Authors: Phaedra Weldon
Copyright © 2014 by Phaedra Weldon
All rights reserved.
Published by Caldwell Press
Cover Design Copyright © 2014 Design by Trap Door
Cover Image Copyright ©
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely fictional. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
~ William Shakespeare, Sonnet
My dad is Jack Frost.
Yeah…that's not something I've said aloud much. No one would ever believe me. I wasn't even sure I believed it anymore. And if it wasn't for my freaky affinity with all things cold…I'd have given up on that fact a long time ago. Beyond who he was, my constant wish was to meet him. To see him. To just…know he was real. Despite the fact I'd inherited some of his abilities, some sort of physical contact, a word or a smile would mean the world to me.
I turned nineteen today and just finished my first quarter at University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. It was December 20
, and the temperature had dropped fast since the morning. I was waiting outside Donovan Hall, the Residence Building I'd spent the last eight weeks in. My room mate had already left for winter break.
My ride was late, but Crow had called and warned me ahead of time.
So there I sat on my luggage, my backpack at my side. My hooded coat was in my lap as I watched people walk by and the cool wind moved my hair from behind my ears.
"Hey Amelia!" Matice Renya waved as he ran up to me. "You need to put your coat on or you'll freeze."
I made a rude noise as I noticed Matice had his own coat zipped up and his faux furred hood over his head. His nose was red and he looked…cute. Matice was the first person I met when I arrived in September. Even before my room mate, whom I had absolutely nothing in common with. She was pink and bows and I…wasn't. "It's not that cold."
"Amy…it's forty one degrees out here." He had his hands threaded through the straps of his backpack. I didn't see his luggage. "They're actually saying it might snow this year. Wouldn't that be great? A real white Christmas?"
I gave him a lopsided grin. "That is some serious wishful thinking."
"Aw come on, Amy. Have a little imagination. Don't you want to see snow?"
More than anything
, is what I wanted to say. But my heart wanted something else.
Matice noticed my silence and knelt down in front of me. "Hey…your mom okay?"
"Yeah. She will be. She's meeting us at the cabin in a day or so."
"She healthy enough to do that?"
I looked away from Matice because I didn't want him to see my eyes water. Though he had held my hands several times while I barfed my guts out after a night of too much bad wine and experimentation gone bad. Seeing me like that was okay. But like this? I sniffed. "Yeah. My grandma's been with her in the hospital and she's bringing her up to the cabin tomorrow."
"Crow coming to get you?"
"Mmhmm. He's running late."
"So…I finally get to meet this mysterious man in you life?"
I gave him a harsh glare as I pushed him over onto the cold concrete. "It's not like that. Crow was my dad's partner and he's taken care of us ever since."
"But he and your mom have never—"
I kicked at him. "No. Crow and mom aren't like that at all. I mean…I used to think they would. But neither seem interested in the other. Crow told me he knew how much my mom loved my dad. He died the day before their wedding."
Matice moved closer and put a hand on my arm. He wore gloves so the fuzzy knitting tickled. "I"m sorry, Amy. I bet Christmas is always kinda sad for your mom. And for you?"
"For mom, yeah. He died in December. But me? Matice I never knew my dad. He's a collection of photographs mom keeps on the fireplace mantel. Pictures by her bed." And messages left in frost on my windows in the morning. But it had been a very long time since dad had left a message on any window. Especially mine.
My mom was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. The doctors at the time said it was easily treatable. They got to it in time. Well, they got to some of it. But they missed the worst parts of it, and now she maybe a month. Which was a strange diagnosis for me since she was alert and walking and talking. I thought of cancer patients as invalids in hospital beds connected to tubes and machines.
Not my mom. Sarah Frost was a paragon of contradictions. But when she made her mind up, she never wavered. She legally changed her name when I was born so we would both carry my dad's surname. And she swore she would never love a man the way she loved him.
When I was little, I used to think I could hear voices outside of my window on cold nights. It would never snow but it would sleet and there was always more ice in our yard than any of the other houses. I always knew it was dad.
"Well…maybe this Christmas will be different for you and your mom."
A huge black SUV pulled up to the curb and honked its horn. Matice turned and waved. "That's my mom. Look, you've got my number, right?"
"Yeah. I've got your number."
"If you feel bad or sad or you need to talk, you call me. Got it? Any time day or night. I'll be at my mom's in Dunwoody but if you need me I can be back up here in an hour and a half." He stood and then bent down close to my face; closer than he'd ever been before. "There are people who love you here, too."
And he kissed me.
Matice had never kissed me before.
His mouth was warm and his tongue just brushed the edges of my lips.
The SUV honked again and he pulled back with the biggest, dumbest grin I'd ever seen on his face. "You're warm, Amy. How is it you can be out here in the cold with no coat and you're still so warm?" He winked at me and ran to the SUV.
