Authors: Heidi Acosta
Dark & Twisted Games
(Hearts of Faeylon, Book 1)
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it was published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Text Copyright © 2016 Heidi Acosta
Edited by There For You Editing Services
Edited for CHBB by CLS Editing
Cover Artist: Kimberley at KimG-Design
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
From Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. LLC
All rights reserved
This book is dedicated to my amazing daughter, Madison.
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” ~Pablo Neruda
A loud snap vibrates around the room as I search for the alarm clock. I refuse to open my eyes and lose this blissful dream I’m having.
I curse the person who is making the noise and disrupting my wonderful dream. The lead singer, Dorn, from my favorite band, Dark Realm, was just about to propose to me. I was just getting ready to accept before boarding his private jet to a romantic tropical island.
“Just a few more moments, please. I think Dorn was about to kiss me.” I can feel those soft, plump lips on mine. I reach for the blankets to pull over my head, but they are not there.
“Mmmm hmmm,” I moan.
“Well, by all means, continue to nap then, and while you’re at it, ask him if he has seen your report on the impact of mythology in today’s modern literature because it’s not on my desk where it’s supposed to be,” the sharp voice barks.
I peel one eye open and glance into Mr. Wissian’s angry face just in time to see his ruler snap across my desk again.
Ugh, he is not who I wanted to wake up to. Sitting up, I peel away the piece of paper that is stuck to the side of my face with dried drool and wipe the remaining spittle from my chin, which earns me a round of laughter from my schoolmates—or as I refer to them, the peanut gallery. Like they don’t drool in their sleep.
“Report, Eden. It’s due today,” he repeats before smacking my desk another time.
I’m ready this time and don’t flinch. Instead, I stare at him straight on, and he returns my glare from behind his owl-framed glasses. A purple vein in his forehead begins to pulse furiously, distracting me. He isn’t easily deterred, and I’m the one to lose the battle of who needs eye moisture more. I blame the glasses and the wandering eye for giving him an unfair advantage.
Mr. Wissian folds his long, thin arms across his chest, making his potbelly poke out even more. His buttons are so strained, they threaten to pop and expose his fat, round stomach to me. Geeeessh! He looks like a troll with his stout features, and the huge wart on the end his nose. His features make him seem more menacing than he really is. He has the whole
teacher look, right down to a bald head with wiry strands of gray hair that stick out next to large, plump ears. I have the urge to rub his bald head to see if he will grant me a wish. It’s almost as if his head is a conductor for static electricity.
His wrinkled khakis sit a little higher than normal today, which means he is all business. He has on one of his infamous tacky, itchy-looking sweaters. Mr. Wissian never wears the same one twice, making him the Paris Hilton of sweaters. Unfortunately, they don’t help with the odor that always seems to linger around him.
I have narrowed the smell down to a combination of stale coffee, moth balls, and cat urine. By the scent of him, and the look of his thick, yellow nails, hygiene is not his strong point. If only he had the same passion for soap that he has for literature. Judging people is not a habit I like to have. Instead, I try to think of it as a character analysis. I have spent my time in class not paying attention, but instead I observe Mr. Wissian and the other students for one of my novels in progress.
“Eden!” he snaps, tapping his ruler on my desk in annoyance, and my daydream dissipates. “Report?”
“Well, you see, I was going to start it, and—”
He sighs, cutting me off, with a pinch to the bridge of his nose as if this will be the most trying conversation of his life. Apparently, he doesn’t remember the conversation we had last week.
“This is another missing assignment, so your grade is now a D. If you can’t bring it up… Well, you will fail this semester,” he announces in front of the whole class.
Thanks a lot.
This earns a round of laughter and coughing fits with “loser” intertwined in them.
Oh, real subtle.
Ignoring them, I begin to plea my case to Mr. Wissian. He cannot possibly want me in his class another year longer than he has to.
