Spencer

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Cayden's been avoiding me – blocking my calls, ignoring my texts, walking right past me in the halls on his first day back at school yesterday.

Avoiding eye contact in the cafeteria.

I don't know what's wrong, but I'm not the only one he's pushing away. He sits by himself now, his friends having seemingly understood the message that they're no longer wanted. I invited them to sit with my group, and both Darren and Josh blushed crimson when Ana jumped up and down in her cheer uniform when they agreed.

And they're good company. I can see why Cayden hangs around them, they're actually rather shy and come from good upbringings; Josh's father is a Lawyer and his mother is owns a bakery, and Darren's mother is a successful wedding planner.

All I know is, I've had enough of his silence.

I walk up to his table, and plop my butt down. He's about to get up when I say, "Don't you dare walk away from me, Cayden Evander."

He rolls his eyes at me, but he sits back down. "What?" He asks almost lazily. But his pupils dilate almost completely before he shuts his eyes tight and sighs. "Spencer, I need you to go away."

I frown. "I'm not gonna do that and you know it."

He opens his eyes and sighs again. "But I hoped you might."

"Sorry to disappoint," I retort, "but I want to know why you're avoiding me. And why you're pushing away your friends. And where the hell you've been!"

"So many questions," he says, still acting as if he couldn't care less. But the way he looks at me, I know that look.

And he can sense it because the look of misery that flashes on and off of his face is proof.

"Okay," he says. "But not now. Meet me in our spot after school."

"Our...spot?" I whisper, and he pales at the admission that he considers the bleachers our spot.

"Uh," he says awkwardly, "Yeah. I don't know when I started to think of it is ours, but...deep breaths."

I smile shakily. "Deep breaths."

~*~

We've been sitting quietly under the bleachers for fifteen minutes. Cayden brought me a soda, which I very much needed, and I'm just drinking the last sip when he says, "I'm a half demon."

My heart stops. "You're a what?"

He takes in a ragged breath. "I'm half demon. My mother was a Shade. They feed off of negative emotions...well except their Familiar's emotions...and Spencer, I don't want you to hate me. I don't want you involved in this shit."

It's much too cold, and I'm aware that it's because of Cayden's anxiety. It seems that whenever he feels intense emotions, he sucks in the temperature of everything around him.

"Why don't you want me involved, Cayden?" I ask him already knowing the answer.

He's suddenly angry. "Because you can get hurt around me! That's why I've always kept a distance from you! Even when you tried incessantly to be my friend, I pushed you away! I can't be anybody's friend, yours most of all."

"Cayden," I say calmly. "I'm your Familiar."

He shakes his head, then nods, and shakes his head again. "It doesn't matter what you are. I won't feed from you. I won't endanger you from that. I won't put a target on your back. Because, Spencer, I am the only one of my kind, and there are Shades out there who want me dead! And the best way to do that is to hurt me through you. They can't hurt me more than my father has unless they hurt you. So I'm sorry I don't want my friend to die. I'm sorry the only person who knows about what I am, who knows exactly what my father has done to me, who has never given up on being my fucking friend since we were seven years old, is the one person that I need to stay away from the most."

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