Coexist: Keegan's Chronicles, p.1Julia Crane
Copyright © 2011 by Julia Crane
Published at Smashwords
By Valknut Press
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For my mother.
Thank you for sharing your love of books,
and teaching your children to use their imaginations.
Prophecy: An elfin child on the side of the light will be born with the gift of sight. He will be the son of a great warrior. His father will lead the great battle with his son by his side. This child is the only chance the elves have to avoid extinction.
"The Book of Elfin Prophecy"
Compiled 112 BCE
Keegan’s call echoed in Rourk’s mind as he was finishing his set. She always came to him when he least expected her, after which he was unable to focus on little else but her. His hands gripped the bar tightly and he tried to ignore the pull of her thoughts. He tried to focus on training, on the cold steel and the smell of sweat in the room--anything that could take his mind off of the one girl who owned it.
Taking a deep breath, he shook his head and unclenched his jaw, quickly finishing up the set. He had to force his hands to uncurl from the bar; it was almost painful. The tips of his fingers were bloodless; a fine metaphor for how Keegan usually made him feel. He wiped his face and tossed the towel in the bin--the rest of the workout would have to wait for tonight.
Using one of his secondary gifts, he closed his eyes and visualized her face. It was nothing for him to picture her, to bring her into focus like a high-powered lens. Rourk smiled. She was at her favorite spot; a private corner of paradise on her parents' land.
Her beautiful auburn hair blended in with the fall leaves that surrounded her. The dress she wore was pale green and ankle-length, flowing ethereally around her body so that she was like an oasis in the rust-colored woods. He watched a smile spread across her face as she inspected a rock from the creek, and laughed when she slipped it into her camera bag.
The first time it had taken him hours to navigate to her location. When the pull came, it was now just a twenty-minute hike through some woods.
Grabbing his bag, he jumped in his old beat up truck and headed towards her, probably driving a little faster than necessary. It was an urgent need to be near her when he heard her call, so he could never get there fast enough.
When he reached her location, he climbed the rugged terrain hastily. The dirt had the loose feel of earth unpacked by human feet; with every step, he sank a little, hindering his progress. The sun sparkled through the canopy above him, illuminating the path he forged through the trees, though it didn’t offer any warmth in the cool afternoon. A branch scraped him across the face and he impatiently pushed it to the side, hardly caring whether it had left a mark. Finally, he reached the top, bursting through the tree line and into pure daylight.
Rourk stood rigid, his lean body tensed as he looked over the edge of the rugged cliff. Why do I do this to myself? I shouldn’t even be here. She’s killing me. I have no self-control.
In the elfin society, life mates were predetermined using complicated methods to ensure ideal matches. The secret of this formula had a need-to-know basis; meaning he would never know how Keegan was chosen for him. There were many creatures in this world, but his kind held their secrets close to their chest.
There were certain rules his kind had to follow. One’s lifemate may have been chosen at birth, but the first and most important rule was that they could not meet until they both turned 18. Growing up knowing that one’s other half was out there waiting brought a sense of comfort to Rourk. Ordinarily, neither knew their other half until they became of age. Their society believed it was better this way so they could enjoy their childhood.
So how did he find her?
Someone had told her his name. She pulled him closer to her each time she thought of him. It was as involuntary as breathing. When he was younger he could resist with ease. As he got closer to being of age, curiosity got the better of him. Sometimes he wished he’d resisted so he didn’t have to endure the agony of waiting now. Although, he knew he loved seeing her even if it caused him pain.
Keegan was standing on the rocks, the water rushing around her feet, with camera in hand as usual. One minute, she skipped across the rocks like a child and the next she would stop, a look of total concentration taking over her face. That was when she started snapping photos.
Staring at her, Rourk squatted and rested his hands on his knees, wondering what she saw through her lens. He watched as she jumped from a rock and slipped, her arms flailing as she almost fell into the water. His heart lurched. A strong need to protect her filled his body, and if her laugh hadn’t echoed up to him like music, he was poised to jump in after her. But instead, her face broke into a huge grin as she steadied herself and continued to take photos. He relaxed, content to stand and watch her for hours.
Rourk didn’t even know her name, but he knew he’d never seen anything so magnificent in his life. Her wavy hair glistened in the sunlight. She had a delicate face that was round, with large blue-green eyes and full lips. With her cheeks flushed from the cold fall air, she reminded him of a porcelain doll. He knew all too well, though, that looks could be deceiving. She looked sweet and innocent, but it was her eyes that gave her away. They were bold and daring, constantly observing her surroundings. Rourk smiled to himself; she would soon belong to him.
