Disha: A Supernatural Academy Story
I’d been to many parties, both magical and regular, but the rager that my parents were throwing had to be one of the craziest parties I’d ever seen.
Their annual anniversary bash was the must-attend magical gathering in New England. My parents’ parties were always epic, but this year they’d taken things to the nth degree. I’d heard from Mama that the theme was “Circus” which seemed pretty pedestrian. Last year, they did Moulin Rouge. Everyone dressed in burlesque attire and things got so wild I had to excuse myself at eight PM when Regent Basak—who was seventy-years-old, mind you—lost her sequined top and decided to continue dancing topless.
No amount of mental scrubbing could help me unsee that. So much jiggling.
Witches and wizards were weird.
I’d just landed in LaGuardia two hours ago, gathered my carry-on since my parents had transported the rest of my luggage home, and found the driver hired to take me home. I’d just finished my sophomore year at the Supernatural Academy. Boy, was that a doozy. I was pretty much emotionally scarred for life and it would’ve been nice to see some family when I exited the airplane.
Of course, no one could be bothered to come meet me at the airport. They were too busy getting ready for their party to stop everything and pick their only daughter up like some Regular.
No, they had a party to throw. Daughter be damned.
But, whatever. The ride to their place in New Jersey was uneventful. New York hadn’t changed. Being back home always felt a bit like landing on another planet. The campus in Georgia was quiet and picturesque, not to mention that I was completely surrounded by other witches and wizards that made me forget what the world of Regulars was like.
How mundane and boring life seemed when you could magic your way out of troubles.
I glanced at my phone, wishing I could call Charlie. I already missed the hell out of that girl. Hell, I even missed Bridget, though it would be lovely to get a solid night’s sleep for once.
And Rowan? Who the hell knew where he was? Off with that bitch Ava Marie. Or was it Ana? It didn’t matter. What mattered was his father was dead and Rowan was ending up on the wrong side of things. I worried about him most of all.
When the driver pulled up to our property, things were already in full swing. Past the line of stately hedges, the gate was thrown open. The long, tree-lined driveway was crowded with cars, motorbikes and a few other vehicles, including one double-decker bus and a motorcycle with a sidecar. Music thumped from the house which glowed with incandescent light. Craning my neck, I could see the big red and white circus tent propped up in the backyard.
“Wow,” the driver said, turning back to glance at me. “Some party. Can I drive you up?”
“No, no,” I answered right away, pulling some bills out of my pocketbook. “I can walk from here.”
“Are you sure, miss?” His eyes lingered on the spotlights shooting into the night sky.
I could tell he wanted in, to see what kind of millionaires were hanging out at a party this impressive, but I absolutely could not let that happen. Who knew what kind of debauchery and magical self-indulgence was taking place?
And memory spells were so involved.
I stuffed the tip money in the driver’s hand, opened my door and pulled my travel luggage with me. “Thanks for the ride!”
I ran through the open gates and hit the button on the control panel to close them after me. As they swung shut, the driver gave one more curious glance at the party before pulling out.
I blew out my breath, my bangs fluttering. One crisis averted for the day.
Then I whirled around and faced the party.
My heels clicked on the cobblestone driveway as I walked toward the house. Mama hated the apartment in the city and had convinced Baba she needed this property in the country. Coming from India, they were used to crowds and noise, but Mama wanted away from it all. So, two years ago they had purchased the monstrosity that sat in front of me. The mansion was worth approximately 20 million U.S. dollars. It had seven bathrooms, eight bedrooms, a movie theater and bowling alley, few of which Mama ever used.
It also boasted a pool and a tennis court in the back, plus a massive yard all ringed by trees or a high fence, another must-have for Supernaturals living among Regulars. I wondered what their rich neighbors thought of these yearly parties for which they received no invitation.
Tonight, the party was outside. Since the weather in late April was pretty touch-and-go, they must’ve woven some pretty elaborate weather spells because the air became warm, almost balmy, the closer I got to the house. Soon, I was shucking off my jacket tucking it under my arm.
Along with the cars beside the drive, a giant saddled toad squatted on the lawn, looking sleepy and unamused. There was also a skeletal horse and a bovine-looking creature made of sticks that Death, himself, would gladly ride.
Good thing I didn’t let that driver in or he might have shit a brick.
A figure strode out the front doors and made a beeline for me. It didn’t take me long to recognize Viraj, my sixteen-year-old brother, the only one nice enough to greet me.
