Acadia finished brushing her hair and grinned at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was the same chocolate as her mother’s, and just as wavy and untamable. The only difference being that she had bright red and gold highlights framing her face. Her eyes, however, were a gift from her father, a rare bright, crystalline blue-grey.
Acadia’s smile slowly fell as she looked up at the picture hanging above her mirror. It was a small portrait that had been saved in their flight from Vanaheim, their home. Acadia reached up and took the portrait down, staring at the two girls. They were both smiling and tightly holding onto the blue-clad legs of the great General Rhondor, their father. Acadia gently traced the outline of the redheaded girl on the right.
“Happy seventeenth birthday, Caylis,” she said softly as she set the picture on her dresser.
After leaving Vanaheim, Acadia and Gwen had come to Earth. A few of the small trinkets that Acadia’s mother had taken in their flight had provided enough wealth for the two of them to live happily in a penthouse in Wilmington, North Carolina. The rest of the money was enough so that neither had to get a job, but could live lives that were a shadowy resemblance to their lives of luxury in Vanaheim.
“Happy birthday, Cadie,” Gwen said as her daughter entered the small kitchen.
“Thanks, mom,” she replied as she perched on a black barstool. “Any word from Vanaheim yet?”
“No one knows where we have gone, Acadia,” Gwen said softly as she pulled a mango smoothie from the stainless steel fridge. “How will they know where to send word to? And besides, it is not Vanaheim that we fear, but the wrath of Queen Hippolyta of…”
“Of the Amazons,” Acadia finished as she took the drink from her mother. “I know, mom. You’ve told me many times why we left and why we can’t go back yet. But you used to be one of the most feared warriors on Olympus, why do you cower from your queen now?”
“Hippolyta is no longer my queen. She hasn’t been since I married your father. An Amazon cannot have any relationship with a man,” Gwen reminded her. “And I do not fear her, I fear what she would do to you. That is why we are still on Earth.”
Acadia rolled her eyes and began spinning around on the stool, sipping her smoothie loudly from a pink straw she’d grabbed from the counter.
“There has been no word from Drew and Caylis, either,” Gwen added after a moment.
“Sometimes the whole mindreading thing isn’t supposed to be used,” Acadia reminded Gwen, setting her smoothie on the counter harder than necessary. “Especially when those thoughts being read concern my sister.”
Gwen shrugged and handed her daughter some money from her wallet. “Go get breakfast, then off to school. We will celebrate your birthday when you return home.”
Acadia slid off the stool and stooped to grab her school bag, her long necklace clinking against the buckles on her signature red boots. “You know the stuff they teach in mortal schools has absolutely no use whatsoever beyond this planet?” she asked as she pulled her leather bracelets down to hide the tattoo on her wrist.
“You’re still going. While we are here, we will abide by their laws and customs,” Gwen called with a smile as her daughter left.
Acadia groaned theatrically and put in her headphones as she closed the door behind her. She took the elevator down to the parking garage. Once the elevator doors closed behind her, she looked around to make sure she was alone, then lifted her feet from the ground and flew to her blue jeep. Then she noticed the red truck parked close enough to block access to the driver’s side door.
“Now what fool would park that close to someone’s car?” she asked. “Well, seeing as how they’re not here to fix it, I’ll just have to move it for them,” she said softly as she gripped the bumper tightly and pulled the truck to the center of its parking space.
“Much better,” she said with a smile as she dusted off her hands and went to get into her jeep.
Not wanting to dig through her bag to find her keys, Acadia twisted her hand and the engine roared to life. She was about to drive to the nearest coffee shop when she heard the sound of a door open next to her.
The boy next to the red truck was around her age, tall and well muscled, with thick blonde hair and bright blue eyes that smiled as they caught hers. Acadia took out her headphones and stared. The new boy turned his key in the ignition and Acadia turned her hand, sending a small burst of magic to make the engine not turn over. With a frown, the boy tried again. On his third try, Acadia leaned forward and got his attention.
“Car trouble?” she asked as he rolled down the window.
“Yeah, don’t know why though. I just fixed this thing yesterday,” he replied with a shake of his head as he tried to start the car again.
