Reading someone’s mind won’t always tell you what they want.
Scott Kensington lives happily without magic; prayer is all he needs to worship the gods. Then he starts his studies at the University of Frannesburg, and not only is he suddenly surrounded by eccentrics—those gifted with magic—but his own latent ability begins to surface, with consequences that could tear his soul and family apart.
Nick Barns is grieving for his lost mother and desperate for distraction—usually in the form of limited-edition action figures. As a telekinetic, he’s no stranger to magic, so he offers to help Scott adjust to his new powers. They quickly learn how their magics interact, their shared passions soon growing beyond superheroes and immortals. But Nick’s not taking his studies seriously, and his father threatens to pull him from the university. Overwhelmed by his own crumbling family, Scott’s convinced he can’t handle a relationship, but he doesn’t want to let Nick go.
With grief, guilt, and magic complicating everything between Nick and Scott, it seems that not even the gods—or a new comic book—can save their relationship now. Sometimes, even reading someone’s mind won’t help you understand what they want.
Sometimes you just gotta pray. And I know our goddess will answer those prayers, ’cause she wants us all to live our best lives.
I smiled. My mom’s ConnectUs status reminded me of listening to her at the dinner table back home. I’d only been away for three weeks at this point, but gods, I missed her. And not just her advice and support—I missed her spaghetti, too.
Tapping on my phone, I tabbed back to my profile page: Scott Kensington, with a profile pic featuring my younger sister and me smiling outside of high school. My most recent status read, “I made it through my first week at University of Frannesburg! Miss you all!” I was living the beginning of a coming-of-age movie by going away to college, but there was no way I’d have any life-changing epiphanies or meet the love of my life right off the bat. Not when even the social requirements of going to class made me exhausted.
I glanced back at my mom’s status. Maybe prayer would help with that.
Leaving my religious theory textbook open on my pillow, I climbed down from my loft bed. My desk and dresser hid underneath the loft bed on one side of the dorm, and my roommate Mark’s unlofted bed and desk sat on the other wall, with his dresser on the back wall under a window. There was too much furniture for the size of the room. We couldn’t have made it work if Mark hadn’t suggested lofting one of the beds.
I’d never had to share a room before. It was like those TV shows with feuding brothers, where they put a line of tape down the middle and each side was completely different. The walls on Mark’s side were covered in posters for bands and video games, and he had a dual-screen handheld game console and pile of games and strategy manuals on his dresser.
My side? Still sparse. All I had really managed to set up was my altar on my dresser . . . showed my priorities, I guessed. But my altar was full: a ten-inch statue of Natalis carved from a marbled rosy stone stood before a round mirror, which held small figurines of Sanya and Flavius in their creature forms, a fish and a phoenix respectively. Mom had given me Sanya before I left as a prayer to stay healthy. And Dad had given me Flavius as a prayer for ambition and opportunity. Though I displayed him for the luck.
I lit a tea light in front of the mirror with a flip-open lighter and rubbed my thumb across the floral insignia etched on its side. Ten petals for the ten gods.
Swiveling my desk chair around to face the altar, I sat down. The candle’s light danced on the central statue, throwing her curvy shadow onto the wall behind her.
“Hi, Natalis,” I whispered, running a finger down the side of the statue’s face and across her shoulder. “I’m lonely. I hope you don’t mind if I talk to you.”
She wouldn’t mind of course. But I hated feeling like a bother. Why would my little voice matter among the billions she heard from each day?
“University of Frannesburg isn’t that bad. The dining commons has decent food, and the classes are pretty much what I’d expected, all reading assignments and don’t forget office hours,” I started, like I was talking to my mother. But I didn’t have to talk to Natalis that way anymore, now that I wasn’t home, and Mom wasn’t right behind me.
With a sigh that drooped my shoulders, I tried again.
“I’m lonely. Ralston feels a whole world away, not just two hours. I knew Frannesburg would be different, but Mark doesn’t even have an altar, and the Flavius statue in the quad doesn’t have any offerings. What am I going to see next, an eccentric not knowing which god gifted them magic? I hadn’t expected religion to be so unimportant to people in this city, with so many eccentrics here.”
After growing up in a little town full of normals, magic still took me by surprise. I had seen dozens of telekins around campus, and the university had a healing program. Yesterday I had even passed a fire weaver with actual fire in her palm, my first time seeing fire weaving in person—
But that wasn’t what I wanted to talk to the goddess about.
“The problem is . . . I don’t feel any connection to anyone. And I’m fucking up every opportunity Mark gives me to be social.” You’re not supposed to swear to the gods. Shut up, Mom. “Why does it sound so awful when he asks me to hang out? Why can’t I relax around him and meet his friends?”
To celebrate the release of Read My Mind, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 7, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author & Links:
Kelly Haworth grew up in San Francisco and has been reading science fiction and fantasy classics since she was a kid. She has way too active an imagination, thus she channels it into writing. Kelly is genderfluid and pansexual, and loves to write LGBTQIA characters into her work. In fact, she doesn’t know if she’s ever going to be able to write an allo-cishet couple again. Kelly has degrees in both genetics and psychology, and works as a project manager at a genetics lab. When not working or writing, she can be found wrangling her two toddlers, working on cosplay, or curled up on the couch with a good TV show or book.