Six hundred years ago Brother Edgar Kegel, a fanatical Knight of the Teutonic Order came to the sleepy town of Helmsbury, bringing prejudice, torture and death with him. At his hand, Enid lost the man she loved and her two Stracceli sisters. She did nothing to stop him then but when Kegel returns in the 21st century to lead yet another crusade of bigotry and hatred, Enid is ready is ready for him.
Enid’s two Stracceli sisters, who perished in a fire six hundred years ago, are reborn into human form and find their way back to Helmsbury. They are unaware of their past and the danger that lies ahead. One of them, Eleanor, is a lonely and awkward girl, neglected by her rich, career-absorbed parents, and bullied by a boy from the estate. The other girl, Isobel, comes to Helmsbury with her father and little brother after losing her mother to a degenerative illness. She too has to fend for herself and fight her own battles.
The toughest battle the two young women have to face is against Mr Kegel, their hateful and manipulative teacher. He is prepared to go to any lengths to destroy them.
After the night’s heavy storm, the morning air rose cool and clear over the Tannenberg plains. Edgar Kegel looked to his left. With his visor up, Marshal Wallenrod was scanning the enemy lines on the horizon. There was no fear in his eyes as there was no fear in Edgar’s heart. God was on their side. The enemy was a mismatch of pagan barbarians led by the treacherous Poles. They called themselves a Christian nation but deep down in their rotten hearts, Edgar knew, they were nothing more than unholy heathens. God would not support those traitors; God would go with the righteous.
The Knights of the Teutonic Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary were righteous. They were righteous and pious; they were fearless and utterly devoted to carrying God’s banners to the shamefully pagan Baltic shores. They had brought God to Samland on the tips of their swords and, over the last hundred years, they had forced the Sambians to either their knees or their graves. And now the Sambians had crawled to the Polish king and begged for help. The Poles had gathered an army of heathens and dared to challenge The Order to a battle. They would be wiped out. It was God’s will.
It was July 15th, the year of Our Lord 1410.
Edgar Kegel was one of many holy brothers standing in the way of the savage forces. He had come from a long line of knights, though only through the illegitimate back door. He was the bastard son of Edler von Rheinerbau and though he could not inherit his name, he inherited his ambition and passion for killing. He was standing arm in arm with the crusaders, a glint of thirst for death in his pale blue eyes. They all wore impenetrable armour under their white capes with black crosses etched into them for God’s glory. Peacock feathers rose from their helmets. Precious stones from the Orient shone in the hilts of their long, wide swords. Their horses were war beasts, used to the sight of battle and screams of wounded men. This battle was won by The Order before it even started.
The Grand Master Von Jungingen gave a signal and the cannons began their thundering bombardment of the enemy’s lines. If they could do no other damage they would intimidate the savages into submission. Then the drums resounded. They were like rumbles of an awakening volcano. The Order’s infantry charged straight into the light Tatar horsemen backed by the Lithuanian cavalry. Those horsemen were quick like mercury, shooting deadly arrows at the wall of the soldiers, killing many before they broke in rout. That exposed the Lithuanian cavalry.
“We must attack now!” shouted Edgar to Wallenrod.
“We can’t! We’d stampede over our own footmen!”
“What’s the life of one foot soldier when God’s victory is so near?”
Wallenrod didn’t respond but raised his sword and pointed it into the heart of the battle. The holy Knights gave a harrowing cry, spurred their stallions and threw themselves into the boiling cauldron of hell. From the corner of his eye, to his right, Edgar could see his brothers under the command of Konrad von Lichtenstein charging with equal zeal at the ranks of Polish knights. This was the beginning of their end, he thought triumphantly.
Edgar’s horse galloped into the backs of The Order’s infantry and stomped over several surprised soldiers. They didn’t have time to defend themselves and were run over in a matter of seconds. It was carnage, but it was unavoidable. Now the enemy was so close Edgar could smell their fear. He was charging after a troop of fleeing Tatars. Their horses were small and agile, whilst Edgar’s was heavily armoured, but the Tatars had been in the midst of the battle for a while and they were getting tired. Edgar would easily catch up with them, and slaughter them: one by one. He smiled under his breath as he levelled with the smallest one closing the rear of the group. The boy, for it was only a boy of fourteen, or so it seemed to Edgar, was wearing nothing for protection but a wolf skin on his back and a leather pouch for his arrows. He turned back to see how close Edgar was, and that was his mistake. It had slowed him down. Edgar closed on him and fell him with one swift cut of his sword. The sword slid down the boy’s spine and he tumbled off his horse like a rag doll. Edgar didn’t even look back to make sure he was dead, and went after the others. Now, that was his mistake. From the ground, lying on his back, spitting blood, the Tatar boy did one last thing before he died. He took an arrow out of his pouch, lodged it in the bow, aimed, pulled the string until it was taut to the point of breaking, and released. The arrow travelled with the speed of lightning and stabbed into Edgar’s back, just under his shoulder blade where there was a gap in his armour allowing him room for manoeuvre to wield weapons.
