After dropping Kota off, Connelly drove swiftly back home and found his family in the sitting room once more, where it seemed all of their meetings took place. “So?” he asked his father, who was sipping a cup of coffee and looking thoughtful. He took a seat next to Ivan and waited for an answer.
“Well,” he began, then paused. “She’s very pleasant and actually, I can’t understand why you would have had such a hard time with her, or you, Alister.”
Alister shrugged. “Just something about her doesn’t sit right with me.”
“Well, I have to agree with that also.” Mathias sipped his coffee again and ran a hand over his goatee.
“The shock,” Connelly said.
“Yes,” he nodded, “I felt it… went straight to my chest. It wasn’t as big as you made it seem, but all the same it is peculiar.”
“Could she be one of them? Sent to spy on us?” Mira asked, sitting on the arm of Alister’s chair.
“I don’t think so,” he said, but he looked unsure.
“She could be something we haven’t come across before,” Mira added. “He’s always gathering new allies.”
“No, I don’t suspect he knows where we are. And even if he does, he has no reason to strike now, or send someone like her that would give her away so easily like that. I doubt she is one of them, but nonetheless I need to find the answer. Connelly, you have what I need?” Mathias looked to him and everyone’s eyes followed. Connelly nodded and pulled a bag from his pocket with two blonde hairs.
“What if she is one of them? Or something else entirely? Connelly said it himself he felt threatened by her. We shouldn’t be letting her get so close to us.” Alister bent forward with his arms on his knees, his eyes intense and narrowed.
“We also shouldn’t keep her too far away,” Mathias answered. “Alister, I highly doubt she is any danger to us, or even knows what is happening to her. I would suggest not getting so excited about it.”
“I’m just trying to protect us,” he said, slumping back in his chair.
“I know you are, but when you do things like severely injure two teenagers for taunting you or not sufficiently control yourself around humans, like when you danced with Kota, it is counterproductive. Whatever we do to protect ourselves has to be unable to be traced back to us. We have to come and go here easily, without raising any suspicion at all.”
“Yeah, and you’re not helping us do that,” Vincent added and Alister glared at him.
“Hush, both of you,” Amelia snapped, then stood and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Alister, how have your studies been going?” Mathias asked, leaning back into the couch.
Alister looked away from Vincent and glanced at Mathias. “Okay, I guess. Some of it is boring and takes too long.” He shrugged. “I just want to do the bigger stuff.”
“Some of the best and biggest ones do. You need to practice more, and whenever you start to get mad, I want you to think of something that calms you down. Just take a few minutes, do that, and start again. I promise it will help. How about you Aubrey?” He turned to her on the couch with him.
“I’m doing very well,” she said and smiled happily. “I was wondering, could we see what you’re going to do with that?” She pointed to the bag. “As a lesson example?”
Mathias glanced at Alister and then back to her. “Would you want to see this?” The question was directed at Alister, who nodded after a minute. “Then yes, but it won’t be tonight. I have to do some research first.” Just then, Amelia reappeared carrying a tray of eight mugs, which everyone took, including Mathias and herself. “Now, everyone drink up, and I’ll be in my study.”
“Wait!” Aubrey said, “What about our test? You said it was tonight.”
Alister glowered at her. “Ah, yes. Go and get your things then and meet me up there, both of you.” Mathias made sure to look at Alister before disappearing into the living room and up the stairs of the east tower. “And if you pass, I will show you how to do one of the things I know you’ve wanted to do, Alister, but it takes at least some practice to get good at.” At those words, Alister left the room, his gate showing new purpose and determination shining in his eyes.
A few days later, we learned that Sam Salinas, the idiot jock who got his butt beat by Alister, had landed himself in the hospital. He’d already been wearing bandage-wrap around his cracked rib and gauze on his nose, but I guess even that wasn’t enough to keep him away from a party in the woods. Those parties can get pretty wild when enough people get drunk, but he managed to stay out of any fights this time. No, what brought him to being laid-up in a hospital bed was an animal attack. According to the gossip trickling down from the grapevine, he’d gone to take a leak when it happened.
A lone black wolf had jumped out and attacked him in his most vulnerable moment, in his most vulnerable area. The doctor said it wasn’t that bad, but even he looked in pain from just having to treat it. The boys all cringed when we told them, although Dale chalked it up to karma for messing with Alister. In fact, Alister had been looking not as pissed off here lately, like he was kind of happy about something. Maybe he thought it was karma working in his favor too.
Over the rest of the week, it was starting to get to me, how much I was doing. Right after practicing dance at school, I would run to work, and then the only other day I had off I spent over at Connelly’s practicing for about two hours because of how they did it. It was wearing me out, and I could tell Lou didn’t like us being in dance either, the longer it went on. Sue was also having a hard time, since she’d had to cancel on her and Ivan’s date because of work.
Then finally, finally it was the day of the test. Maybe after this, things will calm down a bit. I thought. There were handmade banners and posters around the school, titling the test ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’. Everyone was going to be there and in fact, class was letting out early because of it. We practically only had a little over half a day of classes. Connelly smiled as I slid in beside him. “Calm down, everything is going to be fine.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because my mother already told you she’d picked you? Remember?” He gave me a look and chuckled, making me smile.
“Yeah, but the test is supposed to see how you do under pressure. What if I mess up?”
“You’ve already done it under pressure. You didn’t have a couple hundred people staring at you but you did have several professional dancers and the instructor watching you personally. I know that was pressure on you too.” I opened my mouth to speak, but he stopped me. “And don’t say this is a different kind of pressure because it’s not and you know it. You’re just trying to make an excuse for being nervous when there isn’t one.”
I smiled at him and he shook his head. “Fine,” I said and he laughed.