"Off to practice?"

He leaned over to copy the assignments, his dark hair falling around the sides of his face.

"Wouldn't miss it," he said, not looking up as he wrote.

"Right. You only miss classes."

"Don't judge," he said. "I would've been there if I could." I let it go. I'd certainly had my fair share of weird personal complications come up before.

While he wrote, I turned on my cell phone and found I had a text message from Brayden. It was one word, a record for him: Dinner?

I hesitated. I was still worked up over last night, and although Brayden was fun, he wasn't the comfort I needed right now. I texted back: Not sure. I've got some work to do tonight. I wanted to look up some self-defense options. That was the reassurance I needed. Facts. Options.

Brayden's quick response followed: Late dinner? Stone Grill at 8? I considered it and then texted back that I'd be there.

I had just set down my phone when another text message buzzed. Unexpectedly, it was from Adrian. How r u feeling after last night? Been worried about u. Adrian was articulate in email but often resorted to abbreviations in texts - something I could never bring myself to do.

Even reading it was like listening to nails on a chalkboard for me, yet something touched me about his concern, that he was worried about my well-being. It was soothing.

I wrote back: Better. I'm going to find a self-defense class. His response time was nearly as fast as Brayden's: Let me know what u find. Maybe I'll take one 2. I blinked in surprise. I certainly hadn't seen that coming. There was only one thing I could send back: Why?

"Geez," said Trey, closing up his notebook. "Miss Popularity."

"Family stuff," I said.

He scoffed and shoved the notebook into his backpack. "Thanks for these. And speaking of family stuff... your cousin. Is it true she was expelled?"

"Suspended for two weeks."

"Really?" He stood up. "That's it? I thought it'd be a lot worse."

"Yeah. It nearly was. I persuaded them to go easy on her." Trey laughed outright at that. "I can only imagine. Well, I guess I can wait two weeks then."

I frowned. "For what?"

"To ask her out."

I was speechless for a few seconds. "Angeline?" I asked, just in case he thought I had another cousin. "You want to ask out... Angeline?"

"Sure," he said. "She's cute. And taking out three guys and a speaker? Well... I'm not going to lie. That was pretty hot."

"I can think of a lot of words to describe what she did. 'Hot' isn't one of them." He shrugged and moved toward the door. "Hey, you've got your turn-ons, I've got mine.

Windmills for you, brawling for me."

"Unbelievable," I said. Yet, I wondered if it really was. I supposed we did all have our own

"turn-ons." Trey's lifestyle was certainly different from mine. He was devoted to his sport and always had bruises on him from practice, even now. They were more severe than usual. I couldn't understand his passions any more than he could understand my love of knowledge.

My phone buzzed again.

"Better get back to your fan club," said Trey. He left, and a strange thought occurred to me. Were all of Trey's recent bruises really from sports? He kept making a lot of references to his family, and I suddenly wondered if something far more insidious than I'd suspected was keeping him away. It was a troubling idea, one I didn't have a lot of experience with. Another buzz from the phone pulled me out of my worries.

I checked the phone and found another text from Adrian - a long one that spanned two messages. It was a response to my question about him taking a self-defense class.

It'll give me a reason to avoid S&D. Besides, u aren't the only one who might need protection.

Those guys were human and knew S was a vampire. Maybe vampire hunters r real. Ever think Clarence might be telling the truth?

I stared at the phone in disbelief, processing Adrian's words and the implications of last night's attack.

Ever think Clarence might be telling the truth?

No. Until that moment, I hadn't.

Chapter 12

WHEN I SHOWED UP for my dinner date, Brayden was sitting at a booth with a laptop. "I got here early," he explained. "Figured I should get in some work. Did you get yours done?"

"I did, actually. I was researching self-defense classes. You won't believe what I found." I sat down on his side of the booth so that I could use his laptop. Like usual, he smelled like coffee. I'd never get tired of that, I decided. I directed him to a website I'd found just before coming here. The site looked like one I could have made about ten years ago and had a lot of over-the-top animated images on it. Wolfe School of Defense  -  Malachi Wolfe, instructor.

"Really?" Brayden asked. "Malachi Wolfe?"

"He can't help his name," I said. "And look - he's actually got a number of awards and commendations." Some of the awards were even recent. Most were from at least a few years ago. "Here's the best part."

I clicked on a link entitled "Upcoming Classes." Malachi Wolfe had a pretty busy schedule, but there was one promising part. He was holding a four-week class, starting tomorrow, that met once a week.

"This isn't exactly the kind of instructor I'd had in mind," I admitted, "but it starts right away."

"Not a very long course," added Brayden. "But it'd give you a good intro. Why the interest?" An image of the alley flashed back into my mind, the figures in the dark and the helpless feeling as I was shoved against the wall. My breath started to catch, and I had to remind myself that I was no longer in the alley. I was in a well-lit restaurant, with a boy who liked me. I was safe.

"Just, uh, something I feel it's important for a woman to learn," I said. "Although... it's open to men and women both."

"Trying to sign me up?" At first I thought he was being serious, but when I looked up, he was smiling.

I grinned. "If you want. I was thinking of - my brother. He wants to do this too."

"Probably best if I don't. Although, I was going to take martial arts as a college elective." Brayden shut off his laptop, and I moved back over to the other side of the booth. "Anyway, you've got a pretty tight-knit family. Not sure if I should force myself into that."

"Probably a smart idea," I agreed, thinking that he didn't know the half of it.

Dinner was good, as was our subsequent conversation about thermodynamics. Despite the compelling topic, however, I found my mind was wandering a lot. I had to keep tuning back into what Brayden was saying. The attack and Adrian's offhand comment about vampire hunters had given me a lot to think about.

Tags: Richelle Mead Bloodlines Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
Articles you may like