Authors: Brenda Pandos
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Suspense, #Romance Speculative Fiction, #teen, #paranormal romance, #vampire
The Emerald Talisman
. . .
By Brenda Pandos
. . .
Published by Brenda Pandos for Smashwords
Copyright © 2010 by Brenda Pandos
. . .
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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. . .
LATER THAT DAY
Was it my fate to die at sixteen? I didn't
want to, but I couldn't see any other way out of this nightmare,
unless I was dreaming. My situation seemed too surreal to be true.
The pain told me otherwise. I was wide awake and about to take my
In the dead of night, I hung precariously
from a tree root that slowly unraveled out of the cliff face, hands
bloody and raw. Above me, an animal waited to rip me to shreds.
Below, the jagged rocks of the riverbed threatened to smash my body
to pieces. I was trapped in between with aching arms, waiting for a
miracle as dirt continued to rain down on my head. My lifeline was
slipping further down the rock face, taking me closer toward my
My pleas for help echoed throughout the
ravine, but were greeted with silence.
It was over unless…
. . .
1 – DECISIONS
“What kind of secret superpower would you
Startled out of my usual daydream I shifted
my focus to Katie’s chestnut-colored eyes, concerned about her
choice of subject.
“Why?” I asked, trying to act natural.
“You know that TV show about heroes with
superpowers? I’ve been thinking about how cool it’d be to have
one,” she answered innocently.
“Oh,” I said, relieved she didn’t mean
anything by her question. My brain froze though, unable to find a
legitimate power. “Flying, I guess.”
“That’s so cliché,” she said with a raised
pierced eyebrow. “Everybody wants that. Pick something more
I wanted to laugh at her for using such ‘big’
words and tell her to mind her own business, but didn’t want to
look obvious. Super powers weren’t all that glamorous like they
portrayed on TV; they always came with a price.
I scanned the table looking for help when I
sensed Cameron’s confidence. He should’ve been offended that Katie
interrupted his riveting discussion about Calculus, but he had an
answer he was dying to tell us though the expression on his fair,
freckle covered face didn’t show it.
“I don’t know. What about you, Cam?” I asked
hoping to deflect the question.
“That’s easy; shape shifting ability.” His
blue eyes twinkled beneath his mop of wild red hair.
A question like that wouldn’t have bothered
me, if I were normal. But I did have a secret power, or gift as
people might call it and I wanted to keep it that way – a
“Shape shifting?” Dena asked. “What’s
Cameron straightened his shoulders and
amusement played across his face because the conversation shifted
back to his in-depth knowledge.
“To turn into anything I wanted. An animal,
another person, an inanimate object, whatever suits me.”
“That’s cheating. You can only shape shift
into one thing,” Katie said, feeling annoyed but kept an aloof
I smiled. Cameron wasn’t playing the game by
“Hey, it’s my power, I wield it as I see
Katie made a face before moving to her next
victim, Dena, who now had an air of confidence as well.
. . .
The first time I was aware I was different
was the last time I saw my mother. We were happy, together,
laughing and holding hands when I was suddenly consumed with fear
and pain no five-year-old should have to experience. The feelings
seared into my conscience forever. I’ve never been sure if I’d
always had this sixth sense of reading other’s emotions, or if
somehow the ill-fated event of my mother’s disappearance caused the
change, but I’ve been aware of it ever since.
To look at me, you’d never know. I’m just an
average teenager with a slight build, dishwater-blonde hair and
hazel eyes trying my hardest to blend in. People say I’m shy, which
is fine. I’d rather have that label than ‘freak’ any day. I do seem
to wander off topic in conversations frequently appearing ADD, but
that’s because it’s become increasingly difficult to concentrate
among my overly hormonal peers. And today was no exception; Katie’s
boredom screamed so loudly, I shouldn’t be able to concentrate.
But, lucky for me, I’ve learned how to ignore her.
At the moment, I sat at our usual table in
the quad on a chilly Fall day with Samantha, Dena, Morgan, Cameron
and Katie waiting for fifth period to start. Most of us had been
friends since elementary school and met for lunch almost every
Cameron had been rambling about Ms. Smith’s
lecture in Calculus, a class none of us are in, before Katie so
rudely changed the subject. Even though he bored everyone, I
appreciated his enthusiasm for math. He just didn’t realize we
didn’t share the same affinity for the subject, which wasn’t his
fault. Gifted with smarts, he lacked social graces. I was willing
to overlook that flaw, because he was a genuinely nice guy with a
“Seriously, Dena? Only
a super power that would help people,” Katie said in contempt.
Katie’s comment snapped me back into the
conversation. Mentally, I’d drifted away again. Knowing Dena, I’m
sure she picked something to save the world.
“Well isn’t that the point? To use it for
good?” Dena said, furrowing her brow. “What’s wrong with wanting to
“I think it’s a very good super power. I wish
I’d of thought of it,” Samantha chimed in.
“I agree,” I said.
“Of course you can use your power to do good,
but that’s not the point,” Katie said pretentiously.
“I agree with Dena,” Morgan said quickly.
“That’s better than the one I thought of.”
Morgan, somewhat attractive with his dark
hair and smoldering auburn eyes, was a newer addition to our little
clique. Even though he didn’t let on to anyone, I knew he had a
crush on Dena. Daily, I felt his internal struggles. His yearning
was very subtle on the outside, but not to me; the chemistry was so
strong sometimes it felt like I could cut it with a knife.
