K, so, look. I’ve never kept a diary before, never mind a blog, but, sometimes, a girl just needs a way to deal. Especially if that girl is me with a whole lot of problems to deal with. I’m not saying I’m special, really. That’s the problem. I don’t think I’m that special. I mean, I’m better than I used to be, right? But I’ve still got a pretty good case of ‘somebody read their tea leaves wrong’. And they did. They really, really did. Because everyone thinks I’m some sort of sorcerous meant to save a fairytale world from this dude named Ronin.
Alright, let me back up a little because this is really hard to explain. I’m Skylar Payne and I am a witch – not the bad sort – from a fairytale world called Eris. Surprised? Join the club. I lived most of my life blissfully unaware that I was anything but the mildly disappointing child of an extremely attractive set of parents. Don’t let the photo at the front door fool you. My best friend took that and he is magic with a camera. And pretty much the whole reason I started this blog because, wow, I have this crush going on you wouldn’t believe. Then a werewolf jumped through a magical doorway and I got knocked all the way into the homeland where, after the werewolf was dead, I was pretty much stuck. Tai and my little brother, Tommy, were stuck with me and, joy of all joys, Tai had gotten bitten by the werewolf. I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to spell that one out for you. Yes, he does turn into a hairy beast after sundown. No, he isn’t restricted to the full moon. Or, apparently, nighttime if he’s mad enough.
Anyway, I wasn’t quite in the shape I was in now, so it was something of a living nightmare and never mind the part about being out in the woods without so much as an Evian bottle, at night, with other werewolves wandering around looking for yours truly. I mean, magical doorways in the Chicago museum of natural science? Pretty bad deal, even before you add in the werewolves. I knew that even then and the whole thing is a really complicated mess that ends with I’m a magical freak and my parents are the king and queen of Freakshow Wonderland.
Which makes me a princess. Sort of.
Because I’m adopted and they never told me that either. Thanks Mom and Dad. The constant stream of discovery kept us very entertained.
But the magic part is real and I guess I’m supposed to be some sort a savior and let me tell you. There were worse girls they could have picked, but I can’t think of any. We’ll skip over my former weight problem and the fact that I’d never done any exercise that wasn’t graded (and squirmed out of a lot that was). Let’s head straight to my clumsy tendencies. You don’t think that would exclude me? The last time I hit a ball, I landed the gym coach in the hospital. And it wasn’t the first time. So, in Eris, I had magic and a magical orb called the Eluna, and I turned someone into a penguin. Sure he sort of deserved it, but that’s not the point. I wasn’t trying to turn him into a penguin. It just sort of happened, like Coach going to the hospital. I mean, I wouldn’t have blamed Tai for running the other direction at that point. He didn’t. I can’t say I wouldn’t have run if our positions were reversed. I mean, a penguin. That’s a little terrifying.
Anyway, we managed to escape Eris – and my royal parents – and got back to Chicago, so you’d think everything would be peachy. Except it isn’t. It’s way better than it used to be. But I’m still having a few issues. Because of Tai.
Funny thing, he was my issue before we ended up in Eris, but for a way different reason. He was the biggest bully in school and had recently made me his target. But he did jump in front of a werewolf to save me. And he did a whole lot of other things to keep me alive in Eris, so I sort of had to forgive him. That part was real easy because, ya know. Crush. That is where my problems start, though. I can’t stop thinking about him or looking at him and there are just so many reasons that is bad. First of all, my parents tried to poison him. They aren’t evil, they just didn’t want to chance me getting eaten. And that worry wasn’t wholly without merit; Tai’s wolf side had already tried at least once. But still. That’s something no trip to Disney World is going to fix, even if I’ve forgiven them for everything else. Second, we live in the same house. It isn’t like I can avoid him. His parents took me in after we got back and did all sorts of legal things with paper and lawyers and now my home is in the smallish, but cozy attic above Tai’s room. And, finally, Tai and I are on way different levels. I may be in a lot better shape, now, but I’m still not in his league. Most people aren’t.
Tai is tall, very toned, and has spiky black hair. He looks exactly the way you’d expect some edgy, not so nice, but beautiful god to look in an Asian fairytales. Now that his eyes have become a deep forest green and he’s sending off pheromones in massive doses, he is even more attractive. Girls trip over themselves to get close to him. Hell, grown women will fight to stand next to him on the El and I fully believe that, eventually, he’s going to start a riot by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I may be a princess, but I don’t look like one. I’m bigger boned and I always will be. I feel a lot better about myself these days; I have a job I love and I’ve been training at Lucky’s Gym, this little fight gym near the theater where I work, and I’ve lost some weight and gained a lot of muscle. Which is important because I’m pretty sure this whole Eris thing isn’t over with. I’m a realist. I always have been. I don’t fit into Eris or their plans for me, and probably never will, but I doubt anyone in Eris will let it go at that. So I started getting ready to fight whoever shows up – be it my parents or Ronin, the evil wizard trying to take over Eris – because nobody is taking me back there. Ever.
