Saturday, November 23, 2019

Haunted: Immortal Heritage 2 Chapter 1


CHAPTER 1


LILY

I landed on my back, the wooden stake on my opponent’s hand.
Mom sighed. “Now I know you’re not really trying.”
I huffed and rolled, standing fast enough to be invisible to the human eye. Mom gave me my stake back and we circled each other.
“Of course I am really trying,” I lied.
Mom rolled her eyes, a gesture we shared. “Oh please, I’ve not been able to unarm you and knock you down since you turned 15, you are holding back.”
I smirked. “Maybe a little.”
Mom huffed. “Need I remind you this was your idea? I’d much rather be sleeping.”
I bit my lip to keep from laughing at her whiny tone. “Need I remind you it is your fault I have insomnia? You’re the one who wants me to go to school.”
I said the last word as if it were an insult.
“This is the senior year, it’s too late to quit,” mom said with a shrug.
I groaned. “As if there’s anything remotely interesting about the syllabus. You’ve taught me everything I could possibly want to know. Hell, Google is more educational.”
Mom sighed. “Lily.”
I had no idea why she bothered trying to keep me from cursing. I could do so much worse.
Mom feinted an attack and I played along, dodging her attempts and connecting some measured blocks and strikes, not to her face, though, and not with half my strength, not ever. She was right, of course, I was holding back but so was she; those training sessions were really just a way of burning energy and trying not to think, which was hard with a hyperactive brain.
But I’d do anything not to think about the nightmares, or memories more accurately. They’d become sporadic, thank Zeus, but no matter how much magic mom used on the dreamcatchers that hung from my ceiling, the nightmares remained.
Somehow we ended up tangled and falling on our asses at the same time. I laughed, breaking some of the tension, mom followed, stretching her arms above her head as the first rays of sunlight hit our backyard. We laid there, allowing the creamy yellow light to bathe us, my system immediately welcomed the warmth and energy. I was a bit like a solar panel, all Faeries were and mom’s blood granted me part of that power.
I much preferred not to think about the origin of the rest of the blood that ran through my veins. Even if that blood made me stronger, almost immortal.
“Mmm, I could lay here all day,” mom said, emerald eyes -same as mine- shining with relief. A ray of light gleamed against the quartz crystal around her neck, the one that was magicked to hide the unnatural beauty and pointy ears that peaked through her golden hair. The glamour had no effect on me whatsoever being a half-faerie, but it worked with humans. My ears were slightly pointed, but not enough to be suspicious.
“Me too,” I said.
Mom poked my ribs making me jump, I had always been prone to tickles.
“But you can’t, Miss. Off to shower or you’ll miss breakfast.”
I groaned but got up, stretching my hand to pull mom up. Fair, slightly golden skin against caramel.
She was barely taller than me at about 6-foot-1, a curtain of golden hair fell straight to her shoulder blades and waved a bit to her waist. Chiseled features with slightly bigger eyes than humans. She muttered a few words in fae language under her breath, bringing down the spell that covered the edges of our backyard, keeping the gossip neighbors unaware of our late-night early-morning antics.
A part of me would forever resent having to hide. Mom had gotten the hang of it much better than me. She switched from her lilting, British-like accent to no accent when we were in public with frightening ease. It is necessary, I reminded myself.
“Shower, breakfast, school,” said mom, hands on her hips.
“Sounds like the worst movie ever.”
“Lily.”
I lifted my hands. “Fine, fine.”
Not like I smelled or something. Nope. Being half-fae was fun like that, sweat didn’t stink, and I don’t have body hair, yay for never using razors. I showered with cold water, using mom’s lavender-scented all-purpose soap. It never failed to help me feel a bit better.
