Authors: Stephanie Fowers
Tags: #Paranormal, #romantic, #YA, #Cinderella, #Fairy tale, #clean
TABLE OF CONTENTS
*For FAERY GLOSSARY OF TERMS and LIST OF CREATURES, Also see
With a Kiss
With a Kiss (book one of Twisted Tales Series)
©2013 Stephanie Fowers
Published by Triad Media and Entertainment
This is a work of fiction. The characters, names, places, incidents and dialogue are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief passages embodied in critical reviews and articles.
Published by Triad Media and Entertainment, Salt Lake City, UT
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
1. Fiction. 2. Young Adult. 3. Paranormal.
Cover Design by Jacqueline Fowers
Cover photography by Kristi Linton
Editor: Tristi Pinkston
Logo design: Ian Anthony
Map of the Sidhe: Ian Anthony
Typeset by Stephanie Fowers
Typeset/ html mentor: Rachel Nunes
proofreader: Catia Nunes
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without permission in writing from the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Thank you for supporting the author’s rights.
To my nieces
All 20 of them.
May I have many, many more
So that I might write many, many,
more books for you.
Poor silver-wing! ah! woe is me !
That I must see These blossoms snow upon thy lady’s pall!
Go, pretty page! and in her ear
Whisper that the hour is near!
top crying. Please, stop crying!” I whispered.
I should’ve been normal. There was no reason I shouldn’t be normal. I splashed water over my face. It ran down my cheeks. The bathroom mirror loomed in front of me, and I refused to look too closely at the dark smudges under my eyes. The crying wouldn’t stop. And it wasn’t coming from me—I had never cried a day in my life. It wasn’t coming from anything. I covered my ears, and tried to drown out the noise with the music from my old school radio. It didn’t work. The baby kept going at it. Crying and crying and crying until I smacked the bathroom wall with my fist. Nothing would make the noise stop.
I could get used to pretending I was real. I could laugh when something was supposed to be funny. I could ask questions to make others think I cared. I was used to my numbness, but this? My life had turned into
Midsummer Night’s Dream
gone crazy, or actually, a
. Our small town theater was celebrating the season by doing the Shakespearian play at the school. But that wasn’t the bad part.
It was my night to play the faery queen. Yeah, it’s spelled faery with an
(that’s how these faery enthusiasts like it), and even though I’m not the best actress at Omak High, that still wasn’t my problem. It was just . . . that baby. It kept crying. And there was no baby. Anywhere. Something was wrong with me. The crying had haunted me from the moment I stepped onto that stage, and now it echoed in my dreams.
I focused on my New York poster next to the towels, taking deep breaths. After a moment, I turned down the radio to hear blessed silence. The ghost baby had finally given it a rest. I fought down my shaky breath and pulled the toothbrush from my holder to go over my lines for the play that night. Anything to get my mind off what was happening.
Hearing a nonexistent baby who cried all the time wasn’t one of my usual symptoms. No, I typically just had to deal with a heart that refused to work. I couldn’t love; I had no empathy. I couldn’t count my friends on one hand—not even one finger. Sure, they always counted
, but a girl had to hide how crazy she was when her dad was the town’s only psychiatrist. My parents thought I was normal, but what they didn’t know was that their little girl was a highly functional sociopath. Either that or something had punched a hole through my heart and made it so I couldn’t feel.
I shoved the toothbrush into my mouth and scrubbed at my teeth. No big deal, right? Hearing a crying baby was the least of my problems. I could hide this, go on like it wasn’t happening. I had almost convinced myself, until I saw my shadow move in the mirror. My body tingled with fear. It wasn’t my shadow, or if it was, it sure wasn’t connected to me. It stood directly behind me, watching me as quietly as the late afternoon sun filtered through my window. My hand hesitated on my toothbrush.
What were the odds that I was still asleep? I remembered taking a nap, getting up, reading some online college applications, but had I really? Or were my nightmares getting worse? I’d definitely take that over this being real. My fingers trembled as I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth, and through the bathroom mirror, forced myself to study that thing behind my head. I picked out hollow eyes that watched me . . . as if the shadow thought I didn’t see it staring. The shadow
? My mouth went dry. I hunched my shoulders and spun around.
There was nothing there.
Hairball, our orange striped tabby lounged on the edge of the porcelain tub like a Cheshire cat. My eyes fixed on him instead. Everything seemed peaceful enough until the cat’s head snapped up to watch the mirror behind me. The hair on my neck lifted in response.
I felt something there, too, its breath in my hair. The cat let out a hiss and sprang off the tub, abandoning me like the traitor he was. With my heart ripping out of my chest, I swiveled and saw a pale face fill the mirror. It was rotting and covered in a strange burnt shadow of long, red hair. I stumbled backwards, colliding into the bathroom wall to escape it.
“Reclaim the lost,”
“What?” I asked. “What is that?”
“Halley.” I recognized my mother’s soft voice. She knocked gently on the bathroom door from inside my room. “Halley Starr! It’s show time. Get in the car, honey. You’ll be late.”
The face was gone from the mirror. I tried to catch my breath. It was worse than one of those ghouls in the darkest corners of a haunted house. And now I had to pretend I hadn’t seen it. Like every weird thing that happened to me, I had to keep this from my family, too—just another sacrifice to be normal. I hated the thought, but not as much as I wondered what I would do if the shadow came back. I took another deep breath. No one knew I was hearing things . . . or seeing things. I just had to keep it that way.
I had been a sickly baby. No matter how many doctors and specialists saw me, they couldn’t figure out what caused it. By the time the mysterious ailment went away, it was too late: my family was officially worried. It was all I could do to keep them from being suspicious.
My mom knocked again, louder this time. “You’re not in the shower, are you?”
“What? No. I’m ready to go.” I made my way to the door. The more the numbness wormed deeper inside, the more helpless I felt. I tried to fight it. Even if the shadow with the weird red hair came back, it couldn’t hurt me. It wasn’t real. And the cries? There had to be an explanation. I opened the door from my bathroom, seeing my mom smooth down the creases of the comforter on my bed.
Her mouth dropped when she saw I was still in my blue plaid pajama bottoms. “Halley!” The usual dimples in her cheeks disappeared. My mom was all softness and sweetness in her signature worn-out jeans, but now she looked furious. “You aren’t even dressed. Your play! I’m talking
play begins in an hour. Your sister is already waiting in the car.”
I opened my mouth to defend myself, but she headed for the door, picking up some dirty clothes on her way out and chucking them into the laundry basket. “But that baby won’t stop crying,” I whispered to her back. It was the first time I had said it out loud.
There was no way she’d hear me. “You have three minutes!” my mom shouted on her way down the hall.