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) (5 page)

BOOK: Hidden (Hidden Series Book One)
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Sophia scooted closer and wiped my cheeks
with her thumbs. I needed to stop crying. I hated how it felt, the
liquid weakness on my face. “There is a far less mystical
explanation. You’re always down, sad. You’re always in bed and eat
very little. When I would watch, I never once saw you talking to
someone or doing much of anything. I’m not a therapist, but I would
say you are depressed, love.”

I stared, at her at first, then at the
flowers on the comforter, considering that. I’d never thought
something could be wrong with me … that way. I’d thought it was the
magic.

“Do you think that’s possible?” she
whispered.

I hunched my shoulders. “All I know about
myself is that I’m a witch.”

“Who you are has nothing to do with magic.
It’s about your desires, the things you love, the things you stand
for.” I desired for people to die today and many times before it. I
loved nothing. I stood for … nothing. So Sophia was wrong. I rolled
over, turning my back on her and her theory. She whispered,
“Goodnight," and turned the lights off in the room.

The seriously insane night crashed down on
me hard, but I refused to cry again. I’d done enough of that
tonight for a lifetime.

I couldn’t stay in bed. My mind kept
shifting, racing. There was entirely too much to think about to
sleep. I’d almost burned Sienna and Whitney to death. I’d ached to
hear the sound of breaking bones. I’d met a witch who informed me
that magical creatures were not extinct. My parents, who I rarely
even thought about, left me fifty-two million dollars – an
inheritance creatures have been after for years, and I’d vanished
from the courtyard in front of everyone.

I went into the sitting room, well
my
sitting room that I’d paid ten thousand dollars for, and flipped on
the TV.

A woman with seriously skinny fingers
showcased a sparkly ring for the low price of 29.99 on the first
channel. As I flipped, looking for something decent to watch,
BREAKING NEWS flashed across the bottom of a news screen. But
that’s not why I stopped. The rest of the headline read:
New
Haven Teen Abducted.

 

 

Chapter Three

The news anchor with the fluffy brown bob
was rattled. I heard the panic in her flat, newsy voice.

“Again. We have gotten reports that a
sixteen-year-old girl from New Haven, Connecticut was taken by what
witnesses are calling a
witch
, just hours ago. Security
cameras at St. Catalina Catholic Boarding School reveal a blast of
light but not a figure. Authorities say these tapes are of poor
quality, and they are working to obtain a better image of the
assailant.”

The screen changed to a startling image of
my yearbook picture. My heart squeezed painfully. I looked awful,
eyes detached and deranged.

I remembered that horrible day vividly. A
senior looking for a laugh had startled me on the staircase, and
I’d tumbled down to the next floor minutes before I had that
picture taken. My mind was on revenge – something Sophia didn’t
seem to think had anything to do with magic. The camera caught my
evil glare, and it was now broadcasting around the country.

“This is sixteen-year-old Leah Grant. She
may also answer to the name Christine. She was last seen wearing
light blue pajamas and a burgundy coat. She is said to be around
five feet, five inches, with dark brown eyes and hair. She is
described as mixed race – possibly half black, half white.”

I rolled my eyes at the
possibly
part, hearing Whitney in that. She’d gone through many theories of
my race since my file classified me as other. I never cared, and
she eventually gave up and deemed me an unidentifiable
conglomeration.

And now the world new me as a
possibly
. The world … knew me. I shivered. My evil face
flashed in front of me with the caption:
Teen taken by witch.
Have our worst fears been realized
?

This was beyond terrible. I’d just exposed
magic. Sophia. Myself.

I ran down the stairs. Sophia was stretched
out on the sofa with a book in her hands, looking like the picture
of tranquility.

“I’m a missing person!”

“Naturally, dear.” She turned the page like
I hadn’t said anything shocking.

“They think a witch took me!”

“One did.” She looked up from the book and
smiled. “I suppose I should’ve been more discrete, but I had to act
fast.”

“But, Sophia … humans don’t know we still
exist. Isn’t that dangerous?”

She laughed and adjusted a pillow behind her
head. “The government is well aware, love. We have a treaty,
remember? They only care about those of us who are causing
trouble.”

