Chapter 23: Abandoned
ABBY avoided me for several days. She wasn’t answering her door, wasn’t working jobs. Or if she was, I didn’t know which ones. What had I done wrong? I never imagined the thought of me kissing her would send her running.
No, that wasn’t it. There was more to it, and I intended to figure it out.
Asa had been working with me on my powers this week, and we were about to meet in just a few minutes.
I walked into a massive room not far from Winter’s Edge in the Old City just before Asa came in. Arriving early was a survival tactic. If I were late, she was sure to make me regret it.
We sat facing one another, eyes closed, legs folded, hands resting on our knees. As usual, she always started with meditation, teaching me something new about it each day. Today, a pen and notebook rested beside my right leg.
“We’re training the mind to focus on one task or one object at a time so it doesn’t stray.” Asa took a deep breath. “Breathe deep and focus on the energy that explodes out of you when you’re scared or angry.”
I breathed deep and pictured the force as a bubble as I had before. Since we’d started, I’d finally become able to access the energy without having to sit for a little bit and think of a memory to evoke an emotion. She’d taught me to imprint the bubble with the memory and its emotions for instant access. I still hadn’t learned to hold it, though. Asa had run from the room several times so far, but the problem with a bigger room was that it took longer to reach the doors and I needed to stay centered in it just to make sure the backlash of the force didn’t throw me across the room.
At that moment, though, she wasn’t asking me to access my power.
“Now,” she said, “try to lift the image to the center of your forehead and hold it there as long as you can. If something comes to mind, write it in the notebook.”
Almost immediately, a thought of Abby flashed through my mind. I wrote it down quickly, then continued with the meditation. It happened a few more times before Asa took notice.
“My goodness, child. What has you so off-kilter?” She glanced down at my pad as I wrote Abby’s name again.
I tried to close it, but I was too slow.
“Abby?” She frowned.
My posture sank.
“She has been acting strange lately.” Asa raised a questioning eyebrow. “Did you have something to do with that?”
I looked away.
Her voice intensified. “Are you infatuated with my daughter?”
Asa cut me off with a glare, color rising in her face. “Think before you answer, boy. This is my daughter we are talking about.”
I sighed. It wouldn’t do any good to lie to her. She was smart and extremely perceptive. She already knew. “Yes.”
Her eyes narrowed, slicing right through me. “Just what did you do to her?”
My eyes darted left. Then right. I cursed myself, silently. “I tried to kiss her.”
Asa rolled her eyes and let out a breath. “Teenagers…” She shook her head. “I swear.” Her look was insufferable. “Show me what you did.”
I gave her an incredulous look. “What? No!”
“Oh, come now.” Her tone was flat. “I’ve seen you in your knickers. I doubt this’ll shock me much more than that.”
Could she be any more embarrassing?
“Look, I just leaned in to kiss her. That’s it.”
“Did you scare her away with some absurd face of yours?”
“No.” My face was likely creating new shades of red at that point. “It wasn’t weird or anything. She said, ‘I’m sorry,’ then just…ran away. No explanation.”
Asa thought for a moment, then let her eyes rest on me again. “Well, you can relax. This has nothing to do with you.” She sighed again. “Abigail’s had a rough go of it from time to time.” She gave me an appraising look. “I haven’t known you long, but I can tell you’re a half-decent human being.”
“Half decent?” I said, insulted.
“I haven’t known you that long. Abigail could do worse.”
“Wow…you really know how to make a guy feel special.”
“You should be flattered.” Asa raised an eyebrow. “I was much less approving of the other one.”
That made me feel a little better, but I wondered who the other one was.
“Give her space.” She waved me off, as if to wash away my worries. “She’ll come around.”
I let out a breath and nodded. “So, who’s ‘the other one’?”
Asa rolled her eyes with a sigh. “Jesse.”
I frowned, but things were starting to make sense. Jesse wasn’t just upset about Braden’s arm during the test. He must’ve seen something about Abby when she was around me that I hadn’t noticed at first.
“What’s wrong with Jesse?” As if I didn’t know.
“Jesse is just fine. He’s just not right for my daughter. Luckily, she figured that out fairly quickly and realized she didn’t really like him that way.” She let out a harrumph and released her tension. “Now, do you think you can focus on the task at hand?”
I regulated my breathing to slow my heart rate. “I think so.”
“Then let’s start again.”
I cleared my mind and imagined the force that comes out of me. Memorizing its features, I explored every inch of it, acting as if it were an extension of my body.
“Are you ready?”
I nodded, my focus holding this time.
“Tap into your emotions.”
This time, instead of just picturing the bubble, I felt the bubble inside of me. Or at least, I tried to feel it inside of me. I couldn’t source it, though. Something was off. I tried accessing memories of intense fear or anger. Still nothing. So much for accessing my power instantly.
