The storylines that drive the young adult thriller, The Witch Lineage, are the fight between two warring witch covens in Morro Bay, California, a geeky girl in love with the high school hero, and an unstoppable sorceress set to form a powerful alliance. Will either coven kill to bring the supreme witch into their fold?
Here is the book chapter:
Several groups of teenagers milled around the tiled courtyard at Morro Bay High, a huge
school with a large student body. The crowd was buzzing. Kids pointed to solemn school
personnel who were posting notices plastered with a senior boy’s face on the walls and doors of
the building. A few people pushed their way through the crowd to read the “Information
Wanted” notices. The majority of the young people turned to each other, raising their eyebrows.
Most look scared and pale. The bell rang and the crowd of somber teenagers filtered through two huge double doors into a bustling hallway.
Lena and Penny walked through the many cliques in the hall, alone as usual. But for
some reason, the hairs on the back of Lena’s neck tingled. There was a hushed tone to the crowd in the hallway, rather than the usual loud roar. Intuition prickling the back of her neck, Lena knew the difference was due to her dream. She looked over at the notices while Penny led the way. Her friend seemed oblivious to the posters. Instead Penny waved to a few people as they walked forward.
Pointing to the signs, trying to get Penny’s attention, Lena stopped where she stood.
“What happened last night? I’ve got a bad feeling.”
Again the images of people screaming, lights going out, and shadows surrounding a boy
came into Lena’s mind. She recognized the boy from her dream as the same person on the
posters. He looked like a senior named Kyle who went out with a pretty girl named Sarah. Could
Kyle have been hurt in a bonfire? And was any of this related to the other incident last year?
Lena started to push her way through the crowd to read the notice nearest her, but her
train of thought derailed as Nick Stewart walked into the hall. The drop-dead handsome jock she
had always loved, Nick projected a mellow energy which made him sexy to the extreme. He
wore the letter-man’s jacket she wished he would give her and faded Levis that barely fit over the sculpted muscles of his thighs.
Jackson, Nick’s best friend, jogged up and gave Nick a high five. A poor woman’s version
of Nick, Jackson was an elf in comparison, three inches shorter, with large ears and a button nose. One of the rich kids at their school, like Nick, Jackson was dressed in his usual uniform of
expensive jeans, a tight T-shirt and a hip leather motorcycle jacket.
Penny pushed her, and she walked by Nick’s group, staring at the boy she had loved
since grade school. Nick didn’t notice her pass, but Jackson stared in her direction. She
could sense his dark eyes on her back.
“I can’t wait for college,” she said, muttering under her breath, but loud enough that
Penny could hear her.
Penny popped a breath mint into her mouth, a sour expression on her face. “How’s Mr.
Lena knew Penny disliked Nick. But she didn’t think her friend gave him a fair shake.
Lena couldn’t resist getting in a dig. “My sides are splitting.”
Penny was so wrong. “Nick doesn’t know I exist.” Although Lena wished this wasn’t
true, it was a pathetic fact. “It’s tragic.”
“Because you’ll never stop loving him.”
Lena didn’t care for Penny’s sarcastic tone. She wished she could make her friend
understand. “There’s a connection I can’t explain. He was nice after my mom died.”
“Don’t make me care about him.”
“Nick links me to her in some way.”
In fact, Nick was tied to Lena’s memory of her mom so much that she was almost certain
she would never lose her mother if she could make him love her. She knew her logic made no
rational sense, but Lena didn’t care. Every day she could recall less and less about her mother
and she wanted to retain whatever she could. Maybe if she and Nick were together, she could
hold on to the memories she cherished.
“He’s changed since fifth grade.”
Lena dismissed Penny’s statement. But a tiny piece of Lena wondered how Nick could
ignore her the way he did after having been such good friends with her just a few years back. She
figured his popularity and interest in athletics were to blame. She was hopeless when it came to
sports, and her popularity was nonexistent. He didn’t excel at academics and had to work hard
just to get the ‘C’s’ necessary to play on varsity teams. Still, she wanted to believe they were
meant for each other.
“He’s perfect for me.”
