The class finally settled down. Everleigh, Isabelle, Jordan and Cailean received another angry glance from the teacher. Everleigh did not like getting in trouble and wasn’t really doing anything different from usually when she and her cousins got together. Getting used to being attentive in school and not talk to them and laugh was tough.
Massimo had already been re-seated, as he possessed a more carrying voice and the animation of his Italian heritage, when Everleigh looked over her shoulder, she saw him sitting several rows back, looking lost and lonely.
Everleigh waved at him to cheer him up, he quickly lifted and shook his head and pointed weirdly, Everleigh signaled she didn’t understand when at the same moment Cailean nudged her, Everleigh turned and already heard their teacher’s voice right before her. Oops.
“He is trying to tell you that I am about done with your shenanigans, little Miss Everleigh. I have had it with you unruly bunch. We are going to separate all of you now.”
All the children begged and protested to no avail.
They were spread evenly over the entire classroom, forcing other kids to switch seats too, which did not make them happy either.
“Children! We are expecting a new student today, a boy, and I expect ALL of you to be nice and help him. He is already coming in months after classed started, so it is going to be hard for him and we do not want him to feel scared or unwelcome, now do we?”
As if on cue there was a brief knock on the door, then it opened and the school secretary came in followed by a new boy, handing the teacher a slip of paper, whispering to her.
“Class, let’s wish Mrs. Mullen a good morning. All together…”
In many child voices it echoed the greeting through the room, the secretary, a seemingly eternally patient woman, smiled gratefully then left.
“Ok class, this is our new student. Would you like to introduce yourself?”
“Oh? That is not very nice.”
“I can leave again …”
The teacher laughed his comment off, but was not truly amused, it was obvious that she was thinking ‘great, another one of those’.
“Well, class, this is Kieran McCoy, Kieran honey, don’t be shy. Class, Kieran’s parents misunderstood when to sign him up for school but …”
“I am KC and I am not shy, I just don’t want to be here and my parents just don’t give a shit.”
“KIERAN!” the teacher let out a flood of reprimands at the boy while the rest of the children giggled whispering to each other.
“Class quiet please! Well, let’s just continue with learning. Kieran, we are going to place you … ah, yes, of course. You go sit next to Everleigh right up front here.”
Everleigh’s mouth fell open.
Not next to her.
She thought he looked familiar, when he looked up and their eyes met she recognized him. That Kieran boy was the mean boy from the playground.
Too late, he came over and dropped down on the chair next to her, making the table shake, accidentally nudging her a few times. She turned around to her cousins and they gave her pitiful looks.
She turned her head towards him to secretly look him over, but he called her out on it right away.
“What is it with you and staring at me?” he whispered.
“What is it with you and being rude to me?” she whispered back.
“Sorry Barbie, not everybody will treat you like the queen of I-am-the-shit-town..” he whispered.
“EVERLEIGH AND KIERAN. PLEASE FOCUS! For heaven’s sake, children!”
“Mrs. Benson, maybe I should go sit next to..” Everleigh, fuming now, tried but was cut off.
“You will sit right there, Everleigh and learn to pay attention. And we do not draw in class when we are learning letters, Kieran.”
“It’s KC and if we do not draw the letters how to we learn them? Dream about them at night?”
“You are coming with me now, young man. Class, you can draw or use the Legos QUIETLY until I am back.”
KC got up and walked over to the teacher.
She grabbed the little boy by the shoulder and dragged him along with her to the principal’s office.
“Jordan, you have to help me. Can we trade seats please.” Everleigh begged her cousin.
“No! I don’t want to sit next to him either! Yikes!” he frowned.
“Me either.” Isabelle shuddered.
“Sorry Evey!” Cailean shrugged.
“You know I have already been asigned a great new seat…” Massimo grumbled.
“Wow, guys … he is terrible! He smells weird…” Everleigh told them.
“Eeeewww..” the two other girls responded in unison.
