Authors: Kaitlyn Hoyt
“Ok, so fill us in on what happened while Larkin was briefly out of it,” Emma asks, leaning forward, waiting for my response.
“Well after I was knocked off of him, Larkin got punched. The man turned around, and I kicked him. Then he punched me. Then I kicked him again. Then he attempted to stab me, so I ducked. He punched, knocked me to the ground, and attempted to stab me again. Then, Larkin woke up, stabbed him, and splattered blood all over me. The end.” I blankly stare at Emma.
She just smiles at my answer. “Short and simple. I like it. But couldn’t you have told us what was going on before you disappeared with him? What would you have done if something happened to Larkin and he couldn’t bring you back here?”
“I would have gone to Jane and tried to explain why I was covered in someone else’s blood and had a couple of broken ribs.”
“Can’t you take this seriously?” Colton whispers to me.
I turn to face him and see how angry he actually is. I almost flinch away from him. “I am taking this seriously. It happened. I’m fine. There’s nothing to worry about it.”
“Nothing to worry about?” He angles himself more toward me. “Nothing to worry about!” he yells. This time I do flinch back and scoot more toward Liam. “Do you always have to be the hero? You could have died, and there wouldn’t have been anyone there to save you!”
“I’m not trying to be the hero, Colton. I was given these visions for a reason. Me. You weren’t given them. I was. I’m supposed to be able to help when it’s needed. I saw Jane and Ross get murdered. Are you telling me that I was just supposed to sit here and do nothing? That I was supposed to let her be murdered when she doesn’t know anything about this magic stuff!” I start yelling back at him. “I’m not going to stand here and watch more people die because of me!”
I can’t experience another situation similar to Claire. I just can’t.
“Ryanne,” he opens and closes his mouth a couple of times, trying to gather his thoughts. “I understand why you had to go, but couldn’t you have told us where you going? We were left here not knowing if we were ever going to see you again.” He leans forward and tucks a curl behind my ear. “You may not care about your safety, but some of us do.” His hand lingers at my ear for a moment, before he clears his throat and gets up and leaves the room.
My eyes follow him out of the room before I turn toward Liam, “What was that about?” Liam wraps an arm around my shoulder and pulls me toward him but never answers the question. I scan the room.
No one can look me in the eyes.
I open my eyes in the middle of the grassy field. I do love this place…when I’m not being attacked by anything. I sit up and look around, waiting for Liam to appear. I’m a little worried. What could be so important that he can’t tell me in front of everyone?
I jump and look behind me to find Liam walking across the field in my direction. “When did you get here?” I ask.
“A couple of seconds ago,” he says as he sits down on the ground next to me.
“Ok, so what’s this big secret you’re keeping?” I lean toward him, waiting and preparing myself for the worst. I can’t think of anything that he would intentionally keep from me.
He sighs. “It’s not necessarily a big secret. I just wasn’t sure how you’d respond when you found out, so I thought this would be the best way to tell you.” I lay down on my back and wait for him to continue. During his pause, I look up at the clouds. The soft white clouds move ever so slightly with the breeze. This place is so real. I turn my head towards him when he speaks again. “Do you remember when I told you the story about that pendant?”
“About how your mom made it?”
“Yeah, actually let me give you a little history lesson first. In my mage tribe, the Seasnáns, all the men are protectors. I am. Bragden is. When we reach puberty, our mothers will make a pendant for us signifying that we are now old enough and strong enough to begin our training to help and protect others. Each man only gets one, and he has to wear it every day. Every single day.”
“What happens if you were to take it off?”
“All my strength will eventually be drained out of me. I’ll gradually weaken. It doesn’t happen quickly, but it’ll happen. The pendant keeps everything connected together. Magic. Strength. Life.”
“Oh my gosh, Liam.” I grab onto the flame and start to take the pendent off when his hand stops me.
“You have to hear the rest of the story, Ryanne.” There’s more to the story? I let go of the necklace and give him my attention again. “As I mentioned, every male is given one pendent. It’s said that the pendants are meant to be given to the one person that we are supposed to protect. Each man is given one person in life that he’s meant to protect in some way. Apparently, you’ll find a way to that person. Somehow you’ll discover who you are going to protect.
