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One is Come
by C.H. MacLean
Series: Five in Circle #1
Publication date: March 8th 2014
by CNH Publishing
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy

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Haylwen doesn’t care who actually blew up the wall of the school library. With a chance to finally have real friends, all she cares about is if her suspension will make her parents move again. Her parents, forced to keep their own magical past silent, are shocked to learn that she is indeed a magic user. She tested negative. Twice! Desperate to hide Haylwen from the King of magic users, they flee, but their efforts thrust them all into mortal danger.

Haylwen’s parents don’t know about the prophesy of “The One,” or that the only one who doesn’t know Haylwen is a powerful magic user is Haylwen herself. The King and the dragon clans’ plans to remake the world are already in motion. As Haylwen struggles with her feelings of loneliness and unworthiness due to her inability to make a friend, she is completely unaware that the fate of the entire world rests on her choices. Will she learn about her magic and true friendship in time to save her life and hopefully the rest of the world?

~Excerpt~

Haylwen ran. Her knees hurt, her thighs chafed, her belly and boobs jiggled out of control. Stupid bras were either hideous or didn’t do anything, she thought. She hated running, and still she ran faster. The pain in her knees and thighs distracted her from thinking about how sad she felt. Moving again! I wouldn’t even get to tell Kim goodbye! So she ran, and didn’t care how she looked holding her chest.
She ran from her stupid parents telling her they were going to move again, knowing it was all her fault this time. She ran from the fear she would never have any friends. She ran away from her creepy doll, and the fact that it didn’t matter that Cadarn’s present was confiscated, it was still so much better. She couldn’t even really see where she was going, but still she ran. She left the road and took to a hiking trail.
Maybe I’d never go back. Maybe I’d get so lost that I couldn’t go back. That would teach them. Stupid brother would probably be happier without me there. She finally slowed to a walk when she realized she really had no idea where she was. She looked back, and around. Where did the hiking trail go? Surrounded by trees, she heard water trickling nearby. This must be the woods on the other side of the old train tracks. She didn’t remember crossing train tracks. She went a bit further, then stopped where the little creek came out of a small lake. Looking back, it wasn’t really a trail, just happened to be where there were fewer bushes and ferns, where the tree leaves had collected randomly. She could be the first one who had ever been here. Struck by a feeling of loneliness that overwhelmed the last of her anger, she fell to her knees and cried.
Something in the lake came up to investigate. As it got closer, it took the form of a giant catfish. It swam closer to where Haylwen’s tears were falling on the creek bank. It hesitated for a second, its long antennae slowly waving. Then it swam up to Haylwen and poked its head up out of the water.
Haylwen heard the soft sound of the big fish’s head coming out of the water and sat up, her tears suddenly stopping. “Crap!” she blurted, startled.
The fish didn’t move, just slowly waved its long antennae.
Haylwen choked out a laugh of a sort. “Or, carp?”
The fish just floated there. Somehow its wide mouth and whiskers made it look solemn.
Haylwen looked back. “Um, hello?”
Nothing. But it didn’t swim away. That’s weird, she thought. Or maybe I’ve gone crazy.
“Sorry if I am disturbing you, Mr. Fish,” she said. Oh, for sure, she was crazy, talking to a fish. Not that she cared, at this point. Apparently, she was desperate enough for a friend that even a fish would do, never mind if it wasn’t a very attentive fish. So, she started talking. Softly, starting with how she was going to have to move and that it was her fault, somehow. Soon, she was crying, telling about all the times she had lost friends… well… kids who could have been friends if she stayed anywhere long enough. About how lonely it felt to have no friends, and how maybe it would be better if she just didn’t exist. She had never really said that out loud, never really even thought it out loud before. She just sat there and sobbed, the tears pouring down her face.
Her sobs slowed, then stopped. She looked up, and was somehow not surprised to see the fish was still there, antennae waving calmly. She wiped the tears from her face, shaking them off her hands with a flick. She saw the tears hit the fish right between the eyes, heard the soft splat.
The fish blinked in surprise.
“Oh, sorry, Mr. Fish,” she said. “But it’s water, right?”
The fish seemed to smile. I am crazy, Haylwen thought. Fish don’t smile. They can’t. They can’t blink, either, she thought. Well, I don’t think they can blink. I saw it blink, didn’t I?
The fish turned and swam underwater, disappearing. Haylwen looked for it for a moment, and was rewarded with a rapidly growing spot coming toward her in the water. The catfish poked its head up, then spun around. With a quick flip of its big tail, so quickly Haylwen could do nothing other than gasp, the fish splashed water directly on her face. A lot of cold water.
Stunned, she felt it slide down over her chin and seem to settle at the hollow of her neck. She sat up, and tried to wipe her face off somewhat, and looked at the fish in shock. She may be crazy, but that was not her imagination.
The fish smiled, or whatever it was, again. It tucked its antennae back against its head, giving it a pleased expression.
Haylwen sat there for another moment, then laughed. “It’s only water, right?” She couldn’t help herself. She laughed again, laughed some more, laughed until she was crying again. She purposely flicked those laugh-tears at the fish, but missed every time. The whole situation was so ridiculous, her emotions were so out of control that she could do nothing but laugh.
When she finally stopped laughing, the fish started swimming in circles, slowly heading back to the center of the pond. At the point nearest Haylwen, it poked its head up.
She got up and brushed herself off. “Yeah, I guess I should get home too.”
The fish winked and slipped away under the water.
Haylwen shook her head. Even if she had friends, they would think she was crazy if she told them. She touched that spot on her neck that was still cool and promised herself she would get her mother to go bra shopping when she got home. Whenever that was. And look up if fish can wink. She got up and started walking back, not even feeling a gentle touch on her mind.
By the time she got home, she was exhausted and starving. She went to the bathroom, then into the kitchen to get a snack. Her father was there, making a cup of tea.
“Hey, Hayl.”
Haylwen attempted to ignore her father. She didn’t expect him to let her get away with it, and he didn’t.
As she stood there with the door to the fridge open, he stepped in front of her. “I said, Hey, Hayl. And you say…” He had a small smile on his face, but his eyes were searching hers.
Haylwen closed the door, trying to squish her father into the fridge. “Excuse me,” she said.
Abrennin stepped out of the fridge and looked at her again. “Where did you get that necklace?” he asked quietly.
“Necklace?” Haylwen said, touching her neck. The spot that had stayed cool, the spot where the water had collected now held something there. Had it always been there? She could feel a cool metal necklace around her neck, with a small round ball dangling in the hollow of her throat. Part of her would have sworn it had not been there two seconds ago. But somehow it felt like it had been there since she could remember…

~About the Author~

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To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

C.H.’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Follower of Jesus, loving wife, homeschooling mom, blogger, author, gamer, and a lover of the culinary arts. Toni lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. If she's not writing or curled up with a book, you'll most likely find her playing with her kids, baking cupcakes, or killing zombies.