Shimmering chaos, p.13
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       Shimmering Chaos, p.13

           Jessica Sorensen
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  “It’s … weird.” I take a hit and hand it back.

  “Weird how?”

  “I don’t know … Just weird.”

  “You’re not making very much sense, hon.” He rolls over onto his stomach with the joint pinched between his fingers and looks down at me. “They’re not treating you shitty, are they?”

  I shake my head. “No, not really. Most of them are nice. Well, except for Foster. But he’s … I don’t know.” I frown, or more like pout, when I realize I can’t tell him much more than that.

  Smoke snakes around his face as he studies me. “Did you ever figure out who that guy was that approached you yesterday? And why he gave you a blank card?”

  I shake my head. Through all the craziness that has been happening, I completely forgot about that guy.

  “Why do you ask?” I wonder, taking the joint from him.

  He shrugs, then flips back onto his back. “I was just curious … I mean, you act like these people you’re living with are weird and that guy said that stuff about them …” He shrugs, staring up at the ceiling.

  My mind drifts back to when the guy had given me the card. He said the Everettsons weren’t who I thought they were. He also said to call him when I wanted to know the truth, yet there wasn’t anything on the card he gave me. Does he really know what the Everettsons are? Is he an elemental protector? Why single me out, though?

  I recall how he noticed when my powers made the lights flicker.

  Does he know what I am?

  Crap, what if he does?

  I need to look at the card again. Maybe I missed something the first time I glanced at it.

  “I need to go get something out of my bag,” I mutter, rolling off the bed.

  Gage lifts his head, blinking at me. “What?”

  “Nothing. I’ll be right back.” I motion for him to stay put, which he obliges, lying back down and taking another hit.

  I stumble out of the room, my vision a bit blurry and time feeling a bit off, as if I’m moving in slow motion.

  “Sorry,” I apologize as I bump into someone. Then I hear an all-too-familiar laugh.

  “Man, someone’s out of it,” Grey remarks, steadying me by the shoulders.

  I sigh, so not in the mood to deal with him right now.

  “Excuse me,” I tell him, trying to squeeze by him, but he sidesteps, blocking my way.

  When I glare at him, the corners of his lips curve upward.

  “What’re you doing here?” he asks. “I didn’t think you were much of a partier.”

  His speculation is stupid because A). He doesn’t know me very well. B). I’m not a partier right now. Just a girl at a party. And C) …

  I totally forgot where I was going with this.

  Crap, I think I smoked too much.

  “Can you please move out of my way?” I ask. “I need to go do something.”

  Ignoring me, he nibbles on his bottom lip. “You asked me to a dance once, right? When we were, like, in seventh or eighth grade?”

  “That was a long time ago,” I point out defensively. Although, if I weren’t high, I’d probably get flustered.

  “And if I remember correctly, I turned you down.”

  “Move out of my way,” I grit out through my teeth, my anger trying to surface, but the haziness inside me stifles it.

  He ignores me. “You know what? I’m feeling pretty generous tonight, so how about we have that dance?”

  “Gag me.” I don’t mean to say the words aloud. They just sort of fall from my mouth.

  A slow grin curls at his lips. “So, the little weirdo likes kinky shit, huh?”

  Before I can fully comprehend what he said, he has me backed up against the wall and pinned between his arms. His breath reeks of vodka as he leans in, his lips an inch away from mine.

  I peer around the empty hallway and panic. Gage is nearby, though, so if I shout, he’ll probably come out here.

  “Back off,” I warn, preparing to knee him in the balls. “Seriously, back the fuck—”

  He crashes his lips against mine as he steals my first kiss.

  That asshole!

  I move to knee him between the legs when a sharp zap nips across my skin.

  Grey jerks back, his eyes wide, blue bolts of electricity crackling across his flesh.

  “Holy shit,” he breathes out, reaching his sparking fingers toward his lips.

  I expect him to freak out, but instead, he growls and moves to slam his lips against mine again. I lift my fist, preparing to punch him, when he flies back against the opposite wall.

