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Luna sipped cold tea, waiting for the man she’d been planning to kill all her life. She laid his picture on the table—the same picture she’d had for over twenty years. Would she recognize him?
A dozen teens laughed at nearby tables and someone with a hoodie sat in a booth too small to be him. School had let out for lunch. They’d better be gone before he arrived. No need to traumatize them. His death wouldn’t be quick. She’d stab him in the lungs and leave the knife there for a minute or two, then rip it out and watch him drown in his own blood.
Hopefully, the cops didn’t get to her before she saw the life go out of his eyes. Mom said to make sure she watched him die so she could tell her about it.
“Hey beautiful, want a drink?”
A pimple-faced kid smiled at her with a face so red even his ears were on fire. He couldn’t have been over sixteen. His friends watched. One girl in the group giggled.
Ugh. “Piss off,” she said.
The boy turned and slunk away. She knew she could have been nicer, but who cares? She’d be dead in an hour. When her mug shows up in the paper, he’ll be glad.
“Yo, yo, baby girl. You tough on them boys. You lookin for a man?”
Luna stirred her tea. Was the school running a social experiment? She gripped the cup hard enough for the plastic to crack. “Get lost.”
“Stuck-up whore.” The kid gave her the finger and stomped out of the café.
Before the door swung shut, a man that looked in his forties walked through. His scruffy beard and sunglasses hid his face. He favoured his left leg as he walked past her, his eyes peaking at the picture on the table. She pivoted, trying to match his features to the photo.
“A lifetime ago,” a voice said from behind her. She spun. Adam sat opposite her, the photo in his hand. “Young and dumb.”
Mom told her he’d open with excuses. She slid one hand to her purse hanging on the chair. Her fingers wrapped around the hilt of the knife. “You came.”
“Why did it take you so long?”
“I tried to see you when you were a baby.” His smile faded. “Your mother… she didn’t want me to have anything to do with you because…”
“Because you killed her father.” Luna pulled the purse over her shoulder so she could take the knife out beneath the table.
He slouched, eyes glued to the floor. “I deserve her hate for that. It doesn’t have to be that way with us. I had hoped her heart would soften. You’re what, twenty-two?” He looked up at her. “I know what she’s done to you. Who she’s made you.”
Luna felt like she swallowed razor blades. “You don’t know anything.”
“You don’t have to do it. You’re not like her. I know she wants me dead. Since her father… I should have taken you. I’m sorry.”
Luna leaned forward. Why were her eyes burning? Who cares about this jerk? She felt herself squeeze the blade. “I don’t need you.”
“You’re an independent woman. Also, a terrified girl.”
I’m done. She leaned forward and thrust the knife toward his stomach, but her arm became incredibly heavy and slumped before the blade reached him. She hated the smug look on his face.
“Magic,” she gawked.
“Energy.” He slipped the knife from her fingertips. “I don’t cast spells.”
Luna had practiced the very scenario with her mother. She reached back into her purse, feeling for the pistol. Her mother wouldn’t like her using the pistol. It was supposed to be a last resort. One shot to the gut—let him suffer for a few minutes, then a shot to the head.
“Luna,” he said. “I feel the good in your energy. I can take you away from here. Give you a normal life.”
Normal? Not a damn thing was normal about her. She slipped the pistol out of her purse and pointed it at his guts. She tried to squeeze the trigger. “How are you doing this?”
“Your grandfather was all your mother had, and he took advantage of that, much the way your mother is doing to you. When he found us together, he snapped. I couldn’t control energy back then. My father had given me his energy only a year before.” His eyes locked on hers. “I’m sorry.”
“Mom said you murdered him.”
“I killed him, but I didn’t want to. I told him to stop. The energy in him was pure hatred, like her now. One of us wasn’t leaving that room.”
“I read the article. You murdered him.”
He raised his hands as if in defeat. The person sitting in the booth pulled back her hood—Mom. Luna almost shouted a warning.
He smiled sadly and nodded. “Use the energy to get free. It’s all I have to give you.” His eyes widened as her mother plunged the knife into his back.
“He’s good at manipulating,” she said as he slumped onto the table. “I don’t blame you for being too weak. I wasn’t hard enough on you. He told me his energy story too. Where are his superpowers now?”
“I tried,” Luna said.
Her mother strutted out of the café, stopping at the doorway. Everyone scrambled like disturbed ants. Her mother’s eyes bulged—she despised waiting.
Something hit Luna so hard she gasped. It felt like a heavy blow to her chest. She focused her energy on staying conscious. Breathe. Luna sucked in air and felt herself calming and the energy in the room coming to life. Instantly, she felt the good and the bad all around her. The hatred in her mother burned the brightest. So much hate.
“Let’s go,” her mother said.
As Luna left the café and heard emergency sirens, she knew her father had told her the truth about her grandfather. Luna’s hate for him, grown fierce through her mother’s own hate, vanished.