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Part Ten

"How was the park?"

I froze. The park? What park?

Thankfully, Lock came to my rescue. "The park was wonderful Mrs. Mackay. We had a good time with the water jets."

"Please, call me Lydia." Mum looked at me a smiled. I think she was hinting at me, because at the moment, Lock seemed like the perfect son-in-law to her. "Lachlan's father is a lawyer for a big organisation that's based all over the world. Your father's managing their accounts for them in Australia."

What'd I tell you?

"So are starting at the school next week?" Mum asked Lachlan.

Lock dabbed his mouth with a napkin. He had perfect table manners too. He'd already complimented at least twice on my mother's cooking and how she looked today. "Yes. In fact, we ran into some of Jen's friends in the park today."

"Which ones?" Mum asked, although she probably already knew.

"Laura and Frost," Lock said. Mum had long ago refrained from saying anything about Laura, but she was surprised as I was when I mentioned Frost.

"Frost? Deacin Frost, Jen's boyfriend?"

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

I felt like banging my head against the table when Lock looked at me. I really did not want to see the expression on his face. I was just as star- crossed as Romeo and Juliet. Fate had it in for me.

"Jen never told me that Frost was her boyfriend," Lock said, and his tone of amusement made me turn and look at him. He was grinning at me. I would have melted in my seat usually, but damn it, he was mocking me. They were all mocking me!

"Well," she gave me a disapproving look, "Jen just told me yesterday herself."

He kept grinning. "Well, he looks very respectable."

Mum softened. "Do you really think so?" Obviously she trusted this almost complete stranger's opinion more than mine. Then again, I wasn't really going out with Frost, was I?

"Oh yeah," Lock said a little too earnestly for my liking. "He was dressed in a black suit and a silk shirt."

I coughed. Loudly. Oh, the shame! The shame! I heard him trying to muffle his laugh behind his napkin.

"A black suit and a silk shirt!" Mum said. She turned to me with a worried look. "Is this Frost much more older than you? I don't want you going out with older men who could be taking advantage of you." If only.

"Frost is Lock's age," I said, although I really didn't know. "His family is just rich, and they like for him to dress nicely." By this time, Lock was practically stuffing the napkin in his face to stop from laughing. I looked at him indignantly. "Besides," I said with a flick of my hair, "I think he looks good in a black suits and silk shirts."

"He sounds like a pimp," Brian said, choosing the perfect time as always.

"Brian," my Mum scolded, "I'm shocked." She turned to Lock's mother, whi hadn't said much. "I'm sorry Mrs. O' Malley, you'll have to excuse my son." Brian just smirked and continued eating. I kicked him sharply underneath the table, but he just smiled nastily at me. Sibling rivalry at its best.

Now that I thought about it, it wasn't very likely that Lock's parents were his real parents. Probably Lachlan O ' Malley wasn't even his real name.

After dinner and the crème caramel, the adults sat around the lounge room talking about politics and state of the world. Brian had gone back up to his room that was covered in Metallica posters, which the colour scheme was composed mainly of black; so Lock and I were alone the family room. He turned on the TV to a louder than usual volume.

"You're new to this aren't you?" he asked. "Vampires, and all that?" They couldn't hear us over the noise of the TV. Good thinking on his part.

"Found out yesterday. Brad was my boyfriend." I had been trying not to think of Brad. It either made me feel pissed off that I was being used, or pissed off that he was dead. Who was I going to take to the formal now?

"Oh," he said. "Sorry."

I shrugged. "What about you? They're not your real parents are they?"

"No. They're just some human members of Circle Daybreak. They hardly know anything, they're just my cover."

"Circle Daybreak takes humans?" I asked incredulously.

"Well, yeah. How else is there going to be peace between Night World and humans?"

Right. I remembered now. To quote Frost, "It's an organisation that promotes cross species relations" end quote.

"So, um, what's your real name then?"

Lock smiled, but didn't say anything. If he wasn't going to tell me that, he was hardly going to spill the beans about Frost and his relationship. Now that I thought about it, I could really imagine them as a gay couple. Of course, that'd be absolutely devastating to the female population everywhere.

"So what are you? Are you human?" I asked, not knowing what to ask, or if this was a social faux pas.

