Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy) (5 page)

BOOK: Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy)
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Another five minutes passed before Becky and the boy got up and made their way toward our table. The boy clearly knew how attractive his body was, and so did just about every other girl in the room, whose eyes followed his every move. Becky was grinning. It was obvious she enjoyed being the center of attention.

“Guys, I want you to meet Lee,” Becky said, making a grand, sweeping gesture. “Lee, this is Sam and Frasier. We all go to St. Mary’s.”

“Hello,” Lee said with a friendly smile.

He couldn’t have been more than twenty, stood about six foot two, with a flawless tan, full lips, and perfectly white teeth. On the right side of his face, just above his mouth, was a small beauty spot, the only blemish in an otherwise faultless complexion. His low-riding jeans and tight black sweater accentuated his muscles and, being a bit of a gym buff, I had to admit he had an amazing physique.

I turned away briefly, my cheeks burning.

“Pleased to meet you, Lee,” Frasier said, nodding politely.

“Lee’s studying fine art,” Becky continued. “He goes to Summerwell Art College.” She held up his sketch pad. “He’s so talented. You’ll never guess who he’s been drawing!”

She opened the pad to the first page, and I was amazed to see a pen-and-ink sketch of the three of us as we sat in the library talking. The detail was astounding and the drawing had a level of realism that blew me away.

“Wow, you’re fantastic!” Frasier told him. “I mean, that looks like a photograph or something. Seriously, you should get into comics or graphic novels. You’d make a killing.”

“Oh I don’t know about that,” Lee said, looking down. “I’m not exactly Picasso, but thanks for the compliment.”

My ears pricked up. His voice had a strange regional twang I’d never heard before. It was sort of like a Yorkshire accent, but unlike any I’d ever come across.

Becky pulled out a chair. “Why don’t you sit with us, Lee?”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. “We’d love to have you.”

Lee sank into a chair next to me and I got a whiff of his cologne:
Davidoff’s Cool Water
. Masculine. Alluring. Discreetly, I peeked at his hands resting on the table. They were large, but also somehow delicate, his fingernails short and clean. I also noticed he had a ring tattoo on the middle finger of his right hand, a band of five pointed stars. It was a very pretty design.

I had always loved tattoos. I had two myself: a butterfly on my ankle, and a heart on my shoulder. I’d wanted to get one across my collar bone, but Mum had said that would be a step too far.

“So where’s your cute accent from?” Becky asked. “Are you from up North?”

Lee chuckled. “Not exactly. When I was growing up, my parents did a lot of traveling, so I’ve been all over place. I’ve also spent a lot of time abroad in countries like China and India. You name it, I’ve been there.”

“Wow, that sounds amazing!” Becky enthused. “I’ve always wanted to go traveling.”

As Becky babbled on, I tried to get Frasier involved in our project again. “So, who’s going to type up these notes before Thursday? I don’t have an Internet connection at my house yet.”

“No problem, I’ll do it,” Frasier said as he started gathering our papers together. I was thankful for his calm attitude in the awkward situation.

I tried not to notice it, but I was strongly drawn to our table guest. When Lee’s arm accidentally brushed against mine, I felt my back stiffen. Pursing my lips together, I retreated further into my hood to disguise the growing redness in my cheeks. Something about him was dangerously distracting. There was something to do with those lips – asking a question, giving an answer – that I just couldn’t stop thinking about. I wanted to know how they would feel pressed against mine.

I need to cool off and reclaim control of this situation. What’s happening to me?
I hadn’t known this guy for more than two minutes and I was already mentally undressing him. It had to stop. This wasn’t like me at all.

Trying to regain my composure, I stared down at my own fingernails. They looked terrible because I had a bad habit of chewing them when I was nervous. I wanted to chew them now.

Hastily, I plunged my hands in my pockets, feeling self-conscious. I didn’t want the immaculate Lee to see how ratty my fingers were.

“So Sam, what are you studying at school?”

Lee had turned in my direction, and his question startled me. I answered flatly, “English, History, and Photography.”

“You’re into photography?” he asked eagerly. “What a coincidence. So am I. Who’s your favorite photographer?”

“Annie Leibovitz,” I murmured.

“My favorite’s Robert Capa. His pictures are amazing. Have you ever seen any of his stuff?”

“Yeah, he’s great,” I said, although I had no idea who Robert Capa was.

“I like that Mario Testicle guy,” Becky blurted.

“Mario who?” Frasier asked, frowning.

“You know, that man who does all the
Vanity Fair

“Oh, you mean Mario
,” Lee corrected her.

Frasier laughed so hard I thought he was going to choke. “What did you call him, Becky? Mario Testicle? Was that a Freudian slip or what?”

“I never said that!” Becky’s face went beet red. “Sam, did you hear me use the word ‘testicle’?”

I bit my lip, trying not to laugh. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

Lee flashed a dynamite smile at me. His teeth were so white, they looked artificial. I could see his eyes properly now, and they were beautifully dark and intense. I balled my hands into fists, trying to play it cool.

“What are you doing this Friday, Lee?” Becky asked, changing the subject.

“I’m not sure. Why?”

“A gang of us are going to the bowling alley. We’re looking to meet around six o’clock, if you’re interested.”

“Sounds good,” Lee replied with a nod. “Count me in.”

Becky looked elated.

This was the first I’d heard of any bowling trip.
Becky’s a fast mover, I’ll give her that.

