid it beneath my mother’s head. Her lip twitched slightly as I grabbed a blanket off of the back of the couch and placed it across her shoulders.
She must be dreaming, I thought with a smile. I adjusted the blanket before I turned to go back upstairs.
“No, Evan!” My mom mumbled in her sleep which made me freeze in my tracks. I grabbed onto the frame of the door and waited for her to continue. She didn’t disappoint me. “Let your father come get you, Evan.”
She’s dreaming about her last conversation with Evan, I thought sadly. I shouldn’t be listening to this.
“I should have made you wait for your father,” she said in a near whisper. Her voice cracked as my mother slept.
She blames herself for Evan’s accident, I realized in astonishment. And I’ve done nothing to help her through her grief.
I returned to my bedroom and cried myself back to sleep.
Mr. Hunter’s classroom was eerily quiet as I sat there alone and waited on the other members of his class to arrive. Mr. Hunter had met with me at lunch time to make sure that I was still going to attend his after-school class. I hastily agreed before the man left me alone to eat my lunch. Jenna sat with me and told me all about the different things she had learned in Mr. Hunter’s class. She was the second person to arrive to the classroom.
“Hey, Ethan!” Jenna greeted me with a smile as she took the empty desk to my right.
“Hey,” I replied quietly. “How was your day?”
“Horrible,” she replied with a dramatic roll of her brown eyes. “Mrs. Cook wants us to write a two-page essay on the history of the radio by tomorrow.”
“Eww,” I said as I wrinkled my nose. “Does anybody even listen to the radio anymore?”
“Mrs. Cook apparently does!” Jenna giggled. “How was your day, Ethan?”
“Boring, actually.” I replied with a shrug of my shoulders. “I don’t even have any homework.”
“Lucky,” she said as she playfully pushed my shoulder which made me smile a little.
“I can’t help it that I have Study Hall for my last period,” I said with a shrug. “It gives me plenty of time to get my homework done.”
“You’re such a nerd, Ethan.” Jenna teased me.
“At least I’m a cute nerd,” I responded smugly.
Jenna giggled and shook her head. We were only alone another minute or two before the other four members of the class finally arrived. Mr. Hunter was the last one to arrive and he brought a brown-haired boy that had the most beautiful green eyes that I had ever saw before. He appeared to be my age and I couldn’t take my eyes off of his narrow-framed body. His hair was shaggy, and he brushed it out of his eyes as he took the empty seat to my left. The sound of Mr. Hunter’s voice as he took a seat behind his desk snapped me out of my thoughts.
“Good afternoon, everyone.” The teacher greeted us in his deep voice. His green eyes focused on me and he nodded at me. “I’d like to welcome two new students to our little gathering.” Mr. Hunter motioned to me. “First, we have with us, Ethan Bentley, the younger brother of Evan Bentley. To his left is my own nephew, Justin Hunter. He just transferred to our school district yesterday, so let’s give our newcomers a warm welcome.”
Everyone welcomed us and I felt myself blush in embarrassment. I glanced over to see that Justin had had the same reaction as I did. His eyes met mine and I smiled shyly. Then, Mr. Hunter carried on with his monologue.
“Last week we spoke about Hunters and what their role within the World of Darkness truly meant,” Mr. Hunter explained. “This week, we’re going to discuss some of the different creatures that make up the World of Darkness. I’m going to be brief about some topics, but I’ll try to get the information across that you should know. This is mostly to catch Justin and Ethan up with the rest of us, so hold your questions until we finish each class. Okay?”
Mr. Hunter waited briefly before he continued on with his lecture. I listened intently as he spoke about Witches and how they used their magic on a daily basis. As long as a witch refrained from using their ability for evil, the remainder of the Council of Elders would let them carry out their practices. Justin and I were full of questions and we spent the better part of the hour asking Mr. Hunter about Witches. Mr. Hunter was amused by our enthusiasm and by how quickly we picked up the information that he gave us. Then, Mr. Hunter began to explain the topic of vampires and I nearly froze in my seat.
“Now, who can tell me what we know about vampires so far?”
It was Justin who answered the question and I found myself getting lost in the sound of his baritone voice.
“Vampires are fast,” Justin stated with a chuckle. “Also, they can’t go out in daylight.”
“What else?” Mr. Hunter asked.
“They live off of human blood,” I said as a chill went down my spine.
“Indeed, they do, Mr. Bentley.” Mr. Hunter agreed with me. “Most of the creatures from the World of Darkness in fact drink blood in order to survive. Now, not all of them drink human blood, but there is a good majority that do. Most types of vampires…”
“Excuse me, Mr. Hunter.” A Senior boy spoke up from behind me. “What do you mean by types?”
Mr. Hunter smiled.
“That’s an excellent question, Conner,” the teacher stated as he leaned forward and clasped his hands together. “Think of it as different races of vampires. Each race of vampire has adapted to where they originally came from. Some vampires have adapted to living off of only animal blood, but that’s what was available where they came from. Some vampires can go into a hibernation state that will last for decades, but when they arise, they have to drink within one night or they will dry up forever unless somebody else happens to be assisting them in their survival.” Mr. Hunter smiled at everyone. “There’s even suspected to be some half-breed vampires.”