It took only a few more minutes until Mrs. Benson was back and all the kids scurried back to their seats. The teacher had brought Kieran back with her who sat back down next to Evey, but said nothing anymore. The rest of the time in class passed quietly and soon it was time to go home.
During recess the next day Everleigh noticed that all the other kids had food, except the new boy. She caught his longing glances and stares at the candy machine. Her grandmother’s words about always being kind to others came to mind. When she saw him go outside into the playground, she followed him and found him in some corner.
“So you are Kieran, huh?” she initiated the contact.
“KC! Is that so hard?”
“So is your middle name Christian or something with C?”
“I don’t have a middle name.” he sounded rude and annoyed.
“Then where does the C come from in KC?”
“My last name, duh!”
“But – Mrs. Benson said your last name is McCoy … so then it should be KM.” Everleigh deduced.
“Sounds stupid. It is KC. Now leave me alone.”
“Want part of my sandwich? It’s turkey and Havarti.”
“What the hell is a Havarti?”
“We are not supposed to use those words… and Havarti is cheese.”
“Take your weird cheese and leave me alone.”
“You sure you do not want a bite.” Everleigh waved her sandwich before the boys face, grinning, when he just grabbed it from her and began wolfing down like the last time.
“You could say thank you.” she complained.
“Thanks.” he mumbled with a full mouth, spitting food particles at Everleigh, which she wiped off her face, frowning.
“Sorry.” he said, already done with his half, so she offered him hers, only a bite missing. He did not seem to care and no need to ask him twice. The second half met the same speedy fate as the first. How could anyone ever be THIS hungry, Everleigh wondered.
“So, where do you live Kie … KC?”
“No reason. Just talking.”
“Where do YOU live?”
“Brindleton Bay. Near the playground.”
“Aha. Cool. Do you have any more sandwiches?”
Everleigh shook her head.
“I am Evey.”
“I gotta go find the crapper now..”
“Do you have to be so nasty …?” she asked, frowing. Why did she keep trying with that boy?
The next day nearly the same repeated, she shared her food and when the questions got too much, he disappeared to the restroom. This time Everleigh decided to follow him as he just walked off. When they reached the boys room, he turned around to her.
“This is the cra… shitt…. place for boys only, Barbie. Or are you coming in?”
“Uh, no …”
He closed the door in her face.
Why did she even try? He was mean. The end. She went back to her cousins. Dumb Kieran. Or KC. Still dumb.
“Do you want ham or PB&J, baby?” Katie asked her daughter who had been staring at an unfinished drawing.
“Your sandwich for school, ham or PB&J?”
“Can I have both? And maybe another one too?”
“What? Since when do you eat that much, my angel?” Katie was between appalled and amused.
“Just want to make sure I don’t get hungry …” Evey hated lying but could hardly tell them the truth.
She looked over and caught her grandpa’s gaze, who now came over.
“Can you show me your new dolls I have been hearing so much about, Evey-doll?” Liam asked her.
She nodded and they went to her room. As soon as they entered, Liam asked her straight on
“Who are the extra sandwiches for? Is someone taking them or are you giving them away? And do not even try, Evey.”
“Ummm … okay grandpa, there is this boy. He is … rude … and kinda smelly and dirty … and weird …. and always hungry… his parents forgot to sign him up for school too.”
“I see. Does he look like he is hurt. Like did he fall down and has a lot of bruises or maybe he ran into a door frame and has a black eye…?” Liam investigated.
Evey shook her head.
“Ok, Evey, I see what you are doing and I support you, I promise I won’t tell, but you should. You should not keep secrets from adults, especially not your parents. I do want you to keep an eye on that boy and if you see him bruised a lot or have injuries, you come and tell me immediately, okay my sweetpea?”
Liam and his granddaughter hugged. Somehow he could not help but feel that what Evey said about that boy sounded a lot like his father’s story. He once had his mother to save him when they were kids. Maybe history chose to repeat itself in the shape of his granddaughter and her new friend. If it did, he would do everything to support her.
“Here, I brought you something!” Everleigh handed the extra food to KC. He did not take it.
