Authors: Christy Dorrity
Book One of The Geis
MYTHIC STUDIOS, UTAH
Copyright © 2013 by Christy Dorrity
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblence to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval without permission in writing from the author.
ISBN 978-1-940427-02-7 (paperback : acid free paper)
ISBN 978-1-940427-01-0 (eBook)
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Printed in The United States of America
Cover Design by: Devon Dorrity
Cover Illustration: Dennis Dorrity
Cover Photography: Jason Morrison
For Devon, who taught me to believe in dragons.
When I am with you, everything is possible.
There is one person without whose encouragement, help, and belief in me, this book would never have been written. My husband, Devon Dorrity, has been with me every step of the way. He encourages me to write, helps me brainstorm, joins me at conferences, designed the cover, and edited, formatted, and published this book. It’s been a fantastic journey, made sweet because I walked it with you. I love you, Devon.
Special thanks to my parents, Scott and Cherie Carlisle, who taught me how to work, and that I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to. And to my sister, Hannah, who helped me come up with fun things to write about.
A big shout-out to one of my mentors, David Wolverton, and his wife, Mary. Thank you for your friendship, and for helping me navigate the writing world.
There are so many people who helped me bring this book from rough draft to final copy. Holly J. Wood and Natalie Flyer, thank you for seeing the potential in a manuscript full of holes. To Shannon Cooley, Jen Hendricks, Sabine Berlin, and Aoife Dempsy, thank you for doing your best editing to make me look good. And to all of my beta readers, my thanks go to you for providing me with invaluable feedback.
One of the most rewarding parts of producing this book was seeing the cover come to life. Special thanks to my husband, Devon Dorrity, for designing the cover; to the photographer, Jason Morrison; and to Dennis Dorrity for the illustration.
To my dance family at Legacy Irish Dance—your support and friendship mean so much to me. And to Victoria Lambourne, my Irish dance teacher, thank you for believing in me.
Last, but not least, a giant hug to Ethon, Jaden, Ander, Amberlee, and Logan. Your excitement about my book makes it all worth it!
“...for things seen pass away,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
The lizard sensed the girl before he saw her. He crept into the auditorium, pulling his blue tail behind him like a thick rope. Masking his presence, the lizard crawled up the aisle, brushing past the knees of a father who shushed a fussing baby. The father’s gaze slid, unseeing, over him. Only the hiccuping baby watched the lizard as he glided by.
He traveled the aisle, tongue out, tasting the air. The audience reeked of stale boredom—a contrast to the sharp adrenaline of the little dancers onstage. The carpeted floor scratched the lizard’s belly as he moved faster toward the stage.
A foot stretched into the aisle, blocking the lizard’s path. He waited for the leg to move, and then continued, undetected. A teacher directed the dancers offstage.
“McKayla,” the woman called into the wings. “Let’s run through your solo one more time.”
McKayla dominated the center of the stage. The lizard slid up the stairs and backstage, clambering up to the catwalk to look down on her from above. The music changed and stage lights flickered as the technician experimented with the setup.
This girl’s beacon of emotion had drawn the lizard from the other side of the building, but now she danced like a puppet, mediocre at best.
Then the lizard felt a tug, like something had jerked on the collar that encircled his neck. He froze, focusing on the girl. There it was again. Underneath McKayla’s precise movements and boring choreography, the girl gathered energy from the scattered crowd. It streamed toward her in an intermittent current that fluctuated with her inexperience.
He watched as McKayla exited the stage, dodging the fairies and flowers that waited their turn to practice. She stretched for a moment, and then headed for the hallway.
It didn’t matter. He would track her—find her—no matter where she went. In the blink of an eye, the lizard descended the stage and retraced his steps through the auditorium.
The lizard flicked his tongue. He had found the girl. Rourke would be pleased.
The velvet curtain swished against my legs as I walked offstage, out of the heat of the stage lights. Dozens of little girls crowded in the wing, lining up to practice their class dance. I wove through them, relieved that Ms. Slannon was pleased with my solo.