“When you were stabbed in that dream, you would have been stabbed when you returned to your body. I had this feeling that you were the person I was meant to protect, so I gave you the pendant in the hopes that you wouldn’t be injured when you returned. Considering you’re still here, it must’ve worked; though, I honestly have no idea why. I’m supposed to protect you, Ryanne. You’re the person that my pendant accepts. It’s telling me that I have to remain by your side to protect you.” He lets out a breathy laugh. “You’re not making it easy for me either.”
“So, you have to protect me…is that why I’m so comfortable around you?” I can feel tears start to rise in my eyes. For some reason, it really hurts knowing that the pendant is the only reason that Liam is my friend. I thought we shared something special.
“No, no. Ryanne, listen to me. That pendant doesn’t affect you in any way. It doesn’t affect your emotions or feelings. I’m your friend. That’s why you’re comfortable around me,” he pauses and runs his hand through his hair. “I would have told you sooner if that was the case.”
Ok, so the pendant doesn’t affect me, but does it affect him? “Liam, what happens to you if I take the pendent off?”
“I’ll die,” he whispers. I shoot up and face him.
“What? Are you serious?”
“It wouldn’t be instantaneous, but like I mentioned earlier, all my strength will be drained and I’ll eventually die. I’ve heard it’s very painful when someone refuses protection after the pendant has been given away. The pendants basically choose who they think are worthy of protection and mine chose you. I need to be able to protect you, Ryanne. I need you to trust me.”
“This doesn’t make you like my…” I stumble through my words.
“It doesn’t mean that we are destined to be together, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m just meant to protect you at this point in your life. Because of the pendant, I can usually tell where you are. Sometimes I’ll get this weird feeling if you need help or comforting,” he explains. “Being around you gives me strength, which I’ll need to protect you with. That means no more hero stunts, ok? I’m not sure any of us can take it anymore. You’ve scared us a lot recently.”
“I’m not trying to, Liam. Danger just follows me around. I don’t ask for it to come to me.”
“I know. I know. Just next time you feel the need to go save someone, invite me, ok? I can help you. It’s physically draining knowing that I’m supposed to help you, and you won’t let me.”
“If you told me earlier, I would have brought you. You’re less annoying than Larkin.” He chuckles at my comment. I watch him. I know that sounds weird, but it doesn’t happen all too often with Liam. It’s nice to see him smile and it actually reach his eyes. It’s a good look for him. “I’ll try to include you in my near-death experiences from now on.”
“That’s all I’m asking for. Now go get some sleep.”
I wake up the next morning, and Emma is already in the shower. Since I took a shower last night, I just grab my “Team Weasley” Harry Potter t-shirt and a pair of shorts and get dressed. Once I’m fully clothed, I knock on the bathroom door. Emma stops singing a Lady Gaga song.
“I’m coming in to brush my teeth. I’ll make it quick!” I say as I open the door. Grabbing a washcloth off the counter, I wipe off the mirror. Because of Emma’s shower, it’s covered in steam. I gasp when I see my reflection. My hair is sticking up in every direction. I brush my teeth before I bother trying to fix my hair.
The water in the shower turns off, and Emma walks out with a towel wrapped around her body. She moves past me and heads into the room to get dressed, while I work on my hair. Ten minutes later and with no improvement, I give up. “Do you want to switch hair with me for a day?” I ask Emma.
“Of course.” She laughs when she sees my expression. “Hmm, your hair is a little thicker today than it usually is.” She grabs a couple of bobby pins and gets to work on my hair. She braids my bangs back and pins them down behind my ears. When she reaches for her straightener, I decide that I’ve had enough and run out of the room before she turns back around. “Oh come on Ryanne, let me straighten your hair!” she calls after me as I run down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“What’s up, buttercup?” Logan says with a smile at the same time that Emma runs into the room.
“You are such a spoil sport. First you refuse to dress somewhat girly, wearing all those nerd shirts with the weird sayings on them,” she points to my Harry Potter shirt. “And now you won’t let me do your hair or make-up.” She puts her hands on her hips. “I don’t know what to do with you.” I walk around the table and sit down in the seat between Bragden and Liam.
