Blood Moon 001: The Shadows (Original Draft)

Blood Moon 001: The Shadows (Original Draft)

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ admin_label=”BLOOD MOON HEADER” fullwidth=”on” specialty=”off” transparent_background=”off” background_color=”#ffffff” allow_player_pause=”off” inner_shadow=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” padding_mobile=”off” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” make_equal=”off” use_custom_gutter=”off” global_module=”312″][et_pb_fullwidth_header admin_label=”BLOOD MOOD GLOBAL HEADER” global_parent=”312″ background_layout=”dark” text_orientation=”center” header_fullscreen=”off” header_scroll_down=”off” background_url=”” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” content_orientation=”center” image_orientation=”center” custom_button_one=”off” button_one_letter_spacing=”0″ button_one_use_icon=”default” button_one_icon_placement=”right” button_one_on_hover=”on” button_one_letter_spacing_hover=”0″ custom_button_two=”off” button_two_letter_spacing=”0″ button_two_use_icon=”default” button_two_icon_placement=”right” button_two_on_hover=”on” button_two_letter_spacing_hover=”0″ logo_image_url=”” /][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section” transparent_background=”off” background_color=”#000000″ allow_player_pause=”off” inner_shadow=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” padding_mobile=”off” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” make_equal=”off” use_custom_gutter=”off”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”3_4″][et_pb_post_title admin_label=”Chapters Post Title” global_module=”241″ title=”on” meta=”on” author=”on” date=”on” categories=”on” comments=”on” featured_image=”off” featured_placement=”below” parallax_effect=”on” parallax_method=”on” text_orientation=”left” text_color=”light” text_background=”off” text_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0.9)” module_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0)” title_all_caps=”off” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” saved_tabs=”all” /][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”dark” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon, an orange glow filtering between the trees. She walked down the empty road at the edge of town, carefully stepping around cracks and splinters in the asphalt.

The world was still laced with grey morning mist, rising up from the grass and between the crevices in the pavement like wisps of steam. Shadows flickered and darted out of view, fading into the outlines of the trees. One swatch of black was more solid than most; it was a crow, swooping down to land on the street ahead of her. As it alighted, it seemed to grow suddenly in size. Just as it formed the fuzzy outline of a person, it dissolved in a puff of black smoke and dispersed through the fog.

“Jules,” a voice whispered. “I’m sorry.”

There was a horrible, screeching sound. The earth began to quake beneath her sneakers. Pale, rotting hands reached up from the ground beneath her feet and caught at her ankles; startled, she toppled backward onto the asphalt.

Strong arms looped around her waist and hauled her upright again. The figure at her back pressed close behind her, but she couldn’t twist to see even a glimpse of their face because they held her so tight.

The sun crawled up into the sky and turned a bloody red.

She felt a hot breath against her neck… and then a piercing, sharp pain. It was nothing like last time. None of it felt good. She was bleeding too much, too fast, her strength funneling out of her body rapidly in liquid form.

“Save me, Leo,” an unfamiliar girl’s voice cried. “Please save me.”

As Julian’s body hit the pavement, she saw a girl with jet black hair reach for a boy with bright blue eyes.

Julian took in a deep gasp and flailed as she sprung awake. Her arm hit a familiar solid lump beside her. The lump grunted a complaint, but didn’t really care. This was pretty much the risk of sleeping with Julian.

At least not until Julian started shrieking. Angela bolted up immediately, grabbing an industrial grade flashlight off the nightstand and raising it up shine across the room quickly.

It didn’t help.

The entire room was pitch black, save for the bed, and even that was being encroached by it. By them. Up the post corners and sliding down the headrest, layered one atop the other in weird, aggressive curiosity and such concentration that they buried the room in a dark blanket of nothingness. Not even Angela’s flashlight was piercing through it this time.

But Angela wasn’t seeing the same thing.

“Back up, please back up!” Julian dug her fingers in to her hair and rest her forehead on her knees. Her eyes squeezed shut.

“There’s nothing in here, Julian, it’s oka-”

“It’s too dark. I can’t. I CAN’T.” Angela didn’t get a chance to ask can’t what, because Julian was already throwing off her blanket and jumping on to the floor. Her movements were awkward, like she was trying to avoid stepping on something. In truth, she was. Dodging around the skittering forms of little shadows at her feet.

She rushed to the door and tried to yank it open. “LET GO OF THE DOOR!” she yelled, trying to swat them away from it.

“What the hell is in here?!” Now Angela was shouting, glancing around the bed and shining her light in every direction trying to scare out whatever it was. The damn flashlight weighed five pounds and could probably blind a plane out of the sky. It worked fine before. Apparently Julian’s new friends realized it was harmless.

With a little more squealing Julian managed to wretched her bedroom door open and she stumbled out in to the hall.

SHIT! WAIT!” Angela fell out of the bed trying to chase after the girl, her legs still all tangled up in the blankets.

Julian didn’t get very far before she slammed face-first into six feet of vampire.

“Woooah, there, where’s the fire?” Leo’s arms looped around her. Had he even been home when she went to bed? He hadn’t stayed the night once in the last two weeks, but it was definitely Leo catching her and practically lifting her off the floor in an attempt to halt her frenzied flight.

He was also not wearing a shirt, so it wasn’t very likely he’d been out and running around.

“Hey. Hey, you okay?” he asked. He didn’t even look at Angela. “Do I need to kill something? I will kill whatever it is unless you’re screaming about something dumb like a spider. If you woke me up over a spider, I will kill you.

“I’M FINE.” Julian sounded the complete opposite of fine. She was also squirming enough in her attempt to escape that even Silvia would be impressed. The longer he held on, the more frantic it got.

Until all of a sudden she stopped. Julian glanced around him, tilting precariously to squint over his shoulder at the wall. Her gaze followed something all the way up to the ceiling, until it fell to that little place at his chest. Where she stared for a moment.

Save me, Leo, please save me.

“And FUCK YOU, I can kill my own damn spiders.”

Angela made it to the doorway in one piece, spinning a finger at her head and mouthing the word crazy psychic stuff. She kept the flashlight though and gave a quick perusal of the hall.

“You sleep in those pants or did you fling ’em on just for my benefit? Cause you didn’t have to.” Angela remarked out loud, giving a cheeky grin. “Drag her back in here, I got this.” she waved her stupidly huge light.

“NO.” There was that manic tone again and Julian resumed her flailing. “Go away! I’m not sleeping in there anymore! I have to GO.”

“Fuck that, I’m not chasing you down the street again.” frowned Angela. “We’re way past due for an intervention anyway. Leo’s turn to get elbowed in the face, and all that jazz.”

“Okay. First of all,” Leo began… and then tossed Julian up and over his shoulder. “Yeah. No. We’re going to calm you the fuck down and talk about this because everyone in this house needs to be able to sleep.”

He jerked his head at Angela and started making his way in the direction of the stairs.

