Read Hidden (Hidden Series Book One) Online
Authors: M. Lathan
Tags: #paranormal romance, #paranormal, #young adult, #witches, #bullying, #shape shifter romance, #psychic abilities, #teen and young adult
By M. Lathan
Copyright 2013 M. Lathan
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To Aaron, for everything imaginable.
I understood why she wanted to kill me. I
didn’t belong here in the first place. The world would be better
off without me in it. I closed my eyes, torn between wanting to
escape and wanting it to be over. I should have been more prepared.
I’d known for years what face I’d see in my final moments, but no
power of mine could have predicted what would lead me here.
Only once have I wanted to make a friend. I
was seven, and he was a cat. This old, gangly thing the other
orphans called Mr. Crusty. I would watch him hobble around, no
feline grace left in his bones, wanting to play with and talk to
the other pest at St. Catalina. Like I knew his pain and he knew
Birds swarmed his carcass the day he died,
before I ever worked up the courage to approach him. We found him
out in the courtyard, getting pecked at, his pain and death
meaningless to the hungry birds and everyone watching.
I still had a lot in common with Mr. Crusty.
Especially now as Sienna and her flock circled me. They’d jumped at
the chance to torture me as soon as Sister Margret left class for a
Sienna snatched last week’s Chemistry test
from my desk. I hadn’t turned it over. I knew it was a D minus.
She cackled and passed it around.
“Leah, you would think someone who spends
most of her time alone would have better grades,” she said. Her
birds laughed on cue. “What do you do all day? Obviously not
study.” She gasped slowly like she’d gotten a revelation in that
blonde head of hers. “You fantasize about us, don’t you? You
probably sleep in Whit’s old bed to feel close to her.”
Laughter spread around the room like an
. I shivered. That was an
intriguing thought; I could almost hear the sound their bodies
would make against the floor when it hit.
“Leah, come on. Say something. Scream at me,
it’s been a while. At least cry,” Sienna said, laughing and leaning
into my desk, closer to danger.
I didn’t cry. I never cry. And if I were
going to, it wouldn’t be because of Sienna. I had bigger problems.
I’d just broken a promise I’d made to God to not think about
hurting His people, His children. And today was not the day to piss
My old roommate, Whitney Nguyen, graciously
returned my test as she cackled with the rest of the birds. She
liked the idea of me pining over her, but she knew I didn’t spend
my free time thinking about her or sleeping in her old bed. After
fourteen years of hard labor as my roommate, she’d given up on
being friends or me being remotely normal. The current theory to
explain my oddness was that I was in love with all of the girls and
consumed by lust.
As long as they didn’t know it was
I’d always known it was real. Everyone did.
And I knew, along with the rest of the world, that it was evil,
satanic, and had coursed through the veins of the creatures that
tried and failed to take over the world.
I was afraid of them until four years ago,
when I got disgusting magical powers and changed from a shy
twelve-year-old into one of the monsters from everyone’s
nightmares. That was shocking considering all of the creatures were
executed after the botched apocalypse. I discovered that the
government missed one on a Tuesday afternoon when I wished I could
skip the walk to my dorm. When I opened my eyes, I was there, in my
room, seconds after standing in an empty classroom.
I stuffed my test in my bag, bracing for the
rest of their stunt. Even with my head down and eyes closed, I knew
Sienna had taken a mask they’d spent hours decorating out of her
bag. And I knew Whitney had covered her mouth while she giggled in
She’d wanted to be Sienna’s friend since
Sienna was the blonde toddler named Esther. Before the nuns learned
our real names, we all answered to the one they’d given us from the
bible. It took them a few years to identify the orphans who had
been left to them after the world nearly ended. They thought Sienna
was charming and our little leader, our queen. I struck them as
weary. Whitney’s name used to be Abigail. I’d had to listen to the
passage she used as evidence of being a king’s wife countless
times, just like her idol and future best friend Esther.
Eventually, most of the girls put aside
their bible names and went with what their records showed. I’d been
Leah for eight years already, so I didn’t ask to be called
Christine Grant. It didn’t matter to me then, but after the powers
came, it felt like blasphemy to have a name with Christ in it.
Sienna cleared her throat, getting on with
the prank, and I kept my head down. I’d seen this moment as I
stepped out of the shower last night during one of my annoying and
useless visions of the future. I couldn’t avoid much of what I
predicted. I’d promised God I wouldn’t use magic.
“So, friz,” Whitney said, referring to my
hair – that was curly, not frizzy, by the way. Hers was a slick
black, almost blue, that she’d chopped to her chin after moving
out. Her reasons: she couldn’t stand the silence anymore, she
wanted real friends, and a dozen other complaints I’d tuned out
during her rant. Then she stormed out – a few times to get all of
her things – and climbed to the top of the social ladder overnight,
propelled by what the rumor mill turned into an epic fight that
ended in me groveling on my knees for her to stay.
I didn’t even get out of bed, didn’t say a
word, didn’t even look at her while she packed.
Whitney tapped her purple nails against my
desk. I still didn’t look up.
“I know you never go to dances, or anything
really, but we figured out a way to help you so you won’t miss out
tonight. Just put this on and we won’t know that it’s you feeling
us up in the dark. Plus, you can hide your creepy trance face when
you numb out. We put glitter on it and everything.”
They cackled as the mask swiped the side of
my face and landed on my desk. I exhaled slowly, silently, and
brushed the mask to the floor. I developed a sudden interest in my
textbook, and they finally flapped away from my desk.
