Read Shadow's Edge Online

Authors: Maureen Lipinski

Tags: #young adult, #teen fiction, #fiction, #teen, #teen fiction, #teenager, #drama, #romance, #magic, #fantasy, #urban fantasy

Shadow's Edge (5 page)

BOOK: Shadow's Edge
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S
i
x

M
y
hand shook as I wound the towel around my wet hair. “Chill out, dork.” I inhaled slowly and
wrapped another towel around my body. It was the night of Brooke's big party. I'd spent my first week at Westerville trying to blend in, but now it was Saturday night and time for my first real test as Normal Teenage Leah.

It's a party. It's supposed to be fun, right? You'll have a great time.

I exhaled and reached forward to wipe some condensation off the foggy bathroom mirror, but my hand froze in midair. Maybe someone else might've thought it was just a trickle of water, just melting fog or something. But I knew better.

My hand shook as I watched three water drops track down the mirror, twisting and winding and looping around. The rest of the mirror seemed to fog over more, so all that I could see was the shape.
That
shape.

A triskele.

“What? What do you want?” I whispered to the mirror, but it remained silent because my necklace was still on. I reached for my necklace and wrapped my index finger and thumb around the smooth, cool black onyx. Its touch immediately calmed me and I felt my blood pressure begin to drop. I centered the stone on my chest and then let my hand move toward the clasp, to allow the message to come through for just a moment. Maybe I could take my necklace off, hear what they had to say, and put it right back on.

But then I remembered my father's long face, his tears as I walked through the door after being gone for a year. I remembered that this was my chance, my only chance, at freedom … or at least a life lived for me.

And I was sure that Fiona was safe. I would've worried more if it was anyone else, but she was smart, capable, tough, and fearless, especially after going to live in the Other Realm.

“Normal life,” I whispered to the mirror. Life with cheerleaders, math pop quizzes, prom, and football games. And Alex—hopefully. Two intertwined displays of my new normalcy: a mystical necklace and the quarterback of the football team.

I whispered the translation of the carvings around the circle:
“Before me, behind me, to my left and to my right, I am blind.”

I looked down at my birthmark, uncovered and free from its usual bracelet. I traced my fingers around the three spirals representing the three worlds: the human realm, the Other Realm, and the Beyond.

“I'm sorry.” I reached for my concealer and squirted on a huge glob of makeup, which quickly covered the mark. The
triskele
on the mirror also disappeared.

I reached into my closet and pulled out a pair of jeans and a black strapless top. Brooke told me that people usually dressed up for her parties, but I wasn't sure if she meant “dress up” as in cocktail party attire, or “dress up” as in not wear sweatpants. I figured jeans would be acceptable. But the truth is that I'd never really been to a “real” party before. Sure, I'd been to parties at my old high school, but something told me that there wouldn't be an Ouija board at Brooke's house.

I started to reach for a pair of shoulder-length, green shell earrings on my desk when I suddenly realized how dark my room had become. I separated the blinds on my window and saw that black rain clouds in the distance were beginning to gather together, forming an army of black cotton candy as trees began to sway in the wind.

Kind of like a Dark Créatúir celebration during Beltane.

The thought popped into my head before I could censor it, and my bare shoulders shivered.

Calm down. You're not the Shaman anymore.

“Alex. Football. High School. Westerville,” I whispered to myself.

I straightened my necklace and looked in the mirror. All I needed was a ride. Brooke had invited me to her house early, before the party started, to “do the girly thing,” although I wasn't entirely certain what that meant. Alex said he'd meet me there later, which made me go
OMG! Squee!
But I'd just smiled and said I would see him at Brooke's. Regardless, I figured this party would be a good distraction for the guilt bubbling just below my exterior.

I stuck my head out of my bedroom door. “Morgana?” I called down the hallway. “Morgana, can you drive me somewhere?” I didn't hear anything, so I walked down toward her door and knocked on it. “Morgana?”

