Ashley C. Harris
A Stand Alone Novel
The Troll Series
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Praise for Ashley’s other books
“Everyone can become a hero. That is what I got out of it. Well a lot more but that was a really powerful message. It keeps you on the edge of your seat to see what will happen next. I can’t wait for the next book and look forward to more from this new author!”
–Kindle and Me
“Memorable characters and plot momentum will keep the reader fully engaged right up to the pulse-pounding, dramatic conclusion with a stunning ending that I didn’t see coming! Shock Me is a gripping beginning to a new series. I, for one, look forward to the future adventures of these characters.”
“The end of this one totally set things up for the next book and left me eager for what comes next … Those who enjoy YA Sci-Fi Romance with a twisty plot mystery should try this one.”
“Shock Me by Ashley Harris is a story with new, fresh premise and I believe that fans of paranormal young adult novels will be thrilled to read it. I was completely hooked after reading prologue … Ashley Harris managed to masterfully confuse you and leave you wanting more.”
– “Ja čitam, a ti?”
“I loved this book so much I finished it in one sitting … Where do I sign up for the second book’s blog tour? I’m so excited.”
“I think the summary for this one doesn’t begin to really summarized Shock Me. In a way, I found it misleading because there’s so much more to it. I couldn’t stop reading it once I started. The story hooked me up from the beginning to the end. Most especially the ending. I’m glad that it was written in a third person’s point of view. It made it easier for me to understand them. The story itself was written very well and the mysteries surrounding it kept it more interesting and better. It’s like when one secret was revealed there’s another secret.”
–Musings In Fiction Alley
“Shock Me is a very nice, light read. It is a fast-paced action book with a little romance, and it is a perfect way to pass some time. It was good enough that if the author wrote a sequel to Shock Me, I would definitely read it … “
–Books With Pizzazz
“ … I was still shocked (no pun intended) at what all happened at its climax. I won’t spoil it because it needs to be read to be fully appreciated! If you enjoy YA lit, suspense, action, a little sci-fi mixed with fantasy, then go pick up a copy of this book. As far as first in series go, it hooked me right away and I can’t wait to see just where the author takes it from here. Not to mention the awesome semi-cliffhanger!!!! So Please, oh please, hurry book two!”
–Mom With A Reading Problem
Ashley C. Harris
(Stand-alone) Troll Whispers
(4) Troll Rise
THE SHOCK ME SERIES
(1) Shock Me
(3.5) New Divide
THE ONE NIGHT IN SERIES
(1)One Night In Heated Snapshots
(2)One Night In Close Exposure
THE LINES NOVELLAS SERIES
Lines Part 1
Lines Part 2
Lines Part 3
A Stand Alone Novel
Ashley C. Harris
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademarked owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Peter Parker, Spider Man, Marvel, Pokemon, Troll, Trolls, Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, The Norwegian Troll and his Gold Bird. Troll and the Golden Bird, Orion, Star Trek, Disney, Victoria Secret, The Pokémon Video Game, Pokémon, Pokémon Go, Zombie, Zombie Smack, Power Rangers, Edward Cullen, Narnia, Frodo, Jedi, Yoda, Star Wars, Snapchat, The Lord of the Rings, The Troll and the Fiery Phoenix, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, Lord of the Rings, Pretty Little Liars, Youtube, Nintendo, Jan Brady, Sour Cherry Gummies, A-HA, Hunting High and Low, Holiday Inn, Barbie, Sour Cherry.
Copyright 2017 by Ashley C. Harris. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Author.
Cover design by Amber Razzouk: http://www.gracemycanvas.com
First Edition May 2017
My precious God, Yahweh (Jesus), who stops me from growing faint when things seem impossible and inspired this quote:
“As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:29.
ברגע הדגן הוא בשלים, הוא שם את מגל אליו, כי הקציר הגיע.
סימן 04:29 כתוב
My parents, David and Karen, and sister Amber Razzouk.
Ashley C. Harris
Cordelia Conner sat comfortably behind her extra-large desk made of cherry wood. Every corner and line of the desk were sharp and pristine. Her entire office clean and spotless, void of anything she didn’t really need; or wouldn’t double as a weapon. At the age of forty-four, with a pen in her hand, she proceeded to tap the utensil ever so lightly against her papers. A purposeful and deliberate distraction the blond and statuesque woman was performing. She looked upon the teenage and very lost Abigail Goodman.
Abigail, or Abby as she preferred to be called, was newly seventeen. A mousey thing with timid beauty. She looked nervous, her fragile body full of tension. Abby’s thick brown hair was unbrushed and tangled, full of frizz to match with her messily freckled cheeks. Her skin a palish pink that was growing more fuchsia by the moment. Cordelia remembered when her own emotions before she learned to control them used to made her face turn bright red like that.
Abigail’s guilty competition caused her adolescent blue eyes to shine so richly contrasting with scarlet tone. Her eyes to Cordelia looked like little beautiful sea gems among a mess of a clueless, and trouble-making teenage girl. Abby’s looked nervously from Cordelia’s own deadly blue-ish green pair that were guarded and focused, back to her pen tapping. On Cordelia’s fingers were thick silver rings that all had sea dragon emblems artistically crafted on them. Does Abby recognizes these rings? Their Sea Dragon emblems held the power to conjure up memories that evil trolls robbed from innocent minds with great sorcery.
“Let’s cut to the chase shall we Abigail.”
“What do you mean?” Abby answered with a question that didn’t match her tone, a tone that said she was growing ever leerier and guarded herself.
“Your uncle Nicolas doesn’t think you remember me coming for you,” Cordelia just came out with it; subtlety was something she lost a long time ago. “But I think you do Abigail. I think you know very much who I am, and that you’re her to distract me while Wilhelm, or should I say… Leo, goes rifling through my belongs looking for what doesn’t belong to him.” Before the teenager could deny it, Cordelia reached into her dark grey business blazer and pulled out a cubed topaz stone that had white diamonds around its corners and mounting. The jewel nearly half the size of her thumb and mounted on a chain that she wore attached to her inner coat strap like a pocket watch. Abby’s eyes nearly doubled as she stared at the transparent light orange stone, shocked Cordelia would pull the precious bobble out without fear a troll wouldn’t bust through the doors and take it. Cordelia had grown too smart for that.
“Is this what Leo Smith wants, is that why he’s using you yet again?” She asked already knowing the answer. Abby might have thought she knew Leo Smith the second but Cordelia had known Leo Smith the first better than anyone. Knowing him made this next generation of liars and trouble makers predictable to deal with.
Abigail seemed to be as done with pretending as Cordelia was. “You don’t know anything about Leo Smith, or what he wants.”
Cordelia fought not to roll her eyes at someone that to her was so turned around.
“Oh, I know exactly what’s going on, and what evil you’ve been helping with my dear. Your heroic father would be so disappointed in you; knowing that you’re trying to help troll royals, right as we speak.” Cordelia pushed for her own voice to not grow emotional. “That would have crushed him.”
She watched anger spread across Abby’s face like a twisted mask. One moment the sixteen-year-old was sitting, as if an innocent lamb, and the next, Abby was standing. She didn’t move as quickly as Cordelia could have moved to take her down. Abby shot out her arm and twisted her wrist. Cordelia watched the teenager’s bronze charm bracelet that held varies charms on it, one of them began to grow. The crossbow charm on her wrist morphing and stretching by pure lion sorcery into a full sized crossbow that appeared cuffed to her arm. The conjured weapon was loaded with arrows. The stupid girl who had been helping trolls, she lifted it ready to shoot Cordelia down. Cordelia, the only real knight left in the room and a longtime family friend of the Goodman’s. She studied the magical crossbow that had a lion’s seal on it.
