Emerson is hoping for a few quiet months to catch her breath after a summer that included the discovery she is not only a twin and of faery blood, but also destined to play a pivotal role in the faery world. School has barely begun when Allie must kiss her hope of a normal year goodbye.
She can't escape her unfinished business with the fae, the Trimarks, or Junior Martinez, who is making it clear he plans to win her back. Signs, portents and whispers are pushing Allie to "find the girl" before it's too late. Hoping her twin can help her solve the riddle of their destiny, Allie uncovers old secrets and begins a cross-country journey that puts her in more danger than ever before. If she succeeds, she may just find the answers that can save everyone she loves.
Marilee Brothers is a former high school teacher turned full-time author. She married her college crush, and they have three sons. Marilee lives in Washington State, where she's hard at work on the next book in the UnbiddenMagic series. www.MarileeBrothers.com
"... wanted the story to be longer." -- Heather Hiestand, Romance Reader at Heart
"This book is a real humdinger – fast-paced and full of wonderful twists and turns." -- Katy Sozaeva, Now Is Gone
For the first time in months, Anna Starr Emerson, my newly-discovered, long-lost twin was the last thing on my mind.
Picture this: me boogying my buns off at the Peacock Flats H.S. winter formal with none other than... are you ready? Cory Philpott! Yeah, that Cory. Pimply-faced, pudgy-around-the-middle, butt-ugly inside and out Cory Philpott, who had once delighted in shaking a can of soda so it would explode in my face and make a mess of my only decent outfit, and then brayed his donkey laugh.
If I’ve learned one thing in my short life, it’s this: people are not always what they seem.
Take me, for example. My name is Allie Emerson and until recently, I didn’t know I had magical abilities. Or that I’d inherited faery blood from both my parents. Or that I had a twin sister. See what I mean? And now, Cory, who’d made my life a living hell for two years until I’d scared him straight, was gazing at me with what could only be described as puppy-dog eyes. Oh, did I forget to mention he was now tall and lean with unblemished skin and blond, non-greasy hair? I know, it sounds like a total lie. But Cory was proof. Miracles do happen.
Last summer, Cory’s father, Deputy Sheriff Richard Philpott had shipped Cory off to a boot camp for obnoxious bullies. He’d come back a new person. I wasn’t as surprised as some of my friends. It’s true, Cory had been majorly annoying. But I knew, deep down, Cory was scared to death. I’d even defended him occasionally.<
My best friend and neighbor, Mercedes Trujillo, always said, "You know what, girl? You collect strays like those people on TV with a bajillion cats and dogs. Except you collect people instead of animals.”
When Cory had called to ask me to the dance, I was deeply suspicious and said, "Sorry, no.” Junior Martinez would have been my first choice, but he was thousands of miles away. He’d become a huge TV star in Mexico and was now making movies in the U.S. My former boyfriend, Beck Bradford, had moved on.
It sounds like I have a whole stable of hot guys just dying to take me out. Not true.
Bottom line: I really did want to go to the dance. I still had my Peacock Flats Fruit Bowl queen dress, so why waste it?
After a long silence in which Cory breathed heavily into the phone, he said, "Okay, you want me to apologize for all the mean things I did to you.”
Actually I didn’t, but it sounded good. "That’s right.”
"Allie, I’m sincerely sorry for all the stuff I did to you. I’m a new man now.”
I can’t stand bullies, and Cory had been one of the worst. Had he really changed? "You used to pick on Mercedes and Manny all the time. Apologize to both of them and it better be real. I want to be there when you do it.”
It sounds like I was tormenting him but, trust me, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the stuff he did to Mercedes and her brother, Manny. And, since neither of them had a mean streak, guess who got to defend them? That would be me.
The phone went silent for so long, I wondered if he’d hung up or passed out from shock.
"Cory? You still there?”
"Yeah,” he said, with a groan in his voice.
The boy was definitely suffering. Since I believed in karma, I tried—unsuccessfully—not to feel sorry for him. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be going to the dance with Cory.
"I’ll do it. Tomorrow after school.”
My mouth dropped open. Finally, I stammered, "Well, that’s just great, Cory.”
The next day, he'd followed up on his promise. He managed a fairly decent apology. Even though he’d mumbled, he looked squarely into the eyes of both Manny and Mercedes Trujillo. "Sorry for all the shit I pitched at ya. I’m different now. Okay?”
Mercedes, who had the kindest heart in the whole world, was ready to forgive him. Me? I needed more. "Could you please be more specific?” I said.
Sweat broke out on Cory’s upper lip. "Um, like how?”
"I seem to remember you hurling degrading ethnic comments at Manny and Mercedes.” Geez, I sounded exactly like my English teacher, Mrs. Burke.
