Winter Touched-An Elle Frost Novel Part Two
Missed part one? Check it out here!
“Hey, a girl who likes to eat. I can respect that.”
Thomas winked at me and I smiled gratefully around my forkful of what was supposed to be spaghetti. Sasha caught my eye and something in her expression made me pause. Sympathy and understanding passed between us for a split second before the table around us erupted with laughter at something Lucas had said. When I looked back, Sasha had turned her attention to her own food, though she ate with much more grace than I did. The table settled into quiet conversation as everyone began to eat. I really liked these people. The way they interacted reminded me of my friends back at BellCade. I could tell they’d known each other for a long time but it wasn’t intimidating. I found it comforting. Being accepted so quickly made me think that I had made the right decision by disguising myself. Things were going great, better than I imagined they would. That is until a group of queen bees and their beefy boyfriends decided to ruin everything.
I had just started working on my second tray when the ca-ca hit the proverbial fan. A pungent floral scent hit my nose, followed by a contemptuous snort.
“Wow, Alice. I think your new friend eats more than you do.”
I didn’t realize it was a jab at first, even though the tone should have given it away. I was probably eating more than the entire table combined. Alice’s face reddened and she pushed her half-eaten salad away from her. A few snickers followed her action. I looked up to find several queen bees with matching beefcakes surrounding our table. Thomas tensed beside me, but it was Lucas who spoke.
“Come on Brie, leave her alone.”
Brie’s beefcake made a series of jokes about Alice and Lucas that got chuckles from his comrades. The theme focused on her weight. Lucas’ jaw tensed.
“Don’t listen to them, Alice. They’re just a bunch of idiots.”
A few of the beefcakes took offense to this. In seconds, they had slung Lucas out of his seat and plastered him against the wall. Thomas and Lexie rose to help but several pairs of meaty hands kept them in place. My blood turned cold. I had to be careful here. I couldn’t afford to lose control, but there was no way I was going to let this group of Neanderthals get away with this. I stood, forcing Brie to take a step back.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, precious?”
This came from Brie’s boyfriend. I smiled.
“Just a second.”
I turned my back to him and leaned across the table, pushing Alice’s plate back in front of her.
She blinked watery eyes at me and picked up her fork with shaking hands.
“Hey, what are you stupid or something. I was talking to you!”
The yell came from my right side. I could feel the heat from the massive body behind me, but I ignored it, taking my time. This, of course, incensed him and he moved even closer, pressing himself against me. I allowed the contact, not taking my eyes from Alice’s wide ones. Thomas started cursing the guy behind me, while Lexie was busy shouting at the ones holding her brother.
This came from Sasha who seemed to understand what I was doing. Alice stabbed a forkful of lettuce and swallowed it down. I nodded, satisfied, and turned my attention to the angry ogre at my back.
I sighed, craning my head so I could look him in the eye.
“Here’s what’s gonna happen Beefy. First, you’re going to tell your cronies to remove their hands from my friends. Then, you and your girlfriends are going to apologize to everyone here for interrupting our meal. After that, you’re all going to leave and never bother us again.”
He laughed at me. It was a loud, raucous sound that made his entire body shake. The others joined in. I took it in stride, fully prepared to let them have their fun while they could. Then, Beefy made the worst decision he’d made all day. It happened fast. One second my nearly full plate of spaghetti was on the table and the next it was on the floor, underneath his massive foot.
I watched in horror as he stomped down, squishing it into the ground. Droplets of tomato sauce flew up and splattered themselves against those of us close enough to ground zero. Several of the beauty queens jumped back and squealed but I just stood there, trying to process the gruesome scene before me.
He stepped back and admired his work when he was done. My tray had been shattered into three large chunks, cobalt shards stained in a greasy red. A small ring of garbled noodles spread out in a wide arch, enclosing the mass of desecration that lay in the middle. Thin rivulets of red dribbled out in chaotic patterns, stark against the white linoleum of the cafeteria floor.
I stepped back in shock. Beefy had murdered my food. My pulse kicked up as my anger rose but, instead of getting hot, I grew cold. Ice started to fill my veins and, with it, the power that I had kept hidden all day began creeping out of me. I clenched my fists, trying to gain control but I was too pissed. Beefy must have taken my silence for defeat.
“Awe, come on now precious. You’re not gonna cry are you?”
His voice came from far away, even though I knew he stood close enough to feel the ice emanating from me. He shivered.
“Man, who turned the AC on?”
I desperately tried to keep it together, but it was no use. I’d been practicing my control for months, but I’d never been tested like this. How dare he fat-shame Alice! How dare he put his hands on my new friends! How dare he touch my food!
Visions flooded my mind, memories of being locked in the Calming Room, isolated from my friends and family, while men and women in lab coats taunted me with the food they’d never give me. A sharp, gut-clenching pain went through my stomach, a ghost of the debilitating anguish I had suffered so many times before. I closed my eyes and willed the memories to fade but, when I opened them, the murdered remains of my lunch greeted me.
“That was my food.”
My voice came out in a whispered plea. Beefy chuckled.
“Sorry, precious what was that?”
I snapped my head up and met his eyes.
“THAT. WAS. MY FOOD.”
Beefy took a step back from me. Judging by the shimmer of fear in his eyes he was starting to realize something weird was going on. Moments later everyone in the room had realized it. I lost complete control.
In an instant, the make-up I had spent hours applying this morning froze and shattered off of me, along with the dye in my hair. The muddy colored contacts I had put in did the same and I had to blink several times to get the icy chips free from my eyes. Everyone jumped away from me. Some gasped. Most screamed.
Expressions of shock and horror splayed across every face in the room, even among the group that had befriended me. My power wasn’t done showing off though. The cold grew thicker. Frost formed on the massive window that took up the entire back wall of the lunchroom. The mangled pile of spaghetti at my feet hardened and cracked. Beefy looked so scared I seriously thought he might wet himself.
“Wha-What are you?”
His eyes doubled in size, a look of utter terror marking his face. A tiny cloud of fog escaped from his lips when he spoke. The water droplets crystallizing, forming miniature icicles in mid-air before dropping to shatter on the ground in front of him. For some reason, this seemed to make him even more afraid of me.
“Look, I-I’m sorry. R-really. I d-didn’t m-mean it.”
I took a step towards him, intending to calm him down. Sure, I was pissed, but I’d never hurt him. He was a bully, yeah, but he was just a kid. My powers were reserved for far greater evils in the world. Like the scientists at BellCade. At the thought of them, snow began to lazily drift down from the ceiling. When the first small flake touched his nose, Beefy screamed and nearly fell over himself running away. The others with him made a mass exodus, along with the rest of the lunchroom. Even the lunch ladies abandoned their posts, scuttling off after the students.
Soon I was left standing in an empty room. Well, nearly empty. Alice and her friends were still there, but none of them could meet my eyes. I closed mine, trying to force the power back inside. It took some time, but eventually, the room around me began to warm. Snow still sprinkled down from above, but it melted before it touched the ground. From the corner of my eyes, I watched as Alice and her friends huddled together, whispering. I hung my head, allowing my indigo strands of hair to fall forward. Tears threatened, but I held them back.
They wouldn’t see me cry. I was a pro at hiding my pain from the world. BellCade had seen to that. Numbly, I made my way to the table and grabbed my two bags. The whispers went quiet, then grew louder but I didn’t care to hear what was said. I left the cafeteria and made my way towards the front doors of the school. The other kids gave me a wide berth.
More screams. More whispers. It happened my entire walk home and when I opened the front door mom was there, wearing the expression I’d come to hate so much from her: pity. I let her take me into her arms and let the tears fall. She was the only one who ever got to see them. With the tears came more frost, more snow. Mom didn’t react. She simply held me tighter and waited until I ran dry…