Dancing with Death
Death is coming and he’s coming for me
The bell rang and I sighed in relief. Mrs. Bickel was rushing to assign us homework as students hurried out of the classroom. I picked up my books and headed for the door. Halle met me there and we made our way down the hall to our lockers.
“Did you hear about Whitney Gladstone? Everyone is saying she was murdered by some psycho. He slit her throat and left her in the forest to rot. A ranger found her and called the police,” Halle said.
“Yeah, it’s all over school. When a cheerleader gets murdered, it is the talk of the town. It’s just creepy to think of a murderer right here in our own town,” I replied.
“What do you think she was doing in the woods? It was kind of late to be in those woods according to the official press release.”
“That is the million dollar question. I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to enter those woods alone at night. With all the supernatural rumors about those woods, you would think she knew to stay clear of them. It just goes to further fuel those rumors now,” I said with mild aggravation.
Halle’s eyes brightened as she shut her locker and turned to me. “What if she was some sort of ritual sacrifice? Maybe some occult or a coven of witches did this to her?”
“Seriously Halles, you can’t actually believe those rumors. There is no such thing as real witches. If it was really an occult, the police would have shut it down long before now. There have been quite a few murders in just the past two years in those woods.”
As quickly as she brought up the topic, she shut it down. Halle was already onto more important things, like boys. “Did you see the new guy? He has a sexy tan and shaggy blond hair. He is hot, but I can’t decide if I am going to go after him or not.”
“Yeah, I saw him briefly in Calculus. He sits a few seats in front of me. I am sure I can put in a good word for you if you want.”
“Mm, we will see. Oh and there is a new librarian also. He is sort of young for a librarian. Gosh, he is probably only a few years older than we are. I can’t wait to graduate from this stupid school. College is going to be so awesome,” she said in between breaths.
“I have homeroom now, so I will check this new librarian out. Anymore gossip you would like to share?” I asked knowing she always had more.
“Nina and Greg broke up. According to Lucy Briggs, Greg cheated on Nina with Jesse Gordon. Nina is crushed and didn’t even come to school today.”
“That’s kind of sad. I like Nina. Maybe we should stop by her house after school and make sure she is okay,” I suggested.
“Sure, but you promised we could hit the mall afterwards. Daddy gave me my birthday money and I can’t wait to spend it.”
“I just got my monthly allowance so I’m in. I need a new pair of shoes anyways. I want to wear my new plaid skirt but I need a pair of tall boots to go with it,” I added.
The bell rang and our conversation was broken up. I blew her an air kiss and headed into the library for homeroom. I slinked in one minute late and found a seat at a table near the stacks. To my luck, no one noticed and I opened my History book. I was supposed to write a paper on local history and wasn’t quite sure which topic to pick.
Finding nothing in my book of interest, I made my way into the stacks and searched for the history section. I finally found it just past the math section and began to peruse the titles. It wasn’t long before Jackson strolled up beside me. His dark brown hair was disheveled and he had a gleam in his glassy blue eyes.
“Okay, what are you up to?” I asked as I gave him a shoulder bump.
“Did you hear about Whitney Gladstone?”
“Are you kidding? Halle made sure to bring me up to speed on all things gossip worthy. It is a tragedy, but we weren’t even friends with her.”
“True, but there is a killer on the loose and the police think it is linked to the old murders bringing the total up to six. That is wicked scary,” he said.
“How do you know that?”
“Terry Jones is in my Composition class and he told us he overheard his dad talking on the phone about it. He is the Sherriff’s son and all.”
“I will concede that it is pretty creepy, but it still doesn’t affect us. We never go out into those woods. At least Halle and I don’t. Tell me you are smarter than that,” I replied.
Just then, a man with tousled black hair and piercing brown eyes approached us and I stiffened. He was the most gorgeous man I had ever laid eyes on. I swallowed before I spit out my words.
“Hi, who are you?”
“Matt Geyer, the new school librarian. Who do I have the pleasure of meeting?” he asked conversationally.
“This is Jackson and my name is Wendy,” I replied a little nervous suddenly.
“Nice to meet you Jackson and Wendy, it is getting a little loud in your corner of the library. Can I help you find something perhaps?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
I admired his approach and decided to take him up on the offer just to spend the extra few moments with him. I was mesmerized by this man I didn’t even know, just being in close proximity to him made my body hum. I tried my best not to sound like a bloody idiot, and Jackson pardoned himself to return to the tables.
“I have to do a history paper on local history and I can’t seem to find an interesting topic. Do you have any good ideas?”
“There are quite a few. Lucky for you, Saint Louis is a city with rich history. We are at the nations crossroads, you know,” he responded studiously.
“Hmm, I never thought about that. It still isn’t interesting enough. I want to do something big and splashy,” I said as I steadied my breathing. I was trying to act cool but I was buzzing inside. He was so sexy. I was so going to have to tell Halle.
“Well, there is the Lemp Mansion and Brewery. That is more of a tragedy but history none the less. The Cahokia mounds are a good example of our earlier history. Indians originally inhabited this area before we migrated west and settled here.”
“Those are great ideas. Do you have any books on them? I would love to do a little more research and then decide.”
