Most teens get
a car for their seventeenth birthday. Me? I get inducted into a freaky coven of
panic-laden cry pierces the inky blackness surrounding me. Shadows press in
from all sides. Dense fog hangs just outside my reach. Echoing through the
void, a woman calls my name. The fog starts creeping forward, thickening,
solidifying. Wisps of vapor cling together to form a woman. Her long black hair
falls in waves down her back, the thin face and high cheekbones poignantly
familiar, so similar to my own. Her almond shaped, violet eyes lock with mine,
“Emerson, thank God I found you! You have to listen, there isn’t much
“Mom? What’s going on?”
in her eyes. “Emmy, I’m so sorry. I
should have told you sooner. I’m so sorry—”
“What are you talking about? What’s happening? Where am I?” The fog presses closer, its chill prickling along my skin, but my mother
stays just outside my reach.
“Listen to me—I can’t protect you. They’re coming. You have to be
“Protect me from what? I don’t understand—”
“You’re on your own. Do you hear me? They’re coming for you! You have to
be ready...” She starts to fade, darkness swallowing her.
lunging for her. “MOM!” The mist
parts beneath my outstretched fingers, sinking back into the hazy gloom.
in bed, I grab the sides of my head, a sudden pain streaking across my skull. God, what a nightmare. For a moment, the
pain in my skull is so intense I can’t breathe. Covering my face with my hands,
I pray I’m not getting another migraine. After a minute, the pain begins to
getting out of bed, I glance at the clock hanging above my dresser. It’s shaped
like a tree stripped bare of its leaves, its branches reaching up toward the
ceiling, the roots extending downward, then circling in and intertwining with
one another. There’s a silhouette of a large wolf howling at the base of the
tree, while a pair of ravens adorn the ends of the clock hands.
My mother gave
me this clock on my thirteenth birthday. She said it represents the Yggdrasil,
the Tree of Life. The raven and wolf are creatures of Odin, the Norse God of
Wisdom. I didn’t give it much thought when she first gave it to me, but now I can’t look at it without
thinking of her. I
shudder, my nightmare in the dark, misty place still fresh in my mind. According to the ravens on the clock, Sebastian will be here in less than
thirty minutes to pick me up for school.
The plush cream
carpet cushions my footfalls as I pad across the room to my walk-in closet.
Sifting through the racks of clothing, I choose a clingy red knit shirt with a
low neckline and skinny jeans that hug me like a second skin. On the shelves
built specifically to hold my vast footwear collection, I grab the strappy
black pumps I bought online last week. Dressing quickly, I hurry into my
bathroom to brush out my hair.
appearance in the mirror, I scowl at my paler than usual complexion. I try
applying a little foundation and outline my violet eyes in dark liner. Pulling
my long black hair up, I give it a casually messy look, allowing a few wavy tendrils
As I leave my
room, the Yggdrasil on the wall catches my eye. Unbidden, my mother’s voice
sounds in my mind. I’m so sorry; you’re
on your own. I can’t protect you.
I catch my
breath, the feeling of loss overwhelming me. Mom. It’s been so long since I’ve
heard her voice. Seen her face. Held her hand.
No. Not today. I won’t do this. Clenching my jaw, I shove the disturbing dream deep down where I won’t
have to think about it. Straightening my shoulders, I plaster a smile on my
face and saunter downstairs, calling out a good morning to my dad. Most days,
this is the only time I get to see him. We usually have a few minutes to chat
over coffee before he rushes off to work. I enter the kitchen, surprised I
haven’t heard him yet.
On the marble
countertop, next to the unused coffee machine, is a cupcake, one lone candle
stuck on top. My stomach sinking, I open the card sitting next to it.
birthday! I’m sorry, but an important meeting came up last minute and I have to
go out of town for the night. Have a good birthday and I’ll see you tomorrow
I stare at the
words, disappointment rolling through me. First, nightmares starring my dead
mother, and now my dad leaves town on my birthday without so much as a ‘see ya
later’. I guess he thought the two hundred bucks in the card was ample
A car honks out
front. Shoving the card in the trash, I focus my mind on Sebastian and the
party Kayla’s throwing later. Steeling my spine and thrusting my shoulders
back, I sashay toward the yellow Mustang idling in front of my house.
Sebastian leans over, his warm lips brushing over mine.
