Synopsis and Chapter 1









A year after the unexpected death of her father, Nalia finds herself living in a world where everything has changed. She soon learns she is the bearer of a most rare gift. 

 She discovers that there is more to her powerful and terrifying gift and that others just like her have been killed or sent into hiding because of it. When She is given the task to find a potion that will save a world she never knew existed she unexpectedly learns about the secret tragedy surrounding her family and the terrible fate of others just like her. 

Will she finally discover the connection between her gift and the ones who seek to destroy it?

1
A cold summer


The house was cold, colder than usual being that it was the middle of summer. Nalia wondered if it would always be as cold as it was that day. That day, the walls that lined the two-story house seemed to change shade. That day, the auburn bricks seemed darker and browner as though they had been painted over. The living room and dining area were quite large and Nalia had only realized just how large they were because of the sheer amount of occupants they held today. The house sat in the quiet and lavish suburbs of Hordle Main, Connecticut. In Hordle Main, there were only two kinds of people—the rich and the richer.
Black iron gates shielded this particular house, which sat on top of a hill. The cobblestone driveway was filled with all kinds of cars and people from every part of the neighborhood, who all seemed to be there on that day.
Nalia could feel a restlessness stirring in every inch of her skin. Her hands and feet tingled as though they had awoken from a long slumber. This must be the grueling sensation of loss, she figured.  It wasn’t like she hadn’t felt pain before. As clumsy as she was, pain seemed like a constant companion and she had the scars to prove it. But this was different. She felt it now in places she had never before. Missing someone was a pain she had never experienced—and the longing that came with missing someone, was something entirely new.
Across on the other side, guests greeted her mother, as servers went around asking people their hors d’œuvres of choice. In the distance she could see her mother's distinct face. It was a face that she would never forget. It was a face overcome by sadness and worry. Perhaps she was wondering what they were going to do next or wondering how this happened.
“You can’t fight death,” was the last thing Vic said, in a heavy hollowed breath. He almost had a smile on his worn out face, which confused Nalia in a place like a cold hospital room. The wires and tubes coming out of him seemed like handcuffs, tying him to that bed. All Nalia wanted was to rip every single one of them out and get him as far away from that place as possible.  
Death had a way of turning upside down everything you thought set in stone. Nalia was not used to seeing her mother like this—frail and weathered as though she had been caught in some violent storm. It made a ghost of her. Nalia could feel it making a ghost of her as well, and she wasn’t fighting it, letting pieces of herself slip and fade away.
Abigail was tall and slender and known for her beauty in their small town. She had rounded hazel eyes and full lips. Her eyes sparkled every time she smiled, and her long black curly hair added to her charm. Being that she only wore dresses and heels, it was much to her chagrin that her daughter seemed to always be found in muddy jeans and t-shirts. But today, Nalia was wearing a simple black dress with a bow that Abigail had tied in the back.
Vic, Nalia's father, was a robust man.  For as long as she could remember, he seemed 10 feet tall. Perhaps this was because she was only a child and most things seemed much larger than she was. He was often seen wearing his strapping pinstriped suits and silver cufflinks.
There is a photo in the dining area that best exemplifies this. Vic is standing tall, in front of the Sicilian chapel, Cappella Palatina. His shoulders form a steady arch, imitating that of the structure behind him. He is bold, in front, as if to suggest his very frame was inspiration for the timeless architecture he slightly shields. His hand is firmly gripped to Nalia’s, who is looking up at him, her eyes unyielding.
The house was filled with all kinds of people coming to give their condolences, some Nalia could recognize, others she had never seen before.

"Vic was a great man," Betty March, the neighbor five house down said. She wasn’t from Hordle Main. You could hear it in her thick Southern drawl.
"Eet really wos trageek wot ‘appened to ‘eem—‘ee was so young," Simone Bouloir, three houses down cried. She was tall, beautiful, and had moved a year before from a small village in Southern France.
"And what about the little girl? How will she recover from this? Oh, she'll never be the same," Georgia Pottern, one house down, joined in. Her standard New England accent showed she had lived in Hordle Main her whole life.
 The neighbors’ words sent chills down Nalia’s spine. They were all so ready to finalize just how gone he was. Perhaps it was the fact that her future had already been set in stone by them or perhaps it was the fact that she had never heard people talk about her father in such a way that made her set off and hide in the one spot she felt most safe: under her bed. She couldn't explain it, but it was the one place she felt secure, like nothing in the outside world could touch her.
Nalia woke up against the cold wooden floor, her cheeks indented by the cracks in the wood. Se rubbed her hand against her face wondering how much time had passed. She knew it had to be a few hours as the buzzing sound of visitors had vanished. There was a deafening silence when she heard a knock on the door. It was her aunt, Aurine.

