Hexed © copyright 2018 Alyssa Drake
All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Warning: the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
This book contains adult language and scenes. This story is meant only for adults as defined by the laws of the country where the purchase was made.
Summary: A witch without her powers must choose between a dangerous love and a dark destiny.
Cover design by Rebecca Hamilton
Editing by Personal Touch Editing
Witch—screamed in accusation, sung in rhyme, whispered through bathroom stalls, and written on notes passed through crowded hallways. The word tortured, it bled through the school walls, a constant cloud of mockery bestowed by childhood bullies on the one witch who did not possess any magical ability whatsoever, Remina Vasile.
Waking before the sun on her thirteenth birthday, Remy lay on her bunk, her heart pounding with anticipation. Screwing her eyes shut, she wished the same wish she made every year. Make me normal. Her lips blurred in silent prayer. Flipping over on her stomach, she frowned at the bedroom door, willing the handle to twist. Nothing.
“Something smaller.” Hope fueled her effort. She focused on a chewed pencil balanced precariously on her schoolbooks.
“Move.” She whispered the command, pushing every ounce of her energy at the pencil. Again, nothing.
“I don’t know why you insist on practicing that every morning.” An ethereal voice floated up from the bottom bunk.
“How else will I know when I have my talents, Cassie?” Remy grumbled, her eyes locked on the pencil. “Move!”
“The odds of our parents having two early developed children is astronomical, Remy,” Cassie replied in a bored tone; Remy detected a hint of pity. “Not all coven children receive their full powers at thirteen, some develop at later ages.” Cassie rolled over in her bunk, her dreamy voice thick with exhaustion.
Cassie returned at four this morning. Crawling through the attic window, her bright eyes shining with mischief, Cassie woke Remy as she tiptoed across the floor, stumbling on a shoe left in the center of the room. She placed her finger to her lips, winked, and collapsed on her bed, snoring within moments. Robbed of an explanation, Remy slept fitfully, tossing until the roosters crowed their early morning greeting.
“Have faith, Remy. Your gifts will come in time.” Cassie’s voice trailed off.
“You don’t have to go to that school.” Remy grimaced and flopped onto her back, kicking her foot against the ceiling. “The Landers are mean to me.”
Bedsprings squealed as Cassie’s legs appeared over the side of the mattress. She popped up, her eyes appearing beside Remy’s pillow. “Who are they? What are their names? I’ll march right into town and teach them all a lesson; I’ll make them all newts.”
Remy forced a tight smile and rolled to her side, placing a stilling hand on her sister’s shoulder. “Stay out of Ferry Landing, Cassie. It’s against coven law for a witch to harm anyone living on Firefly Island, plus Mother will never forgive me if you to get into trouble. Defying the coven is inexcusable and will result in banishment...” Remy gulped. “Or worse.”
“No one has been banished in years.” Cassie dismissed Remy with a wave, sinking back onto her bed. “I’m not even sure there is an or worse.”
Was there something worse than banishment, death perhaps? Remy rolled onto her back again, pushing her feet against a low-hanging rafter. Snatches of a memory, an overhead conversation between her parents, floated into her mind. She suspected coven punishments extended beyond the grave, however she chose not to share that concern with Cassie.
“It’s too bad you can’t be home-schooled like the other undeveloped coven children.” Cassie murmured, rustling her covers. “At least I’d get to see you more.”
“Mother and Father are both extremely busy.” Remy sighed and sat up. She somersaulted off the edge of the bed and landed on top of the only squeaky board in their room. She shifted her weight, extracting another squeak. “I can handle the insults.” Remy spoke more to herself than to Cassie. “It’s just a few more weeks until summer break.”
“That’s right,” agreed Cassie, digging into her shoulders into the pillow. Her eyelids fluttered closed. “You’re one tough...” A snore completed her sentence.
Remy shook her head, a small grin pulling at her mouth. She could not wait until she got to stay out all night like Cassie. Her parents never said anything about Cassie’s peculiar hours and they never enforced any kind of educational structure. Yet, Remy had a designated bedtime, curfew, and specific study hours.
