After school, I stood waiting for my bus. Angela had already boarded hers and was on her way out of the parking lot. I declined to ride home with her because I thought maybe Haru would show up to walk me home again. I don’t know why I thought this; he had only walked me once, and now here I was expecting it of him. But I was on my own. Ryo didn’t seem like the walking-the-girls-home type, Luhan couldn’t drive because he couldn’t reach the pedals, and I hadn’t seen Chi since lunchtime. My bus pulled up and I got on.
Our bus driver was an older man in his fifties called Mr. Ed. Someone had told us that Mr. Ed had been a talking horse on an old black and white television show, but our Mr. Ed was no horse, and he wasn’t much on making conversation. He talked to you if you were disrupting his driving, but other than that he just nodded or shook his head at you. I think everyone respected him because they didn’t know his deal. Was he a mild mannered bus driver ready to snap, or was he already plotting out ways to wreck the bus? With thoughts like these running through my head, no wonder I chose to walk home half the time.
I took a seat by the window right behind Mr Ed. To my relief, nobody seemed that concerned about me. There were no snickers or guarded whispers like I thought there would be. Maybe the talk of what kind of slaughter I could expect had died down. That’s the thing about school. News travels fast, but interest in it sometimes fades just as quick. Of course, the internet would probably be buzzing tonight with news about Amanda’s beating. Though I think she more than deserved it, I was hoping the damage wasn’t too severe. The more she got hurt, the more likely she’d try to hurt you back. After the post it note on my locker, I was going to have to be more vigilant in the days ahead.
“Hey Nora, heads up”, someone yelled, and on instinct I ducked. Instead of some projectile however, someone plopped down in the seat beside me. I looked over. It was Colin Deeds, he of the mismatched clothes and uncombed hair. He slung his book bag into his lap and for a moment I thought he’d injure himself it was so loaded with books.
“Missed my bus,“ he explained. “Can I sit with you?”
“Sure, go ahead,“ I mumbled. After the verbal abuse I’d given him the day before I was surprised he would even ask, but I guess he figured if he was with me no one would pick on him out of fear of my new friend Chi.
“Heard about Amanda,“ he said. “About time.”
“Don’t say that too loud. She still wins popularity points.”
He ducked down in his seat a little. “Oh yeah.”
The bus pulled away from the curb and we started the long way home. Since he rode the same bus as Angela, it was going to be a longer trip for him today.
“So, did you just snap or something?”
“Way I heard it, you really kicked her butt.”
“I didn’t do it.”
He looked at me strange. “You didn’t? That’s not what everyone is saying.”
“It was a girl named Chi.”
“Chi? Never heard of her.”
“Oh.” He looked at his watch. “Well, you better watch out then. Trumps are liable to think you’re spreading stories that you did it.”
I turned to look at him and my mean streak came out. “Don’t you ever take a bath?”
That shut him up for a moment. He looked like I had hit him with a brick. His eyes welled up with tears. I felt bad that I had been so harsh, but he always brought out that side of me. Maybe it was because of his weakness and cowardly ways that made me talk down to him so much.
“You don’t have to be so mean,“ he said, getting up to move. “One day you’ll wish you had a friend like me.” He moved a couple rows away and sat down in an empty seat.
I inwardly beat myself up over how cruel I’d been. He had just been trying to help and I had insulted him; lashed out for no reason other than I thought I was better than him. I shook my head. I was just like Amanda Trump. I almost got up then and there and said I was sorry, but something, call it pride I suppose, wouldn’t let me.
Colin got off at the first stop.
Late afternoon. I sat on the front porch step. Dummy me had either forgotten or lost the front door key. Mom wouldn’t be home until later. I didn’t know what time she’d gone in to work, so who knew how long I’d have to wait. I guess I could have climbed the tree outside my window, but if I fell this time, there wouldn’t be a strong vampire boy there to catch me. I’d looked over at the house next door when I first got home, but Haru wasn’t out. Neither was the Jigsaw Man. Across the street at Mrs. Winston’s, the house itself looked asleep. I wondered what Ryo was doing over there. I hadn’t seen the old lady of the house since he’d arrived. For a moment, I caught an image in my head of the shirtless vampire sleeping in a coffin. I could see his heartbeat under his tattoo, as sweat glistened his body. A rivulet of moisture seemed to run from chest to abs, before disappearing under the band of his jeans.
