Kailey by Miranda Shanklin by Miranda Shanklin - Read Online

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Kailey - Miranda Shanklin

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Chapter One

It has been two years since Liss was chosen to be a Guardian. It didn’t take us long to figure out that one from each age group would be chosen. As soon as our parents said they knew Keegan and Izzy weren’t chosen, we knew it would be one from each group.

Since Liss was chosen, I’m positive it will be one of the boys this time. It’s between me, Aiden, and Ian. I don’t see it picking two girls in a row. I’m completely fine with that. I don’t want to be a Guardian, but none of us can admit that in this family.

Everybody is waiting for the next Guardian to be picked and the boys are getting annoying about it. It’s all they can talk about. Who will it be, when will it be? I wish it was over already.

I don’t understand everybody’s obsession with it. Why would they want to have absolutely no say in their own life? If the Origin picks one of them, then he is tied to it. He has to work around it for any type of vacation, but can’t be gone for long. No matter what the time is or what he’s doing, if the Origin calls, he, or I, must go running. Why would anyone want to tie themselves to a piece of land like that?

I’m glad it’s going to be one of the boys that will be picked. I can then be officially assigned to teach at the school during the day and have a normal life. Then I can do what I want later. It will be the closest thing to normal I’ll ever achieve in this family.

I’m instantly drawn out of my thoughts when I feel the power hit me hard in the chest. I look around pissed.

Aiden laughs so hard he’s doubled over. Between the laughs, he chokes out a few words, That will… teach you… to get… lost in… your head.

I glare at him. He instantly stops laughing as I throw my own power at him and he suddenly finds himself on his butt three feet away from where he started. I smirk at him. That will teach you to think you can tell me what to do.

Ian, always the peacemaker between me and Aiden, steps in before it becomes one of our battles of the wills. Kailey, he wasn’t trying to tell you what to do. He was just messing around since he can’t get the better of you when you’re paying attention.

I smirk again. All the more reason for him to not start something he’ll never win.

I walk away and head toward the house. I’m done with practicing for the day. My mind isn’t in it and that’s the best way to get hurt. I learned that the hard way. When I don’t fully concentrate, my spells tend to go a little off kilter and backfire on me.

When I get most of the way back, I see a little ball of white. I can’t figure out what it is. When I finally get closer and it runs toward me, I realize it’s a little ball of fur. I reach down and pick it up. It’s a pure white Shih Tzu puppy. I look around and see no one noticed.

I change my direction and head toward the pool house. I panic. This fur ball coming to me isn’t a good sign. Liss was given a familiar and that’s how they knew she was the one that had been chosen. I frantically try to find a way to keep the others from finding out about this.

I get all the way to my room without seeing anyone. I was never happier that I skipped out of practice early. I’ve been doing it more often lately, thinking I have no reason to practice that hard since I have no intention of being a Guardian. If I can keep this little fur ball out of sight and not accept that I’m supposed to be a Guardian, hopefully the Origin will pick someone else.

You know it doesn’t work that way. I never wanted this. The Origin has it wrong this time. Aiden and Ian are both better at all this than I am. Sure, I have more power, but they have better control of theirs. I must really concentrate to get it to do what I want.

I get some water and food for the puppy and try to figure out how I’m going to hide this from everyone. Now that Liss is getting a better hold on her power and how to use it, her parents and ours all watch Aiden, Ian, and me a lot more closely.

I get the feeling they know the next Guardian will be picked soon. We’d turned twenty about a month ago and now that I think about it, Liss was twenty when she was picked. Maybe that’s the age they were waiting for. I just wish the Origin would pick someone already.

I ignore the little voice in my head telling me it already has; I just must accept it. I refuse to believe I’m the next Guardian. Surely, the Origin wouldn’t pick someone that wants nothing to do with the job. It will pick someone that’s dedicated to the job and will put their all into it.