"As long as you don't see me in the morning," he said, and it took me a few seconds to realise it was a joke. "Actually, I'm a witch. As human as Night People come."

He was a witch? But...

"Aren't witches supposed"

"Have warts, pointy noses and green skin? And fly around on broomsticks and go to Hogwarts?" He laughed. "We're more human than you expect."

I blushed. "I wasn't trying to imply..." My sentence kind of trailed off because it was what I was trying to imply. Damn. "So you guys go to normal schools and stuff?" I said finally, although it wasn't really a question.

"If you mean Night People, yes, we attend the same schools, we have the same jobs, we go to the same churches, etc, etc. If you want to survive, you have to understand that Night People are everywhere."

"Yeah," I said. "Got that covered." Finding out that your boyfriend was a vampire was somehow really highlighted that point. Then I noticed that Lock was unbuttoning his shirt. "Um," I said, not really sure to tell him to stop or not.

He only unbuttoned the top two buttons. I didn't know whether to be thankful or disappointed. He pulled out something that was attached to a long leather thong. It was some sort of stone. Lock placed it in my hand.

"It'll keep you safe from people fiddling with your mind," he told me.

"Fiddling with my mind?" I said, raising my voice before he hushed me.

"Vampires can do that." I flashed back to Laura when I thought she was stoned. "This is amethyst-"

"Like the type you buy in jewellery shops?" I asked, looking down on the purple stone. It carved like a stick of quartz and attached to a silver ring, which attached it to the thong. I ran my fingers over it and thought I could feel engraving on it.

"Not quite," Lock said mildly. "The ones you buy at the store are pretty much useless if they're not cleansed properly, and you have to get the right ritual..." he trailed off when he saw me looking at him blankly. It sounded like the New Age crap that Laura and I had experimented in a while ago, during our 'spiritual' phase. "Don't worry about the technicalities," Lock said. "Just wear it."

Unfortunately there wasn't a clasp, so I couldn't ask him to help me put it on. God damn it. Maybe I could pretend that I was extremely uncoordinated and couldn't get it on without help. Hmm, the price of embarrassing myself further for Lock getting close and personal. Okay, it wasn't as romantic as I would have wanted, but he would still have to invade my personal space. And now that I thought about it, I could get to invade his as well.

I had just opened my mouth to ask him, when Brian walked in. Perfect timing.

He nodded at Lock, and Lock nodded back. Stupid guy-code. Brian looked at me. We look nothing alike, except (apparently) our noses were very similar. Brian's hair was a shade or two lighter than mine, and he was tall and lanky compared to my short and unlankiness. I like to think that I have curves, okay? I have an oval shaped face - which is pleasant and soft (says Mum) - whereas Brian's face is all angular.

I drew several portraits of Brian a while ago, and Laura had thought that they were of Johnny Depp. For the record, my brother only looks like a young Johnny Depp on drugs and that is only when his face is half in shadow. Did I mention that he was wearing torn jeans, and although today he was wearing a black Marilyn Manson t-shirt, usually he went around the house topless? Laura had gone through a stage where she thought he was hot. It was probably the worst disagreement we'd ever had since we'd started being friends.

"Laura's on the phone," he said, and walked out. I probably didn't hear the phone in the hallway because of the TV.

Lock looked at me and I shrugged. "I'd better take it," I said.



"Okay, I just heard something completely amazing. You know Janie who was with Brad when he, um, came to his untimely end?"

"Yeah, what about her?"

"I just came off the phone with Jessie," Laura was a dreadful gossip, not to mention her mother, "and Jessie's friends with Janie's next door neighbour's daughter, Diane, and apparently Janie came home late, saying that she'd waited all night, and her 'date' - she didn't say who - never showed up."

I didn't say anything, but I clutched the amethyst that Lock gave me. Frost was only half-vampire, so what could a full vampire do?

"Jen, you there?"

"Yeah, I'm listening, I'm listening. Lock and his parents are kind of still here, so I'll talk to you later, okay?"

Laura was too excited to sense my anxiety. "Oooh, Lock. Sure, I'll leave you two alone to have fun then," she said, and hung up the phone.

I stood motionless in the hallway.