I looked around the bus feeling a little awkward. I knew most of the people, but there had been a few last minute additions. I had gone to school with many of them for years until we had graduated last year.

We were supposed to move on to college, but we were what was called ‘late bloomers’. We went to a school for the supernatural, to help teens come into their powers. And guide them into developing them and using them.

The problem was, we never came into ours.

So, it was ‘summer camp’ for us.

When I say summer camp, it’s not cabins and swimming.

It’s an old, abandoned island off the coast of Great Britain that the locals say is haunted. We knew better. It housed an old mystical mound infused with magic, covered by a cairne and a leyline circling the entire island. There was a huge, old Victorian house that couldn’t be seen by flying over it, only if you stood directly in front of it.

At least that was what we had been told.

I looked around again, a little in shock over who was with me on the bus.

It was considered bad manners to talk about powers and ability level and what sort of supernatural you were, though most people ignored that and talked about it. Some didn’t and they were usually from the old families where tradition was ingrained. Some didn’t because they were like me and they didn’t know. It was never a widely known thing, who hadn’t shown yet, no one talked about it or let others know.

It was… humiliating.

The Summer Camp was to help force the ‘bloom’.

I recognized many of the faces, though most were new to me. The school was fairly segregated. There were the old families, the wealthy, the middle class, and then me. The poor people who had suddenly one day had someone at our door who said we had a scholarship and attendance was not optional. We HAD to go. My family were not supernaturals and none in their blood so far as it was known, so telling them about the school and what I was was a hard no. Nulls could not know unless it ran in their bloodline and they already knew.

I peeked back again at How. Howard Grant IV was not only old blood, but also rich. Everyone knew him, he played football and basketball and he was the face of Grimm High the last three years. He was, in a word, beautiful. Perfect hair, stunning smile, sculpted body and the face of a god.

He also knew it. He was easy to look at though.

What shocked everyone to their toes, though, was when he stepped on the bus.

How Grant was a late bloomer.

He sat in the back with the other old bloods and rich students.

I sat closer to the front, near Mrs Ericson, the teacher who was the expert on the island. The others would meet us there on Monday.

The four students from this country had shown up at the airport to board the bus with all of us after we landed. Three sat huddled together in one seat, whispering and looking back at everyone. The two girls stared at How.

The other boy sat directly behind Mrs Ericson, hunched down in his seat, a scowl on his face as he glared out the window. He looked angry and the way he dressed made me think he was poor too. I plucked at my faded dress.

My mom came from a strictly religious family. Even though she had left it behind and married my father, she still had odd notions on how a girl should dress and act. That meant dresses for me, no make-up and no cutting or styling my hair.

It also made me a sort of freak at the school where everyone else wore the latest styles and looked like they were from this century.

I was teased for years, everyone calling me Laura Ingalls Wilder and prairie girl. After a couple years, it was shortened to just Laura. Everyone called me Laura, even the teachers.

My name was Mia.

I sighed and looked out my own window at the strange houses and the beautiful countryside.

My seat moved as someone sat next to me. “Hey Laura!”

I turned and looked at Angelique Beaumont. “Hi Angel?”

“Hey. Soooo, you should let me do your hair and make-up!”

“My mom doesn’t…”

“You won’t be seeing your mom for MONTHS! Cut loose a little! You can at least try it!”

I hesitated. Was this a cruel joke? Was she going to make me look like a clown? I shook my head and looked back out the window.

“Pleeeeease! Look at you! You could be kind of pretty with just a little help! Less like the girl out of The Ring that climbs out of the well.”

That stung.

“Are you making fun of me? Going to make me look like a drag queen or something?”

“No! No, of course not! I mean, I know we were never friends and I was never nice to you… but I was never mean either? I’m not a mean person. There’s so few of us girls on this trip, I thought maybe we could be friends?”

I looked at her and she looked sincere. I sat up and turned to her, crossing my legs in the seat. She smiled and clapped her hands.

“Let me get my stuff!”

When she came back, Hannah Ellinger and Missy Daniels were with her. Hannah had always been indifferent, but Missy had made a lot of fun of me when we were younger. Now, they both just looked excited as they leaned over the seat behind me to watch.

“You should let me trim your hair!” Hannah said as Angel began going through her giant make-up tote.”

“I’m not allowed to cut my hair.”

