Not Your Ordinary Girl Next Door
Rascal Martin wasn’t the kind of boy girls brought home to meet their mothers. It might have been the burn scar that ran in a jagged line down his right cheek, or perhaps it was the deep black of his eyes that made a good girl think twice. Or maybe it was the misfortune of his name given by a mother who left this world far too early.
Cataline knew all these things before she accepted the assignment to go undercover as a new girl moving into the house next door to Rascal’s grandparents’ home. It was supposed to be the kind of fixer-upper story that would earn her outstanding marks in the realm of fairy-godmother training. If she was lucky, she would earn her wand well before the beginning of spring.
But it was a different story when she met Rascal face-to-face for the first time. Most boys — even those in the fairy realm — usually stopped in their tracks when they first glimpsed Cataline. Then they might shake their heads, almost as if they were trying to clear their cluttered thoughts, before they offered sloppy smiles rife with awkwardness.
That wasn’t the case with Rascal, whose eyes passed over her on the first day of school. Something trembled through her when she saw the vacancy in his eyes, almost as if he were a living, breathing ghost. But then he was gone, departed before she could even offer a small hello.
When Cataline arrived home, she sank down into one of the kitchen chairs as her assigned mother — a changeling woman named Meredith — brought her a cup of herbal tea. Meredith then sat down opposite Cataline and cast her a sympathetic look.
“It won’t always be like this,” Meredith said in a soothing tone. “Sometimes there are troubled boys no one can help. Maybe you can be reassigned. A Cinderella type might be your best bet.”
“No,” Cataline said through trembling lips as she curled her fingers in her skirt. “I agreed to do this as a part of my training, and I’ll just give it another try tomorrow.”
There was a moment of silence before Meredith asked, “Can I give you some advice?”
“Yes?” Cataline asked, a hopeful note in her voice.