I had avoided my family as best I could, but when the next morning came, I had no choice but to face them.
I awoke much like I had been the past five months. It was raining and storming in my dream, and I was tied up in a burned down family cottage. Dominic was lunging at me, teeth snapping right before he dug them into my side. I screamed, the pain more excruciating than anything I had ever felt.
I gasped awake, sweat making the blankets stick to my skin. Delta, who was laying by my side, whimpered and crawled up the bed until he was right by my face. He whined and licked my face, his tail thumping against my leg.
I giggled and pulled away, pushing his face away. “I’m fine, pup,” I said. I shifted around in the bed, pulling him onto my lap for a moment. I picked him up, threw the covers off, and set him back on the bed while I stood and stretched. Delta whimpered, walking back and forth along the edge of the bed. I was about to pick him up and set him on the floor, but he had other plans. He gathered his legs underneath him and jumped down to the floor below, stumbling only a little.
I checked my phone, smiling at the text I saw from Riley. Everything’s all right, she said. I’m not grounded anymore! Yay!
After setting my phone back on my bedside table, I padded across my floor to my door. When I opened it, I was instantly met with the sweet aroma of coffee, eggs, bacon, and breakfast biscuits. Delta followed me out into the hall, panting happily. He followed me down the stairs, and out through the back door. I opened it for him, allowing him to run around the backyard for a moment, barking happily. Finally, he started sniffing along the ground, and once he found a place to his liking, he circled the area three times and squatted.
“You done?” I asked as he straightened and kicked dirt back. He barked once and tore across the lawn, up the steps, and into my legs. I laughed as I picked him up, struggling to hold onto his writhing, energetic body. I laughed when he licked my chin and said, “Come on, let’s go get some breakfast.”
I took a deep breath and stepped back inside. There was no avoiding them now.
“Good morning, Nadia!” Dad boomed when I stepped into the kitchen. I nodded and smiled, then made my way over to the breakfast bar. Gramma was sitting there as well, having set out three plates full of delicious food, fit with three large mugs of hot coffee. Gramma was sitting on one side, and my dad on the other, leaving only the middle seat available for me.
I had taken three bites when I realized they were arguing. They weren’t using words, but instead glances and glares, as well as mouthed words. When Gramma mouthed you tell her, I decided I’d had enough.
“Can we cut the bull?” I asked, shoving my plate away. They both glanced at each other, then at me.
“What do you mean?” Gramma asked.
I sighed. “I heard you guys the other night,” I said. “Fighting. Something about magic in me, and how it’s going to kill me? You guys care to explain what the hell all of that is about?”
Dad cleared his throat and said, “Look, I wanted to tell you later, when you were graduating high school or something. But apparently—”
“The spells I’ve placed on you are wearing off,” Gramma said, doing exactly what I had asked. She was cutting through the bullshit and getting straight to the point. Good.
I nodded. “So, what are you, then?” I asked. “Cause, no offense, Gramma, but you look way too young to be a seventy-something-year-old woman.”
She grinned. “An astute observation,” she said. “And no, I’m not offended. What do you think I am?”
I shrugged. “Well, you’re talking about magic, and from what little I know, you’re either a witch or a mage.”
She laughed. “You’re taking this very well,” she murmured.
I shrugged. “My best friend’s a werewolf,” I said. “I spent the first two months of the school year running and fighting for my life. This is the most calm, normal thing that’s happened to me in the past seven months since this all happened.” I didn’t mention the fact that the Wolf Valley Pack kept picking their fights wherever they could, and that included me.
Gramma nodded. “Fair point,” she said. “Very well. I’m a mage, and so was your mother. And now, you.”
I frowned. “But I’ve never had any magical abilities,” I said. “How could I be a mage?”
“Because you were born with it,” Gramma said. “It’s just been… hidden. Sealed away.”
“Because I asked her to,” Dad said.
My spine went rigid. The lights flickered briefly, and Delta whined from somewhere by my feet. I turned a furious expression on him and said, “What?”
He cleared his throat, but when he opened his mouth to answer, Gramma cut in. “He asked me to do it because he wanted to protect you,” she said. “You were just five when your mother died, and at the same time, your magic came out.”
