EXCERPT: War of the Rose Covens

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Author: Lee French

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Copyright 2018 © Lee French

Chapter One

Blue-tinted magic, strong enough for me to see it without trying, cocooned my house. As usual. Fat, fluffy flakes drifted out of the morning sky. The snow melted where it touched the road and the driveway. An inch-thick layer of white covered the grass and clung to the trees and leafless rosebushes. Above the driveway, black plastic covered my destroyed bedroom window, held in place by silver duct tape.

A week ago, on Christmas Day, I left with friends to go save the city. They'd smashed my bedroom window to get me out. Mom had said not to bother coming back. Until now, I hadn't.

New year, fresh start. School started again tomorrow, so I at least needed my backpack. Which put me on the front porch, working up the nerve to ring the doorbell. Some people might walk right in, I thought, but not me.

I stared at the door, piecing together my worst-case scenario. Mom could answer the door and spray magic in my face. Dad could answer the door and look at me like I'd murdered his puppy. My brothers answering the door didn't seem bad.

Wait, no, Mom could answer the door and want to talk about my decision to leave the Petal Society coven, at length and in detail. That sounded much worse than anything else.

Either I rang the bell or I didn't. Two choices. One left everything unresolved. The other sucked.

With a sigh, I stared at the door for another few seconds. My family mattered. I could get a new one, so to speak, but I needed try with the one I already had. They'd been fine until I met Drew.

Drew, a boy my age and one of those friends who broke the window, had needed help. I'd done what I could.

I reached out and pushed the doorbell. Ding-dong. My belly churned.

Too soon, Mom opened the door. Her strong blue aura flared in my face as if to fill the space around me and make up for my weakness.

For three long heartbeats that stretched into forever, we stared at each other. Her blonde hair, the same shade of light yellow as mine, hung to her shoulders, ending with thick, fake curls. The tiny lines at the corners of her blue eyes seemed more tense and tight than usual.

Mom lunged and wrapped her arms around me. She held me tighter than I remembered her ever hugging me before.

"I was so worried!"

Still wary of what might come next, I returned the hug and waited.

Mom let go and herded me inside. Her warding on the house rippled across my skin and clamped down on my meager abilities. She'd removed me from the protections. Maybe she'd done it in anger right after I left. Once done, she wouldn't have been able to add me again without my presence.

"Where have you been staying? Are you hungry?" She stopped in front of the couch in the living room and pressed on my shoulders to make me sit with her.

I didn't resist. In her house, suppressed by her magic, I had few choices. "I'm fine."

She held my chin and made me look at her. "You're not fine. There's something off about your aura."

Not sure what to say, I shrugged. My aura had a link to Drew, and we'd formed a coven together. Mom could read auras better than anyone else I knew, so she'd see it.

Mom frowned. "What have you been doing?"

Saving the world. I didn't say it because it sounded ridiculous. "Helping my friends."

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