Your Lies – Chapter Two

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<<< Chapter One

Chapter Two
~Maddock~

Everything.

The whispered word dripped with disgust and pierced the excited, nearly euphoric, bubble that had surrounded me since the rally had begun. Christ, not two minutes ago, I’d been flying high—happy to be doing something meaningful and important and hoping to spend some time with the beautiful blonde with the big blue eyes.

I’d had some doubts earlier when I’d seen Delia throw away the flyer, but convinced myself it didn’t mean anything. So many handed flyers and pamphlets to anyone who crossed their paths out on the quad. I’d tossed more than I could count without even looking at them. I figured that was what had happened. Seeing her while I was addressing the crowd seemed to confirm that.

“What do you mean everything?” I asked.

She just shook her head.

“Why don’t we just head to the café?”

I didn’t know why I suggested it. I didn’t even know her well enough to push this. Seriously, I should be walking away right about now. It wasn’t as if campus was lacking options when it came to pretty girls. Walking away was definitely the way to go, but…fuck it. There was just something about her I didn’t want to walk away from.

“Come on,” I continued. “We’ll have coffee and talk and figure this out.”

“There’s nothing to figure out,” she spat. “It may be hard for you to understand, but I don’t want to go anywhere with you. I don’t want to be around you. I don’t want to see you.”

My gut soured, and a cold sweat broke out all over my body. The vehemence in her tone, in her stance… I’d never been on the receiving end of something so harsh. It didn’t sit well with me, and I struggled to understand where the hell it was coming from.

“It’s not like I’m going to force you to spend time with me, but…” I frowned. “You seemed interested before. No, you were interested before. I didn’t just imagine that.”

“No, you didn’t,” she said slowly, gripping the strap of her bag so tightly her knuckles whitened. “But that was before.”

“Before what?” I stepped forward, freezing when she flinched.

She recovered quickly and squared her shoulders, meeting my gaze fully. “Before I realized what you are.”

Anger flared at the contempt in her voice. “And what is that exactly?”

“A hate-mongering, prejudiced asshole.”

My jaw dropped; shock coursed through me frigidly. She was a Sympathizer, I realized, and had misunderstood what I’d said at the rally. She didn’t understand what I was trying to do.

“I’m not,” I protested. “I want to help magic users. I don’t hate them, Delia, and I’m not trying to make anyone hate them. I’m as much a Sympathizer as you are.”

Her shoulders shook as she laughed, a false and empty sound that grated. “Oh yes, you sympathize and care about the animals, the abominations. That much was very clear.”

“I never called them that!”

“Oh, you’re right. You didn’t,” she sneered. “You just compared them to rabid animals. Called their magic an abomination. Never mind that it’s a part of them.”

“You’re misunderstanding what I—”

“No, I’m not. You’re calling for magic users to be banned from campus, to be caged like animals, kept separate from the good normal folk. But it’s okay, because you sympathize and find it oh so sad, right? You arrogant prick. Stay the fuck away from me.”

She turned on her heel and jogged away as I stood in the middle of the pathway staring after her like an idiot. How had that gone so spectacularly wrong?

* * * *

“Fuck, what is going on with you?”

I looked over as Mark Greenley bumped shoulders with me. On my other side, Kevin Johns snorted. A bunch of us were hanging out in the quad between classes, enjoying what was sure to be one of the last warm days of the year. Books were out and open around us…and ignored.

I rolled my eyes. “Nothing’s going on with me.”

“Bullshit,” Mark said. “This is the first time in two weeks you’ve even hung out with us.”

“Yeah, you’ve been a moody fucker ever since the rally.” Wes Anders didn’t bother opening his eyes or shifting from his position stretched out on his back.

“Which is stupid, because it was awesome. A great turn out, tons of support,” Kevin chimed in.

I didn’t answer. My lack of good mood had nothing to do with the rally, and everything to do with a certain girl. Who happened to be sitting at one of the tables on the other side of the courtyard with a group of people. As much as I’d tried not to think about her the last couple weeks, Delia was never far from my thoughts—neither were the things she’d said. The way she’d said them. And if that weren’t bad enough, it seemed like she was everywhere. I saw her when I was walking to classes, when I swung by the café, when I was studying in the library or the commons. She was every-fucking-where.

“You’re pissed ‘cause the bleeding heart Sympathizers are doing their own rally now, aren’t you?” Mark nodded knowingly.

“What are you talking about?” I snapped.

