Nightingale (The Sensitives) - By Dawn Rae Miller


“My name is Lark Greene.”

A white light flashes, blinding me. I can’t see beyond the small circle of darkness, but I know they’re out there, pressing in on all sides, listening to everything I say. Blasting my words over the newsfeeds. Mother prepared me for this. She and Annalise worked with me on my statement, reviewing details, having me repeat my answers over and over again until they were burned into my mind.

I tuck my trembling hands beneath my legs and lean forward against the small table I’m seated behind. Mother’s fingers drum against my shoulder, a reminder that I am not alone, and her energy flows through me like a steady fix of soothing medicine. My hands steady a little.

A camera floats over my head like an annoying gnat. It whirls and hums, zooming in close on my face. With closed eyes, I inhale deeply, and open them on the exhale. The light flashes again. I cover my face with my hands, prepared for the pain that’s sure to follow.


Mother crossed the room until she stood next to the side of the bed. She leaned over me, her face mere inches from mine, and her minty breath fanned across my face. I wanted to shrink away, but there was nowhere to go.

“How do you feel about Beck Channing?”

My heart clenched like a fist at the sound of his name. She’d asked the same question a hundred times since Annalise rescued me from Summer Hill.

I wouldn’t tell her. She couldn’t know I loved him. That I hadn’t forgotten him, the way she wanted me to.

An icy chill raced down my spine and my mouth opened. Words I didn’t mean to say spilled out. “Is he okay?”

A cruel smile stretched across Mother’s lips. “Do you love him?”

I should have said ‘no’. I wanted to say ‘no’. I needed to protect Beck.


Scorching air blasted over me, and the bed tilted sideways, spilling me onto the floor.

I scrambled to my knees, gasping. “Why are you doing this?”

“Beck Channing is your enemy, Love. He wants to kill you.” A small light bounced in Mother’s upturned palm. Without warning it exploded into dozens of glowing fire orbs and hurtled toward my face. Each impact burned more than the last.

“Stop!” I screamed and curled my arms around my head. “Mother, please! Stop!”

My body was yanked from the ground until I dangled several feet in the air. My arms flailed, trying to grab something. Anything. But there was nothing to hold on to. I could move, but I couldn’t seem to propel myself forward. Or down.

Beneath me, Mother circled like a wild animal. “Oh, Lark, I can’t stop.” Notes of sorrow filled her voice. “I need to fix you. The Light witches have confused you and I need to help you remember who you really are. You want that don’t you? My help?”

My skin burned where her fireballs hit me. If this is how she loves me, what will she do if she hates me? I thought while nodding my head. If I agree, maybe she’ll stop.

She snapped her fingers, and Annalise and two male guards appeared. They stood behind her, staring at me with a mix of curiosity and pity. I didn’t mind the staring—I would too, if I saw a girl dangling in the air—but the pity concerned me. Especially after the fireballs.

Mother beckoned one of the men forward.

“Malin?” he said, with his head bowed.

“Fire,” she ordered.

He balked. “Surely, Malin, you don’t mean—”

“Set my daughter on fire, Oliver.” He hesitated and Mother screamed, “Now.”

Oh God. “Please, no. Please.” I clawed at the air, trying to escape, but it was no use. I didn’t move.

Oliver didn’t look at me when he pointed his finger in my direction. Fear tore through my insides.

The flame ignited the hem of my skirt. I slapped it out, burning myself. “Mother, stop,” I pleaded. “Please. I’ll do whatever you want.”

“Dawson!” Mother screamed. “Take care of this.”

The other man pushed himself before Oliver and a second flame hit my tights. They melted and oozed down my legs. Stinging, burning pain raced across my skin. My body jerked and writhed, but I gathered the pain, pulled it deep into my core. It combined with the fear and anger already inside me. My fingers twitched and magic exploded from my fingertips.

I fell in a heap on the floor. All around me, angry orange flames climbed the walls, gobbling up the curtains and paintings. They nibbled at the ceiling.

Thick, black smoke choked my lungs and I