"Hey…where is your luggage?"
"I've wearing it!" He waved, got into the SUV and the driver took off.
I sat there, on my suitcase, my fingers tracing my lips where he kissed me. The way my heart felt, the flutter and pulse of it inside of my chest… I heard cracking nearby and looked to my right to see the water in the birdbath freeze and climb up in the center to form an ice rose.
Panicked I got up and ran to the bath. My thought was to dash the rose away…but I couldn't. Not because it was something my subconscious might have created…but because it was something my dad…might have made.
Another SUV pulled up, this one a Lincoln Navigator. Crow liked big cars. Even his truck, the one he liked to drive back and forth to work in, was big. He parked at the curb, left the motor running and got out.
His tall, wide shouldered physique was comforting to see. As was his long black hair pulled back in a dark braid down his back. And perched on his head was the big black stetson that he so rarely ever removed. He wore old jeans, work boots and a battered leather jacket.
I jumped up and ran to him and we caught each other in a tight embrace. But nothing ever escaped his gaze and he pulled me back to nod at the bird bath. "You?"
"I think so."
"We need to talk, Amelia."
"I know. Just…not right now. I want to get into town before the temperature drops again."
"Then put your jacket on before people start talking."
I did as he asked and he grabbed my lugged and put it in the back. We pulled away from Donavan Hall as Maroon 5's "Maps" played on the radio.
The first time I realized I'd inherited a little something from my dad I was fourteen.
Tommy Gustoff made fun of me in eighth grade when I told him and some others that Jack Frost was my dad. It was October and still hot outside. He and Bob Mercer were arguing over the fact it never snowed in Atlanta anymore. Which was the truth. It hadn't snowed since the Christmas before I was born. So I happened to say that was when my dad became Jack Frost. Well, the story everyone else knew was my dad was a cop and he was shot by his crazy mom. My grandmother. A nut-job my mom refused to let me meet.
Tommy laughed at me and said I was pathetic for making up lies like that just so I could pretend I had a daddy like everyone else. You can pretty much guess how the rest of the fight went, but you'll never guess how it ended.
I threw a snowball at him. Right in the face. No joke. In seventy degree weather. It just showed up in my hand and I was so mad… The principal suspended me for two days, even though there was no physical proof. The thing melted in the heat. Tommy and Bob both said it was a snowball so they got in-school suspension for lying.
But my mom knew they weren't lying. She cried in the car that day on the way home. I thought it was because she was mad at me. Then later that night she came into my room and told me to never make snowballs again. Because if I did, Nature would take me away from her the way she took dad away.
At that time, I didn't know what that meant. I thought Nature was the name of someone my crazy grandma knew.
What I didn't tell mom was that snowball wasn't the first one.
I'd made one in the back yard weeks earlier while playing with Pepper, my dog. In fact I made a lot of them. It'd been hot and she was panting so I made snowballs for her to fetch and lick.
Before Tommy it was Cheryl No Nose. That wasn't her real name. She was born with a birth defect that didn't make a nose and her parents couldn't afford the surgery, so instead of a real nose she had this bump with holes. I never made fun of her. In fact I always went out of my way to be nice. Heck, I even went as far as freezing a puddle beside a popular girl that was making fun of No Nose. See we never called her that to her face. But this girl did. So when this name-caller turned to run she fell and busted her coccyx.
I got that word right on a test later that year.
No Nose thought it was funny…so I felt good that I made her smile. Then a month or so later a few girls started making fun of me 'cause Keith Pullman liked me. He was the tallest of all the other boys, and he liked anime, just like I did. We started meeting for recess outside and talked about TV shows and movies. I just didn't know that No Nose liked him too.
So one day her and her new friends jumped me in the bathroom. They were going to hold me down and cut my hair. Back then my hair was just blond. Mom called it honey wheat. There were three of them and one of me. And I was scared. Really scared. They had scissors and pocket knives. And the only thing I'd ever done was admit to a crush on a boy.
When the girl on the right came at me I yelled. Loud. And with that yell came this weird feeling in my chest, like a burp. All the faucets turned on full. The water ran so hard the sink drains couldn't take the water down fast enough so it spilled over onto the floor. As it hit the tile it turned to ice. Thick, fractal filled patterns of millions of snowflakes as they raced along with the water and froze everyone's shoes to the floor.
I grabbed my things and ran out of that bathroom, not even caring what happened next.
Nothing did. The girls got into trouble for flooding the bathroom. There were wild stories going around about me and freezing water. But really…who believed anything like that? The girls kept away from me and Keith and I dated for a year after that.
Yeah…I had something. Power. Abilities I couldn't explain. And something my mom never wanted me to use. I never told her about the incident in the bathroom, but I figured she knew because Crow knew.
He always knew.