There was a reason I’d never identified myself as Sympathizer to my friends, even though I’d told Delia the truth—I honestly saw myself as one. I didn’t want to see anyone hurt, and I wanted magic users to be free of the burden they carried.

“I thought you knew,” Mark said. “You keep looking over at them, frowning. I figured… The tiny brunette at the table you’re staring at is organizing a little event.”

I shifted my gaze from Delia to the girl sitting next to her. Their heads were bent together as they talked, and at that moment, Delia threw her head back and laughed before wrapping her arm around the other woman’s shoulders in a half-hug.

“Since we had a rally, the magic users and their supporters, their ‘Sympathizers’,” Kevin air quoted, “argued it was only fair they be able to hold one of their own on campus. And they were given approval. Can you believe that?”

“It’s their right,” I pointed out.

“It shouldn’t be,” Mark muttered. “They shouldn’t even be here.”

Everyone murmured their agreement, and the discussion took off about the dangers of magic users, not only on campus but anywhere. It was familiar and, as I watched Delia smile and talk with her friends, nauseating. My jaw ached from clenching it so tightly. I didn’t know what my problem was. Nothing was being said I hadn’t heard before—it wasn’t anything I hadn’t said before. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to join in the conversation. And I couldn’t stop looking at Delia.

When she stood and left the quad, I grabbed my books, shoved them in my bag and jumped up. Ignoring the calls of my friends, I took off in the direction Delia had gone. I hurried through the pathways between buildings, scanning until I saw her.

“Delia!” I called, sprinting to catch up.

She turned, and my chest tightened when her smile immediately morphed into a frown when her gaze landed on me. She sighed loudly as I came to stop in front of her.

“What do you want?”

I chuckled even though her resigned tone cut. “Just wanted to say hi since we seem to keep crossing paths.”

“Yeah, that’s unfortunate. You think on a campus this size we could avoid that altogether, wouldn’t you?” She patted me on the arm. “We’ll just have to try harder.”

I covered her hand before she could pull away, capturing against me. “Maybe I don’t want to avoid seeing you. I actually rather like it.”

Her fingers flexed, digging in, but she didn’t try to pull away. It might have been me being desperate, but I took it as a good sign.

“Maddock,” she whispered.

“Look, I hate that you think I’m a prejudiced ass. Hate it,” I admitted, trailing my fingers over her knuckles, dipping my head slightly to meet her insanely gorgeous blue eyes. “Can’t we just get that coffee?”

She pressed her lips together then slowly drew her hand away. “I…I don’t think so.”

“Delia, I—”

“No,” she interrupted. “We’re too different.”

“You don’t know that,” I argued. “Because you don’t know me. You saw me speaking to a group, that’s it. Give me a chance to explain, to clear up what you misunderstood.”

Her expression softened, and the corners of her mouth quirked up. “I didn’t misunderstand. You are a very effective public speaker, and were very clear in what you were saying.”

“I can’t stop thinking a lot about what you said.” I shoved my hand through my hair in frustration. “If you thought I meant those things…”

Delia took her phone out and looked at the display. “I have to go.” She stepped away but stopped to gaze at me, her smile small and sad. “Maybe there’s a reason you can’t stop thinking about it, Maddock. Maybe a part of you—even a tiny, tiny part—realizes what you’ve been saying and fighting for is wrong.”

Heart pounding, I called out after her. “Are you always going to be running away from me?”

She spun around, but kept moving, walking backwards. “As things stand now? Yes. But…”

“But what?”

“Show me you’re someone I want to be running to.”


Click the banner below to read Chapter Two of Kris Norris’ amazing Red Sky Dawning.

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Your Lies – Chapter One

I’m so excited to post the first chapter of my serialized story, Your Lies – and that Kris Norris is posting the first chapter of hers – Red Sky Dawning.

Your Lies is also available on Wattpad, with chapters posting there the same time as here. So if you prefer that…there you go. 🙂

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**Also, remember to comment to be entered in a drawing for a $20 Amazon giftcard at the end of the month**
April’s Winner: Ali
Congrats, Ali! Happy Reading
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Chapter One
~Delia~

“It’s still secret, right? No one’s found out?”

I rolled my eyes, even though Mom couldn’t see me. Every single phone call either started or ended with these questions, and it was getting old.

“I’m not an idiot. I haven’t told anyone, and I won’t. You’ve adequately drilled that into my head.”