Smelling the bacon and eggs made me dress faster, jeans, tennis shoes and t-shirts comprised 99% of my wardrobe. They were comfy in case I needed to run or kick someone’s arse, which wasn’t precisely a rare occurrence.
I dashed downstairs not bothering to hide my supernatural speed. The yellow kitchen looked bright and clean, mom and I had restored the house over a year before when we first moved to Solville. Except for my room, the house was painted in different shades of yellow inside and outside, mom’s favorite color. It was warm and welcoming and I loved it because it made mom happy. All the windows were magicked to keep nosy human eyes at bay.
Mom served me a plate with double portions of pancakes, bacon, eggs, and even a granola bar. My stomach roared as if I’d not eaten in days, despite having stuffed my face with muffins a few hours before, when I’d awoken from the latest nightmare.
Stop thinking about it.
“Sometimes I think you don’t need to breathe,” mom teased while she sipped her tea and stabbed a piece of watermelon with her fork.
I gave her a food smile and she wrinkled her nose. “Gross, Lily.”
Our relationship had always been like that, light and, and friendly, never suffocating or full of rules and formalities. Which made it a little easier to maintain the cover we’d devised years before.
“So, how are you feeling?” Mom asked.
I gulped. “What do you mean?”
I knew what she meant, of course, but wasn’t willing to admit it.
Mom sighed, getting up to pull my curly hair up in a ponytail. “You’re almost eighteen, it’s time for…”
She left the word hang, it was a good thing I’d finished eating, my appetite disappeared.
“I am fine, mom.”
“No signs of any change?” she prodded.
“Nope, no shiny wings or a giant flower sprouting from my back.”
Mom puffed. “What?”
I shrugged. “The middle back to be accurate, something Brenda read on a book about Fairies.”
I looked over my shoulder to see mom fight a smile. “Well, that doesn’t sound comfortable.”
“Neither does expelling a small person through one’s aha, but for some reason, it is the most common way of birthing a child.”
Mom snorted. “Well, when you put it that way,” she shook her head. “You’re straying from the point.”
I bit my lip, she was too perceptive for my own good. “What was the point again? You know I have issues focusing.”
Mom rolled her eyes. “That I do. Off to school, you’re going to be late.”
“I am never late,” I smiled.
Mom smiled. “Right, everyone else is too early.”
“Damn straight.”
Mom accompanied me to get my bike. She waved me goodbye and I winked as I sped away.
The streets of the small town were still quiet, except for the students and workers. Solville was a quiet, wholesome town with ten thousand or so inhabitants. Normal, and boring to death, which made it the perfect place for a couple of runaway supernaturals to hide. Since it was located in Arizona, it made it less likely to run into vampires, and lycans preferred towns near the forest where they could find abundant prey.
I said hello to some of our neighbors, others pretended they didn’t see me and I was more than fine with that. Fake smiles and formalities were not something I had ever been able to master.
All the composure I’d feigned in front of mom began to crumble. The memories assaulting me as painful as ever; so much blood I could smell it, so much fear I started to look over my shoulder, looking for amber eyes and a towering lycan that was strong enough to break us both mom and me.
I went around the school, deciding not to go to class and sit on the bleachers, there would be no-one around for a while and that suited me.
Things had changed. I was no longer a weak child. Mom and I had both learned how to use our skills and we were far away from his radar.
Safe.
I placed my head between my knees and repeated that word to myself over and over.
Maybe one day I would believe it.