The benefits of being gifted.
Yanking a discarded shirt off a nearby chair, Remy whipped the cotton t-shirt over her head. She snatched a pair of shorts from under Cassie’s bed and tugged them up her legs. Pushing up the dusty window–stained with a multitude of fingerprints–Remy climbed out onto the roof. Crawling up the eaves, she scooted around the chimney, heading for a battered weathervane. Straddling the roof ridge, she flicked the pointed tip of weathervane, watching it spin wildly. When the sun broke the horizon, she rose and extended her arms wide, inhaling deeply.
“Please.” She begged the sky, her eyes filling with tears. “Please, please, please, make me normal.”
“Remina!” A voice yelled from the yard below. “Get down from there.”
Remy squinted at the ground, shielding her eyes from the cresting sun. She spotted her father strolling down the lane, his suitcase bouncing merrily along the dirt path. A tiny cloud of dust trailed behind him.
“Father!” She squealed with excitement, waving exuberantly. Scurrying along the shingles, Remy slipped back into her bedroom through the open window. She dashed across the room, slamming the door. It rattled the walls, waking her sister again. Her grumbles chased Remy down two flights of stairs. Sailing into her father’s arms, Remy planted a large kiss on his bearded cheek.
“You’re here!” She giggled, ignoring the scratches from his stubble.
“Of course.” He smiled, crushing her in his arms and swinging her feet back and forth like a metronome. “How could I miss my little girl’s birthday?”
“Mother said you’d be gone all week.”
Her father winked, setting her lightly on the bottom stair. “I told the council I had an important date that I could not miss.”
“Father?” Remy detached herself from him and glanced down, digging her toe into the wood. “I have a request.”
“Anything.” He lifted her chin. “I cannot deny you on your birthday.”
She crooked her finger, drawing him close. He leaned forward, amusement dancing in his eyes, and pressed his forehead to hers. “Is it a secret?”
Remy nodded. She bit her lower lip, her gaze flicked toward the kitchen to ensure her mother did not hear the complaint, and then dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “You must save me from the decorations.”
“How have you already seen the decorations?” Her father grinned and knelt on the floor, his eyes level with hers.
“I may have snuck into the living room last night and taken a tiny peek,” admitted Remy, twisting her fingers behind her back.
Her father laughed. “What exactly is wrong with the decorations?”
“Everything is pink.” Remy declared, revulsion coating her tongue.
“Everything?” Her father raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“E-ver-y-thing.” She enunciated each sound. “Come see.”
Remy grasped his hand in her sweaty fingers and dragged him into the living room. Varying shades of pink streamers and balloons exploded across the walls and ceiling, the putrid color dyed every visible surface.
Her father stood silently for a minute. “Yes, it is quite pink.”
“Can you do something, please?” Remy begged, opening her eyes wide as she tugged on his hand. “I hate the color.”
Her father tousled her tangled hair. “I’ll speak with your mother. Please make sure Cassie is awake, Grandfather is joining us for breakfast.”
“Yes, Father.” Remy curtsied and skipped upstairs, humming happily. Bursting into the room, Remy woke Cassie a third time, stamping across the floor. She knelt on the bed, leaning over Cassie. Pressing her mouth to Cassie’s ear, she whispered. “Father’s home.”
Cassie mumbled and yanked the covers over her head, pushing Remy off the bed. Remy bounced on the floor, landing on the lone sneaker. Launching herself at the bed, Remy tackled Cassie and ripped the blankets from the mattress.
“Grandfather will be here soon too; Father says you have to get dressed.” Remy smirked. “No sleeping in for you.”
“Fine.” Cassie grumbled and sat up, rubbing her eyes. She paused mid-wipe and glanced at Remy, who perched on the edge of the mattress. Tilting her head, an evil grin twitched across Cassie’s lips. “Did you see the living room?”
