Shimmering chaos, p.12
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       Shimmering Chaos, p.12

           Jessica Sorensen
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  “You’re going to have to touch me if this is going to work,” Foster says, pushing up the sleeves of his hoodie.

  I glance at Holden for confirmation.

  He gives me a nod. “He’s telling the truth.”

  Blowing out a breath, I return my attention to Foster, who has his hand out. I make no move to take it, though.

  “Stop looking at me like I have cooties,” he gripes.

  “Maybe you do,” I retort. “And when I touch you, they’ll leak all over me.”

  He rolls his tongue in his mouth, fighting back what looks like a smile. But it’s hard to say for sure since I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen him smile.

  “I’ll tell you what. If you take my hand, I’ll try not to spread my cooties to you.” He urges his hand at me.

  “You better.” I know I’m being ridiculous, but he’s been such a jerk to me. Plus, I’m feeling very stressed out right now. But, knowing I don’t have another choice, I suck it up and place my hand in his.

  Nothing could prepare me for what happens next.

  I gasp as sparks of electricity surge from him and crackle across my arm. Foster’s eyes illuminate as they widen, lightning-blue light piercing across the room.

  “What the hell?” I hear one of the Everettson brothers say, but the howling wind makes it hard to figure out who spoke.

  Water pours through the room and splatters across the floor. Light bulbs burst, snowflakes flurry from somewhere, and a fire erupts in the fireplace.

  I should pull away—whatever is happening between Foster and me is going to end up destroying the house—but the power running through my veins … the warmth … the sparkling … it feels so wonderful.

  “Good gods,” Foster breathes out, his chest rising and crashing as he gapes at me. “I’ve never felt anything … like … this—”

  He gasps as a lightning bolt crashes through the room and zaps the floor right between us.

  We both stumble back, the chaos settling as ours hands separate.

  Then my eyes roll into the back of my head and everything goes dark.

  Chapter 16

  Darkness everywhere. Calling to me. Begging for me to own it.

  I want to let it wrap around me. Want it to become a part of me.

  “Can you hear me?” darkness whispers. “If you can, just give in. We need a queen …”

  I’m not sure what queen it’s talking about, but I find myself reaching farther into the darkness, letting it take me away—

  My eyelids snap open, and I bolt upright, panting for air as I frantically glance around, half-expecting to see nothing but darkness. Then I relax a drop when I see black and purple walls.

  I’m in my bedroom at the Everettsons’ house. I’m safe. There’s no darkness.

  But, how did I end up here? The last thing I can recall is being in the living room … the lightning … Foster. And what was that dream? Why did darkness call to me? And what queen was it talking about?

  Climbing out of the bed, I check myself over to make sure the lightning that struck between Foster and me didn’t do any damage. My skin is smooth, not a single injury evident, although the hem of my shirt looks singed.

  I really need some answers.

  Sweeping my fingers through my tangled hair, I make my way out of my room and down the hallway. The atmosphere is quiet until I reach the top of the stairs. Then I hear voices floating up from the living room.

  I stop at the top of the stairs as Holden says, “So, the council just wanted to call her in because they think she’s a human who knows about our world and wanted to make sure we had everything under control?”

  “That’s what they told us,” Emaline replies.

  Some of the tension I’ve been carrying unwinds from my muscles at the sound of her voice. Holden seemed worried when we last saw Emaline and Gabe, as if something bad might happen to them.

  “We’re not sure if they were telling the truth, though. You know how corrupt everything’s gotten back in our world. It’s hard to trust anyone these days,” Gabe says then sighs. “I’m going to look into it some more. Until then, we need to keep an extra eye on Sky.”

  Easton snickers. “I don’t think that’ll be a problem for Foster.”

  I hear a whack. Then …

  “Fuck off, man,” Foster growls. “You don’t know shit about this.”

  “Language,” Emaline scolds.

  “Sorry,” Foster mutters. “I’m just a little stressed out. What happened in the living room with her … that was … intense.”