“I have been dealing with a crankyass ex-witch newbie vampire for the last two weeks. I need rest,” he informed Julian. “You can sleep on the kitchen floor for all I care, but we can talk about this shit once we get you some tea. Or booze. Or both. I’m thinking both.”

“THANK YOU. Finally, god damn. This was supposed to be a nice little ice-cream and cryfest vacation and instead I get shrieked awake every other night. We have, like, A DAY to catch up on sleep before school starts.” complained Angela, following them to the stairs and swinging her flashlight back and forth.

“I’m never sleeping again and I’m never going back to school.” Julian promptly stated, trying to roll herself off Leo’s shoulder. For a split second she looked at her nails and strongly considered eagle clawing in to his back. But she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Sighing in defeat, Julian went limp.

“I don’t want any tea and I don’t want any booze. I just want all five bazillion of you to get out of my house and for me to just not BE here.” she grumbled.

Angela snorted. “Well you should have thought about that before you promised Walter you weren’t going to take off out of town like a maniac every time you got freaked out by something. Now are you gonna tell us what you’re flipping your shit over, or do we get to torture you first? Cause torture is sounding good right about now.”

“Forget it. You tell him things. So Leo can serve up a bag of dicks and you can BOTH eat them, Angela Mercy!”

“Oh yeah, be mad at Angela for trying to keep you alive. That’s useful.” Down the stairs they went, and Julian’s dead fish impression didn’t seem to make Leo any more inclined to let her back down onto her own two feet. “Or am I not allowed to know anything now? Can’t keep up with the rules.”

That last jab had a tiny bit of bite to it. He didn’t sound mad, exactly, but it was hard to tell where things with Leo were right now. They hadn’t really talked since the day after All Saint’s Day. He’d popped in and out, but never stayed more than an hour.

True to his promise, Leo made a beeline for the kitchen and plopped Julian directly onto the counter, her legs dangling over the side. He reached past her to grab the kettle, passing it from one hand to the other and staring at her.

“I know you’ve got rum squirreled away behind the Betty Crocker,” he said. “Angela, where’s the damn tea?”

Julian opened her mouth, but found she couldn’t think up something snappy quick enough. She could have told him to fuck off for all the good that would’ve done her. Or she could tell him just how much he seriously sucked, and he was a huge hypocrite, and she hated his guts. Only she didn’t hate him. She was just MAD.

Mad was so much easier to manage than being scared. Julian held on to it tight and clamped her mouth shut. Crossing both her arms over her chest, and her feet at her ankles, Julian found a spot across the kitchen to glare at.

Angela watched the exchange on the tip of her toes, waiting for something GOOD to happen. Julian to blurt something out, Leo to make with the grabbyhands. A demand for tea was so annoyingly anti-climatic.

“Ugh, you guys are the worst.” she grumped, stomping across the kitchen to fetch a box out of the cabinet shelves. “All right, you get to pick. We’re gonna talk about the ‘five bazillion’ someones cause I’m pretty sure me and Leo only make two. OR you can tell us about the vision.”

“There wasn’t a vision.” insisted Julian, despite it being pretty clear by the way she squirmed that there was.

Angela tossed the box of tea on to the counter next to her, then wandered over to another shelf for fishing out the booze. “I’d believe you, exceeept Leo already knows about your little shadow friends and you’re only pissy about me telling him about the vision stuff. So. …Unless you want us to get you drunk first. I’m super okay with that.”

Julian shifted again this time tilting her head to scowl at Angela. If the tap of her fingers was any indication, she was giving the idea some consideration. “Fine. But only if Leo plays the game. If he’s not scared to play Truth or Lie with a psychic?”

Leo looked at the bottle of rum, then at Julian.

This wasn’t as much of a predicament as it could be, really. If she opened certain doors, she probably wouldn’t like what she found; he could trust her to avoid those. And if she did, well…

Leo had gotten really good at wiggling the truth around to come out the way he needed it to, thanks to Michael.

“Your smack-talk is atrocious,” he informed Julian, holding out a hand to take the bottle from Angela. “I am ashamed of you.”

“Oh shit, are we really doing this?” Angela didn’t even try to hide the excitement, this was going to be the greatest thing EVER. “Vampire versus Psychic in the Hollinger House? Hell yeah, but we’re gonna do this RIGHT.” The bottle of rum got shoved in to Leo’s hands and Angela went tearing around the corner down a hall. There was some loud clattering and the slam of a door. When she reappeared there were two more bottles in her hands.

Even Julian looked a little confused about where those bottles were hiding… and now she wasn’t looking so sure that this was a good idea. But the challenge had been issued and there was no turning back now.

“Trash talk is for losers that can’t play the game. I always win.” explained Julian, at least trying to sound intimidating.

“She’s right. That’s why we’re going to be playing with special rules. And here is a bottle for you!” Angela handed one over to Julian. “One question per turn. No vague questions allowed, you gotta be specific. You also can’t ANSWER vaguely. No doubling questions in the form of well crafted sentences. Vampire takes double shots per every lie. Psychic has to drink a shot with every question, and then a double if she lies.”

“That’s not fair!”

“Uh, fuck you, you’re a psychic and mind reading cheater. Shot every round.” Julian scowled but didn’t protest again. “Good girl! I’ll be your sober referee for the evening and be all too happy to call you both on your stupid bullshit. Also the loser of this little game gets to take me out on an expensive date! Yay for me!”

“Now if we all agree to these terms…” Angela hopped up on to the counter across from Julian, then gestured to Leo. “Assholes always get to go first.”

Leo stepped back to lean against the fridge, contemplating which card to play first. The obvious first choice was to interrogate Julian about her screaming fit, but that was a waste of a question. She wasn’t going to be forthcoming until she got a little liquor in her, and Angela would start grilling Julian even if he didn’t.

Plus, he figured it would be way more fun to throw both of the girls off their game.

“Alright,” he said. “Let me take a minute to channel my inner teenage girl. We didn’t have this game when I was a regular kid with time to play stupid teenage drinking games, you know. I have to get in character first. Eeny, meeny, miney… Angela. What’s the weirdest sex dream you’ve ever had?”

“Oh honey, no. You’re going to have to try so much harder than that.” Angela smirked wide. All teeth and wickedness.

Julian grimaced, already screwing off the top of her own bottle. “Great, this IS going to be torture.”

“SO ONCE UPON A TIME, on a stormy thunderous night.”

“We do NOT need the featured motion film version.” Julian protested.

Angela just laughed and shrugged her shoulders. “Rules are rules and he asked for it. Where was I? Oh right, a stormy thunderous night. I just finished binge watching an entire season of some astronomy special, pretty sure it was voiced over by Stephen Hawking. It’s late and the next day is a school night, so I wolf down an extra piece of pizza and head straight to bed.”

“Cue THE PORN MUSIC. Real porn music? No, of course not. I get the fucking theme song from fucking Gummi Bears whistling along in the background. This dude from the SPECIAL EYES commercial is sitting in a corner just molesting the hell out of this extra cheese pizza and just rubbing it all over himself. My good friend Stephen Hawking is reciting poetry over the Gummi Bears theme. Naturally Julian is there too, waving a stupid French book at me and bitching about our homework.”

