Chapter Four

Now this was a total surprise.

Friday, November 21st

The first vacation could not have come fast enough. I couldn't believe for Thanksgiving we had the entire week off. This was the first time we would be leaving school and I couldn't be happier. Mrs. Ethridge's office was our departure point through the mirrors. This was the first time I traveled this way, and I couldn't wait to see what it was like to use the Mirror Network.

"Now ladies are we ready? All you need to do is imagine the mirror in your home. Sarah this one will be going to your living room. Oh and Jenny, your parents will be waiting for you at the Millers house. So in you go, Sarah first followed by Jenny." I looked at the mirror and remembered the full size one that was in the living room. When I stepped through the mirror It was like I was stepping through a door into another room. I was in my living room within a second.

"Sarah your home," My mom said with a big hug. The living room was full of people waiting to welcome us home including Jenny's parents and Michael. When he smiled at me it made my stomach flip a few times. I was distracted by him almost forgetting where I was.

"Oh Jenny's on her way now you might want to step aside," Katie said.

"Sorry I forgot," I said with a small laugh. I looked back at the mirror and Jenny came through. I walked out of the way towards the kitchen to get out of her way where my Grandmother Miller was here rolling out some scone dough.

"Hi Gran," I said as I walked into the kitchen.

"Sarah your back and my your more beautiful than ever," she said in her accent identical to Dad's. She hugged me covered in flour that was evidence of her being in one of her baking moods. Her hair long gray hair was pulled back in a bun with a few loose strands that were trying to hide the dark blue Miller eyes. Although Wales didn't celebrate Thanksgiving she usually took advantage of being able to spend time with us.

"Tell me have the boys at school been asking to call on you," she whispered to me as. I think she was trying to keep my dad from hearing her.

"Gran," I said nearly hissing though my teeth. I remembered to compose myself so I wasn't being disrespectful to her. "Are you forgetting I go to an all girl's school, there are no boys," I answered her matching her volume.

"Well then I'm sure it will be soon. I think I know someone who has an eye on you," she said quietly.

"Who is it," I asked her now embarrassed.

"I can't tell you. That would be cheatin' fate. But I know it when I see it. Anyways the visions have told me whom you will be with. Never doubt the divination my dear."

"Mum you aren't going on about that again are you," Dad butted in as usual, matching our whispers.

"Don't feel bad Princess. I can't even get it out of her who it is. When I was your age she did the same thing to me," Dad said while he was eating a scalding hot scone. He was trying to not burn his mouth. He could never wait long enough for them to cool. I don't blame him, they are really good. "Dad and Gran continued to bicker and I knew this would be a subject she would not let up on. Dad can be just as stubborn.

"Hey Rick we will see you later at our house for the game right," Alan asked.

"Yah Al, Ricky and I will be there. He should be back any time now. He said he had to finish up grading some papers," Dad answered him.

"Hey Sarah, you coming over with your dad for the game," Alan asked. I had no idea why he asked me that. I haven't watched a game outside of Thanksgiving Day with my dad since I was little. I watched Michael elbow Alan in the ribs hard and whisper something to him.

"No thanks, I think I will stay here and enjoy not having to think for a change. But thanks for asking. I will see you at dinner," I said as I escaped the awkward situation. I thought he would try to talk me into going over to their house for the game if I stayed in the room. I have a feeling he is up to something. I wouldn't be surprised if was planning on a prank of some kind.

Wednesday, November 26th

Over the past few days I helped Mom with the Thanksgiving planning as family members trickled in. My Aunt Vickie, Uncle Ervin, along with my cousins Mary and Kevin came in this morning. The house was starting to feel cramped. If it wasn't so cold out I would be outside either taking a walk or sitting under the willow tree in the back yard reading in dad's old hammock.

I was getting overwhelmed with all of the preparations and needed a break. "Mom, can I go to the mall with Jenny and Mary? It looks like we don't have much more to do around here. I'm starting to feel a little claustrophobic with everyone here."

"Sure honey, everything on today's list is done. I don't see that being a problem." I called Jenny to tell her we were going to the mall. Michael volunteered to take us. He told Jenny he had some shopping to do too. I didn't care who went. I just wanted to get out of the house.

About an hour later we all climbed into the Barnes's minivan. When Mary and I got to the van both she and Jenny got into the back seat. Michael opened the front passenger door for me. He was acting like he did back during summer break. I thought he was practicing for whoever this girl Sydney told me he wanted to ask out.

"Hey where's the mustang? I was looking forward to riding in it," Mary said.

"The heater needs to be fixed," he said as we got into the van. The ride there was long. It felt like everyone in the Omaha area had the same Idea.

"Let's meet at the food court at four," Michael instructed as we got out of the car. We all headed into the crowded mall.

"I don't think I've ever seen this many people here before," Jenny said looking around.

"If it is this crowded now imagine what Friday will be like. This is a mad house," Mary added. They were right, it was insanely crowded.

We made our way through the mall with some effort. Pre-Thanksgiving Day sales were in full swing. All three of us girls headed to The Alabaster Pot while Michael shopped on his own. Kelly was taking care of customers and she looked like she was swamped. We quickly picked out what we were buying and headed to the register.

"I got this one," she said to the other employee I didn't recognize. "I wondered when I would see you two again. If you can, could you help out Friday afternoon? Let's say ten until four?"

"I will have to check with my parents to see if they have anything planned. I'll call or e-mail you as soon as I know."

"Please let me know either way as soon as possible. If you could help you would be a life saver. Oh and I gave you two your employee discounts. Have a good thanksgiving." She immediately went to help the next customer. The store was getting more crowded by the minute. I came here to get away from crowds not to be in one.

After a few more hours of shopping we went to the food court for a break. Michael was there waiting for us. "Already done," he asked nervously.

"We just stopped in to get a drink. I think I need to go to the gourmet chocolate store and get my mom something she asked for," Mary said. "Jenny why don't you go with me so you can check it out."

"Hey Sarah, want to go…" Jenny was interrupted by Mary.

"She looks like she is wiped. Sarah why don't you stay here and avoid the crowds? Its right around the corner- we won't be gone long." I sat down bushed from the walking and fighting the mob. I could tell by Mary's tone she was up to something.

