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Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace

MaryJanice Davidson

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  CHAPTER 1 - The Flip

  CHAPTER 2 - Screaming Butterflies

  CHAPTER 3 - The Crescent Moon

  CHAPTER 4 - The New Weredragon

  CHAPTER 5 - Sheep, Bees, and Fish

  CHAPTER 6 - Regression

  CHAPTER 7 - The Farm Under Crescent Moon

  CHAPTER 8 - The Legend of the Ancient Furnace

  CHAPTER 9 - Training

  CHAPTER 10 - Geddy

  CHAPTER 11 - Newolves

  CHAPTER 12 - Investigation

  CHAPTER 13 - The End of the Trail

  CHAPTER 14 - The Ancient Hearth Relit

  CHAPTER 15 - The Beaststalker

  CHAPTER 16 - Crescent Valley

  Praise for the novels of MaryJanice Davidson

  “Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light is truly a wonderful read. Authors MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi have outdone themselves with this second of the series. Regardless of your age, this is one series which earns its place in any keeper shelf.”

  —ParaNormal Romance Reviews

  “It’s a great book whether you have read the other novel about Jennifer Scales or are new to the series. With an original, interesting plot, great writing, and awesome characters, Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light will resonate with teenagers—even if they don’t change into spiders or dragons.”—Curled Up With a Good Kid’s Book

  “A hilarious romp full of goofy twists and turns, great fun for fans of humorous vampire romance.” —Locus

  “Delightful, wicked fun!”—Christine Feehan

  “One of the funniest, most satisfying series to come along lately. If you’re fans of Sookie Stackhouse and Anita Blake, don’t miss Betsy Taylor. She rocks.” —The Best Reviews

  Berkley Sensation titles by MaryJanice Davidson








  Jove titles by MaryJanice Davidson


  Titles by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi




  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

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  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

  South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the authors


  Berkley Jam trade paperback edition / August 2005

  Ace mass-market edition / February 2007

  Copyright © 2005 by MaryJanice Davidson Alongi and Anthony Alongi.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without

  permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the

  author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eISBN : 978-0-441-01474-3


  Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ACE and the “A” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  For the daughters:

  Gabriela Alongi, Christina Alongi, and Erika Growette,

  whose help was invaluable


  The Ruin of Eveningstar

  On the day Jennifer Scales turned five, her family was forced to move. It was the morning their quiet river town of Eveningstar, Minnesota, died a horrible death.

  Jennifer remembered only dim dawn light against her window, her mother rousing her, and jeans and a sweatshirt finding their way onto her tired body while her head drooped against her chest.

  If she thought a little harder, she could remember walking through the crisp, brown woods behind her house until they reached the Mississippi River, stepping onto a flat, slippery boat that sunk a bit with her weight, and shivering in her mother’s firm arms while her father’s voice calmly reassured her.

  And if she relaxed her mind, which she wouldn’t be able to do until she was older, she could remember standing on a bluff beyond the other side of the river, watching from a safe distance as her hometown burned under a crescent moon. She heard the roars of beasts—dinosaurs?—the howls of wolves, and the screeches of unknown things.

  The morning of September 18, those things laid waste to Eveningstar. No one from beyond its borders ever tried to put out the fires, or bury those who died there, or even report the incident.

  No one went there. No one remembered there. Eveningstar, Minnesota, settled by Scandinavian immigrants and incorporated more than one hundred years past, fell into ashes and out of existence.


  The Flip

  The Winoka Falcons were on the verge of their third straight Community Junior League Soccer Championship. In sudden-death overtime, the score was tied at 1-1 with the Northwater Shooting Stars. Jennifer Scales, the Falcons captain, dribbled the ball across midfield. Four of her teammates charged forward with her; only three exhausted defenders were keeping pace.

  Jennifer, who had turned fourteen the day before, wanted a win for her birthday present.

  As one of the Northwater defenders approached, she kicked the ball sharply to the left, into what could have been open field. It skimmed the grass and nestled squarely in the instep of her teammate, Susan Elmsmith. Jennifer grinned in delight at her friend’s sudden change in pace and direction. There were times she was sure the two of them could read each other’s mind.

  Susan advanced on the enemy net with gritted teeth. Jennifer slipped behind the defender who had challenged her and matched pace with the last opposing fullback, b
eing careful not to slip offsides.