“You’re sure he’s your soul mate, you’ve wanted him since elementary school, and you’ve
spoken to him, what, three times in the last eight years?”
When Penny put their relationship that way, Lena had to acknowledge the irony. But she
knew why she didn’t often speak to Nick, and the truth embarrassed her.
“I always say the wrong thing.”
“You don’t say anything.”
“Quiet beats road kill.”
Penny chuckled but nudged her, so Lena waved at Nick in desperation. Unaware of her,
Nick gave a passing jock a high-five. Lena walked away, knowing how dejected she must look,
but unable to hide her emotions.
As Penny followed her, Lena thought she heard Jackson say, “Hey dude, didn’t you see
Lena waving at you?” She strained her ears to catch whatever response Nick might give, but all
she heard coming from her crush’s lips was, “What?” and Jackson saying, “Man, you got to pull
your head out of your ass.”
She moved closer so she could hear Nick, but not so close that he would notice her. The
hallway was still crowded, but she could catch the conversation through the noise of the other
people. “No time for girls right now. You know the pressure is on. I’m working for the state
scholarship. I can’t let up.”
“Come on, bro,” said Jackson. “That one’s ready to turn.”
Lena heard these words and stopped short. Jackson was pointing in her direction. Did
Jackson know her birthday was tomorrow? She swiveled her head away from them to Penny,
who shrugged her shoulders. Then Lena turned back and watched Jackson slap Nick on the back.
Nick pulled Jackson into a headlock, and the two laughing guys walked down the hall in the
opposite direction from Lena and Penny.
Lena forced herself to stop wondering about Nick and Jackson. Her thoughts flitted back
to the posters on the wall. She wanted to know what had happened and if the victim was Kyle.
She was about to move closer to the posted notice when she heard a loud, shrill whistle. A young
boy and a tall, thin, pretty girl approached Lena and Penny, waving. They were her science
research partners and she was glad to see them. They had a lot to discuss.
The boy was John-Paul, a small, Asian, self-proclaimed nerd toting a science model and
wearing mismatched clothes and big glasses. A button on his shirt read, ‘Scientists do it in the
lab.’ John-Paul was obsessed with gadgets and had every new form of hand-held technology
available. The girl, Emily, was more old-school, preferring to do her work the old fashioned way.
She still used a paper calendar for her school assignments and wrote all her papers in long-hand.
Emily’s look reflected her retro attitude. She sported a large Afro hairstyle and over the top
1970’s style clothes that almost, but didn’t quite, look hip.
“Lena!” said Emily.
Penny ducked, lifting her books to cover her face. “Oh, no. Freshmen.”
“They’re not that bad.”
Lena forced herself to not roll her eyes at her friend as Penny dissed Emily and John-Paul
and stalked off to class. The girl could be such a snob about matters of school status.
When Emily and John-Paul reached her, Emily asked, “Where’s Penny going?”
Lena ignored the question because she didn’t want to hurt Emily and John-Paul. Instead
she pointed to the ‘Information Wanted’ posters on the walls, hoping her friends could tell her
what had happened.
“Do you guys know what’s going on?”
Emily nodded but John-Paul interrupted her before she could open her mouth. He jumped
with excitement, falling back to the ground with a spastic jerk.
“I got a call yesterday,” he said in his high, thin voice. “We won first place.”
“No way!” said Lena.
Emily nodded. “Now we’re in the running.”
“The top Physics prize. Wow.”
Lena was proud of their accomplishment. They’d been working all year, developing a
detailed plan for an experiment located at the bottom of a nearby quarry. The experiment would
offer them a chance of detecting dark matter, the vast, invisible universe which humans cannot
perceive but that scientists think exists. Dark matter and dark energy exert gravity on what is
visible; so Lena, who loved Physics, was determined to find whatever was blindfolding humanity
and discover the phenomena causing dark matter. She and Emily and John-Paul had put together their final written presentation two months before and sent it in to the state science fair for consideration, never daring to hope they would be chosen. Now they had the chance to win at the national level, to join the big leagues of scientific research, to study with the cream of the crop.