Before he pulls
away, I capture his face with my hands and deepen the kiss, slipping my tongue
into his mouth aggressively. Encouraged by my response, he leans further into
me, his chest pressing against mine, pushing me back into the soft leather, his
hand kneading my thigh. After a few heavy seconds he pulls back, slightly out
of breath, his gleaming eyes dipping down to rest on my low cut shirt before
rising back up to my face.
effort, he moves back into his own seat, puts the car into gear, and peels away
from the curb. It takes a minute before he can get his breathing back under
control. I pretend not to notice, but I smile inwardly. This is just the distraction I need after my shitty morning.
“Well, I don’t
know what that was for, but I hope I can get some more tonight.” He grins, his
short, spiky hair gleaming gold in the early morning sunlight. My eyes caress
his strong, square jaw, his wide shoulders. I love the way his t-shirt molds to
his broad chest, the navy color a perfect match to his deep blue eyes. “By the
way, happy birthday,” he says, resting his hand on my thigh.
into the comfortably heated seat, I smile back at him seductively. “So, you
remembered my birthday, huh? I wasn’t sure if you would…”
“Of course I
did. Seventeen’s a big deal. Once you get a car, you can start driving me
around,” he laughs.
He’s always complaining about how much gas his muscle car eats up.
I grit my
teeth, but manage to keep a light tone.
“Yeah, well, I have to find one first. Have any idea where I can get one
cheap?” He has several mechanic friends at the garage he works at and a few of
them make some side money buying cars to fix up and resell. If anyone can find
me a good deal, it’s him.
“What do you
mean? Isn’t your rich daddy buying you a car? With the money he makes, I
figured he already had a brand new Lexus stashed away in the garage for you.”
I force a
smile. “My dad isn’t rich, Seb.” Why does everything always come down to money
with him? “How many times do I have to tell you? He’s just a workaholic.”
I cross my
legs, forcing him to remove his hand. My dad works for a high end law firm and
opts for overtime and travel whenever he can. Sure, he makes good money, but
it’s not like we’re the Kardashians or anything. He said he’d help me with my
car, but I need to fund the majority myself.
pointedly out the window and we drive the rest of the way in silence. I sigh in
relief when we finally pull up to school. Haven Hollow High, like most of the
buildings in town, was built in the early 1900s. It’s a two story brick
structure with arched windows and pillars on either side of the entryway.
Though old, it’s well maintained and looks more like a university building than
a high school.
I slide out of
the car without a word and begin
striding towards the entrance. Sebastian calls to me that he’s going to wait
for Josh and Chris. I ignore him. His obsession with how much my dad makes is
really getting old.
through the crowded hallways toward my locker, groaning at the shouts and
laughter echoing around me. It is way too early for everyone to be making this
much noise. I wish I had grabbed a cup of coffee on my way out the door; I
could really use the caffeine.
I flinch at a
particularly shrill laugh off to my left and a wave of dizziness crashes over
me. I sway a little, putting a hand out to the wall to steady myself. Instead
of the wall, I find myself leaning against a hard, lean shoulder. I open my
eyes, but all I see is bright, glowing white.
see through the brightness, a face begins to appear. Blazing green eyes
surrounded by chocolate colored hair softly curling near the ears. I stare
dumbly at the image wavering in front of me, confused. As the glowing fades, I
realize I’m gaping up at Caiden Callaghan, a quiet guy from my English class.
His hands reach
out for my waist as he frowns down at me. “Whoa, there. You alright? You look a
off balance, I don’t answer right away. The strange glow begins settling around
his head and upper shoulders, turning iridescent, different colors shining
through. I watch, fascinated, as the colors swirl and coalesce: molten silver
with streaks of emerald green the same shade as his eyes.
I get lost,
staring into those eyes. I can feel the colors flowing around him, the heat
from his hands penetrating my thin shirt, sinking into my skin. My own hand
trembles, gripping his upper arm. The rest of the world fades. Sounds are
muffled, the other people falling away like dead leaves. There’s only me. Only
Caiden. His hands on my waist the only thing grounding me, keeping me from
bumps into me from behind, breaking the spell. I fall into Caiden, his arms wrapping
around me, keeping me
from pitching head first onto the floor.
“Easy, take a
deep breath. I think you need to sit down.” He leads me to a nearby classroom, his arm
around my shoulders, releasing me the moment I’m seated. I close my eyes and pray that the room will stop bucking and swaying.