“There’s nothing wrong with how I dress, and what’s the point in doing your hair and make-up when we always end up training and getting all sweaty and gross?” I pull my legs up onto the chair and wrap my arms around them. “And it’s not like I’m trying to impress anyone. I don’t really care about my appearance, Emma. Sorry to disappoint ya.” My smirk turns into a full smile when I hear the guys laughing around me.
Emma turns toward David. “Do you see what I have to put up with on a daily basis?”
“Oh, I’m not that bad. No one has run screaming from me because I look
“They haven’t seen you when you first wake up.” She looks around the table. “Her hair is literally this big,” she tells them and puts her hands up to her head to show the size.
“I do not have an afro in the morning.”
“Ok,” she relents, “but it’s still crazy.”
“I’ll give you that.”
Tom comes into the room and grabs an apple off the counter. “Who all is going today?” David, Emma, Colton, and Liam all raise their hands.
“Going where?” I ask. They all made plans, but no one told me about them?
Tom looks over at Emma. “You didn’t tell her?”
“Psh, if I told her earlier she would have locked herself in our room and pulled a bunch of magic around her so no one could touch her. So, no. I didn’t tell her.”
“What’s going on?” I ask Liam. “Why would I have done that?”
“We’re going shopping today,” Emma replies. When I groan, she continues. “Well, you’ve destroyed like all of your clothes already, so you have to come with us. If you don’t, I’ll steal every article of clothing you have left while you’re in the shower and hide them randomly throughout the house.”
“I could just read your mind and find where you hid everything.”
“I’ll take all your bras and hide them in the guys’ rooms.” She crosses her arms over her chest and stares at me from across the table. The guys kept glancing between the two of us, waiting to see what will happen next.
She’s challenging me? Shaking my head, I lean toward Liam. “She does realize who she’s talking to, right?” David stands up and takes a couple steps away from Emma, knowing that I have something up my sleeve.
“Don’t you dare, Ryanne!” I call my magic to me and concentrate on visualizing what I want to happen. I close my eyes and wait for her reaction—her scream when my magic hits her. When I hear her gasp, I open my eyes and smile. There is a small rain cloud directly above Emma, pouring water onto her. She is soaking wet and gaping at me in shock. Her blonde hair is plastered to her face, and her clothing sticks to her body. Everyone around the table starts laughing. Spitting water out of her mouth, she turns and glares at David. I call wind to me and blow it on Emma like a giant blow dryer. When I finish, her hair is a mess, but she is dry again.
“Now who has big hair?”
“Well played, but you’re still going with us.”
When the laughter dies down a little, I say, “Do you remember what happened the last time I was surrounded by a lot of strangers? I collapsed under the pressure. I can’t block that many thoughts. It’s too hard.”
“That’s why you’ll focus on Colton the whole time. You can’t read his thoughts, right?” Emma asks.
“No, but I’ll still be able to hear everyone else.” They’ll be muted, but I’ll still be able to hear them.
“You know what I’ll buy for you if I have to go by myself.”
I groan at the idea of Emma shopping for me. She’ll buy every pink and frilly article of clothing out there as payback for what I just did. I can’t let that happen. “Fine, but if I pass out, it’s on you,” I warn her.
“Yeah, yeah. Blame Emma. It’s all her fault. No big deal. Now I have to go fix my hair,” she mumbles as she turns around and leaves the room.
“Who’s Weasley? And why are you on his team?” Bragden asks me.
I turn toward him, mouth hanging open, surprised at his question. Liam and Colton laugh at my reaction. “Who’s Weasley?” I repeat his question.
He nods, so I turn toward Liam incredulously. “He doesn’t know who Ron Weasley is?” Still laughing, he shakes his head. I turn back to Bragden, who is clearly confused at my reaction. “Muggle,” I mumble to him, which causes the guys to laugh again. I definitely need to remedy his lack of Harry Potter knowledge and soon. What kind of mage doesn’t know about the wizarding world of Harry Potter? I mean come on. We’re the closest thing there is in real life to wizards.
Emma walks back into the room, hair fixed and purse in hand. “Ok, I’m ready. Let’s go,” she announces and then leaves again, heading outside. David gets up and follows her out. Liam and Colton push their chairs back from the table and stand, looking down at me. I just smile up at them and remain seated. I’m not going without a fight. Bragden and Logan laugh beside me, amused at how I’m acting.