Macy snorts. “I’m sorry, but haven’t you noticed? Everyone listens to Jaxon.”
“Yeah.” Like in my Brit Lit class yesterday, when no one would come in. “Why is that exactly?”
“It’s a really long, really messed-up story, which I’m happy to tell you. But I’m seriously starving. Can I answer the rest of it over breakfast in the dining hall?”
“Yeah, of course. But I thought you told Mekhi we weren’t going to leave the room until Jaxon gets here.”
“I told him we weren’t going to class. And if the bite on your neck is what’s got their panties all wadded up, then it’s no problem. We know where the bite came from, and we know that it’s harmless. So we’ll just go grab a quick breakfast and be back in the room before Jaxon even gets here.”
She’s right. I know she’s right. Plus, it’s not like I’m going to ask how high every time Jaxon expects me to jump. Everyone else at this school might listen to him, but I’m not some supernatural creature. I’m human, and now’s as good a time as any for Jaxon to figure out I don’t play by the same weird, convoluted, terrifying rules everyone else around this place does.
“Sounds good,” I tell her. “Turns out, I’m suddenly really hungry, too.”
“I bet. Massive blood loss will do that to a girl,” Macy says as she disappears into the bathroom, a pair of school sweats and PE T-shirt in her hands.
She comes out two minutes later, and not only is she dressed, but her hair is slicked back in an adorable style, and her face looks like she spent half an hour putting on makeup in front of the mirror.
“What happened to you?” I demand.
“Oh, just a little glamour.” She wiggles her fingers in front of her face. “And can I say how glad I am that you know now? My life is going to get so much easier.”
“Apparently.” Suddenly self-conscious, I grab my purse off my desk and pull out the peach lip gloss I always keep in the inside pocket. I swipe it over my lips as we head out the door. “So how exactly do you do that glamour thing?”
“Oh, it’s just a little trick all witches know.”
“Yeah, well, flying’s still cooler,” I tease.
“Maybe.” She closes the door behind me. “But there’s a lot I can do that you don’t know about yet.”
“Like what?” I ask, totally fascinated.
“Pretty sure that’s for me to know and you to find out…”
The halls are crowded as we make our way to the dining hall—it’s thirty-five minutes before first period starts, and apparently everyone in the school tries to eat during the same half an hour period. Which makes sense. I mean, if I’m not worrying about bizarre fang marks or trying to fit in at a new school, I don’t want to get up one second sooner than I have to, either.
Still, now that I know, everything feels even weirder than normal. People move by us, jostling Macy, bumping into me, or even skirting us entirely the same as they did yesterday. But today, all I can do is look at them and wonder. Vampire? Shifter? Witch? Dragon? It’s so strange, like falling into the pages of a fantasy novel…or a horror movie, depending on how this all goes.
As we walk, I kind of assign monsters to people based on characteristics they exhibit, but I have no idea if I’m right or not. For example, the really athletic ones who bound down the hall with all the energy, I figure must be wolves. But Jaxon moves hella fast when he wants to, so I could be completely wrong.
I want to ask Macy, just to see if any of my guesses are right. But it seems rude to whisper about people’s …species? Identity? Whatever I’m Supposed to Call It? in the middle of the hall where anyone can hear. Or, for that matter, to whisper about it at all.
But at the same time, don’t I kind of need to know? Like, if I cut my finger in front of a dragon, I figure it won’t matter at all. But what happens if I do it in front of a vampire? Do I need to run, or is everything going to be okay?
And why are vampires even in the dining hall if they drink blood? I mean, I saw Jaxon eat that strawberry at the welcome party, but he didn’t touch any of the food at breakfast yesterday. And now that I think about it, neither did any of the other guys.
And if Jaxon does drink blood regularly, where does he get it? Where do any of the vampires get it? I mean, short of kidnapping a fully stocked bloodmobile every day—which seems an impossible feat anywhere, let alone in the middle of freaking Alaska—where do they get the blood?
More importantly, do I really want to know the answer to that question?
Also, I’ve seen Jaxon and Lia outside during the day. I mean, it wasn’t super sunny, but it was definitely not pitch-black, either. So does that mean the whole vampires can’t be in the sun thing is a myth? If so, there are a lot of stories throughout history that got it wrong.
