Void - CoraLee June, Raven Kennedy

Chapter 1

It was such shit that I couldn’t get high.

No matter how many times I wrapped my candy red lips around the joint settled between my thumb and index finger, it did nothing. I was sitting in a cloud of skunky smoke, sucking it in like a bad blowjob, but that weightless buzz humans liked to brag about just refused to hit my brain. I could add it to the list of curses that my abilities gave me. I had my own foul smoke that polluted me from the inside out.

The room was dark despite the twinkling lights strung around the ceiling, blanketing us in a hazy glow as I watched my best friend. “I want to take my clothes off,” Reed said in a dreamy voice while leaning back in a rusted lawn chair. His red hair was curled at the tips of his ears, and his thin lips parted on an exhale of smoke, highlighting the dimple on his left cheek. “I should go streaking.”

I chuckled. He should definitely not go streaking. Reed had one too many strikes against him, and I wasn’t about to lose my only friend in this damn place. “It’s more comfortable here. I don’t want to move,” I whined, trying to emulate that hazy tone while really wishing that I could go outside and hop the fence to escape for a joy ride on my motorcycle. Poor Betty hadn’t had a good thrill in a couple of weeks. The night guards at Mrs. Coxcomb’s School for Troubled Girls were cracking down on patrol thanks to my last little escape attempt. It wasn’t my fault the chem lab had caught fire. I just wanted a little distraction, not ten demerits.

“Do you ever wonder why people cover their dicks when they’re caught naked?” Reed asked while closing his eyes. “What they really should hide is their face.” His laughter filled the room, and I tried to get high on his joy. Reed was the only reason I bribed another student for a bag of grow. It did nothing for me, but I enjoyed watching his face light up and the stupid expectations that always weighed down his shoulders fade away. Shit had been obnoxiously bad lately. During the day, this prejudiced-as-fuck school liked to make him wear skirts and go by the name his parents gave him—Molly. But here? In our secret cove, an attic space above the cafeteria, he was himself. My best friend. My only friend. Reed.

Determining that he was sufficiently high, I lay back onto my makeshift pallet made of old blankets and pillows we’d found over the years and stared at the wooden beams covering the ceiling. Spiders ran across the shadows, and I lifted my hands up to imitate their movements with my fingers.

We had three weeks until graduation. Three weeks until Reed was finally free from his rich, controlling parents. He had plans to ditch this fucked up boarding school in Iceland and move to Los Angeles where his sister lived. I knew he’d be happier there. He’d finally take on his true identity and shed the girl his parents wanted him to be. We’d talked about it for years, both of us dreaming about getting out of here and living the dream. I convinced him that I’d be going with him despite knowing it wasn’t in the cards for me. I’d never be free.

I got a letter in the mail from my mother two weeks ago, informing me that there was a remote cabin three hours away waiting for me. Away from humans and supernaturals, it was meant to be my safe-haven, but I knew better. It was just another cage. I was too dangerous to other supernaturals. She didn’t want me running into any of my kind. I had a long life of loneliness ahead of me. At least I was able to take online college courses. Although, I was lying to myself if I thought I was ever going to be able to use those skills in the world.

“When we move to LA, I’m going to shave my head,” Reed declared with a broad smile as he twisted to face me.

I rather liked his shaggy red hair; it suited his green eyes and pink lips. But I always supported whatever decisions he made about his body. I understood what it was like to be trapped in something that didn’t feel like yourself.

“We should get matching tattoos, too.”

I smiled at the thought of ink peppering his freckled skin.