“Don’t take that tone with me, Delia. You’ve no idea how scared I—” Her voice cracked, and guilt swamped me.

“I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “But nothing’s going to happen, okay? No one knows anything about me.”

“But if you let it slip to one of your friends or if you lose control… Honey, maybe you should just come back home. You wouldn’t have to worry here about anyone finding out about your—” She sighed heavily. “About you.”

I shook my head and ignored the tightening of my throat. She couldn’t even bring herself to say the word. That was nothing new, though. She hated this part of me. Not the way others hated it or feared it—nothing like that. She loved me more than anyone, of course, but having this inside me put me at risk, and what mother wouldn’t loathe that?

“Mom, I want to help people, people like me, and I can’t do that there.”

“But you’d be safe!”

I closed my eyes against the sudden burning. I didn’t like that she worried, that I was the cause of so much fear and stress and had been my entire life. Sometimes, I wished I could do what she wanted—go home, live on the farm, safe and sound—but coming here was the first step in fulfilling my dreams. The first step in doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’m safe here,” I assured her. “You’re forgetting there are laws to protect me, that it’s illegal to discriminate against me just because I have—”

You’re forgetting just how little those legal protections mean,” she shouted loudly enough I had to pull the phone from my ear. “They didn’t help your father; they don’t help anyone. If anyone finds out, you’ll be put on a watch list—the lists that aren’t even supposed to exist but do—and you will never have a moment’s peace. You’ll never be safe; always having to look over your shoulder.”

“No one knows,” I said in a rush, anxious to cut off the rant before it really began. “And no one will ever know. Dad taught me well, Mom. You know that. I’m just another student here, one of thousands. Nobody cares about me, and I’m not drawing attention to myself.”

A heavy sigh traveled through the phone. “Promise me you’ll be careful. Promise you’ll come home if there’s even a hint that someone knows or suspects.”

“Promise,” I said softly, as I always did.

I wished she’d ask me about my classes, about the people I was meeting, the things I was doing, but it was only the questions and the promises—every time. A part of me understood why—truly I did—but another part wanted her to be interested in my life. In me…beyond that one part. I glanced at my watch and stood from where I sat on my bed.

“I’ve got to go. I have class in a few minutes, and it’s across campus, so I need to hurry.” Grabbing my bag, I hoisted it over my shoulder. “I’ll call you over the weekend?”

“All right. Call sooner if you need anything.” She paused, and I could tell she wanted to say more, to keep warning me, but instead, she simply said, “I love you, Delia.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

I ended the call and shoved the phone in my pocket as I left my room. I hurried out of the building and started the trek across campus.

“Delia!” Peyton Harding—a girl from my dorm—jogged up and fell into step beside me. “Study group around four. You coming?”

“Yeah. Where?”

“John wants it to be out here.” Peyton rolled her eyes as she gestured around the quad. “Everyone’s pretty much agreed to it. Figured we might as well while it’s still nice enough to, because before too long, we’ll be stuck inside.”

“All right. My class goes until three-fifty, so I’ll meet you here. Who else is—oof.”

“Oh shit, sorry! Wasn’t looking were I was going. Are you okay?” A strong hand wrapped around my arm above my elbow, steadying me.

I looked up and found myself staring into the clearest, greenest eyes I’d ever seen. I’d call them pretty if it wasn’t for the whole picture they were a part of. Messy brown mop of curls, high cheekbones, full lips that were turned down into a frown. No, pretty wasn’t the word I was thinking. Hot, sexy, breathtaking—those all fit.

“You okay?” he repeated.

Great, I was gaping at him like an idiot. I nodded and smiled. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. No worries.”

His frown transformed into a wide, bright grin, and there was the breathtaking. Damn.

“I’m glad.” He tilted his head and ran his gaze over me. “I haven’t seen you around. First year?”

I nodded, acutely aware of the warm weight of his hand still on my arm. Everything in me responded to his touch, and I breathed through it—the trembling, the heat swirling through my body, threatening to radiate outward—desperate to keep that reaction concealed, hoping he’d see nothing more than a shy girl gobsmacked in the presence of a hot guy. Which I was, but it was only a fraction of the story.

His fingers flexed, and he continued to smile at me. “I’m Maddock.”

“Delia,” I forced through numb lips.

“That fits—beautiful girl, beautiful name.”

Some shouting had him glancing over his shoulder. Relief and sadness warred within me when he let me go to wave at whoever had been trying to get his attention. I inhaled deeply and felt myself calm slightly. Until he faced me again, eyes crinkling as he smiled. Damn, that was cute.