“Girl, you are over eighteen! You can do whatever you want! You are an adult! Just a trim to get rid of those split ends! And then I’ll fix it for you!”

“I have some yoga pants I brought with just to sleep in because they are too tight and small to wear normally, but they would fit you fine! Not tight at all, maybe a little loose, but tight enough to stay on!”

“And they would look cute with this sweater I brought! It’s snug on me to show off my tits, but it would be oversized on you and it would be adorable!”

“Oh my gosh! This is going to be fun!” Angel said gleefully. “This hour will be gone in no time!”

I sat back and let them cut my hair, do my makeup and put me in clothes that I never imagined wearing. Angel and Hannah both fixed my hair while Missy painted my nails.

“We don’t have any shoes that would fit you, but your little black ballet flats look fine anyway,” Angel said while she twisted and tugged on my hair. “I wish we had a flat iron.”

“Once we get there, we can use product and do it right,” Hannah agreed.

“I can’t even believe how different you look, Laura! You are adorable!” Angel smiled.

“She really is!” Missy agreed, blowing on my nails.

“I bet Jeremy will fall all over himself when he sees you!” Hannah grinned.

“Jeremy?” I asked. I didn’t know who that was.

“Jeremy Gilbraith? One of How’s best friends? You know who How is, right?”


Missy giggled. “I bet she never took her eyes off How long enough to see who he hung around.”

I blushed.

“He’s easy to look at,” Angel agreed. “But girl, he’s a user. Don’t let him trip you into his bed. Anyway, Jeremy has mentioned more than once that he thought you were kind of cute and he wondered what you would look like dressed normal.”

“He did?” I asked, confused. I lifted up and peeked between Hannah and Missy. “Which one is he?”

“Brown hair, tall, skinny.”

I looked at the boy sitting in the back, across the isle from How. He was very tall, taller than How, and very skinny. I had seen him, he played basketball with How and hung out with him. I just hadn’t known his name until now. He was… I wasn’t sure. He looked like a model with striking features, but the sort of unusual features that you weren’t sure if they were attractive or not. His cheekbones were high and sharp and his lips very full, his mouth exaggeratingly large. His eyes were normal and he looked like he loved to smile. He wasn’t smiling now as he looked out the windows like he was deep in thought.

I supposed he was. We all were. Everyone on this bus was just outed to everyone else on the bus. It didn’t matter that we were all in the same boat. Everyone here knew I was a late bloomer and I was ashamed. They were all thinking exactly the same thing.

“Everyone take your seats! We are almost to the docks!” Mrs Ericson yelled back from her front seat.

The girls sat down where they were and Angel began putting things away.

We had to take a boat to another island and from there we had to be flown over and up to the island we were staying at. She had told us it was a karst island, though the locals called it cursed island instead. I’d had to look up what a karst was, but basically it was an island that jutted way up high and there was no way to the top unless you flew.

When Angel sat back, I saw the lone boy behind Mrs Ericson looking at me, looking me over as he leaned his cheek on his fist. He saw me looking at him watching me, but he didn’t look away, he just looked me over again and looked back at my face, making eye contact again.

I looked away, turning to my window.

As soon as we got there, Angel stood, moved me in front of her, then said to just wait and let everyone else get off first. Missy and Hanna waited too.

There were several curious glances at me and my heart did a huge leap when How looked down at me as he passed. He looked… interested and confused, like he wondered who I was.

Jeremy paused behind him, looking me over with his lips parted. “Hey,” he offered.

“Hi,” I shrugged.

The lone boy in the seat behind Mrs Ericson snorted.

The bus cleared and we got off, the girls giggling as we did. As soon as we did, the wind whipped our hair and our clothes and we had to run to the boat.

“Oh! Your hair!” Angel lamented.

“Messy bun it is!” Missy smiled, piling my hair on top of my head and wrapping a hair tie around it. “Cute!”

Jeremy moved over next to Missy on the boat, How following.

Jeremy looked like he was trying to get the courage to speak, but How spoke first. “Hey! You one of the new girls from here?”

I shook my head, too afraid to speak. Hannah giggled and Missy nudged her.

“Hey Laura,” Jeremy said softly.

“Laura?!?” How asked, stunned.

I felt anger shoot up. “My fucking name is Mia,” I spat at him. “Laura is the name you all teased me with for years and you never bothered to ask my real name.”