After they left I realized I was alone with Michael. I still felt the same way about him as I did over the summer. I didn't want to be the first to say something. I wondered if he could be the one Gran was talking about. I didn't think he liked me in that way. I tried to think of something else to keep myself from hoping for something that wasn't going to happen.

"I'm going to get a soda would you like one? You look exhausted," he asked me as if he was concerned about me.

"Sure just get me a cola," I said as I grabbed for money from my purse.

He put his hand on mine stopping me from getting my purse. The same warm goose bumpy feeling went through my arm like it did back on the summer. "Don't worry I got It," he said smiling at me. A few minutes later he was back with the drinks.

"Here you go," he said as he handed me the drink with a straw next to it a few minutes later. This was something he never did before. Very gentlemanly and I liked it.

"This it's nice of you to get this for me. Thanks," I said putting the straw in the cup.

"You're welcome. So I know everyone is asking you this but how is school going for you," he asked me.

"It's going good," I said sipping my drink. I want to smile at him but I don't want to send the wrong message. I concentrated on looking at my drink to distract me from staring at him.

"I see you like the necklace we got you," he said as he looked into my eyes.

"Yah, I like it a lot. It's become my favorite," I said back while playing with it.

"It sets off your eyes. The blue I mean. Kind of makes them stand out," he said softly. I sat up in shock. He really was flirting with me. When I looked at him he had a shy look on his face and his cheeks are turning a little red.

"Umm thanks," I answered back. I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks as I was turning red myself. Not knowing what to say there was a moment of silence.

"So this year your school is hosting the Valentine's Day dance?" He asked me.

"Yeah, I guess it's our turn. I don't know who is more excited about it the teachers or the other girls." I answered back. I am trying so hard not to smile at him.

"Has anyone asked you yet?"

"No, it's kind of hard to be asked on a date when you go to an all girl's school. I don't know a lot of guys that go to any of the schools."

"Good point. Well I was thinking. Would you like to go with me? You don't have to if you don't want to. I just thought since we know each other and all we could go…" I wanted to go with him but I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. After thinking about it for a moment I decided I will go with him as a friend. Then if he wants more he will ask. The last thing I wanted to do is assume he wants more when he only wants to be friends.

"Sure I would like to," I tried to cut his nervous rambling. Jenny does this all of the time. This was definitely a Barnes trait.

"Michael, Michael," I said louder as he was still talking.

"Yes," he answered.

"I said yes."

"Oh sorry got nervous," he said with a smile. I answered back his smile. "Well there is something else that I want to ask. I have wanted to ask you this since this summer. Well actually a few years now. Do you want to…umm…Be my girlfriend?"

My eyebrows raised and eyes widened in shock. A surge of excitement ran through my stomach. I felt like my insides were going to explode. I can't believe he is asking me out. This is something I really want to do. So I was the one Sydney was talking about. The one he was holding out for. I wondered exactly how long he's wanted to ask me out. I looked at his eyes that were full of excitement. I couldn't help myself. I couldn't fight it any more.

"Yes, of course I will." I couldn't help but smile at him. A part of me wanted to jump over the table and hug him.

He sat up in his chair with a huge smile. "Really, you're not joking? How do we do this? I've never had a girlfriend before."

"I don't know either. I've never been with anyone before either," He reached for my hand smiling at me. I instantly jerked it back before I realized he wanted to hold my hand.

"Sorry not used to this," I said to him as I let him. It was a nice feeling to have him hold my hand. I felt like our hands together fit perfectly.

"A-hem," I heard a few moments later. Mary and Jenny were there with their shopping bags. Jenny had a look of shock on her face as she saw us holding hands. Michael and I looked up at them embarrassed.

"It's time to go," he nervously said as he got up.

"Told you," Mary whispered to Jenny loud enough for me to hear.

Leaving the food court he grabbed both of our shopping bags and held my hand weaving his fingers with mine. When we got back to the van Michael held the door open for me and again once we got home. We said our goodbyes for now and went to our homes. I called Jenny.

"You have got to get over here. I need to tell you everything." Within a few minutes Jenny was in my room.

"Okay spill it. Don't leave out any details," Jenny commanded. I told her everything that happened. She told me Mary wanted to talk to her about the possibility of Michael and I dating and that's why she took her to the chocolate store to give us a few minutes alone.

"Who's asking who out," I heard my mom ask outside the door.

"You are going to find out anyways so I better tell you now. I have a date to the Valentine's Day Dance. Michael asked me this afternoon. Okay so there you have it." I just left out the girlfriend/boyfriend detail to my parents. I didn't know how he would feel about me telling everyone right away.

Later on he called me. I was excited to talk to him on the phone. "So if your family is anything like my family they all know."

"I didn't know what you told them. All I told Mom is about the dance. I haven't told her about us being official. Dad doesn't know yet. Jenny and Mary know, but that's it."

"Well actually that's perfect," Michael said.

"What did I say something bad," I asked.

"No-I just mean I can ask your dad if it's okay for us to go out. I think it would be a good idea if I asked him. I'm kind of scared of what he would do being in the MFBI. I'm afraid he would do something to me and I would never get to see you."

"You know we're probably going get lectured about responsible dating from both sets of parents," I told him.

"Dad already knows. I finally broke down and told him when I got back from school that it was you I wanted to ask out. That's why he invited you over to watch the game with us Friday night. I think he was trying to help me by having you come over so I could ask you out. His intentions were good but as usual the timing was terrible.

Your dad and Ricky are coming over for tonight's Bears game. It will be a perfect time. I am nervous about asking him."

"Your funeral," I said jokingly. "I'm sure everything will be alright."

"I just want to make sure everything is alright. You know I already miss you like crazy and you are just next door. Hey I have to go. I'll call you later and tell you what happened. Bye beautiful."

"Bye," I said as I hung up the phone.

After dinner Dad and Ricky went next door to watch the game with them. It's time to tell Mom. I have no idea where this conversation will go. She will probably ground me until I graduate college.

"Mom I need to talk to you privately in your room please?"

"Alright honey," she said in a concerned tone. My heart was racing. I felt like I was about to give her the worst news in the world. I better get this out fast.