I can’t hide out in my room any longer. It’s time for the daily meetings with the other realms and for the last few months, Aiden, Ian, and I have been expected to attend, so when one of us is picked, we will be familiar with the Leaders of the Guardians of the Passageways in the other realms.

I look over at the little ball of fur and see she’s fast asleep on my bed. I must admit she’s adorable, but she has to have made a mistake. I bet she only came to me because I was the only one here and she was waiting for me to take her to one of the boys.

I ignore that little voice in my head again and go downstairs to get the boys and take the portal to the Origin for the meetings.

When I get back to the practice field, I find the boys waiting for me. We don’t say anything as we walk through the portal and come out into the clearing. I look around and see Liss and Ozias just finishing with their training. Ever since they got married, it’s like they’re one person. They’re so close they know what the other will do without ever talking about it. I know they have a bond and can talk to each other in their heads, but they’re so fast.

I sit and watch in awe as they work together and overcome everything our parents throw at them. As much as I wonder what it would be like to have that bond and closeness with someone, I’m not willing to sacrifice my life and my choices for it. Aiden, Ian, and I are extremely close and I’ll find my soul mate, and that must do.

I’m still undecided on the idea of finding a soul mate. I hate that I don’t get to go out and date and find someone I get to pick. I long for the normal experience of getting to know someone and falling in love with them slowly as we grew closer. I don’t like the idea of seeing someone and instantly being in love with them. I read the stories in books and the idea of instalove always makes me cringe. It isn’t normal. I can’t deny though, the idea of never having to worry if the person loves me back or needs me as much as I need him is appealing.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I know it won’t be much longer before I meet the man the Origin has picked out for me. I hate that my whole life has been planned out by the Origin and I desperately want some aspect to be my own and by my own choice.

I sit back and watch from across the clearing as the meetings start. Liss and Ozias are the ones leading the meetings now, so they can learn what the job of Guardians entails. The faeries are first and it’s always the longest. The Leader of the Guardians in the faerie realm is Drake who is also the father of Ozias. Liss and Ozias always ask about the family and friends before the meeting officially starts.

When they’re done, it’s the trolls. Every realm brings someone with them to the meetings. It was set up a long time ago so there’s never any question of anyone’s safety or what happened at the meetings. Since it’s usually one of the children of the Leader that comes, I think it’s kind of pointless. If one of the Leaders wants to start something, they can convince their child to go along with it.

When Heath, the Leader of the Guardians in the troll realm steps through, I feel something drawing me toward the meeting. I frown and look toward where they all stand. I look up and my eyes lock with a tall man with black hair and hazel eyes. I feel drawn to him, but I don’t move. He stands with his gaze fixed on mine. I refuse to acknowledge the feeling I know him and turn to find Aiden and Ian.

I frown again as I see the look on Ian’s face. He’s lost in thought and not paying attention at all to anything going on. It’s really unusual for him. He’s usually the one hanging on every word spoken at the meetings.

I look over at Aiden and he’s watching Ian with the same frown. Neither of us like him acting so out of character. We both get up and walk over to where he’s sitting.

Aiden shoulder checks him, and he looks up in surprise that we’ve walked over to him without him noticing.

Aiden’s frown deepens. Dude, what’s going on with you? I’ve never seen you get so lost in your head that you don’t know everything going on around you. That’s Kailey’s thing, not yours.

I scowl at him but don’t say anything because he’s right. They’re always trying to get my attention and get me out of my head. I look over at Ian and he has a very embarrassed look on his face. Seriously, it can’t be that bad. What’s up?

Ian sighs. All right, fine. You two won’t leave me alone until I tell you, so I might as well get it over with. Do you know who that is with Drake today?

I frown again. I think it’s one of his nieces, why?

I felt drawn to her. I couldn’t help myself from staring. I didn’t want to let her out of my sight. When she stepped back through the passageway to the faerie realm, I had to stop myself from following her. I think she might be my soul mate.

