Welcome to the Family Magic Birthday Extravaganza! Family Magic, the first book in Patti Larsen’s epic 20-book Hayle Coven young adult series, is having its second anniversary–and we’re bringing the magic, fun, and awesomeness to this birthday celebration!
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Check out this deleted chapter from Family Magic, where we find out the full story behind Frank’s transformation into a vampire.
I made it to the light at the end of the tunnel, namely the door at the top of the stairs and forced my way through the hungry crowd in the kitchen. I reached the hallway before anyone could stop me and pressed my back against the cool wall of the dark hallway, trying to shut out the laughing voices in the next room. The last thing I wanted to do was participate in the social gathering that always followed a night of ceremony. Miriam took her role as coven leader very seriously and the party would go on well into the night. I just hoped the fight we’d had would prevent her from insisting I join the rest of the coven in the celebration.
For some reason, I just didn’t feel like celebrating.
I made it to the stairs without being challenged and took it as a victory. As I took the first step I heard my mother’s voice, cheerful and welcoming, in the kitchen and breathed a sigh of relief she had recovered. I fully intended to corner her the next day and try to apologize, especially since I knew if I let it go too long she would start moping and using guilt again.
I was so focused on escape I practically tripped over the two people kissing on the stairs. I let out a small, involuntary shriek and slipped back a step, clutching at the rail to keep myself from falling. I needn’t have bothered. Two sets of very strong hands grabbed and held me as the kissing couple moved with supernatural speed to save me from a tumble down the stairs. They pulled me down practically on top of them, overestimating each other’s strength, I guess. I ended up in a three-person heap, laughing with my would-be rescuers.
On one side, a handsome, boyish face grinned at me in the dark, features becoming clearer as I grew accustomed to the low light. Shiny white teeth and blue eyes flashed and the strong hands let me go. On the other, pale red hair shone in the faint light coming from the kitchen. Another set of very white teeth sparkled, pointed and very sharp.
I struggled to right myself, only succeeding in collapsing on them again. The resulting laughter eased my tension and I ended up relaxing between them as they both hugged me at once.
“Watch the fangs, Uncle Frank,” I mock-growled. My very handsome and very dead uncle did his best Hollywood Dracula impression.
“Oh, common, Syd,” he swept his head back, fangs exposed, “join the club! It’s a gas.”
I pushed away from him, sniggering.
“Dead guys get gas?” I ducked the fake swat he aimed at me and ended up with his girlfriend’s arms around me.
“I’ll hold her down,” Sunny said.
Yes, Sunny is her real name. Most unfortunate for a vampire, but she thinks it’s funny. I pretended to struggle and fought a case of the giggles. Release of tension usually makes me a little giddy.
“Fangs but no fangs,” I punned. Uncle Frank groaned and made a horrible face.
“No! Anything but puns! I’m melting!” He made a hideous noise and collapsed against the railing. Sunny and I giggled appreciatively.
“Not bad,” she prodded his ‘dead’ body with one bare foot.
“No Oscar here,” I said. “No actual melting happened, so…”
Uncle Frank sat up suddenly and shrugged.
“Everyone’s a critic.”
Sunny and I laughed. I leaned forward and hugged Uncle Frank hard, much harder than I intended. And even though it would have taken a lot more that than to hurt him, he noticed. He pulled back and cupped my face in his hands.
“Skipping the party, Syd?”
I tried to pull away but he wouldn’t let go. Sunny’s grip got a little tighter, too. I sighed. Can’t pull one over on a vampire, I guess.
“Not interested,” I said, trying to be casual and failing utterly. The tension came back and I know they both felt it.
Uncle Frank made a face. “Yeah, us either.”
I made a face back. “Vamps aren’t invited.”
“Their loss,” the pair said in unison. We giggled. Then, I sighed, heavy and sad, and collapsed completely against Sunny. She hugged me, her body warm. She must have eaten before I got there. I tried not to shudder at the thought.
Uncle Frank let me go and settled down on one elbow, blue eyes on mine.
“Miriam giving you a hard time again?”
“Try tag team Hayle,” I said. “They even dragged Meira into it.”
