Runes - By Ednah Walters


“So unfair. My parents decided to limit my computer time again,” Cora griped and rolled her eyes into the webcam. “But as usual, my best friend Raine has my back, so here I am with the next Hottie of the Week. Before I can give you his stats, I need a break, so I’ll be back in a few.” She pressed pause on the webcam, swiveled the chair around, and faced me. “Thank you. I’m starving.”

I threw her a bag of potato chips, which she snatched in mid-air. Keeping the door between us, I dangled a can of soda her way.

“Come on. I’m not going to ambush you,” Cora protested.

“Liar. Just remember, I’ll unfriend you on every social network if you do it again, Cora Jemison,” I threatened.

Cora pouted. “You’re never going let me forget that, are you? One lapse in judgment, Raine. One, and I’m labeled a liar for the rest of my life.”

“Just until we finish high school. Lucky for you, we’ve got less than two years to go.” Melodramatic was Cora’s middle name, which made her the perfect video blogger. I, on the other hand, hated seeing my face on video hosting websites, something she tended to forget when she got excited. “So, when will you be done? We have swimming, and I need to get online, too.”

“Ten minutes, but I’m skipping today. Keith and I are going to watch our guys crush the Cougars. Go-oh, Trojans.” She pumped her fist in the air. “Come with us, Raine. Please… please? You can help me choose my next victim for the vlog.”

“I can’t. I have an AP English report to write.”

“Another one? That’s, like, what? One every week? I knew sour-faced Quibble would be tough when he e-mailed you guys a summer reading list.” She shuddered. “You should have dropped his class when you had chance.”

“Why? I enjoy it.” Cora made a face, and I knew what she was thinking. I needed a life outside of books. She said it often enough, as though swimming and playing an oboe in the band didn’t count. I’d rather read than cheer cocky, idolized football players any day. Performing in the pep band during home games was enough contribution to the school spirit as far as I was concerned.

“Fine, stay at home with your boring books, but keep your phone with you,” she ordered. “I’ll update you during the game.” She snatched the drink from my hand, opened it, and took a swig. “Thanks.” She swiveled and rolled the chair back to my computer desk and turned on the webcam. “Okay, Hottie of the Week is in my Biology class. He’s five-eleven, masculine without being buff. Don’t ask how I know. A girl is allowed to keep some secrets, right?” She giggled and twirled a lock of blonde hair. “He’s a member of the lacrosse team and has wavy Chex Mix hair, which is longer than I usually like on a guy, but he rocks it. Don’t you just love that term? Chex Mix. Better than dirty blond, right? I stole that from Raine.”

I closed the door and shook my head. Poor guy. By Wednesday, every girl in school would be speculating about his identity and his relationship with Cora, not to mention leaving snarky comments on her video blog. She thrived on being naughty, but one day she would cross the line and piss someone off.

Cora and I had been tight since junior high when I found her crying in the girls’ locker room after P.E. She’d had such a hard time adjusting to public school after being homeschooled. Seeing her now, you’d never guess it. She was crazy popular, even though she didn’t hang out with the in-crowd.

Downstairs, I got comfortable on the couch with my copy of Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, tucked a pencil for scribbling notes behind my ear, and popped open my favorite spicy baked chips. Good thing Mr. Q had included the book on our summer reading list and I already read it once.

The ding of the doorbell resounded in the house before I finished my assignment. I grinned. Must be Eirik, my unofficial boyfriend. I jumped up, raced to the door, and yanked it open.

“About time you got he…”

I took a step back, my pulse leaping. In one sweeping glance, I took in the stranger’s shaggy black hair, piercing Pacific-blue eyes under arched eyebrows, black leather jacket, and hip-hugging jeans. Either fate had conjured the poster boy of all my fantasies