“You think at this point it can’t get any weirder. Alas, there is this dude in a giant hot dog costume just dancing away. For some reason I just KNOW he’s the sexiest dude I have ever seen, even though I can’t see his fucking face. And we just GO AT IT. Like I am all over that giant hot dog. Mustard goes flying everywhere. It was sick.”

“I woke up laughing though. Julian thought I lost it.”

Julian had the palm of her hand pressed against her forehead. It wasn’t clear if she were trying to suppress a laugh or trying not to throw up. “I wish this wasn’t truuuue. Am I taking a shot with every person’s questions?”

Angela opened her mouth to correct her, but… “Yeah, you take a drink for all the questions! Speaking of which.” A flash of teeth got aimed in Leo’s direction again. “Hey douchebag, when is the last time you boned somebody? You seem a little pent up.”

Julian was in the middle of taking a drink and she nearly choked on it. She coughed and wiped the back of her hand against her mouth.

“Why don’t you try a little harder to jump on my dick, Mercy. It ought to be easy, I’m going commando right now.” Leo pointed at her lazily. “You are a freak, by the way. But I knew that.”

If she thought her question was going to embarrass him, she was barking up the wrong tree.

“Don’t worry your pretty blond head, I get mine. It’s only been like three months. I know that sounds like an eternity to you, but some of us have lived long enough to have a different sense of time.”

“Look at you, so feisty. You might wanna do something about that soon.” Angela made kissy faces at him and bat her eyelashes. She slid a sly look over to Julian who, damn her, didn’t seem at all ruffled. She just had that impatient twist of her mouth, and was tapping her heels against the bottom cabinets.

Angela pointed at Julian’s bottle. Julian huffed and took a drink. “Are you done flirting, or can I ask my question now?”

The blond flashed a grin. “Go on, babe. Pick your poison.”

Julian tilted her bottle back and forth, swishing it’s contents like a pendulum. First she shot a glance to Leo, giving him a head to toe once over for the first time since barreling out of her room. He was just- Yeah. Screw him and his stupid face. Then she turned her head to squint at Angela, who looked way too pleased with herself. Julian knew what they were doing. They might be a million times smarter than her, but she wasn’t THAT dumb. They weren’t going to let her hide and sulk somewhere, and they knew if they kept her still long enough she’d eventually blabber everything they wanted to know.

They were trying to throw her off by starting with the totally inappropriate and unrelated questions. This was pretty classic of Angela, since that’s how Angela played the game. Leo pulling the same crap made sense. She saw the way the worked together – they were dangerous. She couldn’t just ask the questions she wanted to ask directly. That’s what they expected her to do and Leo probably knew how to weasel his way out of it with the right kind of answers. Angela would counter and play defense, using everything she knew about her bestie to ask just the right questions to get her drunk faster and spilling the info they wanted.

This so wasn’t fair. There was no way to outwit them, she was just going to have to confuse them and hope she lasted long enough to escape.

“Juuuulian. Earth to Julesland.” Angela called, waving a hand out trying to catch her attention.

Apparently her inner dialogue had taken so long that Julian was now getting the worried stares. She hated when they looked at her that way. She flushed crimson, focusing her attention on a little black spot taking residence next to Angela.

Not now Francis. I need to think.

Julian lift a hand and pointed right at Leo, without bothering to turn and look in his direction.

“You. Would you like a puppy or a kitten?”

Angela at least appeared to be confused, but it only lasted a fraction of a second before her little wheels started turning.

What. Leo blinked. After a few seconds, though, he caught on. Julian was being random and hoping that would save her.

“For what?” he asked, pursing his lips as they threatened to smile. “To own? To eat?

“I’ve never been much of a pet person.” He shrugged. “Never had one. I was always too busy running around after people.

He tilted his head. Now, should he keep going after Angela for a bit? Or mess with Julian? ….Who was he kidding. Messing with Julian was basically his favorite pastime.

“Jules.” He shifted against the fridge, accidentally sliding a magnet to the side in the process. At the last second, though, he veered away from the question he had prepared. Instead, what he came out with was, “How are you doing?”

To eat? He wouldn’t eat a kitten! Under different circumstances, the absurdity would’ve made Julian laugh and shoot back with something just as snarky. Instead she took her obligatory drink-per-question (at Angela’s stupid pointing) and huffed at his question.

“I’m fi-” she started, but Angela’s well timed throat clearly gave her pause. Julian’s eyes found Francis again and she crossed her arms around her bottle to hug it against her chest. “I’m FANTASTIC. I’m glad I can’t stay asleep for long so I can avoid nightmares about dead people. I don’t have to worry about feeling lonely, because I’m never alone. And I don’t have to worry about another geometry test, so that’s cool!”

“Julian.” Angela chided.

“You didn’t say anything about sarcasm being against the rules.” Julian responded with a wide cheeky grin. Probably an expression she picked up from Angela herself.

The corner of Angela’s eyebrow rose. “So I didn’t. You got me. Just one little drink for the psychic then.” Julian was still looking smug as she took a swig. Angela held up four fingers at Leo and mouthed the words magic number.

“Aaaanyway, I guess it’s my turn then. I waaant to ask why Jules is never alone, but I’m betting it’s because of all those creepy little ghosts you’ve told us about.”

Julian nodded first, then frowned and shook her head. “Not ghosts. They’re just shadows. They’re not trapped or anything, they’re just… hanging out.”

“Oh, my bad. Shadows then. But since I REALLY want to know where Leo gets his favorite human take out…” Angela pointed her bottle at Leo with a smirk. “Where does a vampire like you go to get a good snack?”

“…Pass,” said Leo. He unscrewed the cap on his bottle of bourbon and took a swig. “Angela, what’s the deal with you and Broody Wolf? He asks me about you every damn time he sees me. Did you two have makeup sex in his bedroom on Halloween?”

“You don’t get a pass.” complained Julian, grabbing the nearest thing to her to throw at him. Leo got smacked in the shoulder with a potholder.

“I didn’t say passes were against the rules either.” Angela corrected.

Julian crossed her arms around her bottle again and huffed. “That’s a load of crap. I’ll remember that.”

Angela just shrugged, smiling as she tapped her own bottled against her knee. “Sadly we did NOT get the hot makeup sex I really wanted, since, you know, witchpocalypse was going on. Not that it really stopped you guys from making out all night. How many times was it again.. hmm. Technically three, but Julian said the first counted as like five.”

Julian went bright red, but the glare she cast was down right vicious. “Knock her off the counter.”

Someone must have been about to try, because Julian suddenly sucked in a breath and threw her hands out with the abort mission signal. Angela tensed until Julian let out a relieved sigh.

“Did you just try to knock me off the fucking counter with one of your creepyass shadow friends?!”

“Um… No?”