  Unfortunately, it had rained most of yesterday, and though the skies were clear today, the ground was treacherous. More than twenty yards away from the goal, Susan went skidding into the grass and mud with an angry yell, just managing to push the ball a bit off the ground and over the foot of the fullback. It came spinning by Jennifer, and in a tenth of a second she saw her shot.

  She darted forward and kicked the ball straight up with her toe. Then she somersaulted into the air, twisted, and sent the ball sailing toward the net with a hard kick. For an upside-down instant she saw the goalie dangling in the sky from the earth above. Then she twisted again, completed the midair roll, and landed on her feet as the ball flew past the goalie’s reaching fingers.

  Game over, 2-1, Falcons.

  She turned back downfield grinning, already anticipating the slaps and congratulations from her teammates. But all the players on the field were staring at her in surprise, and a little bit of . . . fear?

  “How did you do that?” Susan’s eyes, usually almond-shaped, were wide with shock. “You turned upside down . . . It was so fast.”

  “Duh, it had to be,” Jennifer shot back. They were gaping at her as if she’d pulled a second head out of her butt and kicked that into the net. “Jeez, any of you could have done it. I was just closest to the ball.”

  “No,” Terry Fox, another teammate, said. Her voice sounded strange and thin. “We couldn’t have.”

  Then the field was crowded with parents from the stands, and their ecstatic coach, who lifted Jennifer by the elbows and shook her like a maraca. She forgot about the odd reactions of her friends and reveled in the win.

  In all the ruckus, she didn’t think to look at her mother’s reaction to her stunt. By the time she sought her out in the crowd, the older woman was cheering and clapping like everyone else.

  Winoka was a town where autumn wanted to last longer, but found itself squeezed out by the legendary Minnesota winters. Like many suburbs, it had new middle-class neighborhoods built on top of old farmland and inside small forests. The Scales’s house, at 9691 Pine Street East, was in one of those lightly forested neighborhoods, where every house had a three-car garage, ivy-stone walls, and a mobile basketball net on the edge of a neatly manicured lawn. It looked incredibly typical. Jennifer could never figure out why this bothered her.

  The night of the championship, however, she wasn’t thinking about the house. She was thinking about her friends. She wanted her mother to think about them, too.

  “Freaking out! Acting like I had sprouted wings!”

  Dr. Elizabeth Georges-Scales was a woman who didn’t often show emotion. If her daughter had been paying close attention, though, she might have noticed a slight pull at the edges of her solemn eyes.

  “When the coach took us out for ice cream afterward, everyone seemed cool,” Jennifer continued. “But I still caught Chris and Terry staring at me when they thought I wasn’t looking.”

  “It was quite a jump,” Elizabeth offered mildly.

  “I see players on the U.S. team do it all the time.”


  Jennifer hissed softly. If the older woman wasn’t looking right at her, Jennifer would swear she didn’t have her mother’s attention at all. Typical! A vague and absent look, meaningless verbal agreement, and no maternal instincts whatsoever.

  Did you actually give birth to me, or did you just crack open a test tube? She did not say this aloud. The rush she’d get from forcing a reaction from her mother was not worth the weekend grounding she’d receive.

  Besides, she had to give her mother credit for being at the game today—and every other soccer game Jennifer had ever played. And this was one of their longest conversations in weeks.

  So Jennifer passed on the insult. “They were weird, is all I’m saying. High school just started, I’m under enough pressure . . . now this!” The ringing doorbell jerked them both out of the conversation. “I’ll get it.” She grabbed cash from her mother’s hand and answered the door.

  The delivery guy was tall, blond, wiry, and unfortunately plagued by enough acne to cover twelve boys his size. “H-have a nice s-supper,” he stuttered after passing her the bags of food. He wouldn’t stop staring, so she finally stuffed some cash in his shirt pocket and shut the door on him.

  It was her eyes, probably. Sometimes boys stared at her eyes. They were a shining gray—almost silver—and seemed to cast their own light. Her father had similar eyes, and grown women stared at him as much as gangly boys stared at her. The idea of her dad as a babe magnet grossed her out, but her mom never seemed to notice.

  “My!” Jennifer said, spreading out the delivered feast. Lemon chicken and pork spareribs for her, beef lo mein and potstickers for her mother, white rice, about a thousand tiny soy sauce packets, and factory-wrapped fortune cookies for both of them. “What a delicious meal, Mother. How do you find the time?”

  “Very funny.” Elizabeth smirked. “You know perfectly well neither of us wants me to cook.”

