Marked (Book One of the Marked Saga)

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“When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The sun was shining, a cool breeze blowing into Grace’s room. Spring was hanging in the air, making Grace’s head spin.

The past two months had been unforgettable. When her aunt and uncle and cousins returned from their Christmas vacation, Grace confronted them about everything she had learned.

She remembered being angry when she walked up to the house. Beth and Mike had been happy to see her for a brief moment, but then they saw the look on her face. She pulled her sleeve up, showing the Mark on her wrist. Beth had sent the children away from the living room, and they talked for a long time.

Beth had explained that she and her brother, Grace’s father, had decided years ago that they didn’t want their children to grow up looking over their shoulders like they did.

As Grace listened to them, she came to a decision. She loved her family with everything she had, but she didn’t feel like she belonged anymore. She needed to be somewhere else. With Malcolm, and Beck, and Regan.

And Basil.

So, she told Beth and Mike that she was moving out. She had expected an argument, a fight. But she didn’t get one. They agreed with her. They helped her pack her belongings, and she officially moved into Malcolm’s home.

Her days had been filled with school, homework, and practicing her magic. When she had time to herself, she’d draw, play the piano, or spend time with Basil. He was a rock for her, and she was always able to tell him about her troubles and worries.

They haven’t kissed since the day in the music room, but she could still feel him on her lips. When she was with him, she could hardly think of anything else. He was there, always, and she knew that he’d never leave her.

Beck hung out at Malcolm’s frequently. Sometimes, she couldn’t help but think he came for the mage. Grace smiled whenever she thought of it. She believed they’d make a lovely couple, and Malcolm seemed to agree. There were many instances when he’d ask about Beck, and he wondered if he’d come that day.

“Was Beck at school?” Malcolm would ask when Grace returned home.

“Yes, he was,” Grace would reply.

The mage nodded. “Very well, very well.” He’d start to walk away, and then stop and turn back to Grace, saying, “Will he be coming over?”

She laughed. “There’s a very likely chance of that,” she said.

He nodded and hurried away, leaving Grace in an amused state of mind. Truly, she didn’t think much of a man being with a man, or a woman with a woman. She believed that if two souls were meant to be, then they’d be, regardless of gender. She could only hope that whatever was going on between the two, Beck wouldn’t end up being hurt.

Grace was practicing her magic. Malcolm had moved her to moving inanimate objects, transporting them from one point to another. She started small, attempting to move an eraser from one end of her dresser to the other, and then she was able to graduate to moving bigger items, such as books, across the room.

Malcolm also had her work at her magefire. She was able to use it as a magnificent, deadly weapon, as well as heal cuts and minor sprains. She was able to use it to grab hold of items and carry it towards her. She was becoming a force to be reckoned with, and she felt confident in her ability to protect herself. Regan had once tried to teach her some martial arts, but she couldn’t grasp the simplest of concepts that she was being taught. Regan had given up on trying to teach her, leaving her to her art and music.

Suddenly tired, Grace released the magic. She sighed and dragged a hand down her face, glancing at the time. Twelve thirty-three. She had a test the next morning. She sighed again and shut her lamp off. Feeling her way to her bed, she pulled off her hoodie and climbed into bed, fully clothed. Within moments she had fallen asleep.

The next morning, Beck fell into step beside her as she made her way to the front doors of Wolf Valley High. It was a nice, sunny day out. The air had a crisp chill to it, and there were still patches of snow dotting the area. Winter was over, and spring was well under way.

“Hey, girl,” Beck said.

“Hey, boy,” Grace replied. She slid a glance to him out of the corner of her eye, a sly smile on her face. “So, you have fun last night?”

Beck shrugged. “I guess so, yeah,” he said. “Malcolm and I just went out for a coffee, that’s all.”

“Is it?”

He shot her a shocked look. “Grace! What exactly are you trying to imply?”

“I’m not implying anything,” she said. “I just want to know everything that’s going on, is all.” She smiled, batting her eyelashes at him.

Beck let out a breath, rolling his eyes. “Nothing’s going on,” he said. “Malcolm’s just telling me about the history of Seers, and all of the different things I can do with the Sight.”

“Like what?” she asked.

“Like, I can separate my mind from my body, and I can enter the mind of another person, or even another creature, and see everything through their eyes.” Beck was speaking quickly, his voice rising in pitch and volume as excitement took over. Grace made a motion with her hand, telling him to quiet his voice. They had entered the school and began making their way down the Language Arts hall to their lockers.

“It’s so cool!” Beck was saying. “I can see the past, the present, and the future, in anyone’s lives. Malcolm said he wasn’t sure if I’d be immortal, though. We don’t know for sure until I reach my mid-twenties. But, he did say I’m guaranteed to live longer than most humans.”

Grace nodded, frowning. Beck caught the look on her face and said, “What is it?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know,” she answered, glancing over her shoulder at the crowded hall behind her. She frowned. “Something’s not right… it feels different. Can you feel it?”

Beck paused a moment, narrowing his eyes. He shook his head and said, “No, I don’t. Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” she said. “I suppose it’s probably nothing. Just me being paranoid.”

Though she knew, deep in her gut, she wasn’t paranoid. Something seemed off, like there was a hidden, sleeping danger lurking in the halls. She was about to find out just how dangerous her new threat was going to be.

When Grace walked into her fifth period Astronomy class, her classmates were buzzing around a desk in the front. She frowned and pushed her way through, heading towards the back. The bell rang, and students clamored over each other to return to their seats, allowing Grace to finally see what they have gathered around.

She was a beautiful girl, with beautiful golden hair, beautiful tanned skin, and intense blue eyes. She wore designer jeans and a blue and silver top. Her nails were painted silver, and she looked every bit like an ice queen. When she turned towards Grace, she could see that though the girl looked young, her eyes definitely seemed to have an agelessness to them.

The girl stood and sauntered over to Grace, her hips swaying from side to side as she walked. Grace tensed as she came near, and though she tried, she couldn’t seem to shift her vision to look at her aura. It was as if something was blocking her sight, preventing her from seeing anything.

“Hey,” the girl said, settling herself on the edge of Grace’s desk. “I’m Diana.”

“Grace,” she said, her muscles tensing even more. She narrowed her eyes at the girl, and she decided she didn’t like her.

Diana smiled a venomously sweet grin, and then her eyes traveled down to glance at Grace’s wrist. She made a face and nodding, seemingly in approval. “Nice tat,” she said. “What is it?”

Grace glanced down at her Mark, and then back up to Diana. As her gaze moved, she caught a brief glimpse of Diana’s wrist. She had the silvery image of a fox, mouth open in a snarl and ears laid back. Her eyes widened, and she looked up into Diana’s eyes.

“Golden eagle,” she said. Her gut was telling her this girl was bad news. If she had a Mark, she had to be from one of the powerful families that ruled the community of mages. Grace knew that she needed to assert herself as a MacEntyre, even if it put a target on her back. At the moment, she didn’t care.

“Ah,” Diana said, as if it all made sense. “MacEntyre. Cool. Well, darling. It was nice to meet you.” She smiled, and then swayed back to her seat. She slid behind her desk just as the teacher came in, ready to teach the class and introduce the new student.

Grace’s chest heaved in fury. She didn’t like Diana, at all. She would much rather wrap a rope of magefire around the ice queen’s throat and choke the life out of her. Instead, she brought her anger under control, but she never took her eye off the new girl’s back.

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