Human by Alycia Linwood - Read Online
Human
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Summary

Ariel is a seventeen-year-old girl whose life takes a completely different turn on the day she comes late to school. There's a new, very handsome, dark-haired boy, Devin, in her class, but to Ariel's surprise everyone seems to know him, and her best friend claims he's been going with them to school for years, except Ariel is sure she has never seen him before. Convinced her friends are messing with her, Ariel pretends nothing weird is going on. She even considers the possibility of having a brain disease ... until she starts having visions of unknown people with wings and unusual eyes.

What's worse, her visions hint that Devin might be a demon who came to the human world to take an angel to Hell. As she becomes more and more aware of the existence of angels and demons, Ariel finds out her sister is the angel that the demons want to take. Determined not to let anyone harm her sister, she will do anything, even try to kill the demon on her own. But can she really kill Devin when he appears so human, and what will she do when she reveals the secrets surrounding her true nature? Because, let's face it, a girl who can see both demons and angels in her visions can't really be human.

Young Adult. Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance.

Published: Alycia Linwood on
ISBN: 9781466136588
List price: $2.99
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Human - Alycia Linwood

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Linwood

Chapter 1

My fast footsteps echoed down the school's empty hallway as I made my way to the classroom. The stupid bus hadn't arrived on time, and I'd spent a full fifteen minutes standing in the snow. I could still feel the goose bumps on my skin, and a cloud of fresh air seemed to cling to me, making me pull my long dark brown tweed coat tighter around myself. Maybe I should have listened to my mother when she'd said I needed to put a shirt under my beige wool sweater, but the memory of Brenda, one of the most beautiful girls in my class, telling me I'd gained some weight when I'd last worn that many layers of clothing, still burned in my mind.

Glancing down at my black boots, I noticed that my dark blue jeans were soaked all the way up to my knees. The fact that I didn't feel it at all told me how cold I actually was. I ran a hand through my brown curls and realized my hair was damp from the melted snowflakes. It was definitely not a good day for me, and the last thing I needed right now was to see my teacher's suspicious face while I tried to explain why I was late again.

The janitor glared at me as I neared the classroom, leaving snow and mud on the floor he had probably just cleaned. Well, there was nothing I could do about that, so I knocked once on the door and went inside. The teacher was writing something on the blackboard, and my classmates' curious eyes turned to me for a moment. Then everyone resumed what they'd been doing, clearly disappointed that it was only me. Some even shot me an angry glare because they thought it was so unfair that I could come late to class without any consequences. But hey, their clothes were at least dry, and they didn’t have to wait for the bus to come every day.

I ignored them and went to my seat at the back of the classroom, next to my best friend, Italia Marlowe. Yeah, her parents adored Italy that much. She flashed me a smile as I got comfortable in my chair, trying to make as little noise as possible. If this were any period other than the first one, there would be a lot of chatter, and I wouldn't have to be so careful.

Miss Danrews, how nice of you to finally join us, the teacher said as she turned to face the class.

I'm sorry, I said. The bus was late.

Someone in the front snorted and Brenda rolled her pretty green eyes. The teacher pressed her lips in a tight line, jotted something down in the class register, and started talking about the types of rocks. I looked at Italia, who was absently playing with a lock of her long straight black hair, and then an unknown voice caught my attention. The teacher must have asked something because a boy was answering. A boy I didn't recognize.

Who's that? I whispered to Italia. She focused her big brown eyes on me in surprise.

Who?

The boy who's talking, I said, wondering why they would introduce a new student in the middle of the school year and not even announce it beforehand.

You mean Devin? Her eyebrows shot upward. Was I supposed to know him?

Is he new? I was a hundred percent sure it wasn't possible that I’d forgotten someone who was in my class, because that would mean there was something wrong with my memory.

Umm, do you have a fever or something? Italia frowned. You're joking, right? It's impossible to forget someone as hot as Devin Teneroli.

Miss Marlowe! The teacher raised her voice, annoyed by our whispering. Pay attention to class, please.

Italia simply smiled, concentrating on the blackboard and whatever the teacher was saying. I was still in shock and considered pinching myself in hopes that it would wake me up from this nearly nightmarish experience. The boy sitting three desks in front of me occupied my attention. His short jet-black hair was messy, falling into his dark blue eyes. He was wearing a black leather jacket and dark blue jeans with a shiny silver chain attached to the belt. His back was resting against the wall and his left leg was draped over another chair. I had no idea how the teacher let him sit like that.

The boy's dark eyes turned to me, an amused expression on his face. I realized I was staring, so I quickly averted my eyes. There was absolutely nothing familiar about him, but no one else seemed to pay him any special attention or watch him any differently. He was just like any other student; someone I should know very well. I put my hand on my forehead, checking for a fever, but my skin was more cold than warm.