“McKayla!” My friend Christa stood behind the prop table. She gave me a thumbs-up while she wrestled a headpiece on one of the toddlers.
I propped my leg on the stage rigging, stretching an ear to my knee. My skin felt sticky with sweat and the stale backstage air closed in on me.
The clock on the wall showed that the ballet recital wouldn’t start for another half an hour. Good—I needed a break. I waved to show Christa that I was going out in the hall for a drink.
The auditorium door swung heavily behind me, locking in the backstage chatter. The hallway was empty. I leaned against the lockers, sighing as the cool metal pressed against my flushed skin.
For twelve years I’d taken ballet—since I was four years old. I’d dreamed about having a solo at a ballet recital for so long, and that day was finally here. So why wasn’t I more excited?
When we’d moved to Star Valley, I’d taken one look at all of the farmland and worried that there wouldn’t be a ballet school. Thankfully, Ms. Slannon’s advanced class was even more challenging than the dance academy back home.
What was my problem, then? Closing my eyes, I searched for the familiar tingle of nervous energy and focused adrenaline that always came before a performance. It was gone—replaced with a numbing hollow that made me feel like I was about to watch someone else dance a solo, instead of performing it myself.
I let my head fall back against the locker. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of blue. I jerked away from the wall, self-conscious in my leotard at a strange school.
When no one appeared, I relaxed. I stretched one foot, examining my turnout. Not long ago, I would have been thrilled to perform a ballet solo in front of an audience. Months of practice had gone into this solo, with extra lessons from Ms. Slannon. Tonight my dad had driven our family the two hours to Idaho Falls, where the auditorium was large enough for our school to perform. But the excitement for tonight’s show was gone.
I took a drink from the fountain, careful not to drip water on my satin costume.
A violin played a lilting tune that drifted from somewhere down the hallway. The music beckoned, as if the musician played the song only for me. I looked back at the auditorium door, and decided that I had enough time to check it out.
Wandering through the unfamiliar halls, I came to an entrance on the other end of the building.
A steady stream of people filed in through the double doors from outside, squinting at the bright lights in the foyer. Next to the closed gym doors, vendors sold strange-looking shoes with silver buckles, and t-shirts that read
Isle of Dreams Feis
. I didn’t know that something else was happening in the school at the same time as our recital.
Folksy violin music spilled out of the gym doors when they opened, and another sound caught my ear. It sounded like tap dancing, but I couldn’t be sure.
A woman who passed out t-shirts behind one of the tables saw me standing in the middle of the entryway. I stepped forward to ask her about the dancing, but I didn’t make it over to the table. The gym door swung wide, and someone bumped into me from behind. I gasped. Cold liquid ran down my back.
A girl in a pink dress and tiara held a half-empty bottle of water in one hand, and inspected her dress with the other. Although I was new to Star Valley, I recognized her from school, even with the heavy stage makeup. She and I both had eyes for the cutest guy in the junior class, and so far, Lucas was oblivious to both of us.
“Oh, Taminy,” I said, wiping at my costume. “I didn’t know you were there.”
“Look what you did to my dress!” She held up her sleeve, showing where the pink material darkened in a spot the size of a silver dollar. It was barely noticeable, and even if it were, no one would have picked it out because the dress itself was dazzling. Crystals paraded across the bright pink material. Intricate patterns weaved in and out of the skirt and onto the bodice like metallic ivy. When she moved, the dress reflected light from a thousand tiny mirrors. My white leotard and ballet-pink skirt paled in comparison.
I touched the back of my costume. My heart sank. Even water leaves a stain on satin. Mom would have a few words to say about this.
“My leotard is ruined.” I turned to show her.
Taminy flipped her hair and frowned. Ringlets bounced around her shoulders, spiraling from a wig held in place by bobby pins, attached to her real hair. She rubbed the small wet patch on the sleeve of her dress. “Do you have any
how much this dress cost?”
“It looks like it’s only a little bit wet.” I reached out to smooth her sleeve.
