Everyone was talking at once, but Jasmine wasn’t listening to any of it. Her thoughts were preoccupied with trying to find out who or what was behind the disappearances. They’ve been in the school for a little over a month, but nothing, not even a clue from that paranormal club. Not to mention Ulric wasn’t much for help when he was with his new human friends in school. What were they going to do? They were sent in as a last resort. She couldn’t understand why her partner seemed so nonchalant about the whole thing.
“Penny?” She heard a male voice close by.
She turned, knowing it was Jared, the president of the paranormal club, by the beat of his heart and smell of his blood. His heart seemed to race when he was near her, “Yes?” She asked.
Sitting down he said, “I was wondering, are you free this weekend?”
This weekend? Was anything planned? Jasmine wasn’t quite sure, then said, “No. Family business.”
He frowned, “You say that for every offer.”
Instantly feeling bad, she said quickly, “We’re a busy family!”
She looked away, unable to bear the look on his face as if he was kicked out of his own group of friends for no reason. Looking around, she noticed the others that sat at the table. Cole was leaning in close to Mariah talking, but she just looked over at Jasmine with a bored smile on her face. One of the other paranormal club members, Reggie, was in deed conversation with a friend of Cole’s. Greg, she thought his name was. It wasn’t easy to remember all of these names when she had more pressing thoughts. She wasn’t even supposed to be in this place so long.
“Pen!” Cole yelled.
She looked up at him and said, “What is it?”
He smiled some, “You look like you need to.”
“Huh?” A confused look crossed her face.
“You just look tense, is all,” Mariah said. “Relax. You’re among friends.”
Would she say that if she knew the truth? Jasmine didn’t want to actually know. She leaned back some in her chair, though. Maybe if she just looked relaxed, they’d go back to their conversations. Someone was running toward them. The half-vampire could hear the person’s heart beat impatiently, and rushing of their blood in the veins. She slightly turned her head.
“Guys!” She panted, slowing down. Jasmine recognized the voice as Edina’s, the girl who was with Mariah her first day, “You wouldn’t believe what I just heard! You know Patty Jenkins, that really pretty senior here?”
“Yeah,” prompted Mariah, sitting up.
“She went missing! Her eighteenth birthday party was this past Sunday, and when she didn’t show up Monday everyone thought she was just recovering, but it turns out, she’s been missing since early Monday morning!”
“No way! She’s seriously been missing for three days? What did her parents say? Why didn’t they mention anything earlier.”
Edina sat down on Jasmine’s other side, “They say she’s run away from home in the past for a few days, so they assumed that was it.”
She knew she had to talk to Ulric. He probably already knew, though, but she needed to talk to him as soon as possible. There was no way that was an unrelated incident. Jasmine looked around for her partner.
* * *
Ulric couldn’t believe what he had heard from the people at his table. Patty Jenkins went missing. It could be related to their problem, then again, Patty was very pretty, and he heard she was known for dating older guys. There’s no telling what could have happened. It was his job to at least make sure it was or wasn’t part of their mission. He stood.
“Hey,” he said, “Where’s Patty’s best friend, Carla? I want to make sure she’s okay.”
“Aw, and he’s so sweet,” said Melany sincerely, then she said, “She’s probably holed up in the library. She loves to read.”
“Thanks, sweetie. I’ll be back,” he said with pep in his voice, and winked at Melany.
He heard her giggle as he walked off. As soon as he was out of sight of the cafeteria, he sprinted to the library. The sooner this was sorted out the better. Quietly opening the door, he looked around. In the back corner of the library, she was sitting on the floor, just looking at the carpet. With every step closer to her, he noticed how much of a wreck she really did look like that day. Her curly hair was disheveled and her green eyes red and puffy. Without saying a word, he sat down in front of her. There was nothing he really could say to her that would have any comfort in it. Instead, he just gently took her hand in his, and reassuringly gave it a squeeze.
Looking up at him, she smiled, and said quietly, “Thanks. But,” she looked away, and pulled her hand out from his, “I’m a horrible friend.”
“What? Why would you say such a thing?”
“I knew what was going on between her and…” her voice trailed off, and she looked back at the carpet, “Nevermind. Anyway, I thought she was joking when she told me some things.”
“Well,” uncertainty laced her voice as she picked at the carpet.
“It’s okay. I won’t tell anyone. I promise.” He smiled innocently.