“LIE. Double drink, you little shit!”

If Julian could have slumped down in her seat, she would have. Instead she took her obligatory swallows. After a few awkward silent moments, she spoke.

“Are you afraid of me?” she asked softly, not specifying who she was aiming the question at. At the moment it really didn’t matter. She was afraid of herself.

Leo was the first one to answer, though. He gave a wry smile.

“Don’t be stupid, Jules,” he said. “I’ve told you from the beginning that you’re the one who should be a little more afraid of me, but you don’t listen.”

A memory came back to him, partly thanks to Angela’s reminder. Not gonna hurt you, not gonna hurt you-

He took a drink even though he didn’t have to. Leo suddenly wasn’t sure he wanted to stay sober.

“What have you been dreaming about?” he finally asked, since Julian seemed to be in a more forthcoming mood.

Julian didn’t seem content with his answer, but she was getting a bit distracted with her bottle. How many questions were there now? How many drinks was that? Wait, did she take a drink for this question yet? Francis and and the other Francises weren’t helping any either. Now they didn’t hover so close and seemed to be content doing whatever little shadows did when they weren’t encroaching in to her personal bubble. She didn’t need them right now, though she suspected Francis did feel a little disappointed not having the chance to launch a person across the kitchen.

“Aaahm… it’s new. …but not really? There are things that are the same, but now something is different so the feel is all different. I don’t know how to-” she paused, pointing a finger at her head. Finally she just sighed and dropped her head. “I’m still going to die, you know. Even they are worried about it.”

“Julian, you’re being too vague. We need the details.” encouraged Angela carefully.

Julian huffed, setting aside her bottle on the counter then holding her hands out in front of her. “Sunrise and morning mist over the cracked asphalt.” She held up a finger. “Shadows disappear in to the trees and a Crow that isn’t a crow.” Another finger on her other hand. “‘Jules, I’m sorry.’” she whispered, and a third finger flicked up. “A horrible screech and rotting hands shooting out of the ground.” A fourth. “Breathless. Teeth. Blood. Too much and too fast. I’m going to die.” All five fingers up on one hand.

Then there was the sixth finger. Julian frowned at it the most. “‘Save me, Leo,’ she says. ‘Please save me.’

Julian snatched up her bottle and drank several more swallows than she really needed it. “And it wasn’t me because I don’t need you to save me, you shouldn’t have in the first place, and you’re stupid, but I’ll help you anyway because you need me and I want to.”

This game officially wasn’t fun anymore.

“You’re saying that this time, you see a vampire killing you,” Leo summarized slowly. “And I’m involved.”

I knew I should have left town. Leo felt the horrible urge to laugh. He would have to be stupid not to put this together; he wasn’t sure how Julian hadn’t put it together. The nickname. I’m sorry.

The girl.

Why hadn’t she screamed the second she saw him? Did she really trust him that much? She shouldn’t. How had he let her? Scratch his previous thought; Leo was an idiot.

“Well, answer there seems pretty simple, Jules. Stay away from vampires and you’ll be fine. Haven’t I been saying that all along?”

“Oh Jesus Christ. The two of you.” Angela sighed, reaching up to pinch the bridge of her nose. Between Julian refusing to acknowledge the fact she really did need the help, and Leo’s tendency to freak out at just the possibility Julian would die, Angela was ready to lock the both of them down in the basement and just handle all this bullshit on her own.

…She could, actually. Maybe it was about time she put all that researching to good use and got things under control. With a few extra hands on deck, Team Psychic would be a force no one could fuck with.

“FIRST OF ALL.” Angela stated as loud as she could without actually shouting. “You dumbass. Did she specifically SAY vampire? Did she SAY it was you?” She gave a pointed stare to Julian, who promptly shook her head to confirm.

“Exactly, okay then. You know these dreams aren’t straight forward. They’re not spot on sequence to sequence going to line up with real events. There’s symbolism involved. There’s the past moments, the present and immediate future moments, and then the bigger future picture bullshit. We just have to figure out which parts represent what.”

Angela made sure they were both paying attention. She wasn’t too sure about Julian, since the girl was now swaying slightly on her counter perch and looking a little bit like she swallowed a fly. But Leo was listening, and that was the important one. Angela needed Leo’s brain in working order. Even though she was pretty confident she was smarter than him by far, Leo had age and experience with this kind of shit.

“Julian croaking is the big finale. That’s why the dream is so different now. You just changed that – but obviously not ENOUGH because it’s still on the table. It’s the long game. Right now, though, we should be worried about all that in between stuff. Maybe this time, now that the Ghost Whisperer here is actually going to cooperate, we’ll know what it all means BEFORE shit all goes to hell.”

“We’re better prepared now. It’s going to be okay.”

“Yeah, sunshine and rainbows,” muttered Leo. Angela might have thought she had all the answers, that she was the only one seeing this shit clearly. Leo wasn’t just freaking out over nothing, so she could get over herself. She didn’t know as much as she thought she did.

“She didn’t say it wasn’t vampires, either,” he continued, louder. “You’d have to be stupid not to allow for that possibility, especially considering that vampires are kind of a thing in Julian’s life now. And I never said it was me, either, so give me a break.”

It didn’t have to be him. It might just be his fault.

He grimaced.

“I’m on board with Team Julian Doesn’t Die, okay? I’ve spent too much time saving her ass for that to go to waste now. And I… owe her one. So yeah, I’m going to consider all the possibilities and psychic bullshit symbolism, don’t worry.”

“UGH!” Angela responded in a groan as she leaned back. “Obviously it still COULD be vampires, since shit, she’s got three of you now and those assholes seem to be all over the damn place hanging out in clubs and bars and the side of the street. I’m just saying-”

“You don’t owe me anything.” Julian interrupted. Her tone had completely changed. The sharpness and irritation was gone. Now she was sitting there staring at Leo with her eyes wide and seeming completely baffled by him. “You don’t have to feel guilty, you don’t have to feel responsible for anything that happens to me. You think so much of this is your fault, but it’s not.”

“You mess with fate and fate gives you the horns.” she said matter-of-factly, shifting to slide off the counter. But when her feet hit the floor, the rest of her went down too until Julian was sitting on her knees casting the most forlorn and bewildered look around the kitchen.

“Francis don’t move the house, that’s MEAN.”

Angela sighed. “We better get her back to bed. There’s no way I’M dragging her ass upstairs.”

“No. No no no. I’m not going back to my room EVER again.” insisted Julian, who was trying to get the room to stop shifting long enough so she could climb to her feet. “Going to sleep in Leo’s car.”

“The hell you are,” Leo objected immediately. He put the bourbon down on the counter and moved to scoop Julian up again.

Jesus. Leo was so fucking toast. Why did he do this to himself? He was already regretting what he was about to say, but that didn’t stop him.

