by Lindsay Warner, Age 16, UK
Artwork by Ian Sifton
I rolled my eyes in exasperation, glaring at Kira.
She smirked back. “Come on, Leah, it’ll be fun!”
I shook my head vigorously, darting away from her as I headed to my locker. She followed me like a lost puppy.
“Don’t be such a spoilsport,” she whined. I tried to tune her out as I foraged for my books. “Are you honestly going to make your best friend go clubbing by herself? On her 18th birthday no less?”
“Yes,” I deadpanned, slamming my locker shut once I’d stolen its hidden treasures. I tried to shake the guilty feeling building in the pit of my stomach.
We’d been having this argument for the past week now. Kira knew I hated clubbing, namely because God gifted me with two left feet, and yet she still asked me to accompany her. Apparently, it was in the Best Friend Rulebook. Evidently, I forgot to read the small print.
I turned to Kira, retort at the ready, but paused when I saw her pouting. Her big blue eyes sparkled adorably and her lower lip jutted out at just the right angle.
Kira’s pout was legendary. It was that pout that got her out of internal exclusion for swearing at another student. The teacher was fuming but Kira pulled out her pout and BAM! Problem solved. If the teacher couldn’t say no to it, what chance did I have?
“No. Oh no. I’m not doing this, Kira,” I said with as much conviction as I could muster. “Do you hear me, woman? I am not going clubbing with you tomorrow night!”
“I hate you,” I muttered, shuffling forward as the line for the club advanced a couple steps. We were almost at the front now, thank God. My heels were already beginning to hurt.
Kira giggled. “You can’t say that! It’s my birthday!”
Before I could reply, the guy in front turned around and grinned at us. “It’s your birthday?” he butted in, oblivious to my dirty look. “Happy birthday!”
Kira blushed. “Thanks!”
The two then proceeded to get into a prolonged debate over which birthday was better, your 18th or your 21st, while I stood there awkwardly, ever the third wheel.
Finally, we reached the gruff doorman, who asked for our IDs before letting us pass.
The techno music assaulted us as soon as we entered and it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the flashing lights. When they did, I turned to tell Kira that I was heading to the bar. I froze in panic. Where was she? A brief search told me she’d already dragged the guy from the line over to the dance floor. The two were chatting like they’d known each other their whole lives.
I sighed. Now what was I supposed to do?
Deciding to just wait the evening out, I headed over to the bar and slumped down on a stool, hugging my clutch to my chest. I paid for a coke and sipped it slowly, keeping an eye on Kira to make sure that the man was behaving himself.
“Morning, beautiful,” a deep voice murmured in my ear. I tore my gaze away from the dance floor to find a gentleman seated beside me. His brown hair was disarrayed and his eyes appeared yellow, I assumed due to the lighting. He wore a crisp white shirt opened one button at the top.
“It’s evening,” I pointed out, allowing my eyes to wander back to Kira. She was laughing at something and seemed happy enough.
“Not for my species.” He flashed his fangs at me, and his yellow eyes suddenly made sense.
“You’re a vamperwolf?” He nodded once, a tension creeping into his shoulders. An emotion akin to fear flitted across his face, but it disappeared so quickly that I wondered if I’d imagined it. “Oh.”
“Oh?” he repeated, relaxing again.
I snorted. “What else do you want me to say? So you’re a different species to me. Build a bridge and get over it already! Species is just like race; neither should matter.” We sat there in silence for a few moments, both lost in thought.
This entire night was just surreal. Ever since vamperwolves had come out of the closet a few years ago, I’d never actually met one. Well, to my knowledge anyway. And now here I was, talking to a living, breathing half-vampire, half-werewolf creature. As blasé as I was trying to act, I was still impressed.
“You know, you’re probably the only woman I’ve met who hasn’t fallen at my feet when I told them my species,” the man commented. His yellow eyes regarded me with renewed interest.
“Yeah, well. That Polly girl was a good writer. She did a good job at making your species seem awesome,” I replied. A mocking smile twitched at my lips.
“You say that like you don’t believe it,” he remarked. “My species happens to be epic!” His eyes narrowed when I smirked.
“And what would you do if I said that wasn’t true?”
His fangs glinted dangerously as he replied, “Well I might just have to eat you up.”
I shivered before steeling myself. I refused to be intimidated. He was just an ordinary guy, after all, and I had the law on my side. Vamperwolves really couldn’t afford to go around murdering people with the media focused on them as they were. So instead of showing the fear that had begun to grow within me, I frowned at him.
