The stars sparkled. The night air was crisp and clear. The glowing moon cast shadows of complete darkness on the forest floor, making everything growing from its rich soil appear as if it were suspended in mid-air. It was the perfect night for a vampire.
Roam Gustavo, his legs dangling amongst the still forming leaves of the tallest maple, gazed out over the tops of the surrounding trees to a roaring bonfire just over a mile away. His all-black attire of jeans, T-shirt, and high tops made it possible to stay hidden from anyone who might pass by. Not that anyone would, from the ground anyway. No one liked to go into this part of the forest of Payatt Township, right in the center of Minnesota, where the trees and bushes were far too dense. Unless it was Old Man Philip, but his cabin stood empty two miles behind him.
He closed his eyes, opening his mind fully to catch all the night sounds around him—the rubbing of branches in the light spring breeze, a concerto of crickets that surrounded him, the hoot of a passing owl, and the unmistakable rustle of bat wings overhead. Through it all came the sounds of laughter, of voices and the crackling of the bonfire.
Roam closed out all the other sounds to listen for only one, then smiled when he heard her familiar throaty laugh. His heart pounded, threatening to make his legs as weak as jelly. Opening his eyes, he gazed over the treetops to where the bonfire roared with life and vitality, growing ever larger with every dry branch that touched its flames. His eyes were, as usual, partially covered by his bangs, but still allowed him to see all who were in the clearing, including the one he sought. What good was it to be a vampire if he didn’t use what he was given?
“Why don’t you just go there instead of sitting here watching?”
“Jeez, Rove!” Roam grabbed hold of the branch he was sitting on, looking behind him where one of his identical brothers’ hovered in the night. Roam stared into deep blue eyes the same as his own, which were currently laughing at him. “I didn’t even hear you come up.”
“One of the many benefits of being a vampire,” Rove answered with a grin, giving Roam a small shove so he could take a spot next to him. “You would have heard me just fine if you hadn’t had your attention elsewhere. I don’t understand why you can’t just go over there. You can’t spend time with her sitting up here.”
“Stay out of my mind, Rove,” Roam responded by slamming his mind closed, then as an afterthought, sent a zap that caused his brother to swear under his breath. Vampires, especially family, could tap into another’s thoughts. Some vampires were only able to receive someone else’s emotions, but the Gustavos were able to hear each other’s thoughts as if the other person were speaking to them aloud. The mind zap was something only Roam could do, causing his brothers to wrack their minds as they tried to figure out just how he did it. Of course Rune, Roam’s youngest brother, always said they should all be able to do the mind zap since they are identical triplets, or at least given something equally annoying to counter attack with. Roam had no idea how it was done. It was just something he could do.
Rubbing the side of his head with one hand, Rove punched his brother in the shoulder with the other. “Someday I’m going to figure out just how you do that.”
“Serves you right. You shouldn’t have been in there.”
“I wasn’t looking,” Rove answered, still rubbing his head. “It shows on your face.”
Roam gave his brother an apologetic look. “It’s that noticeable, huh?”
“I haven’t figured out how Maya hasn’t noticed.”
Maya Stewart had been their best friend since kindergarten. She was someone Roam shouldn’t be thinking about in the way that he was. Shrugging his shoulders, he gazed over toward the bonfire. “Maybe she’s not interested in me that way.”
“I don’t think that’s the case...” His sentence trailed off, and Rove’s head suddenly snapped up as he looked toward the fire, smiling.
Roam opened his mind again only to hear a familiar voice. “What’s Rune doing there?”
“What we should be doing,” Rove answered as he placed his scuffed-up shoes on the branch, shoving off. Soaring over the treetops, he twisted in the air, ending with a somersault before landing in a grove of trees not far from the clearing. It was a good thing that non-vampires couldn’t see them when they flew, but checking an area before landing was a good thing. It certainly would be a surprise to suddenly materialize in front of someone else.
Show-off, Roam sent telepathically as he watched Rove gesture for him to follow, then disappeared into a throng of teenagers just beginning to celebrate the beginning of spring break.
Chuckling, Roam stood on the branch, kicking off. He loved the feel of the air around him hugging his body as he soared over the trees. After all, how many humans could fly? Looking at the ground, Roam landed soundlessly in the same spot as Rove.
As a vampire, all his senses were heightened. He could feel more pain, see farther, hear for miles, and smell things others didn’t even know existed. As he began to move between classmates and friends the smell of beer permeated his nostrils, almost making him gag. Vampires didn’t drink as a rule. Alcohol messed up their senses, making it possible to walk straight into unforeseen danger.
Hearing Rune laugh, Roam turned to find his younger brother and Rove in the center of several girls. Each standing just shy of six feet, it was easy to spot them among a bunch of girls averaging about five-foot-four. Roam noticed tonight they had dressed almost exactly alike, something they didn’t normally do, but wasn’t difficult when it came to black. He stood watching them, shaking his head, and smiled as he was bumped in to. He didn’t even have to turn to know it was Maya. He could tell by her scent. He had known she was there long before she attempted to sneak up on him.
