About Daughter of Glass
Sasha Alexander has a powerful ability. Either that, or she’s dangerously mad.
Her father shrouds her in isolation, convinced he’s protecting her. But the seven guardians that only she can see insist she’s gifted. Her companions since her mother’s suicide, they protect her from hurt, pain and fear. They also keep her from feeling love. Sasha doesn’t know how to react when Noah explodes through her defenses. This strange young man with the scarred hands suddenly makes her feel again.
But unless she can learn to control her own emotions, the biggest danger to them all may be Sasha herself.
The noise from the party followed me into the closet, refusing to be muffled by the thick oak door and the cave of coats I’d created for myself. Voices ebbed and swelled over the steady pulse of music. Sometimes people passed too closely, and the substance of their conversations leaked through the cracks. Several times I heard shouts, but I couldn’t tell what they were about. I didn’t care much, either. Everyone out there could beat each other bloody and I wouldn’t give a damn. Nothing could touch me, here in my closet cave. Nothing except sound, and I was working on blocking that out, too.
My classmates had taken over the house after their parents left my father’s fundraiser. My father had given Lars the night off; he knew the occasional party was important to keep up appearances. I dressed up and stood through the whole thing like a smiling, hopeful idiot, doing my best to ignore the mocking looks my peers gave me. It was all for nothing, though.
Noah stood me up.
So, as I often did when Riverside Academy’s elite filled my house, I hid in the coat closet with my attendent guardian and did my best to forget.
“What kind did you get?” Liv asked. In the tight quarters of the closet, she had her knees pulled all the way up to her chest so that her eyes peeked over her sparkly skirt like a wide-eyed little girl. “Is it yummy? Is it fruity? Is it white or red or blush or burgundy…”
“It’s wine, Liv,” I half-whispered toward her corner. “You know, the kind that gets you drunk.”
“Oooh,” she practically moaned. “That’s my very favorite kind.” She shifted forward into a crouch so fast that all my brain registered was a swirl of glitter and diaphanous blue skirts. Then her pupils, wide enough to drive a truck through, pinned me with a sly stare. “You’re going to drink it, aren’t you?” A pink tongue darted out to suck speculatively on her upper lip. “Of course you are,” she declared, sinking back to the floor with a dancer’s grace. A silver anklet, heavy with bells, chimed at me from her bare foot. “Tonight you’ll drink it all.”
I shrugged. “Whatever.” I tilted the heavy green bottle back, trying not to choke at the bitterness of it. My father’s cellars were the best in town. Tonight I’d gone for the corner where he kept his best stuff. I could feel Liv’s cloying breath against the back of my neck as I chugged. “Why does the best have to be so damn bitter?” I asked the darkness.
“Now that’s an existential question.” Liv flopped down on one side now, her strawberry blonde ringlets a waterfall over the bright silver bangles on her wrist. “This means you aren’t drunk enough. This means I’m not doing my job. So.” An explosion of dark blue sparkly skirt had her sitting cross-legged this time, banging her braceleted wrist against the floor in time with the music. “Drink. Drink. DRINK,” she squealed.
I eyed her uneasily. Her dress had been a lighter blue a few minutes ago. Her dress changed colors the drunker I got. I held the bottle out to her. “Want some?” We both exploded into giggles at our private joke. Liv couldn’t drink, of course. But she continued to beat on the floor.
From somewhere not too far away, I heard the crash of breaking glass. Quite a lot of it, judging from the yells and sheer volume of objects hitting the floor. “Sounds like one of Daddy’s displays,” I murmured, tilting the bottle back again. “I wonder which.”
I didn’t care, though. Noah had stood me up. I drank again.
“Don’t worry.” She moved in close again, not touching. I could just make out her cotton candy scent. “We just want you to be happy,” she crooned.
“Your dress is getting darker.” I hadn’t imagined it. Now a deep sapphire, Liv tugged at her strapless bodice. Her eyes were even wider than before, but hazy instead of childlike. “I should have known this was going to be bad when you showed up in blue. I like you better in pink.” I obeyed her gesture to drink. “Pink is always fun. Blue is sad.” Then, with an edge: “Blue was her favorite. Mom’s.”
“Sweet, sweet Sasha,” she moaned, swaying to her own private music. It wasn’t the same music playing through the surround sound that the rest of us could hear. I drank. “I’m here. I’m what you want. I’ll take care of you.”
I drank some more.
I lost a bit of time, then, in my closet with Liv. I might have slept. I might have passed out. The thump of a live body hitting the wall right beside the door shocked me awake, though, as did the loud, angry voices I heard as I struggled to free myself from a fur coat.
“I don’t give a shit who invited you. Old Towners don’t come here, asshole. Or don’t you know that?”
For a beat, there was silence. I was astonished to find I still held the bottle. An Old Towner?
And here I was, hiding out with Liv in a coat closet, drinking like a bus stop wino. I’d been so sure he wouldn’t come. No boy had before. And he’d just been late. Damn and hell.
“I don’t think he knows that, Theo,” a gruff male voice drawled.
“Yeah,” echoed yet another guy. “I think we need to tell him all about it.”
Thump. Then a muffled grunt as someone took a punch. I winced; it sounded like a blow to the stomach.
Then the thumping and punching started in earnest.
I knew some of the voices. If Theo Gardamin was involved, then the other two could only be his goon shadows, Jeremy and Darrin. But what the hell was Noah doing fighting them? Who in their right mind stood up to three of the biggest bullies in New Whitfield when they clearly intended to beat his ass?
I took a pull at the bottle and scanned the now-empty closet. Liv disappearing after her work was done wasn’t unusual, but what really worried me was that some of the others might show up. Some of the more dangerous others. I thought of Dez in his leather jacket or Anger with her perfect, deadly manicure.
Outside, Theo swore as someone smashed him against my door. The hinges rattled.
“Shit,” I told the bottle. “That’s solid oak.” The next drink I took drained it dry.
“I said you would drink it all.” Liv ghosted forward from the depths of the closet. Her dress was now so dark I couldn’t tell if it was blue or black. Her blonde hair was wild, like her eyes. She gestured towards the door. “Go ahead. You won’t feel a thing. The others won’t come unless you want them to.”
I hugged the bottle in relief. “Thank you, Liv,” I slurred. The door rattled at my back. In another second, they’d break it down.
“That’s not my name, baby doll.” She giggled and spun on one foot, looking at empty space. “Tell me my name. Say it. I want to hear it before I forget.”
“Oblivion,” I whispered obediently. “Your name is Oblivion.”
“I make you forget,” she sighed softly, happily. “About the bad things. And I only belong to you.”
I smiled gratefully at her as the door I was leaning against suddenly opened behind me. I fell backwards into open space. The flood of bright light was disorienting. I collided with something heavy, moving fast. It grunted, and hit the floor the same time I did. Without knowing exactly how, I found myself lying half in, half out of my own coat closet, face-to-face with a glowering green-eyed boy.
He looked furious.
“What the fuck happened to you?” he demanded. His eyes narrowed. “What were you doing in that closet?”
Behind me, Theo laughed. I felt hands on me, rough ones, lifting me to my feet. I didn’t appreciate that; the ground wasn’t stable like it was supposed to be, and I didn’t want to have to hold on to one of Theo’s shadow goons to keep from falling on my ass. I realized I was still holding the empty green bottle. I stared at it. “Umm,” I said. “Hanging out, and stuff,” I slurred, before smiling brilliantly.
“Yeah, I bet,” Theo snorted. “Say hello to Sasha. This is her party.”
“Hello,” I echoed. All three boys snickered. Whoever was holding me tightened his hold across my waist. I think it was Jeremy, but I couldn’t be sure. Noah’s green eyes narrowed at me, but with what emotion, I couldn’t tell.
“Dude, she’s wasted,” whoever was holding me whispered to the other.
“Oh, fuck off. It’s my party. I’ll get wasted all I want, in any closet I want.” I tried to pull away, but the arm held me tight.
“See, Old Towner,” Theo said, taking my empty bottle and glancing from it to me. “Sasha here, she throws great parties, but she’s got a little problem.”
“Just the one?” Darrin snickered.
Noah wasn’t up from the floor, but he wasn’t exactly sprawled out, either. He looked tense. Coiled. Inwardly, I groaned. Oblivion had promised. She made me forget things. This was going to be fine, and if it wasn’t I wouldn’t remember anyway.
“She’s a little, you know,” Theo made the universal gesture beside his temple that stood for crazy person. “Unstable,” he finished in a stage whisper.
Noah was positively vibrating with tension now.
Oblivion promised, I told myself sternly. So. Nothing to worry about. I wouldn’t remember, and none of the others would show up…
“Just like her mother,” Justin laughed.
Oh shit. “What did you say?” I hissed.
“Ssh, baby,” he said, louder this time. His arm was like a tree trunk around my waist. “You need to come upstairs and lie down.”
At some point, Noah had moved until he stood with his back to the wall.
“About my mother,” I insisted. But Justin and the rest of them just laughed and tried tugging me towards the stairs.
It was then that I saw a flash of green-eyed rage from Noah’s post against the wall. I’d never seen him look so angry.
Then I caught a flash of black leather and aviator’s glasses from the opposite end of the room. Liv’s words came back to me: “They won’t come unless you want them to.” So what the hell? What was he doing here? Dezire and Oblivion… two of them in one night… Liv was a damned liar. Plus she’d been wearing blue. She only wore blue if she brought a disastrous kind of forgetting.
Jeremy was definitely pulling me towards the stairs. Where the bedrooms were. “No way, asshole,” I mumbled, stomping on his foot. He only laughed.
Noah launched himself at Jeremy. I looked down to see I once again held the empty wine bottle. The empty bottle made of heavy green glass. I hefted it, testing for balance.
I don’t know which one I hit; Theo’s idiots all looked alike from behind. They looked even more alike lying prone on the floor. Then Theo turned on me, rage plain on his perfectly tanned face.
“You fucking crazy bitch,” he spat, and backhanded me. Then he did it again. My vision blurred as gravity shifted. But Theo and I hit the floor at exactly the same time. I fleetingly wondered what we were both doing there, on the floor together.
Noah grabbed Theo by the collar and punched him.
Noah grabbed Theo by the hair and slammed him into the floor.
I tried to hang on as Oblivion’s promise began to come true at last. I felt myself receding, my eyelids growing heavy. A crowd had gathered by now, but they kept to a semi-circle, and their mutterings sounded like waves, or wind in the trees.
Noah sat on top of Theo and pummeled him again and again.
Dez squatted down beside me and pulled a cigarette from somewhere in the depths of his jacket. He lit it with a single match, which he dropped carelessly on my floor. Didn’t matter. No one would see it anyway. He took a long drag and dropped his mirrored sunglasses just long enough to let me see his half-closed eyes. “Darlin’,” he said, flicking ash on the carpet. “Not sure I’ve ever seen you quite like this.”
His presence drew me back from the brink, from Oblivion’s gift that I wanted so badly I could taste it. “What are you doing here, Dez?” I asked. “It doesn’t make any sense. Two of you in one night?”
He shrugged as murmurs ran through the crowd. “She’s talking to herself,” someone said excitedly. “About doing two of them in one night!”
I let myself roll onto my back. Great. Wherever Noah was, I hoped to high hell he was too busy beating the shit out of Theo to hear the comments of my peers.
“Think it through, Darlin’,” Dez said in slow, careful manner. Then he took another look at me from beneath his glasses. “You know what? Never mind. Guess I missed Oblivion’s visit.”
“Fucking bitch,” I mumbled.
“Hey, go easy. Things would be a whole lot worse without her,” he let out a long stream of smoke. “Ministrations.” He licked his lips as if he liked the taste of that particular word and reached out to touch a bruise blooming on my cheek. I winced. “That would be a lot more painful without her. And anyway, I’m going to be around for a while now, it looks like.” His mirrored gaze had fixated away from me, towards where the fight had been.
“What?” I said. “You never stick around for more than a…”
Noah dropped easily into a crouch right beside my black leather-clad friend. His green eyes held me pinned, making it impossible to look anywhere else. The crowd seemed to be dispersing, muttering.
“Are you all right?” he said at last. “You hit your head, and you were talking to yourself.” He actually looked…concerned?
Beside him, Dezire smiled as if at a private joke.
Well hell. If I was going to be stuck with one of my hallucinations, I suppose there were worse ones than Dezire. I propped myself up on my elbows long enough to shoot both of them a glare. “Didn’t you hear?” I was surprised to find that my speech was still slurred. Maybe even more so than before the fight. “I’m crazy. Like my mother.”
Noah frowned as if I’d said something alarming, but Dez only smiled wider. He flicked his cigarette butt across the room. I tried to sit all the way up, but the room swayed alarmingly.
“Wait!” Noah lunged for me, holding out his hand. “Don’t… your head… it’s bleeding…”
Oblivion finally took me as Dezire laughed softly and this strange sweet boy tried unsuccessfully to cushion my head from another blow against the floor.