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Blood jewel, p.27

Blood Jewel, page 27

 part  #2 of  Vampire Agápe Series

 

Blood Jewel
 


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  Then, as quickly as it had come upon me, it was over. I felt my body go limp in my seat and I slumped forward over my desk. I didn’t need to open my eyes to know that every face in class was turned curiously in my direction. Despite the shock of what had just happened, I felt the burn of embarrassment sting my cheeks.

  “Madly, what is it?”

  Jersey’s concerned voice was near my right ear, concern I knew would be mirrored in her sea foam eyes.

  “Hey, James, quit trying to scare us,” Aidan whispered into the other ear. Though his comment was meant to sound casual, I could hear the genuine fear in his voice.

  I lifted my head and opened my eyes to Aidan’s. I knew by the frown that appeared on his smooth brow that he knew something was seriously wrong.

  “Mr. Laraby, Madly’s not feeling well, can we take her down the hall to the bathroom?”

  “She doesn’t look very good, does she?” Mr. Laraby asked, eyeing me suspiciously. “No, why don’t you take her to the nurse’s office?”

  “Yes, sir,” Aidan replied, coming around to throw my arm around his shoulder and slip his hand around my waist. With virtually no effort, he hauled me to my feet.

  “Jersey, grab her bag.”

  I heard the rustling of Jersey jumping to obey Aidan and then the patter of her feet as she followed behind us.

  As soon as we were clear of Mr. Laraby’s room, Aidan steered me to the long line of army green lockers on one side of the hall and propped me up against the cool metal.

  “What was that all about? What is it?”

  At first when he asked, I wasn’t sure how to answer, wasn’t really sure what had happened. But then, as the fog cleared from my mind, an image was left in its wake. It was the mental picture of someone I recognized.

  “It’s Lady Sheelah.”

  As my vision came back into ultra-clear focus, I saw Aidan’s pupils dilate and, for the first time since I’d known him, the jokester disappeared into the royalty that he was born to be.

  “Then we need to get to her.”

  With that, he took my hand, pulled me away from the lockers and practically dragged me down the hall. I’d forgotten all about Jersey until I heard her speak up from somewhere behind us.

  “Um, hello? Is somebody gonna tell me what the devil is going on?”

  “Come on, Jersey,” Aidan called over his shoulder. “Keep up.”

  “I’m trying, but not all of us are giants,” she snipped.

  When I turned to look back at her, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw her short legs flying in her efforts to reach us.

  “Just like not all of us are shrimps,” I teased.

  “A shellfish joke? Seriously? Are you actually gonna go there?”

  Jersey’s expression said she was skeptical. I smiled again.

  It helped to have her around to lighten the mood. It gave me a reason not to focus on the sinking feeling that was pulling at my heart, a feeling that assured me that what had happened in Mr. Laraby’s classroom did not bode well.

  The three of us made our way quickly from Building C to the dorms that crouched in a tight circle in the center of campus. Veritas Academy was a private school, so our handler, Lady Sheelah, stayed in our dorm acting as our Resident Advisor, a very human-looking position.

  As we arrived at her room, Aidan took the lead and knocked on the door. There was no answer, so he knocked a second time. When still there was no sign of Lady Sheelah, he reached for the knob. It was unlocked, turning easily.

  Pushing the door open a bit, Aidan poked his head into the room and said, “Hello? Sheelah?”

  When there was no response, my breath began to come faster. Something was desperately wrong; I could feel it.

  “Stay here,” Aidan ordered as he swung the door wide and stepped inside.

  He disappeared into the dark interior of the small room and Jersey and I looked at each other. Then, as she so often did, Jersey said exactly what I was thinking.

  “As if!”

  I took the first step into Lady Sheelah’s room. Jersey was right behind me. I felt her fingers fist in the tails of my shirt, tails I’d purposely left hanging out over my cheesy blue plaid skirt.