This was their idea of fun, but my heart was
black and I didn’t have a soul, so my idea of revenge wasn’t as
funny. It would involve the creepy trance face she hated so
“Back to your seats. Settle down,” Sister
Margret said, slamming the door behind her. “Act like civilized
humans.” They didn’t settle down. Sienna and her flock were still
in hysterics about their prank. The others were sitting on desks,
tinkering with cell phones. I was seated quietly,
to be a civilized human. “Settle down, or you’ll lose mingling
privileges for a week,” Sister Margret said. They rushed to their
God forbid their precious, unsupervised time
with the boys from St. Mathew, the male orphanage next door, be
revoked. The nuns used that threat for everything. It worked on
them every time because they were human and had nothing else to
“It’s time for lab,” she said in the now
quiet room. “Get in your groups. Stay on task in there.” I didn’t
have a group, but I packed my bag and prepared to tuck myself in an
empty corner of the lab. “Uh … Leah.” Her voice was low and flat
like she suspected something had happened to me in her absence. I
went to her desk as the other girls pushed through the door. She
continued in a whisper. “I think you should retake your test while
they’re in the lab. Your C minus won’t survive that grade.”
“Thanks,” I said, even though I didn’t feel
grateful for her pity. Pleasant emotions required a soul, and
things like me weren’t made with them.
She reached me a blank test, and I went back
to my desk. I’d do much better now that there was a wall and a
closed glass door between twenty-two other minds my magic allowed
me to hear.
If I wanted to, I could spy on them, know
their secret desires and shames, but I’d also promised God that I
would ignore their thoughts. The indistinct jumble of words
distracted me all day, especially during class. Homework and
projects kept my GPA afloat at a 2.4. If I had a soul and could
feel humor, I would have laughed when Sister Margret told me I had
She had no idea how accurate that was.
My life would be much easier if my kind had
stayed in hiding like they had been for ages. But no. That idiot
wizard Fredrick Dreco had to go and ruin everything when he decided
to take over the world. Now we were extinct … kind of.
I finished the test in ten minutes. I knew
how to balance equations when I wasn’t ignoring the clatter. I slid
the test on her desk, and she checked over it while I stood
“B,” she said. “Do this the first time next
Friday. I can’t let you retake anything else this term.
I nodded and headed to my desk. My clogs
squeaked against the floor twice on the way there, the soles still
damp from the rain.
I slid into my desk and pulled out my
notebook to scribble. Sister Margaret didn’t mention the lab, so
neither did I. I’d take an F if it meant staying out of Sienna’s
way. Or really, letting her stay out of mine.
A sudden storm had descended over New Haven
while I ate outside alone, so I hadn’t gotten to the best part of
my lunch. I pulled my orange out of my bag and stabbed it with my
nail. This was the only thing my soulless body could feel outside
of pain and anger – momentary peace for the time the scent would
linger in the air. I didn’t know why, but for a few moments, it
would sooth me. I’d be calm, unafraid, like no other second of the
It was one of the most pathetic things about
me – the unpopular weirdo, fruit sniffer, and witch.
“Leah,” Sister Margret said, like she’d
called me more than once. I hadn’t heard her.
“I asked if you thought it was stuffy in
here.” I nodded. It wasn’t stuffy, but I didn’t want to disagree.
It took more words to disagree, I’d found, and I tried to speak as
little as possible.
Her dress swept the floor on her way to the
window. I braced for the February chill, begging my magic not to
rear its hideous head. My most frightening power, commanding fire
to do whatever awful thing I wanted, could flare unexpectedly,
especially when I was cold.
How ironic. Fire was the most effective
method used during the vanquishing of my kind, according to my
history books. I guessed I was the only one with that particularly
devilish power … or else they’d be alive too.
“I’m always afraid when the sky looks like
this,” she said. She cracked the window and reached her wrinkled
hand out into the storm. “It reminds me of the war when the days
were as dark as the nights. It still haunts me, the way they
tormented us, even though they’re all burning in hell right
She slammed the window, and I shook in my
seat. She didn’t notice, too busy mumbling at her desk about the
brother she lost during the war – a story she’d told enough times I
could recite it from memory.
I was sorry about her brother. I was sorry
things like me were vicious and had terrorized humans for years. I
was even more sorry that she wasn’t safe in her own classroom right
now. I wasn’t in hell like the rest of my people, and there were so
many ways I could kill her. I could move anything without touching
it – her body out of that window, her bones under her skin. Or I
could just speak it. I’d never been bold enough to try a spell, but
I knew it would work. She needed to pray more than she knew. But I
didn’t want to be a monster, so I prayed too, even though I knew I
wasn’t supposed to.
According to my file, my parents were
bankers with a normal life. I must’ve gotten lumped in with the
wrong type of babies when I survived the fire that killed them. I
didn’t belong here, praying to their God, living at one of their
schools. But for now, I just had to be quiet and keep the magic
hidden. As long as I was invisible, I would continue to escape a
death that should have happened sixteen years ago.
But my odds of living were bleaker today. It
was the last Friday of the month, and I’d pushed it by thinking of
killing four times already, on the very day I had to go sit in
God’s house with my unclean blood for mandatory Mass. One of these
days, I may burst into flames when I take communion. Then Lydia
Shaw, who was credited for ridding the world of magic, would find
out she’d missed one. Then … that would be the end of Leah and/or