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KISS OF FROST
by Jennifer Estep

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

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I’d just finished reading about the loom Arachne had used to test her weaving skills against those of the Greek goddess Athena when something rustled in the next aisle over, and a flash of movement caught my eye. 

“Hello?” I said, peering in that direction. “Is someone there?”

Yeah, calling out was probably the wrong thing to do, but I didn’t want to step around the far end of the aisle and trip over a couple of kids doing the nasty. I’d done that twice last week, which had been two times too many. 

“Hellooo,” I said, pushing the cart toward the end of the aisle.

I wiggled the wheels back and forth, making them squeak-squeak-squeak even more than usual. Hopefully, if there were some kids going at it, they would hear the noise and have the good sense to pull their clothes back up—or down—where they belonged. 

I pushed the cart past the end of the aisle and stepped out into the main library space. “The library’s closing in a few minutes—”

An arrow zipped through the air and thunked into the bookcase beside my head. 

It quivered there, wobbling back and forth ever so slightly, just like the ones I’d shot into the target in the gym this morning. A foot closer, and it would have drilled straight into my skull. 

That’s when my brain caught up with my eyes, and I realized that, you know, someone was actually shooting at me.

I immediately dropped to my knees and crabbed backward among the stacks, dragging the metal cart along with me and wincing at all the freaking noise it made. I didn’t know if I was out of the archer’s line of sight or not, but surely, he couldn’t shoot at me through the cart—could he? Were there magical bows and arrows that could do that sort of thing?

Why did this always happen to me? You’d think the library would be one of the safest, most boring places at Mythos instead of one of the deadliest. This was the second time someone had tried to kill me in here. I so needed to work somewhere else on campus. 

I huddled in the stacks, my back against a bookshelf, knees tucked into my chest, and the cart positioned in front of me. My breath puffed out of my mouth in sharp, short, ragged gasps. It took me several seconds and some deep, deep gulps of air before I was able to notice anything but the crazy thump-thump-thump of my heart and the blood roaring in my ears. I forced myself to focus, to listen, and to keep the panic to a minimum. You know, so I could maybe hear whether or not the mysterious archer was nocking another arrow in his bow and coming my way with it.

Silence—I heard nothing but absolute, still, dead freaking silence.

I stayed where I was. The seconds ticked by, going past one minute, then two, but I still didn’t hear anything. Whoever the archer was, I hoped he was long gone by now, but I wasn’t going to be stupid enough to just go about my business, like everything was normal. I might not be a highly trained warrior like all the other kids, but even I knew that assuming the bad guy was gone would be a quick, dumb way to die.

As quietly as I could, I shoved the metal cart away and crawled to the opposite end of the aisle, keeping close to the shelves and the floor. I paused there and listened some more. When I didn’t hear anything, I slowly stuck my head around the corner.

Empty—the library was completely empty.