Shimmering chaos, p.11
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       Shimmering Chaos, p.11

           Jessica Sorensen
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  “I have no idea.” I pause. “You think this wall is what’s restraining me from talking about… Well, you know?”

  “It could be.” He retrieves a thick, leather-bound book from the bag. “It could be a spell, though. If that’s the case, we’re going to need to bring in an elemental witch.”

  “Is that like a normal witch?” I pause as what he said sinks in. “Wait … Witches exist?”

  “Everything exists.” He fans through the pages of the book. “But elemental witches are a bit different from normal witches. Where normal witches gain their powers from spells, elemental witches’ powers come directly from the elements.”

  “So wind, fire, water, and ice,” I list the elements I’ve heard about so far. “Are there any more elements?”

  His throat muscles work as he swallows hard. “There’s one more … Darkness.”

  “I’m guessing from your tone that darkness isn’t a good element?”

  An uneven exhale eases from his lips. “Our history is filled with wars and dark periods caused by the elemental protectors of darkness. There’s something about controlling darkness and being connected to it that makes a lot of them almost insane. It doesn’t help that darkness is linked to dark magic, which is the most evilest form of magic.”

  “Do …? Um …” I nervously wet my chapped lips. “Elemental enchanters have all the elements, right? So that includes darkness?”

  He nods. “Don’t worry, though. Even though darkness is a part of you, elemental enchanters are known for doing more good than evil. And usually, they only cause evil when forced by the hand of another.”

  “Oh.” I can’t help thinking of Foster and the unkindness he’s shown toward me.

  “Foster isn’t as cruel as he comes off. There’s just a lot to being an elemental enchanter, which you’ll learn about soon. That is, if I’m correct about you being one.” He returns to skimming through the book.

  Again, it’s as though he can read my mind.

  “You don’t have mind-reading abilities, do you?” I ask while observing him closely.

  His eyes crinkle around the corners as he chuckles. “No, but I can read people fairly well. You’re a bit more complicated, though, with that wall around you.” He sets the book down on the table and cracks his knuckles. “Hopefully, I can get it down so that can change.”

  “Yeah, I’m not sure I want you to be able to read me clearly.” I anxiously eyeball his hands as flames spark from his fingertips.

  “Don’t worry; I can teach you how to block out elemental protectors, like me, who possess the gift of seeing. But we do need to get that wall down so we can see what’s hidden behind it, okay?”

  I nod, but my stomach ravels in knots. “Okay.”

  “Good. Now, I need you to hold still, and if at any time you feel like my powers are burning you, let me know, okay?” He waits for me to nod then glances down at the opened book. He skims over a page before looking at me again. Then he moves his hands toward my wrists. “Remember, let me know if it burns,” he says as he brushes his fingertips over my skin, causing sparkly warmth to tingle up my arms and swim through my veins.

  He examines my expression closely. “Feel anything?”

  “It feels sparkly, but I’ve felt like this before when you touched me.”

  “Good. That’s good.” Sucking in a breath, he lays his palms on my arms.

  The warmth intensifies, but not in a painful way. In fact, it feels good. Really, really good.

  “Does it still feel sparkly?” he asks, and I nod, fighting the urge to close my eyes. “If it doesn’t burn, then you for sure have elemental powers. But I still can’t tell for sure.”

  “The wall’s still up?”

  “Yeah …” He glances at the book again. “We might need more energy.”

  “More than what’s pouring through my body now?” I choke out.

  His gaze darts to mine, and then he hastily withdraws his hands from my arms. “Was I hurting you?”

  “No, but it’s …” Fucking weird and kind of wonderful. Yeah, I’m not about to say that aloud. “Intense … But not in a bad way.”

  He hesitantly places his palms back on my arms. “I have an idea, but we need my brothers here for it. Especially Foster, since he has the most power.”

  “What sort of idea?” Apprehension drips into my tone.

  He doesn’t get the chance to answer since the rest of the Everettson brothers come barreling through the portal.

