Excerpt from Forever After

I stormed through the doors with Justine at my heels.  Ben smiled at me from above his book and pointed to my right without even getting up.  I didn’t smile back.  Not yet.  Though it felt like only an instant, I was suddenly five feet in front of Nicki, still moving.  In one fluid motion, my katana left its sheath, sliced through Nicki, moving downward from right to left, and he slid in two pieces onto the floor.  He was dead before he had time to bleed.  I looked down at him, disgusted.  How could he send someone to kill me?  Dumb question.  Better one?  How could he be stupid enough to send someone to kill me?

I was still staring down at his lifeless corpse, contemplating, when slow clapping came from the doorway behind me.  The clapping cut off gasps of surprise and glares from the peanut gallery, those who had once been Nicki's supporters and admirers.  I turned around briskly, knowing instinctively it was not Ben that was applauding my abrupt victory.  Twenty feet before me stood a woman that looked no older than thirty yet held a manner, an aura one might say, that foretold great age and wisdom.  Instinctively, I kneeled and bowed my head.  “Bravo, my child, bravo.  But you need not kneel.  Not for me,” she said in an accent I suspected was English, but held traces of something else, a lot of somethings.  “Come to me.”

She sighed while holding out her arms.  I didn’t understand but I did as she requested.  I felt like a child getting called to the principal's office and not knowing entirely what I'd done wrong.  As if reading my mind, she said, “I will make everything clear to you soon.  I promise.”

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