  Jennifer grinned back, glad of the momentary connection. “True, true. Hey, some stuff you cook is really great. For example, your eggs. And your, uh, soup. Your soup is the best.”

  “I’ll tell the Campbell’s Corporation you said so.” Elizabeth was really smiling, now. It didn’t happen often, and Jennifer observed how young her mother looked.

  She usually preferred not to notice. She had once overheard a couple of boys in her eighth-grade class who had been to her house. The way they talked about her mother made Jennifer uncomfortable, to say the least.

  Height seemed to be the draw. Height made legs longer, inexplicably made shoulder-length honey-blonde hair shinier, even cheekbones higher. It somehow made emerald eyes sharper, and smoothed out the pronounced curves from bearing a child. And this tall frame moved with a sort of direct grace that didn’t remind Jennifer so much of a medical doctor as a gymnast.

  By comparison, Jennifer felt inadequate. While her mother’s height made her beautiful, Jennifer’s made her feel like a misfit. The only place she felt at home was on the soccer field, where everybody was yards away from each other and nobody had time to compare your body to everyone else’s. In the crowded hallways of Winoka High, in front of every boy and girl she knew (and many she didn’t), her height and eyes stood out, her loud laugh stood out, and the silver streaks that had just shown up in her blonde hair this year definitely stood out.

  The hair really bothered her. While her father had pointed out that the emerging color matched her eyes, she could not stand that her hair had begun to turn “old-lady gray” before she even turned fourteen. First she had tried dye, but the silver strands never seemed to hold the color. Then she considered wigs, but she felt ridiculous the first time she tried one on in a store—and of course, she knew a wig would never work on a soccer field. Nowadays, she just wore simple hats whenever she could. Threads of silver always seemed to wriggle out from under the brim.

  Sometimes, when she looked in the mirror, Jennifer thought she looked like an older version of her mother.

  The aroma of the lemon chicken chased away uncomfortable thoughts, and she began to eat.

  “Your dad’s coming home tonight,” Elizabeth offered between bites of lo mein.

  “Really.” The mention of her father irritated Jennifer. “Seems soon.”

  “It’s been five days,” her mother pointed out.

  “Like clockwork, I guess.”

  “Perhaps you could show him that soccer trick.” Jennifer let her fork fall loudly. “If he wanted to see it, he could have been at the game.”

  “You know he goes when he can.”

  “I know he goes on another business trip to nowhere, once or twice a month, and I never know if he’s going to be there or not.”

  “It’s his job.”

  “I thought being my father was also his job. It was the championship game.”

  “He didn’t have a choice.”

  “Sure he did
. Every time he flies off on another trip, he has to move his own feet and step onto a plane.”

  There was a pause. “It’s not like that.”

  Jennifer pushed away the chicken. “I hate that you think it’s no big deal.”

  Elizabeth pushed her own meal away. “Jennifer, honestly. When he’s around, all you do is tell him how irritating he is. Then he leaves, and you complain that he’s not around.”

  “I’m sorry I can’t be a rational, emotionless robot like you, Mom. Cripes. Why can’t you be the one that leaves every couple weeks?”

  Jennifer immediately saw from her mother’s startled reaction that she had crossed over several lines way too fast. She hadn’t meant the conversation to go like this. It had seemed so pleasant just a minute ago.

  Before she could muster the will to apologize, her mother was up from the dinner table and dumping the rest of her dinner into the dog dish. Phoebe, a collie-shepherd mix with enormous black, pointed ears, came racing out of the living room at the sound of food hitting her bowl. Just like that, Phoebe was in the kitchen and her mother wasn’t.

  By the time Jonathan Scales got home that evening, his daughter had immersed herself in charcoal sketches. Piles of chalky black-and-white drafts of angels, dragons, and faeries littered the floor of Jennifer’s bedroom. As he edged open the door, he pushed some aside.

  “Hey, ace. Drawing up a storm? How’d the game go?”

  Jennifer fixed her eyes on his. “For someone who claims to be my father, you do an amazing impersonation of someone who doesn’t know anything about anyone else around here.”

  Jonathan sighed and closed the door.

  Later that night, Jennifer and her mother were talking over leftovers. They were both smiling this time, but then suddenly Jennifer changed. She could feel her skin moving, and her face stretching. Glancing down at her hands, Jennifer saw the backs of them turn electric blue, and her fingernails grow rapidly and thicken. When she looked back up, her mother was staring at her—not with surprise or fear, but with calm hatred. The older woman’s features were dark and horrible. Her mortal enemy.