“Shit!” Angel breathed. “I really thought it was your real name! You never said any different!”

I shrugged, looking down. “It’s not a huge deal, really, it just… kinda sucks.”

“Understandable,” Jeremy said quickly. “You wanna come sit with us?”

I looked down at my old shoes, feeling… off. They had never wanted to speak to me before. Not until I looked different. “I wanted to stay up here and watch,” I lied, turning to look out the front window to the island in the distance.

They all left, but Angel stayed and leaned on the rail next to me, watching out the window. “Sorry. I really didn’t know.”

“I’m not upset. Not at you. You came and talked to me and were nice when I was ‘Laura’. They didn’t notice me until after. You know?”

“I get it. Hey, wanna bunk up on the island?”

“Sure,” I smiled, my heart warming towards her a little more. I wasn’t just a project to pass the time.

She left to go sit with the others and I went up on tiptoe to try and see further out.

“You didn’t need a makeover.”

I turned to the voice and looked up at the lone angry boy who had looked at me. “What?”

“You didn’t need a makeover. You don’t need to be a clone like them.”

“You’re American?”


“We were told those who were added at the bus would be from England.”

“I was added late to the roster and had to come on a different flight. Mine landed sooner, it was the only flight I could get.”

“I don’t remember you from Grimms?”

“Because I never went.”


“You didn’t need the makeover,” he said again.

“Umm… Oh. What’s your name?”

“Sam,” he answered, walking away.

I watched him, confused. I wasn’t sure what to make of him.

I turned back to the island and watched it get bigger and bigger until we finally slowed and docked.

It was another short bus ride across the island to a place that had a helicopter parked on a pad. I frowned. It was awful small? How would we all fit?

I discovered quickly that we wouldn’t. We had to be brought four at a time.

Mrs. Ericson chose me, Sam and Elliot to go with her. Elliot was a mousy boy who had been teased even more than I had been. He wasn’t just poor, he was short and chubby and cripplingly shy as well. He was constantly sent to school with sweat suits that were too small for him, showing a swatch of his belly and back all the way around, and half his shins and wrists. I felt bad for him, but he was a little oblivious to all of it. He ignored taunts and hello’s alike, staring into his book always.

Flying in the helicopter was a little bit terrifying, but I got over it quickly when the karst came into view. It was larger than I had expected from the pictures I had seen online, higher too.

He put us at the edge of the island and we got out. Mrs Ericson led us to a little opening in the trees and leaning in to yell. “Wait here! Do not go roaming about and do NOT try to find the house on your own! There is dangerous magic here! And you!” she spat, looking at Sam, “You keep your mouth shut!”

With that, she turned and hurried back to the helicopter, climbing in quickly before it took off.

Once the deafening noise died down, I glanced at Sam who looked pissed as he glared at the ground. Elliot was already reading a book.

“What was that all about?” I asked Sam.

“I obviously can’t tell you,” he said acidly, turning away and stepping to the edge of the woods to lok in.

I looked at Elliot, “What are you reading, Elliot?” I asked. I tried to be nice and talk to him every time I saw him, but he had never answered me. Today was no different.

I sighed and paced, watching the direction the helicopter went. Finally, I went to look into the woods too, leaving my bag sitting.

“I’m Mia.”

“I know.”

“Oh. I guess you heard me get mad?”

“I did. I knew before that. There was a roster. No one named Laura was on it. We all got it, remember?”

“Yeah… I guess. So how did you know it was me?”

“Looked all of you up on the plane.”

“I am online?”

“Only your senior photo from the school on the schools website.”

“Where are you from?”

“Montana,” he shrugged.

I looked at him again, trying to figure him out. He had full lips, but not like Jeremy. He was cuteish, but not hot like How. He wasn’t especially tall or even very remarkable. Mostly he just seemed angry.

Elliot made a noise and I turned to him. He was peeing himself.

“Holy fuck,” Sam whispered.

I ran to Elliot. “Elliot? What’s wrong? Why did you do that? Are you ok? Quick, let’s get you changed before the others get here!” I said, pulling open his bag and finding some clean underwear and pants.”

“There’s no toilet anywhere!,” Elliot complained, looking terrified. “I tried to hold it!”

“It’s ok! It’s fine, we can take care of this and no one will ever know, ok? Come on. Sam, help him into the trees to change real quick!”

