Shifters and Secrets: GRIMM Academy Book 1 - R. Medina
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Shifters and Secrets
R. L. Medina
Copyright © 2020 by R. L. Medina, Moon Dragon Publishing
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
For all the dreamers out there still waiting for adventure to find them. Go. Do. Live.
Also by R. L. Medina
About the Author
Hor-ri-fic. I glared at the high collared, boxy dress Tía Teresa laid out for me. Apparently she didn’t find my goth style appropriate for a funeral. Ironic. Grabbing the dress, I shoved it in the back of my closet. At least she got the color right.
The color of my hair inherited by a mother I’d never known. My wardrobe was made up of various shades of it—jet, obsidian, onyx, etc. One red dress stood out among the others like a rose smothered in shadow. I swore I’d never wear it.
Tonight, I would. For Papi.
He couldn’t see it now, but I would wear it all the same. Pulling it off the hanger, I forced down the wave of sorrow threatening to rise. Tears wouldn’t bring my father back. Life pushed on, dragging me along with it.
I held the dress up to myself. It was soft, flowy, and dark like the color of the wine, we so proudly produced, and the flower Mama and I were named after.
A knock on my door startled me. “Rosita, que tú haces?” came my tía’s voice.
I rolled my eyes. Contemplating burning your fugly abuelita dress, I wanted to tell her.
“Getting ready,” I replied instead.
Her heavy sigh made me bristle. Three days since she’d arrived, and she still didn’t get it. Pushing me only made me more stubborn and orders, yeah—I didn’t follow them.
Como hablarle a la pared—like talking to a wall, Papi used to say.
“You need help?” she asked in her accented English.
Maybe she would stop trying to get me to speak Spanish. It felt wrong to speak it without Papi. The fact that I’d never hear the deep timbre of his voice again made my chest ache.
Steeling myself, I shed my giant tee and pulled the dress over my head. I stood before my floor length mirror and smoothed out the red fabric. Its low cut, high waist, and softness were at odds with my cropped cut hair and athletic frame. I didn’t really know what kind of woman my mom had been, but from the pictures I’d seen, I didn’t inherit her stern face nor her love for ridiculous gowns.
“Rosita?” Tía Teresa’s voice broke my thoughts.
I stiffened. “Rose.”
A clucking sound came from outside the door—her disapproval of my untraditional nickname. I didn’t care. Only Papi could call me his little rose, and now he was dead.
I never wanted to hear Rosita again.
Too lazy to make the trip into the bathroom, I dipped my fingers into an old cup of water and combed them through my hair. Dipping them again, I wiped the smudged black eyeliner off from under my eyes and grabbed my liquid pen from my shelf to reapply more. Black lipstick next and some black velvety flats for my feet, then I was ready.
I thrust the door open and cut her off.
Her eyes widened as she took in my appearance. I arched an eyebrow in challenge.
“Ready.” I marched past her, ignoring her heavy sigh.
“Where is the dress I bought for you? This is not a party. It’s your papa’s vigilia.”
Her words struck me cold. Party? I paused and slowly turned to face her, anger unfurling fast. “Oh, it’s not a party? ‘Cause I’m obviously having the time of my life right now.”
She flinched. “I know what it is to lose a father. I was younger than you—”
“This dress… it’s a birthday gift he gave me.” A sob caught in my throat. I forced it back down and scowled. “I’m not changing.”
She pursed her thin lips together but nodded. A look of pity flashed across her face, but I turned away before she voiced it. No more, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘he’s in a better place.’
I didn’t want to hear those words.
Taking a deep breath, I collected myself. A wave of nausea hit as I stared over the balcony. Happier memories played out, making my chest tighten. Papi carrying me on his back, pretending to be my horse. Jumping from pillow to pillow to avoid the ‘lava.’ I’d grown up in this house, but how could it still be home without Papi?
Behind me, my tía’s heels clicked against the smooth wooden stairs. I squared my shoulders and continued the rest of the way, blocking out the memories. My eyes landed the multicolored vase in the wall niche. Fresh roses replaced the dead. Papi was the one to change them out. Who would do it now? A lump grew in my throat. Was this what life would be like now? The universe constantly reminding me of my loss?
“Rosi—Rosa,” Tía Teresa called. She’d already made it past the foyer.
I opened my mouth to correct her but shrugged it off. Rosa was still better, though it was my mom’s name. Turning my back on the flowers, I followed her into the hall toward the living room.
“Wait here with your cousins please. I’ll tell the driver to bring the car.” She waved me forward and disappeared back down the hall. Her long, black dress swished as she went.
My youngest cousins, Cristina and Juliana, sat together in the leather loveseat. Their long-sleeved, black dresses, stockings, and Mary Janes made them look like morbid dolls. They watched me with large brown eyes. With their silky black hair, lighter skin, and oval faces they were miniature