“That doesn’t belong to you,” she told the girl as memories from Cordelia’s own childhood pasted through her mind. She put her gemstone that Abby wanted back into her pocket slowly, waiting for the arrow that never was fired as the blond pulled out her own weapon. A dagger with a steal sea dragon on it, the dragon’s tale twisting around its sharpest point.
“You are not a real knight Abigail,” Cordelia challenged as she looked at the girl and remembered being exactly her age when she had become one; a real knight. That’s when she had met Leo Smith the 1st, and Cordelia had encountered one other person during her life changing age of seventeen, Daemon Banks. That name is where her real story began. The story of true children destined to be knights, unlike the illegitimate halver Abigail.
Cordelia learned that true warriors had to overcome all the troll whispers, troll screams, and of course, the troll curses…
As she looked at Abigail, ready to take her knockout shot at the girl, she remembered:
27 years ago
Cordelia had pushed what she was born into, the rules of the lion’s order, completely out of her head as she swam with Daemon. She couldn’t believe she’d had the gall to jump in; she couldn’t comprehend anything anymore as the moonlight shined on an almost black ocean. She took a deep breath and emerged herself back underneath the tide where near rock banks, Daemon was holding his breath extra-long—knights could do that—as he swam. Cordelia moved and kicked her feet through the natural rhythm of the water where, somehow in the dark, she could see shells and starfish on the rocks.
There was also fish, litter, and polluted junk; but somehow, it was all beautiful and peaceful. She saw Daemon’s hands reach for something he’d discovered in the sand. He was respectful enough not to gawk at her nearly naked, only in a plain sports bra and underwear form, while they swam up to the surface. Unlike Cordelia, who found herself stealing glances of his well-formed biceps and triceps. They both came up to the surface at once and he smiled at her. A real genuine smile where the right side of his lips raised slightly higher than the rest.
“See, we’re water dancing and exploring all at once,” he said as he swam next to her and circled her like a creature that had found a very feisty piece of prey. Cordelia moved her body around with him, following his pace as she couldn’t help but have a giddy ‘I’ve had my first drink and now I’m being relieved by the water,’ kind of smile come to her lips.
She asked him. “What did you find?”
He held up a closed oyster that was in his palm.
“Open your hand,” he asked kindly. She did so.
“Don’t let go of that, I shook it and heard the rolling of what I’m guessing is a pearl.”
“Thanks,” Cordelia said as she tried to keep her swooning on the inside and awkward on the outside voice casual. Her father had gotten her mother a necklace that Cordelia had saved in her jewelry box, it was made entirely of pearls her dad had found. Now Daemon was unintentionally doing the same.
“Your third knight graduation gift,” he laughed. This was all just friendly right? Certainly, Daemon couldn’t be attracted to an unknowing and nervous person such as herself, Cordelia thought. He’d gotten her a dress, dinner, and now a pearl.
“You’ve done too much,” she told him in a super low voice she knew he could hear as her eyes went down to the water.
“Hardly.” Despite being able to hear her, he got even closer. Their bodies almost touching again. “I think you need to give yourself some more credit, you know… as a daring rogue knight.” His nickname for her ever-evolving like a comic book theme .
Oh please…. She went to say, words that would push him away, and yet, what slipped out was: “I like it when you call me that.”
Holy crap, what is wrong with me? Did I really just admit that?
“Oh yeah?” he said, his voice growing husky as they moved together, both moving in a circle still but more slowly as if they really were dancing.
“I guess,” she said, trying to regain herself.
In the water where he wasn’t so much taller, both their heads were just about at the same height. So Cordelia couldn’t escape how wonderful his lips looked or how beautiful his face was. Daemon was like a work of art. Thank God he wasn’t a troll or he would have been unstoppably seducing. His lips so close…. She bet he’d kissed a lot of girls, knight and non-knight alike, and something in her mind told her each one of them definitely liked it.
“You guess,” Daemon’s voice got lower, huskier.
“I know,” she said as the space between them almost ceased and she didn’t back up. They stopped stirring in circles now as she was only moving her legs to stay afloat while Daemon was tall enough to stand on the sharp reef floor.
He reached his arms out, steadying her sides ever so gently so she could be as still as him; and not desperately waddling in the water. One arm on the side of her arm and the other, daring to touch her waist; sending what seemed like the most sensitive electric sparks all over that side.
When her lips parted, her nerves going into overdrive as her cheeks turned red— her body actually shook a little. In a really good, charged, and nervous way.
“We really shouldn’t do this, you’re a year younger.” He said it like a year was a century. “And we don’t really know each other yet, not really.” He was talking about kissing her; as suddenly, this seemed like an impossible dream; one she didn’t want to awaken from.
“I know,” she answered, so nervous. The sensible part of Cordelia, the trained want to be lion’s knight, should have pushed him away. Gotten a hold of herself, and told him her real name for starters. And yet, a cloud came over the moon above, casting an intimate shadow over them as the waters stilled and everything got so dark; like the ocean was just for them in that second. Her advanced hearing became aware of Daemon’s deep, steady breaths. He breathed ever so quietly, and yet, it was like she could hear and read that he wanted something as he looked at her. Wanted but was fighting it as they stared into each other’s eyes.
Cordelia’s own breathing was louder and more nervous now, more scared and yet, this was a fear that had an after effect of excitement that she very much liked. “But if you plan on leaving by the end of this week,” her words came out choppy. Cordelia knew her dad would never let her be a full knight and go with Daemon, or any other, anytime soon. So this was probably her last real moment alone with him in her invisible armor that only he could see through.
“Then we only have right now,” she said as his breathing intensified and then suddenly, he pulled her body to his. Her skin touching and rubbing against Daemon’s in the water. His hand on her arm, leaving her only to cup her face.
“From the moment I saw you on my bike and thought you were a regular high school girl, I wanted this…” And then he was bringing his lips to hers and finally closing the space between them. She closed her eyes and oh how her body enjoyed being up against his. It was possibly the best and most exciting thing in the world as everything felt so awake and sensitive.
And yet… Cordelia heard a voice of fear in her mind that she knew was nothing but her imagination, haunting her as their lips touched.
‘You’re never going to be happy, as long as I’m alive. I’m the troll queen.’ This was a voice she had heard five years ago. A whisper she was going to learn to silence right now, but did silencing something make it disappear?
Five years earlier
Where the whispers start, with the cursed….
The sun was setting… Cordelia watched golden rays melt into dull pink and circular blue hues. Cordelia peered out the backseat left window, watching. She and her family were somewhere north of Austin, Texas, the exact spot she wasn’t sure. She was newly twelve, which was a pretty big deal apparently, by the way her parents were acting.
“You’ve entered the ‘age of adulthood’,” her mother repeated sweet and proud from the front seat. She reached back and handed Cordelia a pile of old books; books all three of her older brothers had read and played with. A collection of Norwegian and Scandinavian myths that were children’s tales.
“Read them,” Henry told his little sister, as if the books were about something very important. “But whatever you do,” he lowered his voice playful, pretending to whisper into his little sister’s ear; even though they all could hear him. “Don’t say any of the monsters in the stories name’s out loud, not yet or,” Henry lingered there, drawing out the suspense. “They’ll find you…”
The other boys laughed…. Cordelia did too. Their mom’s bright blue eyes glistening as she smiled at her children and her long tight curls bounced wildly. Cordelia’s father had the windows down making his wife’s blond tresses extra wild.
“Even if they did find me, mom and dad can protect us! Duh!” Cordelia said back to her oldest brother who sat next to her, matter-of-factly.