“I have to go.” He actually sounded as if he regretted it. “I’d like to see you again, Delia. Come to the rally this afternoon.” He pressed a piece of paper into my hand, holding it firmly against my palm a moment. “Look for me after? Maybe we can get some coffee and get to know each other better.”

“I-I’d like that.”

“Me, too.”

He released my hand then, after a quick nod in Peyton’s direction and another flashing smile in mine, he walked away. I watched him go—I was only human, and he wore those jeans oh so well—until I was jolted from my thoughts by a rough nudge on my arm.

“Wow,” Peyton drawled, linking arms with me. “Hot, majorly hunky Maddock Roberts just asked you out.”

I snorted, eyes still on where he now stood talking with a group of people. “Not exactly.”

“Meeting for coffee after his rally? That’s a date, my friend.”

No, it was— Oh God…was it? My stomach fluttered. I looked down at the paper in my trembling hand, and the flutters morphed into full on spasms, driving out the nervous excitement. Bile threatened to choke me as I read the bold print across the top—Protect Our Students. Ban Magic Users From Campus!

“Hey, something wrong?” Peyton asked.

I crumpled the flyer and chucked it into a nearby trashcan, ignoring the flare of prickling heat inside me.

“No,” I croaked. “Just don’t want to be late for class. The prof’s a real stickler about being on time and all that.”

I pulled away from her and set a quick pace towards my destination.

“Delia, wait! What’s the matter?”

“Nothing! Promise. See you at study group!”

When I turned to smile and wave at her—because I didn’t need anyone to be suspicious of anything; I needed to be normal—I saw Maddock Roberts a few feet from her, frowning fiercely at me.

* * * *

I was late for class, anyway. But it was all good, because I’d lied—the professor didn’t give a shit. I’d had to duck into one of the bathrooms, lock myself into a stall and calm down. Showing up to class with my magic going crazy, my hair practically standing on end and energy flowing off me in waves, wasn’t the way to stay unnoticed.

My mother would flip a nut if she knew I’d nearly lost control. In a very public place, no less. Over a boy. An absolutely gorgeous boy, yes, but a boy just the same. Stupid, stupid Delia.

I reined it in, though, and made it through class without blowing anything up, so win for me. Wouldn’t be so much of a win if anyone asked me what the actual lecture was about as my mind had been thoroughly occupied by a cute guy who apparently hated what I was and, if he knew the truth, would probably rather see me dead than date me.

Such was my life.

Now, as I entered the quad, the first thing I noticed was the huge crowd of people occupying the center of the large space. Shit, the rally. I stopped abruptly, got jostled as people pushed past me to join the group. And in the middle of it all was none other than Maddock Roberts, standing on the platform of one of the hideous abstract sculptures scattered throughout campus. He was speaking, loudly, but I was too far away to hear anything clearly. I couldn’t pull my gaze away from him. Those flocked around him were just as enthralled as I was with whatever he was saying, with his earnest expression, his animated gestures. Good-looking, charming, charismatic—didn’t it just figure he was the enemy? Someone to avoid at all costs?

Why hadn’t I read the freaking flyer before I tossed it? I could have made my excuses to Peyton and avoided the quad altogether. I glanced around. Besides the rather huge gathering, people were scattered through the courtyard, but no sign or Peyton or John or any of the others I’d studied with before. Relief filled me. I could just cut through, head to the dorm, and escape. Just tell Peyton later I couldn’t find them in the chaos.

That plan in mind, I started across the quad, skirting around the gathered masses. I tried not to listen as I hurried past, but try as I might, snippets of Maddock’s speech reached me.

“Safety should be our number one priority…”

“…don’t advocate any violence towards magic users, but…”

“Magic is a disease that should be eradicated to keep…”

“…wouldn’t allow rabid animals to wander about campus, why should we allow magic users the privilege?”

I nearly fell over stopping as quickly as I did. I struggled to control my breathing as I turned toward where Maddock spoke. I fought back tears as I saw those surrounding me nodding along with the poison he spewed. Over the pounding of my heart, which echoed in my skull, his words penetrated and filled me with a fear I’d never felt before in my life.

“They are just as dangerous. Do you want to be in the company of someone who could suck the life out of you with a look just because you said something they didn’t agree with or took offense to?”

“They should be put down!”

