Home > Turned (The Vampire Journals #1)(9)

Turned (The Vampire Journals #1)(9)
Author: Morgan Rice

Nothing.

*

The final bell of the school day rang, and Caitlin stood before her assigned locker. She looked down at the combination printed in the piece of paper in her hand, turned the knob and pulled. It didn’t work. She looked down and tried the combination again. This time, it opened.

She stared at the empty, metal locker. The inside door was lined with graffiti. Otherwise, it was completely bare. Depressing. She thought of all her other schools, of how she would rush to find her locker, to open it, to memorize the combination, and to line the door with pictures of boys from magazines. It was her way of gaining a little bit of control, of making herself at home, of finding her one spot in the school, of making something familiar.

But somewhere along the line, a few schools ago, she became less enthusiastic. She began to wonder what the point was in even bothering, since it was only a matter of time until she had to move again. She became slower and slower to decorate her locker.

This time, she wouldn’t even bother. She closed the door with a bang.

“Caitlin?”

She jumped.

Standing there, a foot away, stood Jonah.

He wore large sunglasses. She could see that the skin beneath them was swollen.

She was shocked to see him standing there. And thrilled. In fact, she was surprised at how thrilled she was. A warm, nervous feeling centered in her stomach. She felt her throat go dry.

There was so much she wanted to ask him: if he got home OK, if he saw those bullies again, if he saw her there…. But somehow, the words couldn’t get themselves from her brain to her mouth.

“Hey,” was all she managed to say.

He stood there, staring. He looked unsure how to begin.

“I missed you in class today,” she said, and immediately regretted her choice of words.

Stupid. You should have said, “I didn’t see you in class.” “Miss” sounds desperate.

“I came in late,” he said.

“Me, too,” she said.

He shifted, looking uncomfortable. She noticed his viola was not at his side. So it was real. It wasn’t all just a bad dream.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

She gestured at his glasses.

He reached up and slowly took them off.

His face was purple and swollen. There were cuts and bandages on his forehead and beside his eye.

“I’ve been better,” he said. He seemed embarrassed.

“Oh my god,” she said, feeling terrible at the sight. She knew she should at least feel good about having helped him, about sparing him more damage. But instead she felt bad for not being there sooner, for not coming back for him. But after…it had happened, it had all been a blur. She couldn’t really remember how she’d even gotten home. “I’m so sorry.”

“Did you hear how it happened?” he asked.

He looked at her intently, with his bright green eyes, and she felt he was testing her. As if he was trying to get her to admit that she was there.

Had he seen her? He couldn’t have. He was out cold. Or was he? Did he maybe see what happened afterwards? Should she admit that she had been there?

On the one hand, she was dying to tell him how she had helped him, to win his approval, and his gratitude. On the other, there was no way she could explain what she did without seeming like either a liar or some kind of freak.

No, she concluded internally. You can’t tell him. You can’t.

“No,” she lied. “I don’t really know anyone here, remember?”

He paused.

“I got jumped,” he said. “Walking home from school.”

“I’m so sorry,” she said again. She sounded like an idiot, repeating the same stupid phrase, but she didn’t want to say anything that would give too much away.

“Yeah, my Dad’s pretty pissed,” he continued. “They got my viola.”

“That sucks,” she said. “Will he get you a new one?”

Jonah shook his head slowly. “He said no. He can’t afford it. And that I should have been more careful with it.”

Concern crossed Caitlin’s face. “But I thought you said that was your ticket out?”

He shrugged.

“What will you do?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe the cops will find it,” she said. She remembered, of course, that it was broken, but she thought that by saying this, it would help prove to him that she didn’t know.

He looked her over carefully, as if trying to judge if she were lying.

Finally, he said, “They smashed it.” He paused. “Some people just feel the need to destroy other peoples’ stuff, I guess.”

“Oh my god,” she said, trying her best not to reveal anything, “that’s horrible.”

“My Dad’s pissed at me that I didn’t fight back….But that’s not who I am.”

“What jerks. Maybe the cops will catch them,” she said.

A small grin passed Jonah’s face. “That’s the weird thing. They already got theirs.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, trying to sound convincing.

“I found these guys down the alley, right after. They were beat down worse than me. Not even moving.” His grin widened. “Someone got to them. I guess there is a God.”

“That’s so strange,” she said.

“Maybe I have a guardian angel,” he said, looking her over closely.

“Maybe,” she answered.

He stared at her for a long time, as if waiting for her to volunteer something, to hint at something. But she didn’t.

“And there was something even stranger than all that,” he said, finally.

He reached down and pulled something out of his backpack, and held it out.

“I found this.”

She stared down in shock. It was her journal.

She felt her cheeks redden as she took it, both delighted to have it back and horrified that he had this piece of evidence that she was there. He must know for sure now that she was lying.

“It has your name in it. It is yours, right?”

She nodded, surveying it. It was all there. She had forgotten about it.

“There were some loose pages. I gathered them all up and put them back in. I hope I got them all,” he said.

“You did,” she said softly, touched, embarrassed.

“I followed the trail of pages, and the funny thing is….they lead me down the alley.”

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