“Just mom and dad… or?” He waited for her to fill in the blank, like she was forgetting an important factor.
Hesitantly, she answered, a bit unsure, “Mom, dad, and the lion?” She referred to the symbol behind their great and secret society of Knights.
“Yes,” Henry answered her, though Cordelia wasn’t entirely sure if she believed him; she’d never seen this lion before. Her oldest brother supposedly had, though. Henry was eighteen and now an official knight, according to their family and the magical order they belonged to. The order that demanded they, somehow, try to blend into the unknowing human world; of which a certain breed of tricky monsters preyed.
Gordy and Wayne, Cordelia’s middle brothers, ages thirteen and fifteen, who were sitting in the back seat, began arm resettling and pretending to be comic book heroes; per usual. Ignoring them, Cordelia opened the first novel in her stack. It was an old Rumpelstiltskin book. Henry’s words began replaying in her mind: “Whatever you do, don’t say the word-” she couldn’t help but whisper, low under her breath, finishing the sentence and naming the particular monster: “Troll.” This was her form of an immature rebellion. As if daring to see if any fiend could really exist and possibly pose a threat.
And even if trolls really do exist, surely my family will always be able to take them down as secret knights, she thought as she watched her mom’s small and gentle-looking hand drift over to Cordelia’s dad’s muscular shoulder and rub it; covering one of the many bruises her father had as he drove. Her mom’s gentleness was deceptive because Cordelia knew she was secretly very tough. She’d seen her mom practice sparring against ten human men, all her brother Henry’s age, around eighteen, and win easily. It was her mom’s job to train them.
I hope I’m like her, someday, Cordelia wished. Though that dream seemed impossible.
They drove further along the low Texas flat brush where Cordelia spied a few big hills, tons of greenery, and some larger abundant canyons. Near one of the hollow valleys, there was a hitchhiker walking all by his lonesome. Her dad slowed. Unafraid of anything, the brave Lance Conner lowered his window as Cordelia watched her mom’s hand go away from his arm and toward something she had stashed in the open glove compartment; it was dark, black, and shiny with a medal lion emblem on it. Was that her crossbow?
“Where are you heading buddy?” Lance asked as the stranger’s glazed eyes slowly rolled over the whole family; as if they were part of a mirage. The inner corner of his tear ducts, just for a second, glistened.
“Is this guy spelled or high on buds?” Wayne said under his breath. He was having a good laugh as Gordy elbowed him,
“Definitely stoned and maybe spelled too,” Gordy added as two brothers began to arm rested again.
What does high on buds or stoned mean? Cordelia wondered. Her eyes went to her books, under the top Rumpelstiltskin novel, she noticed a story called: ‘Troll Kirka’;. It was about a Norwegian troll that turned himself into a mountain, or stone-like thing, when he stepped into the sun. So was ‘stoned’ a code word that meant something fiendish had effected this long-haired hitchhiker? Threatening to turn him into a rock, which is supposedly what troll skin was made out of?
She didn’t know why but she whispered the name out loud again, “troll,” under her breath. Daring the creature in these books— some which were drawn kid like with multi-colored hair, others that had long animal tails— to show up. So little Cordelia could watch her parents defeat them.
Her eyes looked right to her dad’s abnormally sized muscles, confident. Yes, surely dad could kill a troll fast.
“Far away from here, Mexico,” the hitchhiker answered her father as if that much was obvious. “I have more than enough to start over now,” the man said as he held up a cloth pouch that looked like the same kind of pouches that held bottled whiskey. “I’ll offer you a piece of my gold here that I’ve found, enough to feed your kids for weeks if you’ll drive me across the border by midnight,” the man said quite cockily as if he needed to flee and they were a taxi service or something. Didn’t he see that Cordelia’s family were the only ones within miles as the sun was almost set, disappearing into a dark haze?
“Ah, yeah, the dude’s an airhead.” Wayne burst into laughter as he listened to this man from the back seat. Gordy chuckled at his brother’s joking. Gordy’s skin extra rosy red from their boyish playing and pretend punching.
“Stuff it, you two!” Henry suddenly snapped like an army leader, and as if, by a miracle, the teenage mutants in the back seat obeyed him. Cordelia looked from him to them in astonishment, hoping one day she’d be able to do that; silence her mischievous brothers that sometimes picked on her.
“A piece of gold?” her dad was asking the man. “I thought all of it was mined out of these parts a long time ago. You would have had to travel pretty far into those caverns to find anything.”
The man opened up his pouch then, reaching his hand in as he pulled his fist out. Nothing but bits of sand, bottle caps, and shriveled bug skeletons were in his palm. Gross!
Cordelia gasped as the man looked at them all as if he had found the most amazing pieces of treasure from those caverns; as if he knew someone that had turned his trash into gold but only he could see it.
“Where’d you get that?” her father asked him, playing along as his voice grew more flat. The man snickered, turning his head to spit out a heap of saliva and then turned back to her dad.
“You think I’d tell you when there is more than this to get in the future?” The hitchhiker suddenly seemed to be growing tired of her father’s questions, agitated. “Forget it, I’ll find another ride.” He flipped them the finger next, making Cordelia and her middle brothers’ mouths drop open in shock. Cordelia’s mom, fiercer than she appeared, quickly pulled out her crossbow then and pointed it past her husband right at the man’s face before he could turn fully away. Her golden locks, and sweet and petite looks fading into a beautiful and modern warrior queen.
“I think what my husband here is trying to say is… tell us where you got your ‘gold’ now or die with it, scumbag!”
The man told them all in a shocked haste, “. . . you crazy. . . .” then he swore at her mom next, calling her a word Cordelia wasn’t allowed to repeat as she heard her younger brothers threaten to jump out of the car and show this man what ‘real knight kids, were made of.’
“You two are hardly knights yet,” Henry scolded them, as Cordelia’s mom lowered her bow just enough to send the hitchhiker running crazily away from this odd little family that could surely take on anything. Cordelia’s eyes went to her story books again as she dared, for whatever reason, whisper their monster’s title out loud again, “troll”. This time, a little louder as suddenly Henry heard her mischievousness and looked at her harshly. The fierce look in his eyes, much like a lion’s before it was about to defend its cubs, it made her shut up real fast, biting her plump rosy lips.
Wayne and Gordy promptly went back to arm wrestling as her parents drove on. All this just a normal family trip for them as the Connor’s pulled up to an entrance to the cavern tunnel the hitchhiker had said he’d come from. On top of its narrow entrance was a giant piece of wood designed so no one would fall into it and end up underground. A sign on it read, ‘Beware’ and ‘Haunted’, painted by some prankster in red.
Lance Conner got out of the car, his wife joining him as they pulled the van’s sliding doors opened, causing cold air to rush to Cordelia’s face as Henry was handed the keys. “We won’t be long, don’t forget. . .”
“I know… protect the family,” Henry said obediently as their mom took off her bronze key necklace and handed it to him. She cupped Henry’s face then and kissed his cheek.
Gordy and Wayne wigged out: “Gross!” at the thought of their mom still kissing them all as if they were just kids.
“I love you,” her mom said, ignoring all the background sounds. “All of you, forever.” Her husband gave her a look like getting emotional wasn’t necessary as he nodded at his kids, and then grabbed his wife’s hand as they headed out, into the deep dark cavern.
A full half-an-hour passed that seemed like forever to Cordelia, the sun lost now to the darkness. Wolves from the woods around them howled as the kids repeated fairy tales to pass the time.