  Porter is the first to materialize, with Hunter right behind him. Then Max is next, Easton is second to last, with Foster hanging out near the back, appearing as irritated as he was the last time I saw him.

  Porter takes one look at Holden and me sitting with our knees touching, Holden’s hands on my arms, and his brow cocks up. “What’d we miss?”

  Holden releases my arms and rises to his feet. “Mom and Dad didn’t fill you in?”

  Porter shakes his head, his gaze bouncing between Holden and me. “They just told us there was an emergency and we needed to get back to the house. That you and Sky would be here and could fill us in on everything.”

  All five of them glance between Holden and me.

  Holden glances at me, and I shrug. “You know what’s going on better than I do,” I point out. “Honestly, I feel completely fucking lost.”

  “I know … I was just …” Holden glances worriedly in Foster’s direction then looks back at me. “I’m trying to figure out the best way to break the news to everyone.”

  Great, I have a feeling he thinks Foster is going to be upset that I might have the same powers as him.

  “Come on, brother; just spit it out.” Hunter motions for Holden to get a move on while plopping down on the sofa. “I’m sure whatever it is can’t be that bad.”

  Again, Holden sneaks a glance at Foster.

  Foster notices this time, and his brows furrow. “What’s up? Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

  Holden scratches the back of his neck. “Well, while we were in The In-Between, in the essences’ field, I talked Sky into touching an essence.”

  “Really?” Intrigue sparkles in Hunter’s eyes. “What happened? No, let me guess. It bit her?” His eyes glint mischievously. “I know I would.”

  Max rolls his eyes then winds around the table and takes a seat next to me. “I’m guessing a little essence bite isn’t what caused Mom and Dad to make everyone return home.”

  “Nothing bit me,” I stress, fidgeting with the leather bands on my wrists.

  “That could be changed right now. All you have to do is say the word.” Easton grins as I glare at him. Then he flops down on a chair and kicks his feet up onto the coffee table. “I, for one, am glad we got to come home—whatever the reason.” He kicks off his boots. “I really wasn’t up to dealing with the council today.”

  “Nobody ever is.” Max reclines back on the sofa and fixes his gaze on Holden. “So, are you going to tell us what happened?”

  Again, Holden’s gaze strays to Foster.

  Foster narrows his eyes at him. “Stop giving me weird looks and just spit it out.”

  “You might want to sit down first,” Holden tells him warily.

  Foster crosses his arms. “No thanks. I’m good right here.”

  Jeez, is it really that big of a deal? So what if I’m an elemental enchanter?

  Holden must think it’s a big deal, though, because he frowns.

  “Can you at least move away from the portal?”

  Blowing out a frustrated exhale, Foster strides across the room and plops down on the end table near the sofa next to Porter. “All right, spill it.”

  Holden rakes his hands through his hair. “When Sky touched the essence, every single essence in the field swarmed up to her.” Shocked silence sweeps across the room, but Holden presses on. “So, Mom, Dad, and I think that … well, with all the essences drawn to her … she might be—”

  “Like me,” Foster finishes flatly, his expression neutr
al as he rises to his feet. “Awesome. Glad you dragged that out for an unnecessary amount of time.” With that, he storms out of the room.

  Holden pinches the bridge of his nose. “Will someone please go get him and convince him to come back here? I need his help trying to get this wall around Sky down.”

  “Can’t you do it without him?” The last thing I want is to let Foster put his hands on my arms like Holden did. “Because I doubt he’s going to help.”

  “He will.” Max smiles tightly at me. “He’s just … He’s thought for years that he’s the only one of his kind, and it’s going to take him some time to adjust to the reality that he’s not.”

  My gaze skims across the five of them. Holden appears worried. So does Max. And Porter, Hunter, and Easton are staring at the doorway that Foster disappeared through, tension flowing off them.

  “You guys aren’t telling me something,” I say. “Is it bad that there’re two elemental enchanters?” Or is Foster just being a brat?

  Maybe he likes being unique, and now that he’s not, they’re all worried he’s going to throw a fit.

  “No, it’s not a bad thing.” Max rotates in the chair to face me. “It is a bit dangerous, though, to be an elemental enchanter. Not that I want to frighten you, but you need to understand that, because of your immense powers, your kind are always at risk for being … hunted.”

  “Holden explained a little bit of that to me.” I hug my arms around myself as chills break out across my skin. “So, how does Foster stay safe?”

  “He has us.” Hunter winks at me, but the typical glimmer in his eyes isn’t present.

  “I’m not going to be, like, restricted to the house or something, am I?” Not that I’d ever agree to that. In fact, I still plan on continuing with my plans of leaving when I graduate. And I need to visit Nina and Gage soon. “I don’t want my life to change.”

  “You’re not going to be restricted to the house,” Max reassures me, sliding his arm along the back of the sofa behind me. “But not everything’s going to be the same. You’ll have to learn to control your powers …” He pauses, his forehead bunching. “Wait. How long have you had your powers anyway?”

  I stare at him, my lips refusing to allow me to answer.

  “She can’t talk about anything directly related to her powers,” Holden explains, resting his arms on his knees. “I think the wall around her might have some magic laced into it, keeping her from doing so.”

  “Meaning someone went through a lot of trouble to keep what she is a secret,” Porter says, his gaze glued to me. “Your parents maybe?”

  Again, I can’t answer. And not just because my lips won’t cooperate, but because I honestly don’t know the answer.

  When I make no effort to respond, Holden yanks his fingers through his hair. “We really need to get this wall down. I’ve already tried, but I think I need more power.”

  “Well, there’re six of us. That should be enough.” Max points at the doorway. “East, go get Fost.”

  Easton arches a brow. “You think he’s going to listen to me?”

  Max presses him with a firm look. “Make him understand the bigger picture.”

  “Fine.” Easton pushes to his feet and hurries across the room, casting a weird glance at me before walking out.

  “You know it’s not going to be that easy, right?” Porter tells Max as he props his boot-clad foot onto his knee. “It’s going to take Fost a while to get used to this.”

  “I know.” Max roughly drags his fingers through his hair. “But, right now, he needs to suck it up. He can have his meltdown later.”

  Thunder abruptly booms, and the entire house quivers.

  “Well, I think Easton just repeated your message to him,” Hunter quips to Max then flashes a grin in my direction. “Unless you’re doing that?”

  “Nope, that’s not me.” I’m surprised I can say those words aloud, seeing as it has to do with my powers. Then again, it’s sort of me denying I’m using my powers, so …

  I’m so damn confused, among a million other things, and that confusion only magnifies when Easton returns to the room with a pissed off looking Foster in tow.

  Seriously, what’s the deal with this guy? Why does he seem to hate me? Because he finds me repulsive? So what? That doesn’t give him the right to treat me like shit.

  “So, what the hell are we doing?” Foster grumbles as he crosses his arms.

  “We’re going to try to get this wall around Sky down. But I think it’s going to take all our powers, especially yours.” Holden approaches Foster then leans in and lowers his voice, whispering something to him.

  Foster absorbs his words, his gaze skating in my direction.

  Awesome. They’re talking about me. That’s okay, though. At this point in my life, I’m used to guys being jerks toward me. At least, that’s what I try to convince myself. But the truth is, having Foster hate me is going to suck big time since we’re living under the same roof.

  “Fine,” Foster says after Holden is done whispering to him.

  Holden nods, gives him a pat on the shoulder, then moves back and turns to address the room. “So, I’ve been looking through Mom and Dad’s book of secret spells, and there’s one that suggests our powers can break a blocking spell.”

  “You think that’s what she’s got around her?” Porter asks.

  Holden gives a wavering nod. “It’s my best guess.”

  “I think you’re probably right.” Max tosses a glance at me. “I noticed she was unreadable the first time I met her, which I thought was pretty weird. Since I thought she was human, though, I didn’t think it could be a blocking spell. Now that we know she’s probably not human, I’m betting that’s what it is. I also know that disintegrating blocking spells can be complicated and sometimes nearly impossible.”

  “I know.” Holden stuffs his hands into his back pockets. “But it can’t hurt to try.”

  “I don’t know about that,” I chime in. “Disintegrating anything sounds kind of dangerous.”

  “You should get used to danger,” Foster says in a neutral tone that throws me off a bit. Where’d the snippy Foster go? “Our kind are always in danger of something.” A strange, horrifyingly puzzled look flashes across his face before he looks away from me and swallows hard. “It’s what killed our grandparents.”

  Fear lashes through me. “What happened to them?”

  “Let’s save that story for another time,” Holden says before Foster can reply. “Right now, we need to try to get that wall down.” He collects the opened book from the table and hands it to Max, tapping the top of the page. “That’s what I want to try.”

  I lean over to get a look, but Max is already slanting forward and handing the book to Porter. After Porter reads the page, he gives the book to Hunter.

  “It could work,” Porter says. “But we need to be careful that we don’t overload her with our powers.”

  “Elemental enchanters are made to absorb powers,” Max reminds him, resting back on the sofa.

  “Is that what you guys were doing to Foster in the woods?” I ask as the memory of them all blasting their powers into him flashes through my mind.

  Holden nods. “Because elemental enchanters have so much power, my family and I go into the woods at least once a week so he can practice using them without being seen.”

  “Why did you even go into the woods anyway?” Hunter asks me with curiosity sparkling in his eyes.

  I shrug. “Because I saw you and Holden go in there, and you didn’t look like you were going to play baseball.”

  “So, you thought we were doing what?” he asks, unzipping his hoodie.

  I shrug again. “I wasn’t sure, but between the weird conversations I overheard, the strange screaming from last night, seeing Max in the backyard with his eyes glowing, and the eyeballs in the fridge, I had a feeling something was … off about you guys. And then I saw you and Holden walk through that rippling, clear wall and into the trees …” I pause. “Wha
t are the eyeballs for anyway?”

  “Holden and Hunter’s science experiments.” Porter tells me the same thing he did last night. “I wasn’t lying about that.”

  “Oh.” I open my mouth to ask what sort of experiments, but Holden speaks first.

  “We should probably get this spell started,” he says. “The sooner we can get that wall down, the sooner we can find out what Sky really knows and maybe even why the wall was put up to begin with.”

  They all nod in agreement.

  “Are you sure this is safe?” I question.

  Holden nods. “It’ll be similar to what I just did to you earlier, only it’ll be all of us. And like I said before, if at any time you feel too hot or too cold or too anything, just say so and we’ll stop.”

  “You were nervous before when you first put your hands on me,” I remind him.

  “I know, but you handled my powers just fine.” He offers me what appears to be a genuine smile. “I promise we won’t let anything happen to you.”

  “Our parents would kick our asses if we did,” Easton adds, standing up and tossing the book onto the coffee table. “So, how exactly are we going to do this?” he asks Holden. “Just stand in a circle around her?”

  “I think that’d be best, but maybe …” Reluctance creeps across Holden’s face. “Maybe have Foster stand in the circle with her.”

  I grind my teeth, wanting to protest, but since I have no clue what they’re about to do, I decide not to.

  Holden glances over his shoulder at Foster. “Is that okay with you?”

  Foster lifts a shoulder. “I guess.” He stands in the same place for a flicker of a second then walks up to me and sticks out his hand.

  I should be cooperative—I usually am—but this guy has gotten under my skin. So, instead of taking his hand, I scoot to the side of the sofa, stand up, and wind around him.

  “Where should I stand?” I direct my question at Holden.

  Holden’s gaze shifts between Foster and me, then he sighs and points at a wide area on the other side of the room. “Over there works.”

  I walk over to the spot he pointed at, and the rest of them join me, creating a circle around me. All except for Foster who moves in front of me, standing so he’s facing me.

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