After Art, I perused the flyers plastered between the lockers. Two more days until I had to officially declare my extra-curricular activities. I pulled a poster for fencing to carry around with me. I liked the physical activity, and learning how to use a sword against an opponent intrigued me. Then again, I might get enough defense from my REP training.
I stuck it on another board.
Exhausting the possibilities, I made my way to the basement. My only time down there was for Biology, which I barely made it to before the bell and ran from for lunch. But I vaguely remembered at least one wall of fliers.
Most of these were more science based: computer coding, robotics, potions, and…I stopped. A plain white paper stuck out from the others—something that fit me better than the rest.
A blanket volunteering program. Meet with an advocate every week to fulfill twenty hours of volunteer work a month. Variety. I needed it to stay sane. I pulled it off the wall when someone’s curse from the end of the hall echoed down to me.
The banging and reverberation of metal against cement drew me closer. The curses grew louder and more creative as I breached the door’s edge. Inside, water pooled under the metal lab table. Scratching scrambled over the tops, and a boy’s voice ground out curses I didn’t understand before he beckoned the beast back to him.
“Come on, Moon. Here, girl. I’ve got a nice little piece of lamb for you.”
Evan crept into view, making kissy noises and holding out a red chunk of meat.
It dropped me into a fit of giggles.
His back sharpened like I’d thrown something at him before he peeked at me over his shoulder.
The fear in him shoved me into his room rather than away from it.
He closed the door behind me and pushed me against it, miming to stay quiet as he returned to his hunt.
Or it seemed that way.
Until the petite gold and purple dragon doubled in size.
An eight-inch flame spit from the dragon’s mouth.
She doubled in size again, crinkling the metal under her claws.
I ducked, crawling under the lip of a table as fire rebounded off the door where I’d stood.
The metal above me crumpled, pushing me scampering back under the chemical sink—a fire extinguisher rattling behind my hips.
The dragon followed my movements, bending low over its haunches, neck extending to shoot flame at me again.
Grabbing the extinguisher, I pulled the pin and sprayed. Flames licked my skin around the foam.
Evan threw a tray of lamb steaks on a far table, distracting Moon long enough to pull me off the floor. Shoved over the crunched metal, I rolled to my feet just before Evan landed behind me.
Moon slammed her tail against the door, keeping us trapped in the lab.
Blocking my view, Evan gestured my stillness as he assessed his dragon’s progress eating. The cringe of his mouth didn’t give me much hope.
He stepped us forward together, a foot at a time, his hand clasped around my bicep. Firm without hurting me, Evan signaled me to move silently. My uncle had done this to me once, skirting me out of a 7-Eleven as a kid pulled a gun on the cashier. I hid around the corner while he went back in to talk the kid down.
It was the first time I saw him work. The first confirmation of my trust in him. He was a badass.
Uncle Henry got shot that day, too, in the shoulder, but he kept the kid from hurting anyone else.
An empty plate clattered to the floor, and the dragon smacked its chops.
Her long narrow face turned our way. A screech slammed me against the concrete wall. Evan’s chest pressed into mine, his arms barring my sight of the dragon.
“Stay still.” He said through his teeth.
A sheen shimmered between us, and fire surrounded us.
I tensed, hands gripping his shirt as I waited for the pain, but the flames curled around Evan’s back, which bowed from the force.
My breath crackled with the heat.
Wide shoulders, the scent of grease and metal and orange blossoms.
His grunt made me jerk.
The fire backtracked.
Evan retreated enough for his dark eyes to examine me for a second before the flame pushed him back into me. So close that I could feel his strain, whatever he had that left us untouched took the damage.
Teeth grit, the warm metal of his lip ring scraped my cheek. “She smells you. I’ll distract her. You run.”
I met his gaze and nodded my confirmation.
Sucking in a deep breath, he pushed back, a small, shiny nugget appeared in his hand. “Go.”
Evan lobbed it into the flame, making the fire transform into a fog. Wet clung to my skin. My palms slipped on the door, twice, before I slithered out.
“Close the door.”
I slammed it shut, ducking below the window.
Pulse beating in my ears, I sank to the floor, hand tapping a rhythm over my chest—willing it to slow down.
A rolling chirp pierced the silent air. And the door opened with a puff of smog.
Green hair and a sly grin appeared within it.
“Safe to come in, now.”
Curiosity got the best of me. Dragging myself off the floor, I waved the smell of atmosphere and pine nuts from the air, and the cloud rolled out of the room.
The lab was trashed but not demolished. Two of the tables maintained their ninety-degree edges, but another five could be set outside as sculptures. Glass littered the floor from test tubes and beakers.
I couldn’t speak for the other equipment in the room. I’d never seen anything like most of it, which surprised me. Growing up in my father’s lab exposed me to an ever-changing line of machines.
“Where’d she go?” No cage stood out. No purple movements. Nothing to indicate a habitat.
“Under her tarp. She needs to calm down.” He pointed to a white rectangle on the far wall. Bent to snatch something, he held my gold scarf out to me.
My hand patted my hair, yanking it free of the disarrayed ponytail. “Right. Thanks.”
Hands on his hips, he surveyed the room before he gauged me. “I’ll fix it tomorrow. Are you hungry? Let’s get out of here. Come on.”
That was the most normal thing he’s said to me since I sat next to him in class. It freaked me the hell out, but I followed him out of the lab, which he locked. His silence seemed to suck in extra energy when he normally deflected it.
What type of chimera was he?
Check out the official book trailer:
THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR launches October 1st!
The Official blurb:
Lily is the daughter of Lucifer, a mother she’s never met.
When she’s laughed off the soccer field, Lily’s delivered to her FBI uncle and a new, paranormal, high school where she’ll be trained to keep other creatures in line.
Gaining few allies under the thumb of her obsessive mentor, she struggles to prove that something more is going on in their little town than anyone wants to admit.
If you like the innocence of Twilight, the snark from Buffy, and the wit of the Lunar Chronicles, you’ll be engrossed by Alisha Costanzo’s new dark and satirical YA series.
Read THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR and fall into a world worse than hell—welcome back to high school.