She smiled back, and got on her hands and knees and whispered in his ear, “She told me that for the past few days there’s been some kind of monster hanging out beside her window. Always outside of her room, looking in. I figured it was just,” she paused, then continued, “this guy she’s been with trying to scare her or something for some reason. Like maybe he gets off on that or whatever. And then she’s gone.” She started to sniffled, then said, “It’s all my fault. I should’ve believed her completely. The way a best friend should.” She returned to the position he found her in, covering her face as she cried into her hands.
“It’s okay,” Ulric said, comfortingly, then wrapped his arms around her, “You didn’t know. It’s not your fault.”
She let her cheek rest on his shoulder, “Thanks, Denny. You’re a great guy.”
“Anytime, babes,” he said with a smile, and then kissed her cheek. “Stay strong. This will be sorted out soon.”
His original plan was to leave as soon as he got the information he needed, but he couldn’t leave a girl crying. Instead, he sat with her in his arms until the bell rang.
* * *
“And where were you!? Off with some girl in the library. Couldn’t even bother to come talk to your partner, huh!?”
“I don’t need to tell you every little thing! We’re in the same school! News gets around fast!”
“That doesn’t mean anything!”
“Um, guys!?” Said Otto loudly from the bleachers, “You think we can get this practice session started? You do have school tomorrow, and I don’t want us to be here for longer than needed.”
“Oh.” Said Maya with surprise, “Otto being a responsible adult? We may want to listen to him.”
“Shut up, alright!?” He snapped. Instantly he regretted it. The man saw the unbelieved hurt on her face, then said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. It’s just real tense in here.”
It was true. Jasmine and Ulric’s hour long argument had made the air so tense it could be cut with machete. Honestly, he was mad at himself. They seemed to be so close with that stupid undercover mission, and he, a senior agent, couldn’t find out who it was. Then again, everyone else undercover must feel the same way. He’d been doing this since he was fourteen and now he’s thirty-eight, and he still can’t catch some monster running around a school. Leaning his head back against the bleacher, he sighed.
“It’ll be okay,” said Maya simply.
He couldn’t help but smile. She tried. Despite the fact that he found her to be everything a woman should be, she managed to keep her emotions cut off. With everything and everyone. Her only downfall. He could feel an awkward silence form. Maya seemed to be unsure of what to say when it came to comfort. That was okay to him. If anything, she needed all the comfort she could get.
Finally, Otto stood up. He put on his hand covers. Plated dragon scales that covered his hands and boosted the force of his punches, and also kept a long sharpened dragon scale rod on each hand was what they actually were. The good thing about dragon scales were that they were the strongest material out there. They could cut through steel and crush diamonds. Sadly, dragon scale materials can only be forged by trolls, but the Nightmare Chasers had plenty as friends. Otto jumped onto the floor of the gym. It was time to burn off some steam.
“Come on, kiddies,” he said to Jasmine and Ulric, “let’s see what you got.”
With a grunt, Ulric ran toward him, holding out his knife. With a quick movement, he released one of his rods and blocked the knife with it. Using his free hand Ulric aimed a punch to his lower abdomen. He quickly grabbed the boy’s fist, and with all of his strength, kneed him in the gut. The knife fell to the ground along with Ulric. He heard Jasmine’s growl from above him. As he turned, he saw her come down in the air, with both fists out ready to strike. With the covered part of his hand, he held it out, her fists hitting the scales. Then with the rod out on his other hand, he cut across her upper stomach. She whimpered in pain as she fell to the ground, but then quickly rolled onto her hands and feet. Standing, she put her hand in a fist and ran toward him.
Otto quickly grabbed her fist. With her other fist, she hit him in abdomen. He flinched in pain, but then lifted his free hand, letting his rod cut her arm. Then with his hand holding her fist, he swung her to the right. The young half-vampire slid on the gym floor a short distance, but didn’t get up. A force hit him in the back and he tumbled forward, catching himself so he didn’t fall. Ulric was behind him, holding up his arm. He looked the boy up and down. Otto swung his right fist toward him. The boy caught his wrist and pushed it down as he lifted his own fist. With a quick breath, he lifted his left hand, rod out, and scraped Ulric’s wrist. Caught off guard, he let go of the man’s hand. Using both fists, he punched him in the chest. Falling back on the ground, Ulric coughed, but didn’t make an attempt to move.
Removing his hand covers, Otto said, “Good job guys. Next time, try to attack me as a team. That’s what these practice sessions are for.”
With that, he walked out of the training gym.