“Is that a wolf, or a fox, an or an enchanted fox,” Wayne messed with his sister as he grabbed one of Cordelia’s new fairy tale books right from her hands, he had each tale memorized just as she’d have to soon; he read from ‘The Troll and the Fiery Phoenix book’. “Once upon a time, there was a king who dared glance at a wicked fiery Phoenix and wanted it for himself…” said Wayne as the wolves outside their car continued to howl. “Unable to catch the magical bird, the king sent his three sons, one by one, to get it for him. He declared whoever caught the phoenix and killed its old master, only that son would be the next to reign over his kingdom.”
“One prince went, and then another, but tragically, they were each seduced by the drinking of wine, eating of sweets, and alluring wild parties in the woods that the phoenix’s master, a,” he paused, skipping the word troll. He substituted a different word instead “a ‘turtle’ had created. Then the king-” Wayne smiled because this was the part of the Old Norwegian tale that was unlike any other. “-sent his last son, a knight, who encountered a fox in the woods. This fox was able to talk and weep because he’d been transformed into such an animal by the… ‘turtle’.” Wayne’s substitute word for troll, a ‘turtle’ was confusing to Cordelia.
A turtle is too much like a fox, he should just say troll!
“This cursed fox was actually one of the prince’s servants. Together, the knight and the fox defeated the ‘turtle’ and captured the phoenix. But before the fox could be turned back into a human servant, the Prince learned he had to kill the fiery bird, and only his blood could do that. Would he spill it and still be able to marry his bride, a future princess?” her brother cooed as little Cordelia imagined herself as that princess.
Wayne passed then just to make Cordelia squirm.
“What happens?” she asked as she reached to hit at his knee.
“Does the prince live and get to marry his bride, do they live happily ever after?”
“Only after a lot of sacrifice and service on the prince’s part does he get his bride,” Henry answered. He grabbed the children’s book from Wayne and handed it to his sister, for her to read the answer herself. Why should a prince have to serve? she wondered. Isn’t that backward?
Cordelia began to hear owls hooting; she hated owls. She looked at Henry, growing impatient. “Should we go after them?” she asked him as the other two boys were busy laughing and arm wrestling each other again. “You and I?”
“Oh, you and I? You’d want me to take you?” Henry taunted, his eyes both skeptical and yet admiring of his little sister.
“What! I’m an adult now, remember,” she tried to remind Henry, according to their knight society’s ‘secret code’. Unfortunately, where children knights used to be sent out as early as age twelve in the past to kill trolls; now the newer generation of knights still preferred their kids to not really go hunt until they were eighteen; or forced to kill a troll. Whatever came first. Cordelia rebelled against this. “Surely, together, we could all handle whatever is down there as a family.” She looked to the cavern, growing anxiously and frustrated. When were her parents coming back?
Then a noise, much like the screeching of a train if it was coming off the tracks, suddenly exploded in her ears. The shriek made the ground shake and move, as if it had been woken up. It hurt Cordelia’s auditory drums as she finally deciphered with fear that they were hearing not the cavern caving in but… some kind of female creature’s scream! Maybe a giant female animal that was very angry or in danger. The shriek came once, then twice, shaking the earth each time. Henry wasted not a moment as he threw Gordy, who only had a driver’s permit, the keys.
“Get to the driver’s seat now!” he commanded as Gordy jumped into action and began crawling to the front of the van. Henry, on the other hand, pulled out a big blade that had a lion carved into its handle, he had under his coat. He jumped out onto the dirt from their open sliding door and waited. He was on guard with a look that was no longer sweet and cool. He was a righteous and noble warrior, disguised in teenage clothes; as Cordelia would one day be.
She trembled. “I don’t like this,” she admitted and was ignored. “I want to come out there and help!”
She began to move as Henry yelled harshly, “Get back in the car!”
Next thing she saw and heard, like a sudden strike of lightning, was her mom and dad running out of the cavern! Their clothes full of smut and dirt that even covered their faces. Seeing them made Cordelia exhale. Of course, nothing deathly could ever happen to them. Why had I been afraid again, she wondered?
Henry helped them into the van in a hurry and jumped in next, pulling the door shut behind him.
Their dad, hands covered in blood, yelled at Gordy, “Drive!”
Gordy screeched their wheels like a race car and took off with excitement. He’d experienced crazy adventures like this before. Wayne and Cordelia were pretty freaked, though, and so was Henry, the most experienced.
What was that sound… what kind of animal made it?
“We found a nest of younglings, they were already consuming bones and other human remains as a big redheaded royal came stomping up, awoken from her slumber, and tried to stop us!”
“A royal?” Henry’s eyes widened.
“She was the only guard and weak after giving birth.” Cordelia’s mom informed Henry as if this was vital information her oldest would need. Cordelia tried to take this all in as a twelve-year-old and understand. So those were the troll royals’ babies that my parents killed? Troll babies eat human bones? Gross! I thought most trolls couldn’t deliver babies at all, though? Maybe that’s wrong because then why are there so many trolls? She noticed her mother’s crossbow was missing all its pre-loaded arrows.
Holly macaroni! Cordelia thought with childish mental grasping of everything, the car was colder now that her parents were back inside it; being really cold was a knight thing. Their van sped onto the main road, leaving the trees and the caverns behind. Within twenty minutes, they’d hit normal Texas traffic, getting lost in it.
“A real royal?” Henry commented, amazed as he talked to his parents. “Did she survive? I thought even royals died after giving birth usually, too old for their stone bodies to keep pushing and going.”
“This royal was very young, no older than fifteen in human years. She had fiery golden phoenix tattoos on her body.” Their mom explained as all the children said at once:
“No way!” Because of the storybook they’d all just been talking about. Their parents ignored their kids wonder; too used to all this.
“Golden tattoos and fire are usually signs of great warriors or troll kings and queens, maybe both…. It was her tattoos and a rare gemstone she wore around her neck that gave her enough power to run. Even after all the arrows we put through her womb to quicken her bleeding.”
“I tried to kick and crush her neck before your mom put all those arrows inside her. Hopefully, we did enough damage that the hag will die long before her body can heal itself.” Cordelia’s dad explained.
“Maybe she’ll turn into a fox,” Wayne joked, referencing the silliness from their fairy tale book. He had a natural high from the rush of speeding away.
But why were we running if the troll was done for? Cordelia wondered as she seemed to suddenly know the answer… There must have been other troll tunnelers —or servant trolls as her parents had previously explained, who mined the tunnels— coming…
Her parents were exhaling, they even smiled partially once they were mixed with unknowing human traffic. A job well done. And as Cordelia watched them, she knew her family was odd, freakish and alienated from normal humans, yet very special. She believed that together, nothing could ever stop them.
Three and a half weeks later….
Cordelia awoke from her bed to a human’s scream. Was that my mom’s?! Couldn’t be. The sound made her jump up, immediately her heart racing, she squirmed to the door. She wanted to be fearless and strong like her parents as she ran outside to find. . . Creatures that made her pause, like they’d turned her to ice. Suddenly, unlike her brave mother, she couldn’t even scream.
There were so many of them. They were unnaturally tall, some reaching their Texas’s home’s ceiling. Others even taller than that, having to bend their marble-like bodies over. Cordelia’s eyes went from one stone body to another, each monster with skin that looked so hard and unreal it shouldn’t have been able to move and breath. Yet, each creature was fully alive and mobile as they moved and barreled through her house; a home that was grand and considered, to most of their neighbors, the nicest. It had been in her family for many generations, they had one other home like it in Florida. She watched part of its walls crumble… Each demon-like giant flaring their fist into the foundation. More were coming that were well over nine feet tall, hunching just to get in and fit inside. These were all trolls, and there had to be over forty of them!
“Oh my God!” she gasped, overwhelmed.