  Leaving my shirt untucked was my tribute to individuality among all the other uniform-clad students. “They” frowned upon it, but Jersey and I had decided two months ago that they could make us wear a uniform at Veritas Academy, but they could never make us all look the same. For Jersey, that meant wearing lots of costume jewelry and fingernail polish in every color of the rainbow.

  In the quiet of the room, I heard nothing but the smack of Jersey’s lips as she chomped on her gum.

  “Jersey, shh,” I whispered over my shoulder.

  “I can’t help it. I’m ‘nervous chewing’,” she explained in a hushed voice.

  I don’t know how it was possible that I hadn’t yet become accustomed to her loud gum-chewing. She’d done it almost all our lives, ever since she’d bought a pack of Hubba Bubba on our first trip to dry land.

  Doing my best to tune it out, I called softly to Aidan.

  “Over here,” came his response.

  The normal tones with which he spoke eased my fretting mind. In fact, I was just about to relax when I rounded the corner and saw him standing over Lady Sheelah.

  From behind Aidan’s shoulder, I could only see her head. Her dark brown hair was spread out around her, fanned out almost purposefully. Her face was turned to one side, her expression blank, her jaw slack. When I saw the splatters of silver on her pale cheek, I gasped. There was only one thing I knew of that looked like that. It would’ve been red inside her body, but outside it…

  Numbly, I edged my way around Aidan. My stomach rebelled at the sight that lay before my eyes.

  At the foot of her twin bed, Lady Sheelah lay prone on the floor, surrounded by a pool of liquid silver. It was mercury, the blood of the mermaid.

  Connect with M. Leighton at

  mleightonbooks.blogspot

  Other Books by M. Leighton

  Blood Like Poison Series

  Fragile

  Madly Series

  Nine Lives Series

  The Eclipse Series

  The Fahllen Series

  Wiccan Series

  Please enjoy this excerpt from my Young Adult Contemporary Novel

  GOING UNDER

  1 Mad Skills

  Jessie

  It was two weeks until I officially began classes at East Franklin High as the new guy, but today I was getting a preview of my new teammates and competition on the football field. From what I had heard and read about Coach Osborne, he was serious about this team, and giving anything less than my best wouldn’t earn a much needed position on first string. The spot was necessary if I planned to get a football scholarship and get the hell out of the place I currently hung my hat.

  I drove to the football field. The parking lot next to the field house didn’t look like it was filled with vehicles belonging to high school kids – it looked more like valet parking at The Peabody. My old jalopy definitely didn’t fit in, so I took this as the first clue that I wouldn’t either.

  I joined the crowd of guys sitting on the bleachers and the man standing before us announced, “I’m Coach Osborne and this is my assistant, Coach Sheffield. Before I can put you on the field, I need a copy of your physical.”

  We didn’t have to get physicals at Collinsville, so what was up with that? A physical meant seeing a doctor, which required money I didn’t have. I thought of the injury to my shoulder, wondering what I would do if I couldn’t find a doc to release me to play because of the extensive trauma. Physical therapy had helped, but it wasn’t a hundred percent and I still had a lot of pain, which I'd chosen to deal with, rather than control with narcotics.

  I watched the other players as they lined up to turn in their physicals and thought about how some things never changed for me. I had spent my entire life raising my hand to tell someone I didn’t have the things I need
ed and here I stood, 18 years old, still doing the same thing.

  “Coach, I haven’t had a physical yet. I’m a transfer student and I didn’t know I needed one. They weren’t required at my old school.” I tried to make it sound more like a lack of knowing rather than lack of money.

  “I can’t let you participate in practice until you are released and I have the paperwork on file. It’s a new policy, but one other schools will be requiring soon. What’s your name?”

  “Jessie Boone.”

  He lifted his clipboard and began writing. “Which school did you play for?”

