“Where the hell did that come from?” Angela asked on the way home.
The bus was filled with screaming teenagers. It seemed more kids came to school on Fridays than any other day. Perhaps that’s because they knew it was the weekend. It gave us something to celebrate. Plus, teachers seemed to be a bit more lax on Fridays. Yeah, they could assign butt tons of homework, but you had two extra days to do it, so that was cool.
“I don’t know. I’m just tired of putting up with their crap,“ I answered , knowing she had been referring to the verbal altercation with the Trumps.
“Well, I hope Chi is going to be around this summer to bail you out.”
I shrugged. “I’ll be in summer school most of the time. The Trumps breeze through their classes like it is; I can’t imagine their parents even wanting them to go to summer school. The shame would be too great.”
“In the meantime I would ask her to give you fighting lessons.”
“Yeah. You’re going to need them.”
I turned my head and looked out the window. Watching the landmarks and streets of Chelsea Valley drift by, I wondered if I’d ever get out of this mess of a town. All my life I had been dreaming of escape, and now that freedom was almost here, I really didn’t want to go. There was something here now worth staying for. Haru.
I thought about last night and how it had been the most magical time ever. It was the stuff of romance novels and K-dramas. Things like that didn’t happen on the average, and certainly not to someone like me. You’re pretty, I try to tell myself. You have deserved this. But still, riding on this bus, I felt like neither. Last night, I had been the princess of passionate dreams, but now, away from Haru, I felt like a slug again. What the heck did he see in me anyway? What could he possibly find redeeming in me? And then, there was the question of his vampirism? Did he really kill a girl as callously as Ryo said? I guess that was a question I needed to ask, but how do you approach that? Excuse me Haru, before you kiss me and make me quiver all over, have you ever killed a girl as if it was nothing?
“Hello, Nora. Earth calling Nora.”
It was Angela, of course, breaking into my deep reverie to inform me we were at our bus stop. We had taken my bus, so we wouldn’t have such a long walk, but now, for some reason I was feeling weak, as if just thinking of Haru was draining.
We walked to my house from the bus stop. Angela seemed to be walking faster than usual, with me just trying to keep pace. I guess she either was hoping Haru was still using my shower, or she really wanted that Babymetal shirt back pretty bad.
We stepped into my yard and I found myself looking across the street at The Winston House. I wondered what had happened to that kid I had seen stumbling around there yesterday. Before I could dwell on it much, movement along the front walk caught my eye. I stopped short. It was Mrs. Winston, and she was working in the flower beds that lined her walk. I hadn’t seen her since Ryo had moved in over there, and I was beginning to think he had done something to her, and now here she was toiling among her flowers. It struck me as odd though, because she was of the age that if she got down on her knees to work, she may not get back up. Last I saw her, she was hobbling along with strained effort, but now she was moving from bed to bed, from knees to feet, with no problem at all. In fact, she moved around the yard as if she were thirty.
“Everything okay?” Angela asked.
I looked at her and shook my head. “Mrs. Winston. Doesn’t she seem unusual to you?”
She laughed. “That old bat always seems unusual to me.”
I stood there watching the elderly lady for a moment, and then dismissed it with a shake of my head. “Yeah, that’s for sure,” I said .
“I don’t see Haru out next door, maybe he’s still here, “ Angela said. She sounded very hopeful ,and I followed her gaze over to his yard. True, he wasn’t to be seen. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any activity at all next door.
Mom was home. Her car had been in the drive. We heard the television in her room. I really didn’t want to get into any long discussions with her, and certainly not when I had a friend over, so we both tiptoed upstairs to avoid her hearing us. As we neared my room, I held my hand out and stopped Angela. The bathroom was across the hall just a few feet away, and the shower was running.
“Um, hey Haru,“ I called out. “When you are done, please don’t come out…I mean cover up. We have company.”
There was no answer. The water was still running. I wasn’t sure if he heard me or not. “Haru,“ I called, just a little louder this time. “We have company. Be sure to dress properly.”
The water shut off. I heard the shower door slide open on its rail. I held my breath, hoping my new boyfriend, if that’s what he was, had heard me. I saw his shadow pass across the door, as he stepped into the hall, a towel draped around his midsection. I gasped, as did Angela. It wasn’t Haru.
Ryo stood before us, dripping wet, and wearing nothing but a towel. “What do you mean by dress properly?” he asked, a sly grin creasing his face.
“Ryo, what the hell do you think you are doing!?”
He smiled. “Just thought I’d take a shower while I was waiting for you. Your mom said it was okay.”
“Well, it’s not okay with me!”
“It’s fine with me,“ Angela muttered, and Ryo noticed her for the first time. He frowned. From his expression, I could tell he was hoping I’d arrive alone.
“Ryo, this is my friend Angela. Angela, Ryo. He’s Haru’s cousin.”
She was staring at his naked chest and chocolate abs. His Loveless tattoo held her transfixed. She was a tat lover for sure.
“Oh hi,” he said, though it was easy to tell he wasn’t as impressed with her as she was with him. She was making it pretty clear her thoughts were caught somewhere between kissing his chest and thrusting hers towards him.
To my relief, she thrust her hand out instead. “Cool to meet you,“ she said. “Nora has told me all about you.” She gave me a look that appeared to be scolding me for keeping Ryo a secret.
The vampire boy looked at her hand as if it were an alien thing, but when she didn’t take it away, he took her hand in his and shook it. Of course, that meant he had to let go of one corner of his towel. It just happened to be the corner that held it all together. The towel dropped on the landing before he could grab it. Angela’s hand went to her mouth. I could have sworn she was biting it to keep from squealing in delight.
