Tori R. Hayes
Book One: The Descendant
I was born on a cold November night under the light of the full moon.
My mom never made it to the hospital. The car broke down in the middle of the forest, and the ambulance never had the chance to get to them in time.
I was always told that was why I looked so different from my parents.
That the light of the moon had turned the color of my hair white and my eyes as blue as the icy cold night when I was welcomed into this world.
Since the day I was born, it has been forbidden for me to be outside after sundown.
They claimed the many predators roaming our district are most active at night. I was their only daughter, and they couldn’t bear the thought of losing me.
I never believed they had told me the whole truth, but I also never imagined that the truth would turn everything I knew upside down.
Forcing me to choose between the love of my life and the man that I can’t stay away from.
I was nine the first time I asked if I could stay overnight at one of my friend’s. After that, I knew I had to ask them if I ever wanted to see the light of day again.
I had never before requested something like that, but they looked at me with horror. As if I had asked for the most outrageous thing in the world.
They yelled at me for half an hour, although I never got a reason for the rejection and the attitude toward it.
I was just told to be home at 7 p.m. and that I might as well stay home if these conditions weren’t committed to.
Once I was half an hour late, and they were already making calls to the police station to send a search party to look for me. I never broke that rule again.
By the time I was fifteen, I had never been outside for later than 7 p.m. I was to lie in bed at 10:30, and I had stopped questioning it after so many years.
“If I didn’t get my eight to nine hours of sleep, I wouldn’t be ready for the next day,” was the answer I always received when I dared to ask the question.
The routine had been like that all my life. Even now, as I turned eighteen, I have no real explanation as to why.
I had never seen the night sky but always dreamed about how it would be to bathe in the light of the moon like I did when I was born, but that dream was almost impossible for me to carry out.
For eighteen years, I have been stuck inside my parents’ house, never been to a party or a sleepover. I finally had enough.
I had been planning my rebellion for years, and this was the night to execute the plan.
It was my birthday, and the moon was full. I wanted to celebrate with my two best friends.
Everly, who has been by my side for as long as I can remember, and the man who I have had a secret crush on for years.
Maybe something would happen tonight. Everly was undoubtedly confident about helping it come to pass.
I was less confident, but a girl was allowed to dream.
And this night was going to be magical. Literally.
As I fantacized, I heard my phone buzz…
I couldn’t believe my own eyes. Archer was actually asking me out! My heart wouldn’t stop pounding, and I thought it was gonna pound right out of my chest for a second.
A new text message arrived.
He wasn’t asking me out. They were.
I felt a little bit disappointed but also a touch of relief. I was probably gonna die of embarrassment if I was alone with him for a whole evening.
I was about to answer without hesitation when I thought about my parents. They would never let me go out that late. But… What if they never knew?
This was my chance to finally see a starry night with my own eyes and hopefully get a chance alone with Archer.
Everly knew how I felt about him, so I was optimistic that she would somehow create an opportunity for me. I couldn’t miss that chance.
I was ripped out of my thoughts by someone knocking on my door, thereafter my mom entered. “Finished with your homework already?” she asked.
“I saw my bed, and it looked more appealing than homework,” I admitted.
She laughed. “Why do I know that feeling?”
“We thought you might want your present,” she said. I looked up.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t had the time to buy it, and your father isn’t done with his creation, so… we’ve decided that you get to choose your own present this year.”
My eyes lit up. “With limits,” she quickly implied, and my shoulders dropped to underline my disappointment. She laughed.
I had to think a little before I found my answer. “Okay,” I said. “I want to dye my hair.”
Mom looked at me as if I was out of my mind. “But your hair is so special. And it matches your eyes so wonderfully.”
“I don’t wanna be special. At least not like this. I want to look like you guys. Look like your actual daughter and not just know it. Like my brother does…,” I mumbled.
She sighed. “All right, but nothing too crazy. Then you might as well keep your hair as it is,” she surrendered. I screamed and pulled her in for a hug.
“Nothing permanent at first,” she quickly added. “I don’t want you to regret your decision.”
“Fine.” I was okay with a compromise in the beginning, so I agreed.
“Meet me in the bathroom in one hour, and I’ll see what I can do,” she said and got up.
“I thought hair dying was done by a hairdresser?” I said.
“It usually is, but I dye my own hair too, so I think we’ll manage.” She laughed.
“Right, because you don’t want people to notice your gray hairs,” I teased.
“You’re not getting any younger yourself, little lady,” she shot back and laughed before she went down to make sure everything was ready for my hair dye.
“Mom?” I asked before she exited. “How come both of you have brown hair and brown eyes, while I have blue eyes and white hair?”
She looked at me. “Sweetie. You were born under the light of a full moon. A lot of unexplainable things happens during a full moon. Your body might have reacted to the light and made you our special girl.”
And then she walked out.
I threw myself on my bed again. It sounded as surrealistic as the first time I heard it. I had never heard about another person experiencing the same thing.
