Stolen Magic Excerpt

I enjoyed Stolen Magic so much, I devoured it in one night!

Kerrelyn Sparks, NYT Bestselling author

Stolen Magic

Chapter 1

When it comes to elves versus humans, the deck is stacked against us — us being elves. Yes, being an elf means always having the last word. A shot of elven hypnotism, or glamour, and a human thinks what you want him to think. This ability keeps us hidden among the enemy, but it only works in person. Glamour hasn’t stopped humans from slowly driving us toward extinction. Elves need wilderness. Humans consume wilderness like breakfast cereal. In the end, it all comes down to real estate.

The few humans who know about elves often say we’re not doing ourselves any favors by staying hidden. How can we help you if we don’t know you’re there? Let us know, and we’ll share. Yeah, because that worked so well for the Native Americans, and the Australian aborigines, and the Picts. Who are the Picts, you ask? Exactly. Who are the Picts? You never hear about them anymore.

Humans as a group are trouble, but humans as individuals can be very… attractive. For one thing, humans generate positive life energy when having sex – and elves live on life energy. Yes, humans are often ignorant, destructive, and careless, but they’re just as often clever, generous and loving. Humans are like the cousins you’re not supposed to hang out with – the distant and disdained branch of the family tree, with the cool toys, bad habits and a twinkle in their eyes.

Take Mark Speranzi, my photography teacher. He definitely has a twinkle in his eye, and all too often it seems to be directed at me. Since I learned most of what I needed to know during the first two classes, I’d taken to drawing Mark in the margins of my notebook.

I shaded the dark circle of his eye, leaving a white glint in the pupil, then studied the result. His shaggy hair and narrow, intelligent face were just right, but there was something wrong about the mouth. It was too smiley — or maybe not smiley enough.

“Is that a drawing of me?”

I looked up to see Mark himself standing next to my chair. At the moment, his mouth was very smiley.

“It is me, isn’t it? I should get a haircut.”

Around the classroom, other members of the class craned their necks to see what our teacher was talking about. I made a quick adjustment to Mark’s thoughts so he forgot the sketch, then turned my notebook’s page to hide the drawing.

His brow furrowed. “I’m sorry… Did you have a question, Adlia?”

“No, I’m fine.” I picked up the digital camera in front of me. “Adjust for fluorescent or halogen lighting. Got it.”

He nodded and resumed his lecture on the color effects of different light, walking as he talked.

Even though no one had seen the drawing but Mark, I sat in a pool of my own embarrassment during the rest of class, wondering yet again why elves associated with humans when it was so exhausting.

The disadvantage of sitting in the back of the room is that you can’t make a run for it when class ends. As we packed up our notes and gear, the woman seated next to me said, “Can I ask where you get your hair done? That red-gold color is so pretty, especially with the curls.”

“I don’t get it done anywhere. It’s just my hair.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I picked up my camera. “Excuse me. I need to put this away.”

She pursed her mouth. “Sorry to keep you.”

I didn’t mean to be rude. It was just that my social skills weren’t the greatest. To avoid further conversation, I took a long time organizing my messenger bag as people moseyed toward the door, chatting like sparrows. When the room cleared, I walked quickly toward the exit, head ducked and both arms around my bag as I passed Mark’s desk.

“Adlia?”

I paused at the door, halfway out. “Uh huh?”

He leaned over his folded arms to see me as I edged even farther out the door. The faded denim shirt he wore hung from his broad shoulders and showed a V of olive skin at his neck. “Adlia, is everything okay? You seem a little subdued today, as opposed to your normal, talkative self.”

“Haha. I’m impressed you managed to say that with a straight face.” Were there shades to my subduedness? If so, did everyone notice them, or just Mark? “I’m fine.” I cleared my throat. “Thanks.”

He grinned, the corners of his mouth curling. “Okay, then. Let me know if you have any problems in class. Oh, and that picture you took of the tree roots going into the creek?” He gave an emphatic nod. “Really nice.”

I couldn’t meet his eyes anymore. The twinkle was in full effect, making me wonder if he were making fun of me. “Thanks,” I muttered again, then made a sharp turn around the doorframe, snagging my T-shirt on the door’s hardware as I escaped into the hall. Elves… we’re so frickin’ graceful.

Outside the Colorado Photo Center, August heat radiated off the sidewalk, even though it was evening. Hipsters sat at café tables outside trendy restaurants, looking down their noses at out-of-town parents bonding with their kids before college started.

Soon the parents would go back to California and Texas, leaving their young’uns to get tattoos and learn how to smoke dope. But I only thought that because I was jealous of their family happiness. Some of them probably wouldn’t get tattoos.

———-

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