Opening my favorite yellow notebook with a picture of a blue butterfly on it, I found a folded piece of paper. I didn't remember putting anything in my notebook, so I unfolded the paper to see what it was. My heart skipped a beat when I read the title and the names underneath it. It was a short composition on Shakespeare's King Lear, and apparently, Devin and I had written it together. I stared at the paper so intently that I was surprised I didn't make a hole in it. But no matter how much I blinked, Devin's name didn't vanish from it.

There was no way I could forget the one person who had been working with me on a paper, or someone I had been going to the same class with for at least a year. I didn't even want to think what it would mean if he'd been here with us for all three years. No, someone had to be messing with me. Everyone knew I was usually late, so they'd probably assumed I'd be late today and decided to trick me by placing this in my notebook and pretending Devin wasn't a new student. But why would my best friend be a part of it? Of course. I wouldn't have believed it otherwise.

Anger started welling up inside of me. What were they thinking? That it would be fun? That they would have a good laugh when I started thinking I was losing my mind? Oh, they so weren't going to get it, because I wasn't willing to humiliate myself that way. I'd just play their game and pretend everything was fine. Folding the paper, I tucked it in the back of my notebook and focused on the class.

***

When the loud ringing of the school bell announced that it was time for lunch, I expected Italia to come to me and explain everything, but she simply followed me to the lunchroom, talking about everyday things. Ah, so they were still waiting for my reaction ... or maybe it was all Italia's idea and she had already forgotten all about it.

We sat at our table with our trays of food, and Italia immediately grabbed her hamburger, barely chewing it before she swallowed.

Ariel, you comin' to Deeli's this week'd? she asked.

You're going to choke on that, Ita. I shook my head at her. She placed the half-eaten hamburger back on the tray and wiped her mouth.

Right, sorry. She smiled. But this cold weather is making me hungry. I could eat a horse!

Yeah. I played with my fries, suddenly not interested in food at all. So, you were saying?

Ah, I wanted to know if you’ll go to Deeli's. She doused her fries in ketchup and popped one into her mouth. My brother's band is going to perform. I kind of have to go. You know, a sister's duty.

Wow, nice, I said, taking a sip of my soda. I think I’ll go with you.

Let me guess. A smile curved her red lips. You're not coming because of me but because of my brother.

Hey! I tried to keep my face serious but failed. Italia's brother was three years older than us, and he had such gorgeous, shoulder-length dark brown hair, and breathtaking brown eyes. Besides, he was an excellent singer.

Oh, don't worry. Italia laughed. Everyone wants him. Soon I'll have to defend him from all the fangirls. But I'd totally let you get to him.

You didn't tell him anything, did you? Not too long ago, I'd confessed to her that I liked her brother. A lot.

No, I promised I wouldn't, she said, leaning forward so no one else from the other tables could hear us. But I can ask him if he likes you.

No! I nearly yelled. You can't! He'll suspect something.

Whoa, calm down. I haven't said anything yet.

And don't. I gave her a warning look. It would be so embarrassing if her brother found out I thought he was cute. Then I'd definitely have to leave the country or the continent. Especially if he thought I was some silly schoolgirl who fancied him only because he was older and a singer.

Oookay, Italia said, opening her blue backpack and rummaging through it to find something. I used that moment to look around, but everything seemed to be just like always. Devin was sitting at the table in the far corner of the room, surrounded by three guys from my class, but he wasn't talking to them. He was carefully observing what others were doing, and then his eyes met mine. I looked away, startled.

What? There was concern in Italia's beautiful dark eyes. Is something wrong?

No, I lied. I just hate being late for class, and my clothes are still wet and ...

Yeah, that sucks. She reached for my hand and squeezed it. But you'll be fine. Winter will be over soon, and then we’ll actually be wishing for it to come back!

Not me. I smiled. I love warmth.

And I love to wear dresses and miniskirts, she said. So summer is my choice!

Spring is the best.

Whatever you say, girl. She suddenly got up. I have to go ask Devin something.

Wait, what? I said, surprised, but she didn't pay any attention to me. She just started walking toward Devin. I sprang to my feet, grabbing her arm, and she turned to look at me, confusion written all over her pretty face.

Why do you have to go talk to him? I asked, looking into her eyes.

I have to, she said, smiling, and I let go of her. What game was she playing? If this was all an attempt to confuse me, then it was working perfectly. Except that didn't make any sense. I sat down and watched what she was going to do. When she reached him, he got something out of his backpack and gave it to her. She took it, smiling all the time, and came back to sit with me.

What was that about? I said as she focused on her food again as if nothing had happened.

Oh, nothing, she said dismissively. Devin wants me to write my project ideas in here. You know that our History teacher paired us for that stupid paper.

I blinked. No, I had absolutely no idea about anything that included Devin. Before she could try to stop me, I grabbed the notebook he had given her. Just as I was about to open it, I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my temples. The intensity of it nearly blinded me and images started to fill my mind.