“But I’ve been hiding there, and I
almost-”

“Relax, honey. I got there in time, and
besides the words of a few frightened teenagers, there will be no
proof. And the government is not interested in sweet little girls
who happen to find themselves in the wrong environment. You didn’t
talk very much to any of the girls, and you didn’t have a
boyfriend. That means you didn’t violate the No Contact clause of
the treaty. You haven’t done anything wrong. Trust me. Go back to
bed.”

But I couldn’t go to bed. I wasn’t a sweet
little girl, and a picture that proved it was on the news. I stayed
on the sofa in my sitting room, watching my face on the screen as
the story looped for hours.

St. Catalina issued a statement saying they
wouldn’t rest until I was found and brought home safely. Home? Yeah
right. I’d only been with Sophia for a few hours, and I already
felt more at home here. Even though she rescued me for money. At
least she was honest about it.

They played the fuzzy security video a
billion times. It looked like I’d been enclosed in light. Then it
flickered and shut off. When the feed picked up again, I was gone.
The camera didn’t pick up Sophia at all. But everyone outside had
seen her. I remembered the horrified looks on their faces before
they ran.

They even had the late night crew on the
story. It was nonstop coverage, like nothing else was going on in
the world. This was the opposite of what I wanted to be. Girls on
the news are
not
invisible.

My eyes became too heavy to hold open some
time after four AM. I dreamed of hell, being ushered in and given
my own room. Even though I hadn’t thought about her much, I felt
like Catherine was there. I walked around, unharmed in hell,
whispering, “Mom.” I couldn’t find her, so I went back to my room.
I lay in bed surrounded by flames that didn’t burn me. It smelled
like oranges. Sadistic peace.

The TV was off when I woke up, and I was
under a blanket I hadn’t covered myself with. Breakfast was on the
table with a glass of orange juice. She’d left a note.

Come down when you’re ready. I have
news.

The eggs and bacon were cold. I glanced at
the clock. Almost noon. I took the plate and headed down the stairs
in search of a microwave.

“Speak,” Sophia said. A dog barked and
startled me. “Good. Fetch.” I walked down to the second floor and
peered over the banister. A gigantic white dog ran to where Sophia
pointed. It brought back a rolled up newspaper. “Wonderful.” She
unfolded a blanket and held it out to the dog. “Now shift,” she
said.

It leaned on its hind legs. Its white fur
faded to toned flesh. Its back paws stretched to feet. His front
paws turned to hands, and he grabbed the blanket from Sophia. The
chiseled face of a boy replaced the snout. Shifters were not
supposed to look like that. In the pictures I’d seen, they had
bloody claws on human hands and foam dribbling from their mouths.
This one had low cut black hair, and he was handsome and … naked
behind a blanket.

“You are exceptionally friendly for a canine
shifter, Nathan. Playful, even,” Sophia said.

“Thanks, I guess,” he said then looked up at
me. He bucked his eyes. I could tell they were deep green from
where I stood frozen and staring. He tightened the blanket around
his waist.

“Good morning … well … afternoon, dear,”
Sophia said, like a naked boy wasn’t next to her. One that had just
been a dog. “You don’t have to eat that. I have lunch waiting in
the kitchen for you.”

I nodded and passed the witch and shifter I
was told didn’t exist. I spotted the grilled cheese sandwich on the
island. I sat where I’d been last night when Sophia turned my world
upside down … or right side up. I wasn’t sure yet.

The sound of something purring made me jump.
Then something brushed my leg. I looked under the island and a huge
cat … no a
freaking
panther with a shiny black coat crawled
from under it.

I screamed and flipped out of the chair. It
crawled closer, purring, as I scrambled to my feet. I crashed into
Sophia and screamed again.

“Remi,” Sophia said, calmly. “We agreed that
you would stay on two legs this morning, didn’t we?” The cat … or
person, curled up and loosened something silky from her leg that
was tied there.

As she rose to her legs, she draped herself
in a black robe. The teenaged girl had jet-black hair against
ghostly skin and the strangest ice-blue eyes.

“Sorry for frightening you,” she said, her
human voice still a purr. I was too freaked out to speak. Remi
strutted out of the kitchen before I could get any words out.