Edgar roared in pain. Involuntarily he pulled on the reins of his horse, forcing it to rear. The beast made a few steps back and threw Edgar off. He jumped to his feet, turned back, searching for the treacherous assassin. He found him, still on the ground. He was already dead. Nevertheless, Edgar pulled out his dagger and cut the boy’s throat with a howl of fury. Blood spluttered all over Edgar’s white cape. He wiped the dagger in the boy’s clothes and sheathed it. With his left hand he felt for the arrow in his own back. At last his fingers closed on it. He yanked it. It broke off at the neck, leaving the arrow head lodged firmly in his body. He didn’t feel any pain. All he felt was hunger for killing.
He mounted his horse again, and set after the troop of enemy horsemen disappearing into the thicket. He was now well into the enemy’s territory but he was unconscious of it. He had to get them, punish them, destroy them!
The ground became less solid – boggy. His horse was pulling through the marshy land with increasing difficulty, but Edgar didn’t notice that either. He could now only see glimpses of the Tatar furry hats vanishing between the trees. Cowards!
“Fight me!” a voice bellowed from behind. It was a strong, deep voice. Edgar knew it from somewhere. He turned abruptly and saw a heavily set, moustached man with a mane of white hair. It was a Polish knight by the name of Piotr of Dwerno. On two occasions he had acted as the Polish king’s envoy and visited the seat of the Teutonic Order, the Castle of Marienburg where Edgar was the Grand Master’s treasurer. They knew each other and as soon as Edgar turned, Piotr had recognised him too. “I challenge you to a sword fight, Brother Edgar! To death!”
What a fool, Edgar thought, he could have easily killed me by sticking his sword in my back when I wasn’t looking! Now, I will kill him.
They dismounted and presented their swords. They circled each other at first, stepping gingerly over tufts of harsh grass in the swampy ground. Edgar charged first and took his rival by surprise, slashing at his shield and dislodging it from his hand. That had left the man vulnerable. Edgar transferred his sword from the right to his left hand. It was an old trick of his. No one expected an attack on their right from a right-handed fighter. Plus, with the arrow wound under Edgar’s right shoulder, his left arm was of better use. He lifted the sword to slash across his opponent’s neck, but at that very moment, the Pole’s sword found home in Edgar’s side.
The stab stunned Edgar. He dropped his sword and slid to his knees, holding both his hands to the wound. Blood poured between his fingers. From the corner of his eyes, he could see the Pole walk slowly towards him. He’ll finish me off, Edgar contemplated calmly, God have mercy on my soul. With an enormous effort he removed one hand from his wound and reached to his back where his dagger was. When Piotr lowered his face to execute the final blow, Edgar would cut his throat. His fingers tightened on the hilt of his dagger, and he waited slumped to the ground and seemingly harmless.
The Pole assessed his posture and stopped. “I won’t kill an unarmed man,” he declared and turned, mounted his horse and rode off, leaving Edgar to die in his own good time.
But Edgar wasn’t ready to die. With his dagger he cut the leather straps of his armour and shed it to the ground. It was too heavy and totally useless to him now. He also dropped his chainmail and made a bandage from of his cape to press into the wound to stop the bleeding. He was now in his jerkin and leggings, looking nothing like the great Knight of the Teutonic Order. His stallion had run off. With a moan, Edgar rose to his feet and made a few tentative steps. His vision was becoming blurry. Driven by his willpower, he staggered forward, across the swamp. He came across a stream and fell down. The water felt cold and refreshing on his lips. He went deeper in but could not hold his own against the current that was stronger than he had expected. The brook knocked him off his feet and took him downstream, towards Lake Lubien.
