Home > Crush (Crave #2)(7)

Crush (Crave #2)(7)
Author: Tracy Wolff

Thankfully, my electronics are the only things missing. My backpack was apparently with me the entire time, and my school uniforms are right where I left them—in my closet. I take a minute to re-bandage my hurt fingers, then grab a black skirt and purple polo from my closet. I add a pair of black tights and my school boots, pause to slick a little lip gloss on my lips and mascara on my lashes, then grab my backpack and head for the door.

I don’t know what time it is exactly, but Jaxon left here around noon. Which means I should have plenty of time to make my one o’clock class: Mystical Architecture.

I have no idea what kind of class this is, but the truth is I’m excited about it. Even though there’s a part of me that wonders if I am now enrolled in it because I’m apparently a living, breathing example of mystical architecture.

Deciding not to dwell on the fact that I might be part of the props, I throw open my door and book it down the long dorm hallway, with its decorated doors and black sconces in the shape of different dragons. As always, I giggle a little as I pass the door decorated with bats.

The first day I got to Katmere, I assumed the room belonged to a Batman aficionado and thought it was the coolest. Now I know it’s a vampire joke à la Jaxon’s best friend, Mekhi, and I love it even more. Especially when I see that he’s added a couple of new bat stickers.

I take the back stairs two at a time, my hand coasting along the elaborately carved banister as I do. I’m in such a rush to get to class, I don’t notice a chunk of the banister is missing—and stairs—until it’s too late and almost tumble through the hole.

I manage to catch myself, but as I do, I get an up-close look at the edges on either side of the gap. They’re charred and blackened and look to be the victims of some kind of high-intensity fire. Someone obviously lost their temper…or at least lost control of their powers.

Dragon or witch? I wonder as I turn the corner into the north hallway where my architecture class is located. They’re the only ones who can wield that kind of firepower. Which is cool but definitely a little scary, too.

Maybe I’m looking at this whole gargoyle thing all wrong. At least I don’t have to worry about burning the school down when I’m a giant stone statue.

Warning chimes playing the Rolling Stones’s “Sympathy for the Devil”—Katmere’s version of a bell and Uncle Finn’s own private indulgence—go off just as I slip through the doorway of my architecture class. I try to get the lay of the land and to find an empty desk, but I barely have the chance to inhale a breath before I jump a little as I realize Flint is crowding in behind me.

He puts a steadying hand on my shoulder even as a huge grin splits his face. “New Girl! You’re back!”

“You already knew that.” I roll my eyes at the greeting. “You saw me earlier.”

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t sure you weren’t some hope-induced hallucination earlier.” He wraps me in a huge hug and lifts me off my feet. “Now I know you’re real.”

“Why is that exactly?” I ask as he finally lets me down. He’s so warm, and I’m still so cold that I think about burrowing against him for a second hug. But this is the guy who tried to kill me not that long ago. Sure, he’s had the last four months to move on, but for me it feels like everything happened just a few days ago. Including him choking me out in the tunnels below the school.

But Flint just winks at me and says, “Because no one who doesn’t have to be here would ever come to this class.”

10

One Giant Pain

in my Ass

“Fantastic.” I give him my very best fake smile. “Because that doesn’t sound ominous at all.”

“Hey, I’m just keeping it real.” He leans in close. “You want another tip?”

“I didn’t realize there was a first tip,” I answer with a roll of my eyes.

This time when he smiles, his teeth gleam white and just a little sharp against his rich umber complexion, and I can’t help wondering how I missed it for so many days.

Everything about the boy screams “dragon,” from the way he moves to the way his eyes track my every movement. And that’s not even including the large ring on his right ring finger that I’ve never seen him take off—at least not in human form. It’s literally a bright-green stone with a dragon etched into it set in an elaborate silver base.

“I’m going to ignore your lack of enthusiasm, New Girl, and tell you anyway. Because that’s just the kind of guy I am.”

“So magnanimous,” I agree with a click of my tongue, although I can’t keep the humor from leaking into my gaze. Staying mad at Flint is starting to feel impossible. “Or, wait. I think I mean murderous. Sorry.” I deliberately widen my eyes. “I always confuse those two words.”

Flint’s cheeks flush just a little, and his expression shifts to a combination of embarrassed and impressed as he leans over and whispers, “Me too.”

