I WALKED UP TO VLAD, one of my best friends, and Nelly's, his guardian and a close friend of mine who is like my sister, house with Henry, my other best friend. We were going to go to the biggest Halloween party in Bathory. Henry rang the bell, we heard steps coming toward the door and it opened to reveal Nelly. She greeted us each with a smile and a hug. I winced slightly at her hug as she put pressure on the newest bruise covering my body.
"Where have you been Rose? I haven't seen you in almost two months." Nelly said.
"Sorry Nelly, family stuff, had to go straight home after school." I wasn't lying, technically. I did have to go home straight after school, I just didn't tell her that if I didn't I could add another bruise to my body collection. Two months ago my mother died and it hurt my dad, bad. He couldn't cope and he started to beat me. I could of sworn a look of disbelief and concern cross Nelly's face, but it quickly disappeared and Vlad came to the door.
He jumped out from behind the wall and held his black cape, cheap looking I might add, out with both arms. "I vant to suck your blood!"
I giggled at him with his pale skin he really did look like a real vampire. Henry doubled over, roaring with laughter, like he knows something I don't. When he stopped, he slapped Vlad on the shoulder, "That's a sweet costume. Check me out. You'll just die." Henry placed his fists on his hips in a pseudo-Superman pose, and turned his head to reveal two small holes in his neck that looked like a real vampire bite.
As Vlad and Henry talked about their costumes, I leaned against the railing, obviously missing out on the inside joke between them. I have always known that they were keeping something from me. It's been like this ever since we were 8 and I came back from my vacation to Santa Carla, California to visit my Great Aunt, when I cam back from my vacation I knew something was different, but no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't tell me, so I just gave up and stand quietly while they have their secret moment.
Once I started to get ticked off, I jumped up behind them and pulled them both into a sideways hug, barley hurting myself in the process.
"Don't tell me you guys forgot about me already?"
Vlad practically jumped 3 feet in the air. "Rose! When did you get there?"
"Vladimir Tod! After knowing each other for over 5 years, I thought you would actually notice me." He just stood there with his mouth hanging open trying to find something to say. I pat him on the shoulder. "Dude, I'm joking." Vlad sigh's and just shakes his head while Henry laughs.
Nelly regarded Vlad with a concerned look glance over her glasses. "Did you get enough to eat?"
Vlad nodded, stuffing a tube into his pocket, of what I I do not know, and opened the door.
"Party's over at midnight."
Nelly held out her hand. "You won't need that, I want you home by eleven."
"Eleven?" I know Vlad thought Nelly was overprotective but I wish I had her as a parent, she's definitely better than my dad. "But no one will be leaving early, and besides, at midnight there's supposed to be some big surprise."
Henry nodded in confirmation but Nelly ignored him and looked at me, she knew I the most responsible. Vlad and Henry stood out of her sight silently pleading with me to say yes.
"Yeah. It's supposed to be amazing, we can't miss it." Nelly looked skeptically at me.
"Well..." She bit her lip in contemplation and after a while, she sighed. "All right, but stick together and if you get hungry, Vlad, come home. Ill be at Deb's until late."
For some reason, Nelly is obsessed with keeping Vlad full, I still don't know why. Henry nudged Vlad as I walked over, "Matthew called me earlier, said Meredith will be there."
Vlad shot him a look that screamed "shut up" and the three of us bounded out the door, vampire, his victim, and Red Riding Hood. Nelly called after us, "Be careful, kids."
Other than the fake wound, Henry was dressed as he normally was, with a pair of ratty-looking sneakers on his feet. Vlad wore a black nylon cape, plastic fangs, and his usual clothes. I looked at Vlad, "Big 'thing' at midnight? Really, Vlad."
Vlad shrugged and adjusted the cape around his shoulders. "What teenager has to be home by eleven? I'm not that irresponsible. Why doesn't she just follow me to the party and kiss me goodbye?"
Henry shrugged. "Hey, don't knock it. If it wasn't for Nelly, you'd never get kissed."
Vlad slowed his steps. "Like you've got room to talk."
Henry shrugged. "I've kissed plenty of girls."
"He's not talking about your mom, dork." I said. We turned down Elm, and at the end of the street, I could see cars stopping in front of Matthew's house. A blur of people moved from vehicle to house, and I could see Vlad visibly tighten his muscles in nervousness. The head lights from one of the cars that had been in front of Matthew's house turned towards us, blinding me and the guys temporarily.
Henry shoved his hands into his front pockets and was walking with his attention keenly focused on the sidewalk. "Neither am I. I'm talking about girls like Carrie Anderson and Stephanie Brown."