Sam didn’t argue or complain, he just led Elliot to the trees and stood blocking the boy while he changed. He led him back, shirtless, his shirt wrapped around the wet pants.

“I have to wear the red shirt with the red pants!” Elliot was saying.

“We’ll find the red shirt,” Sam said softly, calmly. “Look, Mia has it right there. Put those wet clothes in the side pocked there and we can wash them straight away. Pull your shirt on. See? Matching and dry and cozy, right? And hey. We’re in the woods! Don’t you know the rules of the woods?”

“Rules?” Elliot asked, confused.

“Yeah. You need to piss, you find a tree!” he smiled. “Look.” He walked to a tree and turned away, then undid his pants to pee against the tree.

I spun away horrified.

“Outside?” Elliot asked, also shocked.

“Outside! No one cares here! No bathrooms, no problem! Water a tree!”

“Water a tree,” Elliot nodded uncertainly, then snatched up his book and started reading again.

Sam went back to the corner tree and leaned on it, watching the sky where the helicopter was coming in the distance. I watched him, still uncertain about him. He had been nice to Elliot, if a bit uncouth. Would he tell? Make fun of him to get in good with the others and make friends? I didn’t think he would.

The helicopter landed and I went to the trees with my hands over my ears to hide from the wind and noise. The two girls and boy from England got off, along with another boy I didn’t really know.

I watched them all talking excitedly as they joined us in the little tree alcove next to the path. Sam went back to watching the woods in the back and Elliot read his book like nothing had ever happened.

It took a couple of hours to bring everyone over four at a time, but it went by fast as everyone talked and laughed. The girls all joined me and we huddled close as the wind picked up off the ocean, evening falling. Even the English girls joined us, along with the boy and the other girls giggled over his accent and whispered over how adorable he was. I didn’t think he was very cute. He reminded me of Alisha Hannover. A rich old blood who lorded over the school and looked down her nose at everyone. She was sort of pretty, but had a nose like a hawk that marred her perfect face. Her parents wouldn’t let her get a nose job because it was a Hannover hallmark. She was vicious to everyone else, scathing and horrible, pointing out the most minute of faults as if putting everyone else down would lessen her own imperfection. She had dated How their whole Junior year before he dumped her and started seeing all kinds of girls, none for very long. Even I knew he was a playboy.

He seemed like her. Cute, but with big ears that he tried to hide with his hairstyle. He was already making remarks about the others and when he landed on Elliot and laughed, I told him to shut his bully mouth.

He looked at me in shock, then laughed. “You are adorable, little one, what’s your name?”

“Leave Elliot alone, he never hurt anyone. He’s had enough bullying in his life. Grow up. Your dumbo ears aren’t his fault!”

There were gasps and silence as he drew up, his face turning pink, then everyone who heard started laughing. His face went still and his eyes turned evil. “For that, you will pay,” he hissed.

He walked away and Hannah fell against me, laughing. “Oh my god, that was amazing! I never knew you had that in you!”

“He shouldn’t have picked on Elliot.”

“Is he family? Your friend?”

“Neither. But he gets bullied even worse that I do. I know how much it hurts. I won’t stand by and let someone do it in my hearing.”

“That’s really awesome of you,” Jeremy said from behind me.

I spun, looking up at him. I hadn’t known they were so close.

“It’s nice to see someone sticking up for others, usually they just fall in and bully too. I was bullied as a kid until I got really good at basketball. Even then, I was called Lurch until just a couple years ago,” he said, still smiling.

I turned and looked down. “I didn’t do it for anyone’s approval,” I said quickly, blushing. “Just to save him some pain.”

“Still, it’s cool,” he said softly.

“Mia,” How called.

I turned, but didn’t look up at him.

“Who are you bunking with?”

“Me!” Angel called happily. “Me and Hannah and Missy!”

“So who will we be bunking with?” the English girls asked.

Angel shrugged. “It’s four per room, but maybe they will let us have the biggest room and we can move a bunkbed in? Since there are six of us?”

“More likely they will split us up 3 per room,” Missy said glumly. “You know how Ericson is. Total funkiller.”

We all continued talking and I was acutely aware of how close behind me Jeremy was and How right next to him, along with a couple other guys who they were sort of friends with.

I peeked over and Sam was still at the back of the clearing at the treeline, but now he was turned and watching our group with a sour expression.