As if sensing my uneasiness, Lee turned to me and asked, “Are you guys coming bowling, too?”

“Yes, they are,” Becky said before either Frasier or I could respond.

Frasier looked surprised. “Since when? I didn’t know anything about a bowling trip.”

Becky shot me a pleading glance, and I decided to play along. “Yeah, I’m going, too,” I said.

Becky sighed, then mouthed the words “Thank you” at me.

Lee glanced at his watch. “Wow, look at the time. Sorry, guys, I have to go. I’ve got a life drawing class this evening.” He stood. “It was nice meeting you all. Sam, Frasier. I’ll see you on Friday.”

Becky smoothed her skirt as she stood. “You
definitely come? You aren’t just saying that?” There was a distinct air of desperation in her voice.

“I never break a promise,” Lee said. “You’ll definitely be seeing me.” With that, he tucked his sketch pad under his arm and made for the exit doors.

For a good two minutes after he’d gone, Becky stared at his empty seat, a faraway look in her eyes.

Frasier snapped his fingers in front of her face. “Earth to Becky. That … was one of the most sickening displays of sycophantic behavior I’ve ever seen!”

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“Come on, you were practically drooling all over his sweater,” Frasier said, fluttering his eyelashes seductively. “Oh, Lee, you’re so talented. Oh, Lee, you’ve got such a cute accent. It was embarrassing. You should never throw yourself at a guy like that.”

Becky waved her hand dismissively. “Yeah, yeah, as if I’d take advice from
. And for your information, Frasier, I was
throwing myself at him. I was just being friendly.”

“Right.” Frasier looked at me for support, but I just smiled. Friday was going to be very interesting.

We stayed at the library another half hour or so and then said our goodbyes at the bus stop. By the time I got home, it was past seven. Mum was working late again, and the house seemed eerily quiet—maybe too quiet. I quickly assembled a tuna and cucumber sandwich before I started my daily workout.

As I peddled the cross-trainer, working up a sweat, I examined myself critically in the mirrored wardrobe. I had mixed feelings about my body. I liked that I was toned, but I hated being so flat-chested. My waist was tiny, but no matter how much I exercised, my thighs stayed chunky. I hated them. I’d never have dared to wear a skirt as short as Becky’s. In fact, I didn’t wear skirts at all, because of my thighs. Feminine clothes just didn’t hang right on my body.

When I’d finished my session, I took a long, hot bath. Every part of my body had been pushed to the limit, and the muscle soak really helped to soothe my aching joints. As the steamy water engulfed me, the unease I’d felt since my afternoon at the library evaporated. I started to feel a little more like myself again.

After my bath, I threw on an old dressing gown and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. The refrigerator purred softly as I felt around in the darkness for the light switch. When I found it, I went over to the sideboard and selected my favorite mug from the rack. For long moments I stood by the sink, staring into space, twirling the mug around and around under the cold tap. I fell into a trance as images from the library flashed before me: The alluring fullness of Lee’s lips. The way his sweater clung to his body. The inviting scent of his cologne.

Finally, I shook my head, mentally telling myself to get a grip. I turned off the tap, opened the cupboard, took out the coffee jar, and stirred a scoop into my cup. Then I leaned against the wall, sipping my coffee and again thinking about Lee. His beauty spot was an imperfection that somehow made him seem even more perfect. I wondered what his hair looked like under that baseball cap.

The sound of a loud crash startled me from my daydream. I glanced down and realized that the mug had slipped from my fingers and smashed to the floor. Scalding coffee was seeping through my slippers. With trembling hands, I took out the dustpan and swept up the pieces, and then mopped up the coffee.

When the clean-up was over, I stood in the middle of the floor, listening to the sound of my own breathing and the rapid beating of my heart.
This isn’t like me. Why should someone I spoke to for five minutes have such an effect on me?
Plus, I knew Becky had already laid claim to Lee. I had no business thinking about him at all.

Shaking my head, I switched off the lights and went back to my bedroom. But I didn’t get much sleep.


The Game

ll Star Bowling Alley was located on Elmfield High Street at the end of a long line of family-owned businesses. It was sort of a converted warehouse and, except for the neon sign out front, it wasn’t anything special to look at. Inside, however, was a whole different story.

When you walked through the door, the place was decked out like a ‘50s American diner. Very swanky. On one side there was the bowling alley and a reception area where people checked in. On the other side was a bar with a half dozen tables where they served real American food all night: ribs, burgers, fried chicken, and corn on the cob.

I got there about six. Instead of my baggies I’d opted for a Fred Perry shirt and chinos—nothing too flashy, but a step up from the usual. Tonight, for some reason, I felt like making more of an effort. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I no longer felt self-conscious about people recognizing me. I decided that, tonight, I was going to be myself—and to hell with the consequences.

Becky and the others were waiting for me over by the reception area. I recognized a couple of people from St. Mary’s: Jermaine, Marie, and sour-faced Hannah. I assumed the others were friends of Becky’s from outside school. There were about fourteen of us—but Lee and Frasier hadn’t arrived yet.

I hope they’re still coming. I don’t like being stuck with a group of strangers.

“Hey, Sam!” Becky shouted, rushing up to me. “So glad you could make it. I love the new look. That shirt is so cute on you! Come on, let me introduce you to everyone.”

BOOK: Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy)
4.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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