Authors: Chanelle Gray
MITCHELL MORRIS PUBLISHING
My Heart be Damned
A Mitchell Morris Book/ September 2012
A registered trademark
of Celeris Publishing Group, Inc.
Port Richey, FL
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used factiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
he wind was violent. It lashed at the trees with such force that they bent and slammed against each other. It swept up fallen leaves from the muddy ground and twirled them around my feet as I made my way to the spot I always visit whenever I answered the
The Samuel crypt.
Just then, another rough gust pounded at me as I climbed the hill to the crypt. I staggered back, my hair whipping around my face. Sighing at the crappy London weather, I yanked up my hood and held it up with one hand while my other hand reached deep into my pocket, clutching my phone. Not that I’d call anyone. I mean, it wasn’t as though I was afraid. Those things that went bump in the night? I killed them…or I was supposed to kill them, anyway.
The hill was steep. I dug my feet into the soft ground, and leaned forward as I fought against the wind, to reach the top. The climb was easy for me–had been ever since I turned sixteen nearly a year ago. Now a lot of things came easy.
The crypt was a monstrous beauty, towering high into the night sky. Everything was the same... except for that huge padlock on the door.
“Figures.” I lowered my hood and stretched out my hands before yanking the bottom part of the rusty lock downwards, something I could never have attempted without my super strength. Eventually, and with much strain, the metal inside snapped with a satisfying lurch and the padlock dropped to the ground.
I pushed the heavy, stone door open, reminding myself that this was a quick visit. I couldn’t be late for school tomorrow because I was sleeping in late.
The inside smelled like mold and damp. The tombs inside were covered in thick dust, and the walls were grimy. I ran my fingers along the stone wall closest to the door and smiled at the coldness. This tomb was a gateway for escaped souls from Hell – well, one gateway anyway -- and I was drawn to gateways
like an addict to its next hit.
Even though I couldn’t physically send the souls back down to Hell until they found a human host and became what others Hunters like me called, ‘Damned,’ my being here – physically – was a tangible pain for them. My body craved it, wanted to hurt these evil souls, though I was trying extremely hard to stay away from this place.
“Who’s there?” Someone shouted. A masculine voice.
I froze, my back pressed against the wall. My enhanced hearing picked up the faint sound of someone outside, trying to creep towards the door. Stupid. Why announce your presence and then try to hide it?
“I’ve called the police,” the man continued. His voice shook. “This is trespassing. The graveyard is closed. Your little prank won’t be so funny when the police fine you...”
Ah, my beloved caretaker, a skinny, old dude with tufts of hair that stuck up in random places all over his head. He was harmless enough, but his threats were not. His frail arms struggled to push open the crypt door, and, using the dark to my advantage, I ducked behind a tomb and crawled around it so that I was partly hidden, facing the door.
“I know you’re in here...”
He darted to the side, leaving the door slightly ajar. It was enough of a gap for me to squeeze through and burst out to freedom. Even if he were younger, fitter, he wouldn’t have been able to catch me. I was a blur before he ever realized I’d been next to him all along.
boots slid through the muddy grass as I darted downhill and back toward the gate. Without breaking stride, I launched myself up and forward, leaping over the six-foot iron fence. I landed in a graceful crouch on the pavement on the other side, and for a split second, I thought I spotted a man leaning against another crypt in the graveyard, watching me.
I spun back around, my eyes focusing in the dark. Whatever I’d seen before had disappeared. It was rare, with my eyesight, that I imagined something that wasn’t there. Fingers lacing through the iron fence, I searched the area around the crypt. If someone had been there, I wanted to know who and why.
The caretaker called out again, and I backed away from the fence. Whoever had been there, if anyone had been there, was gone now. Flicking my dark hair back from my face, I shoved my hand into my pocket, grabbed my phone, and unwrapped the earphones from around its glittery case. It was a long walk home without my music to distract me from mentally berating myself from coming back here, yet again.
Late again, Miss Carter.”
Though I heard the podgy school receptionist perfectly well over my music, I pulled out one of my earphones, pretending I was giving her my full attention.
“Overslept,” I answered, scribbling my name down in the late folder. Probably because I snuck out for half of the night. I glanced down at the folder, recognizing a few names of other kids from my school year. Most had come up with pretty generic excuses:
Car broke down.
Bus was late.
But there was one that stood out.
Tried to rob a bank – got caught – nabbed a ride to school with the police.
“Something funny?” Miss Hardy asked. Miss. Why didn’t it surprise me that no one had chosen to step forward and marry her?
“Nah,” I lied, shrugging my shoulders.
“Okay, well hurry on to class, then. You do not want to miss any more than you have to.”
Yeah. Hurry up and get changed for PE. My
I mock saluted her, grabbed my bag I’d dumped by my feet, and spun to march further into the building when I slammed straight into someone’s chest. How had I not sensed him?