  At first, I think maybe my powers did it, but then I hear a voice. A very annoying voice.

  “Haven’t you ever heard the term no means no?” Easton steps up beside Grey, crossing his arms and staring him down.

  I blink a couple of times to be certain I’m seeing things correctly. Or maybe I’m hallucinating?

  After a few more blinks, I realize that yes, Easton is here, along with Max and Foster. How they found me, I haven’t a clue, other than maybe one of them has tracking powers or something.

  I jut out my lip, pouting over the fact that they’re here. Foster is so the last person I want to see right now.

  Foster glances at my jutted-out lip then presses his together, as if he’s struggling not to smile. But then he quickly shakes his head, erasing the look.

  “Are you okay?” he asks, his voice carefully controlled.

  I don’t respond, looking at Max instead. “Why are you guys here? And how did you find me?”

  “We’re here to get you. And we found you by tracking you …” Max’s brows knit. “Are you on something?”

  I shake my head. “No …”

  He frowns in disbelief. “Your eyes are really bloodshot.”

  I waver. “I may be a little high, but it’s not a big deal.”

  Foster inches toward me, his posture tense. “Do you realize how dangerous it is for you to be this out of it …” He trails off as he glances down at Grey, whose eyes are droopy and his shoulders are slumped.

  He looks completely dazed, as if he has no idea where he is or who he is.

  “What did you guys do to him?” I ask, assuming Grey’s suddenly incoherent state has to do with their powers.

  “We’ll explain in the car.” Max reaches for my hand.

  I step away from him. “I’m not going with you. I came here to take a break from … everything.”

  Max sighs. “Sky, it’s not safe for you to be wandering around by yourself.”

  “I’m not by myself. I have my friends,” I point out. “And even if I was by myself, I’ve spent years being on my own, and so far, I’ve been fine.”

  Easton gives an insinuating look at Grey. “Clearly.”

  “That’s not my fault,” I hiss. “One of you guys did that to him.”

  “No, we didn’t.” Easton props his shoulder against the wall. “That was all you, lightning eyes.”

  “No … there’s no way I did … that.” I gesture at Grey.

  Easton looks at me with pity. “You kissed him, right?”

  “No,” I say. When they silently stare me down, I add, “He tried to kiss me, and then … well, there were these sparks … But not the magical, that-was-an-awesome-kiss-that-rocked-my-world kind. It was really weird.”

  “I’m guessing you’ve never kissed anyone before,” Easton says, his gaze glittering with curiosity.

  I narrow my eyes at him. “Fuck off.”

  A grin spreads across his lips. “Damn, she’s getting feistier by the second. I like it.”

  “Knock it off,” Foster snaps, tossing Easton an icy look.

  I think about what I overheard in the living room, how an elemental enchanter can only be with another elemental enchanter. So, does he think we’re going to become a couple now? Because, yeah, no thank you.

  “Screw you guys. I’m not going anywhere with you.” I whirl around to bolt back to the bedroom Gage is in, but two steps forward and arms circle
my waist.

  “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice.” Foster pulls me against him.

  “Leave me alone.” I fling my weight forward, my skin crackling with electricity either from my power or his—I can’t really tell.

  “Not until you calm down and agree to go back with us,” he says, tightening his arms around me. “Stop being such a brat.”

  “I’m the brat?” I laugh, the noise strained. “You’re the one who’s having a temper tantrum because you’re not a special little snowflake anymore.”

  “That’s not what that was about,” he bites out, sounding pained.

  “Sure it wasn’t.” Realizing I’m not going to be able to wiggle free on my own, I place my hand on his arm and try to channel the same power as when we touched in the living room.

  His skin hisses, but that’s about it. Talk about anticlimactic.

  “Go ahead and try it,” he breathes in my ear. “Now that I’ve felt your powers, I can control them—and my own—better.”

