The Iron in Blood (Chapter 5, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 5

Rebecca

It was still dark outside when the alarm went off in the morning, ripping me away from the ghostly memories of some strangely gratifying dream. I swung my legs over the side of the bed, struggling to wake up. I knew that if I lay my head down for just one more minute, I would wake up hours later, late for school and in loads of trouble. It had happened before. Often.

I blinked owlishly as light flooded my room. Mark stood in my doorway, grinning, his finger still on the switch. I lunged at him, and almost caught him, but he slipped away downstairs, laughing triumphantly. I sat back down on the bed as memories of yesterday unexpectedly poured into my head. I looked around at my bedroom, surprised at how normal everything felt. I was still worried about getting to school on time, for goodness sake. The ordinariness was comforting. I can do this, I thought.

I had a quick shower and dressed in a clean uniform, strapping the ungainly knee brace around my leg almost as an afterthought. It was all about keeping up appearances. I tied my still wet hair back in a rudimentary plait, brushed my teeth, and hobbled downstairs, crutch free. Much better.

Mum had left for work while I was showering, and Mark had finished his breakfast, and was sitting in the corner of the sitting room at the computer, clearly deeply immersed in what he was reading. Joe had left soon after Mum. He had never been an early riser before, but now he was seeing some girl, and he liked to be at her house early to walk with her to college. Love in action - changing the habits of a lifetime.

"Time to go, Sis. I'll walk with you today." Mark stood near the door suddenly, bag slung over his shoulder.

"You don't need to do that, Mark. My knee is fine now. And what about Harry?"

"I'll send him a text. I know your knee is fine. I'm more worried about you trying to rip people's throats out and suchlike. What will the neighbours say?" He burst out laughing again. I glared balefully at him. "No, seriously, Rebecca, I think I'll keep an eye on you until your iron levels have stabilised. I thought you were going to die yesterday." He shrugged.

I was grateful for his uncharacteristic concern. "Thanks Mark. I'll get my stuff."

The walk to school was uneventful. Mark had stopped teasing me about blood and throats and things like that. Maybe he was worried that we would be overheard, and someone would take his ridiculous banter seriously. He was taking this secret keeping business seriously. Good. I wasn't ready to be outed yet.

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