“Sure, I will get them for you. Just meet me up at the desk and I will scan your school id,” he said before turning away and searching the shelf for the titles.
I wasted no time shooting Jackson a look and then headed towards the front desk. His backside looked just as good as his front side I happened to observe. I couldn’t help but notice all the girls swiveling to gawk at the new librarian as he headed towards the front desk, books in hand.
“Alright Wendy, I just need your ID and we can finish this up.”
“Here,” I said as I slid it across the counter in front of him.
He scanned the plastic ID and I slipped it back into my pocket. Then he proceeded to scan the books and stamp the check-out cards. When he was finished, he slid the books over and smiled.
“It was a pleasure to meet you Wendy.”
I met his eyes and a chill coursed through me. I shook it off and smiled back at the hot librarian. Then I returned to my table to read what he had given me.
The first book was on the Lemp Mansion and Brewery. It went into detail as to why it is one of the most haunted places in America. It is recorded that one of the members of the Lemp family shot his dog and then himself in the house. There were a total of three suicides by the Lemp family recorded in history. The story sent a wave of unease as I read it. I looked up and the new librarian gave me another smile before turning away.
I shut the book of murder and opened the one on the Cahokia Mounds. The book said it was an ancient city and the largest one in the United States. It was a site rich in archeology. It was said to be created around 600 CE. I was deep into the book and its history when I felt like someone was watching me.
I looked up only to find the librarian with his back turned to me. Then I turned to see Jackson engrossed in his own homework. Puzzled, I scanned the room and found no one. The only discovery I had made was that I spotted the new guy in this class with me as well. He was surfer sexy but not overtly. I had to admit that he was cute.
At that moment, he looked up and his eyes met mine. My cheeks flushed and I quickly looked away. I didn’t know what was with me today. First it was the librarian and now the new guy. I had to get my mind out of the gutter and focus on my project.
Finally, I decided to do my presentation on the Lemp Brewery. It was one of the most important breweries in St. Louis and the murders were just additional shock value. My paper would rock when I read it aloud to the class. I returned the book on Cahokia mounds to the librarian, Matt Geyer. Relief washed over me as the bell rang and I was able to make a quick escape.
Luckily classes were over and Halle was waiting for me by our lockers. Her blond hair was a stark contrast to my brown hair. After tossing my hair into a ponytail, I shoved my books into my messenger bag. Before I said anything, I shut my locker with finality. I was looking forward to going shopping and clearing my head.
“Hey girl, how was homeroom?” Halle asked.
“It was interesting, and exhausting.”
“That sounds ominous. I expect a full report as soon as we get the heck out of this place. It is never too early to leave school. I would have left after first hour if they would’ve let me.”
“Yeah, right Halles. If you left right after first hour, you wouldn’t have anything to gossip about,” I joked.
“Very true,” she laughed.
“I volunteered to bring Nina her homework today. We can stop by really quickly and just make sure she is alright. She and Greg were together for an entire year. That has got to hurt.”
“It’s cool; I know Nina is your friend and all. Afterwards though, we are hitting the mall. I already told Jackson we were busy doing girl stuff and wouldn’t be able to chill today,” Halle replied.
When we reached my silver tinted car, I tossed my bag in the back seat and slid into the driver’s seat. Halle joined me in the passenger seat and I put the top down. The engine thrummed to life and I flipped my IPod on to my favorite playlist.
I tore out of the school parking lot and headed towards Nina’s house. “This song is killer,” Halle said.
“I know, it totally rocks and it is a great reprieve from my obscure day.”
“Obscure really? Okay smarty, what happened? Please dish and don’t leave anything out.”
“I was late by one minute to study hall first off. Then Jackson and I got caught talking in the stacks by the new librarian. He is so unbelievably hot. Then the librarian helped me find a topic for my history paper. After that I proceeded to lock eyes with the new guy, and it felt kind of intense. I was a bundle of nerves by the time the bell rang,” I said in rapid succession.
“Okay, back up. Did you just say you have the hots for the librarian, you naughty girl!”
“Yeah, but he is completely off limits. I am still in high school and he is a faculty member. That is about ten kinds of wrong.”
“That’s what makes it so hot Wendy. I wish I could have been there to see that,” Halle remarked.
“Focus, what is the new guy’s name? I can’t keep calling him new guy forever.”
“I heard that it was Brandt Summers. It is fitting, actually. I want to call dibs, but if you have some sort of connection with him then I will back off.”
“I don’t know what it is. I flushed and looked away. I am really lame,” I pouted.
“We are here, so let’s tamp down on the gossip around Nina. She is having a hard time and doesn’t need to be overloaded by us,” I added.
“Yeah, yeah but let’s hurry.”
Nina lived in a two story house just south of the highway in an exclusive subdivision. She was privileged and knew it. One of her two new sports cars sat in the driveway and we headed up the walk. I used the brass knocker and took a step back to wait.
It was strange, but no one answered. I knocked harder this time and stepped back once again. My brows furrowed when no one answered yet again. I turned to Halle only to see her patience wearing thin.
“Fine, I will leave her work on the porch and we can go.”
“Amen, I am in serious need of some shopping,” Halle said.