What is wrong
with me? I guess I’m more tired than I thought. I bring my hands up to my face
and gently massage my temples. I really need that coffee.
When I feel
steadier, I look up. The silence in the room slowly registers in my fogged
brain. People are standing up from their desks, mouths hanging open, staring at
me like I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have. There are close to fifteen other
people in the room, and every one of them has that weird halo around their
heads, all different colors. Shades of orange, red, purple, green, blue. No one
person’s the same as another’s. Most of them are bright and glowing, but none
of them shines brighter than Caiden, who is still standing close by, looking
down at me, one
eyebrow raised in question.
Oh God, not today…
Sometimes my migraines play strange tricks on my eyes. I close them for a few
seconds, praying the colors will go away, but when I open them again, the
colors are still there, even brighter than before.
I put my hand
up to shield my eyes, then wince as a sharp pain comes through the center of my
Caiden crouches down in front of me and places a warm hand on my face.
There’s a light fluttery feeling in my
mind. I try to pull away, but he won’t let me. I’ve never spoken more than six
words to Caiden. Why is he trying to help me?
“Talk to me,
Emerson. What’s wrong?” His voice is gruff, demanding.
“The colors are
too bright,” I groan, rubbing my forehead.
colors?” He asks, voice sharpening.
“Those,” I say
lamely, gesturing with my hand. “Near your head.” I make a swirling motion with
my fingers, and a glint appears in his eyes, like he understands something I
“You should go
splash some cold water on your face. It’ll help with the dizziness.” He reaches
out to help me up.
“Em? Are you
okay? Oh my God!” Olivia, my best friend, comes barreling through the door like
a tornado, a riot of red hair and crackling energy. As she runs up to me, I see
colors around her as well: bright orange and purple rapidly churning, but
unlike the others, she has a strange, thin band of silvery white around the
outside, encasing the other colors. The outline reminds me of moonlight for
some reason. “What’s going on? I heard you passed out!”
I have no idea
how she’s heard about this so soon, but then, I’ve always been amazed at how
quickly she hears the latest gossip. She rushes over to me, knocking Caiden out
of the way in the process. From the corner of my eye, I see him backing up,
watching me intently. Then Olivia whisks me out in a flurry.
says, handing me a bottle of water as she leads me to the girl’s bathroom. “Down this; you need to hydrate. Jeez, Em,
how much did you drink last night? And how come you didn’t invite me over if
you were partying?” She gives me a fake pout.
“What? I’m not
hungover,” I protest, wetting a paper towel and dabbing my forehead. I groan in
relief as the cold water starts chasing away my lightheadedness. “I’m just
tired. Didn’t sleep well last night.” The nightmare about my mother tries to
surface, but I shove it back down.
migraine?” She asks, studying my drawn face. At my nod, she digs around in her
purse, searching. “You’ve been getting them a lot lately. Here, take these.” She
hands me a couple Ibuprofen.
say, swallowing the little pink pills while she continues.
“And what were
you doing letting Credence put his hands all over you? If Sebastian saw that
he’d have kicked his ass, and you know he can’t afford another suspension or
he’ll be banned from homecoming!”
“His name is
Caiden, and he wasn’t all over me.” I roll my eyes. “I just ran into him. And
speaking of homecoming, did you find a date yet?”
sorting through my options,” she huffs. “There’s a guy at Monroe High who I’ve
been talking to, but I want to wait a bit longer before I make any final
decisions.” She flips her long, copper colored hair over her shoulder and leans
toward the mirror to examine her makeup. Her face is sharp and angular, her
sparkly green eye liner accentuating her cat-like jade eyes.
wait too long. There’s only a few weeks left; you don’t want to end up going
“Easy for you
to say.” She begins liberally re-applying her eye liner. “It must be nice to
have a steady guy like Sebastian. You don’t have to worry about snagging a date
like the rest of us. Speaking of which, did you know Mei is going with Josh? He
asked her last night.”
“Can’t say I’m
surprised. They’ve been hooking up on and off for months now.” I cap the water
after finishing almost half of it. “I don’t know why she’d agree to go with him
though—he’s such an ass.”
“No he’s not.
He’s just...” Her eyebrows pucker as she tries to come up with an appropriate
adjective for him.
“An ass?” I
finish for her.
sometimes,” she snickers. “Oh, and happy birthday, by the way. You’ll have to
wait until this weekend for your present. It isn’t something
I could really bring
to school, if you catch my drift.” She grins.