“What’s a half-breed?” I asked without even realizing I had been so drawn into Mr. Hunter’s lecture.
“A half-breed is a vampire that is part vampire and part human,” Mr. Hunter stated as his green eyes focused on me. “They are vampires that were born from a human mother and a vampire father. They can eat human food, or they can drink blood to survive. It’s generally up to the individual vampire when it comes to their appetite. Are there any questions so far?”
“How would different types of food create new species of vampires?” Jenna asked in confusion.
“That’s an excellent question, Miss Holbrook.” Mr. Hunter replied with a grin. “Different species are formed by these types of changes being habitual in a creature’s lifetime. They create traits that are bound to their DNA and thus they pass these traits on to their own fledglings.” I glanced over at Justin to find that his green eyes were focused on me as Mr. Hunter spoke. I felt the chills go up my spine again as Justin raised one corner of his mouth into a brief smile. Mr. Hunter’s voice snapped me back to reality and I made myself pay attention. “Some species of vampires can protect themselves while they hibernate during the day if they are attacked, while others are said to be as lifeless as a corpse. Most species of vampires have abilities, but there are one or two that are only special because of what they are.”
Mr. Hunter glanced at his watch and frowned. I knew without him even saying anything what time it was.
“Unfortunately, that’s where we’re going to have to stop for the week.” The teacher told us. Justin and I both groaned which made Mr. Hunter chuckle. “Next week, we’ll discuss Werewolves and Witches before we go into hidden mythologies between the four groups.”
Justin and I both nodded eagerly.
“Thank you, everyone, for coming.” Mr. Hunter stated with the same gentle smile that he always wore upon his face. “I hoped that today’s discussion was enlightening.” Mr. Hunter’s eyes fell upon me as he stated the last word and he nodded once. “I look forward to our class next week.”
“That was interesting,” Justin said with a grin as everyone around us gathered their belongings. Then, he extended his hand out to me. “I’m Justin Hunter.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” I told him as I nervously shook his hand. MY stomach was beginning to feel like it had millions of butterflies inside of it as I stared into Justin’s green eyes. “I… I’m Ethan Bentley.”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Ethan.” Justin said as he held the gaze for a moment longer. He squeezed my hand gently once before he let it go and I felt my cheeks grow hot. “Do you want to, maybe, umm, hang out sometime?”
“Sure,” I managed to reply without stuttering in embarrassment. I pulled out my cellphone and opened the contacts page before I handed it to Justin. “I can text you when I get home.”
Justin smiled as he took my phone and entered his contact information and closed my phone. He then handed it back to me and I saw the screen as already dark.
“I think I’d like that, Ethan.” Justin told me with a grin as he grabbed his own belongings and made his way towards the door. “I’ll be in the truck, Uncle David.”
Mr. Hunter nodded as I watched Justin exit the classroom. The moment he was out of my sight it was like a spell had been broken. I took a deep breath and forced myself to relax until Jenna started giggling like a mad woman beside me. I had been so distracted by Justin Hunter that I hadn’t even realized Jenna was still in the room. I blushed hard as Jenna teased me. Even Mr. Hunter chuckled under his breath at my expense.
“He is single, Ethan.” Mr. Hunter informed me as Jenna and myself left the room.
That comment of course only started up another round of teasing from my friend until we turned a corner and there stood Justin getting into his locker. He reached in and pulled out a gray hoodie and slipped it over his head. Jenna grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me down the hallway towards Justin.
“Hey, Justin!” Jenna greeted the teen with a huge smile.
Justin turned to look at us and when his eyes fell upon me he smiled. My cheeks grew hot and I wanted to turn and go the other way, but Jenna kept a firm grip on my arm. My heart was beating erratically in my chest as we approached my new crush.
“Hey, Jenna.” Justin greeted her warmly before he turned his attention to me. “Hi, Ethan. Did you enjoy David’s class?”
“Yeah,” I replied nervously. “It was interesting.”
Justin smiled and nodded his agreement at my statement.
“Very interesting,” Justin stated. I couldn’t help but blush even more as he continued to stare at me with those piercing green eyes of his. “Don’t forget to text me later, Ethan.”
I glanced at him in confusion to see that Justin was still smiling at me.
“I won’t,” I stated shyly.
“Good,” he stated finally. “I look forward to hearing from you.”
“You, too.” I stated nervously.
“I have to get going,” he stated with the same smile that seemed to melt my heart. “Uncle David is probably waiting on me by now.”
“I’ll talk to you later,” I said softly.
Justin reached out and squeezed my hand gently and I sighed at the feel of his silky-smooth skin touching mine.
“Bye, Jenna.” Justin told my friend before he walked off down the hallway. Once Justin was out of sight, Jenna reached over and pulled me into a hug.
“Oh my God, Ethan!” She cooed at me. “Justin is so fricking cute! You had better text him tonight!”
“I will! I will!” I stated mostly to get her to let it go for the time being. Inside, I was a nervous wreck, but Jenna pretended not to notice as she led me from the school.
“Don’t forget to call your mom and tell her we’re on our way,” Jenna instructed as we finally made it to her car.
“Oh, shit!” I stated. I had completely forgotten to get a hold of my mom and I knew that I wasn’t going to hear the end of it as I pulled out my phone and dialed her number.