Kenna shot up in Mark's California king sized bed and her head instantly started to spin. "Vodka, never again." She groaned as she read the time on her phone. It was 7:30 on her first day of senior year, and she'd spent the night with Gramaire Academy's golden boy after the senior year kickoff party. "Shit!" Her father was going to kill her although this wasn't anything outside of her usual behavior.
"Good, you're up." Mark walked in with a smile.
For a moment, Kenna imagined that she was actually his girlfriend and he cared about her. But she knew better. Mark was nice enough and just the right amount of fuckable for her to actually keep up with their complicated relationship. He was the most popular boy in school and didn't run in circles with girls like Kenna. But after one drunk hookup, they'd somehow found a way to make it a regular thing.
Mark chuckled. "I figured you'd be hungover. You went pretty hard last night."
"I thought you liked it rough." She teased.
"Ha ha, very funny." He handed her a bottle of water and two aspirin. "You should get ready for school. You can use my shower."
"What are you? My dad?" She rolled her eyes and gulped the water and aspirin down as she eyed him. He was dressed in his best khakis and a polo button down with his sandy brown hair neatly coiffed. Of course he would take school seriously. He probably couldn't wait to make his parents proud. No doubt they had high expectations for their progeny. Kenna on the other hand didn't expect much out of her senior year. To be honest, she didn't expect to amount to much of anything. Gramaire academy produced plenty of doctors, lawyers, and next generation rich kids, but Kenna always felt as if she never belonged there. She barely passed the year before and almost everyone around her was some plastic copy of their parents before them. It made her sick and she constantly wondered why her father made her go to such a school. She was nothing like the rest of her peers and it constantly showed.
"I'm just saying." He held his hands up in mock surrender. "I thought girls took the first day of school kind of serious. Ya know, planning their outfits and all that?"
"Yeah well I'm not like other girls." She got to her feet and let the blanket fall away from her, revealing her bare naked body clad only in fishnet stockings that now had a decent sized hole in the middle where Mark had ripped them the night before. He was such an angel any other time but, when they got together, he was completely different.
"Trust me, I know." He chuckled. "But you want to be presentable right?"
"Who cares? It's just school." She shrugged as she turned around to slide her dress on over her head and discarded of her stockings before she put her underwear back on.
Mark shook his head and wrapped his arms around her from behind, much too affectionately for her comfort. "You know, you pretend not to care but I know better."
Kenna shrugged out of his embrace and gave him an incredulous look. "We're just fucking around. You don't know me so don't act like you do." She grabbed her car keys off the nightstand and headed for the door.
"See you at school." She closed the door behind her and quickly fled down the stairs of the modern mansion.
"What did I say?" Mark appeared at the top of the stairs.
"Nothing, it's fine." Kenna set her mood to default and plastered a smile on her face. "Don't worry about it."
Mark shook his head and sighed impatiently. "You run so hot and cold it's crazy."
"You love it." She winked at him before she opened the door and stepped outside. She got behind the wheel of her 1992 honda prelude and grabbed her joint from the center console. After she sparked it and took her first pull, she exhaled with a relieved sigh. She hated how touchy she was sometimes. She'd only snapped because she thought she was keeping Mark at a safe distance, allowing him into her body but never her mind or heart. That kind of shit was for fairytales and her life was anything but.
Gasoline, pretty please. I wanna get off…
The HAIM ringtone blasted through her phone and Tilly's face filled the screen.
"Yeah?" Kenna answered as she blew out a cloud of smoke. The THC was definitely doing it's job.
"Are you high already?"
"Correction; I'm always high."
Tilly laughed. "Of course you are. Anyway, where are you? Me and Glenn are waiting for you and he's been talking non-stop."
"I'm on the way."
"From where? You weren't home this morning."
"Are you stalking me now? Wait, did you see my dad? Was he pissed?"
"Ooohh sounds like somebody didn't make it home last night. But your dad wasn't there."
"Huh?" Kenna frowned. Her dad usually worked third sift but he was usually home by 7 a.m. She wondered where he might be but was more relieved that he didn't seem to know that she broke curfew again.
"Mhm. Now get your ass to school. You know you're my buffer around Glenn."
Kenna chuckled. "He's not so bad. He just likes you."
"Yeah yeah yeah. That's sweet and all but I'm too fine to be tied down and he's so not my type."
"What? You don't like the romantic, smart, geeky type?"
"Girl please. He wouldn't be able to handle all of this melanin. And I need someone to catch all of this when I throw it back, okay?"
"Thanks for that visual." Kenna grimaced.
Tilly was her best friend and had been since Kenna was the new kid two years ago. She was just as feisty as Tilly and they'd hit it off instantly. Tilly taught Kenna a lot over the years. She was her only black friend and she learned her boundaries early on. She'd seen Tilly defend herself against the most racist assholes in their small Virginia town, and she herself had to speak up for her friend on a few occasions although Tilly was perfectly capable of doing so herself. But Kenna didn't care. She'd be damned if anybody, white or otherwise, was going to mistreat her.
"You're welcome. Now get your ass to school."
Tilly hung up and Kenna finished her joint and tossed the filter out the window. She put her key in the ignition and turned it only to hear a clicking noise. Mark stepped outside and waved to her before he got in his new 2020 Honda civic car. She didn't want him to see her having car trouble, then he'd offer to help. Or worse, offer to give her a ride.
"Come on baby, start for mama." She turned the key again with the same response. "Okay, one more time." She huffed, but still, the car's battery was clearly dead. Now she was starting to get angry.
"Son of a bitch, just start!" She banged her hands on the steering wheel and saw bright blue sparks emit from her hands and surge through the interior before her car roared to life. What the fuck was that? She thought to herself as her wild blue eyes darted from side to side. Then she laughed. "I'm high. Definitely have to stop smoking but it won't be today." She sang to herself as she put the car in drive, pulled off down the long driveway, and turned onto Lenon Street. She opted not to stop by at home to freshen up just in case she ran into her dad. Most of the senior class had been at the party the night before, but she had no qualms about doing the walk of shame at school, because fuck what people thought.
Twenty minutes later, Tilly and Glenn approached her as she pulled into a park in front of school.
"It's about damn time!"
"Hey Tilly." Kenna rubbed her eyes and threw on her shades as she stepped out. "You look hot as usual." She complimented as she took in her emerald green crop top and high waisted jeans. Her shoulder length brown hair was voluminous and loosely curled, accessorized with a gold floral headband.
"Thank you darling." Tilly said with a flourish. "But why do you look like last night?" She scrutinized her wrinkled black dress and disheveled brunette hair.
Kenna pulled her glasses down to look at her over the rim. "I don't kiss and tell."
"Oooh you are so nasty. You have to tell me everything!"
"Okay, okay. But no yelling, please." Kenna rubbed the sides of her temples.
"I-I think you look cool Kenna." Glenn smiled.
"Thanks Glenny. And you got a haircut." She ruffled his short black hair.
He blushed. "I thought Tilly would like it better short."
"Awww. That's so sweet." Kenna gave Tilly a pointed look and she rolled her eyes.
"You're such an instigator."
"We should probably get to class." Glenn said as he looked at his watch. "I have enough time to walk you guys—"
"Thanks buddy but I can find my way around this shithole. Tilly would probably love an escort though. See you guys at lunch." She chuckled as she walked off. She loved to give Tilly a hard time about Glenn's crush on her. She was so in denial that it was cute but Kenna knew that she really liked Glenn. She just didn't want to admit that her melanin king might actually turn out to be Korean.
Kenna walked through the huge double glass doors and down the long hallway to her locker. She had chemistry first that morning and she already wanted to be done with the day. After she closed her locker, she found a boy opening the one right next to hers. From the side view, she could immediately tell that he was gorgeous. He had to be at least six feet tall and he had a tan that Kenna assumed he got over the summer. Stubble lined his jaw and connected with sideburns that connected to short curly black hair. Her eyes traveled the length of him and she admired the way his shirt strained slightly against his muscles. Who was he? And how had she not noticed him before? She wasn't the only one that seemed to notice either. The other girls all giggled and blushed as they walked past. She scoffed and walked off in the direction of her classroom. She didn't want to be one of those girls obsessed over the cute boys at school. She'd never even had a boyfriend and she liked it that way. Mark wasn't looking to tie her down and didn't mind keeping their little meet ups a secret. Kenna convinced herself that it was mostly because he didn't want to ruin his reputation but really, it was because she didn't want to ruin hers. Everyone knew her as the screw up, the slut, the "bad girl". If people knew that she hooked up with the most popular guy at school, they'd expect too much of her. She wasn't a shiny and polished person. She was rough around the edges, reckless, and not the kind of girl you brought home to meet your parents. Her mother died in a car accident four years ago, and not having her around had Kenna confused and angry. So she acted out as a result. She stayed out past curfew, drank, smoke, and skipped school whenever she felt like it. Her father had no control over her no matter how hard he tried and they often butted heads. Sometimes Kenna felt like a bitch for giving him such a hard time, but he couldn't understand her. Only her mother had ever been able to make her feel heard. Without her, Kenna was lost and didn't know how to find her way back.
"Kenna Rys, actually on time for a change." Ms. Dolby said as she stood by the door to take attendance as the students filed in.
"Good morning to you too Mrs. Dolby."
"Mhm, I expect you'll be on your best behavior this year?" Ms. Dolby cocked a brow at her and crossed her arms over her chest. Kenna noticed that her wedding ring was gone and put on her best pity face.
"Of course! And…I'm sorry about your divorce Ms. Dolby." She said sweetly. "Now I see why you're so, well, you."
Ms. Dolby's nostrils flared and Kenna tried to keep hide her satisfied smirk as she walked past her and into the classroom to find her seat.
"Oh look, it's the school tramp." Gabrielle sneered as Kenna walked past.
"I wonder what corner she worked last night." Jennifer laughed beside her and Kenna gave them the finger in response.
Gabrielle was easily the bitchiest girl at school and Jennifer was her sidekick. They were spoiled and fake like the rest of the wannabe barbies at that school. Kenna wasn't sure how she made an enemy out of her, but it didn't faze her nonetheless. Gabrielle was chopped liver compared to her real demons. Kenna found an empty lab table near the back and sat her bag on the seat next to her. The class filled up with only two empty seats left and Ms. Dolby was just about the close the door when the last student ducked in.
"Just in time Mr…"
"Carver. Stefan Carver."
"Great. Have a seat Mr. Carver."
Kenna looked up and recognized the boy from the locker. She came to the conclusion that he was even more gorgeous face front. There was an smoldering and edgy look to him that made him stand out. She watched him as he decided where to sit. His gaze fell on her and her heart raced.
"You can sit next to me." Gabrielle insisted. "Jennifer, move."
"No thanks. I just found my seat."
He started to walk towards Kenna and Gabrielle cut her a look that screamed bloody murder. Great, now she had him to thank for whatever shit storm Gabrielle was ready to create for her. She wasn't used to getting told no, especially not by someone that looked like he did. Was he really going to sit next to her? Even when he stopped right next to her table, she still found herself only able to stare.
"Hey." His voice was deep but his tone was friendly.
"Anybody sitting here?"
Kenna furrowed her brows. "No. Do you see anybody else?"
He smirked. "Mind moving your bag?"
"Yeah actually, I do." Kenna didn't budge. He was cute and all, but she didn't know him and he definitely didn't know her. She wasn't looking to make any new friends, hence the bag in the seat. And someone worthy of Gabrielle's nice side wasn't someone she wanted close to her.
"Mr. Carver please take your seat so that we can get started."
"Teacher's orders." He smiled smugly.
Who was this guy?
Kenna huffed and snatched her bag out of the chair. "Whatever." She muttered.
Ms. Dolby started class with the usual first day of school dribble about syllabuses and what's expected during class. Kenna zoned out like she usually did until Stefan spoke up.
"Are you always this friendly?" Stefan whispered.
"Are you always this sociable?" Kenna retorted.
"Not all the time."
Kenna tilted her head. "Well then let's make this one of those times where you're not."
"So you're feisty, duly noted."
"Noted for what?"
Kenna nodded her head slowly. Was he flirting with her? The nerve of him. He didn't even know her name. Despite what rumors people spread about her, she wasn't that easy. She turned her head to ignore him, but he wasn't letting up.
"I know." He raised a brow and she quickly added, "I heard you when you came in."
"So you were paying attention." He grinned.
She cut her eyes at him. "It wasn't like that."
"It's always like that." He teased.
"Unless you have something you'd like to share with the whole class, I'd suggest you keep quiet." Ms. Dolby admonished them which earned Gabrielle's attention.
"Be careful there Stefan. You don't want to get too close. Kenna is a bit low on the desirable list if you know what I mean. Rumor is the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Kenna fumed.
"Language!" Ms. Dolby exclaimed.
"It means you must've learned your whorish ways from someone. Was it daddy? Or mommy?"
Kenna's eyes narrowed. "Watch it." Her body started to tremble and her heart seemed to beat as fast as a hummingbird's wings. Nobody ever talked about her other. What the fuck was she doing?
Gabrielle smiled triumphantly. "It was mommy wasn't it?"
"Oh I forgot, mommy isn't around anymore is she?"
"I SAID SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Kenna roared and her vision was suddenly tinted blue as if she was wearing 3D glasses. At that same moment, all of the outlets in the classroom began to crackle and spark, like small lightning bolts, and popped out of the walls with a loud bang. The light fixtures shorted out with a loud pop and the students screamed, all in a panic.
"Calm down! The power has just gone out." Ms. Dolby assured.
Kenna panted and her vision blurred in and out as she quickly grabbed her things. She ran out of the door with no hesitation even as Ms. Dolby called out something to her about detention. She reached the courtyard behind school and sat on one of the benches with a hand clutching her chest. The ache was so strong, it was almost palpable. Tears stung her eyes but she refused to cry. She'd never give Gabrielle the worth of her tears. She knew she was a bitch, but that was a low blow even for her. Kenna never missed her mom more in that moment. Her mind hazed over as she remembered the way she used to comfort her as a kid.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words can hurt me. But…" Kenna's mom smiled encouragingly as she fixed the bow on top of her head.
"I am stronger than it all because my mom loves me." Kenna sniffled and Victoria cupped her face.
"That's right. And you remember that because it'll always be true. You're my strong and brave little girl, and you'll do great things."
Kenna was snapped away from her thoughts as Stefan approached her.
"I'm fine." She lied. "You should go back to class."
"I'm good out here actually." He sat beside her and she scoffed.
"What's your deal?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean. Who are you and why are you following me around?"
"That's a bit of an over exaggeration don't you think?"
"No. First you choose to sit by me in class even though there was another empty seat. Then—"
"I sat there because I could see the board better." He said nonchalantly.
"Okay well…fine. Then what about the flirting?" She cocked a brow.
"Flirting?" He laughed, revealing a row of perfectly white teeth behind his full lips, and she blushed. "Someone thinks a lot of themselves."
"I do not. First of all, you are not a prize." She spluttered.
"Ouch." He feigned offense. "I was just trying to get to know you. Maybe make a new friend. I am new here just in case you didn't know."
She looked him up and down. "Yeah I can tell."
"Well for starters, you turned Gabrielle down. Nobody ever really does. I'd say you might regret that later, but clearly it'll be me."
"Let me guess, she's the it girl at school? He put air quotes around the word. "Always gets her way?"
"I guess if you're into that cliché mean girls bullshit, then yeah. She has a posse and everything. But it's just a front like everything else at this hell hole."
"It doesn't seem so bad."
"Yeah well you're new. You'll see soon enough."
A surprisingly comfortable silence fell over them and Kenna looked at him out the corner of her eye. He had to be about her age, but somehow he looked a bit older. Lines creased his forehead and bags had started to form under his eyes which she noticed were a pale and intense gray. There was something about him that seemed haunted, like he'd seen the worst but wanted to forget. She knew the look. And she knew better than to ask. She noticed a long scar that went up the length of his arm and disappeared up the sleeve of his shirt. She wondered how big it was.
"It was a fishing accident a few years back."
She jumped and averted her gaze. "I didn't ask."
"But you wanted to. It's okay." He shrugged.
She turned to look at him again. "What happened?"
"I was in the way when my brother cast his hook. It got caught down here," He pointed at the base of the scar which started out narrow and got wider. "and he dragged it all the way up to the back of my neck."
"Shit." Kenna breathed.
"Yeah it was bad." He half chuckled. "It took months to heal."
"My god. How did your brother not know—"
"—he was deaf. He, uh, couldn't really hear my screams."
"Shit. That's fucking tough." She shook her head. "You said he was deaf. Can he hear now?"
"I'd like to think so."
She looked at him questioningly and then he added, "He died that same day. If heaven is real, I'd like to think that's where he is."
"Fuck, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked."
"It's cool." He met her eyes. "So there's something about me. Do I get to know something about you now?"
Kenna thought for a moment before she spoke. She wasn't usually one to talk about shit like that. But there was something about him that made it easy for some reason. Maybe it was because he was new and hadn't gotten the chance to get the perceived notion of her, or maybe it was because for once she wanted to control the narrative. Either way, she let the words spill out of her as if she'd waited all her life to say them.
"My mom died in a car accident four years ago. We were rushing because I overslept and wasn't ready when she got home from her first job. She wasn't wearing her seatbelt and it was raining. I could barely see out of the windows and I remember her looking back at me. She wasn't paying attention to the truck that swerved in front of us." Kenna let out a shaky breath. "I remember waking up and being covered in blood but I didn't have a scratch on me, and she was laying in the road. I still don't understand it. And honestly," She let a tear slip down her cheek. "I blame myself every day."
"It wasn't your fault." He reached for her hand but she pulled back.
"Sorry." She sniffled. "I don't even know why I'm telling you all this. I barely know you."
"We could always change that." There was a hint of something in his eyes, but Kenna couldn't place it.
"I'll see." She nudged him playfully before she got to her feet. "I gotta get going. Next period starts in a few minutes. I'll see you around."
She walked off and was just about to open the doors that led back inside when he called out to her.
"I saw what happened back there."
"What do you mean?"
"Back in class with the lights." He gave her a pointed look. "I won't tell anybody."
Her breath caught. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Look, I appreciate you for checking up on me. But this doesn't make us friends. I'm not some freak and you better not tell anybody about what you think you saw. They'd never believe you." She turned her back without another word and wrapped her arms around herself; feeling exposed all of a sudden. He didn't know what he was talking about. She hadn't done anything and it was crazy to think so. She didn't even touch the outlets or the lights, so how could it have been her? Still, as she trudged inside and down the hallway, she couldn't help but think of how the sparks from the classroom looked just the same as the ones she saw in her car earlier that morning. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn't so crazy after all.
Later that afternoon after school, Stefan walked through the foyer of the huge prairie style mansion that his mother glamoured the family to move out of. He found Helene sitting in the living room by the fireplace with a glass of red wine in her hand.
"Oh you're home." She stood up so fast he thought her wine might spill. "Tell me everything honey." She dropped a kiss on his forehead.
"Everything about school, or Kenna?"
"Both. But tell me about Kenna first." She took a sip of her wine.
"Well you were right."
"Are you sure? Did you see her do anything…..special?"
Stefan snorted. "If you're asking if I saw her use her powers, then yes." He walked to the kitchen to grab something to drink with his mother right on his heels. "It was actually kinda cool."
"You have to show me." His mother grinned excitedly. "If I'm right, she could be the answer to all our problems."
Stefan smiled and with a wave of his hand, a hollow projection of his own memories appeared before them. He recalled the moment Kenna's power surged as a result of Gabrielle's taunting and his mother rejoiced as she watched with genuine awe. Stefan wondered, and not for the first time, just what she had planned for Kenna.
"Wonderful." She sighed. "And she's unaware of this?"
"Seems to be. She didn't even want to admit she was the one that did it."
"Even better. You can help her, guide her before anyone else gets to her. If we can sway her to our side, we'll be untouchable. Can you get close to her?"
"She's tough. But I'm sure I can do it."
"Good." She patted the side of his face affectionately. "This family will be avenged."
He bent his head down as she dropped a kiss on his forehead before she disappeared into the living room again. He waited until she was gone from his view before he thought about Kenna again, bringing her face up on his own mental projection. He paused it like a movie and zoomed in on her face. She was beautiful. Her eyes were a vibrant blue, her hair was long and dark brown like chocolate, her lips were full and pouty with a pink tint to them, and freckles peppered over her nose and cheeks. Her eyebrows were unruly and there was something overall wild about her appearance, but it was also enticing. Stefan waved his hand and the hologram dissipated. He had to remember who she was; the daughter of Victoria, the woman that killed his father and brother. The scar that covered his arm was all thanks to her. He'd nearly died by her hand four years ago on that fateful day. She was like a storm of lighting bolts and electricity with wild white hair and blazing blue eyes. Even with his telepathic powers, he was no match for her. And now her daughter, wielding the same abilities, was coming into her powers and she'd eventually be a threat to his kind. Stefan had wanted to kill her as soon as he learned of her, but his mother had other plans which she wouldn't give him all of the details. His only mission until he was given more orders was to get close to Kenna, observe her, get her to trust him, and ultimately join them as an unknowing ally. All of that was easy enough for him to do, but if he wasn't careful, she might get too close.