Maddock shook his head at the shouted statement. “No, that’s not the answer; that’s not fair. This isn’t something any magic user asked for—what’s inside them is a defect of birth. What they are is no fault of their own. Any violence against them is inexcusable.” His hand slashed through the air. “My father is part of a team of researchers who have been working for years to develop a cure for this…abomination. A way to rid these innocent people of the sickness that eats away at them, that corrupts them. And they are close, so close, but until that great day arrives, those with magic need to be contained. Where they can go and what they can do has to be limited. They need to be watched and monitored. As sad as that is, it’s essential, for everyone’s safety. Including theirs.”

He looked out over the crowd, and his gaze landed on me. Of course it did, because I was just that screwed. His bright grin stole my breath, again—but for very different reasons this time.

“There are people up here,” he gestured to his right, “who are waiting to take your signatures on our petition to ban magic users from campus. Rest assured, we aren’t asking to take away anyone’s right to an education. As part of our plea, we’ve offered suggestions, options for students who have magic—online courses, courses offered at locations set aside solely for their kind. Please sign, and be a part of this important movement. Thank you.”

He jumped off the platform and started making his way through the throng—straight toward me. Magic skittering just beneath my skin, I spun around and moved as quickly as I could in the direction of the dorm, away from the hate and prejudice, away from him.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I exited the quad and started down the far less crowded pathway between buildings.

“Delia! Hey, wait up.”

Short of running away and making a spectacle—which was the last thing I needed, and my mom would kill me—there was nothing I could do except listen to the slap of his shoes on the pavement as he caught up to me. My short-legged walk, no matter how hurried, was no match for his long, running stride.

“Thought we were going to grab coffee,” he said, slightly out of breath. “The rally ran a bit longer than I thought. Sorry about that, but it was a great crowd, don’t you think?”

Hysterical laughter bubbled up, and I was powerless to stop its escape. I kept telling myself to just agree with him, make an excuse to get out of coffee and get the hell away from him, but I couldn’t form any words. Couldn’t do anything but laugh.

He grabbed my elbow, pulling me to a stop beside him. I jerked away.

“Don’t—” I cringed at the volume of that one word, and drew on all my strength to lower my voice and control myself. “Don’t touch me.”

Maddock frowned and held his hands up, palms facing me. “Okay, okay! I’m sorry.”

“Whatever.” I shook my head and backed up a step. “Just stay away from me.”

My chest ached at the hurt, confused expression on his face, and I had to repeat his words in my head to stand firm. Disease. Rabid animals. Abomination. As charming as he was, as much as his feelings may be hurt, he thought of me as an abomination. That was what I needed to remember, right now.

“I don’t understand,” he said slowly. “I thought earlier that we’d… What changed between then and now, Delia?”

“Everything.”

Chapter Two >>>


 

Click the banner to check out chapter one of Kris’ Red Sky Dawning:
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COMING SOON: Serial – Your Lies

I’m so excited about this. Really, so so excited.

This project started a while ago. I’ve been wanting to do a serialized story for a long time. After talking to the fabulous Kris Norris, we decided we were going to do it 🙂 We came up with a common theme – enemies to lovers – one of my favorites!

We’re going to be posting chapters twice a month – the 2nd and 4th Mondays. The first chapter will post next Monday 4/13. 

Kris, who is not only a fabulous author but also a brilliantly talented artist, has designed the most gorgeous covers for these stories.your lies

 


Keeping her magic secret keeps Delia Lancaster safe. That is the one truth among the lies that make up her life. Having left the safety of home for college, Delia clings to that truth. Trusting someone with her heart is difficult enough. Trusting someone with her secret? After everything she’s already lost? Next to impossible. And isn’t it just her luck that the first guy she feels any interest in just happens to be the charming and very attractive face of the anti-magic movement on campus?

His entire life, Maddock Roberts has watched his parents work to relieve magic users of the burden they carry, the disease that corrupts them. Popular and confident, Maddock finds himself a leader in the fight against magic. Eyes on the future, he’s more than ready to take up the mantle and continue the battle beyond the boundaries of campus. The last thing he needs is to be distracted by a pretty face. Particularly when everything about her—her actions, her words—makes him question everything he’s held as truth.

Working with the magic Sympathizers on campus brings Delia face-to-face with Maddock more than she wants. Physical attraction, Delia can handle, but getting to know the man behind it all…and liking what she finds? That’s a problem she doesn’t need. Despite her best efforts, she and Maddock grow closer, and keeping her secret becomes more difficult. But their fledging relationship isn’t the only thing that could be destroyed if the truth comes out. Her life is at risk, and it may already be too late to walk away.


