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

Hidden (Hidden Series Book One) (3 page)

BOOK: Hidden (Hidden Series Book One)
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Her birds snickered. Oh, yes, because
suicide is so damn funny. Maybe that was why I’d felt the eyes on
me so much lately. Maybe I’d been under surveillance by cameras I
couldn’t see, cameras meant to stop me from hurting myself.

“It’s true, Leah,” Whitney said. “I heard
them too.”

“They think you’re at risk,” Sienna said.
“I’d agree. Actually, I thought you would’ve offed yourself years
ago. Especially when Whitney traded up and told us exactly how
strange you really are.” I took several deep breaths and tucked my
hateful hands under my legs. “So … in light of this,” Sienna
continued in a professional tone. “We have compiled a list of
requests in the event that you hang yourself in that room one
day.”

Incessant, idiotic giggles seeped under my
door. I tucked my head under the covers, fuming. The bed shook with
me. I wanted to invite them in politely and let the fire in my
chest have its way for once.

What could I say?
Come in girls. I’ve
been meaning to tell you guys that I don’t care about Whitney. I
don’t care about anything, actually … except detaching your skinny
legs from your body and turning your bouncy hair to ash on my
floor.

Words of a killer, of a witch. One that
would be dead before dinner if she didn’t control herself. I drew
in a ragged breath and went with silence instead.

“Number one,” Whitney said. “Can it please
be a school day so we can get out of class? Number two. Can you
leave a note where we’d see it so your body won’t stink up the
place?”

They were waiting for me to scream at them
so they could laugh at me. I heard it in the thoughts I couldn’t
ignore. Sienna had promised them she’d spice up their boring
morning.

“Number three,” Sienna said, taking over
again. “Can you please be wearing the friendship bracelet you made
Whit?”

They laughed, and I refused the thickness in
my throat warning me of tears, the closest I’d come to them in
years. There was no friendship bracelet. I’d thrown the fake one in
the trash; the one they’d told everyone I’d spent hours on.

That day, Sienna waited until it was quiet
in the cafeteria after she called for everyone’s attention. She
threw the bracelet on my table and told me my attempts to get
Whitney back were both hilarious and futile. I ran out of the
cafeteria and all the way to the bathroom. That was the first time
my foul spirit urged me to kill. I had their deaths planned to
perfection in under a minute, like they’d awakened a demon that had
been asleep for fourteen years.

And that demon was alive and well and
pounding against my chest to be free. I prayed for them. Even if
God couldn’t care about me, he would care enough about them to get
them away from my door before I snapped.

“Alright, let’s go. Our show is about to
come on,” Sienna said. I guessed He was listening. They giggled and
shuffled away from my door.

I could see why they thought I’d kill
myself. To say I worry about my death constantly, I didn’t have
much of a life. If I died right now, nothing would change about the
world. No one would cry. They’d only care if my body made the dorm
smell. But the thought of not existing burned worse than their
words. And it hurt to let them get away with it today, more than it
ever had. I hoped my self-control wasn’t waning.

I changed from one pajama set to another
after my shower and crawled back in bed. I hadn’t moved much since
Sienna gave up on her prank. I nibbled on a sandwich for dinner as
I plotted my escape after graduation. College was out. All of the
brochures showcased dorms and classrooms, and I’d had my fill of
those. My plan was to find my way to Florida, where oranges grow. I
could sleep in a field of them. Live there, hide there, die there
in my own time.

“I’ll be invisible in Florida,” I said,
pulling the covers over my head. I pretended my pillow was the
angel’s wing I sang about. My eyes fluttered. Then the fire alarm
blared.

I shot up in bed, rattled, more worried that
I’d done something to set it off. A single thought about being cold
on the wrong day could’ve done it. I checked the room. No smoke. No
fire.

I threw my coat over my pajamas, stuffed my
feet in my clogs, and ran out of the room.

We waited in the courtyard for Sister
Phyllis to creep out of the building. Most of the nuns were old,
but she wasn’t. Her limp was from an injury from the dark days.
Something like me hurt her, but she survived.

