Chapter 1: Magic Prickles and Bullies
BOOK ONE: ARCANE MYSTERIES
The metal lockers in front of me vibrated as a body slammed against the other side. Don't get involved, don't.
"Sorry, isn't enough, d*ckwad," a male voice hissed.
My magic prickled across my palms like sharp ice, and I squeezed them shut before anyone else saw my power. Really didn't need to have everyone around me freak out. I tucked the sleeves of my pullover down lower, to cover my fists.
Go to class, Zoey, don't even stop. Except, I never listened to myself, so I rounded the corner. Other students hurried around the trio, their sneaks squeaking across the linoleum, avoiding staring too long at the exchange.
The victim hunched down, curling into himself for protection. His slicked black hair laid flat against his head.
"Give us a reason why we shouldn't shove you into the dumpster," Darren said. "You stared at my girl at the game last night, and sat behind her in class this morning. Think she'd be interested in a sucker like you?"
I rolled my eyes. Pathetic. Darren's face twisted into a snarl and made him look more like a red-faced gorilla than he normally did. His girlfriend was a sleaze, which everyone knew that but him, apparently.
The freshman whimpered, his tear-filled eyes pleading as he glanced around for someone - anyone to help him. I had my own problems. Like keeping a low profile and whipping out spells wasn't going to help that.
Darren sucker-punched the freshman in the stomach and the kid crumpled. Then he kicked him, and the kid skidded across the floor, banging into the wall of lockers. I thought that would be the end of it except Darren gestured to his friend who hauled their victim upright and punched him again. The sound of fists on flesh echoed in my ears, and I cringed. A quick glance around showed a crowd had formed around the fight, but no one was doing a damn thing to stop it.
Damn. They were going to beat the kid to a pulp. Gathering my magic in my hand, I strolled past the chaos, a bit too close to Darren and pretended to trip, bumping into the gorilla. With the reflexes of a viper, I slammed a spell across his back, the magic tingling over my flesh, then I staggered back.
"Oh, my, sorry 'bout that."
"Watch it, loser!" He shoved me away.
I shrugged, stuffing my headphones into my ears and weaving into the crowd. A few feet away, I paused at Darren's yells, a smirk forming on my lips. His letterman jacket steamed. Black spirals curled up from the yellow and white cloth. My smile widened as he jerked it off, beating it on the floor to smother the flames. But he didn't know crap about magic. Then again, most of the normal folks knew nothing about it. The fire wouldn't stop until my spell was complete and his pants were next. Let everyone see him naked and see what it was like to be laughed at.
"What the hell, man?" Darren's friend let go of the freshman who then ran away, stumbling.
The familiar hum of electricity surged under my skin again, ready. I'd been thirteen when the ability manifested. I clenched my fists to hold onto the magic and keep it from sparking out and doing more damage like activating the sprinkler system or blowing out all the fluorescent lights above me.
I turned to leave when Darren's girly scream made me spin back around. Now the sizzling flames engulfed his tee too... wait, it was meant to go for his pants. Guess I put a bit too much oomph in my spell than I thought. Oh, well, not like he didn't deserve it and more. He yanked his black T-shirt off, his fellow bully backed away from him now like he was contagious.
Darren yelled curses, racing for the water fountain on the other side of me.
White curls of smoke wafted from his hair and eyebrows. His meaty hands splashed water on his face and tried to wet his hair too. The scent of burnt hair clogged the air and I choked. It smelled worse than a run-over skunk on a hot, humid day. I gagged, holding my hand over my face as I backed away.
Students raced away from him in every direction and I couldn't say that I blamed them. Ugh, was the smell getting worse? His friend, terrified, shoved others out of his way as he fled not even stopping to get help or look back.
"Help me!" Darren shouted with clumps of his brown hair in his hands. He glanced around, his eyebrows gone, and patches of his pale scalp emerged from beneath his locks.
Oops, definitely a little too much magic.
"Sucks to be you." I laughed and continued down the hallway toward my class.
Someone grabbed my arm. I jerked to get free, thinking it was Darren's lackeys attacking me. A gorgeous guy with spiked silver hair dragged me away. Never saw this guy before. What was he doing here in the first place? Still didn't give him permission to manhandle me.
"What the hell?" I popped my earplugs out of my ears.
He didn't answer but pushed me into an empty classroom.
Did he suspect what I'd done? Adrenaline pumped through me, making my skin tight and hot. I spun, ready to fight if I had to, and curled my shoulders forward.
He kicked the door shut behind him, his eyes narrowed on me. Panic squeezed my chest. My magic sizzled across my palms.
"Saw what you did to that guy," he accused.
Panic slammed into me, and that was terrible news for my control. Before I could stop it, my hands buzzed, and a spark shot out from them and slammed into the wall, burrowing a hole into it. The plaster crumbled to the floor. White smoke billowed up from the wall.
"You think!" His arctic blue eyes glared at me. "Witch!"
My mouth turned to dried paste as nausea rolled through me and I swallowed hard. Think, Zoey, think. Make something up. Anything.
"Wha - you're crazy," I said, keeping my voice level. "That's clearly bad wiring. Not that I'm surprised, this building is older than dirt." God, the principal and the teachers were going to freak about this. Better if I was nowhere near here. Especially since a few feet away, Darren had his clothes and hair dissolved off him. I pushed past handsome, but he blocked my path. This was so not my day.
"Yeah, right." The corner of his mouth lifted into a lopsided grin.
My shoulders relaxed some. Sounded like he was going to let this go. No big deal. So a huge hole was now in a classroom wall, so what? Humans didn't know about magic. He had to believe my story, but no need to give him any more info. Didn't want the principal calling me into question about the freaking hole or Darren or the spark that had flown out of my hand.
His grin made me feel lightheaded. The scent of pine and an addictive musk coming from him enveloped me and my feet slipped forward like he called to me. To taste those full lips and see if they were as good as he smelled.
Wait! I shook my head. What is wrong with me?
"See you soon, Zoey Dane."
"Wha - " Shock zapped through me. How did he know my name?
With a pop, he disappeared into thin air. I stumbled forward, waving my hand back and forth where he'd been standing only seconds ago.
He's a warlock!
Oh, donkey crap. Was he from the Supernatural Council, and I'd just be caught doing magic on humans?
A cold dread filled me because I'd royally screwed up this time.