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Skulls and Bones
It was a dreary wintry day as snow blanketed the earth in soft whiteness in the small town of Fallon, Nevada. Winter break had just begun for the students of Churchill County, and they wanted each and every moment to count. From junior high up, teenagers and pre-teens wandered the desolate streets of this sleepy town talking and causing snowball fights as those from the elementary schools chased each other and built snowmen. Some of the teenagers stayed indoors to “help” decorate, drink steaming mugs of hot cocoa, or play video and computer games where it was warm. Aniline Skulls and her best friend, Adrian Bones (a boy of seventeen with dark brown hair and dark green eyes), were of the select few that decided to stay indoors as they sipped hot cocoa and watched their fellow peers dance around like circus monkeys in the snow from Aniline’s living room window.
“Did you finish your new novel yet?” Adrian asked in-between sips, and Aniline shook her head. She tucked a piece of chestnut brown hair behind her pointed ear as her ice-blue eyes glittered with unshed tears of stress, and he nodded and took another sip of his hot cocoa. He’d thought as much. She tended to get stuck at the end of the book.
Aniline took a sip herself and grimaced when the hot cocoa burned her tongue and set her mug down. “I’m stuck. Annie and Ryan are fighting with the Ice Queen Kori of Litheria but I don’t know if she’s to be killed or only defeated yet. My dreams only show me so much…” her wind-chimed voice trailed off as she sighed and shook her head again. “I don’t know how to end my novel.” She picked up her mug and took another sip carefully so she wouldn't burn her tongue again, deep in thought.
Aniline Skulls was a published author at the age of sixteen with the pseudonym of Annie Sampson. Her first book, Skulls and Bones, was published only two years ago and became an instant sensation when it hit the number one best-seller spot a month after it stocked the shelves. The sequel, Return to Cathiopia, also became number one just a month after it stocked the shelves only a year ago. Her third book in the acclaimed Skulls and Bones series was due in three weeks, and she wasn't even done writing it yet. She’d never been so stressed in her sixteen years of life.
“Maybe you shouldn't just use your dreams for inspiration, Skulls,” he said as he set his mug down and faced her profile. “Use your personal experiences and the world around you to help you write your new novel. You said that the Ice Queen Kori was forcing winter to come way too early in Litheria and that Annie and Ryan were pulled out of their beds in Fallon to stop her right?”
“Yeah,” she said in a confused tone as she continued to watch the children playing in the snow.
“So use here for the ending of the book and battle,” he supplied with a roll of his dark green eyes when it became clear she didn’t understand where he was going with it. “You told me that anyone from the world of Cathiopia couldn’t use their Gods given gifts here because we only have one god to worship instead of five. Why not have our favorite heroes bring the Ice Queen Kori to the Sahara desert, instantly sapping her strength and defeating the evil sorceress in the process!”
She was raising the mug to her lips when a light of understanding touched her eyes, and she froze. “That just might work,” she muttered to herself and looked over at her best friend in wonder. She put her mug down and pulled Adrian to her. She kissed him squarely on the mouth before pulling back with flushed cheeks and a light of glee in her ice-blue eyes. He stood there dazed not quite processing that the love of his life just kissed him on the mouth.
“You’re a genius, Bones! An absolute genius,” she cried as she kissed him again and rushed off to her bedroom/attic. Adrian stood there dazed with a goofy grin on his tan face. He met the brown eyes of Aniline’s older brother who stood there with a small smile on his face as he leaned against the wall with his arms crossed.
“If you ever date her,” he said in a low, threatening voice, “don’t break her f*ing heart. Or you’re dead.” He stared Adrian down for a few seconds longer before slinking off to his room.
Adrian’s eyes trailed him before calling out in a breathless voice, “You won’t have to kill me because I’d already be dead!” And it was the truth. He’d hang himself if he ever hurt Aniline. He loved her that much. Now if only he could tell her that… He shook his head to clear away such a thought. No. She’d just push him away again, and that was something he couldn't live through a second time.
“Bones,” Aniline called from her room, and he looked up at the ceiling. “I need your help! Come here!” A small smile coated his lips as he shook his head and made his way up the ladder.
Aniline was typing away at her laptop, her back to him as she worked furiously. He just stood there watching her work as she paid him no mind until he shifted his weight and a floor board squeaked in protest at his weight.
“There you are,” she said without looking back. “What took you so long?”
Adrian laughed and made his way over to her. “I was just finishing my hot cocoa. Did you want to finish yours?”
She shook her head and continued to type. He sighed and dragged a chair over to her desk. “What do you need me to do?”
Aniline stopped typing long enough to grab her debut novel and its sequel and hand it to him. He took them with a confused look as she went back to her typing. “Read the dedications from both of my books to me, please.”
“Uh, okay.” He flipped to the dedication page and read it silently first. He blinked a couple of times before he looked back up to the girl he’d known since he was a child and fell in love with when they were nine with a light of understanding in his dark green eyes.
“To my loving mother, who told me I could do whatever I wanted and be whoever I wanted to be. Thank you, mama. I miss you,” he said it softly, so softly that Aniline had to stop typing to hear him. A sad look crossed her face before she motioned for him to continue. He set down the first book and picked up the second one. He flipped to the dedication page. “To my father and brother, Jason and Michael, for being the best family in the whole world. I love you guys.”
“Huh. Guess not,” she muttered to herself, and Adrian looked up at her. He gave her a confused look but she ignored it and went back to her typing.
“Was that all you wanted me to do for you, Skulls?” he asked with an incredulous tone, and she nodded. He shrugged and picked the first book back up and began to read it.
A sound of triumph from Aniline drew him out of the pages and world of Cathiopia and he gave her a curious look. “Finished?”
She turned to look at him and gave him a beautiful smile. “Yup. I can’t believe I got stuck in the first place. It’s a good thing I have you around or I’d be out of a job.”
Adrian laughed and gave her a grin. “Not kidding. How many saves was that now, by the way? Ten? I think you owe me dinner, Skulls.”