“Ouch,” Uncle Frank said. “Not really fair.”
I loved Uncle Frank. “You have no idea.”
“So the same old or new stuff?”
“Same old,” I toyed with the bracelet on Sunny’s wrist. “They just don’t get it.”
“What, that you wish you hadn’t been born the daughter of a demon? That you hate moving so much because something always happens that makes the coven relocate? That you have the potential to be the most powerful witch of your generation?”
I nodded, tears actually welling. I felt like crap. I knew Uncle Frank would get it.
“Poor you,” he said softly. I looked up at him and realized for the first time he wasn’t really sympathizing. He actually looked angry.
“Sorry?” I said.
Uncle Frank took a deep breath and exchanged a look with Sunny. He looked back at me and let the breath go. I wondered at the significance. After all, neither of them had to breath.
“Sorry, Syd,” he said. “I’ve just gotten to the point of having a hard time understanding that you are rejecting everything I ever wanted.”
I looked over my shoulder at Sunny. She looked really sad. I looked back at Uncle Frank and shook my head.
“I don’t get it.”
“Of course you don’t,” he answered. “You missed it all, kiddo. You were just a baby when it happened.”
“Are you planning to fill me in?”
He shrugged, not looking at me. I got mad all of a sudden and kicked him, hard.
“You know what really pisses me off? The stupid secrets! Our big, dark secrets we keep from the world and, obviously, from each other, too. Man, I hate this family!”
I struggled to pull away, but Sunny held me again.
“Let go,” I snapped, pushing her hands away.
Sunny looked at Uncle Frank. “Tell her,” she said.
Uncle Frank nodded. “Miriam will kill me but, yeah, okay, let’s tell Syd the truth.”
I managed to pull away from Sunny only because she was suddenly willing to let me go. I looked back and forth between them. Uncle Frank flashed a half smile, bitter and full of emotion.
“You never heard how I became a vampire, did you, Syd?”
I shook my head. “The usual way, I guess?”
Uncle Frank and Sunny both laughed, but there was no humor in it. The air seemed cold and I hugged myself.
“Yeah, Syd, the usual way. But you don’t know why.”
I watched him as he shifted on the step, uneasy, his hand gripping Sunny’s.
“It was my fault,” Sunny blurted.
“No way, Sunshine,” Uncle Frank stopped her. “Mine, all the way.”
“Hang on a sec,” I said. “Are you saying that Sunny… that you…”
“I made your uncle a vampire,” Sunny said.
I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding and tried to process it.
“Wow holy cow.”
Uncle Frank squeezed Sunny’s hand. “It was an accident, Syd. We never meant for it to go that far.”
I shook my head. “Seriously, Uncle Frank, what did you expect would happen? You’re a witch, or you were. You know vampirism is contagious. How could you possibly have an accident?”
“Because, Syd,” Uncle Frank spoke so softly I had to strain to hear over the growing noise in the kitchen, “that’s just it. I wasn’t a witch.”
“Sorry,” I said. “ You said what?”
Uncle Frank looked up at me, an old and aching sadness in his eyes that made me want to hug him as hard as I could and never let go. “I was born into the most powerful witch family in the country, the only son, second born, and I was born normal.”
I sat in silence, the second blow harder than the first. “You were born without magic?”
Uncle Frank nodded. I looked at Sunny whose expression confirmed it.
Suddenly, I felt like total crap. I had spent my entire life using Uncle Frank as a crying post, the only person I thought understood my feelings about being a witch. I had spent countless hours commiserating over my miserable life with him and he had offered only comfort and understanding. I had thought the vampirism had been from an attack. He was very powerful in magic and I just assumed that the journey to the undead had accentuated his abilities, not created them. I leaned forward and hugged him. He slowly hugged me back.
“I’m sorry, Uncle Frank,” I said.
His arms tightened. “I’m not,” he answered.
I let him go and leaned back. He smiled again, this time with genuine happiness. His eyes flickered to Sunny then back to me.