The voices he had been hearing in his dreams sounded foreign and Edgar could not guess what was being said. He knew they belonged to Sambians for he had heard their strange tongue many times before when he went around local villages collecting taxes from the locals or listened to their pleas for mercy when they were being whipped and tortured for their many transgressions. Except that now they were not pleading – they were chattering rather merrily, sometimes giggling. The voices belonged to two women.
When Edgar finally woke up, opening one eye first and gazing around suspiciously, he saw one of the women leaning over him, an expression of curiosity and concern in her eerily green eyes. She was the older one of the two, surprisingly beautiful for a savage: tall, with her posture erect and her skin supple and white. The other one, Edgar gathered, was her daughter – maybe twelve years of age, wide-eyed and already becoming as beautiful as her mother despite her grazed knees and the tangled mess of her golden curls.
From what Edgar could establish by pretending to be asleep whilst watching his two captors carefully, they lived without a man in the deepest of the Sambian forest. The woods in this land, Edgar realised, were a vast and uncharted territory, full of wild pagan magic. These two, he was sure, were witches.
When Edgar opened his eyes, the older woman smiled. She said something quickly. It sounded like she was delighted he had woken up at last. She called her daughter and they both gazed at him with something bordering on pride and relief in their faces. Then the mother changed the dressing on the wound in his side. It hurt, but Edgar was aware that the two witches must have saved his life and were determined to nurse him back to health. This confused him at first – if he were them, he wouldn’t have hesitated to kill him, but then it occurred to him they didn’t realise who he was. He decided to let them look after him until his full strength returned – then he would decide what to do with them.
Days and weeks passed. Edgar could not work out how long he had been lying here in the forest with the devil’s own tending to his battle wounds. His injuries must have been deep and he must have lost a lot of blood for no matter how hard he tried he could not as much as lift himself from his bed of moss and leaves. He was weak, but he knew he wasn’t dying.
The two beautiful witches fed him like a helpless baby every day. It was good, nutritional food but he couldn’t make out what it was that they gave him. They also put strange dressings on his wound: they looked like cobwebs and a mash of flowers and herbs. It was no doubt black magic. It went against the grain of everything that Brother Edgar believed in, but he endured it so that he could regain his strength and kill the women. For by now Edgar had discovered God’s will – it was to execute the witches for their black craft.
When snow fell one frosty morning, Edgar was ready. He opened his eyes. After a short while his eyes adjusted to the darkness. The witches were asleep, their golden hair flowing from under layers of furs, where they slept together for warmth and comfort. A few days earlier, when Edgar had gone out of the hut, for the first time in months walking on his own two feet, he had discovered that the women had also found his dagger and were using it for cooking. The young one was scraping some root vegetables with his knife and she grinned at him when he stared at her, appalled. She had put the knife down and ran to him to blabber something excitedly in her odd tongue, and then place a kiss on his cheek. It startled him, but he understood it was her primitive way of showing delight at his recovery. Edgar had memorised where his dagger was kept.
He crept out of his bed and found the dagger amongst herbs and weeds where he thought it would be. He tiptoed to the sleeping females. Listening to their steady, peaceful breathing, he contemplated for a moment their cunningness. They had nearly seduced him into liking them. But his will was made of steal and he was a pious man who could resist any temptation. The women were witches and heathens. They had to die. Without lifting the furs from their faces, Brother Edgar stabbed through them: first the mother, then the daughter. He was so accurate at finding their hearts that neither of them as much as stirred as she was dying.
It was only then that Edgar pulled the furs from their bodies – they wouldn’t need them anymore, he observed coldly – and, taking some supplies for the journey, embarked on his way home.
He had roamed the thick, impenetrable forest for days without seeing one single sign of human habitation. He had almost lost his faith when out of nowhere, as he had cut through a prickly tangle of bare brambles, he emerged into an open plain sleeping motionlessly under undisturbed snow. He was out of the woods, back in the civilised world!
It wasn’t yet the safe world of his own people – there were the pagan Sambians everywhere, living in their wooden villages amongst the moors and coniferous forests. They could not be trusted. They were savages: wild and murderous. Edgar stayed well out of their way as he was heading west, closer and closer to Marienburg. He could tell he was getting there by the emergence of gallows which towered over the bare landscape. Bodies stiffened by death and frost were hanging from them as examples and warning to the natives should they wish to rebel against The Order of the holy Knights that ruled this land. Edgar rejoiced – he was almost home. He was sure the battle of Tannenburg had been won and those who dared rise against the powerful Knights were by now dead and buried. He was sure order had been restored to Samland and he could not wait to resume his duties as the Grand Master’s Treasurer.
