Ms. Clayton was droning on and on about the Great Depression, which seemed to be re-enacting itself in her classroom. Annabel wasn’t even trying to pay attention to her history teacher; she was lost in thought as she stared out the window. She was thinking about her boyfriend, Josh, who had recently gotten his own place and moved to Santa Carla, also known as ‘The Murder Capital of The World’. What a charming nickname. It was just her luck he had moved there, she had to wait for summer before she could go see him.
Lucky for her, though, that it was the last day of High School for the year. And that was why it was so hard for her to pay attention. Fortunately, Ms Clayton hadn’t noticed that Annabel had completely zoned out and was totally ignoring her. Suddenly, the bell rang and she sighed, “Well, class, that is all for now, I hope you listened well and will study over the summer.”
Annabel silently laughed to herself, as if that was going to happen! “And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to clean up your desks and lockers,” Ms C. finished. Ha! Annabel would be in Santa Carla by this time tomorrow! Home free and away from parents, what a summer this was going to be!
Walking home, she sighed as the setting sun glinted off her dark brown hair. She couldn’t wait to get home, she had already packed and was going to leave for Santa Carla tonight instead of tomorrow, as planned. Her parents didn’t want her to go anyway, ‘Santa Carla is full of weirdoes’ they always said.
But she had used the argument that she was practically an adult at the age of seventeen and should be able to decide some things for herself. And that seemed to work. When she got home that evening, she didn’t mention her plans of sneaking out to either her mother or her father. They did find it odd that she was quiet when she had been chattering away about Josh these past few days.
Late that night, when Annabel was sure her parents were asleep, she stuffed all the money she had been saving-nearly three hundred-into her duffle bag and crept downstairs. Hoping her family wouldn’t worry about her too much; she put her shoes on and slipped out the front door.
After paying for her ticket, she got on the bus headed for Santa Carla. She was so totally hyper, so excited about being with Josh again, and yet she was nervous about being on her own. It was one A.M. when she had left the house and it was only two now. Board to death, she found herself drifting to sleep. And she dreamed. About Josh.
In her dream, he told her that he loved her, then, just like that, he vanished. Through the rest of her dream, she went nuts trying to find him. She would always see him at the edge of a crowd, but by the time she got there, he was gone. It was creepy. Suddenly, she woke with a start, and, according to her watch, it was almost three forty-five. How much longer?
“Excuse me,” she asked the business man next to her, “But do you know how much farther it is to Santa Carla?”
He didn’t even glance up from his newspaper as he said, “About a half hour.”
“Oh, thank you”, Annabel said politely, turning back to the window. That long? Oh, well, if she could wait a month, before school had let out, she could wait thirty minutes. She didn’t even bother to peer out the window, it was pitch black out, and fell asleep again.
She once more awoke with a start when the bus jerked to a stop. She grabbed her bag and exited the bus. A moment later, she was standing alone in the dark, and could clearly see the large sign welcoming her to Santa Carla. Taking a deep breath, she walked past the sign and into what she would come to call ‘home’ for over the summer. The only problem she had now was finding the apartment buildings where Josh was staying.
The ‘Penny Apartments’. She knew the address, but was having a hard time finding it. She was lost in thought as she tried to remember the map of Santa Carla she had pulled up on a school computer. She glanced up, saw she was at the Boardwalk, and kept going. Penny Apartments. She remembered Josh telling her about the wonderful view of the ocean. So it was near the shore-line, but where exactly?
Maybe she should stop and ask somebody, she could wander around here all night …
She wasn’t watching where she was going and walked smack into someone. She nearly dropped her duffle bag in surprise. “So…rry”, Annabel’s voice faltered as she looked up into bright blue eyes. Her own violet eyes widened slightly in shock. ‘See what happens when you don’t watch where you’re going?’ she scolded herself.
The guy she had accidentally run into appeared a few years older then she. He was a few inches taller then her, and wore a black leather jacket with black jeans. The first thing that caught her attention was his eyes, then her gaze traveled to his golden blonde curls. She fought back her nervousness, now or never, she said to herself. “Um … you wouldn’t … by any chance, know where the Penny Apartments are, would you?” she said out loud in a hopeful tone, trying not to cringe at how stupid she sounded.
“I do, actually,” he said with a smile, “You’re new here, am I right?”
Annabel looked up in surprise. As she nodded, for the first time, she noticed someone else, another blonde. He was watching her, silent. It was a little creepy.
“’Penny Apartments’? I can give you a ride there, if you want.”
Annabel raised her eyebrows, a bit suspicious. Her parents’ words echoed in her head, Santa Carla is full of weirdoes. But she brushed the thought aside. “How…” she started, taking a small step back, the duffle bag in her hand forgotten.
“Motorcycle,” blue eyes explained, ‘I have one. ‘
Annabel’s heart sped up. She ran though reasons that accepting the ride was a good idea: She would reach Josh quicker, and maybe get to know someone else in Santa Carla. And the bad reasons: This guy could be a murderer or something worse. But he was too cute to be a murderer. “Well … Okay,” her mother would never approve, “By the way, I’m Annabel,” she added with a small smile.
