The Wishing Heart
By: J.C. Welker
Publication Date: May 1st, 2017
With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel’s been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart.
But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni’s vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself.
Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.
But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline’s freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel’s heart…
Whatever natural tendency toward hope Anjeline once possessed had manifested itself into something harder on her face. Her eyes were far away, like she had thoughts on bigger things than just freedom. “This isn’t like your books,” she said as though Rebel were naive. “They’re stories that know nothing about life. People are thornier than what those things tell you. Good doesn’t always win. Light doesn’t always burn away the darkness.”
Rebel pressed her lips into a hard line. “Maybe it’s you who knows nothing about people. Darkness exists because light casts a shadow. That’s life…painful and beautiful all at the same time.” Books might have not told her everything about magic, but they taught her how to see it in all things.
Anjeline’s lips twitched. “Painful but beautiful. Sounds more like human love.”
“Now that, I wouldn’t know,” she said sarcastically, but she meant it. She took a cold breath, feeling for her pendant resting on her chest. There was a black void in her heart, where the love of a parent, the love of anyone, had never occupied.
Golden eyes met hers, Anjeline contemplating her with that look. “You’ve always been without kin?” Rebel nodded, turning aside from the fascinated gaze roaming over her. “So, you’ve never been loved?”
The question wasn’t just about family. Rebel shrunk from those words, unable to stop from gravitating toward the ones living in the back of her mind. Believing herself, maybe, to not be worthy of it, or anything good. That black void had yawned so wide she used to think gathering stolen treasures could fill it. She used to put rocks under her pillow, wishing for them to turn into diamonds. But she was a book no one wanted to open. A riddle no one dared to answer. A lost girl no one desired to find.
Her heart was tired of not being useful to anyone— especially herself.
She was tired of being a captive to her own flesh. With a shake of her head, she didn’t reply. But as Anjeline gazed at her with that look, as though something tied them together, her chest hummed with…what, exactly? She tried willing it away but it spread deeper. She rubbed at her bruises, as if calming the ones within. Her numb hands shook, and she rummaged in the satchel for her pills. Anjeline persisted to stare, unbothered by the cold. Lucky her. “Stop staring at me,” she said.
Anjeline clicked her tongue. “You could just ask me.”
Rebel glanced up in both sheepishness and stubbornness. Taking that for an invitation, Anjeline moved closer. “I’m fine…”
“I can hear your teeth rattling.”
Anjeline put a finger against Rebel’s lips. “Shh. If you’re frozen, neither of us will get our wish.” The light in her palm danced, and she placed a hand atop Rebel’s.
The air throbbed between them. It crackled and purred, and Rebel startled as her blood hummed at the touch. Wisps of sultry light danced across her arms, snaking around her legs and torso in a shroud of warmth.
J.C. Welker is a YA author who’s been, among other things, a fashion designer, a filmmaker and a kickboxer (seriously). Her short documentaries, which focused on homeless Iraq veterans and lgbtq+ issues in the military have been featured on CURRENT TV, and her debut novel won first place in the paranormal category of the 2016 YARWA Rosemary Awards. She continues to work towards giving a voice to stories that are needed, while facing magic and monsters along the way.
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