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) (4 page)

BOOK: Hidden (Hidden Series Book One)
6.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“What would time change? I’ll still be a
witch.” The impossibility of her sitting here dawned on me again.
“I thought I was the only one left. I thought magic was …”

“Extinct?” She laughed deep from her chest,
rattling phlegm. “Of course not. My children and I would make five.
Their children would make eleven. My husband, twelve. His sister,
thirteen. I could go on, dear, and that’s just my family.”

I felt dizzy and nauseous again. “Are they
here?” I asked, looking over my shoulder.

“No, my children are all older than fifty,
and Gregory, my husband, is away. We both spend most of our time
helping magical kind.”

“Like me?”

She pulled her arm away and sighed. She
stiffened in her seat.

“Not really.” Her cell phone rang, making me
jump. “Excuse me.” She opened it and walked slowly to the sink,
sighing and listening.

“Are you sure? It’s your decision. I’ll tell
you later. Calm down. She’s only been here for five minutes, give
me a chance.” She sighed and paused, listening to the person who
was obviously asking about me. “I know that. I will,” she said and
snapped the phone shut.

She smiled, her face more strained than it
was before. I didn’t notice what was wrong with that picture until
then. She was smiling and had laughed … hard. Things our kind
couldn’t do.

“What do you know about your parents?” she

“They died in a fire.”

She nodded. “Did you know they were

I shrugged my shoulders. “Um … I never
really thought about it.”

She snapped her fingers, and I jumped again.
A manila folder appeared in her hand, and she slid back into the
seat next to me.

“This is Raymond and Catherine’s will.” I
could count the times on one hand that I’d thought of their names,
that I’d thought of them as actual people at all. “My husband and I
were searching for it. Several of us were, actually. They had no
family or close friends, so when they died, we thought we’d find
their money. Otherwise it would just go to waste. But … when we
found the will,” she said, opening the folder. “We found out about

She pointed to my name, Christine Cecilia
Grant. That was how she knew to call me that. That
wasn’t human. She slid her wrinkled finger to the middle of the
page, to the amount of my inheritance. I gasped and nearly fell out
of the chair. “Fifty … fifty-two million?” I asked. She nodded.

“Yes,” she said, chuckling. “Your
inheritance caused a major treasure hunt when you were a baby. Then
it became a myth since we were all unsuccessful for years. Gregory
and I never gave up, but we couldn’t take it once we learned it was
for you.”

I shook my head, feeling severely
disoriented. “You … knew them?”

“No. Not personally. They were quiet and
strangely private people. No one even knew they had a child. We
believe they hid you in New Haven. They probably knew they were
going to die and wanted you to be safe. We decided not to bother
you and have kept an eye out for you over the last two years.”

I sighed, sinking deeper in my chair. “They
hid me? That’s insane,” I said.

“Not considering what year you were born in.
Everyone was preparing to die. My entire family and I hid out in a
little house for years until we reached a treaty.”

“Treaty?” She nodded. “I didn’t think anyone
else made it but me. That’s what we learned in history.”

“History,” she repeated, chuckling. “The
extinction story serves everyone, I guess. Gives us all peace.”

Not all of us. Not me. “Why would they hide
me with humans?” I asked. She hunched her shoulders, just as

The phone rang again. I shuffled through the
will as she stepped away to answer it. They even had the bank
account information. The money was under my real name at a bank in
New Haven.

“Can you trust me, please?” she said, as
soon as she flipped her phone open. “Thank you. Yes.
She sighed. “I will try. I know how important this is,” she said,
softer and less annoyed with her husband, I guessed. She put the
phone on the counter but didn’t turn around.

“Oh,” I said, when it hit me. Of course this
witch wasn’t trying to help me for no reason. This was the perfect
time to cash in. She conveniently showed up at my lowest moment,
when I wasn’t thinking, when I had no options, to appear as my
savior. I rested my head on the cold marble of the island. “How
much do you want?” I asked. She still didn’t turn. She didn’t need
to pretend anymore.