“What up, little brother?” I said, pulling him into a one-armed hug.
“‘Sup. How was the flight? I can’t believe they made you fly commercial. Did you have to go through security?” Viraj pulled back, offering to take my bag.
“Yes,” I said, annoyed, as I let him take my bag. “I’m beat. But it’s party time.” I danced a bit, fake partying while rolling my eyes.
“Tell me, V. What’s the deal with this thing, anyway? Is there some prize for throwing the most ridiculous event? Because if so, they would win.”
Viraj rolled his eyes along with me. “Wait ‘til you see the backyard. Come on.”
We walked up the stone steps and into the foyer, Viraj tucking my bag in a hall closet before leading me through to the kitchen. Mama’s half-million-dollar kitchen remodel looked great, but they’d hired catering which had set up outside. Viraj and I wasted no time exiting out the patio doors and into the fray.
The party was over the top. The big top. The circus tent was massive, red and white, and flapped gently in the breeze. Lights draped down the sides and illuminated a wild scene—witches dancing, zoo animals milling about, and someone high up on a trapeze swinging back and forth without a net. There were tame lions on big round platforms, baboons in funny outfits (which appeared to be drinking champagne) and at least one elephant that I could see.
As I watched, a Capuchin monkey climbed up a warlock’s cape, stole his baked brie appetizer, and scampered up a tent pole. There was a shout and a spray of blue sparks that sent the monkey shrieking away. A few people laughed while a few admonished the man for sparking a poor monkey’s bottom.
There were witches and warlocks in the pool in various states of undress. Four were occupied in a chicken fight, women on top of the men’s shoulders as they wrestled and laughed, while another couple canoodled in the corner.
They were drunk and disorderly. Wild and crazy. Did I mention most of these people were already getting their AARP discount cards? I mean, get a room.
Ten minutes of this and I was going to be hiding in my room with headphones on catching up on seasons of The Bachelor.
Mama drew me into an embrace before I could even turn around. I whirled and hugged her back, admiring her feminine ringmaster suit, as she spoke uninterrupted sentences into my ears.
“The flight was good, eh? Great. Your cousin is here. Make sure to say hello and please don’t touch the blue cauldron, it is not for children. Also, Uncle would like to speak to you about a job opportunity. When did you get so skinny?”
She gave me a quick appraising look before patting my cheek, then catching someone else’s eye. “Marques, over here. Try the brie!”
Before I could say a word, Mama disappeared into the crowd of cavorters. Baba waved to me across the pool and went back to his conversation with a very tall warlock in sparkly blue robes.
I glanced to Viraj, my only co-conspirator, and we shared a knowing look. Mama was in her element. She would be busy all night, tomorrow, and possibly the next day with guests, networking and impressing all the “right” people.
So, it was about time for me to slip upstairs.
I gave Viraj’s hand a squeeze and turned to go inside, but he stopped me.
“Hey, before you go. There’s someone I want you to meet.”
Now, he sounded like Mama. But, my baby brother normally hated these things as much as I did. If he was keeping me from my bed and a hot TV date, it had to be important. I raised an eyebrow at him.
He held out his hands in a soothing gesture. “I know. These parties are awful, but there’s a dude I want you to meet. He’s cool. Really cool. I met him on one of my online games and started chatting—”
“Let me guess,” I interrupted. “He has an amazing opportunity for you. All you need is three thousand dollars. Orrr, he’s the hottest guy. You’ve never met him in person, but you’re sure you’re in love. And there’s no way he’s some fifty-something, live-in-his-mama’s-basement loser. Viraj, come on.”
“He isn’t gay,” Viraj said in a way that sounded like he wanted to add “unfortunately.”
I raised my eyebrow even further.
“He’s just… cool. Come on. It’ll take two seconds.” He pulled me through the crowd.
We wove through partygoers, passing a table with trays of flaming hors d’ oeuvres and some sort of Regular’s magic show where a clown was attempting to pull brightly colored scarves out of his mouth. Everyone was getting a kick out of his sleight-of-hand, laughing at his antics and really yucking it up at how Regulars performed “magic.”
I wanted to watch his disappearing rabbit trick, but Viraj dragged me away.