"There's something I didn't tell you earlier and I need to let you know before Dad gets back from the game. Michael's going to ask Dad if we can start dating. He has already asked me and I said yes," I said quickly. There I said it. It was over with. I was expecting that lecture or a stern no.

"Agatha I need to talk to you," Mom yelled across the house. Mom looked like she was trying not to laugh.

"Mom it's not funny, does everyone need to know," I asked.

"Just wait this is something you are going to want to hear," Mom said back to me.

"Is everything alright in here," Gran asked.

"Yes its fine, looks like your vision was right Agatha."

"It's about time that boy asked you out. I was beginning to think he would never do it. It's like I told you-never doubt the divination," Gran said as she came over to hug me.

Then we had to wait to see what Dad, Alan and Katie have to say. If dad has his way I would probably never go out with anyone. An agonizing hour passed and nothing. I started pacing in the living room waiting for my father's fury to unfold.

I wondered if Michael was going to chicken out? I knew we really liked each other and we both are older than when both sets of parents when they started going out. With how protective my dad was, there is no telling what his reaction would be.

Mom finally gave me a cup of tea and told me to sit down and quit wearing out the carpet. Next thing I knew Katie was at our house more excited about this than I was.

"So what did my dad say," I asked her.

"Michael waited until half time to do it. Rick's face went a few shades of pink to purple, then he looked at Alan and then he said. "Al, I'm glad it's your boy and not some other family. Oh alright you have my blessing but there will be rules. We will discuss them together, both sets of parents and the two of you," she mocked my dad's voice. I sighed with relief that everything went alright.

"Your father would probably want to have the conversation after the game tonight," Mom said. We waited another hour and a half for the game to finish. I didn't think I could have been more nervous than I was. I tried to distract myself by reading but I kept thinking about Michael. I was still in shock that he asked me out. Someone who's an unbelievably gorgeous guy wants to be with me. I never would have thought it was him that I would end up dating. He waited to ask me out. In a way I feel honored and like I'm the luckiest girl in the world. All I could do when I think about him is smile.

Immediately after the game we went over to their house. I sat next to Michael at their dinner table and he held my hand. When dad saw us holding hands he gave a disapproving look. Mom lightly hit him on the arm giving him the hint to ease up. "Now the kids want to date. That is alright by me. But the two of you will have rules to abide by." Dad began his all too familiar lecture. He only did this when there was something major going on in the family or when one of us was in big trouble. "Having both of you in separate schools is a good thing. I want every, and I mean every activity with the both of you chaperoned. There will be a curfew and we are to know where the two of you are together at all times," Dad commanded.

Alan looked like he was fighting laughing. "Come on relax Rick. I seriously doubt these two will be alone enough to do anything stupid. I think if they are chaperoned and we as parents are as involved as much as we can there is nothing to worry about. You have raised a smart girl and she has a good head on her shoulders. If she is as smart as I know she is, she won't put up with anything. Besides she's already put him in his place a few times," he said giving me a wink.

"What are you trying to do Al, suck up?" Dad took a deep breath then relaxed as Alan suggested. "Okay I can't believe I'm saying this but I agree with Alan here."

Dad stood by Michael leaning into him while looking into his face like he was interviewing a suspect. "But I'm warning you boy if you mess this up. If you hurt my little girl in any way you will never be allowed to see her again. Got it?"

Michael had a look of terror on his face after Dad gave him the ultimatum. "Yes sir," he answered nervously. I lightly squeezed his hand to let him know everything will be alright.

"Rick honey I think you're taking this a little too seriously. You are not at work and Michael isn't a criminal brought in for questioning. Alan's right; both of them have got a good head on their shoulders. I do have to give the kids credit. They are older than when we all were engaged. They are both far more mature than we were at their age. Everything will be fine and sit down you are even making me nervous."

Alan sat back with his hands behind his head leaning the chair back. "I do have to tell you Cowboy, It's a good thing you asked during half time. With how badly the Bears lost tonight you may not have stood a chance," I could feel Michael's hand loosen up in mine. He was calming down after dad's threat. Once the tension in the room finally broke Alan, Katie and My mom started to laugh.

Dad sat down and they finished setting our dating rules. It took about a good hour to for them to finish. Alan seemed to be more laid back about it then Dad did. He actually seemed happy that we were together.

"Now with everything settled, I am going home. Sarah, Janey I will see you two at home alright," Dad announced.

"Yes we will be there soon. I love you honey," Mom said giving Dad a kiss. I didn't know if I wanted to be revolted or admire their love for each other for all of these years.

Alan, Katie and Mom were on the other side of the room back to discussing tomorrow's plans. I put my head on his shoulder relived that the lectures were over. There was something about his cologne I liked. I couldn't place it but it was a comforting and familiar scent. "Are you alright," he turned to put his forehead against mine. He gave me a big smile that put me at ease.

"Yah, I'm just glad that's over with. I had no idea what to expect. It's nice to see your parents are pretty happy about all of this."

"Are you kidding? Dad has been bugging me over the last few years about dating. I think he was ready for me to start dating before I was. You have no idea how happy you have made me today." He started to play with my hair tucking it back behind my ear.

"You're not the only one who is happy here." I couldn't help but smile back at him.

I lost my train of thought and forgot what I was going to say next.

"Tell me what you're thinking about."

"Really? I just thought that was something guys asked in the movies." I could see Alan tapping Katie's arm and pointing to us. "Well right now I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I would talk more but we have an audience."

"Sarah we need to be getting home. Tomorrow is a long day," Mom said. She turned back to Katie. "We will see you tomorrow. I think the first game starts at ten."

"So I guess I will see you tomorrow," Michael said kissing my forehead.

"Okay tomorrow," I said as I got up.

When we got home Mom followed me to my room. I plopped down on the bed laying down on one of my pillows. "Mom I don't see what the big deal is. Were not planning a wedding here. You are all treating this like it's the biggest controversy of the century."

"This is the first any of us had to deal with dating. We knew it would happen sooner or later. We just didn't expect it to be the two of you. We thought Ricky would be first. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled it's Michael you have chosen. From what Katie has told me, they are just as happy the two of you are together.

You have to understand that this is new to your father. You are his baby girl and it will be hard for him to accept you are not so little anymore. When you were born, he used to dream of the day he could intimidate your boyfriend by polishing his grandfather's sword," she said with a laugh.