Her parents had never let her see what real trolls really looked like. They’d said she wasn’t ready. As scary as these trolls were, not all but some of them, the younger looking ones, were also strangely beautiful. Like works of arts. No wonder some false legends lied claiming trolls were the decedents of entrapped titians. They did kind of look like a giant race of false gods. Gods that could tear Cordelia apart for fun.
Their skin and hair coloring, some dull and ugly resembling plain human tones and colors of mouton rock; with tribal-looking tattoos painted onto them in green and black; tattoos that moved making Cordelia even more afraid. Yet others were more extravagantly colored with smooth marble and granite like completions. They had gemstones for eyes and hair colors that were not of the human part of the earth. Cordelia couldn’t even name some of the shades she was taking in. These more seductive looking trolls had tattoos that were also on some of them, made of jewels or bright wild colors.
The most captivating giant in the room was a troll woman that looked like a want to be goddess with long red hair, fire red; as if it would really burn at the touch and yet, it was humanly textured. Her skin tannish-pink on a body with supple curves; she was like the troll version of Super Woman that her brothers liked to gawk at in their comics. Her tattoos were a series of phoenixes, made of real gold with fire painted on their wings. They were moving wildly up and down her exposed sides. The trolls outfit was so revealing, Cordelia could almost see through the spider-webbed material that was over her breast, and wrapped loser around her hips like a skirt. On her neck was a giant cubed topaz necklace that had snow colored diamonds around its mounting and chain. One of her flapping tattoos was looking right at little Cordelia.
“Why hello, little knight,” this redheaded troll she was staring at said. The troll’s voice was much younger-sounding than Cordelia expected. She felt so small compared to this woman’s nearly seven-foot frame. Cordelia’s eyes trailed down to the female’s feet. They were still beautiful despite their big size, she wore slippers with onyxes mounted within them. It wasn’t until a stunned Cordelia looked in this direction that she noticed her own family was in the room also….
Cordelia hadn’t even seen them at first, her eyes too overwhelmed, her body trembling. But now she saw her brother Henry. He was on the floor, face down, his body not moving. He was covered in blood, she didn’t put together that it was his own.
No! This is impossible, he must be faking! She thought as something inside her soul began to sink, too afraid to really see what was happening; because she believed, together, her family could stop this. That they could do anything.
Her eyes trailed more floor further, a bow and arrow that was her dad’s and usually stored in the home’s weapons drawer… the bow that Henry must have grabbed when he tried to fight them…. It was now sticking up out of Gordy’s upper torso, it had been shoved into the young teen by force.… he was dying right there with no one to help!
Cordelia, struck by sheer terror, found herself able to move again… but only back away from him as fear made her betray herself. Her eyes came to her mother in the back corner next. Another female troll who wasn’t as pretty as the redhead, she was holding Cordelia’s mother tight, her hand over her mouth. This eight-foot woman was gripping the petite Conner mother so tightly that the blond human hadn’t even been able to make another noise and warn her daughter to run. Cordelia met her mom’s eyes, which looked almost dead already, from watching everything; including two of her sons get murdered as the redheaded troll woman with the phoenix tattoos approached young Cordelia.
Mother and daughter looked at one another then; she heard her mom fight through a new scream, and begin to kick and move wildly all over again, desperate to get free and to her daughter. But where was Wayne? Or Dad?
Cordelia heard something like a crunch from the bathroom. Had Wayne been in there? A troll exited and laughed with red crimson blood on his hands. Cordelia felt herself begin to tear up, there were so many monsters around her and yet, she refused to believe this was really happening.
It all had to be a nightmare, and somehow, her dad or perhaps the mythical giant lion would appear and rescue her and her mom she told herself.
“Oh, don’t worry little one, your family will never feel any worse than they made me feel when your parents took my only younglings away from me,” cooed the redhead. She was the one Cordelia’s parents fought back at the caverns, she realized. “My husband, the onyx troll king, he took two brand new wives after that to punish me, his queen, for not delivering new royal little trolls younger than yourself.” the troll queen eyed Cordelia as she looked back and forth from her to her mother. The queen bitter, and yet amused, and even giddy to get her revenge.
“Too bad you’re too old for me to take you down into the earth, near its hottest fires and my home; where I could really make your parents pay the price. I’ll just have to find another way to make sure-,” the troll lowered her voice into a whisper as she bent down to look at Cordelia, face to face. The troll woman eyes were onyx-like with white sparkles inside. “-You pay a different price while I find another Conner child under twelve instead.” The royal hissed, her gold phoenixes flew up and down her almost naked torso.
She reached out then and grabbed Cordelia who was too scared to run. She did try to punch and kick the queen, right in the face but… her blows with all her might just made the redhead laugh. Her skin so hard and strong it hurt Cordelia to hit her, she needed her dad who was extra strong with knight magic, or at least a weapon.
“Let my mom go and you can do whatever you want to me,” she pleaded weakly, her words came out trembling and almost unrecognizable.
“Actually deary, I think I’ll do the opposite. We can have fun playing and torturing your mother now and you can live to tell the tale. I’ll want the other knights to know how terribly the Conner woman and her sons died after all. They should know what fate is coming for all of them.” she laughed then as Cordelia began to cry and kick more in her arms.
“You on the other hand,” the troll started whispering again, raising and lowering her voice for the fun of it. “We can scare your body and leave you with a fun little curse, one where you’ll never truly feel alive or happy for the rest of your days, how does that sound,” she whispered into Cordelia ears as she sunk her nails into her. The phoenixes on the queen’s body… laughing!
The troll queen who would later whisper her troll name, Queen Regina, she nodded her head at the other female troll who was holding Cordelia’s mom in the air and gagging her.
The troll woman walked over and lifted her beautiful marble feet onto Gordy’s still head then, and stepped down. She crushed it. The sight, it made Cordelia scream, not just that night— but she knew if Regina did ever let her survived, that Cordelia would be screaming for years to come. The sound would never stop in her mind, nor of the troll queen’s whispers into her ear. Her whispers and laughs never stopped that night.
Five Years Later, when Cordelia was seventeen.
The morning was peaceful and quiet in sunny south Florida. Cordelia awoke in her family’s old van, a remnant from a different life. Its sliding door cracked open, and the feeling of fur that covered her much like a guardian angel’s wings was everywhere. Her eyes slowly fluttered open. She was always a little confused when she first awoke, even after all these years. She often wondered, for a split second during waking, if her mom and brothers’ deaths had all just been an awful dream, and somehow, she was still twelve years old again.
I’m not… She was disappointed; always so devastated every morning that she awoke.
Her eyes went to the van’s window. Cordelia thought for an instant that she could make out the outline of an actual giant lion that was at least eleven or twelve feet tall. The lion was very faint, with just the outline of it’s shape appearing outside the vehicle in her large lawn. The Lion of Ancients. The lion that every full knight saw a few times in their life. Their first time usually when a new knight turned eighteen and killed a troll. The Lion of Ancients was a magical beast that symbolized the secret power that granted humans that were born to overcome trolls, some grand anointing. She blinked and whatever mirage she thought she saw was nothing. Her imagination cruel sometimes.
Cordelia hopped out of the old van that had become a childish fort of solitude —one she knew she was now too old to sleep in— and went towards her father’s Florida home. It was time for her to get ready for school again. Time to pretend to be a normal girl, not someone that was training to someday face creatures capable of turning straw into gold and tempting the weak to bargain with them. So I can kill each troll that crosses an innocent’s path.
