“Where did you hear that?” I asked mortified.

“All of the girls were talking about it this morning. You’d think they’d be grateful, I mean they still have their precious Prince to worship,” he grunted in disgust.


“You’d think,” I agreed with another mouthful of apple. I realized how disgusting my eating habits were around Avalon and I quickly swallowed. The bite was a little too big and I began to choke a little. The apple stayed lodged in my throat as I continued to cough and gulp my bottle of water.

“Use your magic,” Avalon suggested, sounding confused.

Oh right. I held up my finger to him and focused on my magic. The electricity was flowing through my blood at a steady pace. It only took a minimal effort to determine that the apple would no longer be stuck. And just like that I was able to swallow the detrimental piece of food and cough no more.

“Thank you,” I cleared my throat, feeling like an idiot.

“Do you enjoy choking?” I heard the laughter in his voice.

“Ha. Ha. No. It’s just that, well this whole magic thing is new to me,” I gave a sheepish grin and took another swig of my water, just in case.

“What? New to you? How can that be?” Avalon stared at me intently, his green eyes sparkling.

“I was raised by humans,” I explained dramatically. I wiggled my fingers a little, to add a theatrical flair.

“I’ve never heard of that before,” Avalon sounded skeptical.

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“Well, I had never heard of this before.” I gestured to the room filled with my peers, my Immortal peers.

“So you didn’t know about magic? You didn’t know what you were capable of?” He still sounded skeptical.

“Well, I knew I was capable of something. But I just thought I was crazy. I guess I figured it out Saturday night, when people started turning into animals and I could move trees with my mind,” I said it all very casually, but the truth was I still could barely get past what I was able to do.

“Huh,” he grunted. “You mean to tell me, that you were able to save the Prince’s life and do what you did to those Shape-Shifters and you had never even used your magic before?” he squinted his eyes at me, unbelieving.

“I guess,” I looked across the room to where Kiran sat, surrounded. He met my eyes, and I realized that he was watching me. I quickly turned my attention back to Avalon.

“That seems impossible,” Avalon was still skeptical.

“Yeah, to me too,” I looked down at the table, ashamed of what I did and worried for Lilly.

“What are you doing later?” Avalon asked suddenly.

“French homework.” Ugh.

“That seals it. We are going to practice your magic later tonight and that’s final,” he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest as if his decision was the final authority.

“I told you, I have French homework. It’s going to take me all night,” I protested; although the thought of sitting down to learn a language that completely escaped me made my head spin.

“Eden, there is no more homework. Don’t you get it? You are Immortal! Your magic can do the homework for you,” his voice was stern as if I should have known this forever.

“I can’t cheat!” I protested louder.

“You’re unbelievable. And you have so much to learn. You’re lucky I’m here, you really are. I have so much to teach you!” he gave me a playful smile and I guessed he won, because I couldn’t think of any other reason not to let him help me with my magic.

Chapter Twenty-One

“Do you want to follow me?” Avalon was suddenly behind me as I dug through my backpack looking for my keys.

“Follow you?” I replied confused, pushing my things around inside of my book bag and reaching deeper beyond the books and loose leaf paper.

“We’re going to work on your magic, remember?” Avalon stood next to me, fidgeting a little, as if his muscular frame was having a hard time containing all of the energy within. He rocked back and forth on his heels and bit his thumb nail nervously. I noticed that his right hand was constantly drumming a beat into the side of his Dockers and imagined that he was playing a rhythm to god-knows-what kind of angry rock music I was too innocent to listen to.

I squinted at him, trying to figure him out. The same feeling of peacefulness and tranquility passed over me again and once more I felt completely focused. I had no reason to fidget or wiggle at all. My energy seemed to be completely balanced.

“Magic, Eden,” Avalon nodded his head in the direction of my backpack and heat quickly rose to my cheeks. How could I keep forgetting the magic when it was so helpful in situations like this?

“Oh yea, I forgot,” I finally focused my magic on the missing keys and used it to direct my hand where to go. I pulled them out of my worn book bag, feeling quite triumphant. “Do you want to go to my place?”

“Just follow me. We have to go somewhere where no one will bother us,” he smiled wide and pointed to his car: a bright red, four door truck, with an extended cab and monster wheels. It not only stood apart from the rest of the black something or others, but stood above them as well. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

I followed Avalon for twenty minutes. I could tell he wanted to speed, but drove painfully slow so that I could follow him. We drove over the bridge and into Iowa up into the bluffs that looked down over the Missouri River.

Eventually the road ended and we continued on a dirt path through some trees. I had never been more thankful for my Rover as I bounced along behind Avalon’s ginormous truck.

