Shimmering chaos, p.9
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       Shimmering Chaos, p.9

           Jessica Sorensen
 
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  Easton’s brows lift to his hairline in surprise while Max chokes on a laugh, and Emaline grins.

  “Good job.” She smiles at me, leaving confusion twirling in my mind.

  She’s glad I basically told Easton to fuck off?

  “He’ll be easier to deal with now that you’ve pushed back,” Max whispers, leaning toward me.

  “You know what, maybe you’re not half bad,” Easton confirms Max’s words.

  Foster gives Easton the hardest look ever, but Easton ignores it, grinning at me.

  “Why don’t you come sit down?” Emaline takes a seat on the sofa again. “I’m sure you have questions.”

  I make my way into the room and sit down on an empty sofa, feeling as though I’m going to need as much breathing room as possible. But Max and Holden take a seat on either side of me, so there goes that plan. They sit really close to me, too. So close I can feel heat emitting from their bodies, seeping through the fabric of my wet clothes.

  Instead of saying something, everyone remains silent, as if waiting for me to speak first.

  I pick at my fingernails, trying to figure out what to say next. “Gabe said you’re elemental protectors and that you are wind, fire, water, and ice … But I’m not really sure what that means. Well, not completely anyway.”

  They all look to Gabe to answer.

  He scrubs his hand across his jawline. “Well, to put it simply, it basically means we’re able to control the elements. So, for instance, I can control water and channel my powers from it. So, every spell I cast has to be directly related to the water element. Same with fire, ice, and wind.”

  “Oh …” Wow, that was so not what I was expecting. Honestly, I thought he was going to say they were witches or something—it’s what it looked like. “So, what were those rays of light you were shooting out of your hands and into Foster? Because I sort of noticed the color of them matched your eyes.”

  “The color is a representation of our power,” Gabe explains, sitting back in the chair. “When you run into other elemental protectors, you’ll be able to tell their power just by the color of their eyes.”

  My jaw nearly bitch-slaps the ground. “There’re more of you?”

  Gabe gives a nod. “There’s a lot actually.”

  This would be a great time to tell them about my ability, but the words won’t pass my lips.

  Just say it aloud, Sky. Tell them!

  But it’s as if my lips are being controlled by an unseen force, and my mouth won’t even open.

  “You’re very tense,” Max whispers, rubbing my back.

  Everyone is staring at us now, and for some stupid reason, I blush.

  Easton smirks, his lips parting, but thankfully, Gabe cuts him off with a string of curses as he fishes his phone from his pocket.

  A second later, all the Everettsons are taking out their phones.

  “The council at headquarters has called an emergency meeting,” Gabe mutters as he reads a text. He glances up at Emaline, and they trade a cryptic look. “It says everyone needs to attend.”

  Worry floods Emaline’s face. “I wonder what it could be about.”

  “I have no idea, but we need to go.” Gabe stands and puts his phone away.

  Emaline pushes to her feet. “We can’t just leave Sky here by herself.”

  “I’ll be fine,” I lie. I’m not sure I’ll ever be fine again.

  I’m not even sure if I was ever fine.

  Gabe rakes his fingers through his hair. “Actually, the council is requesting that Sky come, too.”

  Silent tension electrifies around the room.

  “Why?” Holden finally breaks the silence.

  “I’m not sure.” Gabe casts a worried glance in my direction. “I guess we’ll find out, though.” He looks at Emaline. “We just need to make sure we’re careful while we’re there… you know how things are there.” When she nods worriedly, I gulp. Then Gabe turns to me. “I know this is going to sound a bit weird but, would you mind putting on something that has a bit of steel in it?”

  Like my necklace?

  “Why?” I ask warily.

  He scratches between his brows. “Where we’re going … your body will be able to handle it better if you have steel on you.”

  My nervousness slams through the roof, my palms beginning to sweat. “Where are we going? And what is this council?”