Cordelia actually hoped and prayed to one day stop every troll and devil that was out there. But as only a high schooler, and a ‘Spedbarn’ —which was what the older elders referred to as a baby or a ‘not full knight that is still in training’, even after age twelve,— she was forced to listen to the rules and head inside. Hastily she marched upstairs. Cordelia walked past all five empty bedrooms in the home— all empty and unused except for hers— and she walked into her bathroom.
Slipping off the clothes she’d fallen asleep in the night before, after hours of training, Cordelia pulled her long and messy curly blond hair into a high bun; to keep it dry. Then she jumped into the shower, knowing she’d skip breakfast once she was done getting the smell of the outdoors off of her blemish prone ruddy skin.
Freezing cold water awakened and rinsed her long and curve-less body; if only I could make this water even colder…. Unable to do so, so she could imagine what it was like to be a real and full knight, she hurried to finish and dried off. Cordelia wiggled into her knee-length navy blue skirt. She was thankful her private school had changed from its old horrid and easily stained light tan skirts to dark blue, required for all the girls to wear. Next, she buttoned up her white polo shirt that had her campus’s alligator logo imprinted on its every golden button. She was forced last to add a loose fitting vest.
A private school uniform vest that made her shoulders look less slender and boxier. Her figure very much still awkward compared to the other girls who had grown much nicer and mature bodies than she had at seventeen.
Cordelia had long legs, a thin long torso and what she considered to be a big ribcage though no one else seemed to notice that. On top of those ribs, a small, barely B or large A sized chest. My boobs are nothing like my mom’s. Tragically.
But all the better for fighting, I guess. She told herself… however:
Looking sweet, attractive, and underestimated did seem to be a weapon my mom used that I don’t even know how to access. Normal people don’t peg me as sweet. Cordelia knew she was slightly anti-social; all the etiquette classes, encouraged school philanthropy, and social clubs were hardly on her to-do list; so at a school of innocent and privileged humans, that made her an outcast.
I do not belong. I should be hunting with the grown-up knights. Like my dad who wars against the still living troll queen, Regina, every day. Cordelia’s father who wasn’t there the night Regina came, was always now, determined to hunt Regina and her minions at any cost. Cordelia yearned to help him.
She exited. Looking for the outline of the Lion of Ancients that she also prayed every day would appear. She’d love to demand of him why he hadn’t even tried to help save her mom or brothers. But he never showed.
Cordelia walked the hot trail that led to her school, her mind paying attention to every detail around her; her heart always feeling on edge as if at any moment it could be time to fight. She sensed a car pulling up and turned. Her hands forming into fists, her legs ready to flare out and kick as… The SUV of Mrs. Davidovitch, Cordelia’s neighbor, and her daughter Rachel, who was riding in the passenger’s seat, came into view. Cordelia pushed herself to relax.
“It’s a hot one today, dear,” Rachel’s mom, a women with painfully bleached, unnatural blond hair, began. Cordelia knew this line well. “You sure we can’t drive ya today?” Mrs. Davidovitch asked, as her honor roll, brunette daughter, smiled. Rachel and Cordelia were in the same grade, and Mrs. Davidovitch had tried to encourage the girls to be friends. But Cordelia wasn’t interested in getting too close to non-knight kids, she just never could relate to those that didn’t know about the evil creatures roaming the insides of the earth. Though she was as nice as she had to be; never coming off mean just… I’m to myself, always only to myself to none knights.
“I’m good, thanks, Mrs. Davidovitch.”
“Okay,” the woman smiled and then drove off. Cordelia felt more comfortable once she was alone, ready to imagine herself doing something really important like defeating a troll when… suddenly, a loud motorbike filled her ears right as she got close to the crosswalk. Music blasting from the bike, the smell of gasoline clogged Cordelia’s nose.
She turned, her hands forming subtly back into fists again; even though there had never been a threat in her part of town or in most of the south Florida coasts areas. That’s why her dad and other knights insisted on raising their children there. Too many bridges where trolls could get trapped if the bridge was rigged right, and salt water which irked their noses.Yet Cordelia was always ready just in case….
She came eye to eye with…the motorcycle man or a teenager, she wasn’t sure. She got the sense he was only a little older than her when she saw his helmet-free face; he drove straight ahead of her, uninterested in trouble or gawking. Which was good. Keep moving.
His bike, as if rebelling, came to a stop at the crosswalk light she was approaching. But he was angled so he was ready to turn left as soon as he could. She hit the crosswalk and was forced to look at the teen or twenty something again, who was naked from the stomach up and shirtless…. Not a strange site in humid Florida, but for whatever reason, Cordelia felt her breath still. She really got a look at him. Her gaze on broad shoulders that looked like they could challenge several linebackers all at once. His long arms muscled like he lifted more than any of the shorter boys at her school did. Cordelia was five-ten, one of the tallest females of the juniors and seniors, but even on a bike, the motorcyclist was taller than her with a chest that was thick and ripped. His golden brown hair moving in the wind.
He must have felt her staring or gawking like she usually hated male drivers to do to her; because his face turned back, just slightly. Thick eyebrows and green eyes above sharp cheek-bones that made him look like he was good at making up his mind, looked upon Cordelia. Is this what public school guys from Jupiter High look like? She wondered as her breath was still caught. Her assumption was because the motorcyclist was headed in the left direction, and not towards the community college that was up the road.
Cordelia felt awkward and small as he took her in. Yet… he smiled. Too bad no knight boys looked like him, like they were a son of Hercules or Clark Cent’s younger sibling…. She made her face look more guarded as she crossed in front of him on the crosswalk, like she was in a hurry and not impressed by this son of her imagination’s version of Zeus, look alike, at all. Once she was past him and she heard him rev his bike as he went in the opposite direction, she decided to take the route through the Nester Nature preserve to get to school. The preserve was a little forest area that led to Nester Island, a place where Cordelia truly felt safe.
Time to get to a campus where the only guys I talk to, that are barely even my height, are also knight kids. Not that the entire school was full of people like Cordelia, there was a total of five knight children that were juniors; all of them were experts at keeping to themselves. Only one of them was changing… Nicolas Goodman. Cordelia wondered if it was because the reality of them all abandoning high school to hunt for trolls once they turned eighteen was becoming more real.
That time can’t come soon enough for me.
Later, by fifth period in her last class, Cordelia found herself drumming her fingers to stay awake. Her science teacher at the Catholic school, Sister Annie, had the lights painfully dimmed with the overhead projector turned on, it made a motor-ish hum that Cordelia found annoying.
Like a quieter version of that guy’s motorcycle this morning.
Sister Annie was showing the students slides of various magnets and explaining the science behind them. “Every magnet has both a north and a south pole. When you place the north near the south of another magnet, they are attracted without choice. But when you place two like poles near each other, north to north or south to south, they always repel.” Kill me now. Instead of paying attention, most of the students were preoccupied with whispering and passing notes, among other things. Cordelia spied up ahead two desks to the left; one belonging to Nickolas Goodman, who was scooting his desk closer to Leah Wolff’s in the dark.
Leah was a normal human teen, her talent for making fun of others at its height only a few years ago. In middle school, when Cordelia had first moved into town, Leah had told the whole class that Cordelia had hair like a babydoll. “Look at baby Cordelia.” That hadn’t been so bad compared to what Leah also used to say behind her back. “A doll with fishy lips and poodle hair…” The fish lip thing was kind of annoying to Cordelia who had gone through puberty finding that her face had become narrower as her lips got plumper. They were big enough that she actually could see the fish comparison Leah had mocked. That was the reason she often covered her lips with a nude colored lipstick she’d bought at the drug store.