  “Intense in a good way?” Max asks curiously. “From what it looked like, I’m guessing so.”

  When Foster doesn’t answer right away, Hunter chimes in. “Bro, it’s okay to admit you liked it. Despite what you’ve had to tell yourself for the last several years, it’s actually not a bad thing to like a girl.”

  Wait … Are they talking about me?

  I promptly shake my head. Hell no. There’s no way Foster likes me.

  Of course, the next thing Foster says gives me one scenario where he could. A scenario that makes my stomach churn and frustration roar through me.

  “I understand that,” Foster replies quietly, his tone crammed with fear and agony. “But it’s hard. I spent most of my life believing I was the only elemental enchanter, and that I will never be able to get close enough to anyone to have a romantic relationship—at least, not without my powers killing them—so I shut almost everyone out.” He releases a shaky breath. “Now I find out I’m not the only elemental enchanter, and that I can possibly have what I thought I never could …”

  I back away, not wanting to hear the rest, my mind racing as I rush back to my room.

  What Foster just said … Does it mean only an elemental enchanter can date another elemental enchanter? If that’s so, then that means …

  I slip inside my room, shut the door, and yank my fingers through my hair. “Goddammit! How did everything get so messed up? Why did I have to come here? I just want to go home.” Tears of frustration flood my eyes, and the sky weeps with me. “I need to get out of here … take a break, get some answers,” I whisper as I hurry into the closet to grab a bag.

  As I’m packing, I dig out my phone, glad to see it’s working again.

  I text Nina, begging her to come get me. She replies almost instantly.

  Nina: I can leave now. Just send me the address.

  I do what she asks then finish packing, taking a couple of outfits, my toiletries, and a couple of the joints Gage gave me. I’m not running away or anything. I just need a break. I also want to go to the storage unit where my parents’ stuff is and see if perhaps there’s anything in there that’ll give me some answers as to what the hell is going on.

  I should probably go tell Emaline I’m leaving, especially since I’m supposed to be starting school tomorrow, but I can’t seem to bring myself to face any of them right now, not after what I just heard. So, like a coward, I sneak downstairs to the back door, passing through the kitchen on my way so I can get Emaline’s phone number off the iPad. That way, I can text her and let her know where I’ve gone. From what I can tell, the Everettson family is still discussing the issue at hand as I sneak out the back door.

  I feel awful for bailing. Sure, the entire situation is fucked up, but most of them have treated me decently. All except Foster and sometimes Easton.

  Foster, the only other elemental enchanter in the world.

  The only person I can ever have a relationship with.

  Fuck, what if that’s true?

  That question repeatedly streams through my mind as I hurry out the front gate and wait for Nina by the side of the road.

  The sky grows dark as time passes, and rain drizzles from the clouds, soaking through my jacket. But I remain standing out in the storm, without shelter, strangely content with the rain. Well, that is until I get the strangest feeling I’m being watched.

  The rain is coming down too hard to see much around me, and as the fe
eling increases, I debate going back into the house. Right as I’m turning to go back in, though, Nina pulls up.

  Sighing in relief, I climb into the passenger seat.

  “Holy shit, this is where you live now?” she asks as I shut the door.

  I nod, fastening my seatbelt. “Yep, this is home sweet home,” I reply dryly.

  “It’s gorgeous,” she says, unable to tear her eyes off the house. “Seriously, what’s it like living here?”

  I peek over at the Everettsons’ home, only one word coming to mind when I think about the last couple of days. “Chaotic.” I sink back in the seat. “Let’s get out of here before they realize I’m gone.”

  It takes her a raindrop of a second before she drives forward into the night.

  Strangely, the farther away I get from the house, the more unsettled I feel, as if some unseen force is begging me to go back. But I’m not ready to face any of them yet. Not until I process what I just heard. So, I ignore the inkling. Just like I ignore the lightning in the sky. Lightning not being caused by me.