“Well, what did you pick?” Dena asked.
“Oh it’s stupid,” he said and turned away,
averting her stare.
Katie laughed. “I bet its x-ray vision,” she
said, flipping her short raven-colored hair, currently tinged with
Morgan’s cheeks flushed. “Shut-up.”
Dena put her hand on his shoulder and his
elation erupted, subduing his anger.
“Well, since the rest of you won’t answer…”
Katie said, glaring at Morgan. “I’ll share mine. I want mind
I wanted to laugh and say
oh no you
, but then I’d have to explain why. Of all people, that
gift might be the medicine she needed to be humbled. People didn’t
like her total disregard of people’s feelings when she verbally
marched right over them.
The problem was, unlike Dena, Katie knew she
was attractive. Her conceit caused her to be pretty shallow most of
the time. But since I knew she was just as insecure as the rest of
us, I’d encouraged everyone to give her some leeway, hoping we’d
rub off on her in time. Today I didn’t feel so inclined.
“I don’t think I could handle knowing what
people are thinking of me,” Dena said softly, tilting her head
down, hiding under her long white-blond hair.
I wondered if she’d feel the same way knowing
people envied her.
Morgan grew nervous. I sensed he definitely
didn’t want her to read his mind, especially at this moment.
Currently, Katie’s crush was on a very
popular Senior, Tyler Kennedy, who had a serious girlfriend and
wouldn’t give Katie the time of day. Since Katie felt she was far
prettier than his girlfriend, she saw it as a competition and tried
to gain his attention any chance she got. I really wanted to tell
her Tyler picked his girlfriend, Mandy, because she was pretty
one of the kindest girls in school, but I knew she
wouldn’t believe me.
I watched her glance wistfully in Tyler’s
direction. Mind reading definitely would’ve helped her formulate
her next ‘accidental’ interaction, but then she’d really know what
“Well, I’d like to control the weather,” Sam
Samantha or Sam as we called her, with her
impeccable style and long brown locks was my very best friend. She
was the most genuine and happiest person I’ve ever known – someone
I’ve always struggled with making new
friends. It’s difficult to give people a real chance when you’re
able to size someone up as soon as you meet them. Most people are
untrustworthy, so I prefer to stick with my short list of safe
friends. And if Katie didn’t watch it, it might grow shorter
“That would be cool. Why don’t you make a
hurricane or something, so we don’t have to go to 5
period,” I said.
Sam closed her green eyes and threw out her
hands, acting as if she was summoning some powerful force of nature
and then peeked out to see if anything happened, which it
“Crap, I need to figure out how to use
A sly smile crossed her face. Everyone
laughed except Katie. I’m sure she thought we were making fun of
“So anyone ask you to homecoming yet?” Katie
asked in my direction.
What’s with the questions today?
“Oh… um… no. I think I have to work that
“Work?” She turned her nose up in disgust.
“But it’s homecoming! Don’t you want to go?”
“Not really?” I said, not meaning it to sound
like a question.
If I really wanted to go, Cameron would take
me. We’d been each other’s date, as friends, for quite a few
dances. But homecoming didn’t appeal to me for some reason. Not
only did I dislike the feelings of the crowd at dances, but I
currently didn’t have any prospects. It seemed the short list of
guys I liked didn’t know I was alive.
“I wish Tyler would ask me,” Katie murmured
to herself, glancing over her shoulder again.
“I’m not going either,” Cameron said trying
to sound like he didn’t care.
“Why not?” Dena asked, sounding a little
“Dances are lame,” he said, with a detached
I knew his lack of self-confidence was the
real reason, but didn’t know how I could help. I had just as much
trouble with guys as he had with girls.
“I don’t know if I’m going either. I don’t
have a date yet,” Dena said while looking down at her tray, playing
with her uneaten pudding.
“Didn’t Brady ask you?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, he did. I didn’t accept yet. I don’t
know—” Dena’s eyes drifted in Morgan’s direction. “I was waiting
for someone else to ask me.”
I casually glanced at Morgan, who suddenly
was interested in flicking the peeling paint off the table. I
wanted to kick him so he’d wake up and pay attention. It was crazy
they both wanted to go with each other, but neither would make the
first move. Maybe letting Morgan know she wanted him to ask her was
exactly what he needed since he wasn’t picking up on Dena’s body
“I’ve decided to go with Todd after all,” Sam
“Oh, that’s cool,” I said.
I noticed Todd McMullan, a Senior, showed a
little interest in Sam and hoped he would ask her to the dance. Sam
already mentioned privately she had a crush on him, but didn’t want
to say anything to the group because Katie had a bad habit of
teasing. But Sam hadn’t told me he’d asked her yet.
“Come on Cam, I’ll go with you,” I finally
offered feeling a tiny bit of peer pressure and sorry for Cam.
“Naw, that’s cool. It’s no big deal,” Cameron
said with a waning smile. I think he was tired of the pretenses
I didn’t want to spend money on something
like Homecoming anyway. Besides, Cam had two left feet, so we never
. All we really did was go as two singles and
spent the rest of the night with friends. I didn’t feel up to it
this time. I actually would rather work.
I was trying hard to save money for a newer
car. Currently, I drove my older brother Luke’s 1984 Volkswagen
Quantum. He bought it to turn into some sort of veggie oil driving
automobile to save money on gas, but never got around to it. He
offered to let me drive it until I could get something of my own.
It was old but it got me where I needed to go.