“That’s not nice,” I chided, waggling a finger in his face. “Does that line usually work for you?”
He blinked at me, clearly astonished, before letting out a light chuckle. “No, I can’t say that it does.” He paused. “I’m Oliver.”
“Well Oliver the Vamperwolf. I’m Leah the Human. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” I tilted my glass towards him in a half salute.
He grinned. “Likewise.” When he saw me having difficulty hearing, he shuffled closer to me. “So what are you doing here on this fine morning?” His voice was loud, but I could hardly hear him over that techno racquet.
I shrugged. “Best friend’s eighteenth,” And then I couldn’t help but add, “evening, this fine evening.”
“Semantics,” he said, waving it away. “So where’s your best friend now? Are you waiting to meet her?”
I sighed. “She’s over there having the time of her life while I’m stuck here with you.” I clutched my chest dramatically. “Whatever did I do to deserve such a thing?” I wiped at an imaginary tear.
“Now who’s being mean?”
“Still you,” I retorted, finishing off the last of my drink.
“Let me buy you another,” he offered, ordering before I could protest. When he caught my scowl, he grinned. “I insist.”
“Not going to buy one yourself?” I questioned, nodding to the empty space in front of him.
His grin turned dark. “There’s only one kind of liquid I’d care to ingest.” He leered at my exposed neck.
I swallowed. “Stop being creepy!” I shoved his shoulder, shifting so my hair covered the vulnerable area. “This is why you have no friends!”
Oliver gave me a funny look. “We’ve only just met. How would you know if I have friends or not?”
“I have a sixth sense,” I said seriously, best cocky look in place.
“Well your sixth sense is wrong because I do have a friend. Her name is Leah, and I met her just tonight.”
“Is that so?” I asked, deciding to play along. “Well this Leah girl must be pretty spectacular if she can put up with you.”
Oliver nodded solemnly. “Oh, she is,” he assured me. “In fact, she’s so spectacular that she’s going to give me her number, right here, right now.” When I looked at him blankly, he added, “For friendship purposes. God, Leah, get your head out of the gutter!”
I opened my mouth to reply but was cut off by a familiar arm wrapping around my shoulders.
“Well don’t you two look cosy,” Kira commented. She gave Oliver her back as she hugged me in greeting, whispering, “He’s hot!” in my ear. I rolled my eyes as she pulled away.
“Oliver, Kira. Kira, Oliver,” I shouted over the music.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Kira. Happy birthday.” He smiled at her, pulling out the charm.
Kira chuckled. “Why thank you, kind sir.” She turned to me. “Now I hate to break up this love fest but I gotta roll Leah, and you’re my ride.”
“I thought you were caught up in a love fest of your own,” I pointed out, making no move to get up. “What happened to lover boy?”
“His girlfriend showed up. When she realized I wasn’t there to be her new best friend, she got mad.” I winced. I knew that guy was bad news! “You see where I’m going with this?”
I sighed. “Okay, okay. I’ll meet you outside, yeah?”
Kira nodded, bid Oliver goodbye and weaved through the crowd towards the exit.
Gulping down the last of my drink, I rummaged around my clutch for a pen and when I found it, scribbled down my number on a nearby napkin.
“Don’t make me regret this Oliver,” I warned, holding the item just out of his reach and ignoring his confused look. “We’re friends now. Nothing more, nothing less.”
I dropped the napkin in his hand, grabbed my clutch and began to follow Kira out when I paused. “Oh and, Oliver?” I turned around in time to see the vamperwolf schooling a huge grin. He held the napkin delicately, like he was afraid it would smash. “Next time, leave the creepy at home.”
Oliver stuck his tongue out at me. The gesture was childish and adorable – I laughed all the way to the exit.
After reuniting with Kira, we began the trek back to my car. The night was cold but the breeze was welcoming after the suffocating heat of the club. The streets were deserted, most people having already holed away for the night.
“So…Oliver seemed nice,” Kira commented, waggling her eyebrows suggestively.
I elbowed her. “Purge those dirty thoughts from your mind. He’s my friend. That’s it.” Admittedly, I was beginning to question the wisdom of my actions but I refused to acknowledge my doubts at the moment.
“A friend with benefits?” she teased. “Because girl, he was fine. With a body like that, I’d-“
“Finish that thought and you’ll be walking home,” I warned her. That shut her up quickly enough.
However, it was when I was driving us both home that it really hit me. I’d just made friends with a vamperwolf.