first strikeA/N: I’m working on the next installment of this! Thanks for your patience–expect a slow build and eventual, massive universe. LOL. In my usual typical fashion, of course. Allen, Vince and Jaden all have a connection to Madison that will soon make itself known. Hint-wise–this is my attempt at a decent adventure story without having a bunch of romance thrown in there. Enjoy!


“What is it?” Allen asked, at last.

I pointed to my neck. “Healed it. Still itches. Feels like it didn’t even—work.”

Allen exchanged a glance with Vince, then slid off of the dresser. He came over, flicking my chin to get a better look at my neck. His brows furrowed into neat rows. “Vince.”

There was a sharpness to his voice that I hadn’t heard before.

Vince rolled up from the floor, half-wisping in and out of his corporeal form. His blue eyes narrowed a second later.

Allen matched his look, before a movement outside the bedroom window drew his eye. He moved from the bed to the window quick enough to leave silver dust in his wake. One hand reached out to the curtains and he jerked them shut. “How long was that raven sitting there?”

Vince made a sound in his throat that sounded very much like a whimper.

I looked between the two of them. “Raven?” I hadn’t noticed anything.

Allen sighed. He raked a hand through his hair and then scowled at Vince. “Do you want to tell him or-?”

“You tell him,” Vince said, tightly. “I’ll take a turn through the house.” There was a burst of sharp, cold wind before Vince vanished in a flux whiteness.

Allen rolled his eyes at the dramatic exit. From his point of view, Vince could be a pain. “How many books have you read?” Allen resumed his perch atop the dresser, the hooded look in his eyes making him appear much older than his mere sixteen years.

I blinked at him. That was definitely a trick question. “In general or…?”

“In this library,” Allen gave a jerk of his head towards the hallway. “Big Momma’s library. Read anything in there?”

I tried to shrug, but couldn’t. There was a note of seriousness that hadn’t been there before and I didn’t know what to really make of it. Allen was rarely serious, in spite of himself. I’d learned to watch him almost as carefully as Vince. “I’ve tried, but I get distracted a lot.”

“Distracted when you’re in the library or when you’re reading?”

“When I’m—reading. What’s that got to do with anything?”

“There’s protections on the books, if you’re not smart enough to figure that out on your own, I doubt you’d be able to follow me there.” Allen huffed. “Just listen and don’t interrupt, alright?”

I hadn’t been interrupting at all, but I figured that would help my case any if I pointed it out.

“There’s a book in there called the Raven Queen. Find it. Read it. If you have questions—ask Vince. He’ll be able to get away quicker than I will.”

“And you?” I couldn’t help asking.

A shadow passed over Allen’s face. “She’s visited everyone but me, so I guess I need to introduce myself to our new…sister.” He offered a grimace and slid off of the dresser, somehow managing not to disturb anything.

He padded over to the mirror and frowned. A moment later, he gingerly stepped around my toppled laundry piles and scooted it to the side with one slippered foot.

“See you at dinner. Don’t skip.” He slipped out the door a moment later.

I stared at the door for several minutes long after he’d left. There was something odd that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

(c) S. Harricharan