Light flashed across the inside of Fawn’s eyelids, tinting them red. She opened her eyes expecting to see sunlight flooding her room but instead, she was surrounded by a black void. With no escape route apparent, she knew she was lost.
She attempted to walk away, but she bumped into something. Fawn stumbled backwards, confusion creasing her forehead. An invisible wall? Pressing her hands to it, she tested its strength. Solid. She ran her fingers over it, searching for a catch or hidden panel. Nothing. Fawn groaned. I’m trapped with no means of escape. This can’t get any worse.
But unpredictable events are the most interesting, a voice said in the back of her mind.
She whirled around and saw a guy around her age standing behind her. She tried to back away, wary of him and unsure of his intentions, but he latched onto her wrist and pulled her closer. Fawn stared up at him, eyes wide with both fear and curiosity.
With a smirk, the stranger raised an eyebrow. His lips didn’t move, but his voice was clear in her head. Where do you think you’re going? I just got here. Took me a while to see through this damn box, too.
He wasn’t responsible for trapping her? Was someone else messing with her dream? She twisted away from him and addressed the otherwise empty space. Please don’t hurt me, she pleaded.
Again, his voice appeared in her head. If I was going to hurt you, don’t you think I would have already?
He had a point. That didn’t mean it still wasn’t possible. “You could just be toying with me for amusement or for some other purpose and you simply haven’t lost interest in me yet. Once I’m no longer useful, then you might kill me.”
His lips curved upwards in a lopsided smile. Fawn heard him chuckling in her mind. She could feel goosebumps forming on her arms. His laugh made her nervous. It seemed lighthearted and yet she feared there were very dark intentions hiding beneath the surface.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she begged again.
You have nothing to be afraid of, he assured her.
Fawn faced him. “And why should I trust you? I don’t know you.”
He kissed her forehead. But you will soon.
Fawn jerked out of his grasp and rubbed the spot where his lips had been, scowling at him.
He flashed her a gleaming smile and she blinked. What type of person went around kissing people’s foreheads? A psycho serial killer, that’s who.
He laughed and she shot him a look. I think you’ve been watching too much crime TV, babe.
“Don’t call me that.”
He bowed low and pretended to tip an imaginary top hat. Yes, ma’am.
Without warning, the space started trembling. The darkness rippled, resembling heat waves on a hot summer day. Fawn frantically looked around, trying to locate the cause of the disturbance, but she couldn’t find it. The stranger was doing a better job of composing himself, but he was staring upward with a frown on his face. Did he know what was happening?
Suddenly she was floating in the air, rapidly ascending into the black unknown. Naturally, she tried to fight it. Fawn imagined herself rooted to the ground, but it didn’t help. The pull was getting impossible to resist and without thinking, she grabbed his hand. He looked up at her, just as surprised as she was. She stared at him, hoping to see his face, but it was mostly hidden in shadow. At the last moment, she saw a distinctive feature. His eyes shone a piercing violet as he smiled at her.
The void began to rumble even faster. She woke up to a blaring noise. Beep. Beep. Beep. It sounded like someone was blowing a horn in her ear. Fawn slammed her hand on top of the alarm clock.
Slowly, she sat up and pulled her knees to her chest. She hadn’t had a weird dream since she got her magical powers four years ago, on her sixteenth birthday. Hell, she hadn’t talked about magic since that day. She’d heard whispers warning her about someone coming after her, but nothing had come out of it. And now, on her twentieth birthday, not only was she required to attend all of her college classes, but she also had an impending meeting with some narcissist who got his kicks at her expense.
Her thoughts were cut off when the door opened and Ivy, her best friend since freshman year of high school and now college roommate, launched herself onto the bed.
“Ow!” Fawn yelped as the bed jostled, causing her to hit her head on the wall behind them.
“You should be.”
Ivy rolled her eyes. “I just wanted to wish my best friend happy birthday! Is that so bad?”
“Thanks for that.” Fawn threw aside the sheets and walked over to the dresser. She went past Ivy and pulled out a homemade graphic t-shirt with a phoenix crawling up the side. She’d painted it for her high school junior year project as part of a collection of other t-shirts featuring fantasy creatures. Next came a pair of dark-wash jeans and black ankle boots. “How long have you been awake?”
“Long enough to hear that someone new is enrolling today. Someone hot. So hurry up!” Fawn rolled her eyes. Her friend was always crushing on guys, and they returned the favor. Ivy was never without a date.
“And I should care about this because?”
“He’s confirmed eye candy, supposedly single. You could benefit from this.”
“If this is another one of your matchmaker plans, drop it now. I’d rather any other type of birthday gift from you, but not that.”
“Just humor me, will you?”
Caleb could hear the gossiping girls from a mile away as he relaxed in the backseat of the black SUV heading towards the university.
Looking out the window, he could see students milling around in front of the large brick buildings. He inhaled and exhaled slowly, a ritual he always performed while getting into character.
His alias was the son of a wealthy businessman. Little did they know that his father died back in the nineteenth century, and that he was the honorary Prince of Hell, second only to Lucifer himself.
