The Fascinators - Andrew Eliopulos

Prologue

TWENTY MINUTES NORTHWEST OF AUGUSTA, GEORGIA, in a suburb where you’re more likely to see someone praying in public than using their magic, Liv Honeycutt was trying to sell her diamond cross necklace at the King of Pawns pawnshop on Highway 104. She needed a hundred and fifty dollars—thirty to cover the car to Augusta, and the rest to cover the bus ticket to New York. The ten-dollar bill already in her purse would have to be enough for three meals during the twelve-hour trip. Maybe a Chick-fil-A sandwich for lunch and the side of waffle fries for dinner.

But the guy working today did not want to give her a hundred and fifty dollars. The guy working today was sure Liv’s cross necklace was fake.

“They’re plastic,” he said, pointing at the gemstone inlays with his ballpoint pen. “Or glass, maybe. Cubic zirconia at best. They’re definitely not diamonds.”

“How can you tell?”

“It’s like a special ability I have.”

“You mean . . . like magic?”

“Yes, like magic. Not magic, I reckon. But like it.”

Liv let out a sigh. She’d gotten excited for a moment there, at the prospect of a rare power. Any real power at all was rare, in this part of Georgia. People with real power never stuck around here.

“My mom gave me this necklace for my sixteenth birthday,” Liv said. “Isn’t there some test or machine you can use to be sure?”

The cow bell over the door clunked behind her, heralding the arrival of a new customer. The guy working the counter took a look over Liv’s shoulder, his impatience to be rid of her already clear on his face.

“Listen, sweetheart, you can take this little necklace to Bob’s Pawn or Mike’s place, and I guarantee neither of them is going to give you more than twenty dollars for it. We can’t resell sentimental value at a pawnshop, do you understand what I’m saying? That watch, now—that looks like it might be worth something. If you’re that desperate for money, I mean.”

Liv felt her heart drop into her stomach. She’d almost forgotten she was wearing the watch at all, because she wore it every day, always putting it on while she brushed her teeth. And if it was all too easy to believe that the cross necklace—like everything else her mom had ever given her—was worthless, well . . . It wasn’t surprising that her grandmother’s watch would be worth quite a lot.

She put her hand over the watch, as if to shield it from this man’s gaze. The new customer walked up to the counter beside her, and out of the corner of her eye, Liv could see that he was a young man, probably here to buy a gun or something. The guy at the counter turned to give the man his full attention.

“How much?” Liv said.

The guy at the counter paused. He stared at Liv’s hand, like he could still see the watch underneath it, no doubt tapping into his ability—like magic, but not.

“A hundred even.”

“But I need a hundred and fifty.”

She was about to cry. She knew she was about to cry; she could hear it in her voice, and she hated that. This man didn’t seem like the type to take pity on someone in need. She’d have better results if she bargained from a place of strength. But these past few days—the fights with her parents, the reaching out to friends who’d all taken her parents’ side, everyone turning their backs on her after seventeen years—well, she didn’t really have any strength to draw on at the moment. Some days Liv thought she was