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Nightblood Academy

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Description

Supposedly, demons aren’t real. But I got whisked away by a boy who led me into a parallel universe and it turns out everything I thought I knew about magic was dead wrong.

Their world has been devoured and turned barren by a demon sorceress - an energy vampire.

Now she’s determined to cross over to my world and make it her next magical wasteland. No fricking way. Not if I can help it.

I never felt special. I wasn’t a superhero.

I’m an ordinary girl - at least I was back home in my world. Once I crossed over, everything was different. I’m different.

*Nightblood Academy is a stand-alone urban fantasy adventure for mature readers.*

Scroll up and one-click to start reading this suspenseful, steamy academy romance today.

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Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 20 janvier 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781645631910
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0012€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

NIGHTBLOOD ACADEMY
ALLISON WESTPublished by Blushing Books
An Imprint of
ABCD Graphics and Design, Inc.
A Virginia Corporation
977 Seminole Trail #233
Charlottesville, VA 22901
©2020
All rights reserved.
No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The trademark Blushing
Books is pending in the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Allison West
Nightblood Academy
EBook ISBN: 978-1-64563-191-0
Print ISBN: 978-1-64563-192-7
v2
Cover Art by ABCD Graphics & Design
This book contains fantasy themes appropriate for mature readers only. Nothing in this book
should be interpreted as Blushing Books' or the author's advocating any non-consensual
sexual activity.C o n t e n t s
Part One - Orenda
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Part Two - Elfinland
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Epilogue
Allison West
Blushing Books
Blushing Books NewsletterPart One - OrendaChapter 1
Dreams
LIGHT STREAMED in past the curtains, forcing Lil's eyes open. She grumbled and rolled
onto her stomach, burying her face further into the pillow. At any moment, her mother
would come into her room and yell at her to get out of bed. She'd be late for school if
she didn't hurry. Lil pushed herself out from under the covers and sat up. She grimaced
and glanced at the light peeking in through the curtains. Most mornings, the light was
bright yellow from the sun rising just outside her window. But today, an eerie pink glow
bled its way into her room, leaving her bedroom a sickening shade of bubblegum.
"Mom?" Lil called, but she heard no answer. Down below, the porch door squeaked.
Lil moved toward the shades. Was this one of Jamey's pranks? She loved playing
tricks on Lil, as any ten-year-old sister would. Lil half expected to see pink plastic wrap
on the window. She peered through the curtain and pushed it aside. Lil's heart skipped
a beat at the odd hue of the sun. Dark red clouds gathered and rolled in toward the
house. The wind whipped outside, causing the windowpanes to shudder. The clatter
sounded as if long talon-like fingernails tapped at the screen. A shadow quickly flew
over the house. Lil studied its shape on the ground, unable to see the creature from her
window. Was it… a dragon? She backed away from the window and froze, hearing the
creature land with a thud on the roof. Her eyes shot up toward the ceiling. Something
was walking up there. Silently, she hoped it wouldn't find its way into her home.
"What the…" she mumbled to herself. She had to be dreaming. "Wake up." Her
surroundings didn't change.
Lil rushed down the stairs, two at a time. "Mom?" Her mother would know what was
going on. Maybe a storm was coming? Tornados weren't rare occurrences in Missouri.
She made her way to the kitchen and found the house quiet and empty. Lil searched
the counter, finding it empty. Her mother never left without a note. It wasn't like her.
Everything was wrong. She trudged back up the stairs to her room.
"Jamey! Hurry up in there! I have to get ready for school." Lil pounded on the
bathroom door as she passed. She walked toward the closet and pulled out a
halfdozen outfits, dropping two on her bed. The rest of her clothes littered the floor. She
settled on a pair of jeans and a lavender shirt. Lil stalked to the bathroom and found it
uninhabited. "Thank you!"
She stripped down and changed into her clothes. When she looked up at her
reflection in the mirror, she took a tentative step back, bumping into the tub behind her.
Her reflection was different. Her pale skin had a distinctive creamy glow, and her eyeshad brightened to ocean blue instead of their usual faint sky blue. Her long brown hair
now had streaks of blonde highlights. She glanced down at the tips of her fingernails
and noticed they were a midnight blue with yellow bolts of lightning.