I stepped back, both confused and annoyed. Usually, because of my enhanced senses, I knew when someone was approaching me; the sound of footsteps, loud breathing, overbearing stenches of perfume or body spray. And who the hell would just walk right into me, anyway? I looked up at a face I didn’t recognize.
A new student. No wonder.
He looked my age, maybe a little older than I was, with tousled blonde hair – probably highlighted – and hazel eyes. He was tall, maybe six-foot-something, and pretty built from what I could see. Admittedly, he was good looking, but in that ‘I know I’m hot’ way. With looks like that, I’d have recognized him if we’d ever met
“Hi,” he said, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry about that. I thought you’d seen me.”
I stared at his crisp, and probably tailored uniform. Mostly everyone at Maxwell Academy – elite school for the brightest and richest – had tailored uniforms. Made to fit perfectly. He looked as though he was modeling it down a catwalk.
He cleared his throat, and I realized suddenly that I hadn’t answered him.
“Okay, new approach,” he suggested. “I’m....”
“New here,” I answered for him.
“Is it that obvious? Well, actually, I was gonna say that I’m Sam. But ‘new here’ works well too.”
He was charming. I’d give him that. But, it was a long time since I last gave charming, or hot, or even polite, the time of day.
“Welcome to Maxwell, Sam,” I said with a small smile.
“Thanks. And you are?”
“Incredibly late and this –” I held my thumb and forefinger an inch apart “– close to getting detention.”
“Hold on...wait!” He called after me as I brushed past him. I didn’t have time to feel bad. If he were new here, then no doubt I’d see him around. I tore into the sports building, changed into my PE kit in record time, and jogged outside to the playing fields to join the rest of my class.
! Over here!” Mercy shouted, waving her arms around like a lunatic. I walked toward her, wrapping my arms around my chest as the chilly air snapped at my skin. For an October’s day, it wasn’t very cold. The air was crisp, and the sun was weak. “Where have you been? It’s as if you have a secret job. I tried calling last night. No answer.”
She had no idea how close she was to the truth.
Mercy shook her head when I didn’t answer and continued stretching by the sidelines. Next to her, Chuck Hill, the third in our little threesome sprawled out on the slightly damp grass, his mouth hanging open as he watched the other girls in our class warm up. I kicked him in his side.
“Ouch! What’d you do that for?” He looked up. “Oh, hey,
! Didn’t see
there. Thought you were ditching out on us again.”
“Me? Ditch? Never.” I flopped down on the grass next to him. “So, what’re we playing?”
“Are you joking?” he asked, as if the answer should be perfectly obvious.
I shook my head slowly. “
“Only the best game ever to grace this planet,” he elaborated...somewhat.
“He means dodge ball,” Mercy said. She sat down next to us, and I followed her gaze to the same group of girls Chuck had been staring at this whole time. However, they looked for two entirely different reasons.
The queen of the school. Pretty, athletic, popular, and a real bitch when she wanted to be. The only thing she didn’t have was the same amount of cash the rest of the students. Nevertheless, she could have anyone eating out of the palm of her hand if she chose, and her friends were loyal minions to the end.
I mean, she had money, more money than my family has right now. However, back when things were normal in my life, I’d been richer and prettier and a threat to her. Apparently, I was still a threat – just a poor pretty one.
“Anyone got any holy water?” I joked, picking at my laces. Mercy didn’t seem to be listening. When Mercy wasn’t hating on Sarah and her two bitches (we dubbed them ‘the trio’) she wanted to be part of them. Not that she’d ever admit it to Chuck or me. She’d been like this... yearning to be part of Sarah’s group forever, but I’d never had the courage to ask why.
Our PE teacher, Mr. Watch blew on his whistle and signaled for everyone to circle around him. I held up my arm, and Mercy dragged me to my feet. Then I grabbed Chuck’s arm and did the same for him.
“I’m going to need two team captains,” Mr. Watch was saying as we approached at a snail’s pace. “If I don’t get any volunteers, then I’ll just go ahead and choose.”
Sarah’s hand shot up, and Mercy groaned beside me.
“I’ll do it if no one else wants to,” Sarah said – voice all sweet and sickly like honey. She had tied her red hair back into an elegant ponytail, and her fringed bangs hung to her eyes, glossy and perfect.
“Thank you, Sarah,” Mr. Watch said. “Anyone else?”
Mercy’s hand rose. Eyes wide, I reached up and yanked her hand back down to her side. Was she insane? We did not participate in sports activities unless necessary.
“What are you doing?” I hissed. “If you nominate yourself, then you’ll actually have to play. You know how much you hate anything remotely sports-related.”
Mercy rolled her eyes at me and pulled her arm from my loose grip. “I know, but if she can do it, I can do it.” She shoved her hand back in the air again. “Mr. Watch! Sir! I’ll do it. I nominate myself to be captain.”