"Nalia, dear, you can come out. The guests have all gone and I have to talk to you." Could anything good come from those words?
Aurine reached out and grabbed Nalia's hand, pulling her from under the bed. Nalia slithered out then straightened up.
"He has to come back. He has to," Nalia said softly. Aurine held Nalia’s head in her arms brushing her curls gently.
"Sweetie, he's no—; he isn't going—," Aurine paused as she tried to find the right way to say what she was about to say.
"Nalia, your father is gone and he isn't coming back. Sometimes we lose people too soon. Sometimes you can’t look back. Do you understand?" Aurine tried to say it as gently as she could. There was an air of something else in her voice though, as though she had felt the sting of those words in her own life.
Having him gone for so long so many times had made Nalia covet the moments when she was with him. So the sudden absence of him was not a shock at first. But this was not going to be like one of his long business trips. There would be no waiting or anticipation of his return.
"Nalia, your mother is going to be going away for a little bit. She wants to bury your father in his home country. I will come stay with you while she's gone. OK?"
"How long will she be gone for?" Nalia’s eyes looked up at her aunt, almost desperate.
"Well, only a week or so," Aurine mumbled, intentionally not meeting her niece’s eyes.

"OK," Nalia reluctantly replied. How could her mother leave her for so long?

Downstairs, Nalia's mother was meeting with the family lawyer, Mr. Knickerbocker.
Nalia recognized him immediately as he had a habit of wearing loud colored and patterned suits. She could hear them discussing something from behind the door where she hid.
"Look, Mrs. Edwards, things are going to have to change a bit. You will get to keep the house because it has been in your husband’s family for so long. But the business hasn't been doing well for a while due to your husband's illness. And now that your husband is gone, well, you will have to get a job or try and salvage what is left of your company."
Abigail had only recently discovered how sick her husband had been. Vic had never planned on telling them, hoping he would get better soon. But, in the last few months, it became clear that his condition was more serious than he led Abigail or Nalia to believe.
Mr. Knickerbocker's words were a blur to Nalia. Even at her age, she knew that this was not good. Growing up, she never heard her parents talk about a business or a company. She knew that her father traveled a lot for work but, when he was home, he never said much about it.
"Business is business and home is home," Vic would always say.
In the distance, Abigail could see five fingers grabbing on to the door in front of them.
"Nalia!" her mother screeched. The words startled Nalia and she jumped out. "What are you doing hiding behind the door?"
Nalia was silent. "Come here," Abigail said.
Her mother's eyes were fastened intently on her. Mr. Knickerbocker was beginning to stare too.
"I never realized what a resemblance she has to Vic until now," he said, astonished.
It was true. There was no doubt whose daughter she was. Her mother placed her cool and gentle hands on Nalia's face, almost with caution. She seemed to be tracing the lines on her face as if to remember and retrace what she had just lost. It was not until several years later that Nalia would realize that, in that moment, her resemblance was a pain too great for her mother to bear. It was as if looking at her was a constant reminder of what she once had. Nalia went to dry her mother's quiet tears, but Abigail flinched as if the touch of her daughter's skin burned her. From then on, her mother began avoiding getting that close to her again.
That same night Nalia stared, for what seemed like hours, at her face in the mirror. Her broad nose, almond shaped eyes and pouty lips glared back at her as hard as she did. She had his high cheekbones and his smile. Her thick curly hair was like her mother's, but her skin was mostly like his. She quickly ran to her bathtub and grabbed the soap and sponge from the edge.
She rubbed the soap on the sponge and began to scrub her face as hard as she could. She thought that, just maybe, if she scrubbed hard enough, she could scrub off the part of him that was embedded in her. As her frustration of not succeeding grew, she scrubbed harder until she got so angry at the same face staring back at her that she threw the soap and sponge as hard as she could at the wall. In the next instant, seemingly out of nowhere, the mirror burst into pieces right in front of her.
It wasn't the first time things had randomly broken around her, but she knew she was going to have to clean this up quickly. Explaining spontaneous combustion to her mother would not be easy. As she approached the shattered glass that lay all over her bedroom floor, she could see herself in the fragmented pieces. Each shattered piece reflected a face that seemed to be laughing at her failed quest.



 
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