After she’d saved Charlie and lost Jared and crossed back over from the Fae plane, the world had righted itself. At least as much as the Story and the Fates allowed. She still wasn’t sure who’d pushed the magic reset button this time and covered up Charlie’s death.

The fire had still happened. The Wongs lost their restaurant and the whole building still came down, only in the new version, Charlie never died—or was never presumed dead. He got out of the fire and they all moved into the Grime Mansion. Or that’s what Nan continued to call it.

When Mina was finally dressed, she grabbed her jacket and a fun colorful scarf and headed down the hall. Charlie was standing on a chair, trying to drag a large suitcase from a shelf in the hall closet. Mina reached up and helped pull the large case down, but it slipped out of her hand and crashed to the ground, spilling the contents onto the floor.

Charlie jumped at the opportunity and began to dig excitedly into the pile of odd clothes and hats that all looked to be decades old. There were scarves, vests, purses, and few odd knickknacks.

Charlie pulled out a pinstriped suit vest and pulled it over his head without buttoning it. He saw an old hat and reached for it, but when his hand touched it, he looked like he flickered out of focus for a moment. Mina’s breath caught in her throat and a trickle of dread raced through her body, causing the hair on her arms to stand up. She snatched the hat out of his hands and threw it back into the suitcase.

Charlie’s hands flew in anger as he signed his displeasure and made a face at her.

Mina’s hands shook as she tried to close and lock the suitcase, but a long feminine blouse hung out, preventing it from closing properly. Opening the case, she shoved the blouse back in and forced the clasp shut until it clicked. Then she proceeded to put it back on the top shelf in the closet, being sure to push it to the far back and out of her brother’s reach.

Once she stepped off of the chair and closed the door, she turned to give her brother her full attention.

“I know. I know. You wanted the costumes out of there.” Her brother was the greatest kid, mute since birth, smart as a whistle, and unique in a variety of ways—one being his penchant for expressing himself in a bevy of weird costumes ranging from villains and superheroes to anything bright and shiny. Currently, he was dressed to impress in a Flash t-shirt, the vintage pinstripe vest, and Bermuda shorts—complete with cowboy belt, holster, and boots.

Glaring, he stomped his foot in challenge. He widened his stance and wiggled his fingers over his holster, inches from the toy gun. The last thing she wanted was to play along, but she would do anything right now to keep him away from a repeat of whatever had happened before, and that meant she needed to keep him away from the closet.

Mina frowned, pretended to dip her imaginary hat in acceptance of the duel, turned around, and placed her back against her brother’s. One step at a time, they each took five paces toward their end of the hall.


Charlie’s boots clicked on the hardwood. They paused.

Mina spun around, her finger held out. “Bang!” she yelled, seconds before Charlie’s toy gun was pulled from the holster.

He gripped his side in mock injury, flung the plastic revolver to the side, and crumpled to the ground in one of the most dramatic death scenes a nine year old could muster. Right down to the twitching right leg and the hand splayed out in a final act of farewell. When his breathing stopped and his eyes closed, Mina used the chance to escape by jumping over Charlie’s prone form and running for the front door.

But he was too fast. He magically sprung to life and lumbered after her in a very zombie-esque fashion.

“Uh-uh,” she said, laughing. “You haven’t been dead long enough. Plus, you were shot. You’re not going to reanimate as a Zombie unless you were bitten by another Zombie.”

Charlie shrugged his shoulders, held his arms out in front of him, and headed toward the kitchen, dragging one foot slightly behind him.

Mina knew where her brother was heading, and seconds later she heard her mother scream in fright. Charlie was the master of the sneak and scare.

“Ouch, Charlie! What are you doing? You bit me!”

Chapter 2

Mina tried to strike the suitcase from her mind, but it kept haunting her all through her English Lit. She barely paid attention as student after student went up and gave their five-minute oral report. Brody stood up and spoke for minutes on something. Even his tanned figure, sun bleached blond hair, and blue eyes didn’t distract her from her inner turmoil for more than a moment.

What was it that caused Charlie to flicker out like that? Was it something in the suitcase? Was it a sickness? Oh goodness, she really hoped not. Maybe it was all a figment of her imagination. Yeah, that was easier to believe. She’d just chalk it up to the extra stress she’d been under.

Nix sauntered from the back of the room and paused for a second by her desk to gently place a small rounded piece of sea glass on her book. It wasn’t Nix’s first token of thanks. Every few days he’d discover something different, unique, and wonderful about the human plane, and he’d leave little gifts for her to find on her desk or in her locker.

Mina smiled and picked up the smooth bit of glass. It was dark green and probably at one time part of a beer bottle, but Nix didn’t need to know that. She remembered his home on the Fae plane and how there were tons of crystals placed in the wall. She had a feeling that here, in her world, Nix might become a bit of a hoarder if not properly immersed in the culture.

But it seemed that Ever had taken care of that, or was at least trying. She’d become his sponsor, like a guardian to Nix, helping him to adapt and fit in with the social norms of a teenager. Currently though, he was living with the other Fae at the Godmother’s Guild.

Ever wasn’t a fan of the place and didn’t really like being near the Godmothers’ home, but she did what she could when it came to Nix.

Nix went to the front of the class, running his hands through his tumbled red hair in nervousness. He took a deep breath and smiled, making those Fae green eyes twinkle mischievously and the female classmates sigh. He seemed to take everything that was new to him in stride and with enthusiasm. He had never been to school before and didn’t quite understand the logistics of homework, or the need for it, but his personality and contagious enthusiasm helped him get out of loads of trouble. That or there could have been a little of the Nixie charm still in his blood.

“Ahem,” Nix cleared his throat, looked over at Mina, and winked. “Dr. Seuss was a man passionate about animals and clothes. He put hats on cats and socks on foxes. He was always losing his Things so he took to numbering them. I think he may at one point have lived on a mountain as a hermit who didn’t have a heart. And the people in the village didn’t know Who they were…uh…the end!” Nix said with enthusiasm.

The students had giggled throughout his presentation, but as soon as he was done, the room erupted. T.J. and Steven started hooting loudly and gave him a standing ovation. Nix’s face turned red, but he bowed and jogged through a gauntlet of high fives, receiving numerous pats on the back as well.

The teacher just stared after Nix with a look of utter confusion on his face. Luckily, Ever and Mina were able to convince the school that Nix, or Nick—his new human name—was a foreign exchange student from some far off land. Ever had to pick a country so small no one would even know about in the hopes that it would explain his lack of knowledge in modern culture. Up to this point it had worked, because the teachers had been extremely helpful and lenient toward him.

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