  I grimace, moving my hand off his arm. “I don’t want to go back to you guys’ house. It’s not my house … and I …” Tears pool in my eyes, but I suck them back. “I just want my old life back. I didn’t ask for this.”

  I loathe that I’m cracking apart in front of them, that I’m veering toward a meltdown, but I can’t seem to regain control over my emotions.

  “I know it’s hard, and I understand you’re probably scared and don’t want this,” Foster says, his tone softening, “but the reality is that you are an elemental enchanter, and if the wrong creature finds out about you, you could wind up dead. Or worse.”

  His words send a chill up my spine.

  “What’s worse than death?” I ask, tilting my head back to meet his gaze.

  “I hope you never have to find out.”

  The worry in his tone makes me gulp.

  Taking an unsteady breath, Foster releases me and steps back, but stays close. “Now, please get your stuff so we can take you home.”

  Huh? Who would’ve thought he knew how to say please?

  While I don’t want to go back to their house, his words have scared me enough that I’m going to listen.

  I turn toward him, my gaze skimming across Max and Easton, who are surprisingly not looking at me but staring at Foster, with weird, curious expressions.

  “Can I at least stay here until I’m sober?” I ask none of them in particular. “I have a feeling your parents aren’t going to be cool with me showing up like this.” I gesture at my face and somehow manage to smack myself in the eye. “Ow.”

  Max smashes his lips together, but Easton doesn’t even try to conceal his laughter, and Foster sinks his teeth into his bottom lip.

  “That wasn’t funny,” I say, but then I chuckle because it sort of was. I press the heel of my hand to my eye. “I have a feeling that’s going to hurt like a bitch in the morning.”

  “We’ll put some ice on it tonight,” Foster says, the word we’ll making me cringe.

  “I can put ice on it myself.” I let a gradual exhale ease from my lips as he studies me way too intently. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

  “Like what?” Foster questions, continuing to look at me the same way.

  “Like … I don’t know.” I shrug. “Like you’re trying to kill me just by looking at me.”

  Easton snorts, and Foster glares at him. But Easton disregards the dirty look, his gaze remaining fixed on me.

  “You’ll have to excuse my brother,” he says with a haughty grin. “He’s a little out of practice.”

  My brows pull together. “With what?”

  Foster blasts him with another nasty look. “East, I swear to the gods, if you don’t shut up, I’m going to shove you in Max’s trunk.”

  “The one in the attic?” I ask, recalling the locked trunk I stumbled across when I was up there.

  Foster nods, eyeing me carefully. “You didn’t open it, did you?”

  “I doubt she’d be here if she did,” Max tells him before I can reply. “And it’s locked anyway.”

  Foster gives me a strange look. “Yeah, but she seems like the sort of girl who knows how to pick a lock.”

  “What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, crossing my arms.

  “I don’t know. You just seem like you’re …” He shrugs.

  “I think he was trying to compliment you, lightning eyes,” Easton says in an amused tone. “I’m not exactly sure how, though.”

  Foster’s eyes shoot daggers at Easton. “You’re really starting to get on my nerves.”

  “Oh, chill out. I’m just having some fun with the new bit of information we discovered earlier today,” Easton tells Foster with a smirk. “Honestly, I never thought I was going to get a chance to tease you about your flirting skills, since you’ve never used them.”

  Foster pales, his eyes narrowing into slits, his arms hissing with blue sparks. “Shut up.”

  “East.” A warning rings in Max’s tone. “I think you’d better lay off this for now.”

  East’s gaze descends to the sparks on Foster’s arms, yet instead of looking worried, his smirk grows.

  Foster lets out a low growl that sends a shiver rolling across my body, yet I have the strangest compulsion to reach out and brush my fingers along the sparks, to feel his power—

  “There you are.” Gage moves up beside me and drapes an arm across my shoulders. “I was seriously starting to worry you got lost …” He trails off as he notes the three Everettson brothers then glances at me with his brow arched. “Why’re they here?”