Lucky thinks I’m a natural fighter. Tai agrees, though it isn’t like I can ever beat him; werewolf power, you know. Anyway, I realized when I broke Prince Not-So-Charming’s nose (total stalker, I’m telling you, handsome, but in that pretty boy prince way and actually asked my father for my hand in marriage) that I sort of have an aptitude for fighting and I’m not clumsy when I’m doing it. Unless it’s when Tai has me pinned to the mat. Then I’m all sorts of screwed up, but that’s because I’m trying not to let on just how big my crush is. It would help if he’d wear a shirt once in awhile, or so I tell myself, but yeah. Every single time I turn into a pile of Jello. I suspect he knows anyway, but Tai’s a good guy; he won’t tell me how little chance there is unless I force him and no-way, that’s not going to happen. Not ever.
Anyway, I thought I had the whole crush thing under control even though living in the same house as him can sometimes be a little awkward and I have those moments when we’re sparring. But, today was a bad day and it is very clear I am not in control at all. I was even thinking about telling him about the dreams I was having of his brother, Shen, who disappeared a few years ago, had even planned out the whole day leading up to it, for fear it might upset him. Then BAM.
He kissed Meg.
I know I should be happy for Tai; it is hard for him to get close to anyone who doesn’t know his condition. I mean, how do you date someone when you can’t even have a good dinner and movie routine? And maybe that was why I felt so secure. I’d seen her around the gym, sometimes, had even seen her looking at him and been annoyed. She’s that kind of effortless pretty and graceful that always makes me feel funny inside, like I’m dropping down too fast in an elevator because I still get jealous of those kinds of girls. She’s the sort of girl who would have picked up the Eluna and known at once how to use it, been able to float through Eris without so much as a scratch, and slip right into those lovely princess dresses I hated from the second I saw them. I’m better, now, sure, but liking yourself isn’t the same as being able to do everything perfectly and with grace. And seeing her lean over the ropes today as Tai bounced to his feet and bent to kiss her was….
Well, it was vomit inducing, that’s what it was. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad if he hadn’t taken the picture, but he did take it.
Mr. Shizuka’s boss gave him a couple weeks off, so we all drove south to Florida. We had a great time and Tai seemed more interested in hanging out with me or building sand castles with his half-sister, Kylie, than talking to the girls that were all so desperate to get his attention. So, you know, I was feeling pretty good at the end of the trip. I was sitting on a bench at a rest stop on the way back up when Tai took that photo. I don’t know why I thought it meant anything; he’s always taking photos these days. He got accepted into Harvard and Yale – bully or not, his grades are magnificent, which is hardly fair; he’s the sort of gorgeous that makes women faint AND brilliant. Nobody ought to be that blessed, that’s all I’m saying. Tai doesn’t care about those big name schools, though. He wants to be a photographer. And he is always running around with the camera his dad bought him, taking photos of everything. Of course they are amazing. I wouldn’t let him photograph me, though. I am not the photo kind. He still tries to sneak them because he’s Tai and he doesn’t accept ‘no’ as an answer unless there is a good reason. Not liking photos of myself isn’t a good reason to him. This one was extra hard to get angry about; he somehow managed to make me look like I might actually be my mother’s daughter. I mean, I’m cool with this whole warrior princess thing I’ve got going on; when I hit or kick anyone but Tai and Lucky, they stay hit. Still. That picture.
I’d leaned back with my hair loose. My hair is, like, this massive thing. My mother would never let me cut it growing up and it was so thick that it would break any hair clip or elastic that I put in it. While we were in Eris, I hacked it off so I could hide better. About two weeks after we got back, I began to realize that Mom wouldn’t let me cut my hair for a reason. It grew back. Like, all the way back. In under a month it was even longer than it had been when I got stuck in that crazy funhouse fairytale. It is as thick and difficult to handle as ever, though I don’t mind it so much now. With the sun on it and me leaning at just the right angle, you might think it entirely possible that I am the kind of girl that would be okay with being a princess and throwing magic around. But I don’t love it because of that. I love it because, when I first looked at that photo, I felt as though the person taking it really liked the girl he was photographing and had taken it because, at that moment, he thought she was beautiful.
So I read way too much into it. I knew I was doing it, even then. But it was nice, you know? I mean, I can’t even describe how much I like him and not because he is beautiful outside, but because he didn’t leave me in Eris. He tried to take care of me. He is still trying to take care of me. I mean, it isn’t every day a guy turns into a werewolf in broad daylight to chase off the random creep that dragged me into an alley by my hair.
I have Jo-Anne, and she’s a great friend. But me and Tai share Eris and we know each other’s secrets, so that makes us way close. I was alright with him not liking me back, I thought, because I still got to hang out with him and who needs a romantic relationship anyway? I was the only person he could talk to about a lot of things, so he was always close by, and that was enough for me. If we didn’t have a romance, then he couldn’t dump me. I was perfectly fine with spending the rest of our lives in that pseudo relationship. I guess some part of me assumed it would always be just me and him, that the wolf made it that way forever, because the moment he kissed Meg, something inside me broke a little. Maybe my heart. But I can’t tell him. I can’t even let on. He deserves to be happy, damnit. It is pure selfishness on my part to want to keep that away from him. But I just wish I didn’t have to see it because watching him with her is like getting stabbed in the heart over and over again. So I’m doing what any broken hearted teenage girl does when her crush gets a girlfriend. I’m blogging about it.