"What the hell!" Using her thumb, she tried to brush the polish off, but it didn't
budge. "Jamey!" Lil opened the bathroom door.
Coming out from the bedroom, a little boy with chestnut hair rounded the corner and
stared up at her with steel-blue curious eyes. "Yes?" he asked with a warm, inviting
smile. "What is it, Willow?"
Staring back at the stranger who wasn't much older than her sister, Lil's eyes
widened. No one ever called her Willow. She hated her given name, Willow Porter. She
much preferred Lil. "Who are you?" she demanded, pushing past the young child
toward her sister's room. "Jamey? Jamey, where are you? This isn't funny!" Lil reached
the bedroom and found the walls painted with a jungle theme. This wasn't Jamey's
room! Jamey's room had butterflies and mermaids on the wall. This was a boy's
bedroom. What was happening?
The room spun. She swayed in the hall, her eyes widening further in confusion as
she saw the pictures on the wall stare back at her—Lil and the same little boy smiling
and hugging. Her fingers traced the frame, and she took two steps forward, finding
another photograph of herself and the same boy sticking their tongues out and making
faces at one another. Not a single family photograph of her family adorned the wall, and
none contained her little sister.
"Calm down," said a familiar voice from behind Lil. She spun around and jumped at
the sight of herself staring back at her. "You're not supposed to be here." The young
woman looked exactly like Lil, but with soft blue eyes, simple brown hair, and unpainted
nails that had been chewed. She was the perfect reflection of how Lil saw herself every
day. Ordinary. Just behind Lil's look-alike stood a boy, muscular and a few inches taller
with dark, messy hair and pale gray eyes. She didn't recognize him, and she would
have remembered a face like his; he was good looking.
"What's she doing here?" His voice had the faintest hint of an accent. If she didn't
know any better, it almost sounded Australian with a thick twang. "I didn't do this, I
swear. You have to send her back. It's not safe for her here, Willow."
"Rawlie, I know that. Hush," Willow said, sounding frustrated. "I'll send her back."
She reached out, the tip of her finger touching Lil's arm, transferring a spark of
electricity between them.
The jolt bolted Lil upright in bed, and she struggled to catch her breath. She pushed
herself out of bed, her heart pounding as she raced for the window, needing to see the
truth with her own eyes. She pushed aside the curtains, finding the sun blindingly bright
and yellow, the same as it was every other morning. The wind was calm, the world just
as she had left it when she went to bed. She breathed a sigh of relief and opened her
bedroom door. Her little sister, Jamey, walked into the bathroom. "Not so fast!" Lil said.
Lil threw her arms around her little sister, spinning her around in a hug.
"I have to go the bathroom, Lil." Jamey untangled herself from her sister's embrace.
"Lil, is that you? Are you awake?" Her mother's voice echoed through the house. Lil
released her tight hold on her sister and ran down the hallway. Once downstairs, Lil felt
relieved to see her mother.
"Are you feeling all right, dear?""I had the strangest dream," Lil said with a sigh, plopping down at the kitchen table
in front of a bowl of cereal. She lifted the spoon and stared down, confused by her
fingernails. Her pinky finger was painted midnight blue with a yellow bolt of lightning
etched into the center. "Mom." Her voice hitched at this reminder of her dream. It
couldn't be real, could it? Lil didn't remember painting her nails last night. A knot grew
in her stomach.
"We'll talk when I get home." Lil's mother planted a soft kiss to her daughter's
forehead. "I've got to head out for work; I'm running late. Mrs. Henley is going to come
by in a few minutes to make sure Jamey gets off to school when you leave."
"I know, Mom." It was the everyday routine. Except for the painted nail, everything
seemed ordinary. Lil emitted a heavy sigh, rubbing her forehead and trying to
comprehend what had happened. Her dreams never meant anything. In fact, most of
the time, she couldn't remember them at all. It was strange for her to have such a vivid,
realistic dream. Lil watched her mother grab her keys and purse and head out the front
door.
"Bye," Lil whispered.
Jamey stalked down the stairs and leaned on the railing. "Are you still being weird?"
"You're the weird one," Lil said, lifting her head and taking another bite of breakfast.
"Is Bray coming by and taking you to school?" Jamey grinned, walking closer to the
table and brushing her long blonde locks into two pigtails.