Cory’s eyes rolled upward as if looking for an answer from above. Mercedes giggled. Manny caught my gaze and winked.
Finally, Cory said, "Oh, yeah, I get it. I think.” He leaned close and whispered in my ear. I nodded.
Once again, Cory made eye contact with Manny and Mercedes. "Manny,” he said, "sorry I called you a taco snapper. Mercedes, I know I said you were a big-ass beaner. That was wrong of me. Sorry.”
Mercedes flung her arms open. Cory leaned forward from the waist and allowed himself to be hugged, even though he looked extremely uncomfortable. Manny and Cory shook hands. As the impartial judge, I watched it all, trying to decide if he really meant it. But then, he looked at me with those puppy dog eyes and said, "Was that okay, Allie?” After that, I couldn’t turn him down. I just hoped and prayed he wouldn’t revert to form and slip ice cubes down the front of my dress.
So far, so good.
Still moving to the music, I looked across the gym and spotted Mercedes with her new boyfriend, Gilbert Valencia. Total opposites, they made a cute couple. Mercedes was short and fluffy with a permanent smile. Tall, thin and geeky, Gilbert was so smart he was in advanced everything.
The gym was packed. Cory and I were getting more than our share of curious glances. Hmm, what could they be thinking? Fortunately, I knew exactly how to find out. The moonstone pendant hanging from a silver chain around my neck wasn’t just a pretty piece of jewelry. It had a number of functions. Some were still a mystery. Lucky for me, I’d mastered the one I needed.
Yep, it’s true. I could read minds. Normally, I saved that particular skill for something more serious. Something like, does this person want to kill me? Not this time, though. I just wanted to have a little fun.
Executing a spin, I clapped a hand over the moonstone to keep it in place and moved it a couple of clicks to the correct setting. Now, every time I formed an unequal triangle with two other people, it would create an energy vortex, and I’d get a little peek inside their heads.
Instantly, a wave of dizziness washed over me. My arms flew out, and I staggered back a few steps to keep from falling.
"Cool,” Cory said, copying my moves exactly. "New dance, huh?”
I kept doing it so he wouldn’t feel bad. Actually, it worked out well. As we carried on, waving our arms and staggering, we created space between us, and it didn’t take long before I was moving in and out of triangles. I began to pick up snippets of thoughts. Some nice. Some, not so nice. Most of the not-so-nice comments were from girls. Like, Corey’s so hot! What’s he doing with her? Isn’t that the same dress she wore when she was Fruit Bowl queen?
That’s the thing about reading minds. You find out stuff you’d rather not know. I’d just decided to abort my mission when I saw Caitlyn Roger. Caitlyn, a tall, slender blonde, was smirking as her gaze roved from the top of my head to the toes of my thrift shop shoes peeking out from beneath my Fruit Bowl queen dress. Caitlyn’s hair was styled in an elaborate up-do. A number of curly tendrils, stiff with spray, cascaded from the piled up hair and framed her face.
Did I really want to know what was floating around in Caitlyn’s shallow brain? Of course I did. I maneuvered into position and heard the following: Allie is such a skank! I heard she was doing it with Junior Martinez and now she’s with another guy.
Really, I had no right to be angry. I’d been rummaging around in Caitlyn’s mind, uninvited. But I was. Mad as hell. I sucked in air and tried to calm down. First off, I was not a skank and second, I definitely wasn’t doing it with anybody. I shot a slitty-eyed glare at Caitlyn and her hair exploded. The artfully arranged up-do burst free from its invisible anchors and shot upward, standing on end as if she’d stuck a fork into an electrical socket. Swear to God, I didn’t mean to. It just happened. My anger apparently triggered another of my magical abilities. TKP. Telekinetic power.
With a shrill scream, Caitlyn stopped dancing and started flapping at her hair like she was shooing away invisible flies. Everybody stopped dancing and stared at her, eyes wide with disbelief.
Corey said, "Whoa, look at that chick’s hair.”
I moved the moonstone back to its original setting and said, "Maybe there was a power surge.” Actually that made no sense, but Corey nodded his head and looked at me like I was the smartest girl ever.
When the music stopped, a bunch of her friends gathered around Caitlyn and Cory said, "I’ll get some punch and cookies.”
Since it was probably a good idea to move out of Caitlyn Rogers’s immediate vicinity, I nodded and pointed at the back wall where all the chaperones were lined up. "I’ll go say hello to Mr. Hostetler.”
At the mention of our principal’s name, Cory blinked nervously. He’d spent most of last year getting reamed out by Mr. Hostetler. I placed a hand on Cory’s arm. "It’s okay. I’ll tell him you’ve changed.”
Cory blushed. "Thanks, Allie.”
Frowning, Mr. Hostetler pushed away from the wall when I approached. "How ya doing, Allie? I was surprised to see you with Cory Philpott.”