“Fine. You can both sleep in my room, since you’re too much of a baby,” he said. Over Julian’s head, he was shooting Angela the world’s most deadly warning glance. One that said, If you say so much as a word I am walking out of this house and Julian can be your problem. “I think between me and Angela we can keep you covered. But this is a one night only deal, alright? I am not having slumber parties with you forever.”

Angela opened her mouth and soundlessly squealed, shaking her hands and making the biggest scene she possibly could without saying a word. Because haaaaa. This was fucking adorable. Adorable and oh god, all of the fun awful things she could tease them about later.

It took Julian a second to realize she wasn’t on the floor anymore. Damn when did Leo get up so close? Julian lift a hand to poke the side of his jaw. “I’m not a baby,” she protested. “You don’t know what’s in my room.” she continued in a whisper, as if her room guests were going to hear and get offended.

Julian dropped her head to his shoulder, frowning to herself. She was supposed to be mad at him. Not glad that he was warm. And definitely not glad that he offered his bed, just so she didn’t have to sulk to herself wishing she could kidnap him because she slept better when he was around.

“Do you want to sleep in the big bed with me again? There’s enough room for Angela.”

What. WHAT. Angela nearly lost it. She didn’t say a damn word, but that question was written all over her face. She had to swallow it down like she was swallowing huge slug. Smirking to herself, she gestured towards the kitchen doorway.

Yep. Regret. Regret was Leo’s middle name.

“Yeah, okay,” he agreed anyway. He actually hadn’t planned on sleeping in the same bed, but it was surprisingly hard to say something to disappoint her when she was hanging all over him like this. “Whatever you want.”

He gave Angela another look. The I am going to smother you while you’re sleeping next to me look.

With that settled, he shouldered his way past Angela, making sure not to bump Julian against the door frame, and headed back upstairs. He remembered which door was her parents’ old bedroom; he’d carefully avoided that one when taking his pick of the bedrooms, but it looked like he was ending up there anyway.

He might have enjoyed this, just a little, if Angela weren’t on his heels and grinning like a deranged hyena.

Fuck, he hoped Julian wouldn’t remember any of this. Or at least would be as reluctant to bring it up as he was.

“Here we go,” he said, easing Julian onto the bed and very pointedly thinking unsexy thoughts like Angela is right here. “Don’t get used to the taxi service, Jules, I can’t be around every time you get so shitfaced you can’t stand on your own two feet.”

“I don’t get drunk.” she muttered, rolling twice until she landed in her spot. Mostly in the middle. Almost. Apparently Angela had tip toed her way through the door only to leap in to the bed and take up as much space as a teenage girl could get, then made herself good and comfortable on top of the bedspread. Julian laughed softly, because. Well. Leo did that exact same thing the first time too.

Julian raised up on her elbows for a second, giving the room a good look over. They were lurking in here too, but were keeping a fair distance so far. They liked to sneak in closer when she wasn’t watching them, and that was just- Julian didn’t want to wake up like that again.

Scowling at one of the corners, she scooted back until she could slip under the covers, then pulled the corner back for Leo to climb in bed too. “And that’s okay. I’ll always be around for you when you’re being a shitface.”

Angela made a strange choking sound and slapped a hand over her mouth. When that didn’t work, she grabbed a pillow and held it tightly over her face.

Leo did the only thing he could do at this point, which was ignore the fuck out of Angela and slip into bed on the opposite side of Julian. He did make sure to keep a decent amount of distance between them, because the last thing he needed to do was start spooning with her. Angela might choke to death on that pillow, after all. That’d be such a shame. Yeah.

“Go the fuck to sleep,” he told her, and turned his back on her, pressing his eyes closed and wondering how the hell he was going to deal with this in the morning.

Sleep came so much easier this time. Maybe that was from the copious amount of booze she got tricked in to swallowing, or the fact that two weeks of sleepless nights finally caught up to her. But Julian knew it was more likely due to the stupidly warm firefly asleep next to her.

That’s probably why when she jumped awake a second time, it wasn’t followed by startled screaming or the sudden onset of a panic attack. Julian wasn’t sure what it was that woke her. She was hazy with that slept-off alcohol feeling. She didn’t have another bad dream. The shadows were still there, having inched closer while she slept, just as expected. But there weren’t so many of them that the room was nothing but black. She might have started screaming if that were the case.

Something just felt off. Wrong. Somewhere not here, out of her reach and out of her control. But near enough to get under her skin and apparently ruin any chances of a full night’s sleep.

She tilted her head towards Angela’s side. The blond was knocked out beyond all recovery. Which was probably for the best. Julian felt a little bad for giving her such a hard time. Angela didn’t have to stay with her and deal with all her crazy psychic problems. But she did and thus, Angela was going to get to sleep.

Julian then turned her head to squint at Leo. Leo sucked and she was STILL mad at him. Yet here he was in the world’s most awkward threesome just because she was scared of the dark. Despite the fact he’d already spent two weeks babysitting a very pissed off former witch. He deserved some sleep too.

Sighing to herself Julian scooted closer to Leo, telling herself it would be fine. He wouldn’t notice and she’d roll back in the other direction as soon as she started falling asleep again. She excused pressing her forehead against his arm, and made up a reason to rest both her knees just barely over his leg. As long as she didn’t wake him up and she didn’t lay a hand on him, she’d be keeping her dumb, totally insane promise.

Of course, Julian’s promise didn’t take into account Leo touching her.

He didn’t actually seem to wake up, but almost as soon as she snuck a bit of contact, he rolled over. His arm fell, heavy and dead-weight, over her waist. She could feel his fingers curl and uncurl against her back.

He really was stupidly warm. Like a furnace. Winter was already starting to settle in, but Leo seemed perfectly comfortable with no shirt and barely any of the covers. Was that a vampire thing, or just a Leo thing?

He made a noise in the back of his throat like she’d done something offensive, but otherwise showed no signs of anything resembling awareness. A moment later, he tucked his face against her throat.

Well damn. That was quite possibly the worst thing that could have happened. Julian didn’t have a stop button, not at the moment, she knew she didn’t. It was exactly the sort of thing she needed. And despite how much she kept insisting it wasn’t, it was what she wanted too. To be wrapped up somewhere nice and safe and warm and comforting. Unfortunately, Leo was really good at being all those things when he wasn’t opening his dumb mouth and pissing her off.

She knew better than to relax and curl closer to him. The smarter thing to do would be rolling away. The smartEST thing would be jumping out of bed and sleeping in a cold bathtub. But that’s not what she choose to do. Like the dumbest girl on the planet, she went for the why are you such an asshole option instead. Nuzzling against his skin until she found the most comfortable spot to lay her head. Sliding her arm up around him until her balled up fist rest against his shoulder blade. Telling herself it was still KIND OF okay and didn’t count as touching, and completely ignoring the little voice of reason in her head.

This was just very snuggly sleeping. It was cool. No one could get in trouble for snuggles. Plus, they totally did this before. It wasn’t a big deal.

It took a minute or two for Leo’s sleep-addled brain to realize what had happened.

