Thursday, April 18, 2013


   Storm was miserable. She needed to be on the beach, in the ocean, under the sun. Her love for jack seemed illusory. He’d laughed off the moment they shared beside the pool, joking that although he thought she was ‘beautiful’ he was in love with Sara but that Storm was the kind of friend he’d always dreamt about – brave and strong and wild.
    Storm wished she’d been more of a shrinking violet; a storm chaser (literally), a weather changer, an amphibious life saver – anything other than her now almost-helplessly human self. What was the point if you couldn’t have the boy you wanted? Storm left school early and took the bus to Venice Beach boardwalk, too tired to use her power and merge. She longed to return to the utopian world of her sisters and family who lived under the sea. So far, the human world was very disappointing. 
   That night, after dinner with her foster family, Storm pretended to go to sleep and stuffed her pillows under the covers before returning to the ocean. Regenerated, Storm merged all the way to the boardwalk overlooking the sea. Jack had been worried about her leaving school early and Sara had suggested he go over to her place to see if she was okay. “It’s important Jack. She needs friends and we need her.”  
    Unbeknownst to Storm that night, Jack had followed her. Sara had to babysit her foster brothers and Jack had explained to Sara that he thought Storm wasn’t transitioning to the human world easily.
     Sara agreed. “It takes time to adjust.”
    Growing up in the foster system gave Jack and Sara empathy for other teens in similar circumstances. They looked like the perfect couple but they hadn’t had the perfect upbringing. Together, they’d discovered their individual weirdness. Together, they’d been alone at the children’s home. Sara always pretended the last thing she needed was a boyfriend but then clung to him in the dark, loving him when no one else was around. Jack convinced himself that one day soon, Sara would be okay with sharing the fact that they were a couple to anyone who was interested. Sara seemed to think being openly together made them some sort of security risk. If Lavinia’s posse or the Minchin sisters knew, they’d be more of a target to tear apart.
    It was one messed up world they inhabited – shape shifters, weather changers, and vampires. There weren’t any vampires at Sloan Select but Venice Beach High was a whole other story.
   Storm had merged to Santa Monica Pier. The Minchin girls could smell her blue blood close by. They were the three evil sisters who gathered at a Santa Monica cafĂ© most evenings now that they’d turned sixteen. They were bored at home in their palatial mansion. They couldn’t even attempt to draw the blood of their step-sister, Julissa. Besides Julissa had a boyfriend now that she spent every waking moment (and probably unwaking ones), with. Vanity sniggered at the thought. Charity thought Julissa was welcome to her new man – he was just some no-good vampire prince from the provinces.
    Instead, the sisters were over their recent designer fashion phase. Now they wore black from head to toe. They never did their homework – they’d been doing it for more than two centuries and they were so over school. Instead, they hung out at Santa Monica Pier between the hours of midnight and two in the morning. They merged there in seconds to hunt, dance and play music. Occasionally, a lost or stray teenager wandered along the boardwalk; an after dinner snack.
   The Minchin sisters usually only partially drained their victims – they didn’t want any real trouble – they just drank enough to sate or amuse themselves. They liked to listen to their fave bands beside the waves. The girls dreamed of driving all the way to Vegas to see The Killers play. Vanity liked the lead singer even though he was married. She knew it was bad but she liked guys who were at least thirty – after all, she was nearly two hundred (although she only looked sixteen).
    That night there was a fresh scent in the air, floral and sweet. They could smell Storm’s blood – newly humanoid – from a mile away. To find the fragile, perfect creature running all the way to the ocean, her thin shirt barely covering the pulsing veins in her wrists – what a prize, what a treat.
    They even had a new friend with them, Hansel Worthington. He wasn’t a vamp and his little sister was too ‘scaredy cat’ to come out with them. But Hansel was very strong and brave. He liked the fact that Gretel slept while he snuck out of their dwelling. When his sister was with him it was a lot harder to protect her.
   Hansel wasn’t scared of anything – or so he said. He wasn’t a vampire, but then, he was special and his blood did not appeal. He was just some guy the mean sisters hung out with and tried to flirt with.
     They knew they should have gone to practice that afternoon – their team was getting ready for the Tournament of Skills but for decades the vamps had literally slaughtered the kids at Sloan Select – they were all about magic and not very keen to draw blood – so it was all kind of a joke to the kids of Venice Beach High.
  “Hey girly girl,” Vanity, Charity and Patience looked up as Storm walked by. Vanity was the one who spoke first.
   “What’s your name?” Patience asked with a smile to cover her sister’s taunt. It was never very good to let your potential victim know your full intentions straight off the bat. Hansel was hunched on a bench, listening to music with his new headphones on and so far, too cool to notice the newbie.
   Storm turned around briefly. She was listening for the sounds of her sisters in the water.
    “Are you talking to me?”
    “Sure,” Charity said. “We’re always up for making new friends.”
    “Do you go to school around here?” Patience asked.
    “Uh… no, I go to Sloan Select.”
     Vanity made a hissing sound with her teeth. The girl’s blood was getting a bit hot. If it were up to her they would have drained her by now rather than waste precious time trying to make friends. Vanity Minchin was over making friends. Her whole life, since she was sixteen years old and turned (two hundred years ago), other teenaged girls had been jealous of her good looks and charm. Friendship was overrated – except with her sisters, of course. But she quite liked this new kid, Hansel. He was tough enough. And there was no weirdness between them, even though he was hot, because his blood didn’t appeal.
    Hansel nodded to the girl. He’d never seen such a fragile yet strong looking beauty. Her wild blonde curls and piercing blue eyes touched his heart as it had not been touched before. He’d spent most of his life with his twin sister fighting his evil foster mom’s plans for them – and now they were runaways, just like this girl.
    He knew the look.
    She was either running to something or from someone. He felt a little uncomfortable. He knew his new friends weren’t the most likeable girls in school but at least they were real – and tough enough to hang with. Besides, they were much more mature than his sister, Gretel, who was the only person he trusted on earth now that their family life was so messed up.