“But I can’t!” I have already failed P.E. twice, I might not pass math this semester, and if I add his class on top of that, there will be no way I will graduate when I am supposed too. “I can’t be stuck in this town any longer than I have to be.”
The wrinkles around his eyes soften, and I know I’ve got him. He doesn’t want to be in Copake Falls any more than I do, and I can see his dream of leaving flash across his face.
“Fine, see me after class,” he says before hobbling back to his desk.
Buck—the school gorilla and my appointed tormentor—leans forward, snickering in my ear, and whispers, “Freak.”
I am so not in the mood to deal with his crap today. I turn around sneer at him. “Real original. You know, they make a special mouthwash for chronic bad breath.” I wave my hand in front of my face.
“What’s wrong, Freak, did you forget to take your meds today?” he says, not missing a beat.
I don’t react to his comment. Instead, I give him a polite smile and turn back to my desk. It’s best not to feed the wild animals or they keep coming back for more. I learned this the hard way. But, Buck is not so easily deterred and begins to poke me in the shoulder with the sharp end of his pencil. I grit my teeth and try to ignore it. Eventually, he gives up, but not before I have a small bruise and possibly lead poisoning.
“You’re too stupid to write that paper, anyways.” This coming from the kid who had to repeat kindergarten twice. He probably had a poor freshman write his paper for him. Buck tilts his desk back on two legs.
Besides, I had every intention of writing the stupid paper. The textbook had been open, exposing the thirst quenching knowledge on the diverting details of Mythology. Yawn. And my ancient laptop had set next to it, humming with anticipation. Unfortunately, when my fingers had made contact with the keys, characters had started to speak to me, telling me an amazing story I couldn’t help but write.
My newest novel is an apocalyptic romance about a boy and a girl who fall in love despite him being a zombie and her being a zombie slayer. I’m at the midway point in the plot, and it’s getting to the climax, so it’s all I can think about—it consumes me. The main character is about to figure out she is in love with zombie boy but is destined to kill him.
“Ladies and gentleman, if you would please put away your phones, or any other item you are using to ignore my six years of college and several student loans that are still haunting me, and give me your undivided attention. This is the part of class that you will want to take notes. Those who plan on working at a fast food restaurant the rest of your life, you can continue to text your girlfriends or whatever brain cell killing activity you are doing. That would probably be you, Mr. Warren.” He says to Buck before addressing the rest of the class. “Those who plan on being successful individuals and offering more to society than your hamburger flipping skills, this will be thirty percent of your grade.” Mr. Wissian speaks to the class but is looking directly at me.
“I plan to be a male model, Mr. Wissian, so I’m good,” Buck calls out, causing the class to burst out in laughter. Mr.
Wissian sighs and turns to the blackboard writing, ‘
’ in big, messy letters. I take out my ratty notebook and open it so that I can pretend to take notes on his lecture. He could be telling us the secret of eternal life, but I am too absorbed in my plot to care.
Forty-five minutes later, the bell finally rings. There is scrambling as we grab our things and try to be the first one out.
“Watch it Freak.” Buck shoulders past me, causing me to drop my bag, which sends the contents tumbling out across the floor.
I give him the finger, but he only laughs and drops his heavy arm over his new flavor of the hour, a cheerleader who clearly has low self-esteem.
“Jerk,” I call after him and begin the arduous task of finding my stuff on the floor.
Kneeling down low, I grab a wad of receipts that managed to find their way under my desk, and stuff them back in the bottom of my bag. I hate receipts, but for some reason, I can’t seem to throw them away. I never know when inspiration for the next bestseller will hit me, and I will be at a loss for paper. Then a receipt will come in handy and save the day. I am going to write the next great American novel on receipts, and it’ll make for a fantastic interview.
Yes, all on receipts.
I crouch down farther, my face now pressed to the dirty floor as I reach under the desk to retrieve a broken pencil, but my fingers brush it and it rolls farther away.