  They all exchange an uneasy look, and then Emaline says, “We’re going to our homeland, which technically isn’t in this world. And as for the council… They’re basically like our form of government is the best way to put it. Well, they have been for the last couple of decades.”

  And just like that, I become painfully aware that nothing is what I ever thought it was. It also makes me question why my mom gave me the steel necklace to begin with. Because she knew that people like the Everettsons existed? Or is there more to it?

  Hopefully, I can find out some answers soon because I feel like I’m losing my damn mind.

  “Okay, I’ll be right back.” Since I never put my necklace on after I got out of the shower, I go upstairs to do so.

  I feel like I’m in a daze as I return back downstairs, my mind crammed with too many questions. But I immediately get distracted when a shriek cuts through the air. It’s kind of like the noise I heard last night, but sounds more inhuman.

  Maybe it’s a bat in the attic?

  Seriously, Sky? Like bats can scream. And besides, after what you just learned, you should probably be thinking more creatively.

  “Just ignore it,” I whisper to myself.

  But as I pass by the room Emaline was in last night, it’s pretty clear the noise is coming from in there. Beyond curious, I step toward the door. I almost feel bad for snooping, but not enough to back out. Wrapping my fingers around the doorknob, I push the door open. Or well, try to push the door open, but it’s locked.

  As the shrieking grows rambunctious, I crouch down and peer through the door lock. What I see makes me question if I am insane, if maybe I did a hit of acid somehow without knowing and have lost my mind. Because on the other side of the door is a room covered in trees and flowers, so thick it looks like a forest is growing in there. But that’s not even the craziest part. No, the craziest part is the blond haired man… creature with glittery purple skin and pale blue lips screaming at the top of his lungs.

  I gasp, slapping my hand over my mouth. What is this?

  The man/creature pauses, his gaze flicking toward the door. A grin curls at his lips, and then just like that, one of his beady, purple eyes is peering through the lock at me.

  “Hey little enchanted one, why don’t you let me out of here?” he purrs.

  A chill slithers down my spine, and I trip back, shaking my head. “No way.”

  “Oh come on,” he begs hypnotically. “I promise I don’t bite.”

  I shake my head again, and he completely contradicts himself as he snaps his teeth.

  Fuck this shit.

  I take off sprinting down the stairs, my feet hammering against the steps.

  “Are you okay?” Emaline asks as I enter the room, panting.

  Only her, Gabe, and Max are in the room. The rest of the Everettsons are MIA, and a circle of rainbow-tinted light is now funneling in the center of the fireplace instead of a fire.

  “Um…” I struggle to catch my breath. “Were you aware there’s a screaming… man in your room?”

  Her expression drops. “That’s not a man. That’s a… faerie?” She says it more like a question.

  My eyes snap wide. “Faerie’s exist?”

  Max finds my reaction amusing. “They do. And there’s a lot more than just faeries wandering around in this world and other worlds too.”

  “Oh.” I have so many questions yet not a damn one seems to want to leave my lips.

  “Will explain more when we get back, okay?” Emaline steps toward me. “Right now, we really need to get going.” She nods at the rainbow-tinted light swirling in the fireplace.
r />
  I’m uncertain what I expected when Emaline said we’d be leaving this world, but I didn’t consider it’d be through some sort of portal in the fireplace.

  “Go ahead and walk through the portal, Sky.” Emaline points at the circle of rainbow light then offers me an encouraging smile. “My boys are waiting for you on the other side, and Gabe, Max, and I will be right behind you.”

  I stare at the shimmering light moving like a tornado into the unknown. I attempt to will my feet forward, but my boots feel as heavy as bricks of lead.

  Max steps up beside me. “You’ll be fine. Just hold my hand, okay?” He laces his fingers through mine.

  He doesn’t give me any time to back out, tugging me into the light. And all I can do is hold my breath and hope I make it out of this alive.

  Hope that I can trust the Everettsons.

  Chapter 13

  Portal traveling? Yeah, if you’d asked me a few days ago if I thought stuff like that existed, I’d have gone with a um… are you crazy? Yeah, I may have powers, but I’ve also spent most of my life believing I was the only one who did. Turns out, I was wrong.

