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When I finally calmed down, Roman brushed the dirt off his pants and offered his hands. I took them gratefully as he helped me up, my sore legs groaning in protest.
He smashed his foot onto the fire, crushing the flames under his boot. Smoke surrounded me. “Get out. I’m right behind you, Ava,” he said.
I nodded and headed for the opening of the cave. I stepped outside, and I was immediately dazed.
There was a loud rustling noise from behind me. I couldn’t even bring myself to turn around. “What are you- Oh, yeah. It’s a great view, N-Ava, isn’t it?” he voiced from behind me.
I nodded. The green rainforest surrounding me was filled with the sounds of wildlife, and I could faintly hear the sound of rushing water- probably a river or a waterfall- nearby. I gazed at the monkeys climbing the trees as naturally as the pesky squirrels back home, the brightly colored birds cawing at each other from the branches across the deserted paths, and the frogs perched on the large-leafed plants or sitting in puddles, sending their tongues flying out of their mouths to catch an abnormally large bug every once in a while.
This is beautiful. Considering I’d been planning on becoming a veterinarian, this was absolutely the most amazing sight I could’ve seen- the wildlife in their undisturbed, natural habitats.
“Ava, we have to get moving. We only have about two hours until sundown to travel the perimeter by foot.”
“Why shouldn’t we go straight through?”
“Are you crazy? Are you trying to get killed?”
“What the **** are you talking about?” I demanded, whipping around.
He let out a breath, his body visibly tense. “Never mind. We’d better get going.”
And so, we set off.
Once we got up onto the bridge-like platform supporting a decent-sized tree house-like thing, we sat down at a table made purely out of wood. The woman, Infinity- what an odd name– offered us some herbal tea.
“No, thank you,” I said at the same time as Jace called, “Sure, why not?” I sighed and crossed my arms against my chest.
And so here I am, I thought, at some crazy hot chick’s house, drinking herbal tea. “I’m really not crazy.” She had a slight accent in her light voice, but I couldn’t quite place it. “And I’m actually quite cool; one gets used to the climate after a while you know.” Like, hot hot…?
My head snapped up, my gaze fixing on her. Had I said that aloud? I wondered suspiciously.
“Oh, dear, I’m sorry,” she mumbled, her fingers fumbling with her flower-embroidered apron.
Jace chuckled from his seat across the table. “She can read minds.”
I rolled my eyes. Okay, Ava having powers is one thing. I always knew she was extraordinary. This- reading minds- is something completely different; impossible, really.
“Oh, I assure you it’s not impossible. And who is this Ava? Jace, I haven’t heard you mention her before.”
“Fin… Something’s happened. There was this girl-“
“Don’t tell me you’ve actually found someone after all these years! I mean, spirits know, we’ve tried to set you up with a million Shifters over the centuries! So, tell me about her.”
I cleared my throat. They both looked over at me, as if they’d forgotten I was there. “I’ll just, uh, go outside, then…” I mumbled, heading out the stone door and into the cool ocean breeze. I perched myself on the side of the bridge, legs dangling into the air below.
“Do tell, Jace. Please? I never hear anything about anyone off the island. Father won’t let me go to the mainland, even to get food,” she begged, wiping her hands on her long skirts. I raised my mental wall, keeping the force of her mind out of my thoughts. Neat trick, eh?
I sighed, running my fingers through her hair. Infinity had a good heart, great intentions. But we had a past…
“Oh, Jace, I’m not going to be jealous. I’m happy for you.”
I laughed sourly. “It’s a bit more complicated than that,” I assured her.
“Well, better start now, then,” she said, flashing me a perfectly white set of canines.
I smiled. “Alright. So… Roman found her.” What if Ava’s dead?
“Roman?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. “What do you mean? He’s here somewhere, too?” She gasped, bringing her hand to her mouth. “Don’t tell me that when the boat capsized, he…”
“No, no, nothing like that. We just got separated when it happened. I hope he’s here or somewhere safe.”
“Jace, there’s something you’re not telling me. And you’re blocking me out of your mind.”
I let out a shaky breath. “He’s with her.” Hopefully.
“There’s more,” she assumed.
I nodded. “Let’s just say, she has powers. Plus, she resembles-“
I sighed and folded my hands, staring down at my hands, which were still covered in now-dry sand. “Yeah. Her.”
“And he found her.”
“Yes, he did.”
“And the human?” she asked, suspicion somewhat obvious to me.
I laughed, but it was empty. “She and he…”
“Ah,” she whispered.
I nodded. “Yeah, trouble in paradise, huh?”
“I’d say so. S’alright, though. You’ll be fine.” She stood and headed over to her bucket of water in a container resembling a sink.
“Why do you say that?”
“Because I know you. And you’re strong, Jace- always have been. You’ve always had to be.”
I nodded and set the tea cup down on the table, shaking my head. I just want her to be alright.
“One more question.”
“Go for it.”
“What do you mean, powers? Like mine, or…?”
“No…Yes… **** it, I don’t know. I mean, she actually is seventeen; she hasn’t changed her physical appearance or anything. But… she said she sees a girl who looks exactly like her in the mirror. She said that that girl talks to her, but Ava- she isn’t the one saying the words. Oh god, I’m completely betraying her trust. But Fin’s the only other psychic I know who might actually help.
“She said she always had a way with animals. Roman found her dog and brought it to her. But… it… it…” It pained me to remember the look of absolute destruction on her face. “He died. And… god, she brought it back to life by accident.”
“Was it-the dog- was it okay?”
“Perfectly fine. Jumping around, playing, and acting as if absolutely nothing had happened.”
She nodded. “I… I’ll think about it.”
“No, Fin, what do you think she is right now?”
“I… don’t want to tell you anything that I’m not certain of,” she said, turning around and disappearing into what I knew to be her bedroom. I sighed.
Roman better get Ava here before tomorrow, or I’ll kill him, I thought. If he isn’t already dead, my mind taunted. I shooed away the thoughts.