“Nothing to worry about girls,” she yelled
over the horns. “A little steam-” The alarm shut off. “A little
steam from someone’s shower,” she continued, softer. “Procedure
dictates a roll call, so don’t leave until you respond to your
name.”

When Sister Phyllis called my name, I raised
my hand so I didn’t have to speak.

I had two plausible exit options: wade
through the crowd or cross Sienna and her flock by going on the
outside of the group. The third option, go straight to my room from
where I stood, would have Lydia Shaw here in no time. I chose
option two. Crossing in front of five girls had to be better than
shuffling through fifty.

They stood in front of one of the hairy
trees behind the crowd. Wet grass and mud slushed under my feet as
I approached them.

“Boo!” Sienna yelled, well aware of how
easily I startled.

My hand flew to my chest, and my foot caught
on a root, sending me barreling to the muddy ground. I waited for
the laughter, prayed for it, so I’d know something odd hadn’t
happened like one of the hairy branches falling on their heads.
Sienna cackled first, then the rest of the crowd. Thank God.

I stood, covered in mud, my right knee
stinging, and gasped when I saw my leg. Blood seeped through my
pajama pants, right through the rip the raised root made. Not just
blood. Magical blood. Blood, that under fire, according to legend,
would cast a different color than the typical orange. Back when the
world was crawling with us, it was how to tell if a creature was
lying about being human. One drop of their blood over a flame.
Since witch was the most plausible explanation of my powers, my
blood would send purple smoke into the air. One flick of a match
and my life was over.

It was far fetched. I knew that. Who here
would think to test the Spaz’s blood? But I couldn’t stop the panic
in my chest. Or it from rumbling in my stomach. Or it from raising
turkey and oranges to my throat. I ran with one hand covering my
knee, the other over my mouth. Fast. Spastic.

“Seriously, she makes this too easy,” Sienna
shouted, loud enough that I heard her over the laughter.

My stomach twisted again, and I jetted
through the doors just in time to make it to the bathroom on the
first floor. Then it came up. The puke and the tears. And the blood
from my knee smeared on the tile beneath me.

I cleared the floor of my curse, the evil
that would cause my death if anyone ever held a flame to it. I tore
a line of tissue from the roll and dried my face, furious with
myself for crying. I would never live this moment down. Sienna and
Whitney and all those who seek to impress them would keep this
memory alive for the rest of our time here.

Death. That was what being here was. Why did
I fear Lydia Shaw catching me if I was already dead? Why did I care
so much about living? I leaned my head against the toilet, rocking
myself, trying to erase the notion of not existing. Thoughts like
that, hopeless, dark thoughts directed at myself, felt like
drinking acid. A burning, bitter feeling that I couldn’t hang on to
for long.

Sister Phyllis knocked on the open door of
the stall. “Leah, are you okay?” she asked.

“Yes, Sister.” She took my word for it and
left me alone like every authority figure here did. I guessed as
long as I was
okay
, they didn’t have to do anything about
how I was treated here. And I was treated no better than the vomit
swirling around the flushing toilet.

And I supposed I deserved that. But they
didn’t know why. They didn’t have a reason. They saw some helpless,
quiet girl. Someone who would never speak up, even when they
encouraged her to kill herself. Innocent. Defenseless.

But I wasn’t. Nothing in me was good. Our
library had pictures of things like me with horns protruding from
their heads. That’s what I was, and every part of me wanted to own
it and punish them now. Burned to.

I shuddered as that thought possessed me,
enraged me. My heart crashed in my chest. I couldn’t hear the
toilet anymore, and the bathroom walls blurred. I was no longer in
control. God couldn’t help me now. Or them.

I opened my hand and allowed the fire to
form there, hovering over my palm, not burning me at all. Their
skin wouldn’t be so lucky. I made it shrink in my hand, hiding it
until the right moment. That way they wouldn’t have time to
run.

I stalked into the hall, knowing that with
my distraction and her limp, Sister Phyllis hadn’t made it to the M
names. Sienna Martin would still be out there. So would Whitney
Nguyen.

The part of me that wanted to be good, that
had fought and strained for years against this rage, stalled my
feet at the door for a moment. Long enough to notice the hairs
standing on my arm. Then I saw her, laughing and enjoying a soul
she didn’t deserve. I couldn’t hear the sound, that shrill cackle
that had nagged my ears for years, but I
did
hear the growl
rip from my throat.