  Chapter 17

  “So … do you want to talk about what happened?” Nina asks after a few minutes of silence.

  The windshield wipers work to keep the rain off, but the storm is coming down so heavily that visibility is limited.

  I reach to turn up the air. “It wasn’t anything major,” I lie. Always lying. All the time. “They’re just jerks. Well, some of them are.” Honestly, most of them aren’t, but I don’t know what else to tell her. “I just needed a break. Plus, they’re really … weird.”

  She laughs softly, cranking up the defroster as the windows fog up. “Sky, you do realize you’re weird, right? Not that I don’t love you any less.” She downshifts and slows down for a turn. “How could I when I’m just as big of a weirdo?”

  “Yeah, I guess so.” God, I hate lying. Will there ever be a time when I can just tell the truth? Tell her about my powers?

  Doubtful, especially with the wall that’s blocking me. Unless the wall is down now … I’m unsure if the spell worked since I passed out.

  “Cheer up, buttercup,” she says when she notices my frown. “We’re going to have fun tonight.”

  I eye her over suspiciously. “Wait … You have that tone.”

  Her eyes glint mischievously. “What tone?”

  “The one you get when you’re about to do something potentially illegal and try to convince me to do it with you.”

  “Don’t pretend like you actually care about doing illegal stuff.”

  “I don’t to an extent.” I frown as she grins. “What’s going on?”

  “Oh, nothing.” Her grin suggests otherwise. “Gage and I are just having a little get-together. That’s all.”

  “So, a party.” Because Nina never has get-togethers. They’re always parties.

  She shoots me a playful, scolding look. “Don’t pout. It’s going to be fun. I promise.”

  “Why’d you guys decide to have one tonight?” I ask. “And what about school tomorrow?”

  “Our school’s on winter break right now, remember?”

  “Crap, I forgot. The new school I’m starting isn’t on break yet.”

  “They do get a winter break, though, right?” she asks, and I shrug. “Well, shit.”

  “You can say that again,” I mumble, folding my arms over my chest.

  “Well, shit.” She smiles, and I can’t help smiling a bit, too.

  But the party has me on edge.

  “So, who’s all coming to the party? And are you having it at Gage’s or your house?”

  “It’s at mine. My mom’s out of town, so I thought: why not?” She shrugs, then glances at me. “Just a warning. It was already going on when I left, and things were getting a bit crazy.” When my lips curve into a frown, she adds, “Dude, chill. We’re going to have fun.”

  I put on a smile, but the truth is that I’ve never been into parties. There’re always too many people there for my liking. And with the mood I’m in, I am betting I’m going to be a party pooper. Not that I’m ever the life of the party.

  I guess I’ll just have to suck it up. After all, Nina did drive all the way out to the Everettsons’ house just to pick my ass up.

  Speaking of the Everettsons …

  I dig out my phone, deciding to send Emaline a text now.

  Me: Hey … So, I’m not sure if you noticed I’m gone or not, but I just wanted to let you know that I left the house. With everything going on, I needed a break. This is just a lot to take in …

  I don’t know what else to tell her, so I hit send then hold my breath and wait for a reply. Almost instantaneously, a message pings through.

  Emaline: Sky, I know you’re probably scared and upset, but I need you to come home right now. It’s not safe for you to be wandering around alone.

  Me: I’m not alone. I’m with my friends.

  Emaline: Your friends aren’t one of us, sweetie. If something happens, they can’t protect you.

  Me: Please just let me hang out with them for a couple of days. I promise I’ll come back as soon as I clear my head.

  And after I’ve gone through the stuff in the storage unit.

  Emaline: Where are you right now?

  Me: Heading to Nina’s house. She’s my best friend. I’m in her car right now, perfectly safe.

  Emaline: Where does she live?

  Me: In Honeyton.

  Emaline: I need the address.

  I pause. If I give her the address, is she going to come get me?

  Me: Why?