MATT

The first hour had been torture, so I had no reason to expect the following was going to be any better. Most of the seats of the English class were taken, save for a couple near the back to my great relief.
I’d begun to think my guardian was insane, not that I hadn’t suspected it before but still. High School might be a normal environment, but I wasn’t normal. Normal people don’t get headaches from the sound of chatter or clench their teeth until they hurt trying to keep their voices steady when asked to introduce themselves.
I examined my surroundings, old habits die hard. In front of me sat a blonde girl with glasses, she had a novel in her hands that judging by the cover wasn’t part of the class. The other rows were full of chatter that made my ears hum. Small groups of friends sharing summer stories, talking about the upcoming football games. The loudest group was the one lead by a girl with long dark hair in a cheerleader uniform. The quieter blonde turned and I lowered my sight, feeling her eyes on me before she turned her attention to the guy sitting by me the next row over.
“You don’t think something bad happened to her, do you?” she asked him.
The guy rolled his eyes. “Come on, Bren, Lily can take care of herself, she’s probably having a third breakfast.”
“I heard that,” said a melodic voice. I lifted my eyes before I could think to stop, so far I’d been avoiding looking directly at anyone. A sweet, floral scent invaded my nose as the tall girl passed me by and plopped down next to the blonde girl. She turned and met my gaze, I forgot how to breathe for a moment; emerald eyes framed by long lashes locked with mine. I blinked not quite convinced I was seeing right. My throat dried and I moved my gaze to the front, watching her surreptitiously with the corner of my eye.
“Lily Scott. You’re late, and on the first day of school,” said the guy beside me, tutting. He leaned forward to play with the mane of golden-brown curls that hung from Lily’s ponytail.
Lily wrinkled her nose. “Meh, I have the feeling I’ve missed nothing exciting.”
“Well, unless you count you-know-who being more annoying than usual,” said the blonde.
Lily snorted. “Oh, come on, Bren. She’s a pillock, not Lord Voldemort.”
Bren tried to hide her laugh behind her hand. I felt the corners of my mouth turn up to my surprise, finding myself grateful for my guardian’s crash-course on pop culture more than ever before.
“Remind me again why your sister hasn’t washed your mouth with soap?” Asked the guy.
Lily laughed, the sound eased some of the tension in my back. “Because I bite.” She flashed a grin, her teeth pearl white, canines slightly sharp.
Bren snorted.
“We’re being rude,” said Lily. “We’ve not introduced ourselves.”
I lifted my eyes and met Lily’s again, a mischievous smile played on her full watermelon lips. It was useless attempting to not notice how incredibly gorgeous she was; the chiseled features softened by that smile, the long curls that looked silken to the touch, the slightly large eyes that examined me with open curiosity but no rejection. Her ears were slightly pointed, it suited her, she looked like a fairy.
“Alright, silence,” said an angry male voice, the teacher.
The class groaned and turned their attention to the short man with a big belly and shiny head.
To my own surprise, I mourned the interruption.
“We have a new student this year,” he said while he wrote Mr. Roberts on the board with a red marker.
Oh god, not again.
“Stand and introduce yourself,” the teacher said, eyes on me.
My pulse roared in my ears as I stood.
Why is introducing myself to a bunch of kids more terrifying than fighting vampires?
“Your name?” Mr. Roberts demanded.
“Matthew, sir.”
I was grateful my voice didn’t betray the nervousness.
“Welcome to Solville High,” he said.
“Thank you,” I mumbled sitting down, feeling dizzy with relief.
“Why can’t we get the good looking ones?” complained the cheerleader, not so quietly.
Laughter erupted around her circle.
She laughed at her own joke, sending me a look one gives to dog crap on the pavement.
“Miss Miller,” warned the teacher without looking from the textbook on his desk.
An eraser flew towards the cheerleader from Lily’s direction, making an audible impact.
“Ow,” she complained, clasping the back of her neck. Her brown eyes darted to glare at Lily who looked like the picture of nonchalance except for those eyes that brimmed with mischief.
“Freak,” the cheerleader growled.
“Cliché,” Lily said.
“That’s enough from both of you,” Mr. Roberts scolded. “Miss Scott, would you like to tell me why Romeo and Juliet is such a memorable play?”
“Because they both die tragically?” Lily retorted, blinking innocently. “Oops, spoiler alert.”
Brenda, Blake, and others laughed a little, the teacher just frowned and turned muttering to himself as he began with the class. Lily smiled at me. I tried to return the gesture but ended up nodding uncomfortably.
When the class finally ended, Lily murmured a song between her teeth. “At last…”
The guy behind her and Bren laughed.
“And then again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the week after, and the month after that,” said the blonde, pushing her glasses up her nose.
“Oh Bren, come on don’t torture me,” Lily complained, turning to me. “Hi, I’m Lily, these are Brenda and Blake,” she said with a big smile.
“Hi,” I said to them.
“Welcome to hell,” said Blake, running a hand through his light brown hair. He towered over me and Lily.
“Bah, that’s an exaggeration, it’s more like purgatory,” said Lily, grinning.
“You guys are gonna scare him off,” muttered Brenda.
We all came out to the lockers, they were recently painted bright red and I had to fight off the thought it looked like blood. Lily neared me after getting her books, she was my height which placed her at around 6-foot tall.
“So here’s the deal,” she said with serious eyes and a mischievous smile. “You are more than welcome to have lunch and hang out with us at your own cost.”
“At my own cost?” I asked intrigued.
Her smile turned into a grin. “Yep, if you have popular pretensions you should stay away from us. If you don’t then you’ll fit in just fine.”
“No popular pretensions,” I answered with a small smile. Something about her made the tension ebb.
Her friends had already gone, she winked and walked away. I doubted for a moment, it would’ve been ridiculously easy to run away from there, the exits were not very surveyed. Being in a place crowded with human children was a bad idea, I looked like one of them but wasn’t. I took a step but halted, my guardian’s firm expression flashing in my mind, her voice echoing in my head.
“You need to have at least a semblance of a normal life, what can be more normal than going to a boring High School in a small town?”
She would be disappointed if I ran away, I would be disappointed. And I owed her too much to disobey her, I knew she had my best interests at heart even if I didn’t deserve it.
I barely endured the next few hours. The classmates were loud, the teachers seemed angry for no good reason and I had a lot more to learn that I had thought. A part of me wished that I could share all classes with the only three people I already knew, especially Lily.
The ring that announced lunchtime couldn’t have been more opportune. I looked for Lily, she waved at me and I walked to their table. I sat down next to her, she smiled at me again helping me to breathe easier. It was gonna take me a while to get used to being among so many people.
“So, here you are,” said Brenda. Barely lifting her eyes from the book she had next to her lunch.
“You are a brave man,” muttered Blake, perceptive sky-blue eyes examining me.
“How so?” I asked looking around at the crowded dining room. I hoped the anxiety I was feeling didn’t show on my face.
“Well, this may come as a huge surprise but we are sort of the rejects,” said Lily, with her mouth half full, she had taken a huge bite of her beef sandwich.
They were the only ones at the end of the table, the other students seem to ignore them. I liked that it was less crowded, I had no intention of drawing any sort of attention to myself.
“You’ve joined us rejects ‘cause you want to,” said Brenda to Lily.
“Yep, you could’ve easily become a popular cheerleader,” Blake agreed.
Lily laughed. “Sure, but how on earth would the rest of the team keep up with me?”
Brenda made an agreeing gesture.
Blake snorted. “Good point.”
My eyes fell on Lily, on the lean muscles on her arms and long, elegant fingers, the stylish figure. A rush of apprehension rose, making my neck itch with shame. When I looked up, she had a half-smile on her lips. It was hard not to stare at her lovely face in mute fascination.
“So, tell us your story. You are not from around here,” said Lily in a rush, I was certain she’d noticed my awkwardness.
And that was the complicated part, I had to be extremely careful not to say anything that could make them suspicious.
“I don’t know where to start,” I said, pretending to be busy with my food.
“You know, the basics, where did you live before, who do you live with,” said Blake kindly.
“Any weird fetishes, the names of those you’ve killed,” said Lily with a grin. I swallowed and almost choked.
Lily patted my back a bit harder than necessary. “Alright, calm down, a man’s secrets are his own, your last name will do.” I felt the warmth of her skin through my clothes, her touch, despite fleeting, eased a bit of the tension.
“Carter,” I said, after a minute. “I live with my grandparents.”
The lie came out a bit easier than before.
“Nice to meet you,” said Lily with a smile.
A few yells made me jump in my chair, the three of them looked at a few tables on the back. Huge football players were occupying a table, whistling and laughing too loud. When I followed their eyes I found a chubby kid running away to the exit.
“What a bunch of Neanderthals,” Blake whispered, anger mixing with fear in his eyes. Brenda took his hand and nodded.
Lily huffed, eyes narrowing. “The Solville Coyotes, more like the Solville bullies.”
She was holding her fork with a lot of strength and I had the impression she wanted to stab them with it. Her emerald gaze locked with one of the largest guys in the group, he gave her a taunting look and she curled her lip exposing those curiously sharp canines.
“Try not to get in any problems with those assholes,” Lily said, turning back to me.
“They do what they want and don’t get grounded for it,” said Brenda, paling.
“Sure,” I muttered, pushing back the tide of anger. Abusive bastards sickened me.
We all continued eating. Lily unwrapped another sandwich taking a big bite, I could hear her stomach roar even after having finished half of her food. Blake and Brenda were having a private conversation. I ate slowly, looking around; the cheerleaders and football players had their own tables, the rest of the students looked pretty normal, no stoners or nerds that I could distinguish, at least there were a few movies cliches missing.
The same cheerleader from the English class made her way to our table and sat between me and Lily, forcing me to move away.
“You know if you keep eating like that you’re gonna end up like that grease ball,” she said to Lily as she pointed at Brenda, who blushed and lowered her head.
Lily cocked a brow. “Don’t you have something more entertaining to do? You know, like finally learning how to read.”
Brenda smiled a little. Blake pressed his lips to avoid laughing. The cheerleader snorted flipping hair off her shoulder, I had to move further not to get it on my face.
“Hey, you, I need the English paper,” she said to Brenda, ignoring Lily.
“No,” murmured Brenda looking at Lily, who gave a small approving nod.
“Excuse me?” the cheerleader growled.
“No means no, Amanda,” said Lily with a smirk.
Amanda frowned and got up. “You are going to regret this,” said Amanda pointing at Brenda, then turned to Lily. “And you, nosy b-”
Lily got up too and give an ice-cold look to Amanda who was almost a foot lower in height. I had the feeling Lily could throw her across the room if she wished.
“Get. Lost. Bimbo” growled Lily with a wry smile. Several others stopped eating and started whistling.
Amanda walked away almost tripping, legs unstable. Lily sat down then looked at me with a serious expression.
“Last chance to run away, Matthew,” she said.
My only option at this point was being completely alone since I had no idea how to get close to anyone. And running away, that sounded like something I didn’t want to do, I had done enough of that.
“I’m not running away.”
Lily smiled.

****
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