Across the street, the front door swung open and it shocked me out of my nearly pornographic thought. Someone stepped out on the porch, and at first I thought it was Ryo come to answer my daydream , but it was somebody else. The person seemed hesitant to come out into the daylight, but they soon walked down the steps onto the front walk. It was a young guy, about my age, or maybe a year older. I didn’t recognize him as someone from my school, but to be honest, I didn’t know every single person there. The guy was sickly pale, as if he was suffering from a bad case of the flu.
“Hey, what’s up?” A voice said from beside me. I almost jumped out of my skin it had startled me so. I turned to the intruder of my private curiosity and saw that it was Haru. He was casually dressed in gray khakis and a white button up shirt. “What you doing sitting all alone?”
I looked up at him and gave him a weak smile. “I got locked out.”
He smirked. “So, you’d figure you’d spy on the house across the street.”
“I wasn’t spying,“ I replied. “I just saw this boy come out and…” I turned to point to the boy in question, except he was gone. Distracted by Haru, I had lost sight of what had been going on over there.
Haru looked at me like maybe I had a screw loose. Then he smiled. “Well, Ryo always does like the attention.”
I wanted to tell him it wasn’t Ryo I had seen, but some kid who looked like he just saw his name written on a death note.
Haru sat down beside me. “Saw him talking to you last night,“ he said.
“What did he say?”
“Not a whole lot really.”
Haru nodded. “It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me. I can just about guess.” He stood up. “I’ll get the door for you.” He walked up to the front door and put his hand on the knob. He looked back at me. “Just a little advice, Nora. You can’t trust a vampire to always tell the truth. They’ve been living in lies and truth so much they aren’t sure which is which anymore.”
“Well, you’re a vampire,“ I reasoned.
He smiled, and for a brief moment I saw his teeth as his lips curled back. “Precisely.” He turned the knob and the door opened. “There you go.”
I wasn’t very surprised that the door opened for him like magic. I’d probably open up too if he touched me. I got up . “Thanks. I thought I was going to have to wait for mom.”
He shrugged. Somehow I thought I had lost his attention. Maybe it was the talk of Ryo that did it. Perhaps vampires were more competitive with each other than I thought. “See you around,“ he said, as he stepped off the porch.
“Yeah. See you,” I replied, wondering why I was getting the brush off so quickly.
My room was quiet. I had my music on low. I was streaming j-pop through my laptop. Currently playing was a song by Mr. Children called “Be Strong.” I don’t think that was the actual title, but they did say that in choice points throughout the tune. I’m sure it had some cool sounding Japanese name, but I didn’t have time to look it up. I was too busy researching vampire lore. I had so many questions about these vampire boys that I didn’t know where to turn. Websites on Japanese folklore and legends weren’t much help. I even tried looking up Japanese history sites to find out if anything significant had happened in 1281. I didn’t think I’d find anything about vampires. The only thing I saw was something about the Mongols invading Japan and getting repelled. It also seemed to be the age of Shoguns and samurai clans. But nobody sucking blood and sleeping in coffins.
The sun had long sunk behind the mountains, but it was still warm in my room. We didn’t have central air. We had AC downstairs and in mom’s room, but not in mine. I had a ceiling fan over my bed and a standing fan that oscillated back and forth set up in one corner, but all it gave you was a momentary breeze before moving on in its cycle. My palms were getting sweaty from typing on my laptop’s keypad. I was contemplating taking off my shirt to lounge around in my bra, when I heard a whoosh sound close to my window. I looked over and saw Ryo sitting in the windowsill.
“You know,“ he said, his voice a soft baritone, “you can’t always believe what you read on the net. A lot of false information if you’re looking up politics, religion, or vampires.”
“Don’t you ever come into a girl’s room the normal way?”
“This is normal for me,“ he answered, with a teasing grin. I noticed he too was sweating and his shirt was half unbuttoned. I could see the perspiration on his throat and collarbone, and it was starting to stir my imagination. I must have blushed a little, because he climbed out of the windowsill and sauntered towards me. It reminded me of a big cat stalking its prey.
“What do you want, Ryo?” I asked, getting nervous.
He stopped beside me and kneeled down beside the chair. “I want to help you.”
“Help me with what?”
I leaned back in my chair and relaxed a little. “You’ll answer my vampire questions?”
“If I can.”
I nodded and got my first question ready. The one that bugged me the most. “Okay, how is it you guys can walk around in the day, no problem?”
“Well, personally I hate daylight myself. It can’t hurt me unless I haven’t fed in a while though. Oh my, I just let out one of my great secrets. Now you know that if you starve me you can kill me with the sun. I guess I’m just going to have to trust you.” He put his hand on my leg. I didn’t move it away.