I know I am the last person in the world you'll want to talk to when it comes to relationships, but if you ever need anything I'm here for you. I know you wanted to wait to start dating but sometimes life has other plans than we do. You can't expect everything to always happen as you want it to. You need to leave some room for wonderful surprises. I think Michael qualifies as one. Now it's late and I have a lot to do tomorrow. I'm going to bed," she hugged me and went to her room.

I went into the kitchen to get something to drink. Ricky was there washing dishes. "Hey Punk, how's it going? I haven't gotten much of a chance to catch up with you since I got home." I grabbed a dish towel and dried the dishes just after he rinsed them. Dad has been procrastinating on fixing the dishwasher.

"So Mike asked you out? That's one I never expected. I knew he liked someone but you were the last one I suspected. It took me forever to get him to tell me. I think he was worried about how I would react. I told him if he hurts you I would have to kill him."

"No, you didn't!" I was shocked he would say that to him.

"Your right I didn't say it, but I wanted to." I hit him with a dish towel at him while scowling at him.

"Yah it's not like you have a girl yet," I teased.

"Well there is someone. I'm thinking about asking her out. I met her at the dance last year. She goes to North Central's college."

"You're not going to leave me hanging? Who is she?"

"I don't know if you know her or not. She is a different than most girls," he said looking out the window and smiling. "I'm just not sure how Mom and Dad will react."

"Who is it," I nagged. He took a deep breath. I could tell that he was afraid to tell me.

"Sydney Black."

"Whoa Sydney, that is so cool. I know her pretty well. Her cousin Ryndee is my lab partner. I know what she is. I don't think Mom or Dad will have any issues with her. Do you keep in touch with her?"

"Yah we e-mail each other pretty much every day. I don't think she has figured out you're my sister. Mike and some of the other guys have been trying to get me to ask her out, but I don't know what she will say. Now I know what he went through before he asked you out."

"Actually she knows you're my brother." I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to get back at him for telling me he was going to threaten Michael. "She asked me the first day of school if you are my brother and I told her you were. Don't worry I told her all about you, both the good and the bad." He had a look of shock on his face. "I told her you like to play basketball and you are good at chess and other strategic games. Oh and I couldn't leave out your collection of flying unicorns epically the pink and purple glittered one." He dropped a plate back into the dish water.

"Flying unicorns? Why would you tell her that?" He was starting to get mad. I had to laugh at his gullibility.

"You will believe anything I say. Boy the Miller truth skills flew right past you. Don't worry I didn't tell her anything. We've never really talked about you." Ricky splashed dishwater on me. About a second later he started laughing too.

"You better to talk to her soon if you want to ask her out. She is a really nice girl and I wouldn't be surprised if she said yes." I had a feeling there was more to this friendship he had with Sydney, like he was keeping something from me.

"What are you two squabbling about now?" Dad came into the kitchen and our conversation. I could tell my brother had a long night of conversations ahead of him.

"Now would be a good time. Do you want me to stay or give you two a minute?"

"You can stay. I was there when Michael asked Dad."

"Son what is it?"

"Dad there is a girl I am interested in asking out. Well she isn't human Dad. She is a vampire." I was waiting for the time bomb to go off. It was bad enough he had to deal with Michael and I earlier. Now he will have to worry about Ricky dating on the same night.

"So what's the problem?"

"You don't have any issues with her being a vampire?"

"I have no problem with that at all. Your sister's right. You better hurry up and ask her before someone else does. Where does she go to school?"

"She goes to school with me. Her cousin and I become pretty good friends."

"Good, well looks like you and I need to have a talk. You might want to ask Alan about a faculty member dating a college student. Just to be sure everything is alright." This was my clue to go.

"I'm going to bed now. I will see you in the morning. Goodnight punk, goodnight Daddy." I said giving him a peck on the cheek.

"Goodnight squirt," Ricky answered back. I usually hated being called squirt but I probably had it coming for calling him punk.

I went into my room and Mary was back from the family room. She came over to me putting her hands on my shoulders and jumped. "I knew it, I knew it, and I knew it," she sang.

"Okay I get it. You knew it. Thanks, now the entire family knows and I highly doubt that we will get a moments peace together."

"I can't believe he asked you out. I mean after last year's dance he was the guy most of the girls drooled over. So my little cousin bagged Mike Barnes."

"Bagged? You say that like he is animal caught on a hunt. Besides from what he has told me he's been wanting to ask me out and he just now finally got the courage to do it. I'm still having a hard time believing this is happening. I just wish I could get some sort of a clue about how to do this…"

My rapid and panicky verbiage was cut off by a paper airplane flying into my room and landing on my bedside table. On one of the wings it read. "To my Sweet Sarah,"

"Oh looks like we're starting the love notes," Mary pointed to the letter. My hands shook not knowing what to expect.

My sweet, beautiful Sarah,

Hi baby I have been waiting a while to tell you how I feel about you. I was scared you would laugh at me and our friendship would be ruined. Both of our families know now and I'm not sure to be happy it's out in the open, or terrified that everyone will try to run our relationship for us.

Thank you for agreeing to be my date for the Valentine's Day Dance and for being my girl. I hope you sleep well tonight. I can't wait to see you tomorrow.

Michael

"How nice he has a nickname for me already," I told her. "Hey how do I send one back to him," I asked her.

"Oh you write your note down, fold it into a plane and cast the spell. You did bring your wand home with you I hope," she asked. I looked at her with an expression that told her she didn't need to ask.

"What's the spell," I asked her anxiously.

"You point your wand at it, picture his face clearly in your mind and say his first and last name and the location. The more information the better," I quickly grabbed a blank sheet of paper and wrote back to him.

My Dearest Michael,

Hi babe, Thank you for your letter and invitation to the dance. I am excited that you were the one to ask me to the dance and to be your girl. I am still in a happy shock that you chose me of all the girls you can pick from. I wish you a good night's rest too and I will see you tomorrow."

Your Sweet Sarah

I folded the letter and wrote on the just like he did with my letter. I thought of him so clearly it felt like he was there in the room with me. I pointed my wand and cast the spell.

"MICHAEL ALLEN BARNES, HOME, BEDROOM."

