I can’t believe it. I’m actually posting a story on the first Friday of the month. *gasp* Let’s hope I can keep up with it. It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions… Those typically don’t have much luck of being followed through on, but I hope with your accountability, I can do it. Thanks a ton for everything, guys!
Also, guess what? It’s another Venus story! Last month, you guys seemed to really enjoy “Venus,” the story about the college kid whose laundry money was being stolen by a mini dragon. So, I decided to write a sequel (hopefully one of many).
And this time… Drew embarrasses himself in front of a girl. It’s great. But also, poor guy.
You might want to read “Venus” first if you haven’t already, though you should be able to understand this story even without reading the previous one. Anyway, enjoy “The Jealousy of a Dragon”!
This is the best it’s gonna get.
Exhaling, I press the print icon. The printer hums to life, then spits out one sheet, another sheet, so many sheets of edited word vomit. Twenty pages about a planet I’ve never been to. Dozens of hours spent staring at a screen with bloodshot eyes, catching a few meager hours of sleep.
Sometimes I really hate college.
Something brushes against my leg, and I flinch. There’s a ghost. A rat. Something. I look underneath my chair to see a bunny-sized dragon, golden scales gleaming, expression unreadable.
“Venus!” I sputter. “What are you doing here?”
Yeah, I know, I named my mini dragon after my science paper. She looks like the planet, okay?
She flexes her claws, then scratches them against the metal leg of my chair with an awful screeching sound.
“Stop it! Someone’s gonna hear you!”
She looks up at me with wide, innocent eyes.
How did I get a mini dragon, you ask? I have no idea. She showed up under my bed and stole my laundry money. Now I’m stuck with her.
“Now is not the time for sharpening your claws, young lady.” Okay, I actually have no idea how old Venus is––she hasn’t gotten any bigger in the week I’ve had her––but I’m bigger, so I’m in charge. I think. “You’re going to wake people up!”
Her claws screech across the metal. Good thing she can’t actually damage the metal—oh wait, she’s making gouge marks. Just great.
“Venus, I swear, you need to—”
The door to the computer lab opens. Venus darts behind my leg. A girl walks in, her dark eyes landing on me. My mouth dries up. It’s Kitty McDowell, her shirt emblazoned with a dragon, her long dark hair in a low ponytail.
“Were you talking to me?” she asks.
“No,” I blurt. “I was, um, ranting about my paper. It’s about Venus, you know. It’s making me go crazy. If you can’t tell. Um.” Okay, I need to shut up now. Also to stop staring. Also to sleep.
“Oh, okay,” she says, a smile crinkling her round cheeks. Her eyes land on my cat-patterned pajama pants, and I flush. How was I supposed to know that someone else would be in the computer lab at 2:00 am?
“Sorry,” I say, laughing even though there is no reason to laugh. It comes out squeaky and high pitched.
Kitty cocks her head. “Why are you apologizing?”
“I don’t know.” The awful, nervous sound keeps coming. Stop it, idiot!
She stares at me for a moment longer, her dark eyes huge behind her glasses, then slips into the chair next to me. I can’t think with her this close to me.
“I like your pants, Drew,” she says. “Um. Not just because of my name or anything. But, like, cats. They’re awesome. I love cats. I’m sorry. I’m rambling.”
“It’s fine,” I say, my face as hot as one of Venus’ flames. “I, uh, like your shirt too. ’Cause dragons. They’re awesome. Yeah.”
“Thanks,” she says, her perpetually-red cheeks glowing even brighter.
Venus’ newly sharpened claws dig into my pant leg, and I let out a yelp.
Kitty jerks toward me, a frown pulling her lips down. “Are you okay, Drew?”
“Yep!” I kick Venus, and she growls. “I’m fine! Just fine!”
“That’s good,” she says, laughing just as awkwardly as I did a few moments before.
Of all the times for Venus to sneak out, why does it have to be now?
As soon as Kitty’s eyes turn back to the computer screen, I glance down at my legs. Venus’ burnt orange eyes are in tiny slits. I shake my finger at her. She snorts a puff of smoke.
Great. Now Kitty’s going to think I’m smoking. Venus, I swear, when we get back to our room…
Oh, who am I kidding? I have zero control over this tiny animal.
Kitty wrinkles her nose. “What is that smell? Is something on fire?”
“Um, maybe.” I swallow hard. “It’s probably nothing to worry about.”
“But it could be a fire!” Kitty’s voice pitches high. “We should pull the fire alarm—”
“No! We don’t need to do that. Um.” Sometimes I think Venus came into my dorm room to ruin my life. Until now, she just stole my laundry money and my fancy watch, but she’s moved onto bigger and better thinks, a.k.a. ruining my social life––my love life. Not that I have one of those. But if I did have one, she’d be ruining it.
Kitty gets up. Her head whips around, slinging her ponytail from side to side. She yanks open the door, peering outside. I take the opportunity to glare down at Venus and hiss, “We’re going back to the dorm. Now.”
