Authors: Amber Garza
A Delaney’s Gift
Bonus Short Story
Cover Model: Brittany Norris
Graphic Artist: Lisa
Author Photo: Megan Squires
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
reach for me, slithering around my legs and arms
until it has me in its firm grip. M
by the strong current
too tired to fight
longer. Water laps over my head,
and cutting off my breath
I claw at the frigid liquid, but it slips between my fingers and swirls around me until I’m dizzy.
nted water swims on my tongue
and clogs my throat.
Closing my mouth, I struggle to keep my panic in check.
swallows me whole,
clouding my vision
. I can’t make out Micah’s frame
and I’m sure he’s far ahead by now.
Before the current swept me up we’d been swimming together.
Air escapes my lungs, and I am pulled further down. Sputtering, I attempt to kick with my legs and pull with my arms
, but it’s a losing battle
Each time I start to propel myself forward I am knocked back down.
Tilting my head up, I catch a glimpse of light shimmering from the surface. Fear grips me at how far away it is.
Foamy water swirls around me
like a flurry of snow
, and I begin to lose
feeling in my limbs.
As my head spins and my chest burns, darkness envelopes me.
tossed in the waves like a rag doll, I curse my useless muscles.
If only I had superhuman strength like Micah I would be able to fight the current. What good is seeing visions of a future catastrophe if I’m not strong enough to prevent it?
I think about the vision I had just an hour before of the little boy drowning in this river. It’s the reason we came here. I only ho
pe Micah gets to him in time. At
least then my death won’t be in vain.
Just before I drift off, I feel arms circle my waist and hoist me up. My head rolls to the side
and everything goes black.
I shoot upright, a cough erupting from my throat.
Water spills down my chest, causing me to shiver.
Arms cradle me, a finger brushes my cheek.
I am lying
in the dirt and it scratches against my wet legs. Goose
bumps arise on my flesh.
Everything is blurry, but as my vision clears I take in Micah’
s dark skin,
his muscles imprinted against
his wet t-shirt.
“Delaney, thank God you’re okay.” Micah
his face in my neck. His long d
locks swish along his back. He tightens his hold on
me, pressing his chest to mine
. I can feel his heart
beating erratically against my flesh
“I thought I lost you for a minute. I don’t know what I would’ve done…” his voice trails off, his words thick.
I know how he feels. There’s no way I could live without Micah either. We’d been best frien
ds since we were both in diapers.
oat burns too bad to answer him
so I just continue coughing.
My eyes widen as I take in my surroundings
— the river rushing behind me, the sandy beach all around
I grab Micah’s arm
and he lifts his head.
“It’s okay,” he says softly. “
The paramedics are on their way down
We’ll get you to the hospital.
He doesn’t realize that my panic isn’t about me.
“What about the boy?”
Micah smiles reassuringly
I got to him in time. He w
as only under water for a
Not a scratch on him.
I nod, relieved
Only Micah i
werful enough to get to
the boy in time
and make it back to save me. I never should’ve doubted him.
Already I feel stronger, more like myself. That is one of the perks of being a Warrior – our resilient bodies.
dark eyes search mine, worried
them like spider’s legs.
At this moment h
e looks so much older than thirteen
Micah has always seemed
older than he is. W
e’re not exactly typical teenagers.
“I always knew the boy would be okay.
” He fingers a strand of my wet hair.
It was you I was worried about.”
“Thank you,” I force the words out of my scratchy throat.
“Hey.” Micah shrugs and gives me a tight smile. “You don’t have to thank me. We’re a team, Laney. I’ll always save you, you know that.”
I bite my lip. It’s true that he’s always saved me, but
I worry that
I won’t be so lucky. What if
Micah isn’t always here to rescue
me? What will happen then? I know Micah loves being an
and at times so have I
ut in this moment
I want to run from my calling. I want to shed my duty like a pair of old
oes. I never asked for this,
and I don’t want to lose my life for it.
“Micah, stop looking at that guy’s neck. He’s not one of us, okay?” I grit my
teeth. The guy in
line ahead of us
in the school cafeteria
looks around agitated. That doesn’t stop Micah though. He keeps moving in
close to the guy, trying to catch a peek of his skin buried
under his long brown hair.
He looks like he could be. Besides, he has
on his arms,” Micah whispers back.
” I lower my voice even further. “
Not every follower of
is a Warrior
“Ah, but some are.” Micah smiles
and I can tell I haven’t deterred him at all.
“You know, your quest to find the other eight is really annoying sometimes.”
r denial of our calling
is even more annoying.” Micah raises his eyebrows.
cafeteria door opens
, and a breeze blows in
kicking up the guy’
s hair in front of us and exposing his neck. Which is, just as I suspected, completely devoid of the
“I told you.”
The truth is
I’m relieved. The thought of finding the others makes my stomach churn. I know what it’ll mean when we’re finally all together
and that’s something I’m not ready for.
Micah sighs as we move forward in line. My stomach rumbles as I smell the greasy food.
“What’s with you today, anyw
ay?” Micah asks. “You’re really
“Oh, I just had a bad dream
n a hand over my long
hair and glance around the cafeteria. Students sit at tables laughing and chatting, completely oblivious to the dangers threatening our town.
Must be nice.
“About what?” Micah’s chiseled features are etched in concern, and his chocolate brown eyes narrow. As he leans
, I catch the familiar scent
of his bar soap and laundry detergent. He wears a t-shirt and jeans
and his muscles bulge through the fabric. I notice other girls glancing in our direction
, appraising him
Not that I blame them. He is totally hot.
I bite my lip, not wanting anyone to hear our conversation. Bending my head closer to Micah’s I say, “About the time you saved me from drowning.”
“Why would you dream about that?
three years ago.
I shake my head. “No idea.” Only I guess that’s sort of a lie. Micah doesn’t realize how significant that event was for me. Sure he knows I almost drowned, but not how badly it scared me. Part of being a Warrior is to be to
nd for the most part I am,
ut once I tasted death I realized how much I wanted to live.
was the day I started hating my calling. That was the day I started dreaming of being a normal girl.
From across the room
. When we lock eyes, he immediately lo
wers his gaze
. I watch as
turns from me and
slides onto the bench next to
his friend Jake. He flashes Jake
a lopsided smile, and his dark hair falls over his pale forehead.
He must sense that I am still staring
because his eyes find me again. My insides churn the way they do every time I look into his eyes that
resemble the sky on a
I venture a tiny smile
but he doesn’t return it. He never does, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I don’t know why. I’ve never been able to figure out why Sam intrigues me the way he does.
cocks an eyebrow
my gaze. When he sees where it lands, he frowns. That’s wh
en my eyes settle on Sam’s arms. They are
smooth and pale, devoid of our markings
proving that he isn’t a follower of
. I glance down at my own arms and take in the colorful images painting my flesh.
“C’mon, it’s our turn.”Micah nudges me.
I move forward and grab an orange tray. “So, you
hang out tonight?”
“Can’t. I’m going to Aunt Tabby’s.”
Reaching for a packaged salad, I smile. I’ve always been a little jealous of Micah’s close ties to his aunt. I’m not close to any of my extended family.