The letter quickly zoomed off and disappeared into my vanity mirror. "I hope he gets it," I said after it disappeared. I read his letter at least three times before I took a long hot bath. There's so many people staying here I doubt I will get any hot water in the morning.

Thursday, November 27th

I woke up to the smell of turkey cooking in the oven along with fried eggs and bacon. It was a cold typical Nebraska fall morning. I could hear Dad and Ricky walking on the roof. I could only assume they were starting to put the Christmas lights on the house. Over the past few years this became a neighborhood competition. Dad still thinks last year you could see our house from the highway.

I got dressed and headed for the kitchen. About half of the family was already in the kitchen keeping busy with all of the food preparations including my Uncle Bill. He was my mom's uncle and one of the best cooks in the family. He could just look at the turkey and tell you if it was done. To this day nobody has gotten sick from under cooked turkey.

I ate breakfast at the table in the dining room. The eggs were fresh out of the frying pan scalding my mouth as I ate them. I didn't care this was so yummy. "Looks like this will be a busy day for everyone," I commented.

"It usually is," Mom said back.

"Hey Kelly wants to know if I can work tomorrow at ten. With all of the… discussions last night I forgot to ask."

"That's fine. Just let your dad know you are working."

"I will. I also need a ride to work tomorrow. I don't think I will be able to find a parking spot if I drove. I'm just happy I don't have to work at five in the morning with all of the insane shoppers." I got up from my seat and hand washed my dishes from breakfast. I stared out of the window looking at the willow tree in the yard in a trance. I started to think about Michael again. I don't know why but it feels like he is constantly on my mind. I wondered if I am over consumed about him or if this is normal.

"SARAH!" I saw a set of hands waiving in front of my face breaking my trance. "Sarah, the dishwasher is fixed. Kevin did it this morning." Aunt Vickie was next to me looking like she was trying not to laugh. "Sit down and have some juice." She guided me to a chair at the table and handed me a glass of orange juice. As I sat down I realized I was nearly humiliated in front of half of my family.

It was well known for those who want to stay clear of the kitchen until dinner. You go downstairs to the family room to watch a football game. Jenny's family was joining us for dinner this year. Michael came over and sat next to me on the couch. "Hi happy Thanksgiving beautiful," he whispered in his smooth voice. I wasn't used to being complimented like this, but it's something I could get used to. He put his arm around me then kissed my forehead. "Is this alright? I don't want to make you uncomfortable," he whispered again.

"Actually I like it. Happy Thanksgiving handsome," I said cuddling into him.

I knew I was nervous about all of this, but for some reason sitting there with him was serene.

For dinner the dining room table was extended out with the leaves that were usually stored underneath the table. This year Mom insisted on using place cards. Michael sat next to me on my left and Jenny was on the other side of him. Mom was at the head of one side of the table and Dad as usual was at the other side. Dad pulled out his newest knife he bought from a celebrity chef and cut the turkey. Dad will never admit this, but he is just as hooked on watching cooking shows and buying the gadgets as Mom is.

After dinner was over I started on the dishes. Michael jumped in and helped me with them. When we were done with clean up. I needed to get out of the kitchen for a minute. It was still hot from the cooking from earlier. The back porch was empty and headed out to get some fresh air. I sat down on the ice cold swinging chair. The coolness felt nice against my over heated back. I needed to think about how much has changed over the past few days.

I was having a hard time grasping how I was now dating someone. I felt like I was on my own with this. I was scared and happy at the same time. A few minutes after sitting there looking at the stars the sliding glass door opened. I was annoyed that I just lost what little bit of privacy I had.

"May I join you?" It was Michael. The butterflies flew throughout my stomach again as I saw him. He was in his Bellevue West letter man jacket.

"Sure," I told him I couldn't help but smile while looking at him.

"It's a little crowded in there. It's nice to get out here to breathe for a minute," he said as he sat down next to me. He reached for my hand lacing our fingers together then kissed the back of my hand.

"Aren't you cold," he asked me.

"I am now that you mention it. I came out here to cool off. I'll be right back. I'm going to go and get my coat." I got up to go inside.

"Here this will keep you warm." He took off his jacket and put it on me. "I always wondered what you would look like in it. You look nice, then again you've always been beautiful." He put his arm around me like he did earlier.

"Hey I was wondering, why didn't you ask me out before?"

"I've been wanting for a long time to tell you how I feel about you. I didn't want to ruin things. I tried to wait it out, to see if there was someone else that may come along for either one of us. Then when I saw you again I was amazed by you. Everything about you I was intrigued by," he reached to my cheek and a shot of excitement ran through me. I wondered if he could be trying to kiss me. "Your beauty, your voice, all I wanted to do was be with you. Now that I am with you..," His slowly moved his face close to mine.

"Sorry I didn't mean to interrupt," I heard Dad say. "Michael your mother is looking for you. She said it's time to go home." We both stood up.

I took off his jacket to hand it back to him. "Keep it baby. I've want you to have it," he whispered to me. He kissed my forehead and we said goodbye.

Dad came outside and stood next to me. I turned around to look at the leaf filled yard. This was awkward. "Looks like I need to finish putting up the lights."

"Yah sounds good. Kelly wants me to work tomorrow and I will need a ride to work. I would drive myself but I don't think there will be any parking spaces left."

"That's fine I will take you. Just let me know when you are ready to go." There was a long uncomfortable silence again. I didn't want to be here to talk about my relationship or anything with him. I was a little upset that he interrupted what could have been my very first kiss.

"It's cold I'm going inside now."

"Yah," he said still looking at the yard. I quickly went inside to avoid a lecture from him.

Monday, December 1st

The rest of the break went by too fast. We tried to spend time together. There were movie nights with the families and dinners at each other's houses. Before I knew it, it was time to go back to school. We went to Jenny's house for lunch with all of our things packed. After we said our goodbyes we stepped through the mirror. I was back in Mrs. Ethridge's office.

"Welcome back ladies," she said to us. "I hope you had a good week off?" She said greeting us. "Good news is Mr. Oliver will have the list of those who have made the dueling teams for you to look at tomorrow morning. It will be posted in the common room."