Also, each month, I’ll be doing a giveaway – a $20 Amazon giftcard. Entering is easy peasy. All you need to do is comment on the posted chapters. At the end of the month, I’ll randomly choose a commenter as the winner. So comment on both chapters, and you’re entered twice. 🙂 Kris is doing the same, so there are lots of chances to win. 🙂

I have given a couple peeks into our heroine’s past in a couple of my flash fiction posts.

“The Lies Begin”
“Lying in Wait”


Kris’ story, Red Sky Dawning, promises to be amazing. i’ve gotten a sneak peak of the beginning…AND I WANT MORE. I know you will, too.

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In a world where magic can destroy kingdoms, there’s no greater force than the bonds of love.

Rylan, son of Roan, and heir to the throne of Ravendale, has been fighting his father’s battles since he was old enough to hold a sword. His abilities as a fire mage gave his kingdom the ultimate weapon, until he seemingly vanished. Left vulnerable, his father erected a magical barrier that has provided Ravendale with a false illusion of peace—until now.

Shunned by her own people for being born with a power no realm has witnessed in over five hundred years, Aelwyn, Princess of Aldhaven, bears the mark of the gods, themselves. Both blessed and cursed, she’s devoted her life to protecting her brother, Aelrik, until he can take his rightful place as King—and finally end the war between her kingdom and Ravendale.

But his mysterious disappearance on the eve of his coronation brings a new scheme to light—one that’s designed to thrust Aldhaven into another millennium of bloody war. Left with no other option, Aelwyn has freed the only man capable of getting her brother back—a brutal, Ravendale warrior captured a century before she was born. But his cooperation comes with a price.

Enemies by heritage, Aelwyn has to put her faith in a man whose conquests are the horrifying legends of her past. Their mission is simple—rescue Aelrik and prevent a new battle from tearing both their worlds apart. There’s just one problem—circumstances of their agreement have put Aelwyn into her enemy’s arms, and she’s seeing a different side of the man history has labeled a murderer. Knowing firsthand that claims are often wrought from fear, she can’t help but strive to see the warrior beneath the lore. The man within the monster. But falling in love is a dangerous choice—one that might break far more than just her heart.

Click the banner to learn more about Red Sky Dawning and read a teaser!

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I hope you’ll come back and read Your Lies as the story unfolds.
Hugs,
Jessyour lies banner

March Photo Writing Prompt – The Lies Begin

photopromptI can’t tell you how long I stared at this month’s picture trying to come up with an idea. A happy one, no less, because apparently I’m depressing people. 😛

Well, something finally came to me. This short is actually connecting to the New Adult serial I’m working on – Your Lies – which will be coming twice a month starting in April, and I’m super excited about it. This is a glimpse into the the past of Delia, the heroine.

I don’t know that I can call it happy, but I don’t think it’s necessary sad or depressing… I didn’t break her, Norris, I didn’t break her! 

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The Lies Begin

Parents are stupid.

They think they’re smart, that kids don’t know what’s going on, but they’re wrong. Kids aren’t stupid. Well, some kids are, like Todd Pratt across the street. He was the dumbest. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t stupid, even though that’s how my mom and dad treated me.

I picked at the loose thread on the arm of the couch as I listened them fighting. They weren’t shouting or anything. They were pretending they weren’t fighting—Mom would say they were “having a discussion”—but talking all hushed and behind their bedroom door didn’t make it less of a fight.

That was all they did anymore. Fight. I swiped at my stinging eyes. I wasn’t going to cry like a baby about it, but it made my stomach hurt. ‘Cause it was my fault. If I wasn’t like this, they wouldn’t have anything to fight about. And it was always about me. Even before I messed up today, I’d heard them. The way they’d say my name or the way they’d look at me… Something was wrong with me, and they must have seen that a long time ago.

I didn’t want to be diffrent or messed up. I just wanted to go back to the way it was before–when Mom would smile at Dad like he was the best thing ever, and he would hug her and swing her around when he came home from work.

I sat up straighter when I heard the bedroom door open. Mom hurried over to me and sat beside me on the couch, but Dad walked over and looked out the window. And he looked mad. I felt sweaty and gross all the sudden.