A black-haired woman in a long red gown stands on the edge of a cliff. The cold wind twists her dark curls and tries to lift her gown, but she ignores it. Casting her look down, she sees the immense sea and the huge waves crashing against the shore. She senses movement behind her back and turns around immediately. There is a man standing not far from her.

His hair is short and black, his eyes shining like black obsidian. He is wearing a black trench coat and, underneath it, a black shirt and gray jeans. There is something shiny tucked into his black leather belt. A dagger. The woman gasps when she notices it, nearly taking a step backward, but then she remembers she could fall and face her death in the waves.

You can't have him! she yells, placing her hand on her swollen belly. It seems as if she could give birth at any moment.

Don't be stupid, Melissa. The man approaches her slowly. You know I can.

No. A pair of huge red wings flutters behind her back, and her eyes go completely black. The already clouded sky darkens, announcing a storm is coming.

Are you going to fight me? The man looks amused. Then in a flash, his own red wings come out of his back, strong and elegant.

I thought you loved me. Her voice is empty of all emotion. She doesn't want him to know how much it hurts her that he wants to do who knows what with their unborn baby. The fruit of their love.

I do love you. That's why I can't let you bring a demon into the human world. He reaches out to her, but she slaps his hand away.

You know what they will do to him in Hell! She feels a familiar sting of tears in her eyes.

So? You and I will live, he says. It's a small price to pay.

Small price to pay? she snarls at him, anger distorting her beautiful features. How can you say that about our son?

Melissa ... He sighs, looking defeated for a moment. Is it wrong of me to want you to live?

You don't feel anything for me! You care only about yourself! I should have known it. She closes her eyes and he leaps forward, grabbing her into his arms. She struggles, but his grip on her arms is way too strong, and she suddenly feels dizzy and weak. She shouldn't have let him upset her so much.

I truly love you, Melissa. The man looks deep into her eyes, and for a second she believes it. Maybe it hasn't all been a lie ... Excruciating pain spreads through her chest like fire. She looks down and sees the hilt of the man's dagger; he has stabbed her straight into the heart. She has only enough time to look into his dark and unforgiving eyes. Then she falls to the ground, her empty eyes staring into the nothingness.

***

When I came back to my senses, I realized I was lying on the floor with my head resting in someone's lap, most likely Italia's. She was trying to move my hair out of my face. I slowly opened my eyes. What had happened to me?

Ariel? Are you okay? There was an edge of panic in Italia's voice. I blinked, trying to get up, but the world was spinning around me. Maybe I should just stay down for now. A group of students gathered around Italia and me, the looks on their faces varying from amused and curious to annoyed and suspicious. One of the teachers was trying to get through to us, but that wasn't easy at all. I managed to sit up with Italia's help, and my eyes caught a movement behind the gawking students.

Devin stood there, waving the notebook I'd touched, a knowing look in his cerulean eyes. Then he disappeared from view. There was something about him that reminded me of the man I'd seen in my dream. No, not a dream; it was more vivid than that, and I hadn't been sleeping. The teacher finally reached us and helped me up, telling everyone to go back to what they'd been doing.

A few moments later, I was lying on the bed in the school's infirmary. Italia had gotten permission to stay with me while the nurse checked my heart rate, blood pressure or whatever. I tried to find a logical explanation for what was happening to me, but I couldn't. Why would I forget someone, faint, and then have a vision of some kind about him? And all that because I’d touched some stupid notebook. No, this simply had to be a long and exhausting dream.

Is Christina still sick? Italia asked. Maybe you got it, too.

Umm, yeah, I said. My younger sister was at home because she had the flu, and our mother didn't want her to get worse, so she was most likely going to stay in her bed for the whole week. I was no longer cold and I didn't really feel like I did when I had the flu. Oh God, what if it was something serious? What if I had some weird brain disease?

Your heart is beating like crazy, sweetie, the nurse said, putting away her stethoscope.

I know, I said. I've never fainted before and ... it was weird.

Maybe you just need to rest, Italia said, holding my hand in hers.

I'm going to call your parents, the nurse said. It would be better if you went home.

No, don't. I shook my head. My dad is at work and my mom is with my sister. I'll be fine.

All right, but you're staying here until it's time to go home, the nurse said. Then she looked at Italia. And you should get back to class.

Yeah, right. Italia didn't sound too happy about it. But I'm coming for you later and my brother will take you home in his car.

No, I can't ... I protested, but she interrupted me, squeezing my hand.

No is not an option. She smiled and went for the door. See you soon!

I sighed in defeat. When Italia got something stuck in her head, it was impossible to dissuade her. The idea of going home by car instead of by bus was very attractive, but the thought of Italia's brother, Amadeo, driving me home was scary.