I cringed at their names and bite my tongue. "Stephanie will kiss anyone."
You see, the whole reason for my actions was that since I was 10 I've had a crush on Henry, ever since he kissed me on a dare at the school playground. Of course though, I'd never say anything, our friendship comes first and I love them like family, it'd be too awkward, right?
"Yeah. I know." Henry's smile returned and I could hardly stop myself from smacking Henry. "Her sister's cute, though."
Vlad raised an eyebrow, half chuckling. "Dude, that's gross. She just turned twelve."
"So?" Henry grinned broadly.
"So, you'll be fourteen in two months. It's disgusting."I shook my head.
Impossibly, Henry's grin broadened. "She's nice."
"Whether or not a girl will kiss you isn't a measure of how nice she is." Vlad shook his head then looked at Matthew's house and just stared. It must be Meredith, Vlad's crush for as long as I can remember.
"So what, Einstein."
Vlad and I stopped in our tracks. Henry stopped walking as well and tilted his head at us with a curious gleam in his eyes. Vlad nodded and said, "Girls that make out in the band room aren't nice."
"I never told you it was in the band room."Henry furrowed his brow and grabbed Vlad's shoulder for a second and lowered his voice so only the two of them could hear. All I heard was "I hate that." then Vlad shrugged his shoulders and kept walking.
Henry looked at some trick-or-treaters and whispered something to Vlad and in return he said something about last year's "vampire attack" where some idiot dressed up as a vampire and scared some little trick-or-treaters.
Henry stopped in front of him whispering something about Meredith. Henry turned away and wrapped his arms around himself, making kissing sounds. I walked up behind him and smacked him on the back of his head while Vlad seethed. "Dude! Not cool! Haven't you ever had a crush?"
Henry rubbed the back of his head and looked at me briefly then gave Vlad a goofy grin. I could of sworn I saw him blush. Vlad whispered something to Henry and glanced at me. After another whisper, Henry blocked my view of Vlad.
"What are you up to?"
Henry gave me a shocked look. "What do you mean. I'm perfectly innocent."
"Yeah I'll believe that when pigs fly."
"Oh, come on, would I ever lie to you?"
I roll my eyes at him. "Yes."
"You wound me." Henry placed both hands over his heart and made exaggerated death motions.
I start to walk around Henry so we can finally get to the party but he moves first.
"Anyway, what was with that crush comment."
"Oh please, you always make fun of Vlad for his crush and act like you've never had one yourself. You have to be a little more considerate of his feelings."
"I am considerate! I just use it against him when I can. All guys do it."
"Yeah OK. Anyway who's your crush?" 'Did I really just say that? What am I thinking!'
"Wh-what do you mean? I don't have a crush."
"Oh please. You blushed as soon as I asked you the question, you like someone. You're just too afraid to admit it." 'Why do I choose to torture myself? Shut. Up. Mouth!'
Henry stood in front of me trying to grasp for any word to say. Failing to do so, I go to walk around him, wanting this night to be over with already, but instead I trip over his foot and fall into some bushes. Laying on my back I look up and see Henry holding himself up over-top of me. I must have grabbed him on the way down. Now were both blushing and staring at anything but each other. I hear kids screaming, looking over Henry's shoulder, I see there the same ones that were trick-or-treating earlier. I push Henry off and stand up, trying to find out what happened. The third little boy ran past me and I turn in the direction of Matthew's house. I saw Vlad standing by the kids trick-or-treating bags, candy spilling out everywhere.
"What did you do?"
Vlad looks at me with big eyes. "Nothing , I swear."
I give him a small glare then look at the candy on the ground. "Henry, what are you doing?"
Henry turns around with his hands in the air in a fit of surrender. The peanut-butter cup sticking half-way out of his mouth ruining any look of innocence that could cross his face. Vlad stands off to the side looking guilty and trying to cover it with a smile, but before I can say anything, Henry ran ahead of us, calling over his shoulder for us to hurry. Vlad's guilty look morphs into a smirk as he notices my fading blush. "So, anything interesting happen in those bushes?"
My eyes feel like they are popping out of my head and my face heats up. "NO! Nothing happened! I have no idea what your talking about. My palms get sweaty and I try to look anywhere but Vlad's face.
"Then why are you blushing?"
"Th-that's none of your business. Let's just get to the party, there's supposed to be a surprise. Remember?"
"Uh-huh, sure lets go. Maybe Henry knows something."
"Don't you dare!"
"Dare what? I thought nothing happened."
"Nothing did! But, but, SHUT UP!"