She preens her claws nonchalantly.
Huffing, I get up and grab the papers from the printer. How am I supposed to smuggle Venus out of the computer lab without Kitty noticing?
Kitty turns back to me, the door shutting behind her. “I don’t see anything. But I guess the smell was coming from in here. Maybe one of the computer wires is smoldering.” She kneels down.
I clench my teeth. If she looks over beneath my chair, she’ll see the mini dragon there.
Kitty crawls under her desk, peering at the wires. Breathing a sigh of relief, I scoop Venus up, who snorts a little too loudly. Swearing under my breath, I hold her behind my back in case Kitty can see me.
“Um, Kitty. I’m sorry,” I blurt. “I have to go. I need sleep. Lots of it.” Venus squirms behind my back, her claws digging into my hands. I bite back swears.
“Oh… but what about the fire?” Kitty asks, starting to crawl out from underneath the desk.
“I’m sure it’s fine. Um. Goodnight.” I turn around and clutch Venus to my chest, tripping over my feet out the door, wincing at each prick of Venus’ claws. Only when the door has shut behind me do I glare down at my mini dragon.
“Look what you made me do!” I hiss. “You completely embarrassed me in front of her! Now she’s going to hate me!”
I swear this dragon is smirking at me.
I narrow my eyes. “Did you do this on purpose?”
She stretches her neck languorously, like nothing just happened.
I scowl. “Are you jealous?”
There’s that innocent expression again.
“I can’t believe it,” I say. “I didn’t know you even cared about me, you little demon.”
Her eyes narrow. Oops. Probably shouldn’t have insulted her.
“Um. I meant that in a loving way.”
I almost drop Venus, then whirl around, gripping her behind my back again. Kitty approaches me cautiously, my twenty-page paper clutched in her long-fingered hands. Venus claws her way onto my back, and I yelp, pain digging lines into my face. “Oh! Sorry,” I say quickly. “You, uh, scared me.”
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to. You just, um, forgot your paper. That’s all.” Kitty looks at the floor.
Biting my lip, I take the paper. She pulls her hand back quickly, clasping her fingers together. Her chipping nails are painted in lots of different shades, black and green and yellow.
I should apologize, but how can I? I can’t explain why I had to run away. No one can know about Venus, not even Kitty with her dragon shirt. Only Matt, my roommate, and I can know about my mini dragon.
Of course, I wouldn’t even have this dilemma if Venus hadn’t followed me to the computer lab in the first place.
My voice is strained. “So, was there a fire?”
Eyes still on the floor, Kitty shakes her head. “Have a good night, Drew,” she says, then turns to leave.
But she’s already gone.
“This is your fault!” Now Kitty thinks I hate her, which is definitely not true, but I can’t explain what happened, and I don’t know how to fix this. Stupid dragon.
Venus crawls up onto my shoulder, and I wince wherever her claws poke me. As soon as her snout is in reach, I flick it. Her jaws snap, almost closing around my finger. Oops.
“You can’t just follow me wherever, okay?”
She flicks her tail, whacking me in the head.
“Ow!” I hurry down the stairs. “That wasn’t nice.”
“Look, Venus. Your place is in our dorm. That’s it. Like, the rooms that Matt and I share. Under my bed is your domain. Not this whole hall.”
She curls into a ball on my shoulder. It’s hard to be mad when she’s this cute.
“People can’t see you, okay? No matter what.” I open the door, creeping into the dark room. My head spins. I really do need sleep. Kneeling down, I let Venus crawl off my shoulder. She peers at me with smoldering eyes.
“I don’t want people to hurt you,” I say softly.
She nuzzles my hand, her scaly snout warm and smooth.
“But also, you can’t keep taking risks. Also, you can’t embarrass me like that.”
Venus just blinks at me.
As she disappears into the darkness underneath my bed where her coin pile awaits, complete with my watch, my stomach sinks. I don’t think she’s going to listen to me. And if she’s willing to follow me to the computer lab… what if she starts following me other places? What if she follows me to class?
No, she wouldn’t. I won’t let her. I’d stop her.
What did you think of my Venus sequel? Trust me, I’m planning many more. There are many more adventures Drew and Venus can have together—ahem, many more ways Venus can cause trouble for Drew.
By the way, if you didn’t get a chance to read my stories “Stealer of Secrets,” “Skinthief,” or “Walls,” Havok is opening the Season Two stories to the public for the weekend! (For those who don’t know, the Havok stories are typically only available on the day they’re published unless you’re a Havok member, but this weekend is special since they’re about to choose their anthology stories.) It’ll be open from 6 pm CST tonight (Friday) to 10 pm CST Sunday.
I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a comment on there (and/or vote if you have a membership). The highest-rated stories could get into their seasonal anthology! “Stealer of Secrets” and “Skinthief” are currently some of the highest-ranked stories for this season, which is such an honor. I really appreciate everyone who’s supported me!
I hope you’re enjoying your new year, friends!