Authors: Cheryl S. Ntumy
People think nothing ever happens where I live. It’s too quiet, too docile, too peaceful. They don’t know the half of it. I am Conyza Bennett and I am the teen queen of things that go bump in the night....
Conyza Bennett is different to other girls her age - she can read minds for a start. But Connie is trying to put the drama of the supernatural world behind her and get on with living a normal life. Until the Cresta Crew arrive in town...
Because these boys aren’t your average teenagers. For a start they are
good-looking and Connie that underneath their pretty faces something sinister lurks. Connie tries to discover more about the mysterious Cresta Crew, but her powers of telepathy don’t work around these boys.
And as Connie gets closer to the Cresta Crew she begins to unravel a secret that could threaten to destroy everything she holds precious.
Conyza Bennett Book 2
Also by Cheryl S Ntumy
Cheryl S. Ntumy
Cheryl S. Ntumy
always knew she wanted to write. With two teachers as parents, she grew up surrounded by books. As a child she wrote everything she could think of, from comic books and magazines to short novels and film scripts – some of which are still hiding in a dusty closet. She dreamed of exploring the realms of science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural, but ended up studying textile design instead, and then journalism.
It didn’t take long for her to decide that fiction writing was the only career she was interested in. Her first book, the supernatural novella
, was published in Botswana in 2010, and her first romance novel came a few months later. She has published five romance books to date. Unravelled is the sequel to her first young adult novel, Entwined.
Cheryl is now a full-time freelance writer in Gaborone, Botswana, where she spends her days writing, reading and daydreaming about stories. Her friends and family are still waiting for her to find gainful employment. She’s determined to keep them waiting for the rest of her life.
Thanks to Lucy and Emily at Carina for all your help, and especially for the suggestions which greatly improved the book. I must admit I lost the plot for a while there!
Thanks to the Connie look-alikes I’ve spotted over the years, for keeping her story fresh in my mind.
Thanks to the creators and contributors of Wikipedia, which has been so useful I had to name a character after it.
Thanks to everyone who read the first book.
And as always thanks to Aku, for always being my sounding board.
The pain wakes him. For a moment he thinks he must have dreamed it, imagined the searing knife between his ribs. He sits up in bed and listens. Nothing. No one. But when he moves to lie down again he feels it, a scalpel of fire under the skin, cutting its way through the ribs to the pumping heart beneath.
He grits his teeth to muffle another cry and tumbles to the floor, the duvet in a tangle around his legs. He knows this pain. He’s felt it before. He has grown to accept the sudden twinges, the split-second stab while he sleeps, the dull, pulling ache that lingers in the background, daring him not to notice. It’s his constant companion. His curse.
But this is different. He rolls on the floor and curls into a foetal position as the pain strikes again, as if it’s trying to pry his chest open. Why? Why now? Something is wrong.
His breath comes in hissing gasps through his teeth. He presses his back against the bed, willing the cool wood to soothe the burning in his body, but it makes little difference. He needs to think. Why is the pull so intense? There must be a reason.
His mother would know, but he can’t ask her. The curse has destroyed her already, turned her once agile and curious mind into a whiteboard streaked with meaningless lines of colour.
He closes his eyes tight as another wave hits him. Think. Think! Dread creeps into his heart as he realises cold logic isn’t going to help him now. He can speculate all night, but what he needs is the truth.
Taking a deep breath, he drags himself to his feet and summons his power. His body begins to glow with blue light in the darkness of the room. He waits, allowing the energy to accumulate until his whole body burns with it – and then he lets go. Instantly his power explodes into chaotic fragments, making his skin crackle with static, shooting into his brain until blinding white spots dance before his eyes. Part of the power regresses into the realm of instinct, the dark shadowy place he has not visited in years. It’s easier than he expected; he feels a pang of shame. It’s as if he’s made no progress at all.
It doesn’t take long for the information to come to him, riding the wave of blue light flooding his veins. No wonder the pull has increased. They’re moving.
He panics, and energy shoots out of his hand and into the floor. The stinging stench of burnt synthetic fibres rises from the singed carpet. They’re moving, and they’re coming for him.
He opens his eyes, trying desperately to suck the power back into his control. He stands there, swaying with shock and horror. He has to do something. He has to stop them! He has come so far, worked so hard to keep the curse at bay, and they are about to ruin everything.
Connie! His heart twists with anguish. He can’t let them near her. He has to find a way… Another wave of pain strikes, wrenching an agonised scream from his throat and sending him toppling to the floor. On the way down his elbow slams hard against the large crystal on his bedside table, knocking the gem over. It lies on the floor beside his writhing figure, glowing blue. Through the haze of pain and panic he hears someone banging on the locked bedroom door.