Vlad laughs at before grabbing one of the trick-or-treater's bag and ran to catch up with Henry. I follow his example, grabbing the last one, and chase after the boys. Catching up to Henry, the three of us walk onto the porch of Matthew's house. Music was blaring from the open door and flecks of colored lights hit the porch from inside. Matthew's mom greeted us with laughter. "Well, come on in, you evil dudes and dudette! The party's started and it's rockin'!"
The three of us exchanged looks. It was both sad and annoying when adults tried to act cool. Without comment, we wealked inside. The living room furniture had been pushed back against the walls, and a large mirrored disco ball was suspended from the ceiling. Bursts of fog occasionally covered the floor with a hiss. I counted a few of my classmates before giving up. Looking to my left, I saw Vlad staring at Meredith, who was standing near the punch bowl at the opposite end of the room, giggling with several of her girlfriends.
Henry nudged Vlad and said something, but the music blocked out his words, and Vlad nodded, so I assume he heard, and we watched as Henry was swallowed by the crowd. Left to our own devices, Vlad and I sat on one of the few empty couches that littered the walls. Bill Jensen and Tom Gaiber were moving toward the front door and Vlad and I both shrunk into the couch, hoping not to be seen. Bill looked straight at us and pulled on Tom's sleeve until Tom nearly fell on top of me. "Oh my God, check this geek out."
Tom guffawed. "Nice costume goth boy. Red, lookin' good. Wanna leave this loser and hang with us?"
Disgusted I move closer to Vlad. "No thanks, I'd rather get hit by a bus."
Vlad glared at them and turned away slightly, "Nice breath, loser."
Matthew's mom was standing near the door, watching the situation with pity-filled eyes. I wish she'd look away, but she continues to watch. At least she's not trying to stop them, or try to console us afterwards. Bill and Tom growl and start to leave, then, to my disgust, Bill turns around and yells as loudly as possible, "BITE ME!"
Vlad clamped his mouth shut and I pulled my hood up to cover more or my face as the glances from curious children looked at us. We ended up leaving the house to sit on the porch swing. We sat in silence, the good kind, before Vlad turned to me.
"You OK? Henry and I--" he was cut off by Meredith's bubbly and super sweet voice coming from the kitchen window, "Are you asking me out?"
I saw Vlad visibly depress. We snuck over to the window and peeked inside. Henry was sitting on the kitchen counter, his sneakers dangling. He leaned forward and whispered to Meredith, her lips pursed into a pout while she listened. A wave of jealousy swept over me at the sight of Henry's lips moving inches from Meredith's ear.
Henry glanced at the window. Vlad ducked, pulling me down with him, but it was too late--we had been seen. Moments later, Henry was on the porch. "That wasn't what it looked like."
Hiding my disappointment for Henry, choosing Meredith (however shallow that may sound) and for what he did to Vlad, I notice Vlad trying to play it cool. His voice cracked. "This was a mistake. Maybe I should just go home."
"Already? What about Meredith?" Henry asked, glancing at me then back to Vlad.
Vlad hurried ahead, shrugging as he descended the porch steps. "It looked to me like she was in a good hands." I followed after him, glaring at Henry.
Henry followed stopping us with his hands on our shoulders. "You got it all wrong. I was trying to hook you up for the dance." He said at Vlad then looked at me, "You believe me don't you?"
We both obviously believed him, he was Henry, if we could trust anyone, it was him, but it was still hard to ignore the fact that Henry was probably the most crushed on guy at Bathory Junior High. At times, the wistful sighs from interested girls as he passed in the hall were deafening, and the glares directed at me for hanging out with Henry scarring.
"Of course we do." Vlad and I said simultaneously as we continued down the steps, Henry close behind.
"Did you hear about Mr. Craig?" Henry asked. "What, is he going to be out sick for another week?" I asked, concerned.
"I don't think I can handle any more of Snelgrove's pop quizzes." Vlad tilted his head back dramatically.
Henry slowed his steps. "People are saying he's been declared missing."
"No way." We said at the same time, stopping are walk to let it sink in.
Vlad visibly forced himself to keep moving, dragging me with him. "Does anyone know anything?"
Henry had lost the pillowcase, but his front pockets were bulging with candy. "Not really. They say he just up and disappeared."
"Weird." I hated the thought of Mr. Craig being missing, he was my favorite teacher.
"Yeah." The serious expression Henry wore was replaced by his familiar grin. "Hey, did you see Stephanie's sister in there? She was looking pretty nice."
Vlad shook his head and I slapped Henry's arm, turning towards home. At the exact same time we said, "Dude. Seriously. She's twelve."