  Way, way wrong…

  Entering the portal is a lot like stepping into a hot tub. Bubbly warmth immediately engulfs me, and I swear water seeps through my clothes. Yet, when I stumble out of the rainbow light, my jeans and shirt are dry. Apparently, though, my feet have forgotten how to work, and I end up losing my hold of Max’s hand as I trip forward. But arms enclose around me and stop me from falling to the ground.

  Whoever is touching me, their nearness causes a jolt of electricity to zap through my body.

  “Gods, do you have two left feet or something?” Foster grumbles as he wraps his arm around my waist.

  Grimacing, I shove him away. Out of all the Everettsons to catch me, why did it have to be him?

  “Your klutziness is going to get you hurt here,” Foster continues, crossing his lean arms and glaring at me.

  “I’m not that klutzy,” I argue. “And even if I am, there’re six of you to keep me from getting hurt, so I guess I don’t have too much to worry about, do I?” I smirk but, deep down, I’m a bit surprised.

  I’ve never been one for smarting off to people I don’t know, but I’ve done it a couple of times since I’ve been with the Everettsons. Is it the stress of the situation making me do it? Or are the Everettson brothers bringing out a different side of me? A side I’m not sure I hate or like. Maybe a bit of both.

  “You really trust us to protect you?” Foster questions with a raise of his brow.

  I shrug. “Sure.”

  He leans in, his eyes darkening. “Then you’re stupider than I thought.”

  “And you’re a bigger asshole than I thought,” I quip, curling my fingers into fists.

  He smirks. “I thought you would’ve figured that out after you tried to hit on me back in Honeyton.”

  My face stupidly floods with heat.

  Since he hadn’t mentioned the incident before, I assumed he either forgot about it or was just going to pretend it never happened. That was probably pretty damn stupid of me.

  “I wasn’t hitting on you.” Not a total lie. I was planning to hit on him that day, but his immediate rejection put an end to it before it even started. “I was just being friendly.”

  “Liar.” His smirk magnifies as he slants closer, the rainbow portal reflecting in his eyes. “I could tell you wanted me. You still do.”

  “Actually, I don’t.” That part is true. Do I think Foster is hot? Absolutely. But I’m in no way attracted to a guy who has called me stupid and treats me like shit. “The second you opened your mouth, any attraction went poof.” I make a poofing gesture with my hand right in his face.

  His grin remains. “You do realize you just admitted you were attracted to me, right?”

  I lower my hand to my side, my blood boiling. “Yeah? So what? I’m sure you’ve had a lot of girls attracted to you, but I doubt you’ve ever had any of them like you for your awesome personality. In fact, I bet most girls lost their attraction to you the second you opened your mouth.”

  I must have struck a nerve because his smile fades.

  I should feel good about pissing him off, but I don’t. Nina calls my inability to be a straight-up bitch my weakness, but I’m glad I’m capable of feeling bad. Well, most of the time. Right now, I wish I could hang on to my vindictiveness for a bit longer, but unfortunately, that’s not my MO.

  I’m about to apologize when Easton appears out of nowhere. “You know, when I first met you, I thought you were sweet. Now I’m wondering if you were just hiding your claws.”

  “I’m not usually this mean. You guys just bring it out of me.” I turn away from them, and my jaw drops. “What the hell?” My eyes widen as I take in the scene before me: the trees that are so tall they appear to touch the sky, the giant mushrooms covering the grassland, the kaleidoscopic sky, and the hundreds of light orbs dancing through the air.

  We appear to be standing on a podium with a pearl-like texture. On one side of me is the rainbow portal and standing on my other side is Holden, Hunter, Max, Easton, and Foster. Porter, Emaline, and Gabe are nowhere to be seen.

  As I start to ask where the missing three are, Emaline and Gabe leap from the portal and onto the podium.

  “Are you okay?” Emaline promptly surveys me over. “Sometimes portal traveling can do … weird things to your body.”

