Authors: M. Lathan
Tags: #Young Adult, #Romance
“She’s going to say no,” I said.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t ask her permission. I’m your parent too. I don’t need her to approve where you go with me.”
Sophia casually strolled into the kitchen with her nose tucked in a book. She didn’t speak, just walked through and headed down the hall that led to nothing but the laundry room. She’d already done laundry today. She just wanted Dad to know she was here and had heard him.
what’s her face
will know and you won’t come,” he groaned. “Perfect.”
He shrugged his shoulders and opened the fridge. As he pulled out the ingredients for the BLTs he had planned for lunch, I slouched at the island. A part of me wanted to enjoy this moment. The father I’d thought was dead was cooking for me, but the rest of me, the bigger parts of my heart, were too frazzled to enjoy anything.
I was out of prayers at this point. Every being in heaven knew what I wanted – for July 4
to come and go and leave my family unscathed, for us to rebuild from the bomb that had shattered us seventeen years ago, and for my mother not to die. I’d tried everything I knew to do – lighting candles and willing my powers to uncover the unknown. But it wasn’t enough. I had a sketchbook full of nothing, a mother who accepted her fate, and a father who didn’t care either way.
Since I was out of prayers and options and time, I closed my eyes to try the impossible thing – seeing a vision of July 4
. I promised myself to remember to breathe like Mom had taught me as the blurry image flashed in my head.
I shook and gripped the edge of my seat, sucking in a deep and controlled breath. I stayed with the vision, stayed focused, intent on figuring this out for us.
I saw exactly what Mom had described. It was dark, and I was upset – crying, huffing – as “The Star-Spangled Banner” hummed in the background. The vacant look in my eyes reminded me of the photo that had gone out to the world during my disappearance. I looked like Leah. When five seconds passed, I knew it was the end of the vision Mom and Kamon had seen. But my vision continued.
Fireworks exploded in the air.
Red, then white, then blue.
” Mom yelled. Her voice echoed in my ears.
Nate yelled. I spun around to see him in the vision, and my heart pounded in my kitchen.
God, no, please don’t let it be Nate. He had a shield.
A strong one.
I felt everything in my stomach trying to come up at once.
In the vision he said, “
Baby, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m on my way,
” as he sprinted towards us. Paul and Emma were inches behind him. Devin raced past them all, his red and yellow dreads gusting as he cut through the rain.
Kamon, Remi, and the triplets sped to us from the other direction, dressed in black, their faces twisted in anger like furious demons. Three separate worlds were about to collide. The magical world my friends had joined, Kamon’s hunters, and my secret life with my mother.
As they ran, an image of the ruined city of Sololá flashed in my head. Then the burning buildings I’d seen in Cuba while sitting in Mom’s office. Bloody streets replaced the buildings. My powers told me I was viewing the attack in Mexico. The final flash was of the slaughtered fish floating off the coast of Florida.
“Leah, you are the one,”
Kamon yelled to me.
Nate ran faster, trying to get to me, but Devin pushed him back. I spun around to Mom. She smiled at me and vanished, leaving a gaping hole in my heart and tears in my eyes.
And blood on my hands.
My eyes drifted to the ground slowly. Water pooled around my feet.
Red water, bloody water.
She floated on top of it and bumped my leg. She ricocheted like a thing, a dead thing.
I shivered and pushed my powers harder, begging the future to show me something different, begging Karma, begging all of the candles I’d lit over my lifetime, all of the unanswered prayers to work for me now.
The fingers prying at my jaw forced me to open my eyes. Dad held me down as Sophia poured the potion into my mouth. I hadn’t realized I was shaking. I hadn’t realized I’d lost myself in my powers again. Dad’s blood-smeared shirt was the last thing I saw before the world went black and cold.
My heavy eyelids opened slowly, and yellow flower petals tickled my nose. Dim light peeked through unfamiliar lace curtains. I followed the stream shining on the pink carpet until it hit sheet music scattered around bare feet.
“Dad?” I said.
He stood from the rocking chair and joined me on the bed. There wasn’t much room for him. It was twin-sized, made for a kid.
A young girl.
“Hey, pumpkin. How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay. Where are we?”
“Sophia’s house.” I rolled over and glanced around the room. It had Emma written all over it. Literally. She’d drawn her name in fancy letters and tacked them to the walls. My duffle bag was sitting on the pink dresser next to a bejeweled plastic wand. “I wanted to bring you to my house, but she insisted. She said it would be easier to care for you here. You know … it would be sort of – uh – weird if I bathed you.”
He laughed, and I sat up in bed.
“Bathe me? Why?”
“You’ve been out for a few days, pumpkin. It’s the 4
” I screamed.
The door creaked open, and Sophia flipped on the lights. “Angel, you’re awake!” She smiled, and I hopped out of bed, remembering the vision.
“I need to talk to Mom. I think
Devin. He’s connected to Kamon and the attacks.” I yanked my duffle bag open to get real clothes and took my jeans and white t-shirt into the closet to change. Sophia followed me there and tried to pull me out.
“Honey, you’re probably a little lightheaded from sleeping so much. Devin has nothing to do with Kamon. You need to eat. Come sit.”