Aiden and I both let out sighs of relief. Ian looks at us like we’ve gone insane. How can you be relieved by that?

I laugh. Because it means nothing is wrong. We thought there was a major problem when you started acting like that.

Aiden playfully punches Ian in the arm. Seriously, we thought something would blow up or something like that. We all knew we’d be finding our soul mates so why is this hitting you so hard?

Ian looks at the ground as he answers, I didn’t realize I’d feel so drawn to her. I remember what happened with Liss, Keegan, and Izzy but from this side of it, I didn’t realize how intense it is.

As Ian speaks, I keep looking out of the corner of my eye, watching the very attractive, muscular, and tall man with Heath. He’s doing the same thing I am. He’s trying to watch me without anyone seeing. I’m lucky Aiden and Ian are so focused on the faerie girl, they don’t notice. If they hadn’t had something else to take their focus, they’d have caught on to what was happening right away.

I frown when I keep getting the urge to look over there. I don’t want to admit there might be more than a fascination with him because he’s a troll. I’ve heard the stories about how the trolls sided with the faeries and helped them try to take over the other realms, ours included, but it’s believed they were coerced.

I’m even more focused on ignoring the feelings when he walks through the passageway back to the troll realm and I have a strong urge to follow him.

Chapter Two

I don’t want the boys to notice I’m completely distracted so I make sure I don’t get too wrapped up in my thoughts. As we get back to the house, I’m still trying to figure out what to do about the white ball of fur currently shut in my room. I need to figure out a way to get her to whichever of the boys she belongs to without everyone freaking out and thinking she’s mine.

I feel a little pang of jealousy when I think about which of the boys she’ll belong to. I’ve always wanted an animal for a pet but with all the magick, it isn’t a good environment for any animal that’s not a familiar. If things work out the same as with Liss, Keegan, and Izzy, only the Guardians will get a familiar and the rest of us don’t. I can see where they’ll need one, but it’s still sad.

After dinner, I go up to my room and find the puppy still lying on my bed. She lifts her head to look when I walk in the room, but then puts it right back down.

I laugh. What kind of familiar are you going to be if you sleep all the time? I must admit you’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, but you need to find who you belong to. This will finally be over then.

I stand and open my bedroom door. When the fur ball just lies there, I pick her up and put her outside my room in the hall, facing the direction she’ll need to go to get to the room of whichever boy she belongs to.

I walk back into my room and find the little ball of fur following me. I frown. Oh, no you don’t. You need to go find who you belong to. Don’t worry, they’ll give you food and water too. She just sits there and looks at me while I’m talking.

I sigh and bend over to pick her up. She instantly snuggles into my arms. I cuddle her for a minute and then walk over to my door again. Even though you belong to one of the boys, I’ll still snuggle with you, but now you need to find him before anyone sees you with me.

I put her down in the hallway again and close my door. I lie on my bed and wallow in the self-pity of giving her up. At least I’ll still get to play with her and snuggle with her. I’m sure neither of the boys will want to cuddle with her.

After about a half hour, I open the door to go downstairs and get a book. She immediately jumps through the opening and makes herself at home on my bed again.

Before I can react, I hear the boys coming down the hall. I instantly shut my door and head toward them and the stairs.

When they come into sight, they give me a weird look. Aiden, never one to hold back, tells me what’s bothering them, You’ve been really quiet tonight. You’re trying to act normal, but we know something is going on with you. You never work that hard to make everyone think everything is normal.

I scowl but before I can respond, Ian cuts in, He’s right. I noticed it too. Ever since you left practice earlier today, you’ve been acting weird. Don’t think you’re fooling anyone. All the moms cornered us and asked what was going on with you. They wanted to know if we had any idea.

I’m not surprised our moms figured out something is going on with me. They have some weird radar that goes nuts when anything is going on with any of us. It makes hiding things from them very difficult. Now I must figure out a way to get myself out of the mess.