I grin back,
wondering who she coaxed into buying her booze. The pills seem to take effect
and after a few minutes I feel steady enough to go to class.
The rest of the
morning passes quickly, the incident from earlier forgotten. I meet Olivia at
her locker before lunch and we walk into the cafeteria to our usual table.
Kayla’s already there, buzzing excitedly about her party tonight. Her older
cousin is picking up a few kegs after school. I give Sebastian a quick wave
hello, still annoyed about this morning, but I doubt he notices. He’s currently
involved in a loud debate with Josh over the football game this weekend.
here from New York when he was two and has been a staunch Jets fan ever since.
Josh, however, born and bred right here in Connecticut, is a die-hard Patriots fan. As you can imagine, things get a little
heated whenever the Jets and Patriots play each other.
hair is shaved close to his head and his crooked nose looks like it’s been broken
several times and never healed right. That, combined with his eyebrow piercings
and bull like neck, gives him a slightly menacing appearance as he slams his
milk carton on the table. “You’re a traitor! You grew
up here in Connecticut—where’s your
to be intimidated, bellows back. “Screw the Patriots! The Jets are in my
matter where you were born! You moved here when you were a baby! You love the
Jets so much, move back to New York!”
I know from
experience that this sort of fight can last all day, so I tune them out and
focus on Olivia, Mei, and Kayla.
Kayla is built
like a runway model with blond hair and blue eyes. The bottom half of her hair is dyed neon
pink, giving her ‘Barbie perfect’ look a rebel edge, and somehow making her
already sickeningly cute appearance even cuter.
next to Mei, her best friend ever since she decided to give Mei a haircut in
the fourth grade, chopping her long, silky black hair up to her ears. Mei’s
strict, Japanese mother was horrified, which delighted Mei to no end. Mei’s
been defying her mother’s austere upbringing ever since, though by now I think it’s safe to say her mother has written her off as a lost cause.
grown her hair back out—it still hangs just to
her chin, longer in the
front than the back, it’s inky blackness streaked with bright blue. She changes
her hair to match her contact color, which switches every other week. Right
now, her eyes are ringed in an eerie electric blue. Her dark eyeliner extends
past the corners of her eyes, coming to a point, making her tilted eyes look
even more exotic.
I listen to
them gush about the party tonight, what they’re going to wear, who’s going to
“Are you going
with Josh, now that you’re going to homecoming together and all?” Olivia asks
Mei, wiggling her eyebrows.
Mei’s thin face
hardens a moment and her brilliant blue eyes focus down the table to where Josh
and Sebastian are still arguing. “Not really. I mean, I’ll see him there, but
he’s not picking me up or anything.” She shrugs like it’s no big deal, but the
hungry look in her eyes as she watches him says otherwise.
Kayla starts a
detailed description of the dress she’s wearing, but I get distracted by the
mop of brown hair I spot across the room. Caiden is sitting with Lydia, Ethan,
and Arianna. Those four are always quiet,
staying mostly to themselves—the
complete opposite of the people currently around me. It’s funny the way things
work out, who your friends turn out to be. Before my mom died three years ago,
Lydia and I were pretty close. If things hadn’t turned out the way they did, I
might have been sitting over there with them, talking in hushed tones, always
in the background. Instead, I ended up with this group.
Caiden looks up
just then and meets my stare. I feel a fluttering sensation around my forehead
Then Sebastian stands
up to yell at Josh, bumping into me and breaking my eye contact. It seems
they’ve reached the shouting portion of their debate and are now challenging
each other to an arm wrestling match.
Most of the
room looks on, laughing. These sorts of displays are common between them. We’re
certainly not the popular table—that honor belongs to Sarah Bell, Landon Price, and Courtney Deeds
sitting on the opposite side of the room, their noses wrinkled in disgust as they
watch us. We’re more
like the slackers and delinquents, but the amusing kind.
Chris joins our
table, his lunch tray overflowing with fries and chips. He has
caramel colored skin and his head is shaved
on both sides with a short Mohawk on top. His dark eyes gleam with excitement
and he immediately
jumps into the fray, offering to referee the arm wrestling match.
“How long do
you think this will go on?” Olivia asks, smiling and rolling her eyes.