Unpacking seemed to take no time at all. I had Michaels jacket with me. I missed him and his jacket smelled like him. If I couldn't have him here with me this would be the next best thing. I fell asleep easily last night. It beats tossing and turning for a few hours.

This morning there was a small crowd of girls surrounding the bulletin board in the commons area. I could only assume it was the dueling team posting. I went over to look to see if we made the teams.

"Congratulations you made the team, "Jenny Said. I couldn't believe it. I knew she was telling the truth but I had to see for myself. Looking further down the list I noticed Corrigan, Ryndee, Jenny, Ella, Cameron and I were the only ones who made it at the high school level.

"WHY DIDN'T I MAKE THE TEAM? I am more qualified than all of those girls out there and if you don't put me on the team right now you are going to regret it," I heard Caitlyn yelling from the outside dorm hallway.

"Sounds like someone isn't happy with the results," Corrigan said.

"Now is not the time, nor the place to discuss this. Now we will have a meeting with Mrs. Mc Gill about this after school today," I heard Mr. Oliver say to her.

"No Mr. Oliver, I want to be on the team NOW!"

"Miss. Hill this is the exact reason why you didn't make the team. Your temperament is not good and with your attitude is not right for competition. If you were to cast a spell with an over heightened emotion the spell could go wrong. It could kill someone."

"Well if you won't put me on the team, then I will just have to find a school that will. I'm sick of this school. Everyone is so unfair to me. I'm calling my Uncle." She actually stomped her foot and crossed her arms like a four year old being told no.

"Alright then, just follow me to my office. I will let you call from my phone," Mrs. Ethridge said.

All of the teachers seemed to be in good moods. We were reminded to study for semester finals. I managed to keep up on homework with no problem. Ryndee needed help with Chemistry so I offered to help her with homework during study period.

"Just remember were making a simple sleeping potion," I reminded her.

"Oh I'll never get this subject down. You seem to be a natural at it. I can get Math and some other subjects, but I'm stumped with this one," Ryndee whined.

"Well I noticed that like me, you are good at problem solving right," I asked her.

"Yes but that's different. This isn't a problem this is a catastrophe."

"No, I mean look at it as a problem that needs to be solved. It's a one, one, two three potion. All potions start with a quart of water. If you add one crushed poppy seed, two valerian leaves, and three sloth hairs and you get a sleeping potion. It's not written like that but Dr. Zima said during the lecture with this potion it wouldn't matter what order it went into the water." I stepped back and let her try at her potion.

"I need one quart of boiling water. One crushed poppy seed, two minced valerian leaves and three sloth hairs. Is that right," she confirmed.

"Exactly, so let's put it to the test. Your water is boiling. Now all you need to do is add your ingredients. When mine was done it came up a purplish color."

I watched as Ryndee nervously prepare her ingredients. She then added them to make the potion. The black from the water in the cast iron cauldron slowly turned dark blue.

"I knew I did something wrong. This is the wrong color," Ryndee said looking crushed.

"Hold on and wait a minute. Remember what he said our first week. Patience is the key. Let's give it a final stir then let this sit for a minute." We sat there and waited for what seemed an eternity. Then out of nowhere the color changed.

"Ryndee look," I exclaimed as it turned purple. Looking at the swirling purple liquid it reminded me of how things in my life in the magic and mundane world were mixing into one chaotic mass.

"Finally, I got one right. Now if I could only do this during finals I will be alright," she said with a laugh.

"Look at it this way. Can you cook?" She nodded her head. "Well this is just like cooking. All you need to do is follow the directions like a recipe. Don't forget always label and date the bottle you place it in. Remember what the book said, potions get stronger with age," Ryndee pulled out a small jar and placed the potion in it. Labeled and dated the potion.

"Now I have a cure for my mother's insomnia," she said.

"If your mom is having issues with sleeping, this will work. I remember taking it as a kid whenever I was sick. My mom insisted on resting so my body would heal from whatever I had. I just didn't know at the time it was a potion. I'm not trying to be nosy but is everything okay?"

"I'm not sure if you want to hear my family's problems. But I feel like I can trust you. Your dad works for the government and well maybe he knows something he can help with it. Someone is trying to abolish the Vampire Protection Act."

"What exactly is that? I've heard of it, but I'm not sure I fully understand it."

"It was passed back in 1901 to protect humans from hunting and killing us and from us killing Humans. It works a lot like your protective laws. Some are saying were unstable and we can't be trusted. It's been a fight since the law was passed. But an anti-vampire politician said he has found a loophole. Because of the actions from one bad vampire a few years ago, he is saying that all of us are like that."

"Do you mind if I asked what happened?"

"Sure, did you ever hear of Samuel Le Sang," she asked me.

"Sure my dad was on the team that arrested him for going on a killing spree if I remember correctly." I could never forget it. We hardly saw Dad during that time. I can remember waking up to him holding me and telling me he loves me and missed me.

"Yes and now because Le Sang was a vampire gone bad, Senator Simon Dixon wants to abolish the protection law and banish all vampires out of the United States. Problem is where would we go? The United States is the most lenient for all of us witches and vampires. It's the world's haven for magical beings. There's some countries that don't allow us to even visit. England seems to be the only other country I can think of that might welcome us."

"Well I can talk to my dad about it, but I can't guarantee anything. If it helps I'll be there for support for you. We need to get going," I said to her as the bell rang.

"Aren't we the nosy one around here," I heard from someone behind me. I turned around and Caitlyn was following me. I wasn't surprised.

"Unlike you I do get concerned when my friends are upset. Why what's it to you," I answered back as I hurried to my next class.

"So you're calling it concern or it's just an excuse to butt into other students business."

I had enough and I wanted to explode yelling at her but I didn't want to stoop to her level. I took a deep breath then I turned around to her. I could feel my face turning red with anger.

"You may be a spoiled rotten brat who gets everything handed to her when she stomps her foot. You are malicious and cruel. If and only if you treat other species like humans I will think about you being a decent person. They have been great friends to me and everyone else around here all year, and I am tired of you treating them like they shouldn't be here. Like I said before; we all have the gift of magic so get used to us all being here. Until then I have a class to get to and I don't want detention." I pushed myself past her and walked quickly to the classroom and sat down.

"Miss. Miller is everything alright? You don't look well," Mrs. Taylor asked.

