From the Inside Flap
"Jasper, enough with the freaking games! This isn't funny anymore!" I sifted through the crap piled on my dresser, searching for my car keys. It was the second time this week my idiot brother had decided to hide them. I didn't see the humor in watching me tear through the house in search of them, but apparently he did.
He had no life.
"I don't know what you're talking about." His brown eyes twinkled with amusement from where he stood in my doorway.
I squeezed past his six-foot-two frame blocking my exit and headed toward the kitchen, wondering if I'd left them in the catch-all area on the counter. "I don't have time for this crap every morning. If I'm late again, Mr. Bell is going to have my ass."
"First off, it's not crap. It's how we make a living, Piper. Second, this is easy. Use your skills." Irritation laced his words as he followed me through the house.
I paused mid-step. While I thought he'd hidden my keys, I had no proof until now. Anger pulsed through me. I was so sick of this. "You cloaked my damn keys again? What's wrong with you?"
"Skills, you have them." Jasper leaned against the kitchen counter and folded his arms across his chest. "Use them."
He could be intimidating as hell--to everyone except me. I could see through his solid-as-a-rock build, tattooed arms, and menacing stare. Deep down he was a softie. At least when it came to me. But, that didn't mean he didn't enjoy pestering the shit out of me every chance he got. Some would call it brotherly love. I called it being a pain in my ass.
"Uncloak my keys. Now!" I smacked my palm against the countertop and narrowed my eyes, flashing him the most pissed off expression I could muster.
A crooked grin sprang onto his face at the sight of my rage, which only flamed new life into what I was feeling. "Use. Your. Skills." He enunciated each word, his shit-eating grin never wavering.
Sometimes I hated him.
"Damn it,Jasper! I've got like--" I glanced at the digital clock on the microwave. "--ten minutes to get my butt in my desk or else I'll be considered tardy. Do you know what happens if I'm tardy again?"
"Use. Your.Skills," he repeated, ignoring what I said and causing my anger to boil. "Then you won't have to find out, will you?"
He was such an ass.
"I'll get detention, Jasper." I slouched against the counter. My bottom lip poked out asa new way to go about this situation hit me. "You said I couldn't go to L.A. with you over spring break if I got detention one more time, and now you're sabotaging me. That's twisted, Jasper, even for you." Remembering the L.A. warning he'd given last week was a goldmine. Surely he'd uncloak my keys so I could get out of here now.
While I wanted to go on the L.A. trip, I wouldn't be upset if he followed through with his threat and made me stay home. A whole week without my brother hovering would be awesome.
"I did say that, didn't I?" Indifference darkened his brown eyes. I chewed along my bottom lip, unsure what it meant. Jasper could be tough to read sometimes. "Guess you'd better use your skills fast then." He winked. I wanted to slap away that shit-eating grin on his face.
Damn it. I slung my head back and growled at the ceiling. "Fine."
I twisted my long red hair into a ponytail and attempted to collect myself. The sooner I was able to calm myself, the better. It meant I'd be able to tap into my magic faster. Pressing my palms together, I began the process of locating my freaking keys with my cloaking magic. God, this was so typical of Jasper. He was hell bent on me practicing my skills. Practice makes perfect and all that jazz.
While I wanted to be as good as he was with cloaks, Jasper was a tough candle to compete with. My brother was legendary. His talent with cloaks was unheard of, and he had the smarts to turn it into a career. Supernaturals sought his help from miles away. Jasper was powerful. He could cloak entire blocks with a strong enough spell to keep it hidden from everyone's eyes for years. Okay, maybe not years. That was an exaggeration. But, he was the best at what he did. Everyone knew it.
He was my hero because of it, but I'd never admit it to him. It would only inflate his already economy-sized ego.
While I didn't think I would ever be as good as him, he thought differently. This was why he pulled crap like cloaking my keys to keep me on my toes. He wanted it instilled in my brain to always reach for my magic whenever an issue came up. Nothing that would alert humans to us, of course, but if it involved my safety or a way for me to make a living, he was all for it.
To him, using magic daily was the best way to build a relationship with it. Jasper didn't view cloaking magic the way others did. It was part of the reason he stood out. There was a respect between him and his magic others didn't harbor. He understood it for what it was. He didn't fear it; instead he respected it.
Before I could learn to respect my magic, he wanted me to become familiar with it. Playing tricks to force me to use it was how he went about teaching me this lesson.
I closed my eyes and continued to rub my palms together, warming them to feel the lingering magic in the air his cloak would have left behind.The entire process for locating a cloak made us look like idiots. Why we couldn't do something cool when we used our magic like on TV was something I would never understand. I wanted to close my eyes and have a massive gust of wind slam against me so those nearby would know I'd tapped into something powerful. Instead, I had to rub my hands together as though I was warming them from the bitter cold and lick my lips like I was eating air.
Not sexy. Not cool. Just stupid.
Once my hands were primed to help me feel for my brother's cloak,I extended them in front of me and swept the kitchen as though little sensors were built into my palms. Nothing. I didn't feel anything. The kitchen was clear. Before I made my way into the living room, I licked my lips, tasting the air for any residue of magic I might have missed. Still nothing.
"There you go,"Jasper said. I could hear his bulky work boots thumping against the tiled kitchen floor as he followed me. "Feel it out. Taste it. Focus on your senses."
"I'm trying, but you're distracting me with your loud boots and talking," I snapped.
"Sorry." There was amusement in his tone, but I ignored it. I needed to find those keys. If I didn't in the next ten seconds, I wasn't going to school. It was that simple.I'd rather miss an entire day than be tardy again and have to face Mr. Bell.
Once I was in the center of our living room, I closed my eyes and repeated what I'd done in the kitchen. This time, however, there was a distinct taste in the air. My brother's magic. Jasper had cloaked something in here for sure. I knew the keys where here somewhere. I also knew Jasper had started counting the second we stepped into the room.
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