He managed to lead us through the crowd and down a path to a back garden where the noise and showmanship were less overwhelming. Mama’s flowers were not in bloom yet, but the trees had started to bud. Their angled branches gave us cover and protection from the lights and sound of the party. Here, the chatter and music were faint and a trickle from the stone waterfall soothed my nerves.
Ahead, beside the gravel path, a man sat on the stone bench. He was talking on a cell phone but quickly ended the call as we approached.
“Hey, Drew,” my brother said, giving him a wave. “This is my sister. The one I’ve been telling you about.”
I conjured a witch light and floated it up between us so I could get a better look.
Drew glanced up at me with giant brown eyes. He was tall, dark and handsome, exactly the type my brother would fall for, and if I was honest, exactly the type I would fall for as well. Over six-foot tall, he was trim and muscular with short, wavy black hair and dark eyebrows. Judging from his features and skin tone, he might be Indian American like my family or perhaps Bangladeshi or Pakistani. Either way, Mama would be pleased.
God, he was handsome. And was I already sweating? I needed to pull it together!
But, I was getting ahead of myself. Judging from his expensive cell phone, watch and suit, he was rich and knew it. Growing up in this neighborhood, I’d had enough of spoiled rich boys and their attitudes. They always thought they deserved something just for breathing. No, my type was much more socio-economically typical.
I extended a stiff hand, adopting an expression that I hope conveyed no interest in him. “Drew, is it? How do you know Viraj?”
My tone was distrusting and sharp. Viraj stared at me like I was embarrassing him, but Drew didn’t seem to miss a beat.
“Hi, Disha. Nice to meet you. Viraj has told me a lot about you. And, to answer your question, I met Viraj online, but it’s not as weird and creepy as it seems.” He gave a casual laugh.
“Disha,” Viraj whispered, elbowing me.
I stood my ground. “What is a grown man doing befriending a boy on a video game? And who invited you to this party?”
“I did,” Viraj hissed.
Drew gave a disarming smile. “Hey, I get it. It’s weird. Maybe I should go.”
He started to walk back toward the party, giving me a calm smile and nodding to Viraj. I felt satisfied, great at being a protective big sister, but then Viraj grabbed my arm.
“You idiot,” he said. “Drew is practically royalty. I had him come here, one because he’s cool and two because he’s perfect for you. And you’re blowing it!” He hissed the last line, giving my elbow a shake.
I was about to remind him that I could still get him in a Full Nelson, heels or not, but then his words registered in my brain.
“Yes! His father is head of the High Council. As in, head of all magic. Internationally.” He made bug-eyes at me.
Wow. The High Council of Magic oversaw everything. Drew was basically magical royalty. A prince of sorts. But, what did I care about that? I rolled my eyes at Viraj.
“You must believe I’m pretty shallow if that’s all you think I care about.”
“Besides all that, he’s a cool dude. Like, hella nice. Like, save-the-orphans, help-an- old-lady-across-the-street nice.”
I glanced across the garden path. Drew was on his cell phone again, keeping a polite distance to avoid eavesdropping on our conversation. So what if he was handsome and nice? That didn’t mean he was my type.
“Disha, I’m trying to save you. Mama has a list.”
“A list?” I asked, my heart starting to pound.
“Yes, a list of guys she’s going to introduce you to this summer. I’ve seen it. None of them are under twenty-five and none of them are like Drew. One is an IRS agent.”
Oh God, I’d forgotten that Mama was sure I needed a serious boyfriend, one that she would approve of. If Viraj was right, she would spend all summer parading guys through our house, trying desperately to get me to go on dates with them. And Mama’s choice in guys was notoriously terrible. They were all boring and stuffy and predictable. She’d make me miserable if I couldn’t find a way to fend her off.
I stared at Drew’s shadow.
“Go talk to him,” Viraj begged.
“Fine.” I doused my witch light and gave Viraj a pointed look which he probably couldn’t see since it had grown dark. Whatever. If Drew was terrible, I could take it out on my brother later by unplugging his gaming PC during a campaign or something.
I walked over to where Drew was standing and took a deep breath. I waited for him to quickly end his call before I extended my hand again.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m sorry if I was rude. My brother says you’re cool. Let’s start over.”
“No problem, Disha. I dig the big sister vibe.”
He put his strong hand in mine as his eyes lock onto me. In the moonlight, a giant smile spread across his devastatingly handsome face. Rich, hot as hell, and not picked out by my mother.
God, I was in trouble.
Coming this Friday! Stay tuned for more info!