Chapter 1

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You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray

You never know, dear, how much I love you

Please don't take my sunshine away.

The worst day of my life before all of this happened was my thirteenth birthday, for the thirteenth birthday is the day a cute, cuddly, adoptable orphan becomes only a bane to society. An outcast. No one adopts teenagers. Miss Sparnage, the head of the state run orphanage that I grew up in, tried to make that birthday the best one of my life. She took me to a pizza place in town and let me order whatever I wanted. I knew she was paying for it with her own meager allowance, so I got something small and cheap. Even with that fun experience and going to a theater for the only time in my life, my heart cracked that day.

Then, my eighteenth birthday approached. Just the thought of it made me shiver. The other girls started to avoid me. I heard whispers when they thought I couldn't hear them. They knew. I knew. We all knew. I was gone, soon. I discreetly packed. Miss Sparnage sent me pained glances. She loved me, that I knew, but she couldn't do anything about my situation. She couldn't keep me any longer without paying for me herself. I didn't want to make her do that for me, so I was already looking for a job. I had been looking for a job since I was sixteen; alas, the economy was in a down swing, and there was no room in the work force for a connectionless, inexperienced former orphan with a diploma from a public high school.

I stepped out of the Burger King with my head lowered, trying to hide my dejection from the world outside of my wavy, golden hair. That was one thing that gave potential parents pause for my entire life. My hair was metallic gold in color, and I was a mix. Dark caramel skin, light brown eyes, Caucasian nose, curvy Black body-build, and pointed ears tended to drive away interested families before they even got to know me.

I reran the words of the Burger King recruiter in my head. "I'm sorry, Miss, but we are looking for more of a team player, and we are on a hiring freeze this month. Maybe you could try the McDonald's down the street?"

I had already tried McDonald's and KFC and Popeye's and Miss Annette's Cleaning Services, and the list goes on. I trudged home and flopped onto my bed, flinging an arm over my face. A little girl squealed as someone chased her around the room, and I bit back the tears. I wouldn't cry over something this stupid. I hadn't cried since the first family rejected me, and I would not loose that to a stupid job interview that would mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. I just had to wait, and I would find a job. I never dreamed the job would find me.


I hated being wingless, but it was necessary on the ground, among the humans. I was a skyrunner, and I needed to blend in. The hunter is most effective that seems no different from the herds of prey around him. The particular prey I was stalking seemed to fit my list to a T. She was gorgeous. She was lightweight. She could see perfectly well in the dark, as few humans could. She had a hidden strength within her, a strength that I could easily exploit since not even she seemed to know it was there. She had no life, no future, no hope. She was perfect.

I stayed in the shadows, easily escaping notice by both my prey and those around her as they readied for the coming night. My prey couldn't see in both light and dark at the same time, so I was invisible from my post under a particularly clean girl's bed. A shoe did hit me once, and I had to restrain myself from launching out and making her wish she had never even breathed the same atmosphere as a prince! I made myself wait patiently, which wasn't very difficult.

Once the soft breaths and snores of many little girls were the only sounds in the room, I slipped quietly out from under the bed and crouched low to the ground. My prey was sitting up, staring at her hands. I made sure that I had enough room and started to summon my wings, which were blacker than the night around me. She looked up when my feathers growing out made a slight rustle, and her eyes widened in fear or awe. Either emotion was acceptable. She looked around frantically and then pinched herself.

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