by Romina

 the words "deleted scene" stacked on top of each other in orange & gray, respectively


Pablo’s black eyes grow bright, as if the full moon is already calling to him. The small hairs on his brown arms seem to thicken, his chest expanding with breath, the transformation close.

A shiver runs down my spine.

After four years of lunaritis dreams, I’m finally going to set foot in that land of magic and mist and monsters.

I remember Pablo saying that Fierro must be hiding in Lunaris, and my stomach buzzes with doraditos. Maybe I’ll even find my father and bring him home.

“Seven days until we take the championship!” booms baby-faced Javier, his voice a cannon blasting through Flora’s crown. Even seated, he towers over the rest of us. Some of the other students look over, but most of them seem used to his volume.

It’s a bright, balmy morning in the Everglades. As usual, we’re breakfasting high up in Flora’s foliage, on a mosaic of green leaves with patterns too intricate to dissect. The tree’s branches arc over our heads, blotting out the intensity of the South Florida sun.

“Manu,” says Diego, looking up from the book he’s reading, eyeglasses slipping down a bit on his nose. “I’ve been thinking that in Lunaris, your parents should consult an attorney before speaking with any government officials. They might have questions about why your family kept your identity as a lobizona hidden. You’ve done nothing wrong,” he adds quickly, probably because he sees my expression falling. “Just a precautionary measure.”

I look to Cata and Saysa, whose spines have gone rigid with tension. Government officials? The forged paperwork Cata and Saysa are drafting is mainly meant to get me past Señora Jazmín’s scrutiny—not government officials.

My gaze meets Tiago’s. His cool sapphire orbs transmit only calm, and I begin to take strength from him—until I remember the kiss.

Our betrayal.

I break our connection and drop my gaze to the facturas on my plate. For once, the fresh baked medialunas and cañoncitos don't look appetizing.

“Why are you always stressing Manu out?” asks Pablo.

I look up in alarm and start to say, “I’m fine—”

“She’s my friend, and I want to help her,” says Diego, losing the thick reading glasses so he can meet Pablo's stare. The bright daylight makes his periwinkle eyes glow like stars against his black skin.

“Well maybe you haven’t noticed," says Pablo, "but every time you warn her of something, she gets quiet for the rest of the meal.”

Sometimes I forget that Pablo is a highly alert conspiracy theorist who is constantly reading the room.

It’s in his nature to sniff out secrets.

“Hagamos otra cosa,” says Nico, ever the diplomat, his silver gaze giving the words heavenly import. Let’s do something else.

“We can play Saysa Says!”

Read the rest of the deleted scene HERE!

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