The best part was that the prize came with funding for one year of experimentation. Now they
just had to develop a verbal presentation for the competition. They had a two-month window to
hone their talk. A herd of butterflies raced through Lena’s gut. She always avoided public
speaking when possible. But this time she wouldn’t be able to worm her way out of it.
“Did your dad finish his cure?” asked John-Paul.
She nodded, her apprehension about the science competition fading, amazed at the
convergence of two such major scientific breakthroughs in one day: the cure her dad had come
up with, and the chance to detect dark matter and dark energy. She wanted to hug Emily and
John-Paul, who had gotten her one step closer to making her dream a reality.
Lena reached around to open the zipper compartment of her backpack to show them the
sample of the cure her father left in her safe-keeping. She had decided never to let the cure leave
her sight. Keeping the cure with her reminded her of her father. And she wanted Emily and John
Paul to see it. “He gave it to me.”
As John-Paul raised his finger to push back his large taped glasses, which had fallen
forward on his nose, Cassandra Morris, the beautiful cheerleader holding pom-poms, walked by
with a group of pretty senior girls. The Morris family lived in town; that is, until Mr. Morris
relocated for business. He had left his wife and daughter here two years before. Even though
Lena should sympathize with Cassandra Morris, since her own father was only leaving her for a
week and she was having a hard time dealing—and it must be even worse for the other girl, she
wasn’t a big fan of the cheerleader and all-around gorgeous queen bee who ruled their high
school. With an evil gleam in her eye, Cassandra mimicked John-Paul’s motion. Then Cassandra
gestured at the three of them.
“It’s the cast of ‘Weird Science.’ Was it you at the bonfire?”
John-Paul looked confused but Lena tensed up, remembering her dream. Was Cassandra
saying some people from high school had been involved? Or was she suggesting something more sinister, such as she and her science partners were witches?
Cassandra’s group sniggered, doubtless at her shocked expression and John-Paul’s
obvious outrage. But Emily looked at Cassandra and licked her lips long and slow.
“Sugar, I know you wanna be my next experiment.”
Cassandra backed up into her group of nervous friends, who giggled. As Cassandra
turned around to leave, Emily gave them a warning glance, which Lena took to mean there
would be retribution. The next words out of Cassandra’s mouth confirmed Lena’s suspicions.
“See you at the assembly tomorrow. FYI, no genetically engineered mutants allowed in
the bleachers. Hope you don’t mind standing.”
Cassandra’s taunting words hurt. It was clear to her that Cassandra was now gunning for
them. She could only hope the girl’s animosity would not cause a roadblock in her dad’s deal with Morris Pharmaceuticals. For the first time, Lena was glad her dad had left town. She glanced at her freshmen friends, who were looking at their feet. The bell rang and Cassandra and her friends walked laughing toward the gymnasium where the cheerleaders congregated. Lena, John-Paul and Emily walked in the other direction.
“I hate assemblies,” said John-Paul.
Emily nodded, an angry expression on her pretty face; but Lena asked again, “What
happened at the bonfire?”
Emily turned to face her. “That kid Kyle got paralyzed. They’re saying it’s the same thing
that killed the senior guy last year.”
Lena gasped, too frightened to speak. Her sister Linda had almost gone to the bonfire
party at the town gazebo the year before. Only a terrible migraine had stopped her from
attending. But the trauma had shaken the whole town.
John-Paul shook his head. “Not again.”
Emily nodded and pointed him and Lena toward the “Information Wanted” poster. Lena
didn’t want to think about last year’s incident, but the information flooded her brain. After the
senior had been killed, popular community opinion held that witches had killed the boy. Nothing
had ever been proved, and no culprit had ever been found. The autopsy was inconclusive. The
detectives who investigated her mother’s death, Blanca Garcia and her partner Randy Blaggett,
failed to turn up the killer, just as they had when her mother was poisoned. Because of public
outcry, and the fact that the dead senior boy’s father had government connections, the FBI had
been called in. But the federal probe found nothing either.
Emily and John-Paul were staring at her. But Lena couldn’t seem to master her panic.
Her insides were wrung out. Fearful and apprehensive, she wondered what more she would learn that day.
End of Chapter 1
By Marian Lindner
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