“That was your doing?” Remy’s eyes narrowed.
“Yup.” She folded her hands demurely, clearly pleased with her trick. “I told Mother how much you loved the color and she put me in charge of decorations.”
Remy leapt at Cassie a second time. However, Cassie rolled sideways, anticipating the attack. Remy’s shoulder slammed into the wall as Cassie lithely slipped from the bunk, cackling. “Too slow again, little sis.”
“I’ll get you next time.” Remy stuck out her tongue.
“Doubtful.” Cassie taunted from the doorway. “You should change before breakfast.” She wrinkled her nose, pinching the bridge in a dramatic gesture. “Those clothes smell.”
Remy flung the shoe at Cassie. It missed her sister’s head by inches.
“You may have turned thirteen, but you still throw like a twelve-year-old.” Laughing maniacally, Cassie skipped into the hallway. Remy shoved off the bed, propelling herself after Cassie, who ducked into the bathroom; the lock clicked behind her.
Two steps behind her, Remy pounded her fist on the door. “Let me in, Cassie!”
“Remina.” Her mother bellowed from the kitchen, irritation in her voice. “Leave your sister alone!”
Remy kicked the bathroom door and clomped back to their shared bedroom. Rooting through her drawers, she unearthed a wrinkled blue dress, suitable for family occasions. She gave it a hasty sniff and decided it was acceptably clean. Dragging a brush through the snarled mess of brown hair, she wove it into two tight braids. She stopped in front of the large mirror, stationed in the far corner of the room, and inspected herself.
Clean dress. Braided hair. Passible. She lifted her chin, watching the sunlight dance across her face. Same boring Remy.
“Cassandra. Remina.” Her mother’s agitation rose up the stairwell.
Racing out the bedroom, Remy careened around the corner and crashed into Cassie who emerged from the bathroom at the same exact moment. Cassie shoved her into the banister. Remy stuck her foot out, tripping Cassie; she careened into the wall.
The two girls elbowed each other as they descended the stairs, fighting to reach the landing first. Their scuffle exploded into the foyer. The front door swung open, knocking Cassie backward. She stumbled into Remy, grabbing hold of Remy’s braids, and yanking as she fell. The two landed in a painful heap on the staircase.
“You did that on purpose!” Remy shoved Cassie off her legs.
“I did not.” Cassie took a swipe at Remy’s face.
“Stop now.” Grandfather’s gruff voice boomed; the command resonated down Remy’s spine. She paused, her fingers unclenching automatically. Grandfather glared at them, his imposing frame filling the doorway. “You are ladies, I expect you both to act like it. Especially you, Cassandra.”
Both girls hung their heads, shame crawling through their faces. “We’re sorry, Grandfather.” They chirped the apology in unison.
“Cassandra, please tell your father I have arrived.” He waited until Cassie disappeared behind the swinging kitchen door before addressing Remy. “Remina, please escort me into the living room, we have something important to discuss.”
“O...okay.” Remy gulped and followed him; her fingers knotted behind her back. Grandfather rarely spoke to her alone. Would he chastise her further for her childish behavior?
“I hear today is your thirteenth birthday.” Grandfather announced as he stumped toward the living room.
“It is.” Remy stammered. Was he going to test her? Her throat constricted. She already knew the result from this morning’s failed attempt; no magical talent.
“That is typically an important day in our society.” He turned to stare at Remy; his withered face revealed no emotion, no clue as to his true intention.
“Yes, Grandfather.” Dread built in her stomach. What would he do when he discovered Remy was still powerless? Would he banish her from Firefly Island forever? As the one of the elders, it was his right. Remy trembled.
“Has anything unusual occurred this morning?” Grandfather’s gray eyes inspected her face.
“No, sir,” replied Remy, swallowing the squeak of terror building in her throat. She accompanied the denial with a small shake of her head.
“Did you attempt any magic this morning?”
She licked her lips. “I tried to move a pencil.”
“It didn’t work?”