“Do you need a ride?” Acadia asked innocently as the engine sputtered again.
He leaned back in his seat for a moment, then looked back at her and nodded. “Sure, why not?”
The boy left his truck and jumped into her passenger seat. “I’m Chris,” he said.
“Acadia,” she replied as she backed up. “Cadie for short. So I haven’t seen you around here before. You new?” she asked, giving him a sideways glance.
Chris nodded. “Sort of. We used to live here, and then we moved to Boston, and then back here after dad got a new job.”
“We?” Acadia asked, glaring at the driver that cut her off.
“Me, my parents, and my sister,” he responded, hiding a smile.
Acadia nodded. “That’s cool. It’s just me and my mom.”
“What happened to your dad?” he asked.
She tightened her grip on the steering wheel, her knuckles turning white. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Chris nodded and threw his hands up in a sign of surrender. “That’s fine. Sorry, didn’t mean to enter into closed territory.”
Acadia shrugged. “Don’t apologize. You didn’t know,” she said dryly as she pulled into the neighborhood coffee shop parking lot. “So want some coffee or something? My treat,” she offered.
“Accepting coffee from a stranger?” he asked with mock horror. “My parents raised me much better than that.”
She laughed. “Well, you already accepted a ride from one, so I wouldn’t say your parents’ teachings stuck very well. And besides, it’s my birthday, and I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” she said with a smile as she got out of the jeep and headed toward the door.
“The Amazon?” Chris read from the sign, question in his voice.
“It’s based on Greek mythology,” Acadia explained, taking her place in line. “Like how Starbucks is based on a character from Moby Dick.”
“It is?” he asked, clearly confused.
She smiled. “Starbuck was the first mate on thePequod, the ship that hunts down the white whale, Moby Dick. Starbuck also believed in sirens, which is the woman with the long hair on the sign,” she said. “And I’ll take my usual,” she told the barista.
“Hey, Cadie. How are you?” the barista asked as he rang up her order.
“I’m great, you?” she asked. “And I’m paying for Chris, too.”
The barista gave her a knowing look. “Is this a new boyfriend?”
Acadia rolled her eyes. “If by ‘boyfriend’ you mean a boy who is also a friend, then yes. You’ve known me long enough to know he’d be paying if we were a couple,” she said, playfully nudging Chris with her elbow.
Chris blushed and ignored her comment as he ordered. After the drinks were ready, they headed back out to the parking lot and got back in the jeep.
“So you’d make your boyfriend pay for everything, huh?” Chris asked as they pulled back onto the road.
Acadia nodded. “While some girls may not like that because they feel it infringes upon their independence, my mom had a bit of an…old fashioned…upbringing, and as a single mother, she’s passed that on to me.”
“Sounds like your boyfriend will need a deep wallet or he’ll be broke,” he observed wryly.
“And he’ll enjoy his empty wallet with a grin on his face,” she retorted with a smirk.
Chris rolled his eyes. “I’m sure he would, because he’d have spent all his money on the most beautiful girl in North Carolina.”
“Welcome to your new school,” Acadia said, ignoring his comment and pulling into an empty parking spot.
“Thanks for the ride, Cadie,” Chris said with a slightly crooked smile.
“Anytime,” she replied as she returned his grin. “Hope you figure out what’s wrong with your truck after school.”
He laughed and agreed as they got out and headed for the school doors. Over Chris’ shoulder, Acadia caught a glimpse of a tall girl with curly red hair blowing wildly in the wind, golden green eyes piercing through her from afar. Acadia stopped walking and the girl raised her chin in a challenge. Acadia took a step forward as a bus passed between them. After the bus passed, the girl was gone.
“You okay?” Chris asked as he grabbed her arm.
She shook her head and looked up at him. “Yeah, just thought I saw someone I used to know. But they’re gone now.”
Chris nodded slowly and followed her into the large brick building, where he met up with some old friends from before he moved.
“Cadie, I’m going to ride home with one of them,” he told her. “Thanks for the drink and the ride this morning.”
Acadia nodded and walked off. She didn’t mean to be rude, but she was still confused by the girl she’d seen.