“She's not home,” Rhea's voice said from the kitchen.

“Where'd she go?” I walked toward her voice.

In the kitchen, Rhea was perched on the island, her tanned legs folded underneath her and a plate of French fries beside her. A tall guy with choppy black hair resting against his forehead was bent over one of the stools, swaying back and forth slightly. His thin white arms were littered with blue and purple tattoos that formed ink sleeves. He looked … familiar.

“Slade,” Rhea said as she pointed a greasy finger in his direction.

“Oh, hi,” I said to Slade. “I'm Leah.” I jammed my hands into my jeans pockets and tried to look comfortable.

“Leah.” He pronounced my name slowly and lifted the corner of his mouth.

I walked over to the fridge and tried to open it, but Slade's leg was in the way. “Um, excuse me,” I said to him.

“Sorry.” He stood up in front of me, seemingly seven feet taller than me. I held my breath as I watched him unfurl, taller and taller. He bent his head down and we locked eyes. I noticed they were a beautiful yellow-green color, almost the same color as my earrings. His white hand reached up and brushed my necklace. I inhaled sharply as his fingers grazed my throat.

“Nice,” he said, nodding.

I nodded back at him, transfixed by his eyes. My shell earrings gently clicked together as my head moved. It was the only sound—besides the thumping of my heart against my chest—that I could hear. His fingers remained on my necklace, heating the metal as we stood inches apart.

“Stop trying to make out with my sister,” Rhea whined, breaking the spell. Slade released my necklace and took a step back.

I turned to Rhea. “So, Morgana's not home?”

“Didn't I just say that, genius? Or are you still thinking about how hot my boyfriend is?” Rhea jumped down off the island and walked over to Slade. She put her arm around his waist and rested her head against his chest.

“Oh. And Mom and Dad are gone?” I asked.

“What's going on?” Rhea said.

“Well, I'm supposed to go to my friend Brooke's house and I thought Morgana was going to drive me.”

“I could drive her.” Slade's booming voice cut through my thoughts. He looked down at Rhea, who shrugged.

“No,” I started to say, “that's—”

“Fine. Don't go. Whatever,” Rhea said.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “Sure, thanks.”

Outside, the air hung heavy, like a wet wool blanket pushing down on everything. The tree leaves didn't seem to move as the wind blew; the air saturated every surface and soaked into it.

I touched my hair and prayed it wouldn't look like a marshmallow by the time we got to Brooke's house. I figured I'd crank the air conditioning and rush directly into her house to allow as little opportunity as possible for the frizz to seep in.

Except … Slade had brought his motorcycle. No wonder Rhea volunteered his services so quickly.

Damn it. Why couldn't Doppler have predicted this? That cat was probably too busy lying around, or purring or begging for more food.

“Hop on,” Slade said, patting the seat.

I figured I could go back inside and forgo the party or I could suck it up, hop on, and pray we wouldn't die in a fiery crash with body parts strewn all over the highway. I almost declined until Alex, dressed in his football uniform, flashed into my brain.

Screw it.

I hopped on and wrapped my arms around Slade's surprisingly solid waist and rested my forehead against his shirt. The houses and streetlights whizzed around me as flashes of lights as we cruised down the darkened street. Despite our speed, the moving air did nothing to cool me down.

As we turned into Brooke's neighborhood, a spectacular flash of jagged lightning streaked across the sky, followed by a bone-shattering rumble of thunder. Slade guided the motorcycle through the twisted streets as fat raindrops began to land on my bare arms. Steam arose all around us from the rain cooling down the sizzling pavement. I kept my head down in an effort to preserve some of my makeup. I knew my hair was a lost cause, but I hoped I could rock some cool beachy waves if I had a still-fresh face. At the very least, I knew my makeup was in for a pretty serious waterproofing test.

I felt the motorcycle come to a stop just as the rain began coming down with a loud hum, twisting all around us. We were in front of a huge, stately mansion with white pillars and stone statues of lions on either side of the looming front door.

