“I'm dreaming. That's got to be it...” Her voice trailed off as Diana felt her translucent gossamer wings with the back of a claw-tipped finger. The veins of fibrous tissue reminded her of a monarch butterfly, but the thin iridescent surface reflected a rainbow of colors ranging from a pinkish orange through a deep purple. She felt numb, stunned into a trance as she flexed them to arm's length. They quivered and the water from the tub misted off. They couldn't be real, but they sure felt like it.
There was a knocking on the wall in the vicinity of her blaring alarm clock, probably her brother trying to add percussion.
She ran over to the bedside table, her claws clacking on the hardwood floors. She shut off the alarm and grabbed a towel to dry off. “This isn't happening. This isn't real. I don't have claws and wings.”
She dried off, wrapped the towel under her arms and shivered as she stared at her hands. She tiptoed back to the mirror and looked at the creature in the reflection. Is it makeup? Maybe a killer practical joke? If it was, then the joker had gone to a lot of trouble; even coloring her hair and putting waves in it? She pulled on one of her pointed ears. “Ow!”
She swallowed back bile. “I can't be this. I can't be this.” She closed her eyes, willing herself back to her old body. She peeked, and nothing had changed.
She squeezed her eyes shut as hard as she could, and clenched her clawed hands in fists. She formed a picture in her mind of what she had been yesterday, and focused. “I'm Diana Jean Morgan. A normal girl. No wings, no claws, no funny ears. Conjure that!”
She felt a strange tingling all over her body, and she slowly peeked from one eye. Straight, brown-black hair, normal eyes, and normal hands reflected in the mirror. No wings.
She gulped and stared at the mirror. “Okay. What the hell was that? Am I going insane? That was seriously freaky-”
“You almost ready sis?” Bobby called from out on the walkway in front of their rooms. “Come on! Mom said we need to go to the main house for breakfast.”
“Be right there!” She yelled, almost choking on the words. She staggered to her suitcase, her body shaking all over. She pulled on whatever clothes were closest to the top, not even thinking. She toed into her black Uggs, and took another look in the mirror. Denim shorts, black halter. It actually matched with her dark hair. She looked... mundane.
She took a shaky breath and left the room for breakfast.
“Diana, are you sure you want seconds? You never have seconds.”
“I'm just really hungry, mom.” Diana said, adding another two slices of bacon to the second helping of eggs.
“Who are you, and what did you do with my daughter?”
Diana's hand stopped in mid-air, the fork starting to tremble as her stomach sank. The fork clanked on the plate as she dropped her hand and stared at her mother, who had moved on to chiding Bobby about his manners.
The horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach swelled, and she swallowed. “Um, can I be excused? I don't feel so good.”
Her mother turned back. “I didn't think you'd want seconds.”
“Are you alright honey? You look pale.” Her father said, a look of concern on his face.
She slid her chair out, and stood on shaky legs. The ringing in her ears kept her from hearing what they said as she ran out the door and headed to the vineyard. All she heard was the echo of her mother's question: Who are you, and what did you do with my daughter?
Diana ran to the vineyard, and sat in between the rows of plants. She stared at her hands, wondering if what she'd seen in her room was real. Had she dreamt the creature in the mirror? Was she dreaming now? “Who am I? What did I do with-”
Diana started to hyperventilate, her head spinning. What did you do with my daughter?
The breeze shifted and she leaned back against a vine, feeling the leaves caress her as they danced on the gentle wind. She smelled the sweet perfume of ripening grapes and their soft leaves, the bitterness in the soil, and tried to relax. She closed her eyes and tried to forget everything wrong in her life.
“Sweety?” Diana's dad approached, and squatted down in front of her. “Are you worried about this Troubled Teens Workshop? You said you were okay with it when we were back at the school. You don't have to worry. We'll be there with you every step of the way.”
She thought about what had happened, wondering what to say to her father. Is it possible he was like her? That they all were? Was this a huge family secret?
He rubbed her arm and picked up her hand, sandwiching it with his. “It'll be okay, princess.”
She looked up at him, her eyes pleading. A tear dripped down her cheek. “I don't care about the workshop. I have bigger things on my mind.”
He stood and crossed his arms. “Is that so?”
“Do you secretly have wings and pointed ears?”
He couldn't hold back his laugh. “Not last time I checked.”
Diana swallowed. That left only one other option. “Was I adopted?”
He knelt and pulled her into a hug, kissing the top of her head. “No, my darling trouble-maker, I watched your mother give birth to you. The nurses washed you and put you in this beautiful Scottish tartan, and you were only out of our sight while your mother rested and they did some tests.”
“Right, I was born in Edinburgh when you were travelling through on a business trip.”
“Though it was strange that they wrapped you in a tartan. None of the other babies got one.” He rubbed her head. “Why do you ask?”
“Something...” weird happened, like I sprouted wings Dad. No, can't say that. Sometimes she hated the fact that she could never seem to lie to her parents. But she just couldn't tell him the whole truth. Not this time. “Something mom said... Is it possible I was switched at birth?”
“Listen-” he stopped and recalled the conversation. His wife's 'who are you and what did you do with my daughter' comment clicked into his mind. “You know she was kidding, right?”
Diana took a shaky breath and nodded. “But what if I sprouted wings and pointed ears?”
He laughed. “Hmmm. Then you'd be my little fairy princess, like on Halloween when you were eight.”
“I'm being totally serious, Dad. If I sprouted wings and pointed ears, would you still think I was your daughter? Would you still-” she shook through her tears. “Would you still... love me?”
“Diana-” he said, taking her face in his hands and kissing her forehead before staring into her eyes, “I will always love you. No matter what. You could sprout a third eye and you'd still be my little princess. But we need to get going. We made a promise.”
She took a deep breath and rolled her eyes. “You know, the injustice that I have to do this, when Chelsea gets away with intimidating everybody, totally blows.”
Her dad stood, and pulled her to her feet. “I know. But just think about your karma. Where did you find a frog, anyway? I'd been meaning to ask.”
Heather said it was magic, but Diana couldn't force herself to believe it. “I guess it was just luck.”
“They turned the school upside down trying to find that frog.”
Diana swallowed, wondering what it meant. She tucked herself under her Dad's arm as they walked. “I love you, Dad.”
“I love you too, my little fairy princess.”
The ringing in her ears started again, and an idea struck. Fairy? Faerie? Fae? As they approached the house, she felt a desperate need to learn more about everything Fae. “How long before we have to leave?”
“About fifteen minutes.”
That was plenty of time for an internet search. She shrugged out from under her dad's arm and started running toward her room, and her laptop computer. “I'll be at the car on time. I promise!” She decided she needed some time with Google and Wikipedia.
(Go to Chapter 4)