Shit, he swore groggily, and forced his breathing to stay utterly smooth and steady. Unfortunately, that meant he was breathing right against Julian’s neck, which didn’t make it any easier to think straight.

He felt her shift a little. Processed that she was definitely awake.

His heart rate picked up the pace a little. It got worse when his lips grazed Julian’s skin- by accident or by subconscious design, he wasn’t entirely sure.

Oh hell. This was not fine. This was not cool. She liked this. How was she supposed to fall asleep like this. How did she do it last time? She was upset and exhausted then. She still was now. There was absolutely no reason she should be getting all fluttery just because of a few subtle unconscious movements.

Wait, was he awake?

Her breath caught.

Oh hell, hell, hell.

Well. It was too late now. If she pulled away suddenly, he’d probably just tell her stupid bullshit about her being half-drunk and not knowing what she was doing. Whatever totally untrue nonsense he wanted to make up just so it wouldn’t be her fault. Plus, she didn’t want to. He was comfortable and if she would stop flipping out for two seconds, she could actually fall asleep and maybe STAY asleep. What was wrong with that? He wouldn’t die from bedtime cuddles. At least she was confident that if he really wanted to put up a fuss he’d just shove her back over to Angela.

One day she’d wonder how anyone could defiantly snuggle a person. But for the time being, she just nestled in to her nice little warm spot and hoped his heart wasn’t all jumpy just because hers wouldn’t quit.

It would be so horribly easy for Leo to sneak in a few more kisses “accidentally”. Just a few glancing brushes of his lips past her throat. She was awake, he knew she was awake, but she was already letting him get away with way more than he should. He was just out of it enough that he could probably even convince himself that it hadn’t been on purpose.


Sighing, he turned his face just slightly in towards the mattress and slid his fingers up just a little along her back. His fingertips grazed her spine in the process, but he wasn’t paying attention to anything except trying desperately to fall back asleep.

Fortunately for both of them, Leo was exhausted. The moment he relaxed, he was out again like a light.

The next morning, Angela was the first the wake. Angela was always the first to wake. Much to everyone’s annoyance, the girl was a chirpy morning person. Once she was up, she was UP. Ready to tackle the day and everything that came with it.

Normally once she woke, she made sure to annoy everyone else awake too. But this morning was a special case. For one, Julian really needed sleep. She was always a little more weird than usual when she couldn’t get any rest, and now? Now it was a million times worse. Maybe a small part of it was her breakup with Michael and the dumb drama with Leo, but Angela didn’t believe that was the case. Julian never had issues handling people, and boyfriends wouldn’t be any different. This was the psychic stuff. Her best friend was headed towards some sort of psychic meltdown and that was frightening.

Of course, the other reason she didn’t wake anyone up was purely for amused pleasure. Her bestie and her new backup bestie were entangled in an adorable cuddle-pile. It was sweet and wonderful and she absolutely took the time to sneak out of the room and fetch her phone so she could snap a quick picture. Sure, the entire thing could have been innocent. Leo was a flirt with no respect for people’s personal space bubbles. Julian herself was a touchy person and she’d probably snuggle up with anybody. But after seeing them interact last night, and knowing how the two of them were constantly spending an abnormal amount of time complaining about each other… Yeah. They liked each other. The dumbasses probably LOVED each other.

That was going to be so much fun.

In the meantime, Angela made good use of her morning. Downstairs in the kitchen, after making some coffee and grabbing a bag of chips for breakfast, Angela got her hands on a notebook and started jotting things down. Leo would have a lot of his plate dealing with David Hightower, and from the sounds of Julian’s vision, he was about to have more crap spring up. He was too focused on Julian to realize some of that danger could have been aimed in his direction too.

This also wasn’t the first dream of Julian’s where she ended up dead on some creepyass street. But it WAS the first dream the school didn’t appear at all. It was safe to assume that street was now the new central point. The dead hands appeared in a past dream too. Angela already knew the things that repeated across multiple dreams had significance.

The crow gave Angela some pause, tapping her pen against her chin and turning it over in her head. Crows were in all kinds of death lore. She was going to have to dig in deeper for that one. She was also super worried about Julian’s getting chomped on and the fact Leo had some not-Julian girl begging him to save her. Julian wasn’t going to stop hanging around vampires, it really was the most likely danger. And there was a theme of past things coming back to bite people in the ass. Maybe even literally.

Fuuuuuuck, this was a mess. A glorious, puzzling mess. If she ignored all the part where people were DYING, it was brilliant good fun trying to piece it all together.

A sound made her look up from her perch in the kitchen, just in time for her to catch Leo’s eye as he was passing by the doorway to escape the house. Angela didn’t say a word. She just smirked ear to ear. That was enough, he fucking knew what she was smirking about. Once he was out the front door, she started chortling. He was so screwed.

And also apparently not going to be around to help with Julian. Which meant Angela was going to have to call in a different kind of backup. She reached over for her phone and scrolled through the names. Once the other line picked up she sighed.

“I need your help with something important. Meet me downtown in like, an hour?”

Julian wasn’t sure where she was.

Well, she knew where she was. Silent Pines, Pennsylvania. Downtown walking along Mainstreet, just past the store that had all the cute little china teacups and across the street from the cupcake shop. Angela was holding tight to her hand, almost dragging her down the sidewalk. Probably because for the first few blocks leaving the house, Julian kept getting distracted. She wasn’t doing it on purpose and she was TRYING to pay attention. But then there would be something shimmery behind a fence, or she’d see something odd and out of place.

The haziness could have just been a hangover, but Julian didn’t really feel ill. After attaching herself to Leo and getting over the initial dumb warm fuzzy feelings, Julian managed to fall asleep and sleep good. It was actually kind of embarrassing. She was surprised when Angela didn’t bring it up, and was happy to just let it go and pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. Because it WASN’T.

There were more interesting things afoot anyway. Like this horse. Why the hell was there a horse on Mainstreet? Who even drove carriages like this? Was there some kind of event this weekend? Angela wasn’t dragging her anymore, so Julian stopped to give the horse a pat on the nose. Her hand went right through him and he didn’t even notice. Quickly she realized he wasn’t even actually there. This wasn’t a live horse and it wasn’t a ghost either. This was something else entirely.

Okay, now she felt a little sick.

“What is wrong with her?” Margrit Berkshire asked. She was dressed smartly in a yellow top and black pencil skirt, with some dark grey leggings and ankle boots. Dangling from one hand was a large matching purse. Her other now pressed against her chest as if she were completely scandalized.

Gods, Angela hated when she did that. Who did Margrit think she was? Some Victorian Lady? Angela crossed her arms, casting a frown over her shoulder towards Julian. The girl was waving her hand trying to touch something invisible again. Apparently unsuccessfully, because she huffed and wandered over to stare in to a shop window. It didn’t take long before she had that spaced out look again. Julian barely spoke a word all morning. It wasn’t NORMAL.

“Some really fucked up things happened. So I need your help drawing her out of Julianland. I’m not going to be able to handle all this myself.”