“The new girl with those lips is like the perfect mermaid pet, kind of like Flounder. What a perfect nickname for you.” Leah had gone on for a few years, all as Cordelia became more and more quiet and numb. She’d known all along that she’d be rid of normal teens come her eighteenth birthday. Come sophomore year, Leah had stopped insulting most students out load, by some miracle. I wonder if it’s because she suspected I have a round house kick that could seriously break her ribs in only a few seconds, and hopefully injure some part of a troll.
Yeah, I doubt Leah suspects that.
Perhaps it was the etiquette classes ingrained in all the students five days a week at private school by the nuns, Cordelia figured. She was standoffish to the point of nails on a chalkboard, which made it easier for Leah and most non-knight students to not converse with her at all; that was how Cordelia liked it. Someone that had become good at talking to Leah, though, was Nicolas Goodman. Nicolas and his brother Jacob had been Cordelia’s training mates and forced upon friends ever since her own brothers had died. They were sons of Isaac and Josephine Goodman, her father’s closest friends since he moved. Cordelia had been stuck with Nicolas and Jacob for years, they were twins and that was a big deal in the knight community; twins meant double the blessing and double the troll butt kicking power supposedly.
At first, years ago, Cordelia had cringed at the extra, very un-brotherly attention Nicolas used to give her. For a while, everywhere she turned, he’d had been there; he’d even told her in the eighth grade that he was in love with her. There is no way he really could ever feel that way…about me, not when I don’t even feel like a real person half the time. And then he’d even tried to kiss her. As curious as Cordelia had been to know what it was like to have a pair of lips meet hers like the older couples she saw in the movies do, she’d turned her head to Nicolas. She felt bad when she’d done so. Not sure then if she could switch the way she thought of him in her head if her father ever called for an arranged marriage. That happened sometimes with knights, as did knights being forced sometimes to fall for their own second or third cousins to keep the anointed blood line going. But luckily Cordelia couldn’t see her dad doing that. Especially with the Goodman’s who she saw as only friends; friends who weren’t even as good with a sword or bow as she was.
Nicolas and his brother that year had both grown a good foot, coming just above her height but not by much. Their blue eyes had become extra ocean-like as their hair had gotten extra rich and strawberry blond. They, like Cordelia, had very ruddy and reddish pale skin. Jacob more than his brother suffered from terrible acne. But one good thing that they had going for them —from tons of training on the beach, — was that they both had a good amount of muscles forming on their arms and slowly defining their chest. Compared to the ‘young Hercules’ biker Cordelia had seen, they still looked like children but… Children or not Nicolas Goodman had recently done the unthinkable as other girls noticed his athletic prows.—He had began to grow a crush, and then recently actually asked out, the non-knight, and wanna be high school socialite, Leah!
This sent the other knight kids into a stir because, ultimately, they all knew they were only allowed to marry and travel with other knights once they turned eighteen. College wasn’t even in any of their futures like normal private school privileged kids; once high school was done, which was only one year away for them; adulthood and hunting trolls was it.
Any accidents that resulted from knights breaking the rules and mixing with innocents, their children were called halver’s, halve’s, or the ‘crossed’ children. As in half knights and half not… or a knight crossed with something else that wasn’t like itself…. That crossed child and both their parents, the rules for the last hundred years were that they were to be exiled from the lion of ancient’s order; the family stripped of any anointed weapons, fortunes, and cast off to be alone and forget about the order of the lion of ancients — which used to be referred as the Sky Dynasty. It sounded cruel but too much had happened in the past with halvers not to take this caution.
Nicolas knew this, and claimed he’d break up with Leah as soon as it came to the time. That this was just him having fun… and yet, Cordelia watched her old friend scoot his desk closer to Leah’s in the dark classroom. Sister Annie was oblivious… The two teens’ hands joining as Leah smiled brightly and then Cordelia watched Nicolas’s hand travel from her fingers onto her knee. As if he was claiming her as his own or something as she whimpered.
Oh gosh, gross! What is Nicolas thinking?
His fingers continued with the unthinkable, going just under the hem of her skirt as he rested his hand on the top of her thigh, which had her giggling.
What could he really like about Leah anyway, besides her normal sized lips and Madonna like butt? Cordelia thought as she couldn’t help but stare and wonder. He’ll just have to break up with the brunette once they really get to know each other.
Yet, Cordelia began to ponder what it might have felt like if he — or perhaps, if someone that resembled the boy on the motorcycle from that morning — if someone like that ever dared to touch her thigh… then slowly move his hand up; teasing the way Nicolas was doing, only to her, Cordelia over cruel Leah. Would I even let a boy try? Or serve him a self-defense training jab right to the face?
Or… would I let him and like it?
Cordelia began to feel weird, embarrassed and flushed in a way that was making her too warm and thirsty. She craved the cold to enter the muggy Florida classroom, even though it never would. Finally, the bell sounded.
“CeCe, I think I see Jacob out there waiting for you,” Rachel Davidovitch, who had been awkwardly assigned to sit next to Cordelia, her studious neighbor, whispered to her as she stood. Rachel was always able to spot the other Goodman twin through the slender window of their classroom door; before Nicolas even noticed his brother was there. Gosh, poor Rachel, when will she ever get over this crush on Jacob? She’d had it for years. Cordelia had always sensed Rachel spying, looking out the window of her home whenever Jacob came over to Cordelia’s house. Jacob, unlike his brother, would never entertain any kind of date with Rachel or a non-knight ever.
“Yeah, I see him,” Cordelia told her kindly as one of Rachel’s books went to drop from off her desk and she nearly tripped over her untied shoelaces to reach for it at the same time. Cordelia both caught the book and steadied Rachel to be kind. Cordelia knew had she been an innocent, she and this girl probably would have been good friends, but I’m not…
“Careful,” she warned nicely as Rachel bent down to fix her shoes. The class began shuffling out.
“Thanks, CeCe,” Rachel exclaimed.
CeCe was the only thing Cordelia allowed non-knights to call her. Not Cordelia which was the name her mother had called her by; she only let knights called her that. CeCe was a name that helped her feel shielded from innocents that she could never let in.
“No problem,” Cordelia answered.
She waited for Rachel to tie her shoes and they were the last to exit to face Jacob who was waiting patiently. He smiled at them, his eyes going to Cordelia in a pure brotherly fashion of happiness to see her safe. He, like her father, often forgot she was actually much better at training and sparing than him and most of the boys; they were all overly protective when Cordelia, on the other hand, dreamed of being a full and powerful knight, not a Spedbarn or ‘baby’ knight as she was considered now.
She and Jacob had made a habit of sticking together in the halls ever since his brother went rouge and had become too busy with ‘non-knight-girl’. Jacob gave a polite nod toward Rachel who was right behind Cordelia, sending the girl’s face into a rosy blush like a poor cherry fruit basket. He then looked away and joined Cordelia’s side. The two of them walked faster than the others, which was a knight thing. In fact, they had to fight to slow down and appear un-enhanced or un-anointed by knight power.
“My hearing has been getting sharper,” he informed her with a low voice, this was also a knight thing, which would heighten even more so at eighteen for both of them; along with a good amount of extra strength that would become useful for fighting trolls. Cordelia couldn’t wait to gain all these abilities.
“Mine too,” she shared as she watched Jacob turn back and glance at his brother who was way behind them. Nicolas was forced to try and walk slow so Leah could keep up as he carried her books and she talked about the latest party she wanted to attend. Cordelia’s eyes turned with Jacob’s as they looked back and tried not to cringe.
“Do your parents know yet?” she asked Jacob about his brother, her voice disapproving. She couldn’t help but wonder what her mother might have said if Cordelia told her knight teens were trying to date normal humans. I would never date a non-knight, even if he looked like that motorcyclist, she thought as she eyed Nicolas.