Taminy jerked her arm away from me, as if my touch would burn her. Her glossy lips thinned into a line. Before I could react, she held her water bottle out and dumped the rest of it down the front of my costume.
I jumped back, holding my arms away from the wet leotard that clung to me. “
,” Taminy said, mocking my voice. “
It’s only a little bit wet
I didn’t know what to say. Water dripped down my tights and puddled in my shoes. Heat crept up my neck, and I knew a red rash was working its way across my cheeks. When I didn’t say anything, Taminy folded her arms and smiled.
“Taminy, hurry up, they’re calling for the hornpipe to go next.” A woman in a tailored suit came up behind Taminy.
“Look at my dress, Mother! I can’t go onstage like this.” Taminy’s voice morphed from vicious into a childish whine.
Taminy’s mother looked at me through a pair of unnaturally long lashes. I wiped at the satin on my spoiled dance costume. She ignored my wet leotard, and pointed a cherry red nail at my feet. “Aren’t you a little underdressed, honey?”
I looked down at my wet pointe shoes. “Yes, I mean no, I—I’m here for a ballet recital. I came down the hall to get a drink.”
Taminy offered me her empty water bottle. I glared.
“Then I suggest you run along,” the woman said, dismissing me with a flick of her wrist. She pushed Taminy toward the gym. “Watch your turnout on every step, honey.”
Taminy smiled at me. “I always turn out.” She walked back into the gym, her shoes clapping on the floor. Through the open door I glimpsed a violinist sitting on a chair with his back to the bleachers, eyes closed as his bow flew across the strings. But the audience in the gym wasn’t watching the fiddler. I caught the gym door before it closed, and found a spot near the bleachers.
The violinist wasn’t the main attraction at this event. Today this gym had been transformed into an open stage. A black partition down the middle of the basketball court served as a backdrop for dozens of girls in extravagant, colorful dresses. They waited their turn to dance on a makeshift floor, their hair done up in tight ringlets.
Taminy stood at the edge of the stage closest to me, her toe pointed. I balanced on my pointe shoes to get a better view of her feet. Taminy’s shoes looked like something my Aunt Avril would wear to church—black and clunky, with silver buckles. I grinned at the thought of Taminy owning something so old-fashioned.
The music changed key, and Taminy vaulted onto the stage, her shoulders thrown back, arms tucked oddly to her sides. I could make out some tap steps in the routine she performed, but Taminy leaped in the air like a ballet dancer. I held my breath as she jumped onto the tip of her shoe and balanced. How could she go en pointe in those shoes?
The sound of her feet counter-balanced the musician, who continued playing without missing a beat. Taminy dominated the stage, traveling from one corner to the other in a few steps. The tapping of her feet was interrupted every few seconds with a leap that made her appear to hang in the air before she resumed her fancy footwork.
Watching Taminy gave me a shot of adrenaline. I was hypnotized—the music swirled around me, and my feet pleaded to join in. I had never seen this type of dance before, and yet I felt as if I knew it. When the music stopped, my heart continued to beat at a frenzied pace. My fingers tingled. I clenched and released them to bring back circulation. The spectators clapped, and a wave of energy rolled from the crowded bleachers, fueling my own excitement. I wanted to dance like that.
Someone grabbed onto my arm, and I jumped. I relaxed when I saw that it was my friend, Christa. She frowned at me. “McKayla, where have you been?”
I should have known Christa would come looking for me. When I moved during the summer, it was Christa who told me about Ms. Slannon’s dance school. Her costume mirrored the one I wore, a white leotard with matching tutu. It looked better on her, though. She had a classic ballerina body and long legs, compared to my own more athletic build.
“I went to get a drink. And then I heard some music. There’s this thing going on in the gym. Look, it’s amazing.” I tried to slow my breathing.
Christa glanced at the dancers, and then focused on me. “We need to get going. You have a solo, remember?” Her large blue eyes were wider than normal on her china-doll face. Christa had twisted her straight, blonde hair into a traditional bun. I could tell she was nervous, but I didn’t know if it was because she had to leave to come find me, or if she had stage jitters. “Ms. Slannon wants us all backstage, and I couldn’t find you anywhere. Come on.”
