Excerpt from The Witch Queen of Celmarra
To anyone else the room would appear empty except for me. I pulled one of the backpack’s straps onto my shoulder, phone in one hand, keys in the other and spoke aloud without glancing behind me.
“I know you’re there so you might as well show yourself,” I said. I felt the air directly behind me stir as though a breeze had entered the room. I walked the length of the table to be near the door in case I needed to make a quick exit. The fluorescent lights above the table flickered, and I turned around just in time to see the brief shimmer of moving particles before a body appeared where none had been seconds before. If anyone had passed by the room it would have looked as if the man standing before me had been there the whole time. He was tall, a fact accentuated by the black shirt, black leather pants and black boots he was wearing. He had left his shoulder-length black hair loose to hide his pointed ears, but he couldn’t hide his vivid green eyes. He was leaning against the wall, arms folded across his chest and one leg crossed over the other. Absolute boredom was written all over him.
“You know, Drake, most people in this realm, don’t go around looking like rock stars,” I said to him with a mild scowl. “Well, except for people who live in Los Angeles, but everyone knows they’re not from this world to begin with.”
A ghost of a smile lit his face briefly. “Nice to know you haven’t lost your sense of humor, my Queen,” he said, his velvet voice laced with his own brand of disdain.
“Don’t call me that!” Anger touched the edges of my vision and colored lights began to float in the air before my eyes. Drake pushed himself off the wall and was in front of me, almost nose to nose, in seconds.
“Go ahead,” he hissed. “Do it! Let your anger loose, you know you want to!” His eyes were hard and cold, and I couldn’t look away from them. I forced myself to breathe in as deeply as I could. It would not do to lose my temper here. There were too many people, too many witnesses. So, I closed my eyes instead and focused on breathing in and out like Dad had taught me. Breathe in pink, (stupid pink-I hate pink). Breathe out blue (no, don’t think of blue, not now). I could feel the intensity of Drake’s own anger which always encouraged my own, as it was designed to do. By the time I had taken three breaths, Drake’s own anger was calming down. I slowly opened my eyes, though I didn’t have to open them to know he was sprawled in the nearest chair. I gazed at the person I was bound to for the rest of my life. Even though I was standing and Drake was sitting, the top of his head was almost level with my eyes. He shook his head and looked up at me.
“It was worth a shot,” he said, flashing that charmed smile. Breathe, I reminded myself. Drake’s smile could put you on your knees, a fact he had taken great advantage of before finding himself made guardian, protector, and emotional consort to a twenty-one year old human girl. Of course, he sometimes tended to forget he chose that state, especially now that he had to live in the mortal realm and his powers were entwined with mine. Here in the world of man, the only way he could tap into that energy was through my emotions. My deeply, strong emotions. It was those same emotions his simple presence could inflame into a power that could take out the whole block if I was careless. He did retain some basic powers of his own, like the ability to appear or disappear into thin air, but that was just glamour. The human brain tends to overlook things they don’t want to see, like piles of laundry or trash that needs to be taken out. Glamour doesn’t require much power, just a simple thought usually.
“Yeah, well…stop trying. The last thing we need is to blow up the library,” I said. I felt my anger dissipating. I pulled out the chair next to him and sat down.
“You’re no fun,” he said playfully. He reached out a hand to tug on a lock of my hair then thought better of it.
I sighed. “Sorry. I’m afraid I’m all out of fun for a while.” I kicked at his booted foot but, as usual now, my own booted foot passed right through his. We were both still getting used to the new arrangements his choice had forced us into. “So, why are you here Drake? It’s not like you have to follow me everywhere.”
“I’m not following you. Your mom is ‘concerned’ about you.” He made a quotes gesture with his fingers. He had certainly picked up human slang quickly, another by-product of our mutual entanglement. Our souls were bound to each other’s and this gave us access to the other’s powers, feelings, and thoughts. To my constant annoyance. It did make it easier to learn things more quickly, however, like how to adapt to new worlds. Plus, I now had the ability to heal twice as fast as the normal human rate, a gift from Drake’s elfin heritage.
“She wouldn’t shut up. So, I told her I would check in on you just so I could escape her incessant chatter. ‘Do you think Anna’s alright? She hasn’t called yet. You don’t think she’s in trouble, do you?’ ” Drake’s voice went into a perfect intonation of my mother’s speech patterns. “No wonder you finally left the house. I was starting to wonder if we were both going to take root and begin growing limbs like that infernal pet tree of yours.”
“Aspen is NOT a pet so stop calling her that,” I said for the thousandth time. “And she’s not a tree either. She’s a Shape-Changer AND a portal protector. Just because she likes her tree shape it doesn’t make her one.” I sat up and glared at him. His eyes flared quickly as he felt my quick flash of temper. I wished he had physical form just then because I wanted to punch the grin off his face. There was rarely any middle ground where my feelings towards Drake were concerned. But, then again, he had the same problem. The love-hate relationship was strong between us. I sat back in the chair and forced my pulse to slow.
“Fine. She’s not a tree,” he relented. “But your mother does treat her like one of those pampered dogs people carry around here. And what’s more, you think so, too. I know you do.” His eyes bored into mine, daring me to challenge his statement.
“I really don’t like you, Drake,” I told him in response. There was no way I could disagree with him and he knew it. He smiled, a cat with his prize.
“So, what should I tell your dearest mother?” he asked, making the chair twist from side to side. I wasn’t sure how or why he could interact with everyone and everything else except me, but I was still learning and testing my new abilities with Dad’s help. The goal was to find a way to break the spell of Binding Drake had cursed us with.
“Tell her I’m fine and I’ll be back when she’s ready to stop being a nagging witch,” I told him. My words caught him off-guard and he laughed freely, the action lighting up his whole face. My heart soared hearing his laugh, and I wished I could like him. But he had taken that away from me, too. The most either of us could hope for now was tolerance. Because we both knew we were neither one indifferent to the other.