  I sighed. It was only a matter of time before my new classmates figured me out, but I had hoped it would take longer than one day. The likelihood of standing a chance with these brats plummeted to zilch when I announced I previously attended Collinsville, because everyone knew only poor, disadvantaged kids attended Collinsville High School.

  Coach Osborne didn’t look up from his clipboard or appear to acknowledge what my attendance at Collinsville meant. “What position?”

  “I was starting quarterback, sir,” I arrogantly announced, then turned to look at the crowd of guys, who'd erupted into laughter at that.

  “Looks like you’ve got some competition, Henderson,” one of the guys cackled.

  The guy I assumed was Henderson sized me up and I did the same to prove I wasn’t afraid of a little competition.

  Coach looked up at the guys but said nothing, then returned his eyes to his clipboard and continued taking notes. “You throw with your right or left arm, Boone?”

  “Both,” I answered.

  “Okay, let me rephrase the question. Which is your better throwing arm?”

  I delighted in informing the coach, “Both are pretty much equal because I’m ambidextrous. I can throw about 60 yards from either arm, so I never throw across my body.”

  I heard murmurs among the crowd, then, “He’s full of it.”

  Coach’s interest in me was peaked and he was curious to see if what I claimed was true.

  “Only one way to find out.” He escorted me onto the field and the crowd followed, waiting to see proof of my rare ability. Coach Sheffield tossed a ball to me and said, “Time to show us what you’ve got. Cooper, you can be his receiver.”

  A preppy guy in a polo shirt and expensive jeans sprinted to the end zone and waited for my throw. I walked out to the center of the field and stretched both of my arms. My left shoulder felt a little tight and I prayed it didn’t let me down because this was my big chance to prove my place on this team was starting quarterback.

  I signaled the guy named Cooper to start running and I gave my best throw with my right arm, spiraling the football a little under sixty yards. The pass was completed perfectly when Cooper caught it in the end zone.

  Coach Osborne nodded and said, “Very nice. Now, show me what you can do with the other arm.”

  Cooper tossed the ball to me and I rolled my other shoulder in preparation. I cued Cooper to start running again and gave it my best shot. I watched the football spiral toward Cooper and he easily completed the pass. I gave a silent thanks to my recently traumatized shoulder for not failing me in front of the coach and team.

  “That was fine job, son. I’ve heard of quarterbacks that could throw with both arms, but I’ve never seen it for myself and I certainly never dreamed I’d have one show up wanting to play for me. I think you just found a place on this team, but I can’t let you practice until you’re cleared. Do you think you can get a physical this week?”

  “Yes, sir,” I lied.

  “Okay, work on getting that as quickly as possible so I can put you in. Until you’re cleared, I want you observing the team to see how they work together.”

  I nodded and took a seat on the bench while the others dressed out. As the players came onto the field I heard Henderson say, “Better get used to sitting on the bench because that’s where your game time will be spent.”

  I turned to see a malicious grin and I couldn’t resist knocking him down a notch. “Am I confused or are you not the quarterback that got his ass handed to him in the state championship game last season?”

  Coach walked onto the field between us and his presence interrupted our debate, but I knew it wasn’t over – it was only postponed.

  Practice started and the team functioned very differently than the one I had played for at Collinsville. Although it was only the first practice, they performed well together. As I watched their familiarity with one another, I became a little nervous about finding my place among them.

  When the kicker took a water break, he sat on the bench next to me. “I hear things are pretty bad at Collinsville. How did you manage to not get shot?”

  I wondered what made him so certain I hadn’t been. “Just lucky I guess.”

  He offered his hand and said, “I’m Dane Wickham, by the way.”

  I shook his hand firmly. “Jessie Boone.”

  “Yeah, I heard. You’ve got some mad skills. How did you train yourself to throw with both arms so good?” He turned the water bottle in his hand and gulped while he waited for my answer.

  The truth was that it was the only genetic perk I got from my worthless parents, but I wasn’t going there with this guy. “I didn’t train myself to do it. I’ve always been able to use either of my hands to do anything.”