It took a lot of self-control not to approach her, but Rourk knew that would be breaking the rules. He accepted that they were in place for a reason. He had to be patient. Their time would come. Unfortunately, she was over a year younger than he, which meant he would have to wait longer than he would like. He pondered this as he watched her pack up, lovingly storing her camera away in its bag with her hair falling over her face. It wasn’t until she had disappeared down the path to her house that Rourk finally turned and left.
Keegan sat at her small black desk looking through the photos she’d taken that morning. Her hair had been driving her crazy for the last hour, falling over her face with nearly every movement, so she pulled it into a bun. Securing it with a pencil, she continued to study the shots. She noticed there were a few decent ones she could add to her Tumblr page; she had a small circle of followers there who seemed to enjoy her pictures as much as she loved taking them. She loved photography. Life was nothing more than a series of moments and a picture could capture that moment.
Her moments often felt empty. Sighing, she turned her head to gaze out the window, her chin resting in her hand as she let her mind wander. If she had Rourk, maybe she would feel...more fulfilled. All she knew about her partner was his name. Thaddeus, her brother, was a seer and he had told her when she was younger. He said if she ever felt that she was in danger to think of Rourk’s name.
Of course, she thought his name often, even when she was not in danger. She loved the sound of it: Rourk. She believed he would be a powerful warrior like her father, but she wouldn’t know for sure until they met. It was possible he could turn out to be a seer like her brother or a healer like her mother. There were many powers passed down through their elfin bloodlines.
Keegan smiled, lean
Evolution had allowed them to blend in with the humans. The females tended to be smaller than average. Most were only between 4’9"-5’2" tall. The part about pointed ears was true. However, their ears were pointed in a cute way, and not overly large like those in most mythology projects. Due to the fact that their ancestors were from Ireland, the elves tended to have reddish hair.
Her room didn’t look like an elf’s room that was for sure. Two of her walls were pale lavender, a color complimentary to the vivid emerald green of the other two. She had posters of her favorite bands and several of her favorite snapshots framed all around the room. The bed was large with a fluffy purple comforter and four fat pillows upon which a few of her childhood stuffed animals were propped.
And there was the light, lots of daylight from her windows. Her room was her safe haven, almost as much as her spot in the woods...
Keegan was startled out of her thoughts by the sound of the door opening downstairs. It was too early for her parents to be home and her pesky brother was at Sam’s house. Quickly she closed her eyes and pictured the front door, and what she saw brought a smile to her face. It was Anna, one of her best friends.
Anna had been trying to sneak up on her since they first met in the fourth grade. Keegan debated with herself whether or not to let her succeed this one time. Smiling to herself, she knew that was not an option. She focused her mind and felt the familiar tingling throughout her body that came with using her gift. She was in no hurry because Anna couldn’t see her—invisibility was Keegan’s main power. Personally, she thought it was the coolest ability in the family, but the others did not agree. Her mom thought it was ironic that invisibility was her ability because Keegan always wanted to be the center of attention.
Down in the kitchen, Anna wistfully looked around. She loved coming to Keegan’s house. It always felt so inviting; there was a certain calmness about being there that radiated throughout. It was probably the soothing sound of the rushing water from the massive wall fountain, or maybe it was the energy from the crystals collected by Keegan’s mother. Whatever it was, the moment she stepped through the door a sense of serenity washed over her.
The house felt empty of inhabitants. Only the chirping of birds outside the open window broke the steady hum of the refrigerator. The large wooden table was clean, all six placemats perfectly spaced around a lovely centerpiece of wildflowers Keegan’s mom must have picked. Anna put a hand to the tabletop and closed her eyes, just allowing the peace of the home to overtake her. She needed it.
Keegan crept up behind Anna silently, trying not to laugh. Her best friend was off in space and had no idea she was there. She focused her mind again and, amid the tingling, she materialized before tapping her friend’s shoulder. “Gotcha!”
Anna turned and laughed, feigning surprise.
Oh Keegan, I always know when you are there. If you only knew that I have secrets of my own.
Anna never let on because she knew Keegan enjoyed winning. It was a small price to pay to keep her best friend happy.
As usual, Anna’s green eyes were outlined in heavy eyeliner—blue today—and her lashes were long and thick. She had shimmery pink lip gloss on her pencil-lined lips; she looked like a rock star.
Keegan glanced over her eccentric friend’s outfit to see what style she’d adopted for the day. Her bangs, which she habitually pushed to the side, were now purple beneath a black top hat that only Anna could have pulled off. The rest of the day’s ensemble of choice consisted of a grey tank top, a blue cardigan, and a pink skirt with bright yellow flowers that came just above her knees. To pull the look together she wore sparkly silver Converse shoes.
“You know I hate you,” Keegan said with a grin, bumping her best friend’s shoulder playfully with her own.
Anna stared at Keegan indignantly, her skinny arms crossing her chest. “Why would you hate me?”