Then I thought about my birthday gift. She actually permitted me to dye my hair, which meant I could finally look at least a little bit normal.
They would be so surprised tonight. So, I grabbed my phone and responded to Archer’s text.
The hour passed, and my birthday present was ready. I ran downstairs and into the bathroom where my mom was waiting for me.
She was already standing with gloves, the bottle of hair dye in her hand, and a big smile on her face. “Ready, birthday girl?” she asked. I nodded and sat down.
As she finished with the final runs of dye, I could hear my heart pumping loudly. There was no way back now.
“There we go. Now, don’t remove that cap before the timer reaches zero. Then jump into the shower, but remember to use my shampoo and conditioner.”
The wait was long. Too long. But the alarm finally went off, and I ripped off the cap before I let the water wash out the excess dye.
After I finished blow-drying my hair, it was time. This was what I wanted, right? A regular hair color. Why was I this nervous?
I took a deep breath and turned around to look in the mirror. I looked so different.
Mom had heard me turn off the hair dryer and came to join me. I could see her standing in the doorway.
“What do you think?” she asked.
I almost didn’t recognize myself. “It’s a little weird, but not in a bad way,” I admitted. My eyes were shining a bit more in contrast to the dark hair.
Not that it bothered me. I liked my eyes more than my hair. People liked them.
“Are you satisfied?” she asked.
“Yeah, I like it,” I answered. “It’s just funny to see how much I actually look like you guys, now that I have the same hair color.”
She chuckled and wrapped her arms around me. “You have always been our daughter. No matter the color of your hair.”
I returned a smile, and she kissed my cheek. “I’ll give you a little time alone with the mirror so that you can get used to your new hair color.”
She closed the door behind her, and I was standing alone with my new look.
I felt a little bad about sneaking out tonight. I loved my mom, and I knew she only wanted to protect me.
I shook it off and ran downstairs and into the living room.
My dad was sitting in his favorite chair, reading a book. But before I could say anything, my mother broke the news. “How do you like her birthday present, James?”
He looked at me and smiled widely. “You look so much like your mother when she was young.”
“You flatter me, James.” I could hear her giggle from the kitchen. “Rieka is so much prettier.”
“Maybe,” Dad teased her and laughed. A washcloth flew across the room from the kitchen straight toward him. Their marriage never seemed to be boring.
“You look beautiful, Rieka,” he finally said.
“Who is that?” I heard the voice of a little boy say behind me. I turned around, and his eyes widened.
“Yup. How do you like it, Luca?” I asked and opened my arms for him. He was only ten. It was a significant age difference, but it hadn’t made me love him any less.
He ran into my arms and embraced the hug. “It’s weird. You look like mom.”
I laughed. “You really think so?”
“Cake is ready,” Mom shouted and entered the dining room with one of her famous cakes.
“Me first, me first!” Luca shouted and let go of me to run for the cake. I giggled and followed him.
After a luxurious dinner, I went upstairs to my room to make myself ready for tonight.
Before I went to bed, I texted Archer and Everly that I had a surprise for them tonight.
I set the alarm on my phone and used one of my wireless earbuds. I knew Mom could tell if I pretended to be asleep, so I had to take precautions.
I said good night to my family and went to sleep.
I slept right away, not knowing that this night would change everything.
A few hours later, my alarm went off, and I had to rip the earbud out of my ear. The volume was maxed out, which I hadn’t noticed before I went to sleep.
I looked at my phone.
I got up in a rush and dressed myself in the carefully selected outfit. From there, I waited.
My phone buzzed with a text from Everly telling me that they were waiting with their bikes about a half mile down the road.
I snuck down the stairs and past my parents’ bedroom without making a sound.
Emerging out into the woods surrounding my house, I was surprised by the chill of the night air, matched by a chill creeping up my spine.
My body was pumping with adrenaline, as I broke my parents rule for the first time.
I started walking quickly down the street toward the meeting point, tiptoeing through the shadows in an attempt to go unnoticed.
But as I made my way out of a dense cluster of trees, I jumped in my skin when I noticed that I wasn’t the only person lurking in the shadows.
In fact, I was walking so fast that I nearly bumped straight into him.
He was four years older than me and the most mysterious and attractive guy in town. Even the adults seemed to act like puppies around him.
He went to my school but he graduated a few years back.
Everyone knew who he was. but he definitely wouldn’t know me...I was just some girl clumsily crashing into him.
Through the darkness, I could see his piercing blue eyes staring straight at me.
His jet-black hair was tickling his forehead as the wind caught his curls.
I stared back at him, caught in his gaze, unable to move or take my eyes off of him.
“I’m- I’m sorry,” I finally mumbled after a long, intense moment, and started to walk past him.
But his voice cut through the night air, causing me to stop in my tracks again.
“You changed your hair, Rieka,” he said to me.
I turned back around, shocked that he knew anything about me…my hair color or my name.
“Yeah,” I mumbled back. “So what?”
“I hate it,” he said in a low growl.
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