(Midnight series, #1)
By Dani Hart
My grandfather had once told me that life was an unpredictable beast—one moment calm with a full belly and heavy eyes, and the next, digging its paws in the dirt, snarling just before it took down its next victim. Until recently, I would argue with that notion, listing all the reasons why my life was as predictable as the tides coming and going. While I listened, I was young and never put much thought into a lot of the things my grandfather told me, but all that changed when the Hunters moved back to Sandpoint. More specifically, Wes Hunter. That was when the impossible became possible and the predictable became unpredictable.
As Abigail Rose looked down on her new world, she couldn’t deny the things she had seen and all the things she had learned. There were days she wished she could go back to her old life, but she had changed. Evolved. She was no longer a love-struck seventeen year old. She was a chosen leader and her path was undeniable. The black and white was fading to gray, and the only thing between mortals and immortals was her.
Kendra blended in around the fire with the college kids. It was so easy for her. She was a social butterfly, whereas my toes couldn’t even graze the soft granules of sand only inches away. This wasn’t healthy. My palms were sweating just by being here.
The lights of the pier shone brightly in the distance. It wasn’t too far away and sitting here was driving me crazy, so I twisted through the trees, the sounds of the party becoming distant. The quiet was soothing.
The bistro was tucked between a row of shops and restaurants just before the pier. The lights inside were visible from where I stood at the far end of the pier. Shadows crossed the windows from inside, and I imagined Mr. Hunter shuffling around, cleaning up and Penelope drowning her sorrows in her playlist as she rolled silverware. It was silly, but I envied her because she was inside there with Wes and I was out here, alone.
The waves rippled softly against the pier, rocking it gently, my body swaying with it. Being here didn’t seem so bad—so debilitating. I wasn’t ready for the beach. Not yet. Every once in a while, laughter would drift from the party, momentarily breaking the peaceful silence.
“Do you feel safe over here all by yourself?”
My body stiffened at Elijah’s sudden arrival. Was he asking, or threatening? It was hard to tell. I refused to let him intimidate me, so I firmly planted my elbows on the railing as I admired the glimmer of the moon dancing over the water. “Shouldn’t you be with Kendra?”
“No. I believe I’m exactly where I should be.”
“Is that right? Is that why you cozied up to my best friend? To get to me?”
“Maybe.” His eyes lit up confidently.
“You could have just asked me out.” I crossed my arms, feigning courage.
“And what would you have said if I had asked?”
“No,” I said firmly.
He chuckled, seemingly unaffected. “Well, then maybe I like your friend.”
My heart skipped a terrifying beat as his footsteps creaked under the give of the wood planks, bringing him closer to me. I could see his breath in the chill of the night as he made himself comfortable next to me.
“Do I make you nervous?” He looked over to me.
“A little, honestly,” I replied quietly, not turning to meet his gaze. My voice trembled slightly.
He leaned over, sweeping my hair behind my shoulder, his touch trailing euphoric sensations around my neck and shoulder, and whispered into my ear, “I’m not the one you need to be afraid of.”
My body stiffened with dread.
Then who do I need to be afraid of?
A chill replaced the warmth of his breath on my neck, and when I braved a glance over, Elijah was gone. I spun around quickly, searching the pier and the trees beyond, but he was nowhere to be found.
Do you feel safe? No, not anymore. I rushed off the pier and back through the trees, flinching at every noise I heard.
“Abby, what happened to you?” Kendra bounced up to me upon my return.
“I went for a walk on the pier.”
Concern was evident in her eyes. “You’ve been gone for over an hour. The pier is less than five minutes away.”
How could that be? It felt like I had only been gone for a few minutes. Moments of time had been lost standing on the pier with Elijah.
A wave of nausea hit me suddenly, causing me to grimace.
“Are you feeling okay?”
“Can we go home?”
“Of course. You don’t look so good. Elijah disappeared anyway. The jerk.” Kendra wrapped her arm in mine.
My legs were wobbly and my mind was hazy, so I gripped her arm tighter to keep from falling. When I glanced up beyond the bonfire, I spotted a pair of eyes fixated on me.
“Is that Ben Hunter?” The boy’s hair was jet black just like Ben’s, and the eyes seemed familiar even from this far away. My head was starting to pound, and my vision was getting blurry.
“The devastatingly gorgeous guy with black hair and irresistible eyes? Yes, I believe I heard someone call him that. He’s one of the twins, right?”
“Yeah.” I stumbled a bit, my eyes still on Ben.
“He’s weird,” Kendra added, holding her grip tighter around me.
My stomach was doing flips.
“I think we’re better off without boys.” She snickered.
“I think so.” My legs suddenly gave out, but before I hit the ground, a pair of arms wrapped around me. I expected to see Kendra above me, but instead, Ben cradled me, my flesh burning under his touch. He handed me over to Kendra quickly and, without a word, went back to the party.
“What was that?” Kendra tracked him, awestruck. “Are you okay, Abby?”
“I really need to lie down,” I begged her as all my weight leaned into her.
She hugged me close and helped me as I stumbled through the parking lot.
“You’re going to have to drive,” I mumbled when we made it to the car.
She took my keys and helped me into the passenger seat and buckled me in. My head sank into the headrest, feeling heavy against the leather. My thoughts swirled with confusion, not understanding what happened on the pier. Elijah’s words echoed in my thoughts. Safety had been replaced with fear, no matter how irrational it seemed.