It’s so confusing. Like, supremely confusing, especially since there’s a part of me that still thinks Macy and Mekhi are just messing with me. I mean, yeah, I saw what she did with that teacup, but still… Witches? Dragons? Vampires?
Can I just say that I’m really beginning to miss my alien theory?
Especially when we step in the cafeteria and—surprise, surprise—everyone is looking at me. Per usual. I thought it was because I was the new girl. Now I can’t help but think it’s because I’m the human girl. Which then leads to thoughts about whether or not any of them are thinking about eating me.
Do wolf shifters eat humans? Or is it just vampires? What about dragons? What do they eat?
I really hope human isn’t on their delicacy list. Then again, wishing hasn’t gotten me much in the last month. I can’t expect it to get me this, either.
“You know what?” I tell Macy as we make our way to the buffet table at the front of the dining hall. “Maybe I should go back to the room.”
“What’s wrong?” She searches my face with a concerned frown. “Are you feeling dizzy? Or weak?”
“I’m feeling…out of place.”
“Oh.” Understanding dawns. “They’re the same people you went to class with yesterday. The same people you had a snowball fight with the day before that.”
“The same people who have been watching me since I got here. I thought they’d be over it by now, that they’d get used to me. But they’re never going to get used to having a human here.”
“I hate to be the one to break it to you, Grace, but the stares you’re getting these days have way more to do with Jaxon than they do with you.”
I don’t bother to hide my confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, he’s a big deal here. Obviously. And he’s shown an interest in you. Which makes you a big deal. It also makes you the person eighty percent of the female population wants to murder.”
“Because they’re jealous, right? Not because—”
“Yes, Grace.” She rolls her eyes. “Because they’re jealous. They want to be where you are.”
“Bandaged up and sore, with a weak ankle and a vampire bite in my neck?” I joke.
“Exactly,” she deadpans back. “Now, can we please get in line? It’s chocolate croissant day, and they go fast.”
“Of course.” I gesture for her to precede me. “Who am I to get between a girl and her chocolate croissant?”
“A question every guy in the place asks himself at least once on Wednesdays,” a familiar voice says from right behind me.
“Hi, Flint.” I turn to him with a little bit of a forced smile. Not because his being a dragon makes me like him less, but because his being a dragon FREAKS ME OUT.
“Hey, New Girl.” He looks me over. “Gotta say, I’m not a huge fan of your new look.”
I touch the bandages self-consciously. “Yeah, me neither.”
“I bet.” He reaches out, rubs a reassuring hand up and down my non-damaged arm. “You don’t look so good. Why don’t you go sit down and let me bring you a plate?”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I know I don’t have to. But I still feel guilty about the whole falling out of the tree thing. This will help me make up for it.” He gives me a beseeching look.
“What do you have to feel guilty about? You saved me from getting hurt worse.” For the first time, I wonder if the reason he didn’t get hurt at all is because he’s a dragon. If so, then I’m glad he isn’t human, glad that he wasn’t in jeopardy because of me.
I look up at him with his incredibly handsome face, his glowing amber eyes, his charming grin, and wonder if I’m seeing the dragon or the human. Or maybe I’m seeing both. Who knows?
And then he raises his brows at me, and I wonder why it even matters when Flint—whatever and whoever he is—is my friend.
“Thank you again for that, by the way. I really appreciate it.”
“Stop it, Grace. You wouldn’t even have been up that tree if it weren’t for me.”
“I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this,” I tell him.
“Fine. We’ll agree to disagree…as soon as you let me bring you breakfast.” He gives me his most charming grin, the one that would probably knock my socks off if I hadn’t seen Jaxon first.
But I did see Jaxon, and now he’s pretty much all I can see, vampire or not.
I start to argue with Flint some more—I’m sick of people treating me like an invalid—but we’re holding up the line. And since the last thing I want to do is make an even bigger spectacle of myself, I just give in.
“Fine. I’ll take a chocolate croissant if you can get one.”
“Oh, I’ll get one,” he assures me.
“I have no doubt. And some fruit, if there is any.”
“Sure. And what do you want to drink?”