“Why do you have extras? Did you tell anybody I needed this? Because I don’t. I have parents. They make me food. I just keep forgetting it at home.” he threw his head back and now Evey say a big gash on his face – again – that had been covered by his hair. He noticed and averted his face.
“How often do I have to tell you to stop staring at me. I am going to beat you up one day.”
“You wouldn’t hit a girl!”
“Why not? If you are annoying and dumb, you get hit.”
“I am not dumb – or annoying. I am just trying to help you.”
“I DO NOT NEED HELP!” he yelled then ran off. She did not see him for the rest of the day.
He missed the rest of the week, and was brought in by cops the next Monday.
He did not speak, nor look at Evey for the first few hours.
In recess she found him hiding again.
“Want a cookie?”
“Can you not just leave me alone!” he barked at her.
“You suuuuuuure? Cookie?” she smiled, not impressed by his outburst, waving the cookie, he grabbed it and wolfed it down as he always did.
“Where were you all this time.” she asked, holding open a bag with another cookie in it, which he greedily grabbed and ate.
“None of your business.” he said, his mouth so full his words were barely intelligible.
“Why did the police bring you?”
NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”
“Who keeps hurting you?”
“SHUT UP!” he jumped up, but stayed. His face had a brand new gash now. She would have to tell her grandpa. But something made her halt. What if the police already fixed it? That is what they do, right? KC would be mad at her if she just told on him. But she gave grandpa her word …
“Hey, you wanna ditch?”
“Come on, it will be fun, let’s go.”
Everleigh did not want to skip school, but did not want to leave him alone, so she ran along with him.
He snuck them on a bus, without paying, then they got out, in the desert, where he grabbed her hand and pulled her along to a house.
He ran off. Everleigh did not know where she was, and was scared. What if he was being mean and just left her here.
The door opened from the inside now and he pulled her in, looking outside to the right and left, then shut and locked it.
Everleigh walked through the home. It was obviously abandoned, once a nice place. But not anymore. Not by a long shot.
“Do you live here?”
“I wish! No, I come here when I want to get away. It is a secret. Do not tell anybody, you hear, NOBODY. Swear it.”
“Do you have extra food again?”
“I do, but it is in my backpack … at school.”
“Shi… darn it.” he corrected. It made Evey smile to see that at least he tried.
“Why do you not like school, KC?”
“Not like it matters for me. I should have probably not taken you with me. You need school so one day you can be rich like your parents. Or richer.”
“Why do you think my parents are rich. You do not know anything about me.”
“Don’t I? I do not know about that fancy home on the hill with the big ass pool? Or that your aunt is Natalie Cameron and your grandfather is Liam Cameron? I know your dad is an art… umm … one that builds houses.”
“Architect. And he does not build them, he draws them and makes others build them. And I want to do that one day too.”
“Congratulations. So you need school. I don’t. I am not related to anyone who’s famous, no one in our family has dough. I have nowhere to go. No way I could afford college. Doesn’t matter. Family is poor, I am poor and always will be, just like them. And none of them even like me…. ” he seemed sad now, and it gave Evey a sting.
“I like you.” she tried.
“You shouldn’t. I am bad news. Everybody says so. My dad always says I shouldn’t even have been born. Probably right. I think so myself often.”
“I am sure he does not mean it!” Everleigh was shocked at all this sadness.
“I am sure he does.”
“I can talk to my grandpa and he will help you…” she suggested.
“NO! I told you I do not need any help!” he was very angry – instantly.
“OK. I won’t…” Evey did not want him angry and possibly leave her here.
“You thirsty?” his eyes softened and his voice sounded gentle.
She shook her head.
They spend the next hours playing, giggling, talking. KC was a nice boy, if you got to know him. He was not dumb, but certain topics made him very angry immediately and Evey quickly learned to avoid them.
Out of breath from playing with a dirty old ball, which seemed one of KC’s biggest treasures, they shared some soda he had squirreled away.
“KC, how do we get home?”
“Do you have a cell phone?”
