Witches of Whispering Pines, Prequel
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A misuse of powers. The rule of three. Unintended Consequences.
The magical rule of three states that the energy you put into the world comes back to you three-fold. Sixteen-year-old Charley Cooper is furious when her cousin Danu uses her powers to get back at a high school nemesis without considering the consequences.
When someone puts the other girl into a coma, Danu becomes the prime suspect. As annoyed as she is at her cousin, Charley doesn't want her to go down for something she didn't do.
Even though Charley has never had magical abilities of her own, when she has what she thinks is a vision about an attack on Danu, she's forced to investigate. Can she find the guilty party before her cousin pays - one way or another?
“Fight! Fight! Fight!”
The shouts echoed throughout the hallways of Whispering Pines High School. I pivoted and took off toward the uproar. After all, as a reporter for the school newspaper, it was my job to investigate.
Oh, who was I kidding? I was a normal sixteen-year-old girl and just wanted to find out what was going on. I rounded the corner in a run and stopped so suddenly the soles of my sneakers stuck and I would have face-planted on the hard flooring if Jackson Parker hadn’t grabbed my arm to halt my fall.
"Careful, Charley." He steadied me before letting go.
My jaw dropped at the scene down the hall. “Geez Louise! What in the blazes is Danu doing now?” I blew out a breath of irritation and pushed a wayward strand of my reddish brown hair behind my ear before walking toward the crowd gathered in the hall.READ MORE
My cousin stood facing her nemesis, Tiffany Beckham, super-snob-extraordinaire. Danu’s olive skin flushed with anger and her fists clenched at her sides. She looked for all the world like she was about to punch Tiffany right in the nose. In contrast, Tiffany wore her usual mean-girl smirk and stood with one hand on her hip, her left eyebrow raised.
For some reason, Tiffany had treated Danu with instant animosity when she and my aunt had moved to town last year. In fairness, Tiffany was an equal opportunity bully, but she seemed to enjoy tormenting my cousin more than most. More than likely it was because Danu couldn’t keep from showing her emotions. She had a tendency to react without thinking through the consequences and usually ended up in trouble while Tiffany skated free.
The jeering around them rose, encouraging the two girls to go at it and cell phones popped up like magic.
Tiffany pointed her finger at her target and the kids encircling the duo quieted, not wanting to miss a word.
”You know,” Tiffany drawled, circling her pointing finger. “you’re just pathetic. No one likes you being here. Why don’t you go back to wherever you came from? Even your own daddy didn’t want to stick around. You’re probably the reason he left.” She laughed like she’d said something funny rather than something completely despicable. Two of her posse, Sierra and Brenna giggled. A few hollow laughs rose above the gasps among the circle of shocked faces.
Danu’s eyes bulged, and she took a step forward. Her dad’s leaving remained a sensitive topic for my cousin. She wouldn't talk to anyone about him. Not even her mom.
“Crap. If she gets in trouble one more time, they’ll suspend her. I’m not sure she’ll pass this year with only two weeks left.” I took a step toward the two about to intervene, but Jackson put his hand on my shoulder, stopping me.
“Charley, wait. You’ll just get yourself in trouble.” His worried expression stopped me. “Let me see what I can do.”
I nodded only because I couldn’t afford to get in trouble, either. Anything I did reflected on my dad, the town’s chief of police. If I got caught up in a physical altercation, he wouldn’t be able to go easy on me. I sighed.
We both moved closer, but before we made it to the two girls, Danu relaxed. Her whole stance shifted, and she smiled. It was a smile I recognized all too well. My stomach churned. Gazing down at my cousin’s right hand, my fears solidified. Danu’s thumb and first two fingers rubbed together, circling... circling...circling. My gaze went from those circling fingers to Danu’s silently chanting lips.
“No. No, no, no, no, no. No!” I rushed forward, but it was too late.
Danu snickered, threw up her hand, and pointed to Tiffany’s nose.
A few people behind Danu laughed, hesitantly at first, probably afraid they’d bring Tiffany’s wrath upon them, too. However, as others joined in, the hesitation lifted. Several others pointed.
“What?” Tiffany’s gaze flitted from Danu to the crowd before she turned to face Sierra, who sucked in a breath, her eyes wide.
Sierra leaned in and whispered in Tiffany’s ear. Tiffany’s eyes widened and her hand flew to cover her nose.
Danu wouldn’t let it go even after she’d had her petty revenge. “That’s some giant booger you got there, Tiff. Maybe you should focus on keeping your nose clean and out of everyone else’s business.”
Brenna handed a tissue to Tiffany, who tried to dislodge the offending mucus, but as she pulled the tissue away, that boogie monster stretched out at least two inches from her nose. I didn’t think it was possible, but Tiffany’s eyes widened even more. She started screeching.
“You!” She pointed at Danu with her other hand. “You did this!”
Danu laughed. “As if, I have any control over your nostrils. You’ve got serious issues, Tiff. Like I said, you should focus on keeping your nose clean and leave me alone.” She leaned in and said something so low no one else heard.
