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Of course, when we get home, Mom helps (forces) me get ready for my date before she leaves for work. I refuse to think of it as such until my phone rings, displaying Cael's number.

"Cael?" I answer, at the same time he says, "Khiara?" We both go silent, and then laugh a little awkwardly.

It's Cael who talks first. "So," pause, "are you still up for that," long pause, "uhh..."

Oh my God, it is a date! Calm down calm down...Oh my God! "Yeah," I say, trying to sound nonchalant, but my voice betrays me, and I can hear Cael chuckle quietly on the other end. "I'm definitely up to it."

I run my tongue over my lips, trying my best not to lick off the lip-gloss Mom forced me to put on as Cael says, "Where do you want to meet? I can always pick you up, but only if you're okay with that."

"That sounds good. I live on McKinley Avenue. My house is the only house with shutters and a wraparound porch."

I can practically hear his smile through the phone, "I've passed by it a few times. I know the one."

"Good," I whisper.

"Yeah, good," he replies, also in a hushed voice. "I'll pick you up in about an hour."

Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rings and I practically skip all the way to the door from the living room. As I get to the door, something stops me from opening it right away. Not only did Cael say he'd pick me up in an hour or so, it's also because that stupid creepy feeling is nagging at the back of my brain. I feel watched, stalked even. And not at all safe.

I open the door reluctantly, and only poke my head out. Damien is standing there, holding a whole bunch of papers and a box of cookies. He's wearing a black suit, as if he weren't headed home from school, but towards somewhere extravagant, somewhere extremely fancy.

"Hey," he says all smiles and good looks. "Can I come in for a second? I brought your homework. Cara offered to do it, but I said that since we live so close to each other, and it was on my way, it would be no big deal. I hope you don't mind."

My heart slows down and I open the door wider, "Sure, why not." I don't know why, but Damien makes me nervous in a way nobody ever has before. I kind of associate him with shadows, mysterious and out of reach. Like if I tried to grab for him, there would be nothing but air in my hands. I realize that that's kind of strange, but nothing else seems to fit a good description for him.

He comes right in, and as he passes by me in the small doorway, I supress the urge to shudder. Internally though, my guts are twisted completely, making me like I'm going to vomit. "So, how much homework do I have?" I attempt to keep my tone as light as possible.

He smiles, and walks into my kitchen like he's been here millions of times, when really this is his first time ever being inside, and puts the cookie box on the counter next to the fridge. He reaches into the fridge and pulls out a soda, my last one actually (I go through about four cans a day sometimes) and pops it open. I'm too nervous to say anything about his boldness, and I rub my arm awkwardly. He takes a long swig from the can and burps when he's done. "Excuse me for my rudeness, but I was dying for a drink and niceties were not on my mind. Where were we? Homework, right."

Damien hands me the papers, "These are the notes Cara took for you. She photocopied a couple of other student's notes as well, but took extra detailed ones for you. You miss one day of school, and Cara really goes all out for you. Got her taking notes, Banning, maybe you should stop going to school altogether!" His words are amicable, there's no hint of contempt in them, but I still feel like he was implying something else with those words. He tries to laugh good naturedly, but it sounds tinny to me, fake. Forced.

Dark One- The Khiara Banning Series Book 1 Where stories live. Discover now