“You know how
these things go.” I shake my head in mock disapproval. “We won’t hear the end
of it until one of them slugs the other.”
“Uh oh, here
comes Davidson. Looks like there won’t be any slugging this time.” She nods her
head towards the front of the room, where Josh’s antics have grabbed the
attention of Mr. Davidson, our Vice Principal.
head gleams with sweat as he hurries towards us, adjusting his wire rim
glasses. He reaches us just as Chris clears a space on the table. Josh complains
loudly when Davidson forbids the contest, causing even more of a scene, but he
eventually gives up, promising Sebastian he’ll thrash him later.
I shake my head
at Olivia again. “I’ll be back. I’m gonna grab some water.”
I get in line,
still smiling over the theatrics, when that weird vertigo feeling hits again.
Waves of dizziness bombard me and everything in front of me blurs. People
behind me mutter angrily, but I ignore them.What is going on today? I sway as another wave crashes over me. Oh God, I
can’t pass out here, in front of everyone.
I lurch toward
the exit. Everything wavers in front of me like fun house mirrors. Once I’m in
the hallway, I reach out to the walls to guide me, praying I won’t stumble in
my heels. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn these pumps today...
I make it to the
bathroom without tripping—thankfully—and grab onto the sink to hold myself up. My reflection in the mirror
blurs, colors exploding around me: a band of silver
surrounding crimson and orange swirls, pockets of muddy forest green creeping up here and there.
What the hell
is wrong with me? My migraines have never come this frequently before. I
remember watching an episode of House where a woman experienced vertigo and
strange visions. She ended up having a brain tumor. Maybe that’s what’s
happening to me. Maybe that’s what has been causing my migraines all these
The door behind
me opens as someone enters. I look down quickly and rummage in my purse,
pretending to look for something. I try to slow my breathing and appear normal,
hoping that whoever it is will leave quickly. The slow breaths help and the
colors fade around me. Then the lock
on the door clicks into place.
I spin to face
the door and find Caiden standing there, his glittering emerald eyes locked on
My heart pounds
in my ears. What the hell is he doing
here? “You know this is the women’s room, right?”
react to my sarcasm. “Is your headache back?” He approaches me slowly, eyebrows
“I’m fine.” I
lean back against the sink counter, pretending a casualness I don’t feel.
“You ran out of
the lunch room pretty fast.” He takes another step towards me.
“It’s just a
He moves even
closer, scrutinizing my face. All my muscles clench. “It’s more than that. You
said you were seeing colors? What kinds of colors?”
“It’s nothing. I
get migraines sometimes.” The way he’s looking at me, like I’m some side show
freak, snaps my temper. “And I really don’t see how this concerns you. Don’t
let the door hit you on the way out.” I turn my back on him, waiting for him to
“Do you get migraines often?” He asks.
Why does he
care? I study his expression in the mirror above
the sink. The look in his eyes has me answering before I realize it. “I’ve
gotten them for years, but today seems to be worse than usual.” I glance down,
staring at the sink.
I actually started getting them after my mom
died a few years back. The doctor thinks they’re stress induced, caused by her
traumatic death, but Caiden doesn’t need all the gory details.
*Today’s her seventeenth birthday, isn’t it? Strange…. I didn’t think it
would actually happen to Emerson. She’s never shown any signs before...*
“And you don’t
need to talk about me like I’m not here!” Officially pissed off now, I glare at
him in the mirror again. “And how do you know it’s my birthday anyway? You
stalking me on Facebook or something?”
shoot up in surprise. *She heard me? But
how? There’s no way. She’s completely untrained...*
I hear his
voice again, but this time I notice something really creepy. His lips aren’t
moving. He’s simply staring at me, green eyes wide, mouth open in shock, but no
sound is coming out.
to face him, I begin backing up towards the far wall. “How are you doing that?
Speaking without moving your lips?”
Emerson. Let me explain.” His hands come up, like he’s showing he’s unarmed. I
gauge the distance between me and the door, preparing myself to go through
Caiden if I have to, but what he says next pulls me up short. “Emerson, listen.
I know this is confusing.” He runs a hand through his dark hair. “This is
going to sound crazy, but your
mother was a witch.”
Oh, no, he did not just say that! “Did you just call my
mother a bitch?” A deep growl rises from my throat and I launch myself at him,
unconcerned that he’s a full head taller than me. All I see is red.