After one last glance at the dancers in the gym, I followed Christa past the vendors and down the hallway. Before we slipped into the auditorium, I thought I saw something blue at the end of the hallway again. Christa pulled me backstage.
“I have something for you.” A furry keychain dangled from Christa’s hand.
“A keychain?” I asked, taking the white ball of fur.
“It’s a lucky rabbit’s foot—you know—for your solo.”
“Thanks.” It was nice of her, but I didn’t believe for a second that a bleached out piece of fur was going to help me remember my steps. I smiled anyway and tucked it into my dance bag with my shoes.
“Taminy is here.” I reached an arm over my head to stretch.
“Taminy? Pink bra and a see-through shirt, Taminy?” Christa turned me around and attempted to pin my wayward curls back into place. “Your hair is an absolute mess.”
“Did you know she’s a dancer?”
“Yeah, her mom drives her up to Jackson Hole every week to take Irish dance lessons. Why’s she in Idaho Falls?”
“She was performing in the gym.” Irish dancing. So that’s what it was.
In my mind, I could still see Taminy’s complex footwork. For a second I wanted to rip out my bun, run back to the gym, and pound out a rhythm of my own. I shook the thought away. I had my own dance to perform. I loved ballet—the sound of toe shoes clacking on the floor, the feel of satin and sequins, the tight stretch of muscle set to music. And yet, there had been something about the Irish dancing—the rhythm of it throbbed in my veins.
Christa mumbled something around the bobby pins she held in her mouth. Before I could respond, Ms. Slannon appeared backstage and motioned for everyone to quiet down.
Christa pushed in the last pin. “Why are you all wet?” she whispered.
I turned to get a look at the back of my costume. My leotard was starting to dry, leaving brown splotches on the white satin. I shook my head. “I’ll tell you later.”
While Ms. Slannon started in on a pep talk, Christa stood behind me. She took her own water bottle and, being careful not to splash on her costume, wiped water all over my back. I shivered.
“There,” Christa whispered. “Now at least it’s all the same color.”
I smiled my thanks. Leave it to Christa to think of something like that.
“You have worked so hard in the summer workshop,” Ms. Slannon was saying in her best little kid voice. “I want all of you to dance your very best and enjoy yourselves. Remember, dance like you mean it.”
I parted the curtain with one finger, searching for my family. Mom and my younger sister Zoey were sitting alone, halfway up the right side of the auditorium. Zoey was hunched down in her seat, lost in a book. It took me a minute to find Dad. He stood in the back, bouncing Benji, my crying baby brother, in his arms. My heart swelled, thinking about how they drove me the two hours from home to spend the evening watching me rehearse and then perform.
Christa’s family was hard to miss—the Dawsons filled an entire row. Her mom and dad sat on either end, sandwiching their brood of boys between them. Christa’s oldest brother Josh sat between the twins. He tickled one with each hand until they slumped off of their seats onto the floor.
The music for the opening number began, and I found my place among the other dancers. My feet squished inside my wet toe shoes. I was going to have some serious blisters after the recital. When the curtain opened, I pasted a smile on my face and performed mechanically, my body recalling all of the steps while my mind wandered.
I filed offstage with the rest of my class. The audience clapped politely, but the lack of enthusiasm in the crowd was a glaring contrast to the audience in the gym. The motivation I normally had for ballet was stale. I wanted to dance
, like Taminy. My heart beat faster with the thought. I paced backstage, channeling the rush as I prepared for my solo.
Each of the classes performed. Their dances were predictable—combinations of the same dance steps I’d learned from the time I turned four. When my solo music came on, I took a steadying breath. The dancers in the gym had pulsed with energy. I envisioned myself dancing with the same intensity.
Christa grabbed my hand and squeezed it before I made my way past the curtain and into the warmth of the stage lights. My heart pounded as I walked to center stage, taking my cue from the music.