At six o'clock, I work my way towards the back of the diner to the office, where Robbie sits behind his desk on the phone.
'Yes, love. Of course, I'll make sure to buy the right one this time, alright love you too. Bye.'
Robbie making kissing noises on the phone really is disturbing.
He looks at me with his toothless grin, 'Alice, how are you?'
'I'm good, thank you, but I just wanted to ask you if there's an extra uniform here somewhere?'
'What happened to the uniform you have?'
He stands from the old wooden chair and looks in the cardboard boxes that are placed at the back of the office.
'I spilt some coffee on the shirt and the stain won't come off.'
I can't lie for shit, but he seems to be buying it.
He sits back down just as he hands me a new uniform.
'Thank you, Robbie. Next time I promise to be more careful.'
I walk rapidly towards the bathroom, lock the door and look at myself in the mirror. I'm not much to look at really; a heart-shaped face with rosy coloured cheekbones. My never-ending white blonde hair is always kept in a braid down my back. Ivory skin with bright pale blue eyes; like the clear sky. My mother tells me that my eyes are like the colour of diamonds, eyes that are so pale they could appear as white. My teeth are perfectly straight and white after years of my mother lecturing me about how to look after them. My nose is a little on the prominent side but you can blame my father for that. That's the only thing I have of him. I've never known my father, nor will I ever want to know him.
I sigh, close my eyes and rest my hands on either side of the sink.
Just get it over and done with!
I open my eyes and take off my shirt swiftly, and look over my shoulder to look at the bite.
What the hell? It's not there!
I look in the mirror to see nothing but pure smooth skin, 'Where...?'
Not a single bite mark is to be seen.
I don't understand...
How has it disappeared, if it only happened just hours ago?
After changing into my uniform, I walk out of the bathroom and place myself behind the counter, but I couldn't concentrate on doing anything. Maybe it healed overnight?
This can't be possible, but I have to look!
I peel my shirt over my right shoulder and check my shoulder again.
'Christ Alice, you trying to give these people a show or something?'
I roll my eyes when I hear her voice. I look towards the front of the diner to see Sam walking towards me with her school bag draped over her shoulder. She takes out her laptop and today's homework and sits directly in front of me on our new red diner stools.
'I'll have a strawberry milkshake and a few fries please,' she types away on her laptop as I prepare the milkshake.
I walk to the kitchen to see Terry preparing the food for the waiting customers.
'Another order of fries on its own but it's Sam, so take your time okay?' I do a thumbs up but he doesn't see it, or he's probably ignoring it.
As I walk back into the diner, I realize it's not as busy as I thought it would be.
'Alice, the milkshake's kinda overflowing,' Sam says nonchalantly.
I rush to the milkshake machine, clean up the mess and pass it over the counter.
'Thank you kindly.' Sam takes a sip of the milkshake, sighs in delight and puts away the laptop.
'So, what do you think of our new English teacher? Hot right?' She winks at me, 'I mean, I would.'
'Sam! He's like forty years old!' I hit her with the dishcloth that I keep on my shoulder.
'Age is just a number!'
All the patrons in the diner stop talking, turn in their chairs and stare at the two of us as we laugh over Sam's infatuation with our teacher.
I apologize immediately to them for our adolescent behaviour.
'Sam seriously, he's old enough to be your father.' I clean the counter to look busy when the diner door opens. I notice everything falling silent.
I look up to see why the place has gone quiet, only to see four tall frames at the diner's entrance.
Why are they here?
They look so out of place standing there.
Bane walks with confidence towards the closest patron; leaving the other three standing guard at the door. He leans down to one of the regulars and speaks to him.
I don't know how I can hear him, but I hear every single word.
'You might wanna stop staring at us before I tear you apart piece by piece big man.'
'Hey!' I rush from behind the counter, stand directly in front of him only to be met with a broad chest.
Damn, he's tall...
'I don't care who you are, but I won't have you talking to the regulars like that Bane.'
At this point Ryder stands by Bane's side; never taking his eyes away from me.
'Are you saying we aren't welcome here because we're not regulars?' Bane looks at me with pure disgust written on his face.
'Of course, you're welcome here. But if you're going to disrespect the regulars then I'm going to have to ask you to leave.'
I say this with as much confidence as I can muster, but with Ryder standing with his eyes on me the whole time, I'm really quite surprised I haven't shat myself.
'We aren't here to start trouble, we just came to have some food in this highly recommended diner that you have here,' Ryder's voice fills the whole diner. While he speaks, I can't help but stand there looking into his bright green eyes.
'Take a seat, and I'll grab you some menus,' I say.
Neither of us takes our eyes away from each other, but the connection is broken too quickly when I hear Sam's voice calling me.
'Alice! Where the hell are my goddamn fries!?'
I turn around to see Sam giving me the grumpiest look ever known to mankind.
I look back at Ryder to see him sitting in one of the booths with his friends, but his eyes remain on me.
I walk behind the counter; my hands shaking as I grab four menus and four pairs of cutlery.
'I'm known for being a patient person, but please give me my fries!'
'I told Terry to take his time, so whenever Terry's ready to make your fries, he'll make them.'
I walk past the counter and laugh when I hear Sam confronting Terry in the kitchen.
I stand at the edge of the table and hand Ryder all the menus.
'I'll be back in a few minutes to take your order, kitchen closes at seven thirty.' I hurry back to the cashier when I notice Sam sitting back in her seat, with a few fries on a plate.
'Those aren't yours, are they?' I point towards the fries on the plate just as I hear Terry yelling from the kitchen.
'Nope, but they're mine now.'
She grabs for another fry just as her elbow knocks the milkshake over the edge of the counter, and that's when everything happens in slow motion.
Time slows down as I see the milkshake descend to the floor. I feel this uncontrollable urge to catch it before it falls.