I didn’t listen. I wasn’t lightheaded. I’d solved the mystery. Devin was the person we couldn’t see. Why else would he be racing towards Mom and I, opposite of Kamon, in my vision?
“Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, the fish in Florida. I saw them, Sophia! It’s not random killings. It can’t be.” I threw on the clothes, trying to breathe slowly and calm myself from panic. “What time is it?”
“Around five p. m.,” Dad said. I gasped. “Come sit, honey. We have a problem.”
I walked to the bed slowly, dreading him saying something that would kill me. Something like … I was too late and Mom was already gone.
“I don’t like Nathan.” That was the last thing I’d expected him to say. “He’s been calling like a maniac, so I – uh – finally answered the phone. He went nuts. He thinks you’re seeing s-s-someone. He’s coming home to fight me, according to the text I read from him an hour ago.”
He gave me my phone, and I scrolled through the sea of panicking texts from Nate. I groaned. He hadn’t heard from me in days,
a random man had answered my phone. I was sure he was freaking out.
I listened to one of the ten voicemails he’d left.
“Baby, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m on my way,”
his recording said, just like he’d said in the vision. I threw the phone to the foot of the bed, shaking now.
“Sophia, bring me to Mom. This is serious.”
“I can’t,” she said. “She’s busy.”
“W-w-what else is new?” Dad said, managing to sound smug through his stutter. “She stayed with her daughter for all of ten minutes while she was unconscious.”
If she was busy, I had to do this on my own. It was up to me to figure out what Kamon and Devin had in common.
“Sololá, Cuba, Florida, Mexico,” I said. “Why these places? What do they have in common other than magical kind?”
I felt my powers working, kicking into gear slowly after being dormant for a few days. Before I arrived at an answer a man said, “Location.” Sophia’s husband leaned into the doorway. I’d never met him before, but I knew it had to be Gregory. His eyes were a light, icy gray, and some of his hair still clung to its original dark color, unlike Sophia’s. But he had the same happy smile as every Ewing I’d met. “They make a moon around the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve plotted it.”
“Greg, please,” Sophia said. “Leave her out of this.”
“No, Mr. Ewing. Please tell me. Paul could be in danger. I had a vision of his boss and Kamon Yates. I think they’re connected.”
He motioned me to follow him, not needing to hear anything more. His feet shuffled on the carpet on the way to a small library. Ancient books lined the walls, ages of magical secrets, it seemed.
Sophia and my dad followed us in.
Her husband led me to the globe on his desk and pointed to a line connecting the three attack zones. “Lacy had a laughable theory about magic being involved. She drew these lines. But it doesn’t make sense. The moon isn’t connected to anything like this, and Kamon hates magic.”
“I think a hunter would resort to magic if they were desperate enough,” I said, thinking of Mom passing me her soul. I rubbed my fingers across the line Emma’s mother had drawn.
Something was here
the answer was here
. I could feel it. “Or maybe he doesn’t need to. Maybe that’s what Devin is for.”
“Devin is feeding the homeless,” Sophia said. “I have their trip itinerary. He’s nowhere near Kamon. They’re in Kansas today.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. She didn’t answer. Frustrated, I closed my eyes to find out on my own. Wondering about Nate’s location did nothing. Dead air. His shield was too strong. But wondering about Emma’s told me what I needed to know.
“They’re in New Orleans,” I said.
I slid my finger from Sololá to Louisiana. With that added point, the shape changed. I grabbed a pen from the cup on his desk and filled in the line, then another from New Orleans to Cuba.
And Cuba to Mexico.
Then Mexico to the coast of Florida where the fish massacre was. They hadn’t marked that point, but my vision led me to believe it was also involved.
The new lines formed a five-point star.
“Oh, sweet child, you are brilliant,” Gregory said. “It’s a star, Sophia. A star changes things. That is old magic.”
“Old and dark when you add the blood,” she said.
Mr. Ewing opened a dusty book on his desk and flipped through the pages frantically. He stopped abruptly and slid his wrinkled finger down the center. I leaned closer to the book but couldn’t read a word of it.
“What language is that?” I asked.
My powers answered me slightly before he did. “Greek.” He gasped slowly. “The time that has passed can come again,” he read. “Does anyone know of a reason why Kamon and Devin would want to travel back in time together?”
“Oh my God,” Sophia said, as she pulled out her phone. “Davis, Her Honor needs you to track a cellphone.” She called out Nathan’s phone number to whoever Davis was; she was shaking all over. She walked to the globe with her eyes closed and slowly pulled the pen from my hands. She began to mark
along the line I’d drawn. The Peace Group’s trip followed it perfectly without ever hitting the actual attack zones. I guessed Nate hadn’t technically lied to me about not going there.
“He must be dropping something on the ground,” Gregory said. “Salt or some kind of herb. They are … opening a portal.”
“The trip is a cover,” I whispered.
Sophia hung up and tugged at my arm. “Go get in bed, dear. Christopher, will you look after her while we…”
“No! I’m not a baby! Let me help!”