Margrit tilted her head. “There’s a rumor going around that she’s one of the people involved in the school vandalism. Everyone knows she got detention for it last month. They’re saying all kinds of stupid things. Julian was almost sacrificed by satanists. Julian is part of a witch coven. That a serial killer is loose in town and murdering people blood-crazy slasher style.”

The redhead paused, giving Angela an examining stare. “Do we need to get her a fake passport and out of town? I can, but it’s going to take me a week at least. Those things are not easy to come by. I can hire bodyguards too, but I’m sure that’ll tip off the cops-”

“Jesus Christ.” Angela interrupted with a roll of her eyes. It was annoying how spot on Margrit was by sheer accident. She almost wanted to tell her the full truth. But really, the less people involved in the dangerous stuff, the better. It wasn’t the dangerous stuff she needed Margrit’s help with, anyway. “She didn’t KILL anybody, okay? Julian and Michael broke up over Halloween. She had to go and blabber to him that she kissed Leo and it all blew up in her face. Between that and other things, I really need you to keep her busy and here on planet earth. You know, that fucking annoying thing you do where you take over someone’s life with your obnoxious bullshit.”

Margrit burst in to laughter. “Is THAT all! Good gracious, Angela, you nearly scared me to death. I thought there was something serious going on. Of course I can keep her busy until her poor little heart heals. You could have just said so in the first place. I told you she and Michael weren’t going to work. Honestly, I’m not surprised at all Leo turned out to be a real thing, either. Anyone that spends five minutes in a room alone with them would figure THAT out.”

“You don’t have to be a smug asshole about it! I knew long before you did, you twat.” Angela retorted. God, why did she think this was a good idea. More time with Margrit was going to be a nightmare. She glanced over her shoulder again to check on Julian – only to find that she was gone.

“Shit! Shit, double shit. Where did she go?”

“She probably just went in to a shop, there’s no reason to-”

“You don’t understand. It’s a REALLY bad idea to leave her alone right now.”

Margrit picked up the concern from Angela’s tone, a frown crossing her freckled features. “All right, I get it. I think she wandered in that direction.” she pointed down the sidewalk, taking lead.

They found Julian close by, just around the corner and standing in the middle of the alley staring up at the sky.

“There used to be so many trees here.” she whispered.

Margrit cast Angela a dubious look. Angela didn’t have to say a word, her expression said it all. I told you. It’s bad. Margrit scoffed. Raised her hands, she fluffed out her hair. Her posture shifted to that perfect, shoulders back, spine straight air of commanding confidence. She stomped down the alley like she was the Queen of Silent Pines and linked her arm with Julian’s.

“Sweetie! I thought we were passed all this nonsense, and here you are wearing those awful yoga pants and a tshirt older than my Dad. You look AWFUL.” Margrit turned with her, leading her out of the alley. Angela took up residence on the opposite side of Julian.

The brunette looked down at her clothes. There was a very big chance that it was what she wore to bed, just with her sneakers thrown on. Angela bustled her out of the house so fast that Julian really didn’t remembering taking any extra time to get dressed. Just her luck that Margrit got to see her like this.

“I didn’t have time to get dressed?”

“I am so sorry, I forget that Angela has the style sense of an eleven year old boy. She probably thought this was on PURPOSE. Really, I should have just met you both at your house, Julian. We could have picked out something nice. Then again, you know, this WILL make it easier for a shopping spree! Oh hon, let me buy you a new outfit? We can’t let you walk around out in public like this, you look HORRIBLE.”

“Christ, Margrit, we’re supposed to be cheering her up, not telling her she looks like shit.”

“DO I look like shit?” asked Julian, taking another look at herself in the reflection of a window when they rounded the corner. Great. She kind of looked like one of those fresh out of the asylum crazy people. “Oh hell.” she sighed, resigned to her fate. If she was going crazy, she might as well look it too.

Margrit, though, wasn’t content to leave it as is. She dug around in to her purse until she pulled out a hair brush. A few quick swipes and a twist of a rubber band had Julian’s hair up in a messy, but attractive pony tail. “There we go. Now you look post-gym cute and not wild stoner on the street. We’ll stop over there at the Atelier to get you a fabulous ensemble so you’re a human being again and then we’ll discuss my upcoming Arts Showcase.”

“Hey, buy me some clothes too!” chimed in Angela, earning a scowl and a once over from Margrit. Angela gave her a cheeky grin.

“…Fine. But I’m picking it out and you HAVE to wear it today.”

“Deal.” Score.

“…Julian,” a voice interrupted.

It was Michael.

Unlike Julian, he was dressed to the nines as usual. Grey button-down shirt under a black vest, dark grey jeans, and shining black shoes. He looked like he’d walked right out of a photo shoot, right down to the uncharacteristic designer sunglasses with silver frames. His hair was perfect.

“Hello,” he said carefully, hanging back. He’d evidently just walked out of the nearby bakery, because he was holding a bag with their name on it. Which was also weird, because unlike Leo, Julian had never really seen Michael bother to eat.

It was hard to tell what kind of face he was making, or even who he was looking at, given those shades. He did look sort of… flushed?

Angela and Margrit exchanged glances. Both of them opened their mouths at the same time to play defense.

But Julian beat them to it.

“I’ve missed you.” she blurted out. Margrit pressed that hand to her chest again, giving that Oh, this poor girl look, while Angela just slapped a hand against her face. Both of them looked a lot more embarrassed on Julian’s behalf than Julian did.

In fact, Julian wasn’t all that embarrassed at all. Maybe a little put out, because damnit. He looked really nice and here she was in last night’s pajamas. But, she was genuinely glad to see him. He seemed right back to his usual, in perfect control self.

… Mostly. Something was a bit off, but that was understandable. He probably didn’t expect to run in to her on the street.

Julian tilted, trying to catch a glimpse of his eyes under those sunglasses. “Are you okay?”

“Michael, can I talk to you” Angela interrupted. The awkwardness sucked, but Angela could handle that part. The timing was absolutely perfect. This was going to save her the effort of tracking down Michael herself and forcing him to talk to her.

Michael didn’t immediately answer. He seemed to be staring at Julian for a long moment, his grip a little too tight on that bakery bag.

“I… guess so,” he finally told Angela, turning his head toward her. His voice was level, guarded. “Now?”

Before she could actually answer, his face was pointing back in Julian’s direction. He took a step backwards suddenly, as if only just realizing she was trying to peek at his expression.

Julian stepped forward, reaching a hand out towards him but Margrit held fast to her arm. The redhead cast a look to Angela, who nodded in wordless response.

“Let them have their little conversation, hon. Knowing Angela it’s probably something insipidly stupid.” Margrit cast Angela a sanguine sweet smile before she led Julian a little further down the street. She stopped far enough that they would no longer be within earshot, but still close enough to be seen. At least by Margrit. She made sure Julian kept her back to them and put her attention to pointing out all of the cute shoes in the shop window.

