Avalon: Princess (Avalon, #1)
When a young orphan goes through a fairy circle on Halloween, she falls into the magical world of her bedtime stories to discover her father, the king. Too late she finds that she cannot return to her home world. Stuck in Avalon, Jade begins the training that will prepare her for her future role as Queen, but she much prefers adventuring to sitting in a classroom. When her adventures take her to the forbidden land, Lyonés, she discovers something she was never meant to find.
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from CHAPTER I
“Jade Elizabeth Green!” Aunt Anna called all too soon. “You get in this house this instant!”
Jade stood up, dropping her journal in the dirt where she had sat, and she did not pick it up. She left her book bag there too and started trudging back to the house. She walked as slowly as she could, but soon enough she had broken through the tree line and could see Aunt Anna standing at the kitchen door, arms crossed, still dressed in her work clothes with her ID badge hanging around her neck. Lali had left her side the moment Aunt Anna had called, so Jade approached her aunt alone.
Aunt Anna stepped back to allow Jade to walk into the house first. Jade went in and sat at the kitchen table. Her feet dangled several inches above the ground. She examined her feet closely, picking out every speck of dirt, trying to pretend like Aunt Anna wasn’t glaring a hole through the top of her head. She heard the other chair squeal against the linoleum as it was pulled back.
“Well,” Aunt Anna began, “do you want to tell me your side of the story?”
Jade squirmed in her seat, “It wasn’t my fault…”
“Stop right there.” She held up her hand to silence Jade. “I’ve already spoken with Ms. Johnson and Mr. Knucke. I’m giving you the chance to tell me what happened not whose fault it is.”
Jade glanced up at her aunt’s face. She wasn’t smiling. Her eyebrows were drawn together, but she didn’t look angry; she looked sad. Jade looked away quickly.
“I punched Tommy Tinkus during recess,” Jade admitted to her sneakers.
“I’ve gathered as much. Do you want to tell me why?”
Jade glanced up and back down again. “He said that magic wasn’t real, and he said that I was stupid for believing it was.”
Aunt Anna sighed heavily. “Jade, we’ve been over this before, and this is not the first time a kid has said that to you. Why did you punch Tommy? You know physical violence is just unacceptable.”
“Because…” Jade said defiantly and then trailed off.
Aunt Anna didn’t say anything. She just waited for Jade to continue.
Jade sighed and let all her pent up words come rushing out of her in one long breath. “Because when he said magic wasn’t real and I was stupid for believing in it I told him that it was real and that grownups like you knew it was real and he was the stupid one and then he said that if you thought magic was real then you were even stupider than me and I would have been better off living with my druggie mom who didn’t even want me.” As she said the last words, tears she hadn’t even felt forming in her eyes rolled over her cheeks.
“Ms. Johnson didn’t mention that part,” Aunt Anna said quietly.
“I didn’t tell Ms. Johnson that part.”
“Jade, come here,” Aunt Anna said, opening her arms to her.
Jade jumped off her chair and rushed into her aunt’s open embrace.
No longer angry, she said, “That was an awful thing for Tommy to say, but you know it’s not true. You and I have talked about your mom. You know that she would have kept you if she could and that she loved you very much.”
Jade buried her face in Aunt Anna’s chest and nodded silently.
“But there is no excuse for using your fists, Jade. You know better.” Aunt Anna was quiet for a long time while she slowly rocked Jade back and forth. “You know this means no trick-or-treating this year.”
“Please! Aunt Anna!” Jade begged, looking up at her. “Halloween is my favorite! Please don’t make me miss it!”
“I’m sorry, Jade, but this behavior is not acceptable and you are not leaving this house again tonight.”
Jade climbed off her aunt’s lap and backed away from her until her back was against the kitchen wall. She slid down to sit on the floor, staring at Aunt Anna, letting the betrayal spread from her heart through every part of her.
“In fact, Jade, I think it’s time that you and I have a talk about our fairytales.” She stopped to take a breath before she kept going. “This world is a wondrous place, and I see little bits of magic all the time. Just today, one of my students was getting picked on and another student who wasn’t even her friend stood up to the mean kids, and there was magic in her bravery. But the magic in the stories… the fairies, the sorceresses, the magical worlds… Jade… do you know the difference between real and imaginary?”
“Yes,” Jade said quickly. “Real means that it is something I can see or something that really happened and imaginary is just pretend.”
Aunt Anna nodded. “The story you told me just now about you and Tommy, was that real or pretend?”
“Real,” Jade said definitively.
“And the story that your principal told me, that you punched Tommy on the playground, was that real or pretend?”
Jade had to think this time. “Real, but he didn’t know everything that happened.”
Aunt Anna nodded again. “And, the story of Princess Lunette and her magical kingdom, is that real or pretend?”
Jade was quiet for a long while before she finally said, “That story is true.”
Aunt Anna didn’t nod this time. “Jade, it might have true emotions, but it isn’t something that really happened. That story is just pretend.”
“No,” Jade shook her head. “It’s true. You told me it was true.”
“It’s fun to pretend that stories like that are true, but at the end of the day, Jade, you need to understand that it is just pretend. Fairies and dragons and goblins, they’re not real, Jade. You are fighting with your classmates over something so small as a pretend bedtime story.”
Aunt Anna reached out to her, but Jade didn’t move. She stared at Aunt Anna, not fully understanding. Fairies were real. Jade had proof. Out in the forest, not a mile away, there was a very real fairy waiting for her. She knew that. She knew it. She’d thought Aunt Anna knew it too.
“Fairies are real,” Jade said, slowly rising with her back still pressed against the wall.
“No, Jade.” Aunt Anna did not smile. She stared at Jade, and her dark green eyes, the eyes that Jade shared, turned hard and cold. “They’re not.”
“You’re lying.” Jade shook her head. “Why are you lying?”
“I’m not lying…” Aunt Anna began.
“No!” Jade closed her eyes and shook her head. “Fairies are real. I know they’re real! Why are you lying to me?!”
Jade felt Aunt Anna’s hands brush her arms. She threw her hands against the sides of her head, covering her ears to block out anything else she might say.
“No!” Jade screamed. Her eyes flew open. Aunt Anna was crouching right in front of her, stroking her face with her hands.
“No!” she cried again. Pushing her aunt to the floor, she took off out of the kitchen door and ran straight for the forest. It was dark now, but Jade knew the path well. She could hear Aunt Anna calling her name hysterically from behind; she could hear her heavy footfalls too, but they were fading as Jade gained distance on her, and she just kept running. Soon enough, Lali was flying alongside her.
She ran for only a minute before she reached her favorite tree. With one hand, she grabbed her backpack and with the other she grabbed her journal.
Without stopping, she ran right for the fairy circle. She knew this time it would work. It had to work. There was nothing left for her here. Her future was on the other side of that fairy circle. She squeezed her eyes tight and jumped.