. A small, pink plastic cylinder is placed under my nose. I stare at the hand holding one of my emergency tampons and follow it up to a finely etched masculine arm, attached to broad shoulders. I continue my journey of exploration, lingering on a strong, smooth jawline, high cheek bones, and two honey-colored eyes that sit under a nest of tight blond curls.
He looks like sunshine, and I bet he smells like rainbows and vanilla frosting
. I drag in a ragged breath and sit up.
“I think this belongs to you.” His voice is smooth and deep, with a melodic quality to it, one I just want to close my eyes and listen to.
Oh-my-god, this is so embarrassing, one of the hottest guys in school is holding my tampon.
Cardelian Valentine is new to Copake Falls High this year. New students are common to these parts. They come and go at least twice a year. Mostly the number of new students depends on the Fosters intake of new kids. It’s like they need to make a yearly quota of foster kids. The Fosters are an elderly couple who take in foster kids as a business, and yes, their last name really is Foster.
Most of us don’t pay any attention to the fosters anymore. They have been coming and going since before I was born. They’re here one month and gone the next. Most of them are troubled. Disturbed past with a predicable future of ending up on
America’s Most Wanted.
But every once in a while, a bleeding heart will try to befriend one of them. In the end, they develop the same attitude that everyone else in this town has: why bother, they’re never here long enough anyway. Even the teachers don’t put in much effort with them. Sad, but I guess they figured why teach them if they’re gone soon enough.
But, this year is different, the new fosters came in fast, and suddenly, they were everywhere and on everyone’s lips. The school became a buzz with news of the new foster brothers. Everyone wanted to know their names and who they were. They could no longer hold a blasphemed name like Foster.
Cardelian’s name was quick to be on the tip of every girl’s tongue. He gave the term Greek god a whole new denotation, he is even built like a one. His finely sketched muscles poured into a tight-fitting T-shirt, and a pair of tight jeans. A tousle of curly blond hair that falls across his forehead. He has a way of tossing it out of his honey-colored eyes with a tilt of his head, which makes any girl within a ten-mile radius of him melt. Like magic.
Not only is he god’s gift to our eyes, but he is also god’s gift to our failing football team. The moment he stepped through the doors of our small high school, he became the school’s new quarterback and team captain. He didn’t even have to tryout before they presented him with the red and black uniform, on a bended knee. Every girl wants to know him, and every guy wants to be him. I’m shamefully included in that group. I would give my big toe to know his favorite color or what cologne he is wearing. But if Cardelian is the sun, then his brother, Jaxson, is the night.
Jaxson is on the verge of being dark and dangerous—a treacherous road all good girls would love to walk on. I knew that Jaxson was different the first time I saw him. An instant cliché crush formed, and even though it’s everything I stand against. Yet, here I was crushing hard. I normally am not one of those girls that fall for the boy from the wrong side of the tracks because he is gorgeous with stunning blue eyes.
But there’s more to him, I am sure of it. There is something about the way he makes it a point not to make eye contact with others. He keeps his eyes shielded with his long shaggy black hair, his head hung low, covered by the dark hood of his sweatshirt. Two silver studs are nestled in each corner of his full bottom lip, catching the light as he walks by. The air around him seems to pulse with an electric. I tell myself my infatuation with him isn’t like the other girls. In fact, it isn’t just his appearance that has me drooling, it’s because he is different from the inhabitance of this small town. Everything about him makes me want to know him.
The first time I saw him, he was walking down the hallway to his locker, which is—
—right next to mine. I, along with the other piranhas in this cesspool called high school, was biting at a chance to get close to him. He was perfect.
I knew he could be my soul mate by the books he was carrying,
The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders,
. Yep, those books where screaming at me,
And if a boy who openly reads wasn’t attractive enough, his hands were smudged with charcoal. Swoon. A fellow book lover and an artist! It was clear that he didn’t care what others thought of him, another trait we share. With his dark, unnamed brand clothes that looked like they came from a thrift shop. I could feel the love practically blossoming between us.