Bray lived across the street from Lil. They were best friends, practically inseparable.
"No. He went in early for cross-country. What's that look for?" Lil finished the last bite of
cereal.
Her sister came to stand in front of her. "Lil and Bray sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S—"
As Lil stood up, Jamey stopped mid-sentence. Jamey didn't wait for Lil's reaction.
She tore up the stairs, just as the doorbell sounded.
"I guess I'll get the door." Lil rolled her eyes and left her empty bowl on the table.
She walked to the front door, and noticing a folded blueprint, she bent down. Her
mother must have dropped it on her way out of the house. After picking the plan up, Lil
unlocked the door, letting Mrs. Henley into the house. She walked back to the kitchen
with the strange paper. What was her mother working on?
LIL SAT inside the classroom at Twain High, her eyes scanning everywhere but the front
by the blackboard. She had never been overly eager for school. It wasn't that she was
dumb, quite the opposite. She'd been bored and the teachers had never attempted to
challenge her. Her gaze dropped to her hand, and she put her pen down. One
distinctive mark remained from her dream. It made no sense. How she could have been
someplace else? It had to have been a dream. Right?
Frustrated, she let out a heavy sigh. Her mind wandered, and she glanced out the
window. In the distance, she saw it—the slightest ripple and flash in the forest preserve
just across the lawn. She had just walked through there earlier that morning on her way
into school. Lil jumped in her seat. No one seemed to notice. Her eyes widened. Justbeyond the trees, a figure stood tall in blue jeans and a blue-striped, button-down shirt.
Who are you? She shook her head as she glanced back at her English teacher, Ms.
Lee. Her back was to Lil, so she shifted in her seat and peered out the window at the
stranger not more than a dozen yards away. He approached through the trees until he
came as far as the clearing. He leaned his back onto a trunk and nodded toward Lil,
just once. Lil pinched herself, making sure she was awake. Had she fallen asleep in
class? He gestured for her to come outside, letting her know he was there for her.
Lil gasped. Her palms grew sweaty, and her heart raced. A surge of adrenaline
spiked through her, causing an overload of symptoms. Her stomach ached; her hands
trembled. If she didn't calm her nerves, she'd vomit in English class. Would there be
anything more embarrassing than the entire class witnessing her humiliation? "Ms. Lee,
I need to use the bathroom!" Before her teacher could tell her otherwise, Lil jumped up
from her seat and grabbed the wooden hall pass. She rushed out of the building,
leaving the wooden slot in the doorjamb to allow her access back in through the locked
doors. The cool air helped, but it didn't keep the world from spinning wildly around her.
Each step felt as though the distance grew farther apart. Maybe she was crazy for
chasing after a dream, but she needed answers. The stranger from her dream, the boy
she had just seen outside the window, wasn't there anymore. He had vanished. It made
no sense. He wanted her to see him, didn't he? Who was he? Why was he looking for
her?
"Where are you?" Lil called out into the forest. She didn't dare set foot any closer.
Not for fear of the woods, but knowing she couldn't without risking trouble. She needed
to be back in the classroom in two minutes, or Ms. Lee would issue her a detention.
"I'm not giving up so easily." She would get her answers, one way or another. Lil turned
and strode back toward the building, retrieving her wooden hall pass, before slumping
back behind her desk. She hated school, and this mystery made it much more difficult
to focus on the lessons in class.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" Hudson stalked down the stairs of the academy,
catching sight of Rawlie at the bottom of the staircase.
"We need to talk."
"Whatever you think we need to talk about, it's not happening. Go home. You're
needed with Willow far more than we need you." Hudson brushed past Rawlie,
knocking his shoulder. "You'll get us all killed." He had little faith in anyone else.
Hudson had grown accustomed to living at Nightblood Academy, protecting Arianna
and living nearly alone. It had been the two of them for quite some time.
Rawlie was no stranger to the academy, but Hudson didn't want him there.
"It's time we bring her over here."
Hudson stormed passed Rawlie and into the training room. He needed to get his
mind focused and ready for battle. "Willow and Jamie? You know that isn't an option.
They need to stay put. There are protections on that house."
"That's not the girl I'm talking about," Rawlie said. He stood his ground, refusing toback down. He grabbed a sword from the closet and handed one to Hudson. "She
should have arrived years ago when this place was still thriving with students."