“I spent my whole life trying to raise my magic. You think you feel like a fish out of the aquarium. Imagine being the only person in your whole family who can’t do magic. Who everyone looks at with pity and treats like the class idiot. The normal who doesn’t fit in.” Some of the bitterness was back. “My parents didn’t know what to do with me. The coven ignored me and banished me from ceremonies, even from the parties afterwards because I made them uncomfortable. I couldn’t get it, Syd, don’t you see? I wasn’t one of them and never would be.”
I nodded. “I get it.”
Uncle Frank went on. “The only person who cared, who tried to help, was your mother. Miriam was the oldest and she saw it as her responsibility to help me find my magic. She defended me so much, I wondered if she felt guilty that she had so much magic, that she was even more powerful than our mother, and worried that that was the reason I had none.”
He shifted again, this time to relax a little. “I did blame her, later, just a little. I started thinking the same thing when we finally realized her full potential. I finally got to the point where I rejected everyone in the family and just ran away.
“I traveled for a few years, trying out what it was like to be normal, but I craved the power, the belonging. It seemed like everywhere I went, I met witches who knew our family. I was away when your grandmother, my mother, faced the Purity Coven and won, but I wasn’t there for her to help her and I always felt guilty, like if I had had power, maybe Ethpeal would still have her mind.”
“Mom tells me nothing could have saved Gram, Uncle Frank,” I said. “She gave up too much.”
Uncle Frank nodded. “Still. You can guess how I felt.”
I nodded, silent, not knowing what to say. I had never been on the comfort side before, at least not with him.
“I decided to try to find my magic on my own, by any means necessary. It really hadn’t occurred to me that maybe I was born normal after all. I always believed that the magic was hidden, blocked somehow and if I could find just the right spell, the right ritual, I could release it and finally claim my birthright.
“I tried everything, Syd, as guilty as that makes me feel. Yes,” he held up one hand to silence me before I could ask the obvious, shock on my face, “I even dabbled in negative magic. It never went very far, mind you, but only because I couldn’t bear the price. I contacted demons and foreign covens, witch doctors and priests but no one could help me. No one.
“At least, that’s what I thought. Until I met Sunny and everything changed.”
I looked at Sunny, too stunned by the revelations Uncle Frank was sharing to speak, but wanting her side of the story. Sunny smiled hesitantly at both of us.
“Frank changed everything for me too, Syd,” she said softly. Someone in the kitchen laughed loudly and we all jumped. Sunny giggled. “It feels like we’re breaking the rules, Frank.”
“We are. Keep going, Sunshine.”
She nodded, pale red hair rippling. “I’ve been around a long time, Syd,” she said. “And no, a lady doesn’t tell her age but I will tell you this: I’ve been around long enough to know that someone like your Uncle Frank and the wonderful family that made him don’t come around very often.”
I tried to ignore the gentle chiding and nodded.
She touched my face gently and smiled again. “When I met Frank, I had been alone for a long time. I had given up the traditional vampire ways of feeding on normals and turned to already drawn blood. Not as satisfying but does the trick.”
I tried not to shudder.
“I had decided that it was too dangerous for me to be around normals from then on and had begun to search for a place I could hide for the rest of eternity.” She made a face. “Am I glad I gave up that idea.”
Uncle Frank laughed. “Me too, love.”
Somehow their exchanges of gooey eyes didn’t bother me as much as my mom and dad.
Sunny went on. “Frank and I hit it off immediately, I think because he knew right away what I was and didn’t care. I stayed in the world for him at first out of curiosity and then out of love. When Frank finally told me what he was searching for, I felt terrible for him and wished there was something I could do to help. I went with him to try to find an answer but with each failure I watched him become more and more withdrawn, more desperate and torn apart.”
“I was a bit of a mess,” Uncle Frank grinned.
“I guess,” she answered. “One night we started talking about power. Frank knew I had some magic and to him, at that point, some magic was better than none. We came up with a plan to infuse him with just enough of my blood to trigger his power but keep him alive.”
“Guess that didn’t work, huh?” I kept it light and the pair laughed.
“Nope,” Uncle Frank said. “We both underestimated the strength of the vampire infection.”