“Thanks!” I shouted in Slade's ear as I hopped off the motorcycle. He mouthed something back to me that I couldn't make out over the aggressive menace of the thunder.

“What?” I shouted.

“Be careful, Leah. You never know what can happen,” he called to me, rain falling off his chin.

A tiny blond woman answered the door. “You must be the new girl, Leah. I'm Jessica, Brookie's mom. Welcome to our home!” She leaned forward and put her thin, tanned arms around me, soaked jeans and all. I thought I caught the familiar scent of incense lingering on her clothes. “Follow me. The girls are in the kitchen.” She padded barefoot down the hallway.

Brooke, Caroline, and two other girls were sitting around the kitchen table, glasses of champagne in front of them.

“Girls, Leah is here!” Mrs. Nelson called out as she sashayed into the kitchen

“Hey there—” Brooke stopped when she saw me, her mouth dropping open. “Whoa.”

I quickly glanced in the huge gilded mirror that hung near the fridge. No wonder Brooke looked at me like I'd sprouted a shriveled head on my shoulders. Thick black rings of not-so-waterproof mascara ringed each of my eyes, making me look beat-up. Black rivers of eyeliner and eye shadow crisscrossed my cheeks and down my neck in a diamond pattern, like the lightning outside. I wouldn't say it was the best I'd ever looked.

“Is it raining?” a girl I didn't recognize asked brilliantly, recoiling a few inches and patting her hair, as if afraid the moisture might travel ten feet and ruin her blowout.

“Uh, yeah,” I said as Brooke's mom handed me a tissue to blot my eye makeup.

“Sit! Sit!” Mrs. Nelson barked at me. I sat. “We were just about to do a toast!” She placed a flute of sparkling champagne in front of me.

I obediently reached forward and grabbed it, raising my glass to meet the others.

“To the Wildcats!” all the girls sang as we clinked glasses together. I took a sip of the sickeningly sweet liquid and felt the bubbles burn a path down my throat. I noticed Brooke set her glass down without taking a sip.

“I don't drink. It hampers my ability to practice my cheers,” she said as she pushed her glass in my direction. “Here. Have mine.”

“Leah, this is Lindsay.” Caroline pointed to a blonde with the whitest hair I'd ever seen. Not to mention a tan in a shade of orange I didn't know existed. “And this is Kristen.” She gestured across the table to a surprisingly average-looking girl, whose thick foundation covered still-obvious acne. Her hair was a light brown, clearly expensively highlighted, but it did nothing to mask her skin problem.

Kristen narrowed her eyes. “Hey,” she said flatly, her eyes moving up and down.

“Girls, eat up!” Brooke's mom placed a platter of cookies shaped like Vs on the table. “We have to eat Victory Cookies all season!”

“Mom, seriously.” Brooke laughed as she reached for a cookie. She looked at me. “Sorry. My mom is into all of that weird New Age stuff. Like
The Secret
and positive vibes and whatnot.”

Huh. Interesting. New Age.

“Brookie! Don't laugh! The thoughts, feelings, and vibes you give off will be returned to you thousandfold by the universe!” Mrs. Nelson lit a candle on the kitchen countertop. “Don't you believe that, Leah?”

“Uh, sure,” I said as I took a long sip of the champagne in front of me.

“We have to clear our instruments.” She turned to me and smiled. “That means our bodies, Leah.” She glanced around the table. “Girls, we do that by protein shakes and vitamins, yoga and other energy-balancing activities.”

Brooke rolled her eyes. “Mom, you only do that stuff because it's trendy. You buy all of that junk at Whole Foods.”

“Leah, is your mom going to join the Boosters Club?” Caroline asked, examining her long, pink, sparkly nails. She looked up and squinted at me, her thick eyeliner forming an electric blue border around her eyes.

BOOK: Shadow's Edge
7.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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