After days of travel on foot, stealing food by night and killing hapless peasants who had crossed his path, Edgar had reached the Castle of Marienburg. His heart sang at the magnificent sight his eyes beheld. The castle was a masterpiece of masonry. It was a military fortress and, at the same time, it was a temple built to God’s glory. The thick, red brick walls were insurmountable. The mere size of it was intimidating to anyone daring to threaten The Order’s dominion.
Edgar hurried to The Golden Gate and, with a mob of peasants and traders, entered the central courtyard. Only then did he realise that something was not right. The guards were not there to search the new arrivals. The place was babbling with civilians and there was no one – not one single soldier – to keep them in check. Casual conversations and haggling surrounded Edgar, suffocating him. He listened, tuning into foreign voices and accents until at last he began comprehending their vile speech. What he had learned had swept the ground from under his feet: the Teutonic Order had been defeated and nearly wiped out; the Grand Master Ulrich van Jungingen was dead; the Marienburg monastery’s coffers were empty and The Order bankrupted by the war. This was the end – the end of the world as Edgar Kegel had known it. He had passed out.
When he came to, he found himself robbed of his furs and shivering with cold. His face was aching. Someone must have kicked him and dislodged his jaw. Still, Edgar Kegel was still alive. Surely, God had greater plans for him. His work on this Earth was not yet done. Edgar had one more trump card up his sleeve. Being a treasurer, he had managed to put aside some unofficial wealth in the vault behind St Anne’s mortuary chapel. There were some relics, but also precious stones, gold and silver objects of great value, which Kegel had stashed away in the vault for his personal pleasure. It was a small weakness of his. He would occasionally under the cover of night slip into the vault, touch and caress his treasures, and bask in their cold beauty. He was sure no one knew of them and no one would have found them. Edgar Kegel had a plan: he would retrieve the riches and smuggle them out of this cursed land. He would take them to England and invest them into a new crusade. He had heard there were still plenty of pagans living in the wilderness of the British Isles.
“Don’t make us all wait, Boyd, tie up your hair!” Mr Kegel held out a dirty-brown elastic band, the kind used for bunching onions in supermarkets. His lips were curled down with contempt. They were dry and chipped. His bulging fish eyes stared at her without blinking. “Get on with it!” He shook the band in her face.
Everyone was watching them as Eleanor tried to hold together her unruly red hair and force it into the elastic with shaky fingers. Mr Kegel sucked in air through his teeth and put his hands on his hips. “You don’t want me to do it for you,” he said.
One of the girls chuckled. Eleanor looked in their direction. They were clustered together, away from her, keeping their distance. In their crisp white t-shirts and bright designer trainers, with their hair in smooth pony tails and their faces lit with smug grins, they couldn’t be more different to Eleanor. Nor any more superior. She was smaller – had always been smaller than the rest. Her hair was usually a mess: long, curly and flaming red. She hated her hair. At last she managed to bind the elastic around it – so tightly that it was pulling at her temples and at the nape of her neck, making her eyes water.
“No, she isn’t going to cry, is she?” Katie spoke with mock concern.
“Poor thing… looks a bit ruffled. I say she definitely should keep her hair down. Suits her better.”
Satisfied with the level of humiliation he had exacted on her, Mr Kegel strode off to fetch the megaphone. It was King Henry V School’s annual cross-country festival. Years Seven and Eight had already run. It was now Year Nines’ turn. The girls would go first. Once they had covered one and a half loops around the school grounds, the boys would commence their race.