The academy had long since been abandoned, the school nearly destroyed.
He lifted the metal blade, waiting for his opponent to do the same. "Lucky for her,
she had a future, at least for eight years. Listen, I know it's dangerous, but she's
already found her way over once. It's only a matter of time until she comes here again
on her own. What then? I'm not asking. I'm going with Willow to retrieve her. I'd like
your help in training her," Rawlie said.
"That's why you're really here, isn't it?" Hudson clanked his blade against Rawlie's
sword, knocking him back several steps. "What if I say no?" He didn't want an outsider
among them. It posed too much of a risk. Besides, he had spent years reading the texts
at the academy, how could he catch up an outsider in a matter of days or even weeks?
He'd had eight years to prepare for war and he felt nowhere near ready. This girl, she
wasn't their savior.
"You won't. Not once she's here."
AFTER SCHOOL LET OUT, Bray drove Lil home. Lil had turned eighteen three months
ago, and she still didn't have a car, but the day Bray had turned sixteen, his uncle had
pulled up in a beat-up blue Moskvich and tossed him the keys. He still had that car
senior year and treated it like his baby.
"Looking forward to the weekend?" Bray asked.
"I don't have anything planned." She'd been waiting all day to tell him about this
morning. She'd seen him briefly for lunch but hadn't wanted to garner unwanted
attention. "The strangest thing happened to me this morning." Lil studied Bray's profile
as he focused on the road. The drive home was slow. They only lived a few miles from
school, close enough to walk through Twain Forest, but no roads cut through.
"Go on," Bray said. They were inching through Main Street. He rolled down the
windows, letting fresh air into the car. With the windows down, the car's rumble grew
much louder.
"Look at this!" Lil held up her right hand, showing him the one finger with distinctive
nail polish. She wasn't capable of such intricate detail. It was stunning.
Bray looked at her hand before returning his focus to the traffic ahead of him. "Okay,
you painted your fingernail."
"I didn't do this." Lil gestured with her left hand. "I dreamt about it. I've never had a
dream where I woke up and something from it was real." She hoped he didn't think
she'd gone off the deep end. How could he not think that, though? She sounded crazy!
"It's weird, but maybe you were sleepwalking. Or sleep nail-painting?" he joked. "I'm
sure there's a reasonable explanation for what happened. You have a little sister; she
probably played a prank on you."
Lil wanted to believe everything was normal, but the dream felt real. She didn't tell
him how it frightened her—the sky, the wind, the creature that landed on her house. "I
don't think so. It gets stranger, Bray. During English class, I saw this guy from mydream. Outside. He stood by the clearing. I took a hall pass and went out after him, but
he was already gone when I got there."
"You did what? That's stupid. He could be a psychopath luring you into the forest.
Did anyone else see him?"
"I'm not hallucinating." She crossed her arms and stared out the side window. "The
guy I saw was definitely from my dream."
Bray sighed. "Maybe he was. Is it possible you've seen him around town and then
dreamt about him?"
"If that were true, how would it explain my fingernail?"
"I'm sure whatever it was won't happen again."
"I hope you're right." Lil didn't want to revisit the dream world.
"I can crash at your place tonight. My dad's working all weekend, and Mom doesn't
even notice when I'm not home." Bray turned right, into the Cedar Heights subdivision,
away from the stream of traffic.
"Are you sure?" Lil's face perked up a bit at the thought of Bray staying over for the
night. It wasn't as though he hadn't spent countless nights at her house while they were
kids. They'd been best friends as long as Lil could remember, and they shared a ton of
things in common, including movies, junk food, and video games.
"I promise that if any weird dreams happen, I will be there to witness them and
protect you," Bray said. "Could be fun, trying to get into the mind of Willow Porter."
Lil hated being called by her given name. "You are not getting into my mind, Braylon
Presul!" She laughed. "You can hang out, but if you so much as try to suggest any
dreams to me..." She held up a finger at him, warning him she wouldn't put up with any
dream manipulation.
Bray grinned. "Don't call me Braylon." He nudged her. "And you have a deal. Do you
want to hang out now too?" He pulled up in front of his house and put the car in park,
waiting for her answer.
"Yes. I thought you'd never ask." Lil grinned. He always knew how to distract her.