"Everything is just peachy," I answered cynically.

"Well why don't you go and see Mrs. McGill for a few minutes to calm down.

"Fine," I groaned. I grabbed my things and headed downstairs to Mrs. McGill's office.

When I got to the office I was welcomed by her receptionist again. "Miss Miller. It's nice to see you again. Follow me, Mrs. McGill is expecting you." I followed her into the office and slumped down onto the chair.

"Would you like some tea Sarah," Grandma offered.

"Sure why not."

"Mrs. Taylor tells me you and Caitlyn still aren't exactly getting along."

"Ya think? How did you find out this fast," I asked her in shock.

"Well let's just say that communication is very good here between the staff. So what can I do to help with the situation," she asked.

"Not unless you can make humans be nice to other species, nothing. We haven't even been back for a full day yet and she's already started her cruelty. I can't believe she is acting like this.

I'm sorry but I just don't get how some people think they are better than others, let alone don't like someone just because they are different. She practically threw Sage out of their room and then makes fun of her. She treats Corrigan, Ryndee and Sydney like they have the black plague. She thinks she is being funny when she makes fun of them but all she is doing is being mean."

"Well it's nice to see you have your mother's compassion. I know it can be hard to understand why people act the way they do. But unfortunately there are some who believe so strongly that they either can't or don't want to change what they believe in. I'd bet she's just as self conscience about herself as the average girl. She may be acting out to cover the way she feels about herself. Girls like her tend to lash out brutally to girls whom they may be jealous of. Maybe she just needs some time.

Now to answer the question of how I knew what was going on. Do you remember what we told you during your orientation? We told you that all of the class rooms and hallways are monitored for security?" She pressed a button from the underside of her desk. A bookshelf slid to the side and there were about forty monitors with surveillance video on it. Every class room was on video along with the halls, offices, cafeteria and each of the common rooms.

"There is a spell placed on the surveillance system that alerts me when there is a problem. I will hear an alarm and it will alert me to look for the monitor with the flashing light on it. It's how we know there either is a problem or will be one," she sat down her chair then added more tea to her cup. She sat back and sipped at her tea while we talked.

"Do you think Ryndee's family will be alright with the Dixon politician trying to ban them from the U.S.?"

"I'm sure they will be fine. This one does seem to be more confident than the last one."

"Ryndee said this one thinks there could be a loophole he could use to his advantage. Is that possible," I asked as I sat up to drink my tea.

"Well I suppose it is possible. Or he may be saying that as a scare tactic. It's common for these politicians fight for things that will make folks remember them on Election Day. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I am sure there are Pro-Vampire Protection Act politicians looking into it. You are too much of a mix of both of your parents. You have your fathers ability to problem solve and your mother's compassion.

Since you're here there is one thing I wish to discuss with you. I was waiting until later but since you are here we can talk about it now. Have you ever thought what you would do after you graduate from here?"

"No not yet. Isn't it too soon," I asked her.

"No not at all, in fact it can help you decide what classes to take next year. That's if you decide to stay here. We have an accelerated degree program that will help with getting you through college sooner if you know what degree you want to go for."

"With the magic world how does it work? I have a general idea about how college works in the mundane world. Is it similar," I asked her as I poured more tea into my cup.

"Well it's similar to the mundane world. Someone would attend here for college and graduate with a bachelor's degree. Then if the student wants to go for a master's degree they would attend at either the Creole or Hudson Schools. For a doctorate you would need to transfer a mundane College." She looked at the clock on her desk and stood up.

Wow look at the time. The class hour is almost over. You need to get back to get your assignment for the day. Are you feeling better?"

"Yes, I will see you later and thanks for the tea."

She came over and gave me a hug. "Just remember if you ever need anyone to talk to my door is always open."

"Thanks. I'll see you later," I said as I grabbed my bag and left for my next class.

After school I reported to the gym for dueling practice. Coach Baxter, Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Oliver greeted us when we arrived. I sat down with Jenny and the rest of the girls.

There were four sets of dueling fields. Each rectangular box had two circles one on each side of them. A solid blue circle was in the middle with two lines circling them, a green and red reminding me of a multi colored target. They were surrounded by big blue ropes. It looked like an extended boxing ring.

"Welcome to dueling practice," Mr. Oliver began. "We will begin with testing you for your strengths and weaknesses. After that we will work on the types of spells you will be allowed to use for dueling. This will give you some time to learn your spells along with the rules and regulations. Coach Baxter here will be helping enforcing the rules."

Coach Baxter started pacing in front of all of us. "The object of the duel is to have as little points as possible. Three points means the round is over. During the tournament two out of three round victories wins. There are two circles one on each side of the dueling field. The solid blue circle in the middle is where you stand. The object of dueling is to knock your opponent outside of the red line. If you are knocked out in between the blue circle and the green line it counts for one point. Between the green and red lines it is two points. If you are knocked completely out of the red circle or step foot on the red line it is worth three points and you're out for the round. If you cast a spell and it completely misses your opponent it's an automatic point for the one who cast the spell.

The use of immobility spells is prohibited and will give you maximum points for the duel and will disqualify for the rest of the season. Whatever victories you have had will be void. This is where you need to keep calm whenever you are in the dueling ring."

We were matched up with our practice partners. Jenny was teamed up with a girl named Marissa and I was with Sydney. This would give me a chance to get a chance to get to know my brothers potential girlfriend better.

One team member would be assigned to attack and the other was to defend. I was on the defense side. Mrs. Taylor told me I could use the shield, and repel spells while Sydney can use the push and impel spells. We took our places in the dueling rings ready to fight. Coach Baxter was ready with her whistle in her hand ready to blow it.

"Now on my whistle cast your spell," she said. "One, two, three," The whistle blew.

"Shield," I yelled pointing my wand in front of me. I looked over at Sydney and she was knocked down past the red line. I was the only one on the defensive side that was still standing.

We repeated this about four more times with a combination of spells. I could tell Sydney was getting irritated with me.

"Alright, now reverse," Mr. Oliver said as he was taking notes on his clipboard. The same thing happened. I don't understand why I am the only one who didn't get pushed outside of the red line. We switched partners periodically with other girls and no matter who I was with I ended up doing well. Sydney was able to defeat all of the other girls except me. This went on for about an hour before practice was called for the day.