“I agree,” Gregory said. “We’ve been looking at this for weeks and haven’t seen this. We need her.” I scooted closer to my ally as he peered over the book. “Roughly translated, this spell needs blood and work. Work as in … legwork. I suppose that’s Devin.”
“And Kamon is supplying the blood,” I said.
He nodded and turned the page. “It also says the spell needs a window. By window, they mean a view of the past. In their day, before video and even pictures, they used memories. It seems like …” He shook his head, trying to decode the words. Impatience almost made me yell at him. I bit it back as he turned the page. A star, with its points dotted in red, sat right in the middle of the jumbled Greek words. “It seems like the portal is … particular. It only works in the moment you send it to.”
“Why would they want to go back in time?” Dad asked, joining us over the book. He sounded intrigued. “To relive something?”
“Or to change something,” Sophia said. She leaned into the desk, gripping the end of it like she was about to fall over. “I’ve heard of this. It’s never worked because you only have the slightest moment to cause a change that would be felt in the future.”
“What would Kamon change?” Gregory asked.
Sophia and I said, “Julian,” at the same time.
“And Devin,” Gregory said. “If he’s a radical in disguise, he’d want Dreco alive.”
“Mom killed them both,” I said.
“On the same night,” Sophia said. “They’re going back and changing Lydia’s past.”
Gregory tapped the page and sighed heavily. “This says, ‘The host must bleed’. The host is the person supplying the memory.” My breath caught. Mom was the host and her memories of killing Dreco and Julian were the windows. She must bleed for this spell to work, for them to open a portal to the past. “It says, ‘Join the bleeding host inside the place where magic dwells. There, if the window is open, so shall the past be undone.”
“Oh, dear,” Sophia said, rubbing my back. “That’s why he wanted you. He thinks you can kill her because of the connection between your lives. He must need her wounded. He thought you would do it.” She covered her mouth. “We were wrong. Lydia and I assumed since you were involved, you would need her soul. That’s not it. They are ending her life. This life. Life as we know it!”
That explained why none of us could see my murderer. There was no one to see.
There wasn’t a bullet or knife coming for me. I wasn’t going to die and take her soul. Devin wanted to bring peace to a shattered kind like those ugly pea green shirts said. He’d un-shatter them. They’d fallen apart when Mom torched their leaders and made them follow the treaty. And Kamon and his followers chanted to his former master. He’d go back and save him. Set things right in his mind.
Today could be Independence Day for them both.
“I’m not going to hurt her,” I said. “It won’t work.”
“Maybe he gave up on getting you. I’m sure he has a backup plan,” Sophia said. “I need to warn her.”
She pulled her phone from her dress pocket and dialed the number from memory. I could hear it ringing from where I stood. Each passing ring felt like a dagger to my heart, and I lost my balance when it reached a generic voicemail.
“Call her back,” I said.
She did, a few times, but she never answered.
I closed my eyes and said, “Where is my mother? Where is my mother?”
My hands shook, and Sophia grabbed me. I pushed away from her. I needed to focus. “Let us handle this,” she said.
I ignored her as my powers found my mother. I saw her golden hair shimmer in the dying light of the sun. Her limp body lay by a familiar pool, one with a mosaic of a magnolia at the bottom.
“She’s in New Orleans!” I screamed.
“You’re not going!” Sophia said, she yanked my arm and hauled me out of the study and back into Emma’s room. “I’ll go. She would want you to stay out of this.”
I was overwhelmingly sure that she shouldn’t go. Psychic powers were faster than magic, and Kamon was involved.
“You’ll get hurt,” I said. “I need to do this. I have to help her.” My stomach twisted at the thought of her lying on that ground, quite possibly beyond my help.
But I still had to try.
I found a pair of shoes in my duffle bag, flimsy yellow flats that wouldn’t do me any good in a fight. I closed my eyes and thought of the black boots in my closet. They appeared in my hands. Since I was preparing for a fight, I thought of a knife with a deadly blade and a short handle that fit securely in my palm. It, too, appeared at my will.
And now I was ready.
“Honey, please stop. Take the potion for me. You need to calm down,” Sophia begged.
No way was I taking the kryptonite. I needed my powers more than I’d ever needed them before.
I threw on the boots in a panic and twirled the knife around my fingers, ready to jab it into whoever had hurt my mother.
“Wait,” she said, and grabbed my face. “I have a bad feeling about this. About you doing this.” She closed her eyes and tears seeped out of the corners. “I can’t stop you,” she whispered, mostly to herself. She sucked in a shaky breath, patted her neck, and took off the necklace she’d found there.
A bright yellow jewel in the center of silver rays sparkled in her hand. She pulled the necklace over my head and tucked the pendant inside my shirt.
“Tempting fruit usually bears poison,” she said. Thicker tears poured out of her eyes. “Listen to me, Christine. You must remember who you are.”
“I know who I am. I’m going to save her,” I said, confused and annoyed that she was holding me up.
She kissed my cheek, crying harder, and dragged her lips to my ear. “If you get lost, as long as you can remember who gave this necklace to you, with a sacrifice of blood, under the sun when it is highest in the sky, one wish can be granted to you. But I so hope you won’t need to use it.”