I meet his eyes. “I remember.”

“Yeah, I know.” He looks sad, but he doesn’t try to argue with me. Doesn’t try to pretend I don’t have the right to be wary around him. Instead, he just nods toward the desks and says, “You might want to grab a seat in the back.”

“Why is that exactly?” I ask.

Flint just shakes his head, and his signature big grin stretches across his face again. He holds his hands out in a half-conciliatory, half-do-what-you-want kind of motion. “Sit in the front for a day if you must. You’ll figure it out.”

I want to ask more, but the final bell rings, and everyone is rushing for a seat—as far back from the front as they can get.

So it was a real tip, then, and not just Flint’s way of messing with me. Too bad I’m a little slow on the uptake, because now nearly all the seats in the back are taken.

Figuring the front can’t be that bad, I start to make my way over to the row against the wall—the second seat is open, and it seems like as good a bet as any.

I’m almost there when a slender arm, bedecked in crystal enhancing bracelets, shoots out to stop me. “Oh my God, Grace!” Macy’s friend Gwen beckons me over to sit next to her.

“Welcome back,” she practically shouts at me as I slide into the desk in front of her. “Have you seen Macy yet? She’s going to flip!”

She shoves a lock of her long, shiny black hair behind her ear as she talks, and when it falls right back into her face again, she makes an exasperated noise and leans forward to pull an antique hair clip—also crystal enhanced—out of her bag.

“I haven’t seen her yet. My uncle said she’s been taking a midterm since I…” I trail off awkwardly, as I have no idea how to finish that sentence.

Since I got back?

Since I became human again?

Since I stopped being a gargoyle?

Ugh. What a mess.

Gwen smiles sympathetically, then whispers something in Chinese to me. The look on her face tells me it’s something special, but I don’t have a clue if it’s a spell or a blessing or something in between.

“What does that mean?” I whisper back as the architecture teacher, a Mr. Damasen, according to my schedule, lumbers into the room. He’s a huge man—seven feet at least—with long red hair tied back at the nape of his neck and ancient gold eyes that seem to see everything.

Instinctively, I sit a little taller and notice everyone else in the class does the same—except for Flint, who currently has his long legs kicked up on his desk like he’s on a lounger in the middle of the Bahamas.

Mr. Damasen zeroes in on him, his eyes doing this weird swirling thing that totally freaks me out. But Flint just keeps grinning that lazy, dragon grin of his and even raises his hand in a little half wave, half salute.

At first, I think the teacher is going to bite his head off—maybe even literally—but in the end, he doesn’t say a word. He just kind of shakes his head before giving the rest of the students in the classroom a quick once-over.

“It’s a Chinese proverb my mother used to tell me all the time when I was growing up and struggling to figure out my powers and my place in the witchcraft world. ‘If heaven made someone, earth can find some use for them.’” Her bracelets clink together in a surprisingly soothing rhythm as she leans forward slightly and pats my forearm. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ll figure it out. Just give yourself some time.”

Her words are right on. So right on, in fact, that they freak me out a little bit. I really don’t like the idea of the entire school knowing how I’m feeling. I thought I’d done a good job of keeping my emotions under wraps, but now I’m really doubting that belief, considering this is only the second time Gwen and I have ever talked.

“How did you know?”

She smiles. “I’m an empath and a healer. It’s kind of what I do. And you’ve got every right to be freaked out right now. Just try to breathe through it until you get your feet under you.”

“Fake it till I make it?” I joke, because that’s pretty much been my mantra since I got to Katmere Academy.

“Something like that, yeah,” she answers with a quiet laugh.

“Miss Zhou.” Mr. Damasen’s voice booms across the classroom like a lightning strike, rattling everything in its path—including his students’ nerves. “Care to join the rest of the class in turning in your review packet for the midterm? Or are you not interested in obtaining those points?”

“Of course, Mr. Damasen.” She holds up a bright-orange folder. “I have it right here.”

“Sorry,” I whisper, but she just winks at me as she gets up to add her file to the stack at the front of the room.

“As for you, Miss Foster, it’s nice to have you back.” I jump as Mr. Damasen’s voice thunders so loudly, it practically rattles my eyes back in my head. He’s made his way down my aisle and is now standing right in front of me, a textbook in his hand. “Here’s the book you’ll need for my class.”

   
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