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"I don't know, y'all, maybe Zoey will actually get along with some of them okay," Stevie Rae said without any touch of sarcasm or jealousy.

I shook my head. "Nope. I won't get along with them. I don't like their kind-- the kind of people who try to control others and make them look bad just to feel better about themselves. And I don't want to go to their Full Moon Ritual!" I said firmly, thinking about my stepfather and his buddies, and how ironic it was that they seemed to have so much in common with a group of teenagers who called themselves the daughters of a goddess.

"I'd go with you if I could--any of us would--but unless you're one of the Dark Daughters you can only get in if you're invited," Stevie Rae said sadly.

"That's okay. just deal with it." Suddenly I wasn't hungry anymore. I was just very, very tired, and I really wanted to change the subject. "So explain to me about the different symbols you wear here. You told me about ours--Nyx's spiral. Damien has a spiral, too, so that must mean he's a...I paused to remember what Stevie Rae had called freshmen, "a third former. But Erin and Shaunee have wings, and Aphrodite had something else."

"You mean besides that cob stuck straight up her skinny anus?" Erin muttered.

"She means the three Fates," Damien interjected, beating Shaunee to whatever she was going to add. "The three Fates are children of Nyx. The sixth formers all wear the emblem of the Fates, with Atropos holding scissors to symbolize the end of school."

"And for some of us, the end of life," Erin added gloomily.

That shut everyone up. When I couldn't stand the uncomfortable silence anymore I cleared my throat and said, "So what about Erin and Shaunee's wings?"

"The wings of Eros, who is the child of Nyx's seed--"

"The love god," Shaunee said, adding a seated gyration of her hips.

Damien frowned at her and kept talking. "The golden wings of Eros are the fourth formers' symbol."

"'Cause we're the love class," Erin sang, raising her arms over her head and shimmying her hips.

"Actually, it's because we're supposed to be reminded of Nyx's capacity to love, and the wings symbolize our continuous movement forward."

"What's the symbol for fifth formers?" I asked.

"Nyx's golden chariot pulling a trail of stars," Damien said.

"I think it's the prettiest of the four symbols," Stevie Rae said. "Those stars sparkle like crazy."

"The chariot shows that we continue on Nyx's journey. The stars represent the magic of the two years that have already passed."

"Damien, you are a good little student," Erin said.

"I told you we should have gotten him to help us study for the human mythology test," Shaunee said.

"I thought I told you we needed his help, and--"

"Anyway," Damien shouted over their bickering, "that's about all there is to the four symbols of the classes. Easy-peasy, really," he looked pointedly at the now silent Twins. "That is, if you pay attention in class instead of writing notes and staring at guys you think are cute."

"You're really prudey, Damien," Shaunee said.

"Especially for a g*y boy." Erin added.

"Erin, your hair's looking kinda frizzy today. Not to be mean or anything, but maybe you should think about switching products. You can't be too careful about those kinds of things. The next thing you know you'll be getting split ends."

Erin's blue eyes got huge and her hand went automatically to her hair.

"Oh, no no no. I do not believe you just said that, Damien. You know how crazy she is about her hair." Shaunee started to puff up like a mocha-colored blowfish.

Damien, meanwhile, just smiled and returned to his spaghetti-- the perfect picture of innocence.

"Uh, y'all," Stevie Rae said quickly, standing up and pulling me with her by the elbow. "Zoey looks beat. Y'all remember what it was like when you first got here. We're going to go back to our room. I have to study for that vamp sociology test, so I probably won't see you until tomorrow."

"Okay, see ya," Damien said. "Zoey, it was really nice to meet you."

"Yeah, welcome to Hell High." Erin and Shaunee said together before Stevie Rae pulled me out of the room.

"Thanks. I really am tired," I told Stevie Rae as we backtracked through a hall that I was happy to recognize as the one that would lead to the main entrance to the central school building. We paused while a sleek, silver-gray cat chased a smaller, harassed-looking tabby across the hall in front of us.


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