YA Urban Fantasy
Danielle screwed her eyes shut as her breakfast threatened to make an
unwelcome reappearance. The ground loomed fifteen feet below. Funny,
she’d never had vertigo before. Then again, she’d never contemplated
jumping out a two-story building before.
Her hand sought the comfort of her mother’s bracelet. She twisted it
around her wrist. At her touch, the runes etched on the metal lit up,
green and familiar. Sparks of warmth shot through her arm. The magic
stored inside – her mother’s magic – felt different though. On edge.
Like a knife balanced on its point, about to tip over.
Much like the way she was teetering on the edge of her room’s balcony.
Today, she’d be eighteen. Her body would have reached magical maturity.
No one over the age of eighteen had ever received their powers. She
doubted she’d be the exception.
She’d be ordinary.
Her mother’s bracelet would be the only spark of magic left to her.
And what use was a shield against sorcerers who could make the
elements do their bidding?
Who would avenge her mother’s memory then?
No, this was the only way. Her last chance to awaken her magic before
the dreaded deadline.
Danielle blew out her breath and held the image of a shield in her
mind. The metal slowly warmed against her skin – reluctant, a warning.
The shield obediently appeared around her, encasing her in a bubble of
green-tinted energy. The color cleared, but she could still feel the
warmth radiating from it.
Still, she hesitated.
She couldn’t stand here forever. Jamie was bound to come looking for
her sooner rather than later, and then she’d have to explain why his
sister was standing on the wrong side of her balcony’s railing. She
couldn’t imagine that conversation going well. Shrinks may become
But she wasn’t suicidal. Just desperate.
Danielle took a deep breath, and let go of the handrail.
Startled, she scrambled for the handrail again. Her hand closed around
it, but by then it was too late – Jamie had already finished tracing
his bindrune. It flared to life, blue flames dancing in the air.
Her heart skipped a beat as she recognized it. The Summoning Rune.
“No!” she cried, even as Jamie’s magic collided with her shield. Her
brother was a powerful witch, but her mother had been a Priestess, the
strongest of their kind. Jamie’s magic battled her mother’s, and lost.
The air sizzled as the shield reflected Jamie’s Summon and vanished.
She barely had time to see her brother’s eyes widen in horror, before
the shock of the battling spells wrenched her away from the railing
and sent her hurtling through the air.
She squeezed her eyes shut and cast her mind inward. She could feel
her magic on the edge of her consciousness, enticing and vast and ever
out of reach. No matter what she’d done, how hard she’d tried to grab
it before, it always slipped away, like dreams upon waking. This time
was no different.
She hit the ground on her back and rolled a few times, before coming
to a stop. For a second, she couldn’t feel anything.
Then came the pain.
Danielle stared at the sky and concentrated on the feeling of grass
underneath her cheek, prickly and cool, a soothing contrast to the
fire dancing along her nerves.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Jamie push open the glass door
separating her room
from the veranda. He raced down the outer staircase, mouthing her
name, or maybe shouting it. The only thing she could hear was the
sound of her heartbeat pounding in her ears.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Jamie fell down beside her, and she flashed back to the first time
she’d seen him, blond hair falling into too big eyes as he glared at
her five-year-old self, the intruder he’d had to share his dad with.
“Danielle,” he said, her name a prayer on his lips. She wanted to
reassure him, to wipe that stricken expression from his face, but
every breath sent white-hot flares of agony through her chest. She
tasted something metallic on the back of her throat and choked.
Something hot trickled down her lips.
“Don’t talk,” he said, his hands hovering over her body as if afraid
the barest touch would break her. “It’s going to be okay. I’m going to
make you all right. Oh god, Danni.”
He hadn’t called her Danni since they were kids. Ignoring the way her
body protested, she clasped his hand in her own. Jamie fell silent and
squeezed her palm before replacing it by her side. He closed his eyes
and breathed out.
The Sigil on the corner of his left elbow shimmered with an ethereal
quality as he gathered his magic. White light shone from the small
tattoo, two half circles joined back to back. Jamie’s fingers traced
the Healing bindrune on the center of her chest.
Berkano, the birch rune, for healing. Sowulo, the sun rune, for
strength. Teiwaz, the Tyr rune, for protection.
She knew the lines and the curves like the back of her hand, knew how
to entwine the solitary runes and bind them into a single, more
powerful, whole. She’d spent years studying rune magic, learning how
to write scripts and bindrunes, and had waited day after day for her
Sigil to appear on her body.
And now it was too late. If the fear hadn’t jolted her magic awake,
then nothing would.
Bitterness flooded her throat, or maybe it was blood. Danielle closed
her eyes and let the warmth of the Healing rune take her away.
And if there were tears in the corner of her eyes, if her breath came
in hitches, if her hands shook and her chest heaved… Well, she’d just
fallen out of a two-story building.
The last time someone had used a Healing Rune on Danielle, it had been
her dad. She’d been so young she couldn’t remember much about it.
“Stop,” Danielle said when Jamie swayed with fatigue. His eyes
fluttered open, a frown creasing his brow. “It’s just bruises now.”
Jamie looked like he wanted to protest, then his expression closed off
and he nodded.
“Fine,” he said and stood up, dusting grass and dirt from his jeans.
He turned and headed for the stairs leading to her balcony.
Danielle bit her lower lip and followed him upstairs. Jamie’s magic
had healed most of the damage, but her body still felt sore. There was
no doubt she’d wake up black and blue tomorrow.
Jamie was waiting inside her room. He was sitting on her bed, staring
at the blue carpet with the kind of intense scrutiny he usually
reserved for bullies and her potential boyfriends.
She closed the sliding door behind her, the sound loud in the quiet,
and he still didn’t look at her. His left hand rose to clutch his
pendant like he wanted to rip it off.
“Jamie,” Danielle said when the silence became suffocating. Jamie’s
eyes rose to look at her, and she regretted having spoken at all.
“My god, Danielle. What were you thinking?”
She licked her dry lip, and winced as it stung where she must have
bitten it. Jamie was never supposed to find out about this, let alone
“Look, I realize it wasn’t my most brilliant idea.”