First Saturday Dance, Year Nine:
Ciara had been talking in a corner niche with a couple of upper-classmen with whom she shared her Chemistry class, but they, being a couple, had moved onto the dance floor when the song went to a slow, romantic tune.
She hadn’t found anyone that she was interested in being romantic with (except the guy she’d just been talking with, but that was clearly not going to work out), but that was no reason to mope in the corner. She turned to go find some of her classmates, and found herself face-to-face with a bicep.
“Dance with me.”
The voice attached to the bicep was deep and rough; the bicep itself was covered in a deep red shirt. Looking up, she saw a black tie, with a tiny woven design of swords. Further up revealed a predatory smile; to the top showed shaggy black hair covering sapphire-blue eyes.
“No, thank you.” She ducked under his arm, and moved quickly without running to the bar, where the light was better and she knew more people. She didn’t look back. It didn’t seem like a good idea to look back.
Second Saturday, Year Nine:
Ciara opened her door, looked outside, and closed her door again. She’d been hearing rumors, a whisper, a murmur, a sideways threat. She knew that something was up, or going to be up. The creepy noises, the dim red lighting, the screams and haunted-house noises in the background – all any of that did was confirm her suspicions.
Her upperclassmen friends had said they might stop by, and it was still early. She passed the time making cookies in the tiny dorm oven, batch after 10-cookie batch, until someone pounded on the door.
She opened it carefully, holding on to the doorknob as she peered out into the darkness.
Into a mouth full of sharp, very white teeth. “Come out and play.”
“No, thank you,” she answered politely. “Would you like a cookie?”
“Cookie?” It confused him for long enough that she could shut the door without hitting him, and that was all, at the moment, that mattered. She slammed it, wishing this place wasn’t so damn literal. Wolf at the door, indeed.
Mid-October, Year Nine:
She knew his name by now. He almost never wore his Mask down, showing those feral teeth and those creepy, creepy eyes, but he liked to show up to the dances that way, so she’d managed to put the two men together into one wolfish upperclassman.
He knew her name by now, too. That was a bit less on the positive side of the ledger. Creepy enough to have him pop up unexpected. Creepier to have him drawl out her name like he was tasting it, licking it.
He was out in the halls after her Hiko class, following her from the gym down towards the suite she’d moved in to. “Keeee-aarrrr-uh,” he growled. “Come and play with me.”
“No, thank you, Amadeus,” she answered politely.
“Call me ‘Deus,” he retorted, stepping in front of her. “Everyone else does.”
“I’m sure they do, Amadeus. I’d rather not play with you.”
“It could be a lot of fun.”
“For you, I’m sure,” she agreed. “Please let me by.”
As always, the politeness seemed to work, and he let her flee.
Mid-November, Year Nine:
This time, it was Tlacatl class she was leaving, and a long conversation with Dr. Caitrin (after some very educational conversations with the girls Amadeus had Kept in years Seven and Eight) had left Ciara determined, if frightened, and a little bit angry.
“Keeee-arrrr-uh,” he called out, coming around the corner. He wasn’t always there, not enough that she could plan for it, and he was never outright violent, not enough that she could feel justified asking her crew to walk along with her, but there was always the threat that he’d be there, like he was today, taunting her. Asking her to play.
“Come home with me tonight.” As he had the last few times, he grabbed her arm, holding her firmly.
“No, thank you, Amadeus,” she answered, as politely as she always did. “I have plans tonight.”
“You always have plans. You ought to come home with me instead. We could have some fun.”
“I’m sure you’d have fun,” she answered. “Please let go of me.”
“I don’t want to.” His grin was sharp. “Nobody’s ever said no to me before.”
“I’m sure they have. I’ve asked.”
“Not like you have.”
“And yet you keep asking.”
“If I ask long enough, eventually you’ll say yes.” He tugged on her arm, this time, pulling her towards him. He was escalating.
She shook her head, out of clever retorts. “Amadeus cy’Valerian, I challenge you.”
Next: Wolf in the Circle
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