“Delia,” my mom said. “I want you to know we’re not angry with you. You didn’t know any better. Thank goodness it happened here at home and not where—”

“Sylvie!” Dad’s voice boomed, and both Mom and I flinched.

“We’re not angry,” she said again, really slow. “But you can’t do…what you did anymore. Ever. It’s too dangerous, and you could get really hurt.”

“Okay,” I said when she stared at me like I was supposed to say something.

“And,” her eyes flicked over to my dad then back to me, “if anyone, anyone, ever asks you about it, you need to pretend you don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“You want me to lie?”

See? Parents were stupid. How many times have they told me lying was wrong? It was bad, and I should never, ever do it. Now, I was supposed to lie.

“Delia, honey, this is important. I wouldn’t tell you to do it if it wasn’t. No one can ever know what you are and what you can do. Promise me you’ll keep it a secret.” She grabbed my shoulders. Her fingers dug in, and it hurt! She gave me a little shake when I tried to pull away.

“Promise me!”

“Ow! Fine. I promise! Geez, Mom!” When she let go, I rubbed at one shoulder and glared at her.

“Good.” She stared at me, her lips jiggling weirdly. “Now, go get ready for bed.”

I jumped to my feet and looked at my dad, but his back was still to us. My stomach squeezed painfully again. I hurried into the bathroom, and as soon as I was in the small room, I heard them talking in quiet, angry voices again. I slammed the door, not caring if it made them mad. Because they made me mad. They wouldn’t tell me what was so wrong with what I could do or what wrong with me. They wanted me to stop doing the one thing that made me feel…like I was special. And now, I had to lie too.

After brushing my teeth and washing up, I went into my bedroom without looking into the living room. I didn’t hear them talking anymore, so that was nice. The worst was when the fighting happened at night. It just kept me up and made me feel sick.

I changed into my pajamas and crawled into bed. Before I could turn the lamp off, there was a knock on the door. It opened a bit, and my dad stuck his head in my room.

“Can I come in, Dee?”

“Yeah.” I sat up and scooched my back against the headboard.

He shut the door behind him and came to sit on the edge of the bed. “There is nothing wrong with you.”

My breath went funny, catching in my throat. How did he know I had thought that?

“Your mom’s just worried. For good reasons, but she also doesn’t understand.” He sighed loudly. “She’s not like you and me.”

“You? You mean, you’re…”

He held his hand out, and muttered a few words. A circle of light appeared, hovering above his palms. “You can say the word, Dee. When it’s just the two of us, you can say it.”

“You’re magic.”

“Yes.” He twisted his wrist and sent the orb spinning. “They call us magic users.” He scrunched up his face. “But it’s so much more than that. We don’t just use magic. It is a part of us; something that can’t be separated or ignored. The magic is -” He sighed. “I”m getting ahead of myself. The important thing for you to understand is it’s dangerous for people like us out there. That is what upset your mother. She’s afraid of what could happen to you. Here, take it.”

I reached out and laughed in surprise when my fingers wrapped around a solid ball. It was smooth like glass, but warm to the touch. I held it in both hands and looked into my dad’s eyes. It was weird, because he looked so happy, but sad, too.

“I’ll teach you,” he said quietly. “How to use it, but first, I need to teach you to be safe from those who would hurt you if they knew.”

“Why would anyone want to hurt me?”

“Because they don’t understand, and people fear what they don’t understand.” He brushed a hand over my hair. “You are so special, Delia. This is a gift, and you should never fear what you are, but you always, always have to be careful. And that’s why you have to do what your mother said. If anyone asks about magic or magic users, you pretend you don’t know anything. That’s one thing that will keep you safe.”

I nodded. “Okay, Dad.”

“I know you have to have questions, and I promise I’ll answer them soon. But for now,” he smiled that huge smile I hadn’t seen in a long time, “I want you to show me. Show me something you can do.”

He hadn’t been home earlier when I’d gotten frustrated doing homework and had sent my books flying through the air without touching them, making Mom freak out. I thought for a moment, deciding what to do. Taking a deep breath, I stared at the orb in my hands. My whole body felt warm…and just nice, like everything was right and like it should be. Then, dozens of beams of light, all different colors, streaked inside the ball. The glow lit up Dad’s face, and his smile widened.

“Beautiful,” he said quietly.

But he wasn’t looking at the orb anymore; he was looking at me.


Be sure to check out the other peices inspired by this month’s photo!
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn CeaseJessica De La Rosa | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris