Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1), p.5Rachel Morgan
You’re going to forget all this. You’re going to forget me.
But I don’t want him to forget. I want him to kiss me again.
He must have noticed something in my expression because he leans forward. “I won’t tell anyone what I know,” he says. “I swear. You can trust me.”
I nod. I believe him. But that’s not the way this works.
Nate looks down into his lap. “Vi,” he says, and I know it’s stupid but I like the way he says my name. “That crimson faerie was looking for a guardian who had some special ability to find people. And that other faerie who was just here said that you would know where to look if someone was missing.”
Ah. Not just an uncommonly good-looking face after all.
“Yeah,” I say slowly. “That would be me.”
He leans even closer. “So you could find my mother?”
I narrow my eyes. “I thought you didn’t want to have anything to do with her.”
“Oh come on. You knew I was talking rubbish when I said that. You just about rolled your eyes into the ceiling.”
“I don’t know, Nate . . .”
He grabs my hand. “Please. I mean, it’s not like I want her in my life or anything. I just want to know what this is all about. How did she get involved with a faerie? Why does he want to find her so badly?”
I have to admit I’d like to know the answers to those questions too. Perhaps once I’ve made Nate forget everything I can find out on my own. There’s just one little hitch . . .
“Do you have anything that belongs to her?”
“Um, I don’t think so. Why?”
“Well, I have to connect to her somehow. It would be easy if I knew her, but since I don’t I’ll need to use some item that belongs to her.”
“Oh.” Nate looks disappointed, but then his face lights up. “My dad must have kept some of her things. I’m sure we can find something.”
I’m sure I can find something.
“So you’ll help me?” Nate takes hold of my other hand now.
“Um, yes, okay.” I hate lying to him. I feel terrible. But I have to make him forget about me and my world. If I don’t, and the Guild finds out, I probably will end up expelled.
“Nate, why don’t you have a girlfriend?” Okay, what? I don’t remember thinking about that question before it came out. I try to pull my hands out of his, but he won’t let me. “I mean, I’m assuming you don’t, because, you know, you kissed me. But you seem like a nice guy, so I’m just wondering why you’re not . . . taken.” I’m floundering. I wish the earth would open up and swallow me whole. Come to think of it, if I could reach my stylus I could make that happen.
Nate looks down at his lap. “I was dating someone last year, but . . . well, it just didn’t work out.” He laces his fingers between mine, and a shiver zings down my back. “This year I thought I should focus more on school. I’m not failing chemistry, by the way. It’s actually my favorite subject.”
“And you don’t think chasing down your mother will interfere with school?”
“Not if we use those magic faerie path things. We can go anywhere in no time at all. We could have a date in Paris and be back the same night.”
This is not happening, Violet. Just give him the damn potion and leave.
He leans forward and closes the distance between us. His lips touch mine, hesitating just a moment in case I want to pull away—I don’t. His lips are cooler than mine—something I was too freaked out to notice the first time. My heart beats so fiercely it hurts. I open my mouth, and his tongue nudges against mine. He tastes like the cupcake I ate before I passed out.
I want to get closer to him. I want to put my arms around him and feel the rhythm of his heart, but it’s impossible the way we’re sitting, legs crossed, facing each other. Without detaching my lips from his, I uncross my legs and get onto my knees. I shuffle closer, my hands moving to—
And then a horrible gurgling sound causes us to jump apart in fright. I look up and see a light on in Nate’s house. Nate shakes his head and starts laughing. He pulls me closer and whispers into my ear, “I bet you never thought a toilet would scare you.”
A toilet. Of course. I don’t know whether to hate it or thank it.
“Do you want something to drink?” Nate asks, running his fingers up and down the inside of my arm. “I’m really thirsty.”
Trying to ignore the goose bumps rising all over my skin, I say, “Uh, yes, thank you.” I let him lead me around to the back door. What a perfect opportunity; I can just empty the potion into his glass when he’s not looking.
The thought makes my chest ache.
We tiptoe across his kitchen, and Nate pours us something to drink. I slip my hand into my pocket and pull out the vial, enclosing it in my fist. Nate places the two glasses on the counter in the center of the kitchen and puts the jug back in the fridge.
Just pour it in, just pour it in.
I hesitate, miss my opportunity. No problem. I’ll just wait until he’s distracted.
Nate leans on the counter and reaches across to hold my hand again, as though the physical contact is a lifeline for him. I’m afraid to look up, but my eyes are drawn to his as though by a spell. I can’t look away. His eyes are dark pools that I imagine myself falling into.
And there’s that warmth inside my chest again that just won’t seem to go away. That heat that quickens my heart and steals my breath. But at the core of it is an ache. A deep and desperate longing to no longer be alone.
With Nate, I wouldn’t have to feel that ache anymore.
I slip the vial back into my pocket.
“So,” I say. “When do we go find your mother?”
To be continued . . .
Look out for the next installment in the series, Labyrinth.
Coming in April 2012
Find out more about Creepy Hollow by visiting the Creepy Hollow website.
This seems a small story on its own, but a huge amount of work has gone into the series as a whole, and these thank-yous encompass so much more than a single story.
Number one thank you goes to God, for without Him there would be nothing.
Tremendous thanks to Kittie Howard, Lara Stavridis and Cally Jackson, who took the time to provide detailed comments, suggestions and editing for Guardian.
Thank you to the early readers of Guardian: Ruth, Jacky, Nicola, Nombasa, Nonkululeko, Kim, Nonsikelelo, Sibongiseni, Portia and Anathi, who boosted my confidence greatly simply by enjoying this story. And to all the rest of the girls at Inanda Seminary: your enthusiasm inspires me. Keep shining!
To Judy Tate, for giving me the best possible job (which includes time to write!): thank you for being my cheerleader.
I have been bowled over by the incredible support of the online writing community. Thank you a hundred times over, everyone. I couldn’t have done it without you (seriously, I couldn’t).
Kittie, you need another thank you. Thank you for being the first person to help shape Guardian into a better story, and the first person to assure me I had a ‘winner’!
To Mum and Dad, Andrew and Ruth, and especially Kyle: thank you for putting up with me for all those hours when I just had. to. keep. writing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.
Connect with Rachel online:
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About the Author
Rachel Morgan, Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1)
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