  Emaline: So I can send someone to pick you up. I know that’s not what you want to hear, and I understand that you’ve been through a lot, but you need to come home right now.

  Me: I have no home.

  I type and send the words without really thinking, sadness clutching my chest.

  Another message buzzes through.

  Emaline: Oh sweetie, that’s not true at all. I know this has to be hard—learning what you learned after losing your parents—but I promise that, with time, things will get easier. And our home is your home.

  As tears well in my eyes, I shove my phone into my pocket. Her kindness is making me too emotional, and the sky is reacting by pouring down more rain.

  “Holy crap, this is some storm,” Nina remarks, peering up at the sky through the windshield. “And it was clear skies when I left my house.”

  “Storms are pretty unpredictable.” To most people anyway.

  To me, they’re the most predictable thing in my life right now.

  By the time we arrive at Nina’s house, it’s nearing eleven o’clock at night and the party is in full swing. Nina’s house, which is similar to the size of my old home, is crammed with people, most of which I know but rarely talk to. They are all dancing, drinking, laughing, and smoking. The place reeks like cigarettes and beer, and the air is laced with smoke so potent my eyes immediately water.

  “I’m back!” Nina singsongs as we enter the kitchen.

  Gage, who’s sitting on the counter, chatting with a red-headed girl who looks a year or two older than us, smiles at Nina. Then his smile morphs into a full-blown grin when his gaze lands on me.

  “What the hell? I didn’t know you were coming.” He jumps off the counter and wraps his arms around me in a hug, smelling like pot and beer and everything that is Gage.

  “Hey.” I loop my arms around the back of his neck as he spins me around. “Didn’t Nina tell you she was going to pick me up?”

  He shakes his head, slanting back to meet my gaze. “She told me she was going to get a surprise, but that’s it.” He kisses my cheek. “Best surprise ever.”

  I chuckle, knowing he’s drunk. “For sure.”

  After he steps away, he assesses me. “Something’s off about you.”

  I instantly think of the wall around me. Could he be saying that because it’s down now? But, if that’s the case, then wouldn’t he have been able to see it to begin with?

  Is Gage not huma

  That idea quickly evacuates my brain when he laughs and says, “Oh, I know why. It’s because you’re not drunk yet.” He snags ahold of my hand and drags me over to the table that holds an array of drinks.

  After he mixes me one, he pours a drink for himself. “Cheers.” He taps his cup against mine, and I can’t help laughing as he spills some all over his boots and the floor.

  Shrugging it off with a laugh, he downs a large mouthful then waits for me to do the same. Part of me doesn’t want to drink, is worried that, with everything going on, I shouldn’t. But when thunder rumbles from outside, reminding me of reality, I decide to hell with it and down a large gulp.

  Once we’ve both finished our drinks, Gage tosses our cups into the garbage then glances around. “What should we do next?”

  I look around at the rowdy crowd. “Where’s Nina?”

  Gage lifts his shoulders. “Probably up in one of the bedrooms with Logan.”

  I pull a face. “Grey’s friend?”

  Gage offers me an apologetic look. “Sorry, but you know how she can get.”

  “Yeah, she thinks with her vagina, not her head,” I say, jolting as a loud boom of thunder reverberates through the house.

  Since I’m slightly buzzed and feeling somewhat content, I’m surprised I’m setting off a storm. Maybe another drink will help. Or maybe …

  “You know, I brought a couple of those joints you gave me,” I tell Gage, knowing I might be heading down a path of self-destruction, but right now, I’m too confused, lost, worried, scared—a hundred different things—to care.

  He points a finger at me, a devious smile curling at his lips. “I like the way you think.”

  I grin back, though I feel anything but happy. Still, I act the part as Gage and I go back to the extra bedroom and light up.

  A few inhales in, and I’m feeling pretty numb inside, although the storm hasn’t calmed down yet.

  “So, what’s life like at your new home?” Gage asks, passing me the joint.

  We’re stretched out on the bed with our feet in opposite directions, our heads side by side.

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