I really, really love this whole inspiration idea. While before, I was feeling a little rusty on the idea front, now I feel like I could write an entire book about any of the three images. And I haven't even done the songs yet!
This is ridiculously exciting...I don't know which image I should choose to continue writing about. If I had more readers, I might have a vote. I guess, I'll just have to choose myself! =P (although, feel free to vote if you want. I love the input.)
Generally, hexxers don’t do weddings. But every once in a while, a hexxer will marry a commoner and we have to endure the ridiculousness of the white-dress, cake-smash, chicken-dance traditions. Luckily, my brother’s new wife was not so traditional. Her wedding? A masquerade.
Which is perfection when you’re marrying into a family of hexxers—all of whom have some pretty sick tattoos around their eyes. To the commoners, we look like thugs. They totally wouldn’t get it, so I can’t say I blame Molly for wanting to cover us all up.
It’s all we ever do, anyway. Hide. Hex people so they don’t see our tattoos, or the magic we work with them. It’s nice, for once, not to have to hide. To enter the real world and do something normal like a wedding, even if we all have to wear masks.
I said Molly wasn’t traditional. And she’s not, I guess, but then she must like the chicken dance, because her and Mason are going a little nutty out there on the dance floor. Me? I prefer to lurk in the shadows, watching. I’ve never been the outgoing type, so weddings make me a little uncomfortable.
Okay, really uncomfortable.
Everyone is one drink away from drunk, and you have to mingle with all these people you don’t know, but are supposed to be part of your family from here on out. It’s weird. Especially when the elephant in the room is that none of the commoners know that they could be dead or worse at the wink of an eye from any one of the hexxers.
Not exactly dinner conversation.
I feel someone come up behind me and I whirl around, eyes narrowed. But it’s just Aaron. Big brother numero dos. I have three of them, all over-protective, all irritating beyond belief. Aaron is the worst offender. He seems to think, somehow, that he’s dad now, when he’s probably the least like our passed father of all my brothers.
“Sulking again?” he asks as he sinks into the seat beside me. He’s dressed rather extravagantly in a royal blue and gold suit with matching mask. I want to tell him he looks like Willy Wonka, but I doubt he’s seen that commoner movie.
“Hiding,” I correct him.
He shakes his head. “You need to make an effort. For Mason.”
“Mason’s an idiot. Why on earth would he marry her? Really.”
Aaron sighs and shrugs slightly. “It doesn’t matter."
I round on him. “How can you say that? He was supposed to take over for father, and now he’s going to be stuck in hiding for the rest of his life. He’s an idiot.”
“I can replace father.”
I sneer at him. “You’d just love that wouldn’t you. Yeah, well, mom will never let you. Justin is next in line, and he wants it. They’ll…work it out somehow. You’re out of luck.”
Aaron pushes out of his seat and goes to leave, but leans down to whisper in my ear. “Now I can see why no one is sitting with you. And, by the way. Mom already agreed.” He spins away, leaving me gaping after him.
No way. No possible way mom would let Aaron jump ahead of Justin. Justin was more ready to head the hex coven than Aaron would ever be. Justin had ten years on him for one thing. For another, Justin was dad’s right hand man for seven years, while Aaron partied away at a commoner college and banged chicks.
He had to be lying. Justin was the obvious choice. But Justin had been…off ever since dad died, and now with this marriage thing...I hadn’t been given the details on how dad died, but something in my gut said that Justin had somehow been involved. If that was true, I could kind of see mom skipping Justin in favor of Aaron.
I shake myself. Mom would never do that to Justin, no matter what the circumstances.
Across the room I see Justin sitting alone at a table, much like me. It’s hard to tell his expression behind his blood red mask, but I know him well enough to read his posture. He is rigid. Furious. Tense.
And I want to know why. I stand and begin making my way around the outside of the room, heading for my brother. But, just as I get close, he suddenly rises and flees the room. I stop momentarily, deciding if I should follow. If he saw me coming and is avoiding me, I want to know why. And if he’s just escaping to blow off some steam, I definitely want to join. I want to work some magic right now, that is for sure.
