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M.J. Padgett
The Fallen Chronicles book cover

The Fallen Chronicles

"Alright, class, settle down and pick a chair." Professor Trelles barked orders at the thirty-three students filing into his classroom less than excited for a lecture on ancient world histories. I didn't understand the big deal, but history was evidently dull to most kids. I loved it.

The start of the second semester always felt like the start of the school year all over again—new classes, new teachers, and new drama. It made many people hate the split-year system, but I was grateful since it meant I didn't have to split my time between studying for seven classes and keeping the world safe. But I guessed most kids didn't have that second problem to worry about.

I pulled my cardigan tighter around my shoulders, took the first available seat, and scanned the room for a familiar face. My eyes settled on Freya Moore, who absentmindedly tapped her fingers on her desk, boasting the same backoff glare that always graced her attractive features. I was one of the lucky few she tolerated, if only because we were in the same Hunter's Guild, and I was her leader. 

I was debating a move to the empty seat beside her when I felt a familiar presence behind me. I would know his energy without him making a sound, without a speck of light to illuminate his face. It was that strong connection that kept me safe during hunts. 

"Fancy meeting you here, bestest of my bestest best friends." Griffin Lowe flopped himself on the floor beside me. His dark eyes connected with mine, deep and intense. For a fleeting moment, I swore I felt him in my soul.
 
Geez, Nova, get a grip. I blinked and bit my cheek, forcing my mind to focus.

To the rest of the school, Griffin was the unobtainable bad boy. No one really bothered him, but girls tried to get his attention everywhere he went. It drove me to insanity, watching them follow him like lost puppies grasping for a sliver of attention. It was the same with Cros and Evan, two other members of our Guild. But Cros and Evan weren't Griffin, so it didn't bother me the same way.

Griffin was my best friend, my partner in battle, and stuck to my side like glue when I needed him like a true best friend. My feelings for him were beyond complicated and marked by an unusual bond shared between a huntress—me—and her werewolf sidekick—Griffin. It was difficult to distinguish true feelings of love from the magical bond we'd shared since birth.

I doubted any of us would ever understand mortal love since those bonds between huntresses and wolves were phenomenally strong—so much that we shared pain, joy, sadness, and every other emotion even from a distance. I knew Griffin as well as I knew myself. At least… I thought I did.

"Nova? Did you hear me?" Griffin's soft voice yanked me back to reality, which sucked because staring into his eyes, contemplating our bond, was so much nicer.

"Oh… Uh, yeah, fancy meeting you, too," I said. I smiled down at him, but he still looked at me like I'd lost my mind.

"Let me see your schedule," he said, reaching up to tap my thigh. I handed it to him, and he perused it with a smile. "We have three classes together, and your last one is with Cros. You should be good."

Freya groaned and rolled her eyes again. "Griffin, we're in school. I seriously doubt a horde of vampires…." She paused midsentence and glanced around the room. "I just think she's safe in school."

Freya's wolf partner was the opposite of her in every way. Freya wore the title of a witch with a B proudly on her chest; Evan was a sweetheart, a fact that often saw him taken advantage of by Freya. It was unintentional, but Evan never could say no to Freya, even if it meant living in a constant state of humiliation.

Griffin raised his arm and smooshed Freya's face, turning her away from our conversation. "As I was saying, I can meet you after fourth and walk home with you, or we can take the bike."

"I hate the bike, Fin, and you know that," I said, but his smirk told me he was poking fun at me. "Shut up, dork. Don't you give me that smirk."

He sat up and inched closer, leaning his head on my arm.

Griffin's hair was still wet, and he smelled of soap, a scent I inhaled as deeply as I could without seeming weird. Okay… there was no way around how weird it was to constantly sniff a person, but he smelled so good. So, so good. I was in so much trouble, especially if my warm and fuzzy feelings were actual love. I reminded myself that love was a liability, especially in our line of work.

Love makes you feel crazy things, and feeling crazy things makes you lose focus, and losing focus gets you killed. Getting killed… Well, that makes you dead, and we can't fix dead. We can fix almost dead, but not dead-dead.

Griffin shifted his head, forcing a shot of pain up my arm to my shoulder. I winced but adjusted so he didn't see it—the still-tender scar from that night.

 

 

 

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