“… in my backpack …”
“OK, there is a payphone. I have a few quarters. Do you know your home phone number?”
He took her to a gas station where a filthy phone was dangling off the hook. KC kicked it a few times and they got a dial tone, then he stuck in the money while she dialed, then helped her with the location. He waited with her for 20 minutes then disappeared, told her he would only get in trouble with her folks.
Her dad picked her up, and she had to listen to a lecture the entire way home to Brindleton Bay.
She ended up grounded herself. Never before had she been in trouble with her parents and she did not like it.
The only times she would be allowed out until further notice would be to go to school, where she was now dropped off and picked up from by an adult family member, to visit family with her parents and to ballet class.
Her mom dropped her off at ballet class the next day, where she told Cailean and Isabelle about her adventure and the repercussions. Like her parents they told her to stay away from KC.
Towards the end of class the instructor, Madame Dubois, always let the girls tell her what they had trouble with and assisted them. Everleigh needed to use the restroom and when she came back, she saw him through the big glass. Heath!
Looking over her shoulder to make sure nobody paid attention, she ran outside.
“Where have you been all this time?” she asked him.
“Long story. How do you like school?” he asked in his quiet, calming voice.
“I like it. Why are you not in my class, Heath?” she had been wondering all along and had been very disappointed to find out on her first school day that he was not in her class, and even more so when she found out he was nowhere in her school and nobody even knew any boys that fit his description. Weird.
“I don’t go to school. Home schooled if you so will.”
“Maybe you can come over to my home and we can do homework together one day … I guess you learn the same things I do … do you?”
“Yes…. maybe …” it was obvious from his tone that he had no intentions and was just being polite.
“Heath, where do you live?”
“Why are you asking, Little Leigh?” he always called her that. She liked it.
“Maybe we can meet up one afternoon and play. I am sure there is a playground or park where you live …”
“I don’t play … outside. My condition, remember.”
“Oh right. Is that why you are home schooled? And never come over during the day?”
“You ask a lot of questions.” he smiled.
“Do you want to come home with me? I cannot go anywhere, I am … grounded.”
“Grounded? What could an angel like you possibly have done to be grounded?”
“Skipped school. Rode the bus without paying…” Everleigh blushed, while Heath began to laugh.
This is when Everleigh felt like struck by lightning and inhaled sharply.
His laughter seized immediately, giving way to a regretful expression.
“Please, do not tell anybody. My life depends on it. Please, Little Leigh.” his eyes, so deep blue they seemed purple, begging her.
“You … are you …. Old Breed vamp children do not have fangs yet … so you would have to be … this can’t be…You can’t be a New Breed. Can’t.” Everleigh stuttered. She had heard the stories about the evil New Breed vampires. She had family who had once been vampires. Her grandparents, great-grandparents, great-aunt and uncle … but they had been Old Breeds before they were un-turned into mortals. New Breeds were mean and evil. But Heath wasn’t either. How could any of this be?
“I am. But fear not. I would never hurt you. Never. Promise. I will protect you, from anyone and anything, always. But you must not tell anybody or they will come and look for me, hunt me and …. hurt me. Very badly.” he said.
“Oh no! No, I won’t. I won’t tell. I won’t. I promise.” This was way too much for Everleigh to process.
“Your parents are here. You should go. Bye Little Leigh. Until next time … unless you tell me now that you would prefer not to see me again. If you do, I will understand and respect it.”
“Oh no, I do …. please come back Heath.” HUH? Did she just ask a dangerous New Breed vampire to visit her again. Oh boy. She needed an adult’s advice. But who? If she told mommy and daddy, they would not do anything that would hurt Heath, would they? But what if they told someone and they would. Uh oh …. oh boy …
He smiled, faintly as he did, then he turned around and was gone from view within seconds. She ran back around the corner, straight into her parents arms, lying again about seeing a kitten.
All those lies … Everleigh had never before lied to her family and now, piles and piles. This had to stop. But what about KC and Heath. No way she could just abandon either … but so many lies …