“Excellent,” Mr. Watch exclaimed with a smile. “Captains, come here and pick your teams. One at a time, please.”
As expected, Sarah picked all of her friends first, and Mercy picked Chuck and me. Then they began to shuffle through the remaining students until no one remained. We ended up with a pretty decent team nonetheless, and I could see the gleam in Mercy’s eyes as she surveyed them proudly.
“Keep it clean,” Mr. Watch shouted over everyone’s excited babble. “No aiming for the head or face. No aiming for the groin areas, Lucy. And no stealing the ball.
“Right – Mercy’s team to my left, and Sarah’s team to my right. Two team captains remain in the middle to fight for the first ball.”
Mercy and Sarah stepped forward. Sarah’s short, black PE skirt bounced as she walked, her hands held behind her back.
“On my whistle, the first to jump up and hit the ball in their team’s direction wins control of the first ball. Ready?”
He blew the whistle. They both jumped, but Sarah flung herself into Mercy, knocking her aside. Mr. Watch ignored the foul - as usual. The ball flew towards Sarah’s team, and the game was on in earnest.
I kept to the back, stepping from side to side, and keeping a close eye on the ball. If I actually played, I’d win this game in a heartbeat, which wasn’t very inconspicuous of me, and it had been ingrained into me since I was six years old, never to let anyone know what I could do. I’d give it, like, five minutes before taking a hit for the team. I just had to stay under the radar until then.
Mr. Watch threw more and more balls onto the pitch as the game continued. My team was being destroyed, and soon there were only five of us standing against the majority of Sarah’s team.
Chuck grabbed a ball and lobbed it at a guy from the other team. It hit his shoulder, bounced off, and hit someone else in the back. Way to go, Chuck!
Then, Sarah got hold of a ball and threw it right back at us. Chuck dodged it at the last minute, and it soared past him, right into Mercy. Her eyes widened in horror. She was out.
, too bad,” Sarah shouted, spinning a ball on her finger. A smug smile spread across her face as Mercy stomped her way off the pitch.
Chuck narrowed his eyes at Sarah, aimed the ball at her, and missed.
I remained at the back of the pitch, wary, but uninvolved, which was when I spotted Sam.
He was standing on the sideline next to Mr. Watch, still in full school uniform. Would he be in our P.E. class now? He noticed me staring and waved quickly. His smile was friendly enough – but there was something behind the innocent gleam in his eyes that I didn’t trust. What was Sam hiding? The image of Sam murdering some poor, defenseless woman in an alley way had flashed in my mind before I realized that I didn’t care. Let someone else find out the hard way he was a mass murderer or something. Maybe Sarah...
I sensed a ball coming at me, and right at the last minute, I ducked. It soared over my head. Chuck whooped excitedly and clapped a hand on my shoulder. I stared over to where Sarah was, hands on hips, glare on face. Without a doubt, I was her next target.
I thought of Mercy sitting on the sidelines, seething. I thought about Sarah tipping some girl’s lunch tray over yesterday. I thought about how much Sarah would gloat if her team won this meaningless game.
And that was when I decided: Sarah was going down.
I grabbed the ball from my teammate’s hand. She was going out before I was, whether I had to use my abilities or not.
I smiled at Sarah while planning my way through eliminating her team. I’d take out Dan first – he’d be easy with his height. Then I’d use Josh to rebound the ball back at Lucy, getting two for the price of one. Next, I’d take out Lucas, and then only five would remain...
Seeking out Dan, I aimed and threw the ball at a particular angle, hitting him square in the head. Before anyone could retaliate, I grabbed another ball and then threw
it at Josh. He tried to dodge it, but my throw was too fast. It slammed into his chest, rebounded into the back of Lucy’s neck, and then bounced into another person’s shoulder. I hadn’t planned that, but even better!
Everyone from my team clapped and cheered on the sideline. I stepped back, looking to see if Sam clapped too. He was. I turned away from him, annoyed with myself. I didn’t care if he clapped. He could pick his nose for all I cared.
I’d become public enemy number one for the other squad. All five players on Sarah’s team set their sights on me. I dodged them all until it was only Sarah and Paul left standing against me.
We all froze; even the others had gone silent. Sarah’s arm twitched, and anticipating her move, and I dropped down to a crouch as both balls flew toward me. While the balls were still mid-air, I lobbed mine forward and bounced it off Sarah’s head and right into Paul.
My team rushed forward and swarmed me.
“That. Was. Amazing,” Mercy said, yanking me away from everyone else. “Did you see the look on Sarah’s face?”
I nodded. “It was very satisfying.”
“Better than that! You destroyed them. Singlehandedly. How the heck do you do it? It’s like you turn into The Hulk or whatever. There’s something very weird going on with you... Hold on a minute. Who is that?” She pointed over to Sam who was still staring at me.
“Sam,” I answered. “He’s new here.”