“Marko,” he said with a grin like a Cheshire cat,” And this is Paul,” he motioned to the other blonde behind him. As Marko took her bag, Annabel looked over at Paul, who met her gaze and smirked. She looked down at the ground as she realized that she was blushing. She looked up again to see Marko walking back toward her. “Ready?” he asked, still smiling.
She nodded, following him over to his motorcycle. He got on, then half turned to help Annabel. She slid on behind him, her arms instinctively encircling his waist. Though she couldn’t resist glancing over her shoulder at Paul, who was watching her with a hungry look in his eyes.
“Hang on,” Marko called back to her as they took off with a jolt.
Annabel tightened her grip a little as the Boardwalk became a blur. She loved the feeling of the wind in her hair and she concentrated on that as she tried to calm her racing heart. ‘There’s nothing to worry about! ’ she told herself, ‘In a little bit I’ll be with Josh, safe and secure. I won’t have to worry about Santa Carla’s supposed weirdoes for a whole six hours or so!’
Since it was late, or early, depending on how you looked at it, there weren’t that many people out and about. A couple of cars-people with the night shift of early jobs- and a few teenagers, undoubtedly looking for more fun. The ride was shorter then she had expected, and was actually disappointed when Penny Apartments came into view, then she thought of Josh and was glad.
A few moments later, Annabel was standing on the steps that led up to the Apartments. She faced Marko as she smiled and said, “Thanks.” Then she turned and headed for the glass double doors of the apartment building. She didn’t see Marko start after her, but then he stopped. Annabel paused in front of the doors, she half turned to look back at him. She was too far away to see his troubled expression. He watched as Annabel disappeared into the apartment building. He didn’t know what had stopped him, but something told him this girl was different, special.
Annabel took the elevator up to the Sixth floor, not knowing how lucky she was, not knowing how close she had been to an actual vampire, two vampires, to be exact, Bracing herself for a barge of complaints about how early it was, she knocked on the door to room 591. A couple of minutes later, she heard a light click on and the door opened. A tired looking Josh appeared. Annabel’s eyes lit up, and before Josh could say anything, she dropped her duffle bag and wrapped both arms around her boyfriend.
“Annabel,” Josh said, returning her hug, “What are you doing here so early?”
Annabel stood on tip-toe to kiss him, then said, “Aren’t you happy to see me?”
“Of course I am Bell,” Josh said, smiling, “I just wasn’t expecting you at five in the morning.”
“Sorry,” Annabel giggled, “But here I am!” She picked up her duffle bag again.
“So I see,” Josh said, moving aside, “Come in.”
“Thanks,” Annabel said, entering her boyfriend’s apartment for the first time. She gazed around. It was a pretty nice place, though a little cluttered, as you’d expect.
“So, did you get here alright?” Josh asked, closing the door.
“Yeah,” Annabel nodded, deciding not to mention getting lost or the ride over.
“That’s good to hear,” Josh said.
“Nice place you’ve got,” Annabel commented, setting down her duffle bag and turning her boyfriend with a smile on her face.
“Want to see that view I told you about?” Josh asked, also smiling.
“Sure,” Annabel said as Josh slipped an arm around her waist. He led her to two French doors. Beyond the doors was a balcony, one that looked over the ocean in the distance. The full moon cast a long silver trail across the water.
“Oh, wow…” was all she could say, “It’s …beautiful.”
“Not nearly as beautiful as you, Bell,” Josh said.
“You really think so?” Annabel looked over at him, her eyes twinkling. Even though she knew the answer, it was always nice to hear him say the words.
“Yes, Bell, to me, you are the most beautiful woman in the world,” Josh whispered into her ear. She sighed happily.
The next morning, Annabel awoke to the twittering of the birds. Yet something didn’t feel right. Eyes still closed, she patted the bed. Her hand hit the pillow. Alone, she was alone. Her eyes opened and she blinked in the sudden light. She looked over. Where was Josh? She sat up and rubbed her eyes as she looked around the room. She frowned, then noticed that Josh’s cell phone was missing from the bedside table. She slid out of bed and walked into the next room for the phone.
Annabel dialed Josh’s cell number, which she practically knew by heart. After a few rings, Josh picked up and she could hear him laugh.
“Did you forget that I have a job?” He teased.
Annabel frowned, “How did you know it was me?” She asked, suddenly remembering that Josh was an assistant in a department store, one of the better jobs in Santa Carla.
“Who else would be calling from my apartment number?” Josh replied.
“Oh,” Annabel said, blushing, “Silly me.’
“Sorry I scared you though,” Josh said, “I can’t talk now, but I want to tell you I’ll be working late and won’t see you until tonight.”
“Oh…Okay,” Annabel said, feeling disappointed. After she hung up, she took a shower-singing loudly the whole time-and rummaged around in the kitchen as she tried to find something to eat.