I jerked my head back and forth, giving them a horrified expression. “No,” I said. “That can’t be true. If it did happen, I’d know!”
Dad shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But I also had Gramma wipe your memories of the event.”
My eyebrows shot up into my hairline. “Why?” I asked, my voice low and dangerous.
“I told you,” Dad said. “I wanted to protect you. I wanted you to grow up and have a normal life. I knew how your mother grew up, and it wasn’t a life I wanted for you.”
I shot to my feet. Delta whined, pressing himself up against my legs. I was breathing heavily, and the lights flickered overhead. The wind roared outside, rocking against the sides of the house. I looked out the window, where I could see the branches of our apple tree swaying in the wind. “There’s not supposed to be a storm,” I murmured.
“No,” Gramma said. “There isn’t. This isn’t a storm, honey. It’s you. You and your power.”
My heart started to race faster now. I shook my head and opened my mouth to say something, then I remembered being in the Hideout with Sierra yesterday, how the lights flickered right as my emotions started to run high. I remembered the night Dominic bit me, how there wasn’t supposed to be a storm that night. I looked over at Gramma and said, “Am I doing this?”
She nodded, a small smile on her face. “Yes,” she said. “But only because you don’t know how to control your magic yet. That, and you’re very powerful.”
Slowly, hesitantly, I lowered myself back onto my seat. I made sure to keep my eyes on Gramma, ignoring Dad completely. “What do you mean, powerful?”
She sighed, looking up to the ceiling as if it had answers. Finally, she looked back at me and said, “The kind of power we possess varies greatly. It all depends on the bloodline and our own personal strength. Your mother, and I, belong to a powerful clan of Mages. The ruling family is the MacEntyres. They’ve suffered great tragedies throughout the centuries, but they’ve risen above it all. Every mage that belongs to the clan is already extremely powerful, and because your magic has surfaced at so young, it only proves how strong you are.”
I shook my head. “I’m confused,” I said.
Gramma bit her lip, considering. Then she said, “Mages are born with magic, right? But it doesn’t surface until later. The younger we are when we gain our magic, the more powerful we are. You were only five when your magic came out. But, due to circumstances, and your father’s pleading, I wiped the memory, and I’ve placed a spell on you that would suppress your magic until you were older. It’s part of the reason why I come and visit every year, because the spell needs to be refreshed.”
Anger rose within my chest again. “Why did you agree to it?” I demanded.
“Because I couldn’t deny your father’s wishes,” she said. “Although, I did tell him that all of this would change, that you’d have to have access to your magic before you ever graduated high school. My spells have worn off quickly, which means that it’s time.”
“Time for what?” I asked.
She smiled. “For us to let the spell finish wearing off, and for me to teach you how to use your abilities. That night that Dominic bit you, and every other time you’ve felt powerless? That’s all going to change. You won’t ever be without protection again.”
I couldn’t help but smile. The thought of not having to rely on anyone to protect me was an intoxicating thought. I still had Jack’s training, and I probably wouldn’t ever give it up. But I had to admit that having some of my own supernatural protection would come in handy.
“I have a question,” I said, thinking back to that night.
“Anything,” Gramma said.
“Are mages… I don’t know, immune to the bite of a werewolf?” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I should have died that night. I knew that I wouldn’t be strong enough to fight through the fever and come out on the other side as a werewolf. I should have died. Based on my account, I did die. How else could I explain that dark tunnel and the glowing ball of light at the end? I was ready to pass through, but a voice speaking Gaelic told me that it wasn’t my time yet.
Gramma smiled, though it was sad. “No,” she said. “No, we’re still just as susceptible to the bite as any human. I don’t know why you didn’t turn that night, if that’s what you were going to ask me.”
I sighed, resting my forehead in the palm of my head. “This is giving me a headache,” I said.
“I know,” Gramma said. “And it’s a lot to take in. Look, how about this: go finish getting ready, and I’ll take you to school. When you come home, we’ll get started on your training. Sound like a plan?”
I smiled and nodded. “Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, I’d like that.”