“Ten thousand,” she whispered. My breath
snagged in my throat. Blackmail. She’d probably turn me in if I
didn’t give her what she wanted. “It’s truly a request,” she said.
“I am not demanding anything from you. I thought I would ask …
since you’re here. Saving people is costly work, and rarely do we
come across someone like you who can help us … help others. I know
it looks calculated, but I swear I stopped you for your own good.
If you choose not to help us, you can still stay here for as long
as you want.”

“You’re not going to turn me in?” She shook
her head, her extremely long hair swaying where it dangled low on
her back. “And I can stay here until I … don’t want to … kill
them?” She nodded and mumbled an um-hum. It wasn’t exactly the
cabin built for one in the secluded forest, but I’d take it. If I
had fifty-two million, I could spare ten thousand, and I supposed
she could have taken it all and I’d never know. “Okay,” I

She turned around with a smile. “Thank you,
my dear. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly grateful.”

“How?” I asked. She narrowed her eyes.

“How … what?”

“How do you feel that? Grateful? Humor? You
a witch, right?”

She walked to me slowly and tucked a curl
behind my ear. “Let’s get you to bed, dear. It’s getting late. You
should rest.”

She led me through her home. Every inch of
it was as fancy as the kitchen. It was softly, but expensively,
decorated with cream and gold throughout. She barely spoke during
the tour, allowing me to take in each room on my own. The flat
screen TV in the living room shocked me. Was she performing for
someone too?

She couldn’t be. She’d openly practiced
witchcraft, evoking the devil with a smile. Not a hint of fear in
her eyes.

“The second floor has more bedrooms,” she
said as we climbed the stairs. She didn’t take me to see them. We
kept moving up the last flight. Sophia was old and on the heavier
side, but had no trouble getting up to the third floor.

I lingered in front of a painting of a
peaceful looking woman, dressed only in a sheet. She rested on a
wood floor, covered in yellow flowers and brownish-green vines.
They looked eerily similar to the ones covering the cabin in my

Sophia tugged on my hand. “That room is
locked,” she said, pointing to a door I hadn’t noticed next to the
painting. “Yours would be this way.”

We walked to the other end of the hall,
skipping the explanation of why the room was locked. The double
doors opened in front of us, whooshing as they slid across the wood
floor. It looked more like a living room than a bedroom. It was
twice the size of my dorm room, so it would more than suffice.

I stepped in slowly and stopped when the
tips of my clogs reached a rug. It was made of cream feathers; it
looked too expensive to walk on. I spun around and saw a huge TV
mounted on the wall in front of the mint green sofa. If I had to
imagine where witches lived, since they were still alive now, I’d
picture their homes smothered in deep purple and black. Nothing
like this room.

“This is the sitting room. The bedroom is
through there,” she said, pointing to an arched doorway.

“This looks expensive.” I wanted to ask if
this was why she didn’t have any money now, but I stopped myself. I
didn’t want to be rude.

I kicked off my clogs so I wouldn’t get mud
on the feathery rug. She led me through the arch to the bedroom. It
was … grand, far too nice for me. But in a house like this, I’d bet
all the rooms were similar.

The bed was a queen-sized canopy draped in
gold fabric thick enough to be curtains. It was as elegantly
decorated as the windows in the St. Catalina formal ballroom.

The comforter was cream with pink flowers.
The same pink flowers I’d seen in my dream. There were about a
zillion pillows stacked from the headboard to the middle of the
bed. Two cherry wood tables sat on both sides of it with cream
candles of varied lengths in the middle of them.

I squinted my eyes as I stepped into the
ritzy bathroom, adjusting to the bright lights the gold and crystal
chandelier scattered around the room. It hung over a huge circular
tub in the middle of the floor, raised on four gold feet. The
shower was separate inside a nearly transparent casing. Soap and
shampoo appeared in there while I stared.

“Leave those muddy pajamas on the floor,
dear,” Sophia said. “I’ll get them after your bath.”

“Um … I don’t have clothes to put on.”

“I’ve whipped up some. They’re in here.” I
followed her through another door in the bedroom – the closet. The
very full closet. Denim, arranged from light to dark, covered the
entire left wall. There were two or more pairs of each wash. The
center wall, the longest, was stocked with jackets, dresses,
skirts, and fancy shirts. The right had shelves with sneakers on
the bottom two, flats on the middle three, and high heels and long
boots at the very top.