Once they were far enough away, Angela crossed her arms and stared down Michael. “Before you get all defensive and bitchy, I’m not going to yell at you about anything.” she explained first. Her stony expression soften when she shifted and ran her hand through her hair. It got stuck that way, with her fingers entwined with strands at the back of her head.

“Ignoring all teen romance drama, I think Julian and maybe even Leo might need your help. She’s not…” she leaned, casting a look at the girls down the side. “There’s some kind of bullshit going on. Either David really fucked some shit up, or it triggered Julian, I don’t know. She’s not right.”

Her arms crossed again and she pursed her lips in annoyance. “I’d like to dig around in your library and read some of your family books. The REAL stuff. The stuff David had his hands on. This time I’m even asking for permission.”

“If you care, anyway. You’re probably all kinds of pissed off, but I’m kind of hoping you still care enough about Julian to help me help her.”

“…I’m not angry,” he said, and it was bizarrely genuine-sounding… albeit a little defensive. “And of course I still care. I told her that no matter what happened I would never stop caring for her, and I keep my word.”

He crossed his arms over his chest, the bakery bag swinging from his hand, and tapped his foot. He was still sneaking looks at Julian and Margrit, Angela was pretty sure. He was standing at just the right angle to have them in his line of vision without making it obvious.

“You can use my books, but only when Leo is there,” Michael told her. “My house is… not entirely ideal for guests right now.”

“That’s cool with me. I don’t want to be your douchebag cousin’s snack. I’m too delicious to resist.” She watched him, trying to gleam from body language what he might be thinking. Julian and Leo both had very different interpretations of him. She could kind of see the mix of both. Not to mention her own opinion that he was a condescending prick. It was all right there.

…although maybe she was leaning a little closer to hoping Julian was right and Michael wasn’t a huge dick deep down in his fucked up little soul.

Angela sighed, tilting her head back. “I’m not sure if Leo’s going to be on board with that, but I’ll figure it out. Sooner will be better, so if I have to I’m dragging your ass around for my research whether you like it or not.”

She paused for a moment, turning things over in her head. “Do you want to talk to her?” she asked carefully. “You should. Even if you don’t want to. Julian needs it for a billion fucking reasons. She thinks you hate her.”

“…I don’t know,” he muttered, but it was almost like he was talking to himself- because a moment later, he spoke again a little louder. “Yes, I… I’d like to talk to her. Alone. But I can’t right now.”

He tilted his face down just a hair. It looked like he was looking at his shopping bag.

“I have to go.” He backed up a few paces. “It’s not a good time. Tell her… tell her I’ll meet her after school tomorrow.”

Without another word, he turned his back on Angela and headed off down the street.

Okay, now Michael was being all weird too. Not once did he say anything offensively rude. Granted, she wasn’t baiting him either and she was pretty guilty of that most of the time. But even when she wasn’t, he tended to sound like a dick.

Maybe he really was messed all up by this breakup business.

Or not. Ugh. One problem child at a time.

Angela returned to the girls, just in time to overhear Margrit being both bitchy AND a genius.

“I’ve been a little short handed in the help department because suddenly my best minion AND my highschool love interest are off gallivanting with that bitch Lexi Ryan and her Gingertroll. I could so use your help. I am completely put out in every possible way. The Arts Showcase is a presentation of various things to earn donations to fund Highschool Arts Programs. Music, Dance, Drawing, and so on. Even the Silent Pines elective classes are at risk. Can you IMAGINE how horrible it would be without Band or Choir?” she explained.

“I’m thinking we’d all be better off if the Silent Pines Highschool Band stopped playing.” quipped Angela.

Julian glanced at Angela, then quickly looked behind her to see where Michael went off to. He was already gone, and a crestfallen look fell over her features. “Oh. That’s gotta suck. If you really need it, I’ll be glad to help?”

Margrit cast Angela a glare, but smiled sweetly for Julian. “How about singing a song? It’s been years since that middle school play fiasco, I’m sure you would do such a lovely job.”

“Oh god, no. No, I’ll do ANYTHING but that.”

“Great! Because I already planned to pair you up with Paolo to do a dance presentation. I’ve even sent your measurements out for your costume. I’m thinking either a Fox-Trot or the Viennese Waltz. Paolo THINKS he’s going top try and sneak a Samba in there, but Lord knows I don’t want him slutting up my presentation.”

Julian blinked. Did she just get bait and switched? She did. Her face flushed a bit pink. She already agreed though, so it was too late to take it back now. So she turned to Angela. “Did he say anything about me?”

Angela nodded. “He said he couldn’t talk right now, but he like to see you after school tomorrow. I guess now that means you HAVE to go back to school, hmm?”

“Julian! Are you trying to drop out? Don’t you dare! You’ll ruin your entire future.” Margrit chided.

Julian sighed, giving Angela a cross frown before she wrapped her arms around herself. “It’s not like I can’t take the G.E.D test or something. I just don’t want to go back there.”

“Oh, oh sweetie. You’re terrified aren’t you!” Margrit held out her arms and gathered up Julian close for a hug. This was not something common for Margrit. She never liked getting up close and touchy with people unless she had a very specific purpose in mind. Which was why Julian looked suddenly alarmed, mouthing the phrase What the fuck is happening?! from over Margrit’s shoulder towards Angela.

“Hon, you have nothing to be afraid of. I’m sure whatever terrible thing Angela so vaguely alluded to is long over now, and if anyone dares to try and upset you just come tell me. I’ll have them thrown out on their ass. And if you’re concerned about Michael, honey, I will throw him out too. I don’t care how handsome, rich, and perfect he is. I will make him disappear from town and you’ll never have to see him again.”

“Jesus fucking christ, you sound like a mob boss ready to order out a hit on somebody!” Angela commented, sounding both disgusted and a little alarmed. Margrit was a damn lunatic.

Julian took it for what it was and started laughing. She curled her arms around the redhead and buried her face at her shoulder. A muffled thank you escaped, leaving Margrit smugly grinning and Angela rolling her eyes again.

“Now that we know Margrit solves all her problems with mob hits, are we going shopping for First Day Back clothes or what?”

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_button admin_label=”Next Chapter” button_url=”” url_new_window=”off” button_text=”Next Chapter” button_alignment=”right” background_layout=”dark” custom_button=”on” button_bg_color=”#2c3036″ button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”off” button_bg_color_hover=”#484b50″ button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″ button_border_width=”0″ saved_tabs=”all” /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_4″][et_pb_post_title admin_label=”Featured Book Image” title=”off” meta=”off” author=”on” date=”on” categories=”on” comments=”on” featured_image=”on” featured_placement=”below” parallax_effect=”on” parallax_method=”on” text_orientation=”left” text_color=”dark” text_background=”off” text_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0.9)” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” saved_tabs=”all” global_module=”2310″ /][et_pb_text admin_label=”BLOOD MOON CHAPTERS” saved_tabs=”all” global_module=”314″ background_layout=”dark” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]


Leave a Reply