Some parents had come to watch. They had lined the course along the yellow tape that marked the track. Most of them gathered around the finish line on the higher ground. Some brought portable chairs and tables; others sat on blankets and took out picnic baskets. Eleanor’s parents were not amongst them. Her father was away at the Nottingham branch of the national recycling company he worked for. Her mother was at home, but busy, as usual. She was a powerful businesswoman running a successful PR firm. In the daytime she worked from home, in the evenings she would be out attending social events which were important for the business. She had no time for being a mother in the strict sense of the word, but she was brilliant at being a competent breadwinner and provider for Eleanor. There was nothing that money could buy that would be denied to her: when Eleanor was a child she had the most expensive toys and was looked after by highly qualified nannies; now she could have any designer labels she wanted, the latest in technology, luxurious holidays in the most exotic locations – anything. Money was no object. Only Eleanor didn’t care. She wished she had a mother. An ordinary mother. One that was listening until the sentence was finished. One that was at home, baking scones. One that came to school events and parents’ meetings. One that wore flip-flops and shorts…
Eleanor’s mother would not be seen dead wearing flip-flops or baking scones. She did not have time for such trivialities. In fact, she had not found the time to give birth to Eleanor. By the time she realised a child would be a nice addition to her many other achievements, it had been too late for her to bear children so Eleanor had been borne from a surrogate. The woman, whom Eleanor never met, had been handsomely paid for her efforts and told to disappear, and Mr and Mrs Boyd were presented with a cute little baby daughter. And so here she was now, about to run in the cross-country race, wishing her parents had been here to save her and take her home.
She scanned the outer boundaries of the school field. The cross country track wound around them like a distant river. It mounted the steep hill rising above the football and rugby pitches, disappeared behind a line of hedge separating the field from the staff car park, wrapped itself around the PE sheds and, circling the fenced off netball courts, came back to its starting point. It was a daunting course: hilly, muddy and slippery in places, ugly and pointless. The loop had to be run three times by the girls and five by the boys.
Eleanor buried her head between her shoulders and joined the runners, standing at the very back of the group, amongst girls from classes other than her own. It would be easier to lag behind strangers. There would be less shame in it. Hopefully, no one would notice her.
Mr Kegel drew the megaphone to his mouth: “On your marks… GO!”
The girls took off to their parents’ and the boys’ enthusiastic applause. Katie and her entourage were at the front of the group. They looked magnificent as they glided across the field like dazzling bright kites. The rest of the competitors followed them from a respectful distance and with much less panache. They were all sorts of misfits – Eleanor amongst them. By now the elastic band was feeling like an iron vice gripping the back of her head. Tears trickled down her cheeks, but luckily it started to drizzle and the tears blended in with raindrops. Parents pulled out the artillery of dark umbrellas and huddled closer together. It had been raining on and off for the past two weeks; the ground had become soggy. After so many feet treading over the same track, it had turned to a mud trough. The runners started to trip and slide; their shoes covered in mud were heavy. Once they were out of sight behind the car park hedge, the leaders abandoned their graceful trot and started to walk. They would walk all the way to the PE sheds and from there would once again emerge in full gallop with the wind in their pony tails.
Well into their second loop, Eleanor heard Mr Kegel on his megaphone, starting the boys on their race. Soon the stampede of male runners would roll over the back of the girls’ peloton where she was following a heavy, large girl who was puffing like a steam train. Reluctant to overtake the steam girl and possibly upset her, Eleanor was making tiny steps, hardly lifting her feet off the ground. The elastic band was still hurting her. She tried to pull it off but it was well and truly stuck in her hair.
Indeed, in no time the panting of the boys hit her on the back. They were catching up fast with the girls. Most of them ran past Eleanor without a word. They had not as much as registered her. She wished she could make herself even smaller to get out of their way. How many were there, she panicked as they stomped and splattered mud around her. She dodged and ducked.
A hot breath washed over her left cheek and a hoarse voice whispered: “Out of the way, ginger freak!” She received a vicious elbow nudge into her ribcage and went flying into a puddle. Mud splattered, covering her head and face. She sat staring at the bulky body of Nathan Murdoch who was pressing forward like a bulldozer. His large head sat uncomfortably on his thick, bull neck. Without stopping he looked over his shoulder, a spiteful glint in his eye, and sneered. There was pure hatred in that look. Eleanor shuddered.
Two boys ran past and laughed as she was getting to her feet, slipped and fell again. All she wanted now was to go home, leave this pointless race behind, walk away and never ever come back to school. But she couldn’t do that. The closest gate was on the other side of the field – she would have to cross it and face Mr Kegel before she got to it. There was no point. She would just sit here and wait until dark fell. She attempted to wipe the mud off her face, but all she achieved was a smudge running across her cheek from the bridge of her nose. Pathetic, she told herself, you’re so pathetic…
“You’re all right?” It was Tom. He was tall and skinny. His hair was wet – plastered to his forehead. His glasses were steamed up. He was walking towards her, extending his arm. “Can you get up?”
