There was no way Channie was going to walk into a strange high school tomorrow morning full of even stranger kids without activating and testing her new power-name first. It was designed with one purpose in mind, so to test it, -- she needed to find a boy. As soon as everyone else was asleep, Channie crawled out of her bedroll and opened her window. A blast of cold air made her eyes water. It was late August, but it felt more like the middle of November. She removed the window screen and put it in the back of her closet then climbed onto the roof and waited for her eyes to adjust to the dark. Channie had planned to ride her bike down to the 7-Eleven store about two miles from her new house, but when the wind carried the sound of male voices from the park next door, she changed her mind. She couldn't understand what they were saying, but they sounded friendly enough. She scampered down the fake, but convenient, rocks on the front of the house and followed the crushed gravel path that led from her front yard into Heritage Park. The three-quarter moon peeked out from behind a cloud and revealed two masculine silhouettes. The boys were inside a pavilion, sitting on top of a picnic table. One of them was smoking a cigarette. When Channie stepped out of the shadows, he elbowed the other boy. They stopped talking and stared at her. She froze, unsure of how to proceed without Enchantment's natural charm. She read the boys' energy fields -- curiosity mixed with a fair amount of lust. Nothing unusual about that, but it was enough to jolt her new power-name out of hibernation. Channie assumed Chastity's magic would repel boys somehow, or make them appear repulsive to her. Instead, Chastity was attracted to their negative energy. She felt it grow stronger as it fed off their lust. Momma and Daddy must have messed up the spell when they changed her name. Channie didn't know what to expect as she walked over to the picnic table and said, "Hey guys," then coughed and fanned the air. She frowned at Cigarette Boy. He tossed the nasty thing onto the ground and snuffed it out with the toe of his shoe. The skinny, non-smoking boy smiled at her and said, "I haven't seen you before. Are you new?" Channie licked her dry lips and nodded. What was wrong with her? She wasn't shy. Or was she? She'd never tried to talk to strangers before. In a community as small as hers, you already knew everyone. Cigarette Boy leaned towards her and ran his gaze up and down her body. The level of lust in the air doubled and flowed into Chastity's power-well. He said, "What's the matter, can't you talk?" Channie started to take a step back, but didn't want him to think she was easily intimidated. "I can talk just fine. When I have something to say." Cigarette Boy elbowed his friend in the ribs. "Dude, did you hear that accent?" He hugged his chest, copying Channie's posture and pitched his voice up high to mock her. "Aw kin tawk juz fiiiine whin ah have sumthin' to say." "Jeeze, Eric." The skinny boy shoved Eric's shoulder. "You're such an ass." He looked at Channie and smiled. "I apologize for this idiot. He has no social skills whatsoever. In an effort to protect the public we only let him out at night." "It's okay. I can handle it. But thanks." Channie pulled a small amount of Chastity's power to the surface and tried to send Cigarette Boy away without actually cursing him. He didn't want to go. Channie narrowed her eyes and pushed a little more magic at him. Instead of flowing out of her power-well in a gentle stream the way Enchantment's energy would have, it shot out of her with a sudden burst of power. Folks rarely noticed when Channie used pursuasive magic on them, and even when they did, they didn't usually care. Enchantment's energy was positive and soothing. Chastity's was not. Eric yelped and hopped off the metal table. He looked at his friend and said, "Did you feel that?" "Feel what?" "Something shocked me. There must be a short in the wiring." "What wiring? The tables not wired." "Well, something sure as hell zapped me." Channie bit her lip to keep from grinning. Empties would come up with all sorts of weird explanations to deny the possibility of magic. She zapped him again. Eric twitched and swore. He said, "Come on! You had to feel it that time." "I don't know what you're talking about. What have you been smoking?" Eric suggested his friend do some inappropriate things to himself then trotted down the path towards the parking lot. Channie waited until he drove away then took a small step towards the skinny boy on the picnic table. He watched her but didn't say a word. She read his energy field again and was surprised to find anxiety had replaced his lust. He needed a little encouragement. Channie held her breath and cast what she hoped was a weak come-hither spell. The boy hopped off the picnic table and closed the distance between them in two strides. He was tall -- much taller than she'd thought. He was also stronger than he looked. He grabbed Channie, digging his fingers into her side, and slid his other hand to the middle of her back. He pulled her close and crushed his mouth against hers -- taking her completely by surprise. Her first instinct was to run away, but that would defeat the purpose of the experiment. Her second instinct, the one she obeyed, was to kiss him back. He tasted like honey and spearmint. Magic flew out of Channie without warning. The boy jerked his head up and shoved Channie away from his body. He pushed his hair off his forehead with both hands and gaped at her. "What the hell was that?" Tears pricked the back of Channie's eyelids. This was not how she'd imagined her first kiss. She knew it was selfish to focus on her own disappointment when the poor boy was so obviously confused and frightened -- but no one had ever rejected her before. Besides, how could she reassure him with Chastity's magic buzzing like a swarm of hornets? It wouldn't help matters if she cursed him again. Channie blinked in an effort to hide her tears, but they leaked out of the corner of her eyes and slid down her cheeks. The boy opened his mouth as if to speak, but then slammed it shut and shook his head as he backed away from her. He held his elbows close to his body, lifted his hands, palms up and shrugged his shoulders. If Channie hadn't know better, she would have interpreted the gesture as an apology. He grabbed a bicycle off the ground and raced away so fast she doubted he heard her say, "I'm sorry."

Genre: Paranormal YA/NA Romance
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