Coach gave us a brief lecture before she dismissed us. "Now training will be every day after school. If this interferes with your school work, you will be pulled off of the team immediately. Good work today all of you, we will see you tomorrow." I grabbed my back pack and headed out of the gym.

"Sarah wait up." Sydney ran to catch up with me. "You have to tell me what that was all about."

"Okay I will tell you. I don't want a lot of people knowing about this. Just promise me you won't tell anyone here. I know that being on the team I may not be able to avoid exposing my level of powers. I'm a golden witch." She looked at me as if she already knew it. Let me re-phrase that. I'm a natural golden witch." I expected her to freak out. She looked surprised to hear what I told her."

"Whoa, Ricky told me you were powerful, but I didn't expect this. So I guess this means the other schools won't stand a chance against us.

Last year Mike took silver. I didn't do so well. I didn't even make it to the final round." We were walking to the cafeteria to meet the other girls for dinner. "It does explain a lot. I'm only at a natural silver level. If you two ever get into a fight I will know who not to bet against. I wonder if that is the reason why Mr. Oliver wanted you on the team."

"So how well do you and Ricky know each other? He mentioned you two talk a lot during Thanksgiving break."

"Pretty good," I could see her starting to blush. "We e-mail each other and try to get together. The problem is because he is now faculty it might be an issue if we were to start dating. He said he needs to get clearance from the school board before we go out on any dates.

Sarah can I trust you with something?" I nodded my head. "I really like him. I mean I really, really like him. I haven't told anyone because of him teaching at the academy. I think about him all of the time and I just wish we can get an answer about us dating." She wasn't telling me everything. It was like she was hiding something.

"Did he tell you about any of my other abilities?"

"Yes something about seeing the truth?"

"Well what I am getting at is I have a feeling there's something you are not telling me. Don't be afraid say anything. I can keep a secret." I could tell she was afraid. As if she was going to reveal a deep secret that must never be told. She looked at me and took a deep breath.

"We have been secretly dating since last year," She was whispering to me. "We met at the dance and we have been together ever since. I can't believe I am confessing this out loud, but I love him. Nobody knows about this outside of my parents. I'm not even sure if yours know. Mike doesn't know either. With his dad being the President we can't risk it.

So how are you two doing?" I could tell she wanted to change the subject quickly to avoid others from over hearing us.

"So far we are alright. We haven't been together for a week. It's a little too soon to tell yet. But I'm hoping things go really well. He took me by total surprise. I would talk to Jenny about it, but I am not sure how she will take me talking about her brother."

"I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable about talking about Ricky."

"No that's fine. Jenny is a little more sensitive. I'm just hoping she finds someone herself."

"Well thanks for letting me vent that out to you. Mary's good at listening but lately she has been becoming distracted herself. I know she really likes someone but hasn't told him yet. Hey I will get the list of spells from Mr. Oliver so we can practice more."

"That would be nice. I think I have an unfair advantage and I kind of feel bad not letting you win a match," I said as we sat down.

"Don't worry about it. I'm sure I will win at least one against you," she said laughing.

When we got back to the dorm for the evening we were told there would be a meeting in the commons area. From what I understood this didn't happen unless there was an issue with one of the girls. I was pretty sure it would involve Caitlyn after her temper tantrum this morning.

When we got to the meeting, Grandma and Jenny's Dad were there with Mrs. Ethridge. Alan led the meeting. "Good evening ladies, for those of you who don't know who I am I am Alan Barnes President of the American Magic School system. There has been a slight change of students among you. Now we would like for you to hear it from us firsthand what is going on. Caitlyn Hill will not be joining us for the rest of the year. She has transferred to the Creole School of Magic in Louisiana. Now I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but we feel it is the best thing for everyone involved. Because Bianca is her cousin she may be visiting periodically. If you see her we think it would be best if the transfer is not mentioned. With that said are there any questions?" Nobody said anything. If there were crickets in the room you would have been able to hear them chirp.

"Well ladies it is now seven and if you would like to agree on a DVD we can get that started," Mrs. Ethridge said breaking the silence. Jenny got up and went to her dad to talk about something. When she was done she told me she was going to the room to work on homework for the evening.

Alan walked over to me. "Congratulations on making the team. I got a chance to look over the list last night. I hope you don't mind but I already knew and told your parents. I think they wanted to call you last night to tell you. You have no idea how hard it was for me to keep your dad from telling you.

"Thanks, I'm looking forward to competing. I think it will be fun."

"It usually is. It is taken pretty seriously. It's the closest thing we have to school sports. Our schools are too small to have normal athletic teams. Dueling has filled in the void. Now I know you have issues with being in the spotlight. I have to warn you now it will be televised and all of the schools will be there for most of the competition. Will you be alright with that?"

"Yah I should be fine with it. I made it through speech class last year without getting sick like Jen did," I said with a chuckle.

"Well that is good to hear. How is everything with Michael?" I was shocked. I couldn't believe he asked me about this. It's his Son I was going out with and he is asked me instead of Michael. This was awkward.

"Good so far, it hasn't even been a week. Besides shouldn't you be asking him this and not me?" I didn't want to admit that I already missed him.

"You are right, but I think he is afraid to talk to me about this kind of stuff. I know he really cares about you. I can tell he would do anything for you. Since the pool incident he has become protective of you. If I didn't know any better I would think that's when he started to have feelings about you.

Don't tell him I talked to you about this. But if you could, remind him I am here for him to talk to if he needs it alright. Now I have to go. Katie is expecting me for dinner at home. Oh and your parents send you their love. Call your dad once in a while. He won't own up to it, but he misses you."

"Hey Alan, while I have you here. Did the board decide on letting Ricky and Sydney date? The only reason why I am bringing this up is because she is anxious to find out if they can date now or need to wait for her to graduate."

"Oh it's not up to the board. It is up to me. There are some stricter rules they need to follow. Because she is in college at a separate school and he teaches at the high school level, there shouldn't be any issues. Thanks for reminding me.

"Alright, see you later," I said going to my room. Jenny wasn't the only one who had a lot of homework to finish. I went to my room and after I finished my homework I e-mailed Michael to tell him about my day and making the team. Writing him was becoming a new routine.