  “Well, it’s really cool and we’re glad to have you on our team, even if Henderson is acting like a jackass.”

  “Thanks. I’m glad to be here instead of Collinsville. My old coach didn’t give a rip about us or if we ever won a single game. He just showed up because it was the part of his job he couldn’t dodge.”

  “Hey, water boy! Bring me something to drink,” my new nemesis yelled from across the field. I flipped him off to let him know how I felt about his order. I figured it was better for this to go down sooner rather than later.

  “I guess you figured out that’s Forbes Henderson, but ignore him. He was our first string quarterback last year and he’s showing off because he knows you just bumped him from starting.”

  This was something we needed to be clear about from the beginning. “I hope I don’t look like I care, 'cause I don’t.”

  The guy laughed and said, “I somehow gathered that by the bird you just shot him. I can already tell this is going to get interesting. You aren't like anyone at this school.”

  “Dude, you have no idea.”

  “Wickham, you kicking today or not?” the coach yelled from across the field.

  “That's my only warning. I don’t feel like running laps, so I guess I’ll catch you later.”

  “Later.”

  Practice lasted three hours and watching Henderson with his mediocre throwing skills made me itch to get out there with the team. I was ready to show them what I was made of; I was ready to show Henderson.

  When Coach let us go, I went into the field house to get my jersey and found Henderson waiting for me. After I entered, he walked to the doorway to block me from leaving and said, “That’s a snazzy little trick you can pull, but don’t think you’re gonna just walk into the starting quarterback position, because I don’t plan on giving it up.”

  I grabbed my bag off the bench and walked toward him without responding.

  As I tried to step around him, he shoved his shoulder into mine and said, “Did you hear me, boy?”

  His words and smirk triggered something in me, a reminder of the way Wayne would smirk before he beat me when I was a little kid. I grabbed him by his jersey and pulled him from the doorway, slamming him against the wall of the cement block field house. “Never touch me again. Understood?”

  He didn’t respond as he stared me right in the eyes and I wasn’t sure if it was defiance or fear I saw.

  “Do we have a misunderstanding already, guys?” I heard Coach ask from the doorway of his office as he stood with his arms crossed, waiting for an explanation.

  I refused to lose the stare down and answered, “No Coach, I think there
s a crystal clear understanding between us. Don’t you agree, Henderson?”

  He narrowed his eyes at me and answered, “Yes, I believe Boone and I understand each other perfectly.”

  “Glad to hear it. Now get out of here, Henderson. Boone, I need to see you in my office.”

  Great. I was the one that was going to get rimmed out. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; it was only natural that the rich kid would get away with murder.

  I followed Coach to his office. He shut the door and then told me to have a seat. Shutting the door was never a good sign and sitting meant he had a lot to say, an even worse sign. I prayed he wasn’t about to throw me off the team. I needed this spot desperately, so I inhaled deeply and put on my best poker face to shield my nearly overwhelming fear of being told to get out.

  “Are you aware of the magnificent talent you have, Boone?”

  I shrugged my shoulders. I wasn’t use to hearing any kind of praise, but I knew what I could do was special.

  “A lot of colleges out there that dream of getting their hands on someone like you.”

  I felt like I could breathe again when I realized I wasn’t being shown the door. I admitted, “I’m glad to hear you say that. I hope you’re right because I have to get a full ride if I want to go to college.”

  He looked a little torn about what he wanted to say and I felt a stab of nervousness return.

  “Boone, I’m a straight shooter so I’m just going to ask you. Have you not gotten the physical because you didn’t know about it, or can you not afford it?”

  Every important time in my life has always come to this, the part where I’m forced to admit I come from nothing. I hesitantly said, “I didn’t know about it, but even if I had I can’t afford it. I plan on talking to my boss this afternoon. He might let me have an advance on my paycheck.”

 
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