TITLE: A VERY STRANGE ENCHANTED
GENRE: YA Fantasy
While illusion was the circus’s mainstay, three truths tethered Quinn to reality: corsets were torture, cosmetics hid a person’s face but not his guilt, and Jaq would reject the Menagerie’s invitation. Yet some tenuous hope had him trying all three anyway.
By the time he found his tentmate—swigging from a flask by a hoop dangling from a tree—the words filled his chest, his mouth, gritty like gunpowder and burning.
“I’m moving forward with my Queenie performance,” he announced, and sighed. The gunpowder turned back to butterflies. Swirling.
A match snicked.
Jaq expelled the accelerant. Fire whooshed.
Quinn closed his eyes against the blast of heat and coughed delicately.
“And the world will see you as you truly are: visionary.” Framed by the blazing hoop, Jaq’s eyes caught the firelight—feverish, like she’d been birthed by flame.
And she thought he was melodramatic. “Yeah, and eyebrow-less, if you don’t watch it.”
“Also, the Menagerie’s having dinner tonight,” he said. “We’ve been invited.”
She spat out the residual. “You were invited. You should go. They like you.”
“Rina asked after you specifically.”
“A kind gesture. The kind that doesn’t mean anything.” Jaq crouched by the tree and searched through a bag.
Quinn sidled closer. “They were your friends not that long ago.”
“That’s not my problem.”
She shoved a newspaper at him. “Got that from the capital. It’s today’s.”
His hand, and the paper, dropped to his side. He was sick of reading the news. Nothing good ever came of it.
Grimacing, he unfolded the paper.