“I wanted so much to make you happy. And because of that I gave you too much,” Sunny sighed.
“You gave me what I asked for,” Uncle Frank leaned over me to kiss Sunny on the temple. “And it wasn’t enough. I took more and ended up, well, dead.”
“Happy dead,” she laughed.
“You betcha,” he laughed back.
I sat between the two vampires and felt like a total jerk. I had spent so much time feeling sorry for myself that I hadn’t even considered that they had a sadder story than I did.
“That’s crappy, Uncle Frank. No offense, Sunny,” I said quickly.
“None taken,” she murmured with a smile.
Uncle Frank disagreed, however. “I’m exactly where I want to be. And because of Sunny and the vampirism, my power, my magic, emerged. I’m finally what I wanted all along.”
“Knowing what you know, being who you are, how could you put up with me all that time?” I asked him, outraged for him at myself as odd as that was. “I would have smacked me up side the head about a million years ago.”
Uncle Frank smiled at me. “Because, Syd. Despite the fact we wanted opposite things, you were exactly like me. You just wanted to fit in, to be normal, like everyone else. Except, normal to you was, well, exactly that. To be a normal. I got it, I get it and I love you for it.”
“I feel a huge ‘but’ hanging out there, Uncle Frank,” I said.
He nodded, serious. “But… be careful, Syd, very careful what you wish for. It never happens exactly the way you want and can severely bite you in the butt. And the power, it doesn’t just go away, it just hides for a while… and when it comes out, it can take everything away again…”
I hugged myself then and they hugged me too. I felt their love pour over me and into me like a warm wave, but this time I didn’t resist. Not their love, their power, because I felt perfect and accepted in their arms, like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
“Because you don’t expect anything from me,” I whispered.
Uncle Frank leaned back, eyes widening. “Is that it, kiddo?”
“I guess that’s part of it. I’m tired of being told who I am, what I’m supposed to do, be, how powerful I’m supposed to be, it’s crap, Uncle Frank and I’m sick of it.”
He was suddenly very still.
“Have you told them?”
“What’s to tell?” I felt the bitterness well up and didn’t try to hide it from them. “They don’t care. All that matters is the family, the power, the lineage. You get that, Uncle Frank. They did it to you too.”
He sighed then, deep and long.
“Now it’s my turn to be sorry, Syd. I had no idea.”
“Maybe I didn’t either until just now,” I said, believing it. Weird how revelations can come on a stairway in the dark with two vampires as witnesses. I’d have to try it again.
I pulled myself to my feet, away from them, suddenly really tired.
“I’m going to go to bed. Can you tell Mom if she asks?”
“Did you make her cry?” He asked.
“Yup,” I sighed.
“I’ll tell her,” he winked.
I hugged both of them and continued on up the stairs, my whole body feeling heavy and almost sore. I made it to the last step and my bedroom, aware that I was feeling way less sorry for myself but wondering if I would ever really be free.
“Love you, Syd,” Uncle Frank said.
“Love you too,” I said, and closed my bedroom door.
* * * *
About Family Magic
I batted at the curl of smoke drifting off the tip of my candle and tried not to sneeze. My heavy velvet cloak fell in oppressive, suffocating folds in the closed space of the ceremony chamber, the cowl trapping the annoying bits of puff I missed. I hated the way my eyes burned and teared, an almost constant distraction. Not that I didn’t welcome the distraction, to be honest. Anything to take my mind from what went on around me.
Being part of a demon raising is way less exciting than it sounds.
Sydlynn Hayle’s life couldn’t be more complicated. Trying to please her coven, starting over in a new town, and fending off a bully cheerleader who hates her are just the beginning of her troubles. What to do when delicious football hero Brad Peters–boyfriend of her cheer nemesis–shows interest? If only the darkly yummy witch, Quaid Moromond, didn’t make it so difficult for her to focus on fitting in with the normal kids. Add to that her crazy grandmother’s constant escapes driving her family to the brink and Syd’s between a rock and a coven site. Forced to take on power she doesn’t want to protect a coven who blames her for everything, only she can save her family’s magic.
If her family’s distrust doesn’t destroy her first.