I SEE DEMONS, and they’re not pretty, but since I discovered my destiny within hours of starting to see the little monsters, I don’t let them faze me. I’m a demon hunter, and my training was about to begin.
“Bye, Mom,” I called as I raced through the kitchen, snatching a cold protein shake from the refrigerator.
“Halt!” Mom commanded, and I stopped dead, hand on the doorknob. “Where do you think you’re going, and why are you going so fast?”
Busted! Well, I hadn’t really expected to get past Mom that easily. The woman was wise to the ways of teens, seeing as I was the youngest — and only girl — of seven.
“I’m headed over to Allie’s. I’m going to shadow her for her ballet lesson this morning.” I shrugged and tried to look embarrassed.
Evidently guilty passed pretty well for chagrin, because not only did she buy it, she smiled radiantly, wrapped a piece of toast in a paper napkin and handed it to me. “What a great idea! Maybe you’ll decide to join Allie. I’m sure you’d enjoy ballet.”
I held the grimace inside … just barely. Yeah. I’d love ballet. All five-foot-ten of me lumbering around among the petite five-twos of Allie’s crowd.
“Yeah. Well. Don’t get your hopes up. I’m just checking stuff out.”
Mom laughed, kissed my cheek, and waved me off. “Have fun, sweetheart.”
I nodded and launched myself out the door before I confessed all. My mom is not the kind of parent you lie to with impunity.
As soon as I was off our property, my newly acquired weird-o-meter started pinging like mad. I glanced around, mindful of my trainer-to-be’s warning. Warwick James, Wick to his friends, had promised my home was sacrosanct, but once I stepped off my property all bets were off. Fortunately, there were no demons close enough to be a problem.
Nevertheless, I didn’t saunter down the street, I hoofed it to Allie’s house, scarfing toast and chugging protein as I went. I hadn’t totally lied to Mom. I was going to Allie’s; I just had no intention of visiting her ballet class. While she danced her little heart out, I planned to train with Wick. Allie would provide my camouflage.
I dusted toast crumbs off my lime green tee shirt and rang Allie’s doorbell. Her mom answered.
“Why, Dani, how nice to see you,” she said with a smile. “Allie didn’t tell me she was expecting you.”
I grinned. “That’s because she’s not. Is it okay if I come in for a minute?”
“Of course, dear, but you’ll have to make it quick. We’re about to leave for Allie’s ballet class.”
“No problem,” I said, sliding past her into the entry hall. “I’ll just go on up.”
I paced to the stairs and took them two at a time, calling, “Hey, Allie! You decent?” Below me, I heard Mrs. Chavez chuckle as she closed the front door.
Allie opened the bathroom door, toothpaste foaming through her lips. She ducked back to the sink, rinsed, spit, wiped her mouth and rounded on me. “What’s up? What are you doing here?”
I gave her a significant look and murmured, “Remember the fortune teller? Well, we need to talk.” The night before my fourteenth birthday, Allie and I had gone to a carnival where we’d had our fortunes told. That silk-clad woman had provided the starting point for a couple of really weird days. I needed to catch my best friend up on my new reality.
Allie’s eyes widened, but she nodded and we raced to her bedroom, closing the door firmly behind us.
“I’ve only got a minute,” she said.
I nodded. “I know. Ballet. I’m going with you.”
“You’re what?” Allie knew the extent of my undying non-interest in tutus and pink tights.