We fall to the
floor in a tangle of limbs. I’m punching out viciously, trying to reach any
part of exposed body I can. I claw at his face just before he reaches up and
grabs both of my wrists. I try to knee him in the stomach, but he rolls me onto
my back, pressing his hard body down on top of me, wrapping his legs around
mine to hold them in place.
beneath him, snarling incoherently, but he has his full weight pinning me to
the tiled floor. His face is just above mine, dark hair hanging down around his eyes. He’s breathing hard from my sudden
attack, his chest heaving as he presses me harder into the floor. There are
angry red scratches down one side of his cheek and I feel a brutal satisfaction
that I was able to injure him in some way.
“Let go of me!”
Animal like noises come out of me in frustration, but my struggles become
weaker. Despite my best efforts, I can’t move him.
listen! Your mother was a witch. A witch! Not a bitch! Will you calm down and
listen?” I freeze, staring up at him in shock. “She was a witch, like your
grandparents, and their grandparents, dating back hundreds of years.” His face
is right above mine, eyes pleading with me. “That’s what’s happening to you
now! The headaches? The colors? Hearing people’s thoughts? You’re starting to
develop your powers.”
He’s looking at
me so earnestly, but what he’s saying is ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous. Despite
the fact that I am lying on a nasty, cold floor in the middle of the girls’
bathroom with a deranged guy holding me down, a giggle bubbles up.
my powers? What, my super powers, Caiden?” I giggle again, louder, especially
when I see him peering down at me like I’ve gone insane. He’s talking about
witches and he thinks I’ve gone
crazy! My whole body starts shaking with suppressed laughter, though nothing
about this situation is funny. I think my brain is in overload.
to release my hands, slowing lifting off me, allowing me room to wrap my arms
around my stomach. I try to halt my increasing hysteria, but it’s no use. “Am I
going to turn into a bat too?” I get out between fits. There are tears in my
eyes, but I don’t know if they're from laughter or something else.
not kidding.” He runs his hand through his hair again in frustration. “Christ,
I really didn’t think I’d be the one to have to tell you this...”
I wipe my eyes,
sitting up as well. “I think you’ve lost it Caiden, I really think you’ve lost
it. Witches?” I stand up, brushing my filthy hands off on my jeans. Caiden
follows, watching me warily.
“I’m serious. I
don’t know why you’re only just now developing your abilities. Honestly, most
of us just thought you took after your father, that you were human. But what
happened today proves otherwise. You’re going to need help. This stuff isn’t
easy to deal with.”
“I need help? You’re the one following me
into the bathroom, raving about witches!” My voice hardens as the laughter
dries up. “And who is ‘we’? You’re telling me there are other people who
believe in this delusion of yours?”
proof? Watch the marks on my face.” He holds up his right hand and places it
over the scratches I made. Slowly, a faint glow appears under his palm. His
eyes scrunch up, brows knitting together in concentration. After a moment, the
glow fades and he takes his hand away. His face is a bit paler than usual, but
the scratches are gone.
that?” A chill skitters up my spine.
“I told you.
You’re a witch. So am I. So are quite a few other people in town. Come with me tonight, to our circle. I’ll introduce you to
follows me into the bathroom, grappling around with me on the floor, now he
starts babbling about some ‘circle’ he wants to take me to. No way. I’m done
with this. “Look, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but I’m not
interested. And I’m certainly not going to any freaky cult meeting tonight, so
just back off!”
I spin around
and burst out the door. I hurry down the hallway, wanting to get as far away
from him as I can. Storming into the lunchroom, I run straight into Olivia.
“Holy hell Em!
What happened to your hair?”
Crap! I was rolling
around on the floor with Caiden—it must be a mess! I reach up to fix it. Olivia
isn’t kidding; it's all but matted to the side of my head, locks of it spilling
down my back and over my shoulder. She grabs my elbow with surprising strength
for her small frame and wheels me around, right back into the hallway.
“God, Em! What
has gotten into you today?” She drags me back towards the bathroom I just left.
Before we reach the door, it opens and an equally disheveled Caiden walks out.
Olivia takes in Caiden’s messy brown hair, his wrinkled shirt, which is missing
a few buttons near the top. She turns her gimlet stare on me and yanks me
through the door.
“What is wrong with you!? Do you know what Seb
will do when he finds out you’ve been screwing around with
I’m not screwing anyone, least of all Caiden!”
“You don’t need to lie to me; save those for
when Seb catches you. Right now, we need to do damage control.” She pushes me
in front of the mirror and begins fixing my hair, using a little more force
than strictly necessary.
“Liv, I am not fooling around with Caiden.” Hurt
surges up in my chest. I thought Olivia knew me better than this. “I know this
looks bad, but I wouldn’t lie to you.”
Her angry face softens, but her voice still
rings with accusation. “Really, then how do you explain the two of you
disappearing in here and coming out like this?” She gestures dramatically to my
twisted shirt and rumpled hair. “Is he helping you train for the wrestling team
I open my mouth to tell her what happened,
though I barely believe it myself, but she stiffens.
“Too late. Here.” She takes out a bottle of
perfume and starts spritzing it all over me while I try to straighten my
“Oh my God, Liv, don’t you think that’s enough!”
I cough, nearly choking from the fumes. “You’re going to be able to smell me
from across the school!”
“Better than smelling like Caiden.”
“Em, are you in here?” Sebastian calls, walking
into the bathroom. Why do I keep getting cornered in here today? “I saw you
take off and I got worried when you didn’t come back.” He sniffs and makes a
face at the perfume still in Olivia’s hand. “Went a little heavy on the
His eyes shift to Olivia suspiciously, then to
the door, where the lock is. Or used to be. It looks like doorframe is
splintered near the deadbolt.
“Do you think?” She shrugs her shoulders
delicately. “I was just showing Em this new scent, but the lid wasn’t on tight
and it spilt all over.”
Sebastian looks back and forth between us, still
sniffing the air.
Catching on, I glare at her. “Yeah, and now I’m
going to have to walk around all day with this crap on me. Thanks a lot, Liv.”
“Don’t worry about it Em, I’ll drive you back
home. School’s almost over anyway. I’m sure no one will notice if we skip the
last couple classes. Besides, we still have to find something to wear for
homecoming.” With a wave, she bustles me past Sebastian and out the door.
We move quickly through the hallways and out into
the parking lot, avoiding teachers and other staff who might stop us. We don’t
talk again until we slide into Olivia’s red Mini Cooper.
“First thing we need to do is get you to a
shower. My car’s going to stink for a month, ugh!” She wrinkles her nose and
waves her hand in front of her face.
“Well, you’re the one who sprayed it. What’s up
with that anyway? Why did you douse me?”
“I told you, you smelt like Caiden. Seb would
have noticed something was up.”
“But Caiden wasn’t wearing cologne. How could
Seb have smelt anything?” I think back to my tussle with him in the bathroom,
when he had me pinned to the floor. He had a spicy scent, like cinnamon and
cloves, but it wasn’t strong like cologne. It was a light fragrance, like a
combination of his shampoo and his own personal scent. “Besides,” I continue,
rolling my eyes. “Like Sebastian isn’t suspicious now? You weren’t exactly
“Yeah, well, I think it’s your turn to explain
what you were doing with Caiden to begin with.” Olivia’s face hardens as she
stares ahead at the road. “I thought you and Sebastian were getting serious?”
“I’m not ‘getting serious’ with anyone right
now, but I wasn’t cheating on Seb,” I say, glaring at her. “Caiden just followed
me from lunch and wigged out on me.”
“What?” She glances over to check if I’m serious.
“I kind of freaked out on him a little too,” I
admit. “He said something about my mom and I sort of attacked him…”
“He insulted your mom? I can see why you
flipped.” Olivia knows how furious I get when people talk about my mom. I’ve
had enough gossip and insults about her after she died.
“Well, he didn’t actually insult her, I just
misheard him. Anyway, then he started rambling about a circle or something.
Like I said, he wigged, I took off, end of story.” For some reason, I’m
unwilling to mention what he said about witches. It’s just too crazy.
“A circle?” She asks, raising her eyebrows.
“I don’t know, some kind of cult. He was
mental.” Thankfully, we pull up outside my house before she can ask anything
else. I live in one of the older neighborhoods. And by older, I mean 1800s old.
Most of the houses on this block were
built during the late nineteenth century. Mine is a two story, white Victorian
with a large wrap around porch and gingerbread trim. The houses in this area were
built on much larger plots of land than is typical these days, so all the homes
are spaced pretty far apart.
