Red Viper: Chapter 3

I scowled, wondering why exactly this guy was talking to me. OK, yeah, maybe it was nice to be social, but for god’s snakes, I really didn’t like interacting with people. 

Perhaps this once, I should be nice. After all, I only rarely went out in public. It wasn’t like my face was showing during hunts anyways. The rule was never to show your identity, for it could be the death of you.

Half of my face, at the moment, was covered in a thick, black scarf. My long red hair was tucked into my shirt, and my bangs fell partially into my face. Really, all this guy could see were my cold, venom-green eyes. I had nothing to lose by acting nice.

“Interesting,” I commented, giving the guy a sideways glance.

“Yeah. Maybe I can show you around there, since you seem so shy as to not even introduce yourself, dear,” he joked with a small laugh. I stared at him, not having much experience with guys in general. He had an odd way of speaking, so smooth and formal that I was caught off guard.

“Uh… my name is Sam,” I replied with a questioning gaze. Perhaps I was being too shut out to the world. Normally my coldness would ward off others. This guy was persistent, but I sensed nothing hostile about him. Perhaps he was just overly polite to the ‘new’ people in town.  

The city was big, but many knew one another here since the forests that surrounded it cut it off from most other civilization. Small town vibes, you know, but for a city. People rarely moved, and generally looked average in clothing and stature. I knew I always stuck out, perhaps that was why this guy thought I was a newcomer. The fact that I rarely wandered out of the shadows didn’t help.

He dipped his head and gave a stunning smile. “Well, nice meeting you, darling. My name’s Goliath. I’ll be happy to accompany you, if you’ll let me. Admittedly I’m rather new as well, and you seemed a bit more friendly than others here. I confess finding my way around with company is much better than being alone,” he admitted hopefully. Huh, that was new, me seeming friendly?

I sighed, thinking for a moment before finally giving in. Maybe he was flirting. Why, I’d no idea. Like I said, I was covered from head to toe in black. Some would say I looked very intimidating. Not all people were afraid of snakes, I supposed. “Alright. I guess I can show you around. I’m not new here, even if you are,” I muttered, grumbling under my breath about wanting to be alone.

He ignored my mumble and flashed another bright smile. “Great! You sure you want to just go to the store, though? I mean, there’s a ton of stuff to do besides shop, and it’s a Friday! You can’t have much to do if you never go out,” he added with a frown.

I blinked, remembering the snakes’ strict warning. As secluded as I was, the aspect of just hanging around with someone was tempting. Especially someone with an aura similar to my own. I’d never really had a friend that was my own kind. Since no one ever talked to me, not even other hunters, I got rather lonely. So while I didn’t like interacting with others, a friend would be really nice. Contradicting, I know, but sometimes my mindset was scattered. Perhaps lightening up a bit would be a nice change. “I can hang around for like an hour. But then I need to go home. My parents put me on…curfew,” I replied, though it wasn’t really a lie.

Goliath chuckled again, always seeming amused. “For what? Staying out a second too late? You look to be in your early twenties, and you have curfew?” he asked in an amused voice.

I rolled my eyes in response. “No, They’re just worried about me, and yes, I do,” I growled. Goliath shook his head, grin never seeming to fade. 

“Whatever you say, princess of the guarded castle,” he laughed, crossing his arms. I had no idea what this guy found that was so funny!

Well. Now I needed to think of a witty response. I opened my mouth to reply but was cut off by the roar of a bus coming to the stop. I stood up, glancing at Goliath and watching it dawn on him that we arrived where I needed to be.

“This looks like our stop, let’s go,” I muttered. He nodded, taking a deep breath and looking about with vague curiosity.  Goodness, he seemed so relaxed and emanated joy, as if he hadn’t a care in the world. I read him deeper, though. His outward happiness was masking something cold and calculating. He was something like me. He hid it well. Way better than I possibly could. Maybe, just maybe, he was a vampire hunter too.

There wasn’t only the emotionless cold within his eyes. There was something more, something I really couldn’t sense. That frustrated me. Normally I could read people like a book when it came to emotions.

Hesitantly, I took his hand and let him lead me off of the bus and into the store. I took out my list and studied it for a moment, ignoring Goliath as he read over my shoulder. Did he not know the meaning of manners? “Milk…eggs…salmon…frozen mice?” he read, staring at me as if I’d grown three heads.

I had to laugh; that’s the exact reaction I’d expect from virtually anyone. “Ah, yes; They are for my…pet…snakes,” I replied. I choked on the word ‘pet’, because Boomey and Copper were no more my pets than I was their amusement. We were a family, regardless of what outsiders thought of us.

Goliath stared, clearly intrigued. “Oh? What kind of snakes?” he asked as we walked along the aisles. I paused, wondering if I should tell him the truth.

“Just corn snakes, really,” I finally said. The guy nodded, appearing to be deep in thought. I took a deep breath, deciding that it was way too hot in here. Grabbing my scarf, I put it into my small bag. Only humans were here, so it didn’t matter, right?