“Yes, yes I can. I just slipped,” she said quickly, guiltily. She didn’t want to delay him. “Go on, Tom. Thank you.”
“Come on, let me help you.” He was holding out his hand. “Let’s go.”
Another runner passed them by and chuckled under his breath. She half expected Tom to start laughing at her, but he didn’t.
“You’re sure you’re not hurt?”
Perhaps if he had laughed, she would know how to react: grind her teeth and tell him to get lost, but his concern for her threw her off. She burst into tears. Her chest rumbled as she hid her face in her hands and sobbed. “I don’t want to be here… I want to go home…”
He still didn’t laugh. “It’s not far. Come, let’s get to the finish line. You can do it, Eleanor. Show Kegel what you can do, yeah?”
A trio of runners wheezed by. They were running arm and arm, heads down, elbows close to their waists, fists clenched.
“Why do you care?”
“I don’t know. Just do. Won’t leave you here till you get up.” So she did. Of course she could do it. She could run – she was light on her feet, just didn’t see much point to it. Tom nodded, “Okay, let’s go!”
They broke into a steady jog. It was easy. She smiled inwardly. If she wanted, she could fly.
“You’ll be alright?” Tom asked. “You don’t mind if I pick up pace? You’ll be alright on your own?”
He sped up: his stride lengthened, his breathing became faster. Normally, she wouldn’t be able to keep up with him. At least that was what she thought. But she wasn’t thinking anymore. She was just running. Running. Running. Her feet were hardly touching the ground. She was fast. The world had become a blur. She didn’t realise that she was overtaking other runners, not only those who by now were only walking, struggling with a stitch, panting with exhaustion, but also those who were still running. Even the boys. She was faster than them.
At the start of the last loop she caught up with Katie, who gaped at her in disbelief, unable to speak, unable to force her body to pick up speed. Mr Kegel stared, too. He too didn’t believe his eyes.
“Go Katie! Go!” yelled Katie’s father, and Katie tried. She had made one last inhuman effort to catch Eleanor. Her veins were bursting at her temples, air burned in her lungs, sweat was stinging her eyes, but there was no use. Eleanor – the small, weak Eleanor – was steadily putting more and more distance between them. It was as if she was flying while everyone else was falling off their feet.
The last loop left no memories with Eleanor. She didn’t know how she had completed it. She didn’t even realise that it was over when she hit the finish line and dragged the yellow ribbon with her, still running. She didn’t hear the roaring ovation from the spectators. She didn’t hear Mr Kegel scream: “Stop! Stop, Boyd, you’ve won!” She kept running. Flying. Setting herself free.
It was Tom who shouted from behind (for now even he could not keep up with her), “Eleanor, stop! Come back! You’ve won the race!” And at last she had heard him.
She stopped. Looked around her, puzzled. People were clapping. Patting her on the back. Telling her to go back to the finish line. She won. She was the winner. She had won the race!
She saw Mr Kegel approaching with a strange, wild expression in his eyes. For a split second, she had an urge to take off and run again – away from him. Every muscle in her body twitched, crying to escape, but she stayed put. She had nothing to fear. She had won.
The award ceremony took place in a downpour of rain. Still, people stayed on to witness and marvel at the smallest girl in Year 9 to receive the gold medal. She stood there bewildered, with a shock of red hair entangled in a mad scream with elastic, with her face dotted with dry mud and marked with a smudge running from the bridge of her nose all the way to her right ear. It was hard to believe that she had it in her to win. It was hard to believe she beat the next person by three minutes.
She looked at Tom. He was smiling and nodding. “Blimey! You did show Kegel big time!” he was saying to her. Tom had come second in the boys’ race. He could’ve won if he hadn’t helped her, she thought. She mouthed: “thank you”.
Her eyes were pulled away from him, towards someone else. It was Nathan Murdoch. He was also looking at her, but he wasn’t smiling. He hated her with every beat of his heart and every fibre in his body. Nasty, spiteful thoughts were spilling out of his mind. She could read them, feel them: ginger freak! Daddy’s rich girl… has it all… Slut! Choke on it, slut! Nathan sucked up his saliva and spat it out on the ground. He put his hands in his pockets and disappeared in the crowd. His venomous thoughts still ringing clear in her head. Eleanor didn’t know how but sometimes she could read people’s minds. Right now she wished she couldn’t.