I moved closer, covered in mud, but as my
true self finally. I didn’t want to bother trying a spell. I wanted
to see my will move her bones. I wanted to feel the heat of the
flames coming off her body. She’d burn. She’d feel like me.
Tortured and dead.

My feet were steady now, sure that I was
ready to misbehave. I lurked closer, and a bright light flashed in
the stretch of grass between us. An older woman was there in the
middle of it. Her hair was pure white and long, like it had never
been cut. She held her hand out to me, her face pleading for me to
take it.

They saw her too. Their faces were as
frightened as mine must have been. They screamed and scattered and
I stood there frozen. Sister Phyllis limped away, fell, and
continued her escape in a crawl.

“Hello, Christine,” the woman whispered. I
trembled as she stepped closer. Christine? No one had ever called
me that. “I’m Sophia. I’m a witch. I’ve been watching you. Don’t do
this. Come with me.”

“Watching?” I mouthed. I couldn’t manage the
sound.

She nodded.

I was right about the feeling, about the
eyes. Hers were a sparkling blue, like water glimmering under the
sun. Something in them made me reach her my muddy hand.

She pulled me closer to her plump frame. She
whispered something too soft for my ears to decipher, and my body
lifted from the ground. My hair and pajamas blew violently in the
seconds that we soared through the air or through the light, I
couldn’t tell. Even when I opened my eyes, I could only see the
white of her hair.

We landed with a thump in a fancy kitchen.
She dropped my hand, and the fear that should have struck me at my
dorm pommeled me. A witch? How? How was that even possible?

Another wave of fear rocked me as I realized
I’d almost become a murderer. Sienna and Whitney were
sixteen-year-old girls, and I almost ensured that they wouldn’t
turn seventeen for startling me. I’d fallen on my own. I’d freaked
out about my blood by myself.

I was the worst kind of evil.

Shame and fear pushed on my stomach,
dredging up the rest of my dinner. She snapped her fingers, and a
trashcan appeared in front of me. I hurled and cried as she rubbed
my back.

Soon, the vomit stopped, and I was only
gagging on spit and guilt. She swept my curls up and placed a wet
cloth on my neck. Her touch didn’t carry anything with it. I
couldn’t hear her thoughts and I didn’t feel a thing, unlike the
times I’d accidentally touched a human.

She stared at me as she wiped my mouth,
carefully and gently. “You wouldn’t have hurt anyone,” she said,
almost like she’d just discovered that. “You would’ve stopped
yourself without me.”

She sighed and brushed my hair out of my
face. She smiled like she liked and was surprised by what she saw
there. She stepped away and pulled a cell phone from her
pocket.

“Hi,” she said to the person she’d called on
the other end. “New Orleans. I … I took her. I had to. I thought-”
She paused and brought her free hand to her hip. “I know. I know. I
can handle it. She’s …” She looked over her shoulder to me. “This
situation is … fragile. I’ll call you.”

She turned around to me and smiled
again.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“My …” She paused, taking my hands in hers.
“My husband. I needed to tell him what I did. We’ve both been
watching you for a while. I thought I needed to stop you from…” She
flipped my hands over and stared into my palms. She must have seen
the fire come from them in the bathroom.

“Why would you care if I stopped?” I
asked.

“Because you’re not hateful. I don’t want
you doing hateful things just because you’re upset. I think you
need to rest a while. Do you want to stay here until you calm
down?”

She pulled two of the four tall chairs out
from under the large island in the center of the kitchen. I perched
on the edge of the seat. It was cream, like the billions of
cabinets in here, and I didn’t want to get it dirty. She sat next
to me and put an arm around my shoulder.

“I’m too young to leave school,” I said. I’d
been plotting my escape for years. I knew the day, down to the
hour, that I’d have custody of myself. When I could make my own
decisions and head to Florida.

“You’ve already left school. You’re in New
Orleans, Louisiana right now, and you can stay as long as you want.
As long as it takes you to feel differently about those girls.”

BOOK: Hidden (Hidden Series Book One)
9.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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