  “I wasn’t supposed to leave the house.” I cast a discreet glance in Foster’s direction and breathe in relief when I see that the sparks across his skin are no longer present.

  The last thing I need is for Gage to see that and start asking questions. Then again, he might be so high I could probably convince him he’s seeing things.

  “Really?” The idea seems to greatly puzzle him. “The new parentals are that strict?”

  I shrug. “Apparently.”

  Flicking a glance at the Everettson brothers, he leans in and whispers, “You want me to help you escape? We can go to my house and hang out there for a while.”

  I have no idea how, but I can feel Foster’s gaze burning into me. Inside my chest, something sparks. The heat is a painful reminder of what I am. And as Grey starts to stir beside my feet, reality bitch-slaps me across the face.

  “I actually think I better go back,” I mutter with a sigh.

  Gage slants back with his brows furrowed. “Are you sure? Because I’m completely cool with ditching this party and going back to my house with you.”

  He’s such a liar. Gage loves parties.

  I offer him a tight smile. “I probably never should’ve taken off to begin with. The parentals … they seem nice enough.”

  “You sure?” He casts a wary glance at the Everettson brothers.

  Easton rolls his eyes. “Stop looking at us like we’re going to hurt her.”

  “I would if I actually believed you wouldn’t.” Gage’s expression hardens as his eyes glide toward Foster. “From what I’ve seen so far, you have and you will.” He protectively tugs me closer to his side.

  Foster grinds his teeth with his fists balled up, his gaze locked on where Gage’s side is pressed against mine.

  “We’re not going to hurt anyone.” Easton glances at Foster before reaching forward and wrapping his fingers around my wrist. “But we do need to take this lovely thing home before our parents freak out more than they already are.”

  I begrudgingly wiggle my arm from Easton’s grip then turn back to Gage. “I’m sorry I’m ditching out early. Tell Nina I’m sorry, too.”

  He gapes at me. “You’re seriously leaving?”

  I understand his confusion, since we’ve all spent the last few years doing whatever the hell we want whenever we want. But things are different now. The thunder booming outside and the heat in my chest makes me all too aware of th

  “I’ll text you later, okay?” I tell Gage apologetically.

  The Everettsons move to leave, and I follow, walking backward and giving Gage a slight wave.

  He frowns. “See ya later then, I guess.”

  I wish I could tell him more—tell him everything—but even if the wall is down, I don’t think it’s a possibility right now. Maybe when I learn more about my new world and my powers, then I can stop being such a liar.

  But from all the warnings everyone has given me so far, I’m betting I may just have to spend the rest of my life lying to everyone I care about.

  Chapter 18

  I grab my bag before we leave and head out into the crowded living room. No one says goodbye to me, but that’s basically the story of my life. I do, however, notice several girls checking out Max, Eaton, and Foster. Max and Foster either don’t care or are oblivious to the attention. Easton soaks it up, though, winking and dazzling them with smiles.

  When I roll my eyes, he offers me the same grin, to which I roll my eyes again.

  “You know, if you keep doing that, your eyes are going to get stuck like that,” Easton teases. “And I seriously think that might depress Foster.”

  I make a big show of crossing my eyes, and Easton chuckles.

  Foster scowls at Easton. “Knock it off.”

  Easton gives him an innocent look. “Knock what off?”

  “You know what,” Foster murmurs, yanking open the front door.

  Grinning, Easton steps outside, and the rest of us follow.

  An overcast covers the sky, and a light drizzle of rain trickles down from the clouds.

  Easton gives an insinuating glance at Foster and me, and then a devious grin rises on his lips. “All right, which one of you is doing this?”

  I crinkle my nose. “I don’t think it’s me … I’m too high right now.”

  Easton cocks a brow. “You know my parents aren’t going to be cool with that, right?”

  “Yeah, I got that impression yesterday.” I tuck a strand of rain-damped hair behind my ear as we slowly make our way across the puddled grass. “I’m not really used to that sort of stuff.”

  “What stuff?” Max asks, rain trickling across his face.

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