Olivia parks by the curb and I jump out, hoping
to end the conversation. I head straight to my bedroom on the second floor. My
room is in the ‘tower’, so it’s circular with vaulted ceilings and several
large windows. My dad hired a contractor to a few years ago to make some improvements,
adding a walk-in closet and my own separate bathroom. Clothes are strewn about
the floor and there’s a pile of outdated Cosmo magazines near my bed.
I peel off my shirt on the way to the closet,
impatient to get out of my perfume saturated clothes. The smell is starting to
give me a headache again.
“So Caiden followed you into the bathroom just
to insult your mom and invite you to join a cult?” Olivia asks skeptically,
trailing behind me.
“No, he followed me in to see how I was
feeling.” I hunt around for my black corset top and thigh high boots, keeping
my back to Olivia. “I got dizzy again in lunch, that’s why I ducked out. He
must have seen it and followed me.” Grabbing up my clothes and boots, I turn to
face her. “Look, why are we still talking about this? It’s over. All I want to
do right now is shower and get this stink off of me. Seriously, Olivia, you
have horrible taste in perfume.”
My distraction works like a charm. “What? This
is Victoria Secret’s newest line!” She says, her face the picture of outrage. “It’s
one of their best sellers! It says, ‘I’m sexy, but innocent.’ ‘I’m the girl
next door and your biggest fantasy’.”
“All I’m hearing is ‘wash immediately after
wear’,” I laugh, heading into the bathroom.
I emerge twenty minutes later, wet hair hanging
down my back, and find Olivia rifling through my closet. “Hey, I hope you don’t
mind if I borrow a few things.”
“Help yourself.” I wave my hand at the closet
and return to the bathroom to fix my hair and makeup.
“So what time will your dad be home tonight?”
“He won’t.” I force my voice into an aloofness I
don’t quite feel. “He has a meeting and won’t be back until tomorrow.”
“He left town on your birthday? Ouch.” She gives
me a sympathetic look.
“Yeah, well, it’s not like we would’ve baked a
cake or anything.” I shrug, feigning indifference. It’s not like this is the
first birthday he’s missed. Even before my mom died, he worked long hours. At
least back then, my mom was there to pick up the slack. She’d take me out for
lunch and then we’d go to the zoo, or the movies, or she’d take me shopping.
And afterwards we’d eat chocolate cake and stay up late into the night watching
movies. I repress a sigh. God I miss her.
Finishing up with my make up, I turn back to
Olivia. “At least I won’t have to worry about sneaking in tonight.”
“That’s true.” She holds a red dress up to her
body and makes a face in the mirror before putting it back. “I was so afraid my
mom was going to catch me last weekend. I was so trashed I literally fell
through my bedroom window when I was climbing in. I can’t believe she didn’t
wake up.” She shakes her head, grinning.
“Yeah.” I smile, thinking back to the bonfire at
Chris’s house. “I think we were all trashed that night. I’m lucky I didn’t have
to climb through any windows...”
Olivia rifles through my closet a little longer
before we head out to the mall to try to find something for homecoming.
in such a small town, it takes us almost an hour to get to the nearest mall,
but it’s well worth the trip. Olivia finds a couple cute dresses, though
nothing for homecoming yet, and thanks to my dad’s guilty conscience, I have some
extra cash to blow on a truly jaw dropping little number. I know I should
probably stash the money away for my car fund, but the dress is too perfect to
By the time Olivia drops me off at home, it’s
after seven. She heads to her house to get ready and I throw something together
for dinner before wiggling into my new dress. It’s black, with thin silver bows
on the shoulder straps, holding it together. The front is cut just low enough
to show off a little cleavage, but in the back it plunges down dramatically,
exposing my entire back and shoulders.
I style my dark hair into an elaborate up-do
with braids and twists, leaving a few wavy strands down in the front. Looking
in the mirror, I notice that with my hair up, this dress also displays the
small tattoo on the back of my right shoulder.
It’s a stylized Yggdrasil, similar to my clock,
the silhouette of a raven on one side of the tree trunk, a wolf on the other. I
had it done a year ago in remembrance of my mom. Usually I’m excited whenever I
get the chance to show it off, but tonight it’s an unwelcome reminder of my
strange dream last night.
Sebastian’s Mustang honks out front, breaking me
out of my reverie, and I saunter down the stairs and out the door as fast as my
stilettos can carry me. After the day I’ve had, I can’t wait to get to the
party and blow off a little steam.