Home > Turned (The Vampire Journals #1)(2)

Turned (The Vampire Journals #1)(2)
Author: Morgan Rice

The bell rang, and the energy increased.

Already late.

She scanned her room card again and finally spotted the room in the distance. She tried to cut across the sea of bodies, but wasn’t getting anywhere. Finally, after several attempts, she realized she just had to get aggressive. She started elbowing and jostling back. One body at a time, she cut through all the kids, across the wide hall, and pushed the heavy door open to her classroom.

She braced herself for all the looks as she, the new girl, walked in late. She imagined the teacher scolding her for interrupting a silent room. But she was shocked to discover that was not the case at all. This room, designed for 30 kids but holding 50, was packed. Some kids sat in their seats, and others walked the aisles, shouting and yelling at each other. It was mayhem.

The bell had rang five full minutes ago, yet the teacher, disheveled, wearing a rumpled suit, hadn’t even started the class. He actually sat with his feet up on the desk, reading the paper, ignoring everyone.

Caitlin walked over to him and placed her new I.D. card on the desk. She stood there and waited for him to look up, but he never did.

She finally cleared her throat.

“Excuse me.”

He reluctantly lowered his newspaper.

“I’m Caitlin Paine. I’m new. I think I’m supposed to give you this.”

“I’m just a sub,” he replied, and raised his paper, blocking her.

She stood there, confused.

“So,” she asked, “….you don’t take attendance?”

“Your teacher’s back on Monday,” he snapped. “He’ll deal with it.”

Realizing the conversation was over, Caitlin took back her I.D. card.

She turned and faced the room. The mayhem hadn’t stopped. If there was any saving grace, at least she wasn’t conspicuous. No one here seemed to care about her, or to even notice her at all.

On the other hand, scanning the packed room was nerve-wracking: there didn’t seem like any place left to sit.

She steeled herself and, clutching her journal, walked tentatively down one of the aisles, flinching a few times as she walked between unruly kids screaming at each other. As she reached the back, she could finally see the entire room.

Not one empty seat.

She stood there, feeling like an idiot, and felt other kids starting to notice her. She didn’t know what to do. She certainly wasn’t going to stand there the entire period, and the substitute teacher didn’t seem to care either way. She turned and looked again, scanning helplessly.

She heard laughter from a few aisles away, and felt sure it was directed at her. She didn’t dress like these kids did, and she didn’t look like them. Her cheeks flushed as she started to feel really conspicuous.

Just as she was getting ready to walk out of the class, and maybe even out of this school, she heard a voice.

“Here.”

She turned.

In the last row, beside the window, a tall boy stood from his desk.

“Sit,” he said. “Please.”

The room quieted a bit as the others waited to see how she’d react.

She walked up to him. She tried not to look up into his eyes—large, glowing green eyes—but she couldn’t help it.

He was gorgeous. He had smooth, olive skin—she couldn’t tell if he was Black, Spanish, White, or some combination—but she had never seen such smooth and soft skin, complimenting a chiseled jaw line. His hair was short and brown, and he was thin. There was something about him, something so out of place here. He seemed fragile. An artist, maybe.

It was unlike her to be smitten by a guy. She’d seen her friends have crushes, but she’d never really understood. Until now.

“Where will you sit?” she asked.

She tried to control her voice, but it didn’t sound convincing. She hoped he couldn’t hear how nervous she was.

He smiled wide, revealing perfect teeth.

“Right over here,” he said, and moved to the large window sill, just a few feet away.

She looked at him, and he returned her stare, their eyes fully locking. She told herself to look away, but she couldn’t.

“Thanks,” she said, and was instantly mad at herself.

Thanks? That’s all you could manage? Thanks!?

“That’s right, Barack!” yelled a voice. “Give that nice white girl your seat!”

Laughter followed, and the noise in the room suddenly picked up again, as everyone ignored them once again.

Caitlin saw him lower his head, embarrassed.

“Barack?” she asked. “Is that your name?”

“No,” he answered, reddening. “That’s just what they call me. As in Obama. They think I look like him.”

She looked closely and realized that he did look like him.

“It’s because I’m half black, part white, and part Puerto Rican.”

“Well, I think that’s a compliment,” she said.

“Not the way they say it,” he answered.

She observed him as he sat on the window sill, his confidence deflated, and she could tell that he was sensitive. Vulnerable, even. He didn’t belong in this group of kids. It was crazy, but she almost felt protective of him.

“I’m Caitlin,” she said, reaching out her hand and looking him in the eye.

He looked up, surprised, and his smile returned.

“Jonah,” he answered.

He shook her hand firmly. A tingling sensation ran up her arm as she felt his smooth skin envelop her hand. She felt like she melted into him. He held her grip a second too long, and she couldn’t help smiling back.

*

The rest of the morning was a blur, and Caitlin was hungry by the time she reached the cafeteria. She opened the double doors and was taken aback by the enormous room, the incredible noise of what seemed like a thousand kids, all screaming. It was like entering a gymnasium. Except that every twenty feet there stood another security guard, in the aisles, watching carefully.

As usual, she had no idea where to go. She searched the huge room, and finally found a stack of trays. She took one, and entered what she thought was the food line.

“Don’t you cut me, bitch!”

Caitlin turned and saw a large, overweight girl, half a foot taller than her, scowling down.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know—”

“Line’s back there!” snapped another girl, pointing with her thumb.

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