“Are you alright, sweetheart?” Sophia asked.
I nodded as my heart settled from the shock of seeing a panther in
the kitchen.

She straightened the chair for me and patted
the seat. I sat down and nibbled on the sandwich.

“That was my news. I brought you some
roommates, or maybe I should say … bought.” She giggled but stopped
when I didn’t join in. “Your generous contribution allowed me to
rescue a couple of teenagers in need. They’re all around your age
or a few years older. That was Remi. She’s a shifter. Panther. You
saw Nathan. There is also a witch here. Her name is Emma. I’ve
known her since she was two years old. You’re going to
love
her. And … this doesn’t technically count as a rescue, but my
grandson, Paul, has come for a change of scenery. Honestly, he’s
driven my son and daughter-in-law insane, and I’m giving them a
break.”

She opened the window over the sink, and
warm, wet air spilled into the room. Way warmer than expected. She
inhaled dramatically and released it with a smile, taking the happy
witch thing a little too far.

“I think this is going to work out well,
dear. You can stay as long as you want, hopefully get to know the
other kids, and have a little fun.”

Or not. I wasn’t the friend type. I’d never
been. Whitney only hung around me because we’d always shared a room
… until she reached her limit. And Mr. Crusty died before we had a
chance to meet.

Sophia smiled, and a tall boy with blonde
hair framing his slender face walked into the kitchen with us. He
had on ratty gray jeans, a green dress shirt buttoned only halfway
up, and a blue scarf around his neck that it seemed too warm for.
He looked like he belonged both in a dumpster and on the cover of a
magazine. Disheveled on purpose. He met Sophia at the sink and
hugged her from behind. “Are you feeling okay?” he asked her.

“Yes. I’m fine. Why?”

He held the back of his hand to her
forehead, checking her temperature. “I didn’t get any lunch yet.
I’ve been up there waiting and wasting away. I’m thinking a
meatball sandwich. Oh, and can you sprinkle cheese over my bread
and bake it in like you usually do?”

“I told your parents you’d have more
responsibility here, Paul,” Sophia said. He pushed his lip out and
groaned, acting like a toddler. Not what I expected a wizard to act
like. “You’ll have to get your own lunch, but I’ll make everyone
dinner. So stop pouting and say hello to Christine,” she said. I
wanted to correct her and tell her my name was Leah, but I was too
nervous to say anything. I hadn’t had to talk to anyone close to my
age since Whitney left.

Paul leaned over the island, his face
hovering over my plate, and winked – eyes as blue as his
grandmother’s. Up close, I could see scraggly blonde hairs on his
face trying to become a beard. Again, making him straddle the line
between handsome and bum.

“Hi there,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about
you …
all day long
. I was annoyed, honestly, but now it was
well worth sitting through Nana’s constant praise of you.”

Sophia smacked his butt. “Don’t be foolish,
Paul. She’s way out of your league.”

Paul laughed, a sneaky little laugh, and
wrapped his arms around his grandmother again. He puckered for a
kiss and she dodged his lips until he planted a sloppy one on her
cheek. What the hell? Kissing grandmothers? Laughing? Obviously
pretending to be something we aren’t. But why?

“Out of the league of your favorite
grandson?” he said. “That hurts, Nana.”

Sophia wiggled free and smacked his
shoulder. “And stop smoking! You smell awful,” she said. Paul
sniffed his shirt and laughed … again. “We’re about to have a
meeting. I’m going to lay down the rules, and you especially should
be there.” He walked around the island and pulled out a chair next
to me. Sophia snapped her fingers, and it flew back to its place.
“Don’t even think about it. Find somewhere else to sit.”

He threw his head back and groaned. “I
thought you said I was getting a break. When did you become worse
than my parents?” he said. Sophia rolled her eyes, and he left us
alone in the kitchen.

“Sorry, dear. Paul is nineteen but doesn’t
act a day older than seven sometimes. Let me know if he comes on to
you. I’ll set him straight.” I nodded, even though I was sure he
wouldn’t. Same species or not, I wasn’t the kind of girl guys were
interested in. “What were we talking about?” she asked. “Ah …
buying out the hunters.”

“Hunters?”

BOOK: Hidden (Hidden Series Book One)
9.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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