I threw my hands over my eyes, but before I did, I saw he was baring all, and I’m not that embarrassed to say it was hard to imagine why he was so loveless. He had a stunning physique, and I guess I should leave it at that. He wasn’t bashful about it, either. At first, he was surprised over losing the towel, but he regained his composure enough to take his good old time retrieving his modesty. In fact, he turned around to pick the towel up, and peeking through my hands I was afforded a look at his butt. I quickly covered my eyes again, but I’m almost sure Angela did not, because I heard her hiss “OMG” somewhere within it all.
He wrapped the towel around his waist again. “Sorry about that,“ he said in mock innocence, but something told me he wanted me to see him naked. Damn vampire exhibitionist.
“Don’t be sorry,“ Angela breathed with a heavy sigh. She didn’t say it, but I knew she was thinking he could walk around all day like that and she wouldn’t mind.
Ryo frowned again. I could tell he was irritated by her attention, and my lack of it. “Let me get my clothes,“ he said. “I’ll just come back later.”
Now I was irritated. “Much later,“ I mumbled.
When he had gotten dressed and came back out of the bathroom, he gave me a quick look. He opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it. Angela was looking at him in the way most people look at chocolate bars. She could gobble him up in under three bites.
“I’ll see myself out,“ he said, and started to go down the steps. I guess he didn’t want to take his usual route out the window and let her know he was a vampire.
Angela, with a desperate look in her eyes, shouted, “Wait!” She headed off after him, and I saw she was pulling her cell out of her back pocket. I wondered what she was up to.
Ryo stopped on the stairs and turned to her. “What?” he asked. The tone of his voice was agitated, and I was hoping her overbearing nature didn’t result in him losing his patience.
“Can I take your picture?”
She wasn’t put off by this in the least. “I can be in it with you,“ she teased with a whisper .
“Nora has one of me. Get it from her. You can photo shop yourself in it.”
To me, it seemed this was an insult that meant something like, I am never ever taking a picture with you; But Angela is like a wolf child when she sees something she wants. It’s like all she can hear are the voices in her head. I felt like telling Ryo right then and there, even a handful of rocks wouldn’t make it clear to her that he wasn’t interested. In fact to prove this, Angela raised her cellphone anyway and fired off a quick burst of shots.
Really irritated now, Ryo smacked the cell out of her hand. “No means no,“ he said. I was going to have to remember that line next time he came over.
“Ooh, a rough boy,“ Angela said. “I like that.”
He must have realized the futility of the scene, because he just turned and walked towards the front door. He flung it open and turned back to look at us. “You’re so aggressive, it’s almost cute,“ he said to Angela. “Almost.” Then he turned his eyes on me. I knew them well, for they had nearly seduced me last time he was over. “You Nora…are always beautiful. It would honor me if you would come see me tonight.”
I wasn’t falling for it this time. I didn’t let those hypnotic orbs lock onto mine for long. “I bet it would,“ I said. “But I have plans.”
He bit his lip. I’m not sure if it was in anger or desire, for he just nodded as if he knew where his competition lay. “Haru,“ he said under his breath. “I see you’re not taking my advice seriously.”
“I don’t know you well enough to believe it.”
He let out a little chuckle. “You’ll wish you had listened. But hey, it’s your heartache, not mine.”
Then he was out the door, leaving me wondering what his problem was with Haru, and leaving Angela so far out of the loop that she turned to me and said, “Did I just fall asleep and miss something?”
I shrugged. What was I supposed to tell her; that I had two boys competing for me? She’d never believe that one. I found it hard to believe myself. Just then, Angela’s cell started ringing. She jumped at the sound, but I had to laugh. Her ringtone was the theme song for the anime Bludgeoning Angel. If you’ve ever heard it, you’d laugh too, but as she answered it and said hello, she wasn’t laughing at all.
“Who?” she asked, trying to identify the caller. “Colin? Look, I don’t know how you got my number, stalker, but you know I’m not interested.” She looked at me and rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you go for that Chinatsu chick; I hear she likes you.” She hesitated, and for once I wished I could hear the other side of the conversation. “She’s a what???”
I froze. Did Colin know? Had he somehow figured out what Chinatsu was, and was now telling Angela?
“You’re crazy,“ she said. “You’re stupid if you don’t go for her. Have you seen all the boys that follow her around? I don’t care what she is.” Now I could hear his voice coming through the phone and it sounded agitated. But so was Angela. “Look, I’ll only say this once more. I. Don’t. Like. You. And. I. Never. Will. Click. Goodbye.”
She disconnected the call and slid her cell in her back pocket. She looked at me and shook her head. “I have to give him points for persistence, but damn, not only is he too nerdy for me, but he’s an idiot as well.”
“What did he want?”
“Hell, I don’t know. It sounded like he was trying to warn me about Chi or something.”
“Yeah, you aren’t going to believe what he said she is?”
I nervously held my breath and waited for it.
I released my breath in relief and snickered. “A creep?”
“Yeah, he said she was creepy. Like he has room to talk. Now, if he looked like Ryo he could creep on me anytime.”
“I don’t think Ryo…”
“I know he isn’t. Not yet at least. But he just needs to get to know me. If he knew the real me, he’d be hanging out in my shower, too.”
“Ha-ha, I bet he would, you pervert.”
“Does he live with Haru?” she asked.
“Um..no. He lives across the street.”
“With Mrs. Winston??”
“Yeah.” I had to think quick, before more questions came. “She must be his aunt or something.”
“Hmmm. I wonder if he’d like to go clubbing…”
I was going to say something else to try and deter her, but I thought better of it. As Ryo himself had said, it’s your heartache. And by the time Angela left thirty minutes later, I felt like she had some kind of plan in her head. I loved Angela to death, but I was starting to feel sorry for the Loveless vampire.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.