Leaf Pendant (New Chapter!)

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Feeding Frenzy launches March 10, 2018 on Amazon. In preparing the novel for print and ebook publication, I made a lot of changes, including writing new chapters. Here is a new chapter from the new, improved Feeding Frenzy. I hope you like it! --Maaja

Tonya chopped carrots like it meant revenge. She should have been happy. Accepted into University of Toronto, she could finally leave Loon Lake behind—except her parents had other plans.

The doorbell rang. High heels clicked across tiled floor with a familiar rhythm that made Tonya smile.

"Hello this place!" Her aunt's voice rang out.

Tonya let the knife drop to the cutting board and dashed to the front hall.

She saw dark circles under her aunt's eyes, which contrasted with her snowy hair. "How are you?" asked Tonya.

"Is she expecting me?"

Tonya shook her head. "This is an emergency."

Aunt Helen squared her shoulders, grown angular in recent months. "Tell me."

Tonya led her to the living room. "My registration slot starts tomorrow at 2:00. I have until then to convince them I should go to Toronto."

"That's between you and your parents." Helen crossed her arms, exactly like Mom did. In childhood pictures, before Aunt Helen's hair suddenly went white, the Lennox sisters looked like twins.

"Talk to them. Even Dad thinks I should stay here when U of T has twice as much of everything. They know I want to study in Toronto."

"Why don't you?"

"They're paying."

"Loon Lake is cheaper, but it can't just be the money."

"Agreed, but they won't budge. It's like they're terrified of Toronto. Talk to them? I know you can persuade them." Tonya didn't say charm them, but her unspoken plea hung in the air.

Her aunt sighed. "I should go."

"Stay for dinner. I need you to back me up."

"If Barbara says okay."

"Help me finish cooking and she'll have to.'

In the kitchen, Tonya put on an indie playlist and chopped to the beat while her aunt peeled potatoes.

The music stopped.

Tonya's mother stared at them from the kitchen doorway. "Helen?"

Aunt Helen offered Mom a small smile. "Sorry to barge in on you. Tonya invited me."

"How's your health?" Her mother approached Helen cautiously.

"Fine." It was a polite lie.

"How's the store?"

"Still living the dream." Helen's pale face looked drawn opposed to her sister's apple cheeks. In contrast to Aunt Helen's tidy ponytail, Mom let her dark hair flow over her shoulders. Tonya wondered if they had ever done anything the same. Her mother was the good girl. She detested magic and spent her time baking for community events. Aunt Helen defied her anti-magic Pure family, until the mayor exiled her when she was a few years older than Tonya.

Mom rolled up her sleeves. "You'd better stay. Tonya's making orange chicken."

The three women peeled and chopped silently until Aunt Helen bundled the peelings onto her cutting board and walked to the green bin.

The lid raised itself as Helen tipped the waste in.

Her mother's jaw dropped. "What are you doing?"

The bin lid quivered under her aunt's spell then dropped with a slam.

"Nobody can see us here. Don't make a fuss."

"Not in my house. There will be no magic in this house!"

Aunt Helene shrugged.

"You're not even sorry! Leave."

"You're looking good, Barbara. Say hi to Jim for me." As she left the kitchen, Aunt Helen told Tonya to "Have fun at school."

Tonya walked her to the door.

On the stoop, Aunt Helen paused. "It's time you had this." She slipped a golden pendant, shaped like a leaf, into Tonya's hand.

Tonya held the necklace under the porch light. "It's beautiful. Is it antique?"

"Yep, a real family heirloom. Promise you'll wear it?"

"Of course. I love it!" Tonya gave her a hug.

Aunt Helen held on a little too long. "Don't worry. University won't be like high school."

"I wish you could stay."

"It doesn't matter."

"Stay."

"Oh, Tonya. You're better off without me."

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