Tiffany howled and shoved her hand into Danu’s chest. Danu fell to the ground but kept laughing.
“What is going on here?” Principal Saunders, built like an NFL linebacker, thundered as he made his way through the crowd. Kids backed away, phones disappearing into pockets and purses. “Uh-uh.” He reached out, his black skin contrasting with the pasty white of Derrick Newsome, a tall, thin kid who wore his geekiness like a well-respected uniform. Mr. Saunders’s fingers wiggled in a ‘gimme’ gesture. Reluctantly, Derrick handed over his phone. “You can come by my office and get this after the next class.”
Derrick fidgeted as if the thought of having any of his electronic gadgets out of his hands for longer than two seconds would be the death of him. “Um…” He reached out, but the principal stared him down. His hand fell to his side. “Yes, sir,” he muttered.
Principal Saunders looked around. “All of you. Get to where you need to be.” When no one moved, he yelled, “Now,” in a big booming voice, and teens scattered.
Up and down the hallways, the metal of lockers clanged and voices raised as they speculated about the incident.
He punched a button on the phone and the sound of Tiffany’s voice came through the speakers as he watched.
I moved in front of Danu and held out a hand to help her up. “Are you okay?” I asked. I could see Tiffany from the corner of my eye as she managed to wrestle the ginormous snot-cork from her nasal cavity.
Danu shrugged as she got to her feet. “Yeah.”
“Why did you do that?” It took all I had not to shove Danu back down, I was so angry. Instead, I yanked her behind me down the hallway away from everyone. “A giant booger? What are you? Twelve?” I wasn’t able to stop, but I managed to lower my voice. “That was so irresponsible. You can’t use your magic like that. What if someone saw you?”
“Saw what? Me, rubbing my fingers together? There’s no proof I did anything.” She removed the elastic holding her long dark hair back in a ponytail and fluffed the curls out.
“Gah! You are going to be in so much trouble.” I paced back and forth. “One of these days you’re going to do something that gets the entire family in deep water.”
“So, you’re going to tell on me?” Danu stopped me. “Are you so jealous I have magic and you don’t that you have to rat me out?” Her vibrant green eyes glared at me.
I threw my hands up and hissed. “I’m not jealous. I’m worried. What happens to all of us if everyone finds out we’re a family of witches? I don’t understand why you can’t see how dangerous your actions are.” Raising my voice, I added, “Besides, Mr. Saunders is going to phone your mom. You know he will. He has to.”
As if saying his name invoked him, the principal sauntered toward us. “Ms. Furia,” he put his hand on Danu’s shoulder. “Are you okay?” When she nodded, he looked from her to Tiffany. “You and Ms. Beckham go to the office.” His chin pointed at me. “Ms. Cooper, back to class.” He stood in the hallway watching the video again, shaking his head.
I nodded. Finding Jackson waiting for me, I walked toward him.
“Well, at least Danu didn’t do anything to actually warrant her getting into trouble this time.” He smiled as we turned toward our lockers.
Ha! If he only knew. Which he didn’t. None of my friends were aware of my family’s magical powers. And that stressed me out, too. I lived in fear of them discovering our secret. What if they couldn’t accept it? Accept me? Even though the magic gene skipped me, I was sure they’d no longer treat me the same. I’d be a freak.
Shaking off the negativity, I tried to lighten the mood. “There’s always next time.”
“Yeah. That’s for sure. Your cousin can find trouble while sleeping. But I gotta say, that was some crazy weirdness with Tiffany. They’ll be calling her the Boogie Queen from now on.” We both laughed.
After finding my Biology textbook with little effort, I closed my locker and waited as Jackson scrounged around in his. I studied his profile. We’d been friends since the first day of kindergarten, but lately it took my breath away when I looked at him. It seemed like he got better looking every day. He had a strong jaw-line, straight nose, and warm brown eyes that could melt most girls in their tracks. His thick, light brown hair needed a trim. My hand itched to brush it from his forehead.
Things felt different the past year. That was probably just me, though. Jackson acted the same as always. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Stop it, Charley. You will not fall for one of your best friends.
He closed his locker and leaned against it.
“I know she frustrates you. Just give her —” A scream cut off Jackson’s reply.
A second later, Danu’s voice screeched down the hall, “I didn’t do it!”
Jackson and I looked at each other.
“What the —” How could Danu have gotten into trouble again so soon?
I shot off toward the office with Jackson right behind me. Slowing as I entered the main office area, I squeezed around the tall counter and snaked around students. I found Mr. Saunders’s office doorway packed with staff. Someone cried. Mr. Saunders’s voice floated toward me. Emergency. Ambulance. Words that terrified me.
My heart hammered against my chest and I found it difficult to breathe. “Danu!” I yelled, shoving past those standing in the doorway.
My cousin knelt on the floor, staring at the dark red on her fingertips. And, Tiffany... Tiffany lay face-down beside Mr. Saunders’s large oak desk, her long blonde hair streaked in blood.