Grandfather turned without comment and resumed his slow pace. He paused in the entryway between the hallway and the living room, drinking in the lurid trimmings. His eyes flicked to Remy. “It’s quite festive in here.”
“It was Cassie’s idea.” Remy answered, indicating the upstairs with a jerk of her head.
Grandfather’s mouth crooked into a rare smile as he gestured at the room. “I know this is not your doing, Remina.”
Remy stared at him, her lips parted into a small “O”. She assumed he never paid her any attention; did Grandfather know her favorite color?
“I do, and it is lavender.”
“How did you know?” The words tumbled from Remy's mouth before she could stop them.
“I can hear your thoughts, Remina. It is one of my gifts.” He slapped a pink balloon off an armchair and collapsed with a groan. “I would like to try an experiment. Are you willing to participate?”
“Yes, sir.” Remy nodded and stepped in front of him; her arms dangled at her sides.
“I want you to move that cake.” He indicated a three-tiered, frosted monstrosity adorning the center of the piano—another one of Cassie’s pink pranks.
Taking a deep breath, Remy pivoted and stared at the dessert, willing it to slide across the piano cover. She scrunched her eyes tightly, whispering to the cake. “Move.”
The cake refused.
“That is enough.” Grandfather placed a heavy hand on her shoulder. “I can see it is no use. Perhaps next year.”
“I can do it,” argued Remy, pulling out of his grasp. She stared at him, pleading, craving the same respect which Cassie received from the coven elders.
Grandfather arched a steel gray eyebrow. “Alright, Remina, you may try again.”
“No.” Father’s voice echoed from the hallway. “There’s no need to continue to test her, she has no abilities.”
“Are you certain?” Grandfather twisted in the armchair. “We must take precaution, Gregory, these things can be tricky, especially when the child is...unique.”
Remy’s face scrunched at Grandfather’s description. Unique. She glared at the horrid cake as it sat there mocking her. Stupid cake, she wished it would just explode. White hot fire poured from her eyes, flowing across the room in a long rope. The cake shifted. Remy gasped, her eyes skipping to her grandfather. Had he seen it?
“I have everything under control.” Her father snapped as he approached Grandfather, neither man paid Remy any attention. She frowned.
Returning her focus to the cake, Remy demanded that it move. Again, the fire poured from her eyes. The cake shifted an inch to the left, dragging the pink runner with it. Remy squealed, her hands flying to her mouth.
“Remy look at me.” Her father grabbed her thin arms in his large hands, spinning her around until she faced him. “I know you want to believe you have abilities, however, it’s just not your time yet. Please stop trying.”
“But, I can do it,” Remy argued, a bubble of happiness rose in her chest. Her shining eyes swung from her father to the cake. She pointed as the cake shifted again. “Look!”
He gathered her quickly in a tight hug, blocking the cake from view. His voice hissed in her ear. “No, you can’t.”
“I can.” Remy pouted, her lower lip trembling; tears gathered in her eyes. “I just did it. I saw the cake move.”
“It was a trick,” replied her father. He hugged her tightly. “Grandfather moved the cake.”
Remy twisted in her father’s embrace, biting her lip to hold back the tears. “Why would you do that, Grandfather? I thought I was finally special.”
“You are special.” Her father brushed a light kiss on the top of her head.
“No!” yelled Remy. She twisted around and placed her hands on her father’s chest. Fire blazed through her arms, erupting from her fingertips. Shock crossed her father’s face. He released her immediately as if electrocuted and clutched his upper arm. He stared at her, the color draining from his face.
“What did you do, Remy?”
Thank you for reading the first chapter of Hexed. If you would like to continue reading the love story of Remy and Sebastian, you may pick up a copy of Hexed from any major retailer (www.books2read.com/hexed).
* * *
If you are interested in receiving information regarding Alyssa Drake’s new releases, sales and giveaways, as well as updates on the next stand-alone book in the Firefly Island series, please visit her website (http://www.alyssadrakenovels.com)
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish