Payson sat by himself at the kitchen table, watching the festivities through the open door. He felt apart; separate and alone. It was a familiar feeling now, far too familiar. In the past six months, something had happened to him, something dark and desolate. Something that tugged at his soul and told him he was losing hope. He reached out with his mind to touch Diantha’s, as she danced in the living room, celebrating her sixteenth birthday. He was disgusted by what he saw there, but it was nothing new.
He had known her secret for six months, and he wasn’t fool enough to think it had nothing to do with his current loneliness. She had withdrawn from his friendship the moment she had chosen to hide her true nature from him.
Payson let out a sigh and withdrew from her dark mind. Once again she was hungry, and once again she was looking at the human boys attending her birthday party as if they were prey. He would need to teach her, school her and show her the mistake she’d made.
Humans were not play toys and he hated that she believed otherwise. He hated that when he had walked her street to her house, he had felt that the whole of Kirkcaldy was drenched with her betrayal of their friendship. Payson wasn’t stupid. He knew that Diantha didn’t owe him anything; they weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, but they had been friends their entire lives. Their fathers, both with the same vampire nature, had been lifelong friends, and so then had Payson and Diantha. He knew that both families would cause an uproar if they knew what she had done but he wouldn’t be the one to tell them, not unless she lost all control.
He was a little surprised when his mother, Abbey burst into the room with a smile on her face.
“Payson…your fathers on the phone.” She beamed happily, as she closed her mobile and sank down into a seat beside him.
Payson was a little confused by her words and the combined movement of her closing her phone. Surely she was going to pass him on to speak with his father, Jules? They had left him watching the rugby on TV. He couldn’t figure out what on earth he would interrupt that for, to call his mother. Instead, she looked behind her to Diantha, who seemed reluctant to meet his eyes as she walked into the room.
“Diantha, go ask your mother to check the mail.” The words were said with a smile, but they came out in a command. With a frown, Diantha turned and fetched the mail herself, silently, as if to tell Abbey that she didn’t need her mother doing anything for her.
Abbey rummaged through the letters that Diantha handed her and squealed in excitement when she found the one with Diantha’s name. She handed it, reverently, across to the birthday girl and urged her to open it. She sat with a curious look at Abbey, and then gave Payson a fleeting glance as she opened the envelope. By the time she had the letter in her hand and had read the first words, she gasped and a hand raised to her lips.
Abbey beamed at Payson, who continued to sit there, confused. While Diantha’s mother Viola slipped into the room, with a smile, Abbey urged her to read the letter aloud.
“It says I’ve been accepted to Evander’s School for Enchanted Personage. School starts September.” She stated with a nervous smile. Payson watched her curiously, studying her, wondering if the other students would be safe from her hunger. Would she feed on other students, or satisfy herself by feeding as he did?
“You got the same letter Payson. Your father is so excited,” Abbey gushed, placing a gentle hand on his arm as Viola took the letter from Diantha and handed it to Payson. Both mothers were disappointed by the lack of excitement Diantha displayed at the honour, and how she had refused to read the letter aloud.
Payson scanned the letter with a growing uneasiness in his stomach. He worried for Diantha, with her uncontrollable nature, but something else lurked beneath that worry. Something lighter, more joyous. He had the sensation that with that letter, his loneliness had been lifted somehow. He looked up at Diantha, hoping that some discipline would return her friendship to him.
“I’m glad I’ll know someone when I go. But just think who else we’ll meet…” He confessed excitedly, holding his hand out for Diantha’s. They had always been tactile with one another, sharing hugs and holding hands in a friendly capacity. He found his thoughts wandering to how the offer was more than just a wish to connect with her again, but a test, to see if she still accepted his friendship.
Diantha blushed, lowered her eyes and gently placed her hand onto his. She gave it a gentle squeeze, wondering if their friendship would survive once he knew her secret. She managed to turn that thought around in her head, while Payson talked about the school with their mothers, and then suddenly asked if he could call his father, to discuss it with him. She felt a flash of frustration that her birthday party was ruined by Payson’s stupid father, finding his stupid letter and taking all the attention away from her.
Felicity was hiding in her room, yet again, writing in her diary. She had never told her parents about the bullying fiasco at school. There didn’t seem to be much point when none of the teachers would do anything about it. Gloria was still off school, though, suffering greatly from her chicken pox and refusing to leave the house because her hair continued to fall out. Felicity felt guilty that it was all her fault, but no matter how many times she wished it would stop and Gloria would be all right, it never seemed to happen.
And school had just got a whole lot worse, with even the teachers calling her names, not even behind her back but to her face. The last thing she wanted was her parents finding out. They were about the nicest people she knew. If they ever knew how she was being treated at school, they would go down to speak to the principal and the teachers and make it a whole lot worse without meaning to.
When Felicity’s train of thought was interrupted by the sound of her father shouting her mother’s name, she was curious enough to venture to her bedroom door and peek out. Her father should have been sitting down to enjoy the rugby on TV, not standing by the front door with a pile of letters in his hand. To make the scene even stranger, when her mother wandered through and asked what was wrong, her father only handed over a piece of paper extracted from one of the envelopes. Then her mother squealed with joy. They both looked so happy that Felicity couldn’t help but be curious.
“Mum, dad, what’s going on?” She wondered, stalling halfway down the staircase. She caught the look of utter happiness in her mother, Stacey’s eyes as she clutched a letter to her chest with a smile.
“Oh darling…you’ve been accepted to Evander’s secondary school. I wanted you to open the letter, but I’m afraid your father was a bit over excited.” Stacey apologised, shooting a scolding glance at her husband Euan, who should have been too busy watching his beloved sports on the TV to bother with the mail. But to her disapproval, it was half time and he was on his way past the front door for snacks. It was just typical.
She beckoned Felicity closer, holding the letter out for her. Her mother was so happy that all Felicity could do was head on downstairs and see what the big fuss was about.
“Dear Miss Felicity Castle,
It is a pleasure to contact you in regards to your success in winning a much desired position at Evander’s School for Enchanted Personage. The school is a boarding school, where you will stay and live until you gain control of your gifts. You will meet and get to know each other and discover the diversity of our students; witches, wizards, creatures of all talents.” Felicity’s frown deepened the more she read. It was like a cruel joke and she couldn’t understand why her parents were having any part in it. Her class mates she could understand, even her teachers, but her own parents?
“Witch? This letter is calling me a witch! Is this some kind of sick joke?” Stacey was confused by the way Felicity screamed the words at them. She glanced at Euan, who could only shrug and wonder why she wasn’t happy to hear that she would finally learn her craft.
“Felicity darling, what’s wrong? This is wonderful news.” Stacey tried to inject some happiness into the conversation again. She beamed at her daughter, feeling that maybe it was time to tell her of her heritage. They had never done so before because she had never shown any signs of magic, so they had never considered the possibility that Felicity had the family gene.
Neither she nor Euan were magical, but his mother was a witch and Stacey’s second cousin was too. Now they knew that not only was Felicity a witch too, but Evander had proven that she was special. She wouldn’t have been invited to his school otherwise. It was brilliant news, but their daughter just glared at them as tears welled in her eyes. She ripped up the letter that had brought them such joy and excitement.
“It’s not bad enough I’ve got people at school calling me a witch, but now you two are at it as well? I hate you all.” Felicity shouted at them, her heart breaking as she thought of how cruel it was for her parents to do such a thing to her. She was so sad and hurt that all she could do was run up to her room, lock the door and never leave it again. The door closed with a slam and both Stacey and Euan exchanged a confused look.
“It’s just the shock, darling. She’s never had any inclination before. Neither have we. It’s bound to take a while to sink in. Leave her to calm down and we’ll talk to her again tomorrow.” Euan sighed, advising her not to push the matter when it was so obvious that Felicity was hurt. He didn’t know anything about people at school calling her names, but he would speak to her tomorrow and have it all out in the open. Until then, his game was back from half time and he expected to enjoy some peace and quiet until they could clear the whole matter up.
Estelle was having her usual early weekend morning cycle around the neighbourhood when she spotted the postman entering her street. As always she attempted to intercept him, in case any letters from her school were being sent to her foster parents to tell them that she had been skiving again. The last thing she needed was another lecture.
She ran her bike across the road and offered to take the mail to her ‘parents’ to save him making the climb up the ten steps to the front door. He seemed relieved, and only when he was a little distance away, did Estelle rummage through the letters to check for the stamp for her school. Instead of finding what she expected, she found something entirely different, ripping open the envelope and reading the letter under her breath, with growing excitement.
“Dear Miss Estelle Kirkland,
It is a pleasure to contact you in regards to your success in winning a much desired position at Evander’s School for Enchanted Personage. The school is a boarding school, where you will stay and live until you gain control of your gifts. You will meet and get to know each other and discover the diversity of our students; witches, wizards, creatures of all talents. You will be taught the arts of magic in various aspects, such as the history and legends of your particular people, the abilities you may already have or encounter in the future and how to control them.
Each student is unique and each year holds different challenges. I leave it to you, to decide how you will share the information of your lives and your gifts with one another, though I ask that utter honesty prevails. It is difficult to trust your fellow students, when you do not understand what they are capable of.
School commences the first week of September, you will find the address and all travel options attached. Best wishes and congratulations, I look forward to meeting each of you soon.
Estelle was so excited that she gasped, and held the letter to her chest before looking around her to make sure she hadn’t been spotted. Her foster parents never read her mail, mostly because she only ever got mail from people she had met while in the foster system. So she stuffed the letter from Mister Evander back into its envelope and hid the envelope in her inside coat pocket. She cycled all the way home, ran up the ten steps and carefully made her way into the house.