“Who else could pull off that outfit and make it look natural?” Keegan said.
Anna gave a little curtsy and giggled. “Thank you.”
“You are not going to believe what happened today!” Anna continued, grinning from ear to ear and jumping up and down so that her skirt flounced and her shoes caught the sunlight shining through the window. Sparkles danced across the walls of the kitchen like a disco ball.
Playing along, Keegan bounced up and down and said, “Let me guess, Xavier finally asked you out?”
“I wish!” For a brief moment, the excited look vanished from Anna’s face and was replaced with sadness. Xavier had been her friend since childhood. Anna had recently realized her feelings for him were more than friendship, but sadly, he did not return her feelings.
“All right, just tell me what has you so excited,” Keegan said.
“Well, I was walking to the bus when I saw a sign for a New Age fair tomorrow!” Anna jumped up and down. “It’s a sign. We must go!”
Keegan grinned. “Anna, you seriously believe in all that nonsense?”
Looking shocked Anna replied, “Certainly! There has to be something more in this world than what the average eye sees.”
If you only knew Anna, there is so much more to this world than humans know, Keegan thought. However, she was not about to reveal that knowledge.
“Don’t forget to call Lauren and fill her in,” Keegan told her.
“But of course,” Anna said, pressing a hand to her chest innocently. “If there were only the two of us we couldn’t be called the three amigos.”
Keegan rolled her eyes, laughing.
The girls popped some popcorn and chatted in front of the television for a while, muting the commercials and blaring the reality show they both loved. When she had to leave, Anna gave Keegan a hug and headed out.
With a little time to kill before she would be tired, Keegan decided to look through her photos again. Her favorite was a photo of a leaf blowing by itself in the wind. It reminded her of herself. She often felt all alone, just floating along. As much as she loved hanging out with her human friends, like the time she had just spent hanging with Anna, she wished she could tell them what she truly was.
Staring at her photos she realized her favorite thing to photograph was the beauty of nature. There was something fascinating about the outdoors. It amazed her that she could document the seasons as they changed through photographs. Elves loved nature and that was something she hoped evolution never changed.
She put the camera and computer away; Keegan knew she should go to bed. Time always seemed to get away from her when she found herself caught up in the editing and uploading of her photos. It was hard enough for her to wake up on time, not to mention when she stayed up all hours of the night.
Keegan put on her favorite plaid pajamas and crawled into bed, pulling her purple blanket under her chin. A faint smile played on her lips as she thought of Anna’s eagerness for the fair tomorrow. It would probably be fun.
Keegan woke up late as usual after hitting the snooze button too many times. The blaring of the alarm had finally gotten on her nerves. Rolling out of bed and into the bathroom, she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her long auburn hair was a tangled mess. Mascara was smudged under her eyes and all she wanted to do was crawl back in bed. She could hear her family downstairs having breakfast, so rather than disappear back under the covers, she decided to join them.
Her mom was standing at the counter pouring hot water over a mug of tea leaves. She was wearing a pair of pale blue jeans and a fitted white button down shirt, her feet bare on the stones of the kitchen floor. Glancing over her shoulder as Keegan trudged sleepily into the kitchen, she was surprised to see her daughter. “What gets you out of bed before noon on a weekend?”
Keegan plopped dow
“You’re lucky your mother burnt the toast or you’d be in trouble.” Dad grinned through a mouth full of eggs, his hazel eyes sparkling merrily at her. He had the local daily newspaper spread on the table before him and half a glass of her mom’s freshly squeezed orange juice in one hand.
“The toast isn’t burnt,” Mom said, laughing as she took a seat next to him and tugged playfully at his full, orange beard. As usual, she had put a plate of food in front of her husband and her son, but hadn’t made one of her own. Keegan’s mom stared at her over the teacup. “I’m sure you guys will have fun. Don’t stay out too long. Do you need any money?”
“Sure,” Keegan answered, snagging her dad’s other remaining piece of toast and making a funny face at her baby brother, Warrick. She loved the sound of his laugh. “I can always use a little more for Starbucks.”
While her mother ventured across the kitchen to rifle through her purse, Keegan looked over at her brother. He was being no more silent than usual, lost in his own thoughts as he slowly ate his Cocoa Pebbles. “Hey Thaddeus, any plans today or are you going to do your recluse act and stay in your room?”
“For your information, Sam is coming over.” He gave her a dirty look across the table. “We’re going to play paintball.”
“You guys are lame. Get out of the house and around people instead of in the woods or locked in your room.”
“Whatever Keegan, just because I don’t want to go shopping all day and act like a fool with my friends.”
Keegan hopped to her feet and plucked Warrick from his highchair. She sang loudly as she spun around the room, the baby babbling happily in her arms.
Coexist: Keegan's Chronicles by Julia Crane / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes