Paranormal/Young Adult Holiday Story
There’s no place like Hell House for the holidays…
At least that’s what Danielle Stewart hopes for as the director of Hellsner Halfway House for Troubled Paranormal Teens. But all her plans come to an abrupt halt with the help of bickering teens, unannounced zombies, and a portal to hell among other things.
When the arguing leads to things quite literally going up in smoke, will Danielle find that her true calling lies elsewhere, or will the help of an unexpected angel show her the family she has longed for is right before her eyes?
"You're doing it all wrong! Danielle, tell him he's screwing it up!"
I shot a long-suffering look in Sora's direction. Her scowl spoke volumes, made even more dramatic by the midnight black lipstick that always outlined her pouting lips.
"I'm hanging ornaments on a tree. How can I be screwing that up, your highness?" Derrick, the cause of Sora's irritation now and most days, pulled another red globe from the box he was holding and dangled it in front of his face.
I took a deep, calming breath. "Guys, can't you please call a cease fire long enough for us to decorate the Christmas tree? Is that too much to ask?" My gaze bounced back and forth between the two teens, a silent prayer for peace at the ready.
Sora toyed with the small silver lip ring she wore, her scowl deepening. "Then tell dog-boy to stop hanging all the red ornaments on the same side. It's making the color scheme unbalanced."
Derrick laughed and placed the ornament in his hand next to the one he'd just put on the tree. "Like you're one to talk about color schemes. All black. All the time. Even your own people got tired of it."
Sora tugged absently at the hem of her black leather miniskirt, then her hand fluttered to twist one of the spikes of her jet black hairdo.
"Derrick..." I managed to infuse my voice with just a hint of warning.
"What? It's true. All the other fairies kicked her out of fairy land because they were tired of her depressing butt. And her bossiness." He set the box of ornaments on the dining room table to his right.
Sora had been banished by her people ultimately because she refused to fit in. But that didn't mean he needed to point it out to everyone. Repeatedly.
Silence filled the room for a long moment that I feared would ruin the little holiday spirit I had managed to dredge up with a bit of tree decorating. I glanced over at Sora and found her black lipstick scowl replaced by a smirk.
"You're one to talk, disowned by your own pack." Her gaze flicked to me. "We'll have to keep a good eye on the Christmas tree, Danielle. The mongrel might decide to pee on it, given the manners he seems to lack." Her dark eyes glinted with scorn.
Derrick ran a hand through his dark blond hair, leaving it ruffled and messy. His amber eyes sparkled mischievously as he crossed his arms over his T-shirt clad chest. "Nah, I took care of that already in your closet."
Sora's expression froze for a moment, then her eyes widened. "You didn't!"
Derrick shrugged. "Guess you'll just have to see for yourself."
Snorting in disgust, Sora stalked away, her heavy black boots pounding the floor. She practically flew up the stairs, muttering who knows what curses under her breath.
I peeked over at Derrick, smugness oozing from him. "You really shouldn't goad her like that. It only makes things worse."
A small shriek sounded from the upper floor. Rolling my eyes, I frowned at Derrick's grinning face.
"She should just be glad I shifted into a dog first." He sauntered into the living room, leaving me to finish the tree.
Sighing, I picked up the box of forgotten red ornaments from the table. These kids were going to be the death of me. Six months as director of Hellsner Halfway House For Troubled Paranormal Teens and I was afraid I wouldn't make it through another six days.
When the supernatural community finally came out into the open last year, they brought with them the same types of problems we humans had. Their children had the same issues, and placing kids into normal human foster homes or facilities proved to be dangerous to both sides at times, making places like Hellsner House a necessity.
I hummed as I straightened a line of garland and fluffed a few branches on the tree. So many years had passed without a real Christmas tree to decorate or a real home to decorate one in. I inhaled the deep musk of the pine, and stooped to retrieve a small cardboard box, the corners bent, the side slightly caved in. I pried open the flaps and carefully lifted a bundle of yellowed, crinkled, tissue paper-slowly peeling the layers away.
My breath caught in my chest as I stared at the angel in my hands. The paint on her porcelain face was chipped, her golden dress wrinkled and tattered. But none of that mattered. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
The feathers of her wings lay brittle and uneven along her back, but I traced their outline lovingly with my fingertip. My parents and sister had been killed in a car accident when I was a child. After bouncing around my entire adolescence from foster home to foster home, my angel was the last tangible thing I had left from my family.