She made sure that she didn’t run or shout or make any sort of noise that would draw attention to herself. She walked calmly into the living room, handing over the mail to her foster dad Waldo, and then hurried up to her room.
Once up there, Estelle had to pace the floor while she thought of what she was going to do. There was no way her foster parents could read Evander’s letter, but there was also no way she was going to miss the opportunity of going to his school and getting away from Waldo and Marcella. It would mean that she could make her great escape from the foster system two years before she came of age, and no-one, not even the foster system could object.
She was so excited that she finally sat down at her desk to calm herself down, took out a piece of paper and used the old typewriter in her room to type up a new letter. It would have been easier if the Kirkland’s had given their foster children a computer, but that speciality was kept solely for their biological son, so Estelle had to make do with what she had.
“Dear Mister and Mrs Kirkland,” She read aloud as she typed. “I am pleased to inform you that your foster child, Estelle, has been accepted into the Evander School of Order and Discipline. Her parents had enrolled her in our school before their demise, but due to unforeseen circumstances our roster has been full until this year. We would be happy to take her off your hands for the remainder of her time with you.” She bit her lower lip as she carefully typed each letter, making sure not to make a mistake. She didn’t want to have extra copies of the letter lying around, with scored out mistakes on them, for anyone to find.
“The school is a boarding school, and our speciality is making ladies out of unruly teenage girls. I am sure you will be happy to know that her attending our school will not affect any payments which you receive for the care of Estelle. These payments will continue as long as she is under-age. I have enclosed a print out of our location and travel options to reach our school. Term starts the first week of September. Thank you and Best Wishes. Hirum Evander.”
With a nod, convinced that her new letter was something that her foster parents would easily fall for, Estelle blotted the ink and slipped it into the old envelope with the original sheet of travel instructions from the real school. She felt confident that she would be attending Evander’s school soon. Now all she had to do was give the letter to the Kirkland’s and hope that they let her attend.
Lane growled at Rex and dropped down into a prowling stance. His little brother sat in his swing seat, giggling and laughing at him, as he crawled across the back lawn, playing wolf. Rex would one day be a werewolf too, and it seemed to be his favourite game so far for Lane to act out in his human form, the things he would do when the moon took over his body.
When he reached Rex, he dropped his back and fell, rolling to the side until his stomach was exposed. To make the scene look more realistic, he thumped his foot on the ground as if it was his tail waggling. Rex burst into giggles of a higher pitch and Lane found it difficult not to join in.
It was only when Cyril appeared, through the open French doors at the back of the house, with what looked to be tears in his eyes, that Lane dropped the act and rose to his feet. He couldn’t understand what was wrong. He had the day off and they were having a nice relaxing day together as a family. Usually his dad was never happier.
“Son, there’s a letter for you.” Cyril explained briefly, approaching his eldest son as he held out the letter. Lane was almost scared to take it, worried over the effect it had on his father. He gave it a cautious look before taking it from his father and reluctantly opening it up. He couldn’t believe the words that met his eyes. All he could do was keep glancing between his father and the letter, confused and worried more than ever.
“It says I have to be there by September.” There was no emotion on Lane’s face or in his voice when he said the words, and Cyril knew that they were both thinking the same thing. His mother had missed the chance to know such a wonderful thing, and now, neither of them were sure that he wanted to go.
“I know. I’m so proud of you.” Cyril tried to stay strong as he spoke, his heart and eyes showing his sadness, while his smile showed how truly proud he really was. He couldn’t help but draw Lane into his arms and hug him tightly. It might be his last chance to show his son how he felt before he left in September. It made his heart light when Lane held on just as tightly, never wanting to let go.
Lane was worried about how his dad would cope, alone with Rex, at a time when his wolf was struggling to accept that Rex was his son, and that it wasn’t his fault Candy had died.
“I’m going to miss you. Can you and Rex visit me?” Lane couldn’t keep the tears from his voice, though he didn’t care that they rolled down his cheeks. He refused to let go of his father, trying to push the sad thoughts away and focus on the good things. School…somewhere where he could be normal, and be himself, somewhere he could learn to control his gifts and finally learn the answers to all those questions he felt he couldn’t ask his father without being a burden.
“Of course. Any time you like.” Cyril promised gently. “You’re going to have a wonderful time, Lane. Think of all the things you’ll learn, all the people you’ll meet.” He tried so hard to push the good things to the front of his mind, but it was difficult.
Lane was his anchor, for himself, for his wolf. What was he going to do without him? He would need to plan his full moon’s more effectively, arrange for someone to take care of Rex overnight, while he was off being a wolf. Then, hopefully, by the time Rex had grown into his talents, they could go off exploring together. He just had to get his wolf under control. And he sincerely hoped that was something Lane was going to learn as well.