"Grab your bag. I'm holding you hostage for tonight."
"Are you sure your mom won't mind if I stay over?"
Lil always asked permission before inviting friends over, both out of respect for her
parents and because she had to. "She has this rule that no boys are allowed to stay
over but you." A hint of a smile formed on Lil's lips. "She finds you harmless, and
besides, she loves your parents." They grabbed their school bags and walked across
the street. Lil unlocked the front door and opened it, stepping inside. "She'll say yes,
and Dad leaves everything up to her. Mom!" She laughed, shaking her head. She had
forgotten her mother wasn't home. "Oh right. She's got work today."
"Your mom's working again?" Bray asked. "That's good, right? Gets her out of the
house?"
Lil dropped her bag and shoes by the door. She walked into the kitchen and
nodded. "Yeah, but I have to watch Jamey and start dinner." She hated babysitting her
little sister. She only had one sibling, but it was one too many.
"Oh, such a tough life. Jamey isn't that bad. What's your mom doing anyway?"
"Your dad got her a job at the Awareness Initiative." Bray's father worked for a
technology company in Cosima. They were at the cutting edge of innovation, or so they
claimed. Lil didn't quite understand what they were doing—and most projects were topsecret, which ensured she'd never find out. But that didn't stop her from repeatedly
asking.
Bray frowned. "Really? Your mom has a degree in science?"
"Yes, girls can be just as smart as boys. Don't you forget that," she warned.
Bray held up his hands in surrender. "I was not implying otherwise. I just don't
remember your mom ever being interested in science or talking with my dad about it."
Lil paused. She couldn't recall a discussion between their parents about anyone's
profession. It wasn't that she cared, though. Most of the time when Lil and Bray were
together, they hung out, joked around, and had fun. They rarely paid attention to their
parents. Besides, if her mother's projects were hush-hush, she was certain Bray's
father's were as well. "Okay, you have me on that one. I do remember Mom telling me
your dad got her a job."
"Mind if I start up the game, Death Run?" Bray asked.
"Yes." Lil laughed. "You don't get a head start, and I want a snack. Are you hungry?"
Bray snuck up behind Lil in the kitchen, startling her. "When aren't I?" His breath
tickled her neck.
Lil let out an anxious breath. A current of butterflies oscillated through her at his
proximity. It wasn't as though they'd never stood close. In fact, Bray was always the boy
who offered to put suntan lotion on her back when they went swimming at the
community pool. She didn't think anything of it. They were best friends. She pushed all
thoughts aside. "Fine, fine." Lil opened the cabinets, leaving it up to Bray to decide
what to eat. "Help yourself," she said, slipping away, trying to hide her discomfort.
Bray seemed oblivious as he glanced through the cabinets. "Don't I always?" He
pulled out chips, pretzels, and snack mix. Lil gave him a look.
"What? You said help yourself."
Lil laughed. "Yes, but I didn't say eat all our food." She rolled her eyes and shut the
cabinets behind him.
"Semantics." Bray grabbed the bags of junk food, taking them into the living room
where the video game console was. "When does your sister get home?"
"Around four." Lil checked the clock. "If the bus is on time. You know how the good
ol' Cosima Public Transportation system is… crappy as ever." There were two hours of
free time until Lil had to entertain Jamey, which consisted of sitting her in front of the
television and putting a movie on.
Bray powered up the console while Lil turned on the television. "It's Missouri," Bray
said. "What do you expect? At least you don't have to pick her up every day."
"Put the game on. It's time for you to lose to a girl." The grin never left her face as
she plopped down on the sofa, controller in hand.
Two hours later, Lil paused the game with a frown. "Did you hear something?" She
glanced around the room. Not seeing anyone, she shook her head, returning to the
game at hand.
"I think that was your sister." Bray caught sight of the muddy shoes in the foyer.
"Must be raining, or she fell in a swamp." There weren't any swamps in Missouri, let
alone on the way home from the bus stop. The room darkened, but Lil didn't notice. She
was focused on winning.
"Must be." Lil shrugged, pushing harder and faster on the controls as her character
in the game died. She cursed beneath her breath. "I can't believe you distracted me!""I distracted you?" Bray asked with a smile. "You've got to be kidding me. You didn't
even notice Jamey."
