Friday, July 20, 2018

Immortal Heritage 1: Starlight. Chapter 1

Here's a little taste of my debut novel Starlight. A blend between YA Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy with a touch of star-crossed romance.  If you enjoy it, please share :)





Chapter 1


NICK



“If you don’t get out of the car, I’ll drag you out,” David promised.
I sighed, knowing my lunatic brother well enough to know he would fulfill the threat.  He never went back on his word when he intended to push someone’s buttons; especially if that someone was me.  Controlling the urge to run away I got out of the car, barely restraining myself from slamming the door.
The small-town atmosphere was everywhere, from the few cars in the parking lot to the size of the faded red brick building that was high school.  I could not expect anything more from one of the smallest cities in Washington State – Lakeport.  I would definitely have preferred to move to a larger city; it’s always easier to appear normal if there are enough people to mingle with.  Lack of novelty instigates gossip; gossip leads to suspicion and suspicion – never ends well.
Most of the students in the parking lot looked at us curiously, which was to be expected since we were the newcomers and the school year had already started.  Most of the girls had their eyes on David; some with admiration written on their faces, a few others nervousness and confusion.
It would suit them well to listen to whatever their human instincts were screaming; probably danger, danger!
He smiled at all of them flirtatiously, enjoying their admiration; he gave the angry boyfriends a threatening and partly mocking smile.  I deeply pitied the poor kid who thought he could face the 6'5", 200 pound beast that was my brother.
“Look at that; so much to choose from and so little time,” he complained.  “The move would have been good for me a year ago.”
I ignored him; he chuckled.  I relaxed when we arrived at the office to pick up the class schedule; there were blue walls, a clutter of papers and a worn carpet that used to be yellow.  A red-haired girl in a cheerleader’s uniform smiled at me, forgetting the papers she had been examining.  I gave her what I though was merely a kind gesture.  I regretted it instantly when she winked at me and approached us, ignoring the secretary who greeted us warmly.
“Hello, I’m Anna, and you are—?” she gushed, smiling widely as she reached for my hand.  Before I could shake it, David pulled me out of the way and grabbed her hand harder than he should have.
“David, gorgeous, but you can call me whatever you want,” he responded, examining Anna from head to toe; the hunger in his eyes was the same as if he were looking at a steak.
I shook my head and turned towards the secretary.  The middle-aged woman rolled her eyes, gave me the schedules and disappeared into a small office behind the reception counter.
“Yes, but I didn’t ask you,” Anna replied to him in annoyance, pulling herself away from the sudden squeeze and turning to me.  Her hand would probably hurt for the rest of the day.
Only a couple of years ago I would have been delighted with a girl preferring me; now not so much, not at all.  Still, I decided to be pleasant.
“Nick,” I answered.
She took me by the arm and pulled me out of the office.  David scowled at me as I turned to give him the schedule.  He’d probably find a way to take revenge on me later.
“What’s your first class?” she asked hopefully, clearly hoping it was the same as hers.  I made an effort not to shake her hand off.
“Calculus.”
I almost sighed with relief at her expression of disappointment.
“Language,” she volunteered, pouting, but then she smiled again.  “I’m sure I’ll see you at lunch.”
So, I guess I’m not hungry today.  “Sure,” I muttered without trying to hide the boredom.  She seemed happy with my answer.  I slipped out of her grip as gently as I could and walked to my class reluctantly.
On previous occasions, I’d been in the same situation.  Flirting with girls wasn’t really my thing but sometimes they approached me.  I preferred it that way; it spared me the unnecessary problem of being attracted to someone David wanted.  He was very territorial and it would surely end up in a fight.  Most times it wasn’t a problem; our tastes were as different as ourselves.  His type of girlfriend; spoiled, selfish and hungry for attention, was just the type of girl I avoided.
I handed the paper to the calculus teacher.  He barely looked at it and didn’t make me go through the stupid introduction, for which I was grateful.  I sat at the back of the class, trying not to think about her, but I couldn’t; I could see her by my side even though she had never been there.  I miss you, I wish you were here.
I shook my head firmly, blocking the images I treasured more than anything but which caused me pain.  I had to keep those thoughts away for at least eight more hours.  Then I could lock myself in my room and stop pretending I was okay and just an ordinary guy.
Calculus and Language passed without incident; simple subjects I barely needed to pay attention to.  I may not be a genius but most of the assignments were easy; especially the ones with numbers; a small advantage to which I hadn’t given importance until that moment.  I didn’t meet David or the very kind redhead in any of my classes, to my great relief.  It wasn’t an effort to ignore the shy smiles from some of the girls; I was as interested in them as I was in the weather.
I sat down the back in history class.  I hated history it already happened so what’s so interesting about it?  The redhead sat in one of the front rows; she waved to me.  I nodded slightly at her, grateful the seats either side of me were taken.  To my left was a plump, dark-skinned boy and to my right sat someone I assumed was a girl because of the size and delicacy of her hands.  Her face was hidden in a hoodie; she was drawing flourishes on her notebook.
I wanted to close my eyes and sleep for a while.  I hadn’t slept the night before and the tiredness began to weigh on me.  The nightmares only disappeared a couple of times a week when exhaustion didn’t allow me to dream.  Maybe I should steal a couple of sleeping pills from mom or give myself a blow on the head.  An angry voice brought me out of my reverie.
“Miss Clark, take off that hood and answer my question,” the professor grunted; a fifty year old bald guy with a bossy attitude combined with primitive and depressing rhetoric.
The girl next to me straightened and reluctantly removed her hood.  Her short black hair fell over her eyes; a silver ring pierced her left nostril.
“Which was?” she answered in a sullen voice, almost grunting, fixing her hate-filled gaze on the professor.  Her sapphire blue eyes framed by long lashes seemed to cast flames, the dark makeup giving her a curiously threatening appearance despite her size.
“The duration of the court of the Holy Roman Inquisition,” he demanded, annoyed.  The girl snorted.
“What the hell is so holy about the massacre of innocent women and philosophers?” she demanded through clenched teeth, her pale cheeks coloring a little.
“You did not answer my question,” he cried, reddening with anger.
“You haven’t answered mine,” she growled.
“I think you already know what your participation grade will be this semester.”
“Oh, the horror!” she exclaimed with a twisted smile.
Several of the students glared at her with contempt; others, like me, chuckled.
“Freak,” murmured Anna with disdain.  Several others murmured insults.
“I bet she’s a witch,” murmured a girl with glasses.
“Bah, she’s just crazy,” her friend replied.
I turned towards the girl, who hadn’t yet hidden her face under the hood.  The black eyeliner, piercing and short black nails seemed to indicate she was gothic but the black and androgynous clothing seemed to say, “don’t look at me.”  Despite my usual apathy, I could not help wondering what lay behind that appearance.  There was pain and sadness as well as fury in her expression.  Her icy, intimidating gaze met mine.

DAHLIA



I gave Professor Adrian a wry smile while assessing him negatively; there was something about that man that bothered me.  Perhaps it was due to his disingenuous and prudish characteristics.  I still remembered the tantrum he threw over my appearance.
“A creature of God doesn’t do that to herself!” he had argued upon seeing my piercings.  I’m sure that if he could’ve, he would’ve dragged me to an exorcist or a lobotomist.  How I wished that would cure all my ills.
The usual idiots murmured a few insults they thought I couldn’t hear.  I restrained the urge to scream and run; the longing to administer a beating to everyone was stronger.  I was about to hide in my hood when I felt someone staring at me; that was rather a novelty.  I turned to see a hazel-eyed boy staring at me; dark brown hair, high cheekbones, and straight nose.  I hadn’t noticed him previously; he must have been new in school; that had to be why he was drilling me with his eyes, he wasn’t used to the town freak.  I scowled at him, covering myself when he didn’t look away.  But, what was wrong with him?
Had no one ever taught him that staring was rude?
I was relieved when the feeling of discomfort subsided; surely he had found something or someone more interesting to see.  Anna stared at him with a mixture of craving and anger.
Welcome to hell, I thought.  The empty redhead was like a dog with a bone when it came to boyfriends, which is why they didn’t last her long.  Of course, she had jumped on the new guy without thinking; immediately after the second most wanted idiot had dumped her.
Could she be more pathetic?  I gritted my teeth when the answer came.  Of course, she could.  She could be like me.
I ended the thought right there; the last thing I needed was a panic attack at that moment.  A surge of pain ran through my body.  I hugged myself tightly, suppressing a moan; I knew it was just the beginning of the pain.  I clenched my teeth and fists hard enough to hurt myself, trying to contain it in some way; despite knowing it was impossible.  To my great relief the lunch bell rang.  I stood and left the room as fast as I could, avoiding contact with anyone who crossed my path.
***
I stopped when I finally reached the edge of the forest, pressing my back against the first tree I found, trying hard to breathe deeply.  Thankfully I’d not eaten much that morning; otherwise, there was a good chance I’d be retching; the air I breathed was too dense and my lungs closed.  I knew that feeling could only get worse as the hours passed.  I choked out a scream as the pain pierced me again like an electric shock.  My body went limp when the attack subsided, my legs barely handling my meager weight.
The only good thing about that damn school was its proximity to the woods; the humidity, the smell of the damp soil and the trees were some of the few things that could calm me down a little.  Cold tears ran down my cheeks.  No matter how much I tried to control myself I always cried when the pain became too intense; it was completely humiliating.
“Just one more year,” I mumbled in a choked voice.
In a year, I could get away from everything that bothered me; everything except myself.  I took a few steps towards a large tree that hid me from the sight of anyone who might pass by and sat on the ground, hugging my legs.  By then my whole body was shaking; I felt nauseous and thirsty simultaneously; it was unbearable.
Why?  Why? Why?  I have done something very bad in a past life to deserve my destiny; there seemed to be no other explanation.  If I were religious I would think it were a curse, if I were clever enough I would try to find a cure.  If I had enough courage I would jump off a cliff or put a bullet in my head, if that could work.  I doubted it.
A dull ache ran through my body again.  I moaned, hugging myself harder, hoping the night would come faster.  After almost three years I should have become used to it but I hadn’t.  The pain and the need flared within me as intensely as the first time; even worse now I knew exactly what I needed to quench it.
“Are you okay?” inquired a worried male voice.
I stood immediately, ignoring the discomfort and pain; it was the boy from History class.  I looked up at him and scowled, clenching my jaw.  He was almost a foot taller than my 5'4".
“Do you feel okay?  Do you need a doctor?”  His interest seemed genuine; there was neither mockery nor scorn in his voice.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded, using what I expected to be a menacing growl; instead, my voice sounded shaken and weak.  Quickly I wiped my wet cheeks and cleared my throat in silence, embarrassed.
“I wanted to be alone,” he answered with discomfort, his hazel eyes staring directly into mine.  “And I also wanted to give you this.”
He handed me my notebook and pen.  I grabbed them, avoiding touching him more abruptly than I intended.  I looked at him with a little less anger than before.
“Thank you,” I grunted.  His lips lifted in a half smile.
The feeling of need and pain hit me hard again.  I gasped; he was the cause now.
My body reacted immediately, straining to take what I needed so badly by force.  That wouldn’t be necessary, I could handle it without even causing him pain.  He was so close and I was so hungry.  No, no and no, I reprimanded myself.
How low was I willing to fall?  Not that low.
“You’re very pale, you should see a doctor,” he advised, reaching for me.
I glared at him with mixed desires; one part of me wanted to take his hand and end the pain while the other shouted to the first that she would kick her ass if she did.
With effort, I drowned a moan.  I was going crazy; I must’ve looked like an insane person.  I couldn’t completely control the trembling of my body; the pain became more intense every second, my pulse rumbling in my ears.  But, what was wrong with him?  The others fled and feared me even though they didn’t know the real reason.
“No, I need you to get out of here,” I hissed, taking a step backwards, trying to protect both of us; me from regret, him from me.  “This is my hiding place and I will not share it.”
He frowned at my furious expression; perhaps I should go before I went completely mad and tackled him.  He looked at me for a moment longer, nodded, turned his back and left me alone.  I waited until he disappeared before sitting on the ground again, relieved to recover some of my most precious sanity.
The night was far away; I wouldn’t be able to endure the whole day.  Delaying the feeding was a bad idea; the signs of weakness had appeared several days ago.  I rose from the ground and leaned against a tree; I decided to walk to the bus stop at once.  It meant I would arrive a little early in the city, putting me at risk of being discovered but I couldn’t take it anymore.  As much as I hated to admit it, I couldn’t fight the consuming hunger any longer.  I walked slowly and stumbled, barely seeing where I was going, my eyes full of tears.  I had lost the battle one more time.
****

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