Goliath stopped and stared into my eyes. I blinked, irritated. What was he doing, exactly? “Uh…” I started, taking a step back.

“I’m sorry Sam, just haven’t seen you without the scarf or up close, and was taken aback by how…” he started, but then cut himself off while blushing. “Anyway. I know where we could hang out for an hour after shopping. Wanna join me at the park? That’s one place I know about here. It was the first area I stopped by,” he added. 

Raising a brow, I merely shrugged off his reaction to my face. Odd phrasing, but perhaps he was stammering. As for the park idea, I gave a nod. Parks always helped me relax and appreciate nature. It had been a while since I was able to visit one. “I’d love to,” I replied with a smile. 

We took a while shopping, mainly because we both talked. I learned that Goliath worked part-time at a fancy restaurant as a host, having just moved up here from down south. I told him that I stayed at home, and mostly just worked on investigations on criminals. Which, for the most part, wasn’t a lie. Goliath seemed very curious about that, but when I told him it was top-secret, he didn’t press for information.

After getting everything on the list, I slung the grocery bag over my shoulder and promptly nodded to my new friend. “All set. I have about a half hour now to spare. We took a while in there,” I pointed out, checking the time from the little clock that hung over the entrance of the store. Goliath gave a nod. He was excited, I could tell, to bring me to this place.

When we arrived at the park, the sun was still dipping under the horizon. Nevertheless, the darkness was closing in. Unlike most, I felt comfort in the dark. There were more places to hide and more places to plan. We sat on a bench, talking for a little while longer.

“So, you’re living with your parents right? Is that why I haven’t seen you around in my first few days here? Are you in college, or something?” he asked. I shrugged, looking to my feet. 

Once upon a time I had considered taking classes of some sort. The thought had been shoved away quickly, as I realized my duty was in the city. I got money from the hunter association, just barely enough to live off of. But my past memories prevented me from pursuing anything else. Since my parents gave me up, I had the mindset that I belonged nowhere. Nowadays, I was content with the thought. Interaction with Goliath, though, made me realize how lonely I really was.

“Well, I was home-schooled. Never considered higher education. Like I said, I don’t get around much,” I only replied with a slight sigh, regretfully having to lie once again. I mean, I read and wrote often when not hunting to keep my mind sharp. I had a rocky past with school in general. Completed it, yes, easily, no.

Goliath was watching me carefully. He saw my expression change to sadness and gave me a sympathetic look. For some reason, I hated when people did that. But I didn’t want to be rude, so I didn’t say anything. “Gosh. You must be lonely. Well, we could hang out some more if you want,” he suggested.

I looked at him, my head tilted slightly. Making a decision, I nodded. “Sure. When I’m not working, I’d love to come around and hang out,” I said, giving a genuine smile. It was time to break out of my shell and step out of my comfort zone for once. Boomey and Copper wouldn’t be very happy about it, but I was old enough now to handle things on my own. It was about time I had a real friend. This guy, unlike those who just avoided me, was really polite; I could tell we would have interesting conversations if we kept on talking.

Goliath smiled back and dipped his head. “I’ll be seeing you around, dear,” he grinned. His green eyes flashed for a second, making me wonder why he was suddenly in a hurry. “I’m a bit hungry, so I’m going to go off and get a bite to eat. Hope I didn’t keep you out too late! Want to meet here tomorrow at sunset?” he asked in a hushed tone.

And now, I was in a hurry. I just remembered my curfew! I got to my feet quickly and gave a nod. “Yeah, sure; ugh hope I’m not late! See you around!” I replied. I darted away quickly, praying that I wasn’t too late. Yikes, I hadn’t realized the time!

Hopping on the bus, I quickly asked the time and gave a sigh of relief. I had about five minutes, just enough time to get back before an hour was up. Any longer and I knew that I’d be questioned.

I rode in silence before getting off at my stop. Three minutes now. I took off running into the woods, panting hard when I arrived home. Silent as a snake, I opened the door and sat on the couch, wondering if the overbearing reptiles were home yet. When the light clicked on, I knew they were, and right away I sensed their anger.

Copper glared at me, her tongue flicking in and out rapidly. “You took a while. An hour might not seem like a lot, but we were worried,” she hissed into my mind. “I don’t think it takes that long to shop!”

Boomey took a place next to her, coiling and turning his stare to me. “You were watched by danger tonight. I can sense it–we are worried more than ever. You cannot go out at all tomorrow,” he added.

I stared in disbelief. No way I was going to follow that! They’d promised that I’d be allowed to hunt then! Not only that, but I had made plans. I figured I could do the dirty work and meet Goliath after that. Well, there was only one solution. Without a word, I stood up, entered my room, and slammed the door. OK yeah, I was old enough to handle things, just not old enough to refrain from a tantrum. I had a rather short temper, you see.

Ah, here’s an idea. Tomorrow I’d sneak out. That was a foolproof plan, I’d do it while the snakes were hunting and be back before too many hours passed. They normally took around four to catch and eat enough, so that’s when I’d leave. Why not, right? Too bad they were smarter than me when it came to my well-being.

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