I ran my fingers along the upholstered chair
in the center. I guessed I would need to rest while deciding what
to wear with this many choices.

“If you can do this, why would you ever need
money?” I asked.

“Magic doesn’t do everything, and some
things are illegal to create. Not clothes, fortunately.” She patted
my stomach and chuckled. “You’re a tiny little thing, you know? I’m
afraid these won’t fit you.” I looked down at my boney arms
dangling inside the sleeves of my coat. I’d lost weight since I’d
sworn off the cafeteria, but I hadn’t noticed how much until then.
“Do you like them? I’m seventy-eight, and you, my dear, are
sixteen. I hope these clothes are in fashion.”

Seventy-eight? She seemed younger than that,
about twenty years younger.

“Do I need to pay you for this?” I asked,
since I couldn’t give her an appropriate reaction – jumping for joy
and showing gratitude. I wasn’t in the mood to pretend like she

“The ten thousand should cover it,” she
said, laughing. She snapped again, and I heard water beating into
the tub moments later. “There are under-items and pajamas in the
dresser in the bedroom now.” She winked and vanished, leaving me
alone and more than a little stunned.

My knee stung in the bathtub, but I stayed
in long enough for my skin to prune, building up the nerve to

“I know you probably don’t want to talk to
me,” I said, to God. “… after what I did, almost did, and running
away with a witch. I just wanted to apologize. I’ll do better next
time. I won’t lose it when I go back.”

I sat back in the tub, letting the jets
massage my feet. I wasn’t planning on getting out of the warm water
anytime soon until Sophia popped back into the bathroom. I jumped
in the mini pool, splashing water everywhere, and threw my hands
over my less than impressive boobs. She rolled her eyes.

“I have three daughters and four
granddaughters, and none of them take as long as you do in the
bathtub,” she said. She handed me a fluffy white towel from the
cabinet. “Your dinner is getting cold.”

I stepped out of the tub, shielding myself
with the towel. “I already ate.”

“Your diet consists of cold cuts and orange
slices. You did
eat. And most of that is in the garbage
now. I’ve wanted to make you eat something else for a while, but I
try not to be intrusive,” she said, handing me the new underwear
I’d set aside, intrusively.

I stood there, wrapped in the huge towel,
dripping on the tile, until she got the hint that I wouldn’t get
dressed in front of her.

I inhaled the steamed carrots and baked
chicken in the sitting room, hungrier than I thought I was. After,
I followed her order to get in bed.

Sophia rolled up the leg of my sweat pants
when I sat.

“Flesh be healed, flesh be sealed,” she
whispered over the scrape. My knee tingled, and before my eyes, the
skin closed like nothing was ever wrong with it.

“Magic can heal?” I asked.

She pulled back the thick comforter and
motioned me to get under it. “Of course. What do you think magic is
for? Killing?” She laughed like that was the most ludicrous thing
in the world. I stared at her, waiting for something to be funny to
me. She took a deep breath to settle herself. “Oh,” she said. “Is
that really what you think?”

I nodded. “I just thought … since magic is
evil, that it’s for evil things. I mean … we’re soulless for a
reason. Satan … um … made us to-”

She held up her hand and sat on the edge of
the bed like my words had taken something out of her, made her

“Soulless? Satan? Like …
You can’t be serious.” She patted my leg, the one she’d healed.
made you, Christine. If you’d like me to
explain how, I can also get into that.” She smiled, but it didn’t
reach her eyes. “Is that what you meant about feeling?” I nodded.
“What don’t you feel?”

“Happy. Anything good,” I whispered.
“Because I don’t have a soul.”

“That’s what they taught you there?”

Tears filled my eyes. “Yes.”

“You have a soul, sweetheart. One as
beautiful as you are. A sweet and generous soul. You have been
taught wrong, love.”

“Then why did I almost kill someone today?”
The cry distorted the question. “Why am I always so angry and sad

BOOK: Hidden (Hidden Series Book One)
6.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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