Have you been waiting patiently, or anxiously, for the next snippet?
Well, wait no further, here’s Chapter 2 in The Rebellious Sister – Book 1 in the Unstoppable Liv Beaufont series!
“Open up already!” Liv Beaufont yelled, banging on the door. She pulled back her foot, ready to kick the crummy old thing when John’s voice called from the other side.
“If you break it, you buy it,” he warned, referring to the door.
She stomped, furious that he always seemed to know what she was going to do before she did it.
“Well, then open the door and take your meds, old man” she said, reaching into her pocket and retrieving the pill bottle John had left at the repair shop.
“They hurt my stomach,” he replied.
“But they keep that tiny, cold heart of yours beating,” Liv stated.
“I’ll see you at work in the morning,” John said stubbornly. “I’m going to bed right now.”
Liv’s fist slammed against the wall beside the door, her frustration at the cantankerous old man making her head simmer.
“If you keep this up, people are going to start thinking you care about the senile old man,” Plato said, strolling out of Liv’s open door down the hallway. The mostly white cat had four black spots across his body, making him resemble a cow, which was why the neighborhood kids mooed at him when he strolled by. Plato handled their teasing by ignoring them and later peeing on their scooters and bikes parked in front of the building.
“I don’t care about John,” Liv argued. “It’s just that our apartments share air ducts, and if he dies in his, it will take forever to get the stink out of my place.”
Plato gave her a look that said, “I’m not buying that.”
Liv tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, thinking.
“You’re not tall enough to reach the fire escape,” Plato said, as if he knew where her brain was going.
“Yeah, yeah, I get that my height is once again a disadvantage.” She often joked that she was still growing, but the truth was that at age twenty-two, there was zero chance she was going to get any taller.
Liv looked down at her ripped jeans and grease-covered t-shirt, searching for options.
The last time John hadn’t taken his medicine, he was in the hospital for a week. Liv could run his repair shop on her own, but not very well. The customers preferred to talk to him and didn’t buy that she could repair things as well as he could. However, he’d taught her everything she knew, and her eyes were a whole hell of a lot better than his.
It was because of John that Liv had a job, although it didn’t provide quite enough to survive off of. He knew that, which was why he discounted her rent for the studio apartment next door. A place like that in West Hollywood should go for a lot more, but John pretended that he was giving her a competitive rate.
“Can I suggest that you try that one thing,” Plato said, a hint in his voice.
Liv cut her eyes at the feline. “You know that I’m not strong enough. I keep trying.”
“You fixed the microwave yesterday using magic,” Plato stated.
Liv turned around suddenly to ensure they weren’t being overheard by one of the kids playing downstairs or anyone else in the hallway. The old building creaked and moaned constantly, which usually covered Plato’s voice, or so he told her.
“That was a fluke,” she hissed. “I don’t know how that happened.”
“It’s like a muscle, Liv. The more you use it, the stronger it will get.”
She shook her head. “No, that’s not how it works. You know I’m limited. They have me blocked.”
“And yet, you were able to use your magic yesterday,” Plato said, a knowing tone in his voice.
He would know. Plato was the smartest creature Liv had ever met. She’d been blessed with his presence since that first day, when she found herself on the streets with nowhere to go and no money to her name. It was like the cat had been sent to her as a guide as she started her life all over. Five years later and he was still her best friend, really one of her only friends.
Taking a deep breath, Liv held her hand up, trying to remember the incantation for unlocking. The words, like all her memories of magic, were trapped somewhere in her mind. She flicked her wrist and muttered words she’d heard her mother say long ago. The lock jiggled.
Elated, Liv tried the door handle, but to her dismay, found it still locked.
“Damn it,” she complained, stomping in the direction of her room. A moment later she reappeared holding the small sheath of tools John had given her. She pulled one of the hooked wrenches from the set and went to work on the door lock.
Behind her, Plato sighed. “You gave up awfully fast.”
Liv blew her hair out of her face since both her hands were busy working on the lock. “I’m using my time efficiently. Tinkering is what I’m good at, not using that hocus pocus stuff,” she said quietly.
Plato’s ear twitched, catching a noise approaching. “The giant is coming,” he announced.
Liv straightened as Rory thundered up the stairs. She pressed her tools behind her back and pretended to be casually studying the peeling ceiling.
The giant, who was almost seven feet tall, halted at the suspicious sight of Liv standing in front of John’s door and Plato nonchalantly licking himself like a normal cat would.
“Hello,” Liv said, trying to keep her voice light. “What brings you to our neck of the woods? Here to see John?”’
Rory eyed her and shook his head. “No, I’m here to see… Well, it doesn’t matter.”
It was Liv’s turn to eye the giant suspiciously. He didn’t live in the building, but he was always calling on the residents toward the end of the month. Most wouldn’t notice, but Liv was excellent at correlating details. Today was September 30th, and the last time she’d seen Rory here was the end of August. He’d been in John’s shop throughout the month, but that was because he was constantly dropping off electronics he’d “found” that John could resell. Liv wasn’t sure what John traded for the electronics. Hopefully nothing much.