Jacob’s blue eyes met hers and he shook his head up and down. “My mom’s not pleased at all. My dad… he says Nicolas and I can do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t interfere with training and the fact that once we turn eighteen….”
“Then we’re all out of here,” Cordelia finished for him. Their eyes stayed together.
“Yep-” Jacob was saying as he suddenly looked back, his face changing as she turned too. Rachel, who was way behind them, was tripping over her loosened shoe laces again. The girl was as shy and nerdy as book nerds came, with Jan Brady kind of looks and big braces. She was off balance from carrying her school stuff and not one but three other novels she’d checked out from the library, all at once. She foolishly went to grab her books as she tumbled once more, instead of bending her body and flaring her hands out the way Cordelia had been trained to fall. Rachel was about to plummet flat on her face as Cordelia tried to move fast enough to aid her again.
Nicolas and Leah were right behind her, within arm’s reach to help, but of course, they were too busy kissing. As Rachel went towards the ground, her skirt embarrassingly went up for everyone to see; what she had underneath shocked everyone, including Cordelia, a light blue lacy thong was revealed. Wow! Cordelia wasn’t expecting that, neither was the rest of the boys whose eyes flew to the revealed skin she was baring. Her exposed wobbly legs were something to look at also, they were shockingly appealing for how shy and insecure the girl was, as all the boys stopped and stared in surprise.
Jacob was suddenly ahead of Cordelia, to try and stop Rachel’s face from hitting the cement right as she was inches from the floor with her bum in the air. He dove, something that would have made Rachel’s life this year— ‘being rescued by her crush Jacob Goodman’—but…someone beat him to it.
Out of nowhere Cordelia, who was right behind Jacob, she saw other super muscled and strong arms that were not in her school’s uniform— A stranger that had never been on this campus before—he was scooping Rachel up, prince charming style. He had her in one hand and Rachel’s books in his other, in an instant.
Where did he come from so fast? Cordelia wondered. Gold-ish brown shiny hair filled Cordelia’s sight, followed by thick brown eyebrows and familiar emerald green eyes. Standing with a shirt on this time, this teen had a body that was an impressive six foot three in height. The handsome face of the motorcyclist Cordelia had seen this morning smiled at Rachel.
“Who is that?” “Hello, hotness!” “Holly crap!”
Cordelia heard others students whisper in the halls at the sight of this new male specimen that made the Goodman twins look like shorter little boys. His smile grew at Rachel’s flush that went all the way down her neck.…
“You all right?” he asked her in front of everyone as the outdoor sun hit Rachel’s braces like magnifying glasses. Her mousy brown hair that had a few blond hi lights, it spilled over her face as she tried to compose herself in utter shock. On looking boys were still gawking at what shy Rachel had exposed underneath her skirt. But to the female student body, this newcomer had brought on a grand distraction from that.
“Ah, yeah…thank you so much, for catching my books… and me.”
That made the stranger laugh. “Of course, who wouldn’t save a pretty girl, or a set of good books,” he said shocking the school. Rachel wasn’t the type of girl who begged with seductive eyes—like Leah did— to be called pretty out load.
“I’m Dae-” before he could finish there was an interruption.
“Daemon!” Leah screamed in excitement as she stole the moment and his attention away like a thief, right from Rachel and left Nicolas, to go right up to the new kid. Nicolas went pale. So did Cordelia, she still couldn’t believe someone she’d imagined as a son of Hercules, was now attending her school. Her breath caught a bit again, as she wondered what in the world was making her feel this way. She also wondered if her hair was brushed; what a strange thing to worry about.
“Oh my gosh! What are you doing here?” Leah yelled like she was at a party with this perfect looking boy.
Daemon looked surprised at being recognized; clearly, he was aware that the whole school’s eyes were drifting to him in the outdoor hallway. His eyes were on Leah now but he still very politely handled the novels back to Rachel like they were precious. He must have loved books.
Did that mean he was studious and actually contained brain cells to go along with that bod?
Then he went to give Leah a big bear hug, right as Nicolas’s body stiffened further. That helped Cordelia think slightly less of this Daemon as he made contact with Leah. Of course, the new cute guy knows her!
“I just transferred,” Cordelia heard him say with her enhanced hearing. She forced her eyes off of the best body and face she’d seen in her town… ever! God could I one day run into a fellow knight that looks like that… If so would I even be brave enough to form a sentence much like Rachel hardly could?
“Ready to go?” Jacob asked Cordelia, annoyed just as his twin was at this growing spectacle. He was looking back at Rachel, the new kid, Leah, and his brother. Rachel and Leah looked like they were seeing gold in their eyes as they gawked at Daemon. Then Jacob looked to Cordelia who was secretly seeing gold too, though she tried to hide it.
“How do you guys know each other babe?” They heard Nicolas ask.
Before she and Jacob could hear the answer, Cordelia said, “Yea lets go, we can get a head start to the beach.”
“You don’t want to come with me to pick up Elizabeth do you?” Jacob asked her, his words pleading slightly as Cordelia cringed. Elizabeth was the seven-year-old all resident knight kids or Spedbarn’s were forced to take turns looking after.
More like free knight babysitting service for a devil child….
“No thanks, sorry but I’ve been given Elizabeth duty after training tonight, that’s all I can take. Besides, my dad got in this afternoon, maybe I’ll get to talk with him before the ceremony starts; get some time alone.”
“I understand,” Jacob told her. He knew Cordelia hardly got to ever spend quality time with her dad because of what he was to their secret society; a Watcher. Trying not to get too excited at the thought of showing her dad how well her skills were coming along, Cordelia looked back at the new kid, Rachel, Nicolas, and Leah, one more time.
Nicolas is wasting his time with non-knights, something I won’t foolishly do.
Nicolas’s eyes seemed to feel his brother and Cordelia watching; he turned. The new kid, Daemon’s eyes followed, right to a glaring Cordelia.
“Let’s get out of here,” Jacob repeated. She nodded and they left, she choose not to glance back. The new kid was an innocent and despite his dangerous good looks, he was someone she couldn’t ponder over.
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Ashley C. Harris
(Stand-alone) Troll Whispers
(4) Troll Rise
THE SHOCK ME SERIES
(1) Shock Me
(3.5) New Divide
THE ONE NIGHT IN SERIES
(1)One Night In Heated Snapshots
(2)One Night In Close Exposure
THE LINES NOVELLAS SERIES
Lines Part 1
Lines Part 2
Lines Part 3
The highly anticipated standalone novella from the International Bestselling TROLL series! FANTASTICAL & ADDICTING At the age of seventeen, Cordelia Connor’s teenage life is not what it seems…. By day, she attends high school and pretends to be normal. But by night, she and a select group of other teens, called the Knights, spend their time training and sparring. They are preparing to fight the most magically seductive and wicked creatures of all, the trolls. Cordelia yearns for her classroom life to end so she can help hunt underground. But time seems to be going by ever so slowly, especially while she watches other high schoolers date and have fun. To Cordelia, non-knight boys are off limits. Something that’s not a disappointment until the new kid, Daemon Banks, shows up. Daemon is nothing like the knight boys or high school males she has known. He’s taller, stronger, faster, and up to something in Cordelia’s little beach side town. Because he’s a normal human, whatever his motives are… they should be off limits. But when a possible troll sighting sends the knights to a débaucheras party that Daemon is attending. Suddenly, his and Cordelia’s worlds get scrambled, and she’ll have to decide if she should let Daemon in. Who to trust becomes alarming as troll sightings and mischief turn into a grave battle. Because of a traitor among the knights, the perilous treat only seems to be multiplying in Cordelia’s world.