We continued for miles on a dirt path barely wide enough to accommodate Avalon’s massive vehicle. Every once in a while a tree branch smacked down on the roof of his truck and I fully expected him to eventually get impaled.

After a while Avalon stopped his truck. His was parked precariously near the edge of a one of Iowa’s famous cliffs. I kept my Land Rover a little ways back and in a more secure area. I loved my yellow SUV and was totally not ready to watch it plummet into the Missouri River just yet.

Avalon hopped down from his cab and I noticed that he had changed out of his school uniform. I looked past him to see a winding path that snaked carefully around his truck and into a clearing surrounded by trees on one side and the cliff’s edge on the other. The sight was beautiful, but I couldn’t help the small tremors of terror making their way across my arms and legs. The familiar acceleration of electricity surged through my veins, reminding me that I was a scaredy-cat.

Avalon wore a short sleeved black t-shirt and loose fitting jeans. His hair was out of the pony tail and hung wildly just below chin level. His jet black hair was semi curly, creating the image of chaos carefully framing his prominent two-dimpled grin. My suspicions from earlier were confirmed and I could make out green tattoo ink tracing his forearms up to his biceps and beyond the shirtsleeve.

I shut my engine off and exited my car as well. Still in my school uniform, I felt oddly out of place next to Avalon, who looked like he belonged in a juvenile detention center. A chill ran up my spine reminding me of Saturday night and the last time I was in a wooded area. Images of murderous men flooded my memory and I shook my head to bring myself back to the present.

“What’s with all of the ink?” I jutted my chin at Avalon’s sleeved tattoos, hoping I sounded a little bit cool.

“What, this?” he held up his arms and shrugged. “I guess I like to define exactly who I am.”

“Ok….” I wished I knew what he was talking about.

“Like this,” he pointed to his right forearm and then suddenly took off his shirt. Although I was surprised by his gesture, I finally understood the strange markings on his arm. The entire right side of Avalon’s torso and arm were covered in an intricate and large tree. The tree was amazingly defined and detailed.

The branches of the tree started at his shoulder and wrapped themselves around his arm and to the front and back of his body. The branches and trunk of the tree were thick and gnarled looking. The trunk of the tree wrapped itself from his lower back, around to the right side of his stomach, covering his rock hard abs.

The tree’s branches had no leaves, and were barren, but strong. One branch in particular wrapped its way down Avalon’s arm and to his forearm, breaking off into smaller branches along the way. It was as if someone took a beautiful painting and wrapped it around half of Avalon’s body. The image was powerful and beautiful at the same time.

I walked closer to him, letting my fingers trace the lines running down his forearm. “So what does it mean?” I asked, a little breathless. I had never seen such a vivid tattoo before, although I was not completely sure why it was so powerful to me. Maybe to see such a detailed image on a human body was unusual.

“A tree is the symbol of Eternity, or Immorality. It has been since the beginning of time,” his own fingers traced the lines of the branches.

“Ok, so what is on the back of your neck?” I remembered the first tattoo I saw from that morning.

“Oh that?” he lifted up his hair in the back and revealed the two strong wings I had seen earlier. In the middle of the two wings was a snake wrapped in a circle eating its own tail. The same image of the snake eating his own tail wrapped around his left wrist as well, creating a tattooed bracelet.

“What does that mean?” I asked, not sure if I was grossed out or in awe again of the detailing that went in to each of his tattoos.

“That literally defines who I am. Someday you will understand,” he spoke cryptically and I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to understand.

“Ok, so this one is pretty self-explanatory,” I pointed to his left forearm; a picture of a beautiful bird rising out of an intricately drawn fire. The bird looked commanding and angry; its wings were spread, but remained close to his body as the tattoo sat long on his skinny, but muscular arm. The one wing reached out across his chest until the image of the tangled tree met it and the other one across his shoulder blade.

“Is it?” he asked and cocked his head a little to the side.

“No, I guess not. I mean at least I know it’s a bird,” I responded defensively, realizing that I had no idea what the meaning was.

“I’m just giving you a hard time,” he gave my shoulder a rough but playful push. “This is a phoenix,” he pointed to the bird; “It’s just another symbol for Immortality.”

“But we’re not really Immortal, right? I mean we’re not really going to live forever?” I remembered Principal Saint telling me that Immortal was not a literal meaning for our people.

“No, we’ll never live forever as long as Lucan is in charge,” Avalon spat on the ground in disgust. I searched my memory for Lucan and remembered that he was supposedly our King…. my King.

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently.

“As long as Lucan tries to control the magic and keep our people separated, we will never live forever. Our magic isn’t strong enough. But he doesn’t care about us. He only cares about himself, his bloodline and his damn prejudices,” he spat again and I was more confused than ever.

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