Thursday night lights glistened down on the football field, casting shadows a mile thick behind the bleachers. Lila handed Cathy and Jordan their sodas and plopped down on the seat next them.
“Thanks for inviting me guys.”
“No worries.” Jordan wrapped his green sweater more snuggly around his neck. “Like I told you, Thursday night football is where it’s at here at Forsythe. Everybody goes.”
“Just stay away from the aftergame fights. Those can be murder,” Cathy said.
“Oh come on Cath. They aren’t that bad. And it’s mostly the lineman anyway,” Jordan said.
“Bad or not, I’m not interested,” Lila said. “Strictly pacifist over here.”
“You and me both.” Cath broke off, leapt to her feet and roared, “Go Chargers! Run ‘em over!”
Lila stifled a laugh. “Yeah, a pacifist, that’s you all right.”
The air was cold, reddening Lila’s nose and cheeks and turning her breath into white, ghostly plumes. She cupped her hands around the thermos of hot cocoa she’d brought and took a cautious sip. Scanning the crowd, she breathed a sigh of relief. No sign of Louis. She had almost refused Cath’s invitation to ride to the game with them because of him. But Regina was right. No hiding. Suddenly, the crowd surged to its feet and screamed with delight as the Forsythe running back was brought down well inside field goal range and Lila turned her attention to the cheerleaders. And froze.
“So Lila. This is where you’ve been keeping yourself,” Marcus Stokes whispered in her ear. “I’m going to need you to come with me, quietly. Or I will stick this knife into nerd-boy’s leg, right up to the hilt.” He turned his hand and showed her a glint of sharp silver.
Lila shivered and glanced at Jordan. Their attention fully locked on the game, neither he nor Cath had noticed Marcus coming down behind them. Lila gave a stiff jerk of her chin and followed him off the bleachers. At the base, safely away from her friends, she dug in her heals.
“I’m not going anywhere with you Marcus.”
“Sure you are. I need to talk to you someplace quiet. We don’t have to leave the game, but I have some questions. Damien sends his love, by the way.”
“Damien can go screw himself, and you can go with him,” she said and spun on her heel. His hand clamped around her wrist and spun her back.
“You can go with me now, or I can pay a visit to your friends. That Cathy girl looks like a sweet little piece.”
“Leave her alone, Marcus.”
“Just a few questions, and I promise I will.”
The crowd roared again and she followed him from the track, to the back of the bleachers. Once they moved out of range of the field halogens, the air turned a murky gray, and Lila shivered. The noise of the crowd drowned any possibility of being heard if she screamed. Pulling back against his grip on her arm, Lila stopped.
“This is far enough Marcus,” she said. “What do you want to know?”
After taking in their surroundings, he shrugged. “Ok. So, what can you tell me about Juju Ramirez?”
“Nothing more than his name. Why?”
His tar colored eyes hardened. “The Boss says different. She says you got to know something. You go to the same school.”
“I don’t know who this Boss is, but she doesn’t sound too smart.” Lila forced a laugh and scuffed her sneaker in the gravel. “It’s a big school, Marcus. And I’ve only been here a couple of months. I’ve met him, but it doesn’t go any further than that.”
Marcus leered at her. “I’ll bet you do. A girl like you always scopes out the guys first thing.”
“Don’t be disgusting.” Lila slid her foot back, reaching for the light. Whatever the Boss wanted with Juju, it couldn’t be good. Not if she’d sent a creeper like Marcus to check him out. “I told you, I don’t know anything about him. He showed up here the same time I did.”
“But he’s in your class,” Marcus said.
“Yeah, Ms. Fischer’s History class. So what?”
“Then you know him. All I’m askin’ is you get a little friendly with him. See if he’s an ok guy or a punk.”
“I’m not a snitch, Marcus. And I don’t want nothing to do with you or your Boss. I moved here to get away from crap like that. I’m not about to start it all over again.”
“Ah, now don’t be like that. The Boss, she can be real nice if you —”
“I know all I need to about the Boss and I —” a muffled squeak ended her words.
“What do you know, bitch! You don’t know nothing and you best not forget it.”
Her labored breathing was loud in the darkness, but her voice remained defiant.
“Careful Marcus. You remember what Damien said about me?”
Lila heard a soft crunch somewhere behind them and hoped it wasn’t just the blood whooshing in her ears.
Marcus laughed, low and cruel. “What? That you was hot stuff?” He leaned in close, backing her up against the stanchion and took a deep sniff. “Yeah, you sure enough are, but I can handle it.”
Lila shoved him and he grabbed her shirt, his fingers tangling in the soft fabric and ripping it open. Fear and anger battled for supremacy and she planted her palms on his chest out of instinct.
“A bheith ar an tine!” she yelled, just as Naeve had taught her. The flames obeyed, leaping from her hands to his shirt with hungry abandon. It was his turn to scream.
About the Author
Cheri Roman writes fantasy and paranormal young adult. She currently has two series in the works: Rephaim and The Witch of Forsythe High. Most days you can find her on her blog, The Brass Rag, or working on her next novel or short story. Cheri lives in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with her husband and Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua.
Sometimes learning to trust yourself is the hardest lesson of all…
Most girls don’t set their birthday party on fire, no matter how rebellious they feel. But Lila Stuart isn’t most girls, and she never has been. Now her brand of strange is attracting a very bad crowd. She and her family must relocate, leaving everything she knows behind.
Tracked to her new home by a predatory demi-god, Lila is sold to a human trafficking cartel that specializes in people like her, first generation angel-human hybrids with powers that could make them heroes or deadly villains.
When the cartel threatens her family, Lila must choose: serve as an assassin or live as a slave. Will she find a way out, or is the cost of fighting back just too high?
The second installment in The Witch of Forsythe High series is a fast paced fire-storm about the choices life requires of us and the consequences they bring in their wake