Lil turned off the console and stood, stretching as she glanced up toward the
balcony. After a moment, she heard a commotion upstairs and eyed her watch. "I
should put on dinner." She headed for the kitchen. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
"Clean up the living room, will you?"
"Me?" Bray grabbed the half-eaten bags of snacks and lifted them into his arms,
carrying them back into the kitchen. "I'm the guest. You should be waiting on me."
Lil stopped and turned around. Bray's hands were full with the half-eaten bags of
junk food. "Don't hold your breath."
Bray grumbled, pushing past Lil as he juggled the bags and opened the cabinets,
placing the snacks back where they belonged.
After several hours of video games, junk food, and dinner, both Bray and Lil found
themselves in front of the television, watching movie after movie. Her parents had
come home late, cleaned up the dinner dishes, and gone to bed. Bray and Lil struggled
to stay awake. "I swear I'm not tired." Lil said, fighting the urge to sleep. After the
previous night, she didn't want to shut her eyes, afraid what she'd seen this morning
hadn't been a dream.
"I'm not going anywhere. I told you that, and I meant it." Bray shifted closer beside
her, both of them buried in blankets on the living room floor.
The upstairs hallway creaked, and Lil turned around, glancing up toward the
balcony loft where Jamey hid behind the railing. "Jamey, go to bed!" Lil hissed.
"I'm not tired," Jamey whined, climbing down the stairs, her hands playing with the
banister railing as she peeked into the living room at them. "Can I watch a movie with
you?"
"No." Lil shook her head. "It's late."
"Lil's right, Jamey." Bray pushed himself up from the pillow. "It is way past your
bedtime."
"You two are no fun." Jamey pouted, crossing her arms as she stomped back up the
stairs.
"Bet that'll wake your parents." Bray shifted and put his head back down on the
pillow.
Lil laughed. "I doubt it. Those two can sleep through anything."
"I bet that's what they want you to think, so they don't have to deal with your sister."
He smiled, pointing up toward Jamey where she crouched once again in the loft.
Lil's voice rose. "Go to bed, Jamey!"
Jamey scampered off down the hall and shut the bedroom door behind her.
Lil shifted back down, resting her head on the pillow. Bray reached for the remote,
shutting the television off as the credits of the forgotten movie rolled in the background.
"I'm still not tired." Lil stared at Bray in the darkness.
"You have to fall asleep eventually." He reached out, his hand brushing a stray hair
from Lil's eyes.
His touch caused her to jump slightly, not sure what he was doing. He hardly ever
showed any signs of affection. They were friends, video game buddies. That was it.
"If you have a nightmare, and I'm sure you won't, I'll be right here."
Lil nodded. "I know. I'm sure I'll be fine." Lil yawned, her eyelids growing heavy. "Ididn't tell you about the rest of the dream. There was a girl who looked exactly like me."
Bray smiled. "Then it must have been a dream, because your only sister is several
years younger than you."
Lil slid a hand beneath the pillow as she closed her eyes. "I guess so. Goodnight."
"WILLOW'S GONE," the young boy said, staring up at Rawlie as he unlocked the front
door and stepped inside their home.
"What do you mean, gone?" Rawlie asked. Nothing looked touched, the house
remained quiet and calm. When he had left to speak with Hudson, Jamie and Willow
were locked within the confines of her home, safe and secure, a protection spell
keeping them from danger.
"She just walked out the front door. It was like she was spellbound." Jamie's voice
hitched as he spoke, trying not to panic. "I tried to stop her. It seemed like she couldn't
hear me. What do we do?"
"How long ago did she leave?" Maybe he still had time to catch up to her, discover
what was going on.
"It hasn't been long. A few minutes, I think? I can't remember."
His best friend had been cautious as long as he'd known her. What had transpired
that put her life in risk and where she'd abandon her younger brother? It was
uncharacteristic of her, unless she believed Jamie was in mortal danger. She would do
anything for her younger brother. After their parents died, Jamie had been her entire
world. There was no way that would have changed.
"I'll find her," Rawlie said, "just hold tight. Don't go anywhere."
LIL SHIFTED ONTO HER BACK, rolling around as the morning light stirred her awake
along with the soft sound of footsteps against the floorboards. "Bray?" Lil mumbled,
half-asleep, knowing if he was beside her, then she wasn't dreaming.
"Hmm?" He refused to open his eyes and wake up just yet. He was not a morning
person.
Lil breathed a sigh of relief, grateful she hadn't experienced any weird dreams.
Perhaps whatever had happened was a simple oddness in passing with no explanation.
It didn't explain the boy outside school during English class, but she pushed that
thought aside. Her eyes opened and she caught a glimpse of her mother heading into
the kitchen. It was earlier than she expected to see her, but stranger things had
happened. If she expected anyone, it was her sister, but Jamey had been up late and
was probably still asleep. Lil slipped out from her blankets and pattered off to the
kitchen.
"You're awake early," her mother said."Looks like I'm not the only one." It seemed like Lil never saw her these days.
Her mom smiled, dropping a kiss to Lil's head. "You and I need to talk later."
Lil rolled her eyes, assuming it had to do with Bray spending the night. "It's just
Bray." Lil didn't see the big deal in him spending the night. "We're friends. We have
been as long as I can remember. Don't turn this into something that it's not."
Lil's mother sighed, watching her daughter, but she let the subject drop. "I have
somewhere to be." She glanced at her watch. "Your father should be up soon to make
breakfast. I want you to take a look at this later." She handed Lil a brochure for
Nightblood Academy.
"You want me to attend a boarding school?" Her mother couldn't be serious. She
didn't have the best grades, but she showed up, she did the assignments, well, most of
them. "It's my senior year, Mom. You're going to move me now?" Was she serious? It
made no sense!
"It's not for you. I want to enroll Jamey next year. I want your opinion. If you think it'd
be good for her."
It sounded like a creepy prep school. What kind of academy was her mom sending
Jamey to? "You care what I think?" Lil couldn't believe it. "Are you trying to get rid of us
both next year? I'll be going to college, and Jamey, you want to send her away to
school?"
"I want to protect her. She's young and easily influenced. I don't want to see her
make the same mistakes you made."
Lil frowned. "Of course, you don't want her to become like me. The screw up. Is that
why you're burying yourself in work?" Her mom hadn't worked weekends in a long time.
"I'm doing what's best for my children, even when they're nearly grown and out of
the house," her mother said. "I have a big project that I can't discuss. I want to make
sure Jamey is cared for properly while I'm at work. You won't be here next year, and my
work load is getting heavier."
Lil didn't bother to inform her mother that she hadn't applied to any colleges, yet.
She doubted she had the grades or test scores to get her into a four-year university.
Besides, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. Couldn't she take a
semester or the year off before pursuing community college?
"Maybe Nightblood Academy is best for Jamey," Lil said, chewing her bottom lip
raw. "It's not like you guys ever cared what happened to me."
"That's not true, Lil. A lot is happening, and I can't get into it. Listen, keep this
between the two of us. I don't want to worry your sister. I'll see you later. Stay out of
trouble," she warned, before grabbing her keys and heading out the front door.
Lil tiptoed back into the living room, careful not to wake Bray.
"Hey, how'd you sleep?" Bray's voice rasped from the comfort of his blankets on the
floor.
It seems he was up anyhow. Had he heard any of the conversation between her
mother and her? "Fine." The dreams seemed the least of her troubles now that her
mother had shoved a brochure for some pretentious academy at her. Worse, she felt
left out for not being given the opportunity to attend such an elite school. Why did she
even feel jealous? In less than a year, she'd be done with school. She never wanted to
step foot in the halls of another institution as long as she lived.
"You seem distracted," Bray said.Lil glanced down at her fingernails. The polish was still there. She'd never bothered
to find the nail polish remover. Would it even take the polish off? She picked at her nail,
finding it impossible to chip away.
"Everything okay?" Bray asked, sitting up on the floor. "I thought I heard your mom."
Lil nodded and sat beneath the covers, keeping herself warm. "Yeah. No." She
couldn't lie to him; he was her best friend. "Mom wants to send Jamey to some stupid
boarding school next year."
Bray remained quiet.
"What?" Lil asked. "Don't tell me you agree with her?"
"Jamey's never been great with making friends. You'll be gone and out of the house,
I assume. Maybe it would be a good transition for your little sister."
"Maybe." Lil couldn't tell if it was jealousy or something else bubbling inside of her.