With the time slowing down, it gives me enough time to catch it, just inches before it spills everywhere. I look at the milkshake resting in my hand and check around me to see if anyone noticed, but I'm only met with four curious sets of eyes.
'Nice reflexes you got there Alice.'
Sam doesn't seem as freaked out like I am right now. Instead, she picks up another fry just as I slam down the milkshake on the counter, to which it falls over.
'You didn't see that?'
'See what? You rescuing my delicious milkshake that is now spilling everywhere on this counter.'
'Sam honestly, I'm freaking out right now!'
'Are you okay? Want me to call your mum?'
'No...I just, I need to tell you something about what happened here last night.' I whisper to her over the counter in the hope that nobody hears me.
'What's going on with you today? And why are you whispering? No one's looking at us except for them.'
Sam remains looking at them until she turns around and tells me that they're leaving.
'What's the problem? What happened last night?'
I take a steady breath and replay the events of last night, 'I was working here last night until closing hour. Terry and I were the only ones left at the diner. He asked me to take the trash out to the dumpster and...and I heard a growl from behind me. It was so quiet I thought I didn't hear anything, but I turned around and saw the biggest wolf I've ever seen, and I've never seen a wolf that big before in Small Town.'
Sam rolls her eyes, 'I mean we see wolves all the time, we live in Small Town for gods sakes! We're gonna see wolves running around and for one being here...it was probably drawn from the smell of rotting food or something.'
Sam grabs her schoolbag from the floor and starts packing her things.
'Sam, I'm telling you, it was huge! It bit me right on the shoulder and ran away!'
Sam stops packing her things and looks at me with pure worry on her face.
'It bit you? Did you tell your mum to look at it?'
I shake my head knowing she's about to have an outburst. 'No.'
'Why the hell not!? She's a nurse! God knows what that thing carries.'
'There wasn't any point in telling her because, by the time I went to bed the cuts were all sealed closed, and the marks were completely gone when I changed for work.'
I show her my shoulder to find it still the same. No bite marks.
'Why didn't you say anything in school?'
'I didn't think it really mattered when I woke up this morning and only saw a few cuts there.'
'I wish I knew what to tell you or at least give you advice but...'
Sam remains calm and collected, but I know that on the inside she worries too.
'Your milkshake would have been on the floor if I hadn't moved to grab it in time. I'm telling you now, everything in this room moved in slow motion like the time was slowing down for me to catch it before it leaked on the floor. And then hearing Bane whispering to Paul to stop staring or he'd tear him apart. Correct me if I'm wrong but he's sitting right by the door and I'm all the way back here! Something's wrong with me!'
I turn around to face the coffee machine and pour myself a large cup of coffee.
Sam speaks to me in a quiet and comforting tone; she probably knows that I'm close to losing my mind.
'This all happened after it bit you?'
'Yeah, and it scares me to even think about what could happen to me. What if I actually turn into one?' I turn around with my mug of coffee and sit next to her.
Sam scoffs, 'You're my best friend, and whatever happens just know that I'll be there for you. Even if you don't want my help, you shouldn't go through this alone. So if you do turn into a big scary wolf - which is impossible by the way, I promise not to tell anyone. The last thing I want is you chasing me on a full moon.'
Sam stays with me till the end of the shift but leaves shortly when her mother comes to take her home. Sally offers to take me home but I politely decline because I've got to lock up the diner.
I take out the trash, brush and mop the floor, then change out of my uniform.
I lock up the back and exit through the front.
I double check that the door is locked when I hear rustling coming from behind me. I shrug it off blaming the wind, but when I hear it again I can't help but think it's the wolf from last night. I stay rooted to the ground in absolute fright when I hear laughter coming from behind me.
I turn around a little too quickly and fall forwards on the floor.
'I didn't know for sure, but I had to check to see if I was right and now that I know, I was right about you.'
I look up into Ryder's cold, distrusting green eyes.
I stand with unsteady legs and shiver when my back connects with the diner's cold, damp door, 'What are you talking about?'
Ryder, Bane and Silver create a half circle around me; Ryder in front of me with the other two on either side.
Kellan remains a little further behind Ryder; showing no signs of joining this little confrontation.
Silver steps forward, grabs my braid and pulls my head back hard.
She leans forward right into my jugular and inhales.
I couldn't move.
'She's new, but she's changing fast. I wouldn't be surprised if she changes tonight if she survives that is.'
She shoves my head forward and stands back.
It's Bane's turn to step forward. He stands in front of me; shielding Ryder from view. Bane reaches out with his giant-sized hand and wraps his hand around my delicate throat.
'Let's get one thing clear here, I don't like you nor will I ever like you. I don't trust easily when it comes to people like you. His scent is all over you and it's taking every ounce of control I have not to kill you, and I promise you, if you get in my way and humiliate me again as you did in there, I'll kill you myself.'
I reach with both of my hands to stop Bane from strangling me. His figure goes all blurry when suddenly his hand disappears from my throat. I fall to the ground like a rag doll on all fours and start gasping for air.
I hear them arguing, but I can't make out a single word.
I look up with blurry eyes to see Kellan standing in front of me in a protective stance.
'He was killing her and you weren't gonna do shit about it! She's got nothing to do with the murders here!'
Ryder's head tilts to the side as he listens to Kellan, 'Leave us, I need to have a little conversation with Alice. Alone.'
Both Silver and Bane snicker like hyenas as they run into the middle of the road.
'Kellan, leave. I'm not going to hurt her.'
Ryder kneels down in front of me and cups my cheek gently.
As Kellan walks away, he turns around and looks at Ryder with warm, sorrowful eyes, 'She's no threat to us.'
'Go home, Kellan!'
By the time I can stand on my own two feet, Kellan's already out of sight.