Home > Daughters of Darkness (Night World #2)

Daughters of Darkness (Night World #2)
Author: L.J. Smith

Chapter 1

Rowan, Kestrel, and Jade," Mary-Lynnette said as she and Mark passed the old Victorian farmhouse.


"Rowan. And Kestrel. And Jade. The names of thegirls who're moving in." Mary-Lynnette tilted herhead toward the farmhouse-her hands were full of lawn chair. "They're Mrs. Burdock's nieces. Don't you remember I told you they were coming to live with her?"

"Vaguely," Mark said, readjusting the weight of the telescope he was carrying as they trudged up the manzanita-covered hill. He spoke shortly, which Mary-Lynnette knew meant he was feeling shy.

"They're pretty names," she said. "And they must be sweet girls, because Mrs. Burdock said so."

"Mrs. Burdock is crazy."

"She's just eccentric. And yesterday she told meher nieces are all beautiful. I mean, I'm sure she's prejudiced and everything, but she was pretty definite. Each one of them gorgeous, each one a completely different type."

"So they should be going to California," Mark saidin an almost-inaudible mutter. "They should be posing for Vogue.Where do you want this thing?" he added as they reached the top of the hill.

"Right here." Mary-Lynnette put the lawn chairdown. She scraped some dirt away with her foot so the telescope would sit evenly. Then she said casually, "You know, I thought maybe we could go over there tomorrow and introduce ourselves-sort of welcome them, you know...."

"Will you cut itout?"Mark said tersely. "I can organize my own life. If I want to meet a girl, I'll meet a girl. I don't need help."

"Okay, okay. You don't need help. Be careful withthat focuser tube-"

"And besides, what are we going to say?" Mark said, on a roll now. "'Welcome to Briar Creek, where nothing ever happens. Where there are more coyotes than people. Where if you really want some excitement you can ride into town and watch theSaturday night mouse racing at the Gold Creek Bar....'"

"Okay. Okay." Mary-Lynnette sighed. She-looked at her younger brother, who just at the moment was illuminated by the last rays of sunset. To see him now, you'd think he'd never been sick a day in hislife.

His hair was as dark and shiny as Mary Lynnette's, his eyes were as blue and clear and snapping. He had the same healthy tan as she did; thesame glow of color in his cheeks.

But when he'd been a baby, he'd been thin andscrawny and every breath had been a challenge.His asthma had been so bad he'd spent most of his second year in an oxygen tent, fighting to stay alive.

Mary-Lynnette, a year and a half older, had won dered every day if her baby brother would ever come home.

It had changed him, being alone in that tent whereeven their mother couldn't touch him. When hecame out he was shy and clingy-holding on to theirmother's arm all the time. And for years he hadn'tbeen able to go out for sports like the other kids. That was all a long time ago-Mark was going to bea junior in high school this year-but he was still shy. And when he got defensive, he bit people's heads off.

Mary-Lynnette wished one of the new girls would be right for him, draw him out a bit, give him confidence. Maybe she could arrange it somehow....

"What are you thinking about?" Mark asked suspiciously.

Mary-Lynnette realized he was staring at her.

"About how the seeing's going to be really good tonight," she said blandly. "August's the best month for starwatching; the air's so warm and still. Hey,there's the first star-you can make a wish."

She pointed to a bright point of light above the southern horizon. It worked; Mark was distracted and looked, too.

Mary-Lynnette stared at the back of his dark head.If it would do any good, I'd wish for romance for you, she thought. I'd wish it for myself, too-but what would be the point? There's nobody around here to be romantic with.

None of the guys at school--except maybe JeremyLovett-understood why she was interested in as tronomy, or what she felt about the stars. Most ofthe time Mary-Lynnette didn't care-but occasionally she felt a vague ache in her chest. A longing to ... share. If she hadwished, it would have been for that, for someone to share the night with.

Oh, well. It didn't help to dwell on it. And besides,although she didn't want to tell Mark, what they were wishing on was the planet Jupiter, and not a star at all.

Mark shook his head as he tramped down the path that wound through buckbrush and poison hemlock.

He should have apologized to Mary-Lynnette beforeleaving-he didn't like being nasty to her. In fact, she was the one person he usually tried to be decent to.

But why was she always trying to fix him? To the point of wishing on stars. And Mark hadn't really made a wish, anyway. He'd thought, if I was making a wish, which I'm not because it's hokey and stupid, it would be for some excitement around here.

Something wild, mark thought-and felt an innershiver as he hiked downhill in the gathering darkness.

Jade stared at the steady, brilliant point of lightabove the southern horizon. It was a planet, she knew.

For the last two nights she'd seen it moving across the sky, accompanied by tiny pinpricks of light that must be its moons. Where she came from, nobody was in the habit of wishing on stars, but this planet seemed like a friend-a traveler, just like her. As Jade watched it tonight, she felt a sort of concentration of hope rise inside her. Almost awish.

Jade had to admit that they weren't off to a very promising start. The night air was too quiet; there wasn't the faintest sound of a car coming. She wastired and worried and beginning to be very, very hungry.

Jade turned to look at her sisters.

"Well, where is she?"

"I don't know," Rowan said in her most doggedly gentle voice. "Be patient."

"Well, maybe we should scan for her.

"No," Rowan said. "Absolutely not. Remember what we decided."

"She's probably forgotten we were coming," Kestrel said. "I told you she was getting senile."

"Don't saythings like that. It's not polite," Rowan said, still gentle, but through her teeth.

Rowan was always gentle when she could manageit. She was nineteen, tall, slim, and stately. She had cinnamon-brown eyes and warm brown hair that cascaded down her back in waves.

Kestrel was seventeen and had hair the color of old gold sweeping back from her face like a bird's wings. Her eyes were amber and hawklike, and she was never gentle.

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