Aurora Sky:Vampire Hunter

By: Nikki Jefford

1

Life Ends On A Curse

I was outnumbered six to one… at least that’s how it felt.

My supposed teammates stood by uselessly as the volleyball hurtled over the net and whopped me in the shoulder.

The beautiful Brooke Harris high fived the boy beside her before switching corners. It didn’t matter if she served from the right or the left. The ball flew at me—again.

I ground my teeth together and tried to pelt the ball back, but launched it into the net instead. God, I sucked at team sports.

“Come on, Aurora!” Clayton Wilcox snapped beside me.

I grimaced. A junior the size of Napoleon shouldn’t be speaking to a senior that way, but that was just my opinion.

One of my teammates bent down for the ball and tossed it back to Brooke, who smiled as though auditioning for a teeth whitening ad. Brooke served again, and the volleyball sailed over the net once more—toward me, of course.

Clayton’s patience had apparently worn out. He stepped in and bumped into me, but managed to smack the ball back. Fine. Whatever. My teammates should get in the game.

Behind Brooke and her team of Olympians the bleacher crowd slouched against the benches like sloths while the rest of us got wrist burns. I’d tried everything from flu symptoms to a twisted ankle to get out of participating, but Mr. Mooney saw me as an active member of the student body, unlike the loafers who regularly got out of gym.

Fane Donado and Valerie Ward, the reigning king and queen of gym exemption, seemed to believe that making out substituted for physical ed.

Valerie was gorgeous, in a classical sixteenth century courtesan sort of way. Curves graced her hips and hair, which fell in thick waves of strawberry-brown down her back.

Fane had The Worst Hair: ink black and buzzed on the sides with a mass of blond on top. Combing it back was a big mistake. It drew further attention to his long forehead and wide set eyes. He had one of those disastrous looks that captured my attention—like Edward Scissorhands.

Every day Fane dressed in head to toe black and a long leather jacket which he wore at all times, like a second skin. Maybe he was packing…or dealing. Neither would surprise me.

I usually had a thing for tall, skinny guys, but I made exceptions, especially when the guy in question had trouble keeping his tongue inside his own mouth.

I wanted my first kiss to be a pleasant experience, not pornographic.

Mr. Mooney’s whistle announced the end of gym at the same time Brooke slammed the ball over. This one hit me in the chest.

“Ow!”

I know guys are sensitive between the legs, but a woman’s breasts aren’t exactly made out of sponge cake.

My classmates pattered across the gym floor toward the locker rooms. The bleacher crowd rose slowly and stretched their arms.

Yeah, try not to exert yourselves or anything.

I leaned down for the volleyball and walked it over to the roll out cart. As I nestled the ball into place, three more toppled off and rolled in opposite directions.

Groan. I spent enough time chasing balls around during gym, never mind running after them when I needed to change and book it to Algebra II.

By the time I retrieved each ball and set them on the cart, everyone had cleared out of the locker room, leaving hairspray fumes in their wake. Gag. My hair tumbled down my back as I freed it from its ponytail.

As I yanked the zipper up my jeans I heard a snicker and stopped. All was quiet and then I heard it again. Resisting the urge to call out a feeble “Hello?” I finished securing my pants then rounded a wall of lockers.

Valerie straddled Fane on the locker room bench in her corset top and black lace-up boots. Her arms circled his neck.

As she leaned back to look at me, Fane’s face emerged.

I would not blush. Not in front of Fane Donado. Too late. My cheeks flamed rouge.

From this close up I could see that among Fane’s aforementioned defects, his lips were mismatched; the top one smaller than the bottom.

Those lips curled back as Fane took note of my presence. I swear I heard him make a sound of disgust from deep within his throat, like I’d crashed a private party or barged into their hotel suite.

I stood staring like an idiot waiting to be dismissed.

When our eyes met, Fane smiled. Not a friendly ‘hello’ smile or the cute ‘you caught me in the act’ kind. Eyes locked on mine, Fane ran the tip of his tongue along his upper lip.

The lewd gesture made me feel somehow involved in their foreplay.

My mouth went dry.

Fane cocked a dark brow. “See something interesting?”

I should have squared my shoulders and informed him, “No, not at all” or “Yeah, I find it interesting that there’s a boy in the girls’ locker room. So you had that sex operation, did you?”

Instead, I turned and fled.

I didn’t have time for comebacks. That’s all.

If I hurried maybe I could still catch my friend Denise at our hall lockers before she left for math.

As I speed walked toward my locker, a football whooshed across the hall, barely missing my shoulder. Again? I glared at the boy who had chucked it to his friend. He laughed and said, “Whoops.”

God, I couldn’t wait to graduate and get the hell out of Alaska and Denali High School.

Sure enough, when I reached my locker, Denise had long since departed. I did a quick book and binder grab, then sprinted to math. The warning bell rang as I hurried in and took my seat beside my friend. She already had her book open and pencil in motion on notepaper.

Denise used to laugh at my gym recaps. Now she didn’t even inquire after my lateness and here I was dying to tell her about the sex show in the locker room. Okay, not exactly a sex show, but practically!

“Hey, Denise,” I said. “You’ll never believe what happed after gym.”

Denise’s eyes narrowed as though I had interrupted her in the middle of a pop quiz.

I hesitated for a second. Then the words tumbled out. “Remember that guy I told you about in gym…”

Denise stopped me before I could go any further. “Can this wait till lunch?”

Suddenly I felt stupid with my mouth hanging half open seeing as my closest friend pretty much told me to shut up.

All part of Denise’s new attitude “un-makeover” starting the day Notre Dame accepted me while her own first choice college, Carleton, had turned her down.

She wasn’t the only student at Denali High with senioritis.

Mom warned me this would happen. Friends began focusing on finishing senior year and imagining their lives in that great place beyond: College.

Guilty as charged.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be puzzling over an algebra graph, I’d already be enrolled at Notre Dame, set up in my dorm, attending class.

That’s the thing about universities—they wanted you to finish high school first.

After eighteen years in Anchorage I could hardly wait to trade in snow and cold for civilization.

Till then, six more months before graduation.

At the end of the hour, Denise said an abrupt, “See you at lunch.”

Well, she could forget about juicy details ’cause I wasn’t dishing. Bitchy behavior deserved no rewards. Maybe Tracey Rowen in third period French would appreciate the story.

At least I wasn’t running late for French because in about three seconds, Scott Stevens would pass me in the hall.

Speaking of juicy delights.

I swore he moved in slow motion when he rounded the corner.

Scott had the thin, towering build going for him. He didn’t wear a letterman jacket, which he could have as captain of the basketball team, but Scott was the kind of guy who had his own killer style. Best of all, he looked me in the eyes and smiled whenever he saw me. And that is why I, Aurora Sky, for the first time in my life, had a major crush on a jock.

Too bad he and Emily Horton were an item.

“Hi, Aurora.”

“Hey, Scott.”

After he passed, I ducked into the girl’s bathroom at the end of the hall. A group of juniors huddled together and leaned into the mirror as they applied makeup. They’d all dyed their hair jet black with varying streaks of colors, as if to help tell each other apart. One had blond streaks, one red, and another blue.

The girls moved several inches to give me room. When I looked in the mirror, I tried to recreate the same smile I’d flashed Scott. My lips curved over a set of straight teeth. I pulled my hair over my shoulders. That would have looked better, but I always pushed it out of the way.

The group beside me finished their faces and lips. The girl with the blue streaks rubbed concealer with two fingers over a massive hickey on her neck.

As I headed out, the warning bell rang.





At the end of the day, Denise started spinning the combo on her locker at the same time as me. I got distracted and had to start over.

Once she had her coat on, Denise shut her locker with a thud.

“See you later,” she said, hoisting her backpack over one shoulder

So now she couldn’t wait to walk out to our cars together?

Okay then.

I zipped up my jacket a minute later and headed for the student parking lot alone. The moisture on my lashes froze as soon as I stepped outside. Exhaust from idling cars hovered in the stagnant air. Not only was this time of year cold and dark, it turned my stomach inside out.

Once the car stuttered to life, I smacked my mittens together to keep from freezing solid and let the vents do their work unthawing the windshield. After the ice turned to droplets, I swiped the windshield with the wipers. They carved a porthole into the glass and grated against the coarse outer layers of ice.

The roads hadn’t thawed, not even with the blast of exhaust pipes and friction of tires running across the polished ice all day. Tires spun in the parking lot. The truck in front of me gunned it and slid sideways onto the road.

College couldn’t come soon enough.

I turned the radio on and sung along softly to the lyrics as I passed mounds of snow that had melted during a warm spell the previous week. This week they’d refrozen into white misshapen humps over the landscape.

My tires skid at the first red stoplight. I slid forward four inches. Getting started again took a moment. Too much gas and my tires spun in place.

Once I lived on campus at Notre Dame there would be no more playing slip and slide on the streets. I planned to walk everywhere on solid pavement.

I passed the fast food chains lining the road just blocks from Denali High. On the long straight stretch home I drove on autopilot until business centers turned to neighborhoods. Small gaps of forest arched over the sides of the road. I was almost home when I took the sharpest curve on Jewel Lake Road.

As I rounded the corner a SUV appeared in front of me, speeding around the bend. The car made a horrible skidding sound before sliding into my lane.

Time inched forward.

Tires screeched. I braked, but the car slid out from under me. Light glinted off the SUV’s front windshield, and for a moment, I saw the driver—a boy wearing a blue bandana around his forehead. Maybe I would have found him cute if he weren’t about to kill us both.

In seconds, he would hit me. And I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t brake. I couldn’t dodge him. This was it.

I saw the boy’s face. I read his lips. “Oh, shit.”

We said the words together.

In the event of a catastrophe, one thing is sure. Your life ends on a curse.

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