  “What sort of weird things?” I ask worriedly.

  Emaline gives a wary glance at Gabe, who shrugs.

  “We might as well tell her,” he says. “Things are only going to get stranger from here on out.”

  Emaline directs her focus back to me. “Sometimes portal traveling can alter the construction of a human body. Like, for instance, your legs could end up where your arms are and vice versa. You seem fine, though, since you walked through with Max. But if something did get messed up, we can fix it.”

  “Why would walking through the portal with Max make it so I’m fine?” I wonder. “Because of his power?”

  She nods. “The side effects of portal traveling are less severe if a human walks through with an elemental protector. Or any paranormal, I guess.”

  Hearing her so casually say the word paranormal wigs me out, but something else she says distracts me.

  “So, only humans get side effects from portal traveling?” I ask.

  “Humans get side effects from most things in our world.” Foster is the one to answer, his cold gaze burrowing into me. “Which is why they shouldn’t be a part of our world.”

  “Foster,” Gabe reprimands. “You need to lose the attitude.”

  Foster rolls his eyes. “And we need to lose the human. But no one seems to want to listen to me, so why should I listen to you?”

  “Foster!” Emaline gasps in horror.

  She’s acting as if Foster has never acted so rude in his life, but my bet is he’s an asshole most of the time, except for when he’s around her.

  Foster shrugs her off. “What? It’s the truth.”

  “Young man,” Gabe warns, scowling at him. “You will lose the attitude right now and apologize to Sky, or else you’ll be grounded for the next two weeks.”

  “Go ahead and ground me. I’m not going to apologize for something I’m not sorry for.” Tossing one final icy look at me, he hops off the podium and drops into the grass. Then he hikes off across the field where the shimmering light orbs are dancing.

  “I’ll go check on him,” Easton says then leaps down into the grass.

  “I’m so sorry about that,” Emaline apologizes to me. “He’s not usually like this.”

  I catch Hunter and Max rolling their eyes, so I’m betting my early assumption of Foster is correct.

  Emaline doesn’t notice her sons’ eye rolls, though, as she turns away from me to Gabe. “Do you want to take the long way or the short way?”

  Gabe’s gaze flicks to me then back to her. “With how busy the city is and how unfriendly e
veryone is getting toward humans, we better go the long way, just to be safe.”

  “Am I safe here?” I question nervously, glancing upward as a bolt of lightning blazes across the glittery-blue sky.

  “As long as you stay with us, you are,” Emaline assures me, but a drop of hesitancy rings in her tone. Then her attention drifts upward. “Is Foster really this upset?”

  Again, my lips part to tell them about my powers, to explain that I’m fairly positive Foster isn’t causing the lightning storm. But, like before, no words pass my lips.

  What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just say the damn words aloud?

  “I’m not sure Foster’s doing it,” Hunter mutters, silvery-blue flashes of lightning reflecting in his eyes.

  Max glances at him with his head cocked. “Why would you say that?”

  Holden lowers his gaze from the sky. “I’m not positive, but it feels like there might be another energy nearby.”

  They all stiffen, darting their gazes to the trees, their hands crackling with the same light that I saw earlier when I snuck into the woods. Only, up close, I can see it’s not just light radiating from their hands. Holden’s and Hunter’s palms are actually on fire, golden flames emitting from their flesh. Emaline has flakes of ice twirling in the center of her palms that mixes with the light, and Gabe has droplets of water dewing on his skin, while a small, funneling tornado is twirling around Max’s arms.

  As the air crackles with heat and the wind howls, the atmosphere grows humid yet somehow chills. I anxiously step away from them, getting sensory overload.

  The movement catches Gabe’s attention. Frowning, he curls his fingers inward and the light and water dissipate. “Easy, everyone. I think we’re making Sky nervous.”

  “You’re fine.” But I’m far from fine. Seeing them on edge is making me aware that danger is likely lurking out in … well, wherever the hell we are.

 
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