She shut the computer with a furious snap. Then, unsatisfied, picked up a throw pillow and hurled it across the room with a scream. One deep breath later and she felt better. In the scheme of things, it didn’t matter who got the credit. The press can laud the jock as often as they want to and cast her as the socialite girlfriend if they felt so inclined. She’d come away with something much more valuable than a headline. “Local Teen Rescues Friends from Homicidal Lunatic” trivialized what they’d been through. What they’d done. What she’d done.
A slow smile crossed her face and the reflection in her Victorian era mirror shivered. She tucked her laptop carefully away in its cubby on her rosewood desk and picked up a small dark iron key ring from a glass bowl. The keys dangled from her fingers as she stepped quickly past the elegant four poster and into her closet. Ignoring racks of shoes and dresses as she clicked open the secret door in the back wall. She listened to make sure her parents were still entertaining friends in the downstairs parlor before placing a key in the hidden lock and sliding the panel door to the side to look at her collection.
Her breath caught for a moment. The shelves held an assortment of beautiful, wicked things. A dark black bottle that seemed to writhe in the light on the top shelf next to an ancient silver amulet. Gems were inlaid around the edges of the amulet, surrounding an inscription in some unknown ancient language. The shelf below held a rabbit’s foot charm and a dagger. The dagger was made of crystal and steel with needles and tubes in a dangerous array both toward the blade and a few curving back toward the hilt. She ran a finger down the blade. It served her well in that place. Even if it made her feel cold inside. Even if her wrist still had faint scars from needles and blades. The third shelf held a battered ring, the inscription incomprehensible, and a crystal ball with hazy images spinning indistinctly through the glass. This was true wealth. This was real. Let the world say what they wanted about the past events. A slow smile crept over her face, and she passed her hand over the crystal ball. It would probably help her in the future. There had to be more. Such beautiful complicated things did not spring up in defiance of all known practices alone. They were wrought, forged, imbued, or cursed.
Maybe she should plan another group trip. Somewhere foreign. Somewhere…. Her eyes drifted back up to the dagger. Somewhere dangerous. Maybe she’d invite her friends.
She closed and locked her cabinet. Sliding the panel back into place, she couldn’t shake the smile. She’d give it a few weeks. This time she wanted to know what she was getting into.
I stole this first line from that diplomatic machete wielder’s “Small Gifts.” Shhhh. Don’t tell, I don’t think the theft has been noticed yet.