Atone: Excerpt 2

Atone: A Fairytale

~ Excerpt 2~


The cold air in the house felt good on her overheated skin for about the first two minutes, and then she started shivering.
“This is ridiculous,” she muttered to herself as she slammed the pizza box on the kitchen counter. The temperature control unit on the kitchen wall stated it was fifty-five degrees. Becca put the temperature back at seventy-five. The house immediately got quiet—the air conditioning hadn’t been making all that much noise, but now that it wasn’t pumping out an arctic blast, even the steady hum was gone.

That much quiet was just too much quiet. Becca took her pizza into the media room. She found the game show network and settled into the large leather couch with her food. She knew she needed to call Alex and let her know where she was. But she’d been putting it off all morning; it couldn’t hurt to put it off until after she ate.

Unfortunately her pizza only had four small slices, which meant that “after she ate” was sooner rather than later. Becca pulled her phone out of her back pocket and stared at it, mentally preparing herself to call Alex.

“Hey, it’s Becca. No big deal or anything, but I found Nicholas and he’s been magically turned into some kind of creeptastic beast,” she muttered. “Yeah, somehow I don’t think this is going to over well.”
She groaned and tossed her phone to the other side of the leather couch and stared up at the game show. “What is quartzite?” she yelled at the blank-faced contestants.

The hair on the back of her neck stood up and she felt the well of magic inside her fizz to life before she heard the soft tread of Nicholas’s paw on the hardwood.

“You’re still here?” he growled.

“What is Dublin?” Becca didn’t look away from the television. “That seems obvious.”

Out of the corner of her eye she could see Nicholas toss his mane in what she took to be frustration.

“It really seems pointless to keep having the same conversation over and over.” She looked at him with a raised eyebrow before returning her attention to the TV. “What is Mohs scale of hardness?”

“Stop turning the heat up.”

“Turning the heat up? Are you kidding? I’m turning the air-conditioning down. There’s a forty degree difference between inside and outside the house.”

Nicholas bared his teeth, but she pretended not to notice. “And it’s my house. You won’t leave; would you at least stop messing with the air?”

“Dude, I’m cleaning up on Jeopardy right now. Can we save your king of the castle routine for later? What is A Midsummer’s Night Dream?”

“All’s Well that Ends Well,” Nicholas bit out.

Becca blinked at him. “What?”

“‘It were all one / That I should love a bright particular star / And think to wed it. He is so above me.’ It’s Helena speaking about Bertram in All’s Well that Ends Well.”

Becca’s mouth gaped open. “Oh, I was guessing Helena about Demetrius in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. I got the character’s name right at least.”

“You lost six hundred bucks.”

“Pfft. I killed all the questions in the Rocks & Minerals category. I’ve got thousands in the bank.”

Nicholas tossed his mane again. “Are you going to answer the question?”

“Which question? You’re talking over Trebek; I missed the last one.”

“About messing with the air.”

“I dunno. Give me a good reason to stop messing with it and I will.”

“I don’t need to give you a reason for anything! You’re in my house against my wishes and you’re acting like a brat.”

Becca whipped her head back around to Nicholas. “And here I thought I was trying to help you. In spite of your crappy attitude and behavior.” The power inside her chest was starting to simmer.

“You break into my house, screw around with my things, and you’re questioning my behavior?” His voice was outraged.

Becca jumped up off the couch, fisting her hands on her hips. “Of the two of us, I’m not the one who’s behavior got them turned into a beast.” Her magic was now boiling over from her chest and flowing through the rest of her body. She could actually see lavender sparks flitting through her vision. Why, why did she have to needle him? And why did she have to get such a perverse pleasure out of it?

“I should toss you out.”

Becca laughed at him. The power was roaring in her ears now. “I’d like to see you try…again.”