Home > School Spirits (School Spirits #1)(9)

School Spirits (School Spirits #1)(9)
Author: Rachel Hawkins


In the mirror, he leaned against the wall behind me. "Nervous?" he asked, grinning.

Glancing down the hall toward the kitchen, I leaned in closer and whispered, "No."

His grin got bigger. "Yes, you are. You're a Brannick, a Queen Among Women, and you're scared of going to school. When, really, it's the school that should be scared of you."

He said it like that was something to be proud of. Mom was still banging pans, water running in the sink, but I kept my voice as low as I could. "What the heck does that mean?"

"Like I said," Torin replied, "you're a Brannick. Not only have you been trained to dispose of the most powerful creatures this world has ever known, you've been bred to be an effective killer. Over one thousand years of genetics, all coming together to form Isolde Brannick, a deadly weapon."

I stared at him. "Torin, is...is this your idea of a pep talk?"

His brow wrinkled. "A what? I am simply trying to make you feel more confident about your day by giving you a small speech on your many virtues."

Adjusting my bag on my shoulder, I poked at the glass. "That's a pep talk, then. Except yours isn't really helping."

Now Torin was leaning back against the wall, his arms folded over his chest. "I actually felt it was going quite well, and I hadn't even gotten to the part where I declare you a tiger sent to matriculate among kittens."

In the kitchen, the water shut off. I glared at Torin. "I'm not a tiger," I hissed. He gave one of his elegant shrugs as Mom called, "Iz?"

She stepped out of the kitchen, but by then, Torin had already vanished from the mirror.

"Yeah?" I replied, hoping I sounded casual.

"Just...be careful today, okay?"

It was such a weird thing for her to say. I mean, it was a perfectly normal thing for regular moms to say, but not for mine. And for a second, I wondered if I actually could be the sort of person who had a mom who told her to "be careful." The kind who rode buses and whose mom cooked breakfast.

Then she added, "Lie low. And remember your cover."

The bus ride ended up being easier than I'd thought. I snagged a seat by myself and spent the twenty-minute ride watching the boring streets of Ideal flash by and trying to tell myself that I'd faced off with werewolves and demons, for heaven's sake. Not one other kid on this bus had done that. So how tough could it be navigating high school? All I had to do was go into the main office, hand the secretary my (fake) paperwork, get a schedule, and then...go to class. Mom and I had agreed I shouldn't start asking questions about the attack on the science teacher too quickly, but I could definitely keep my ear to the ground.

I'd studied a map of the school last night, but that didn't prepare me for the crush of people and confusing warren of hallways and stairs and classrooms as I walked through the giant double doors. It was so...loud. To my left, a group of girls shrieked and laughed about something, while just in front of me, two boys were shouting at each other, earbuds jammed firmly in their ears.

Pushing my shoulders back, I tried to move with the same sense of purpose that everyone else seemed to have, but that wasn't really helpful since I didn't actually know where I was going. I wandered down one hallway, only to have to double back when it dead-ended in a row of lockers. Then I thought I'd found the main office, but that was actually the attendance office.

"The main office is in the east wing," the harried attendance lady had told me, and I'd nodded and mumbled, "Thanks," like I knew where the heck the east wing was.

Well, other than east, obviously.

By the time I found the main office, it was nearly time for first period, and the secretary hardly looked at my papers. "Here," she said, shoving a folder at me. "Schedule and list of extracurricular activities. Now get moving before third bell."

Third bell? There hadn't even been one so far.

At that moment, a harsh buzzing filled the air, and as I stepped out into the corridor, kids suddenly began to sprint for the staircases and other hallways. Pressing myself against the wall, I struggled to open the folder and not get run over. As I did, I kept up a running monologue with myself. Oh my God, chill out. Your heart is going a million miles an hour over a bunch of kids? You fight monsters. Get a hold of yourself, Brannick.

And I'd almost managed to do that when a boy nearly a foot taller than me collided with my shoulder, sending the folder spinning out of my hands, papers scattering everywhere.

My muscles tensed, and before I could stop it, my hand had darted out to...I don't know, grab the guy, or punch him, or who knew what. Thank God he'd already moved too far past me, and my hand just flopped harmlessly in midair.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm down. The last thing I needed was to let my instincts take over before I'd even set foot in my first class. I knelt down and started to pick up my papers.

"Hey, you okay?"

A boy about my age stood in front of me. Sandy brown hair fell in his eyes, which, I noticed, were dark brown. "Just, uh, dropped some stuff."

Crouching down, the boy gathered up my schedule and list of school clubs while I fished the map out from under the water fountain. "You must be new," he said, and my head shot up.

"How did you know?"

"Um, the folder saying 'NEW STUDENT' kind of gave it away."

Oh, right. Now that he mentioned it, that was scrawled across the top. "Ah," I said, unsure of what else to say.

"And according to this," he continued, brandishing my schedule, "you and I have first period English together. Come on, I'll walk you."

As I followed him, the boy adjusted his dark green backpack covered in various badges that read things like, "Rusted Nail," and "The Filthy Monkeys." I figured either those were bands, or this kid was in the weirdest Boy Scout troop ever.

"I'm Adam," he threw over his shoulder. When I just nodded, he stopped. "I'm assuming you have a name, too."

"Oh. Yeah. Izzy. My name is Izzy."

Adam inclined his head. "Well, nice to meet you, Izzy."

There was another bell, the second one, and I heard doors begin to close. "Is that-" I started, but Adam waved a hand. "You're new and I was showing you around and being a good citizen. We're good. So." Still walking, he held up the list of extracurricular activities. "Have you picked which of our fine organizations to join yet?"

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