Chapter 2a

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Chapter 2a is dedicated to Kerrie Salsac, who has welcomed me and befriended me on Twitter, YouTube, and Wattpad. This scene is all about friendship, and that's what Kerrie has offered to me the last couple of days. She's also a writer with a lot of talent--you should take a look!

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If you read chapters 1a & 1b before 8/23/2014, I made some fairly major revisions to them and you may want to go back and take a look. I'll be making smaller revisions to the other chapters in the coming weeks, so if you notice some changes or inconsistencies, that's why. Thank you all for being my unofficial beta readers--I'd love your comments and suggestions! 

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“So what happened in rehearsal? People in the hall were saying you showed off your dragonfly bot and then got scolded by Director Wolff.” Thea linked her arm through mine. We sauntered down the hall, weaving through the other apprentices heading toward a few precious minutes of free time.

I shrugged. “That’s about it. What did you hear about Delphine?”

“First, tell me why he scolded you.”

“I want to know about Delphine!” 

Several apprentices glanced curiously at us.

“Shh, not here, cog-head,” she whispered, giggling. “Tell me about rehearsal.” 

I huffed. “It was so stupid.” I told her about Delphine’s diva fit and showed her the Hellphine sketch. 

She grabbed it and let out a high-pitched squeal. “You. Are. Brilliant.” She took another look at the sketch, and broke into snickers. “You sketch, you design fantastic gadgets, and you’re too clever by half. If I didn’t love you so much, I’d really have to hate you.” She held up the sketch, waving it at passing apprentices. “Minx is bloody brilliant!”

I shrieked and grabbed for the sketch. Not an easy task since she was about six inches taller than me. “Stop it!” I wrestled it from her, laughing. “I don’t want to give Delphine even more reason to despise me.”

“Hellphine, you mean.” She let go of the sketch.

I slid it back into my sketch pad, shaking my head. “Yes, her too.”

“And you don’t want Dietrich Wolff to disapprove of you.” Thea eyed me with that look that told me she was using her psychic magic a little bit. She was too polite to read my actual thoughts without my permission, but it didn’t stop her from reading everything else about me. 

It struck me that her way of reading me felt ever so much different than when the director looked at me. She could tell exactly how I felt or what I thought at any given moment, but Dietrich Wolff seemed to know who I was at my core. I shivered—from fear or fascination, I couldn’t say. 

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

I quickly shifted my thoughts to something I knew would provoke a reaction from her. “You tell me.”

It was a game we often played. She gazed at me, eyes half-closed. I felt a sort of tingle, like tiny crackles of static electricity, skitter through my head and down my spine. After half a moment, her eyes snapped wide open and she gasped. “He didn’t!”

“Oh yes, my dear Miss Wright, he did.”

She pursed her mouth. “Exactly how did he say it?”

I did my best impersonation of Newton Figg, a fellow eighth-year tech apprentice. “I prefer my women,” I intoned with the swagger Newt often used, “to be a goodly handful.” I deepened my voice, imitating his attempts to sound seductive. “Take Miss Wright, for example. I’d love to ride her hot air balloons, if you know what I mean.” I smoothed my hands over my breasts, wiggling my eyebrows. 

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