“Still can’t surprise you, no matter how hard I try,” Maya said as she handed Roam a Pepsi, drying her hand on her own black jeans and pulling down the sleeve of her pink hooded sweatshirt.
“I already told you that isn’t possible.”
“I know. You can smell me. Do you have any idea just how creepy that is?”
Roam turned, smiling down at her. “Yes, I do. You never fail to tell us.”
Crinkling her nose at Roam, her freckles seemed to dance. She tossed her straight, shoulder-length blonde hair like she used to when it was longer, then returned her gaze to her other two best friends. Roam had liked her hair when it was in the middle of her back, but decided it now complemented her pretty face, and at only five-foot-two inches tall, it made her look a little taller. Maya had the prettiest, darkest brown eyes he had ever seen. She wore minimal makeup, which she really didn’t need, and wore only lip gloss on what he considered perfect lips. Perfect lips that he wanted to get a taste of. He was thinking of how her lip gloss might taste when he suddenly realized Maya was speaking to him.
She was shaking her head, while looking over to where Rune and Rove stood, making her very soft looking hair sway around her face.
“I still don’t get it.”
Roam swallowed, hoping his voice was going to sound normal. “Get what?”
“Do you realize Rune eats enough for the three of you?” She then looked around, leaning toward Roam, lowering her voice. “Sometimes it’s still difficult for me to understand you being a daywalker vampire. You can eat, drink, get hurt, and stay out in the sunshine. You’re as mortal as I am. The only vampires who are immortal are nightwalker vampires, which includes Dracula himself. I wonder what my parents would think if they knew he was real.”
Out of all the people Roam and his brothers knew, Maya was the only one who knew their secret. Her parents didn’t even know. Maya had been a part of their lives since kindergarten when she and her family moved to the area.
She had been introduced to their secret at the impressionable age of six. Rove had tired of her constantly following them around and had decided it was time to put a stop to it. So, on a warm summer day while playing tag in the boys’ backyard, Rove bared his fangs at her when he had gone to tag her to be it. Maya simply pushed him down, and continued to play the game. Rove, shocked she hadn’t turned to run home screaming, had the utmost respect for her, allowing her to become inseparable from them. She protected their secret and accepted them for what they were without a second thought.
Now at almost seventeen, Roam was struggling with his growing romantic feelings for his best friend. Did he act on it or just remain her friend?
“Look at all those pathetic girls drooling over them,” Maya said as she crossed her arms across her chest, watching Rove and Rune with the girls. “Why don’t you go join them? They can’t seem to get enough of any of you.” She shook her head. “It’s like they’ve never seen triplets before. What I really like is how they have to ask who is whom when it’s so obvious!”
“We are identical, Maya,” Roam pointed out as he toyed with the necklace he never took off.
Maya stared at the silver crescent moon with the sun in the center that marked him as a Gustavo vampire. “Yeah, you all have the same faces. I get it. But how can you truly be identical when Rune has those white streaks in that raven hair you all share, and Rove has red?” She looked at Roam. “Why don’t you have colored streaks in your hair?”
“I was blessed with great bangs,” he answered as he purposely moved his head to make the bangs sway. “I hear they are sexy.”
Roam watched as Maya looked at him, her cheeks growing a slight pink. She quickly looked away, and then turned back with a mischievous look on her face.
“You know,” Maya said, tapping a pointer finger on her chin. “There is one way to get rid of those pests.”
“Oh? Do I dare ask what that would be?”
She motioned with the same pointer finger for Roam to come closer. “You could flash a little fang.”
“Girl,” Roam answered chuckling. “Sometimes you have one sick mind.”
“Who has a sick mind?” Rune asked as he joined them, grabbing the can of Pepsi from Roam, finishing it off.
“Maya was being creative with how to get rid of all those girls around you.”
“Why, Maya, I didn’t realize you were jealous,” Rove said as he came up behind them, giving Maya’s hair a little tug.
“In your dreams, fang boy,” Maya answered slapping Rove’s hand away. “Are the two of you finished with your girlfriends, or should Roam and I go make some new friends?”
“Yeah, we’re finished. The air was getting a little too thick for my taste.” Rove stretched his arms over the top of his head and cracked his knuckles.
“Maybe some fresh air is in order?” Maya asked, smiling sweetly.
“Maya,” Rune answered, throwing his arm around her shoulder, “I think you are addicted to flying. We may have to cut you off.”
Maya turned so she was nose-to-nose with Rune, “I would like to see you try, fly-boy.”
Rune smirked, “Why can’t I be fly-fang-boy?”
Laughing, she linked her arm through his, leading the way out of the clearing. “Okay fly-fang-boy, let’s go.”
“I do like how that sounds,” Rune answered as they walked into the trees.