I’m still searching when I spot the
strangest looking tree. It’s larger than the others, but that’s not what makes
it stand out. It’s the trunk that draws me, split in two in the middle and
twisted at the top to make an aperture that looks like the eye of a needle.
It’s wide enough to slip through. At least I think it is. I am overcome by the
strangest feeling of familiarity. I take a step toward the tree, and
then another, suddenly eager to find out if my theory is correct.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you?”
I spin around in alarm to find the
owner of the voice.
“Hi.” He is leaning against a tree,
all casual-like. He’s tall, taller than Liam, with dark messy hair and dark
eyes. He is striking to look at, the kind of guy you expect to see in one of
those Cinderella story movies, or a character from a young adult paranormal
novel. I stare at him, expecting him to disappear or grow some pimples or
something, but he remains as gorgeous as ever.
Liam. I love Liam, I remind myself.
He holds out his hand. “Come on,
those things can be dangerous.”
I look glance at the tree then back
at him. “You have to be joking.”
“So you’re saving me from a tree?”
He nods sombre-like.
I feel a stab of irritation. Who
does he think I am, some gullible twat from London or something? I step back
and touch the tree and quirk a brow at him. Hah!
His smiles. “Maybe I just wanted to
hold the pretty girl’s hand.”
I don’t know what to say to that.
“Nice to meet you, Gemma.” He
flashes that smile again, all white even teeth and a dimple.
“You live up at Learmonth, right?”
“Yeah, what about you?”
God, he’s trying to be cute. I hate
that. “Um, anyway, I best get going.”
“Why? You just got here. There’s
some lovely spots to sketch. I can show you if you like.”
I frown. How does he know I sketch?
My pad is in my backpack.
He cocks his head as if listening to
something. “You have artist’s hands and an artist’s eyes. I see the way you
look at things.”
Once again I don’t know what to say
to that apart from, “You been watching me?”
He smiles. “I spotted you a few
minutes ago. So, you coming?”
I hesitate. “I don’t know, you could
be a serial killer or something.”
He nods. “True, but then we’re far
enough from your house and the village for me to just grab you if I want.” He
I laugh. “Okay, you have a point.
Lead the way.” He turns and I follow. This could be good. He looks my age,
maybe a little older. Making a friend could be good, make starting college easier
with a familiar face to look forward to.
I can’t help study his back, tapered
down to his tight butt. Damn, now I’m checking him out. He does have nice arms,
though, wiry and strong-looking even if he’s as pale as the moon. He doesn’t
seem to feel the chill in the air.
I wonder if he’s wearing sun cream.
I bet he burns easy.
I trip and stumble, but don’t hit
the ground because he has me.
I don’t know how, but I have to ask.
“Are you a vampire?”
He stares at me for a long beat and
then bursts out laughing.
After a second I join in.
I realise he is still holding me,
his hands warm on my skin. “Come on then, show me this place.”
He lets go of me and ambles off
again. “Eyes on the trail now, Gemma.”