“Rakwena! Rakwena! Open this door! Rakwena, what happened?”
Just before the last flickers of blue light sink back beneath his skin, he senses further information rising from the shadows. They’re not coming. They’re already here.
People think nothing ever happens in Botswana. It’s too quiet, too docile, too peaceful. Ha. They don’t know the half of it. I know everything that goes on around here, and I’m not talking about gossip. I’m talking about monsters under beds, eerie vibes in the ether, mysterious whispers in the night. I am the teen queen of things that go bump in the night.
Right now I’m hunched down in the front lines, preparing for a supernatural attack. My general is in the trench beside me, rifle at the ready, so to speak. We’re here to solve a mystery of the mystical kind, and both of us are only too aware of all the magical powers lurking in the room.
It seems like an ordinary ramshackle house on the seedier side of Ginger, one of those slapdash brick and cement structures that look like they went up in a matter of hours. It’s cold inside, and there’s very little furniture. A few plastic chairs, a warped wooden table, a small electric stove and a cooler box in the corner. Innocent. Sympathy-inducing. Or so one would think.
In reality, this little house is crawling with malicious intent. Somebody here is hiding something.
My general, otherwise known as my grandfather, speaks first. “When was the last time you saw your son?”
The woman shifts slightly on the floor, tucking her skirt around her slim thighs. “Two days. He went to school in the morning and never came back.” Her voice breaks and she lowers her gaze, presumably to hide her tears.
But I’m getting a funny vibe from this lady. I zero in on her mind. Her demeanour is guarded, but her thoughts aren’t. She has the flimsiest fence of deceit wrapped around her emotions, because she has no idea who she’s dealing with. My grandfather likes to bring me along on missions as his secret weapon. People think I’m just a kid, harmless, coming to watch the elders at work. They’re wrong. I’m no ordinary teenager. I’m a telepath.
I step over the woman’s defences with ease, and her deceptions are so obvious it’s almost funny. She knows exactly where the little boy is. She’s the one hiding him.
“Huh?” I jerk awake in the passenger seat, startled by the sound of my grandfather’s voice. “Sorry, Ntatemogolo. Did you say something?”
He takes his gaze off the road just long enough to examine me with those all-seeing eyes of his. “Were you sleeping?”
“No!” I protest indignantly. Of course I was sleeping, and lost in a grainy black and white dream featuring Conyza Bennett, supernatural detective. I was just about to expose that woman and prove to my grandfather how incredibly smart I am, and he had to go and wake me up.
I look at Ntatemogolo, all wide-eyed innocence. “I’m awake, really.”
He grunts. He does that a lot. It generally means he thinks I’m talking complete nonsense. I sigh, feeling only slightly abashed. I know it’s impolite to doze off while your eminent grandfather is imparting great wisdom, but I’m exhausted from our three-hour telepathic training session. For the past six months, Ntatemogolo has been brutal. It’s not enough that I can read and plant thoughts in people’s minds. I also have to be able to read the fading energy people leave behind in rooms and on objects. I have to be able to tell at a glance when someone is lying. I have to be able to break any mental barrier and part the murky waters that hide the truth. And I have to learn all this while trying to get through my final year of secondary school. Piece of cake.
Ntatemogolo isn’t your garden-variety grandfather. He’s got a head of greying hair and a neatly trimmed beard with flecks of white. He’s tough, brilliant and completely uninterested in etiquette or political correctness. It’s a miracle that he’s even giving me a lift home today. He never drives me anywhere; he thinks anyone under forty should be able to make daily cross-country treks. It just happens that he’s heading home to Serowe, so I got lucky.
The ancient Toyota Venture bumps along the road, making my teeth rattle, and pulls up in front of my father’s house. It’s an old house, painted a colour that used to be white but is now closer to grey. We have a couple of trees, but no garden, no flowers, no carefully designed yard. Instead there’s lots of bare sand, some overgrown grass, and a few weeds. My best friend Lebz says our yard is unkempt, but I prefer to call it unpretentious.
I step out of the car, glad to have made it home in one piece. I slam the passenger door shut and the entire vehicle trembles. For a second I’m afraid it will collapse, but somehow it holds. Ntatemogolo’s gaze passes over the empty space where Dad’s red Volvo is usually parked. He glances at me for confirmation that Dad is out, and only when I nod does he open the door and climb out of his car.
You’d think he and my father would have resolved their issues by now. They keep saying that they’re too different to be friends, but that’s not true. They both insist on driving cars that are older than me. They’re both academics, far more concerned with acquiring knowledge than making sure their socks match. And they’re both incapable of accepting that their world view might be wrong. In all fairness, Ntatemogolo’s worldview is far more balanced than Dad’s, but it’s difficult for a man who believes in reason to accept that the world is full of things that science can’t explain.