Closing his eyes, Caleb focused all his energy towards his ears and began sifting through the mindless chatter for one special girl.
He couldn’t hear her voice, but her friend Ivy was talking to her in their dorm, attempting to convince Fawn that his arrival was a special event. It seemed she was failing because Fawn’s thoughts were still ambivalent. He chuckled. Even past assignments with strong self-control quickly melted before him, and the young Miss Belgrave wouldn’t be any different.
The car halted and the chauffeur opened the panel that separated them. “We’re here, sir.”
Caleb nodded before opening the door and stepping into the sunny courtyard.
Fawn shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. Ivy had none too gently dragged her into the main quad, plowed a path through the crowd, and situated them in the front row to observe the new student as if he were royalty. She crossed her arms over her chest.
It seemed like hours before the mystery guy walked through the door. Two large, black rolling suitcases were stationed on either side of him. His eyes locked onto Fawn and she felt herself stand up straighter, her arms falling to her sides. She squinted, the light from outside making it hard to see his features clearly.
It seemed like he was going to approach her, but suddenly he ripped his gaze away. The new guy grabbed his bags and walked forward toward the office. When he winked at her, she blushed immediately. This is going to be fun, Caleb thought.
“I’ve seen him before,” Fawn told her friend once they were back in the dorm.
Ivy put down her magazine and leaned forward. “That’s impossible. He’s new. I would remember seeing someone like that.”
“I think I saw him in a dream.”
“Another psychic one?”
“It was this morning. And right before it ended, he promised I’d meet him. I didn’t think he meant today.”
“Are you sure it’s him?”
Fawn nodded. “His eyes are the same.”
“Angel eyes,” Ivy sighed.
Fawn nodded absent-mindedly, wondering what it meant that the mystery guy from her dream was now a fellow student. She didn’t have a good feeling about him. Ivy, on the other hand, took it as a sign that her friend had a crush on him and was already beginning to calculate more matchmaking schemes.
Fawn got off her bed and walked toward the table to collect her bag. “We have European Literature soon. Let’s go.”
Ivy followed. “After, do you want to grab something to eat?” If they were lucky, he’d be having lunch in the cafeteria around the same time.
Once they were seated in their favorite spot, Fawn began to relax, but when the door opened and the new student emerged, her neck muscles tightened again. He was walking up the rows toward them.
He pointed to the seat on Fawn’s other side. “May I sit there, or is it taken?”
“It’s open,” Ivy replied before Fawn could get a word in. “Actually, why don’t I move in and you can sit here? My name is Ivy, by the way.”
After he settled into the aisle seat, he turned to the two girls. “Thank you. My name is Caleb. It’s nice to meet you.”
Fawn faced front without saying a word, willing herself not to let Caleb’s presence bother her. She was failing miserably.
Ivy piped up. “Sorry about my friend here. Fawn is a little shy when meeting new people. Especially guys.”
Caleb raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.
Fawn swiftly hit Ivy underneath the desks.
“Ouch! Don’t blame me, it’s true,” she whispered.
“That doesn’t mean you tell everyone that,” Fawn hissed in reply.
Caleb had to suppress the chuckle threatening to spill from his lips. Little did the girls know that he could hear every word of their private conversation thanks to his amplified angel hearing.
“I hope I’m not that intimidating.”
Fawn turned her head slightly toward him and Caleb could see the light blush on her cheeks. “You’re not, it’s just...”
“Never mind,” she mumbled. She refocused on the teacher who was currently giving an overview of the term paper.
By the time the class let out, Fawn was ready to jump out of her own skin. She hadn’t been ignorant of the fact that Caleb had been paying more attention to her than to the professor. Fortunately for her, her resolve was stronger than her instinct to tell him to stop staring. Instead, she silently suffered the discomfort and acted as if he wasn’t there.
Ivy ran to catch up to Fawn, who was walking swiftly away from the English building—and away from Caleb. “Well, that was a bore. Why did I allow you to talk me into taking that class?”
“Because you wanted to be able to talk about these literary classics for dates with the more...intelligent guys in the school.”
Ivy tilted her head. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“Wait!” Ivy stopped in her tracks and yanked Fawn’s arm back.
Fawn grit her teeth in annoyance as they waited for Caleb to catch up to them.
“What are you guys doing now?”
Ivy answered. “We were going to grab something to eat. Do you want to come?”
“Are you okay with me tagging along, Fawn?”
“Yeah...it’s fine,” Fawn said before taking off again.
It wasn’t long before she felt his presence next to her. “Do I make you uncomfortable?”
She readjusted her messenger bag strap over her shoulder and replied, “What gave you that idea?”
“You seem to ignore and avoid me whenever I’m near you. Have I done something to offend you?”
“No, I’ve just had a lot on my mind. Today’s my birthday, and so far it’s just been stressful.” She stared at him for a moment before continuing. “This will sound weird, but... have I met you before?”
“Not in person.”
“What does that mean?”
Caleb lowered his lips to her ear, and whispered, “What do you think, Fawn?”
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