“But the others? Haru? Chinatsu? Luhan?”
“They love the sun a little too much I’m afraid.”
“But it doesn’t hurt them.”
“Their bodies have had a long time to adjust. You know, humans have evolved over time. If you look back, what maybe just seventy years, you’ll see the women had smaller feet, were shorter, and…” He looked me up and down, his eyes lingering a little longer on my chest area than I liked, “developed much slower.” He took his hand off my leg. “So, wouldn’t it seem likely vampires would change over time as well? We have been vampires for like over 800 years. That’s a long time to just stand still. The short answer to your question is we have learned to tolerate the sunlight. It is still very uncomfortable at times, but as long as you feed before spending a considerable amount out in the day, then you’ll be okay. I’ve only seen a few of us that have incinerated in the sun.”
“So, you do have to drink blood?”
“Yes of course. Evolution doesn’t cover that little fact.”
“It’s different for the individual. I have to drink every three to four days, but I like to do it more than that. It’s just hard to find willing participants.” He looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “You interested?”
“No,“ I quickly answered.
“Aww, too bad. Well, the night is still young. There are other ways I could indulge myself.”
“I bet,“ I said, trying not to watch where his eyes lingered. “But you haven’t answered all my questions.”
“I never said I would answer them all; I just said I would help.” He shrugged. “I guess I thought we could exchange information of sorts. Tit for tat, as they say.”
“What kind of information could I give you?”
He licked his bottom lip as he contemplated how to answer. He stood up and began to unbutton the rest of his shirt.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Don’t you think it’s getting warmer in here?” His shirt hit the floor, and I was graced with the sight of his sweaty, toned upper body. Across his chest, the tattoo that read ‘Loveless’ almost seemed to glisten. His muscles were taut; if I’d thrown a punch at his hard abs it would have broken my hand. But he was right; it was getting warmer in my room. Literally. It was feeling like someone had turned up the heat. I wondered if vampires had the power to control a room’s temperature. If so, and it got any warmer, I would soon be half naked myself. I tried to push that thought far back into my mind where it belonged.
“Do you sleep in a coffin?” I blurted out, trying to keep him from reading my mind or getting dangerous ideas.
“Nope,“ he said, moving over to my bed where he promptly sat down. “I sleep in a bed.” He lay back and stretched, his muscles pulled even tighter by the action. “Usually not my own.”
Subtlety wasn’t one of Ryo’s traits. He was like the guy who knows he’s hot so he prances around like an underwear model in a girl’s locker room. He just knows it’s a matter of time before someone reaches out in fascination. I, myself, tried not to look at him. I turned back to my laptop in an attempt to concentrate on something else.
“You know it’s rude, even for a human, to ignore animal attraction.”
“Sorry, I’m not attracted to animals,“ I said, though I think my voice cracked a little. I heard him laugh under his breath.
“But you’re attracted to me,“ he said. “I can smell it.”
“Smell what?” I asked, alarmed.
“Fear. Temptation. Curiosity. Desire. All these have distinctive scents to a vampire. How’s that for a little vampire 101?” He rolled over on his side and propped himself up on one elbow. “Don’t you feel it?”
I shook my head. “No. N..No I don’t.”
“I think you do.” He got up. “That’s the feeling of sin.” He stepped closer. “It’s already in your mind. Now, we only wait for your body to catch up.” He knelt by my chair again. “You’ve wanted me from the moment you first saw me.”
I had enough presence of mind left to know he had it wrong. It was he who had wanted me from the moment he’d seen me. And everything he had been doing up until now was to get to this moment. Typical guy, really. Except the vampire within him had some intense mental powers as well, giving him an irresistible sense of persuasion that was hard to fight.
The thing is I did want him. I wanted to touch him, kiss him, taste his skin, his blood, his mouth. These thoughts were overwhelming me so much that I felt like my very mind was being violated. I opened my desk drawer, as he placed his hand on my calf and began to slide it up my leg. I pulled out the razor blade I used for cutting. I knew cutting him wouldn’t break the spell. It probably wouldn’t faze him. But I didn’t need to. I needed to faze me. With one hand I flicked open the razor and dragged it across my leg just inches above where his hand was. This was one time when I wasn’t numb to the pain. It shot through my leg and up to the nerve center in my brain. I dropped the razor and shoved my chair back from the desk. The sudden movement and the breaking of his hypnotic chain made him jump to his feet and retreat. But only for a moment. Something came over his eyes and I swore it was death…
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.