I look at the boys and don’t let any emotions show on my face. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything is fine. I think everyone is just on edge because the next Guardian hasn’t been picked yet.

That did exactly what I wanted. It distracts the boys as they go on about who will be picked next. I leave them to their discussion and go down to the library to find a book to distract me.

I walk into the library and must swallow my frustration as all our moms are in there. No matter where I go, I can’t avoid the watchful eyes of my family. I love how close we all are, but sometimes it can be suffocating.

I walk over to our collection of fiction books. All I want is to get lost in the world of some made-up people. I find a book I’m hoping will work and turn around to find all three moms watching me.

I sigh. What? Why are you all watching me pick out a book? This is something I do all the time and you’ve never watched me do it before.

Mom looks over at Aunt Annisa and Aunt Rayne before she answers, We’re just worried about you. You’ve been acting strange all day.

I roll my eyes. I’ve been acting like I always do. Everyone is just on edge because the next Guardian hasn’t been chosen yet; it’s been two years. Now you’re all looking for someone to act strange so you can pin your hopes of the next Guardian. You should be watching the boys, not me. One girl has already been picked, so I’m sure it will be one of the boys this time.

The three of them exchange a look and I laugh. You don’t really think we didn’t all figure out it would be one from each age, do you? Come on, as soon as Liss was picked, you all said you knew Keegan and Izzy wouldn’t be picked. That kind of gave it away.

Mom sighs. Okay, you’re right. But what you don’t know is it will be this year. The Guardian is picked in your twentieth year, and you will find your soul mates.

My eyes widen in surprise. So now the Origin not only decides what we do with our lives, picks who we will spend our lives with, but also picks when it will tell us what it plans for us? This just keeps getting better and better.

Aunt Rayne narrows her eyes at me. Kailey, you may not like the way things are but none of us can change it now. You’re making it sound like our lives aren’t our own, and that’s just not the way it is.

I interrupt her, I’m so sick of hearing that. The Guardians don’t get a choice in anything. They’re told who to love, what they can and can’t do, and even when they can take a vacation and how long it can be. A Guardian’s life isn’t their own; it’s for the Origin.

With that, I spin on my heel and leave the room. I know I sound bitter and I am, but I also know they’ll never understand. They’re grateful to the Origin for all it did to help them. I just don’t see why we must have that blind faith and love for it as well.

I’m still pretty angry and bitter when I get back to my room. I’m glad to see the fur ball is no longer on my bed. It’s nowhere to be seen. I feel a pang of regret as I realize she’s finally taken my advice and went to find who she belongs to.

I get ready for bed and lie down with my book. I’ve read this book many times and it has always sucked me in and given me an escape from what’s going on in my life. Tonight, it isn’t doing that. I can’t concentrate or stop my mind. I finally give up and put the book down. I snuggle under the covers and drift off to sleep.

I dream of the Origin and the troll I’d seen that afternoon. When I awake the next morning, I just lie there staring at the ceiling. I don’t feel like I’d gotten much sleep. I was restless all night because of the dreams.

I go down for breakfast and then we head to the practice field. Our lessons are more advanced than Livi, Kal, and Ivy, and it takes more concentration. I can distract myself with my practice and it’s a nice break from my whirlwind thoughts that lead nowhere.

I keep catching myself checking my watch to make sure we make it to the clearing on time for the meetings. Ian does the same while Aiden looks at us like we’ve grown a second head.

Aiden has finally had enough. Okay, I understand why Ian is watching the time and making sure he doesn’t miss the faerie girl, but why are you watching the time, Kailey?

I hadn’t thought he’d call me out on it but now that he has, I must think fast. I don’t want Ian to miss that girl either. I’d be doing the same thing for you if you thought you’d found your soul mate.

He narrows his eyes at me. I can tell he doesn’t believe me but has no solid basis to argue. He knows