“Well, good luck with whatever you’re doing here,” Liv said dismissively.
The giant, who she sensed had magic blood, looked down at the cat and then at her. He shook his large head, making his curly brown hair sway. Rory had bright green eyes and large lips, and rarely smiled. Liv had studied giants when she was a child, and knew they weren’t prone to overly jolly dispositions. They were also extremely powerful, wielding a branch of magic that couldn’t be controlled by the House of Seven. That made Rory both dangerous and also powerful. And although Liv preferred not to interact with magical beings, she made an exception for Rory in case she ever needed his help. Liv didn’t know if he knew who or what she was, but she hoped that he didn’t.
Rory opened his mouth like he was about to say something, but then, thinking better of it, he closed it again. When he strode past Liv and Plato, the dusty floor creaked as though it were in pain. Rory knocked on Ms. Madden’s door on the far side of the hallway. A moment later, the old woman opened the door and let the giant in without a word.
“What do you suppose he’s up to?” Liv asked, looking down at Plato.
“I’m not sure. He’s probably wondering the same about you,” Plato offered.
She ducked, going back to work on the lock. A few seconds later she heard the victorious click that signaled she’d unlocked the door. She pressed the door back and peered into the dirty apartment. Old carburetors and parts from three different fans littered the dining room table.
“Don’t be naked, John,” Liv called. “I’m coming in.”
Pickles, John’s Jack Russell terrier, looked up from his place on the sofa when Liv and Plato strolled in. He bounded off the couch at the sight of Liv, jumping on her leg, begging to be petted.
Plato leapt onto the table, scowling at the dog. “You’re such a hooker. Always looking for attention.”
“Shhh,” Liv warned, peering around.
“Don’t worry, John can’t hear me,” Plato said. “He isn’t here.”
“What?” Liv asked, whipping around and striding for the bedroom. It was empty. “Where’d the old fart go?”
Plato nodded in the direction of the open window, where the stained curtains were dancing in the wind. “I’m guessing he’s up there, star-gazing.”
“Damn it,” Liv grumbled, moving for the window. “And after all my efforts. I could have just gone up to the roof all along.”
Liv shinnied out the window, pulling her legs over the wall one at a time. The rusty fire escape creaked when she started the climb to the rooftop. Plato disappeared and reappeared in the open window to her apartment some ten yards away. He looked rather bored with the chase.
Liv was unsurprised to find John standing on the roof, looking out at the neighborhood. She sighed loudly when she stepped onto the rooftop.
“Seriously, old man, do you want me to push you off this building?”
He snickered, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and blowing his large nose. His thinning gray hair swayed in the breeze. He was wearing pajama bottoms but still had on the work shirt he’d worn earlier, which was streaked with grease and dirt. “You came all the way up here to bring me my meds, and I don’t think you’re going to try and kill me after all that.”
She shrugged. “Not today I won’t. Tomorrow is a new day, though.”
Liv pulled the bottle of pills out of her jeans pocket and held them up. “Take these or I’m going to start singing.”
“Liv, I told you I don’t like how they make me feel.”
As loudly and as horribly as she could, she started singing John’s favorite song, Ave Maria.
Immediately he clapped his hands to his ears, the wrinkles on his long face deepening.
“Fine, fine!” he yelled over her awful warbling. “I’ll take the dumb pills.”
Liv smiled victoriously and handed him the bottle. “See, that’s not so hard, is it?”
He opened the bottle and took out one of the small white pills, swallowing it dry. “But as you say, tomorrow is a new day.”
“And it’s also a day when you’re going to stay up on your meds, or I’ll develop the bad habit of humming at work,” she said, singing the song again under her breath.
He shook his head. “One of these days I’m going to fire you.”
Liv smiled. “You’ve been threatening that for years. It doesn’t scare me anymore.”
John strode past Liv to the fire escape. “Well, one of these days I just might surprise you. Don’t stay up here too long. I want you opening the shop tomorrow.”
Liv saluted formally. “Aye aye, Captain.”
She heard John greet Pickles when he was farther down the fire escape, probably about to climb back through his open window. Looking at the orange and pink sunset, Liv realized why John had gone up to the roof. He kept thinking he could fix his ailing heart with beauty or something. She’d told him there was no magic cure for heart disease, although she knew that wasn’t entirely true. Tomorrow she’d talk him into calling his doctor to change his medicine to something that didn’t upset his stomach. Tonight, she’d relax after a long and tiring day.
Behind her, she heard the whooshing of air and tensed. It was a distinct sound, one she hadn’t heard in over five years.
Liv’s hand flexed by her side. If she was quick, she could pull one of her tools from her back pocket. She nearly laughed at the ridiculous notion. Someone with magic was standing at her back, which meant she was absolutely screwed in defending herself.
After all these years, they’d finally found her. There would be no running. No more hiding. It was time she faced her past.
Tentatively, Liv spun and was surprised by who she found staring back at her.
If you are dying to know who’s staring back at Liv as much as I am, then sign up here to be notified when the book releases later this week!
And if you missed the first chapter, then check out last Sunday’s blog here.