I chase him out into the hotel lobby and see him hurriedly tapping the button of the mirrored elevator.
“Justin!” I call, as I jog toward him.
He flashes a look back at me, and then slips into the elevator. The door closes just before I can reach it.
Now I am furious, too. I pound the elevator button, intending to follow him even though I don’t know what floor he’s heading to. I can only imagine the roof, since we don’t have a room booked here. Though what he plans to do on the roof is beyond me.
The elevator door is about to close when a hand stops it. A boy in a black mask saunters in. I don’t know him, so I assume he is a commoner. Great. Exactly what I need.
He grins at me. I can tell because his mask only covers his nose. Mine is the same, so I know he can see my scowl.
“Not a wedding person either, I take it?” he asks. He has a deep, easy voice that makes me want to shiver. I stave it off.
The elevator door closes and I hit the roof button.
He cuts me a look. “Not planning on jumping, I hope?”
Something twists in my gut at the thought of what Justin has planned for the roof. I shake my head at the boy. He contemplates me a while as he leans casually against the gold railing, arms crossed.
“So…” he says slowly. “You’re a hexxer.”
I only now realize that he has not pressed a button on the elevator.
I meet his eyes – blue and sparkly, which I guess means he’s laughing at me.
“Do I know you?” I blurt. “Or did Molly blab to her family, after all.”
He shakes his head. “I’m not a friend of the bride.”
“Not a friend of the groom either, or I’d know you.”
He sniffs and steps closer to me. I back into the wall.
“I hardly think you’re acquainted with every hexxer in the coven,” he drawls.
My heart begins to pound. I want to take off my mask so I can hex him if I need to, but I also don’t want to threaten him unnecessarily. He might just be heckling me. He also might be getting ready to kill me. Never know with hexxers.
“My father was Gregory Hurst,” I say. “I know pretty much everyone.”
He smiles. “Hurst...so that means you’re Ivory.”
At my frown, he steps closer. We are two feet apart now. Why doesn’t this elevator move faster?
“You’re practically royalty,” the boy says. “Of course I know your name.”
“And do I get to know yours?” I ask. My hands itch to pull my mask off.
For some reason, that makes me relax a little. Then he steps closer again and smiles and I am back on edge. The back of my head is flush with the wall, hands clenching the railing like I’m standing on the edge of a skyscraper.
Henry pushes the emergency stop button and the elevator grinds to a sudden halt.
“Hey!” I start, but he puts a gloved finger to my lips and I can’t help it. I am silent.
He pulls his mask up and my heart rate triples. I want to rip mine away too, and make it an even fight. But I am paralyzed with fear and wonder. He is a hexxer. That much is immediately clear from his tattoos. They look like black tear drops that stretch down his cheeks. I have never seen tattoos like his before. Most are symbols, swirls or glyphs. Tears…why would he choose that?
“What do you want?” I grind out. “At least tell me that much before you kill me.”
Suddenly he laughs. “Kill you? Is that why you think I’m here?”
“Why else?” Lots of people would like to kill me, since I’m the one and only daughter of Gregory Hurst. As his daughter, I inherited most of his magic. Girls, for whatever reason, are more receptive to magic, and are always the most powerful hexxers. Since dad was the leader of the coven, he was the most powerful of the men. Meaning I am probably the most powerful female hexxer in the world.
Which also makes me the biggest threat to somehome who might be, I don't know...looking to take over control of the coven? Someone like Henry?
“I’m not here to kill you,” Henry says. His lips quirk to the side in an almost-leer that makes me nervous.
“Then why are you invading my personal space?”
He sighs as if greatly inconvenienced, but then, without any warning, he kisses me. It startles me so much that at first I cannot manage to fight him off. By the time I think to punch him, I realize…I don’t want to. Maybe I’m hexed, maybe I’m not…for whatever reason, I just don’t care. I let him kiss me, let him sweep me away until there is nothing left.
Finally, he pulls away, brushes a finger across my cheek and says, “You still want to know why?”
I shudder and nod.
In his eyes, I read remorse, but his voice is like an ice cube slipping through my veins as he says, “I did it to give your brother time to kill himself.”