Memories of recent events were more effective at causing emotions to surface. Unfortunately, they were harder to control, too.
I let my frustration and sadness regarding Abby surface. It was dangerous, especially since the darkness inside of me would be mingled with emotions associated with her, but I did it anyway. I needed to figure out what this power was and learn to control it.
The darkness inside crept from my bones. My stomach twisted at the tainted sensation.
There was a definite shift. The fear of losing Abby drove the emotion…and it was strong.
The force inside inched its way out of me. It was like the darkness had taken a shape all its own. I hadn’t felt this exact emotion since I was five. It was abandonment. It was awful, but I’d have to get used to it.
The energy pushed out of me in all directions. It touched Asa, as if I were touching her with my mind, an invisible extension of my body. She gave a start. I opened my eyes and watched as she steadied herself while her body slid backward on the stone floor.
“Now that you have it, calm the emotion and reign it back in.”
I let the emotion fade, and the energy pulled back and extinguished inside of me.
“Excellent.” She smiled with approval. “Now you’re getting it. You must take risks and open up as best you can to the emotions. In time, you’ll be able to take hold of the energy separate from the emotion and still utilize the energy. It’s all about letting emotions flow, rather than stuffing them, and learning to experience them at different levels of intensity while they’re present.” Asa stood. “Do you think you can focus it all into one point?”
I got to my feet. “I can try.”
Asa moved behind me, then took me by the shoulders and moved me two steps to my right. “Focus on the practice dummy and imagine you’re pushing your hand out toward it.”
I recalled the same emotions in bubble form and reached out my hand. The darkness still lingered from before, so it wasn’t as difficult to access the power this time. As it pushed out from me, I tried to will it in one direction. It wasn’t complying. I tried again, only this time, I imagined it like a book I was closing.
It buckled and pulled in. The energy slipped around like a curtain until all of it gathered in front of me.
I pushed it forward. It nudged the dummy just slightly, then the energy formed against it like gel, filling its contours.
I let go of the negative feelings too quickly and the force whipped back inside of me. The dummy rocked back and forth, resettling into its original position. If the force had been holding the dummy, it would’ve pulled it back at me. That could’ve been dangerous.
“Well, well. It seems you’ve finally learned to control the energy.” Asa nodded with respect. “What did you do differently this time?”
“I recalled more recent emotions.” I purposely kept it vague.
“I see.” Asa tapped her chin. “I wonder how that would be any different from using any other emotions. More powerful, of course, but I don’t see this power being any different than other powers. Any negative emotion should work. Maybe you’re scared of the emotions you’re recalling.”
I shrugged, clueless.
“Try again, but this time, use strong emotions from the distant past.”
That really did scare me whether I wanted to admit it or not. When I’d done it the first time, I’d nearly killed Asa. But I couldn’t keep avoiding it, and the present sadness with Abby wouldn’t last forever. “Okay.”
Asa backed off to the side as I reached out my hand.
I recalled one of the darkest memories from my past. Instantly, the field of energy sprang up and pushed out all around me. The dummy slid backward. Asa stepped away as the field pushed out against her, as well.
“Pull the field back in toward you, then focus it all forward again from your hand.”
I did as she said, and the field regressed back into me. It was like a coiled snake ready to strike at any moment.
Then thoughts of Abby came back again.
Without warning, all of the energy burst through my hand. The dummy spun across the room, smashing to pieces against the wall, its wooden base splintering into chaos. Asa twisted, shielding herself. Electricity cracked and popped as it ran through the stone floor and scorched pieces of wood.
I stumbled back as I let go of the emotions, then winced. “I’ll pay for the dummy.”
Asa laughed. “You don’t have to pay for a thing. Your power is quite enough to pay for anything you break.”
I grimaced, confused. “What do you mean?”
Her eyes became intense. “You can move things with your mind.”
“You mean like…Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker? What, am I like a Jedi now?”
“Do you have a light saber?” She raised her brow, challenging me.
Her gazed narrowed and her tone was demeaning. “Then you’re not a Jedi.”
I bit off a curse before it escaped my lips. Being a Jedi would’ve been awesome.
An evil grin joined Asa’s intense eyes. “But you are a Telekinetic.”
“But I thought Telekinetic were feared.”
Her face became solemn for a moment. “If Hunters have them, yes.” Then she showed me that evil grin again. “But we’ve never had a Telekinetic before.”
“Oh.” I relaxed a little. “So, I’m not gonna turn evil and kill everyone?”
“Oh, heavens no.” She waved her hand, then bore down on me with a more serious look. “We should keep this between the two of us for now. The less information the killer has, the better.”
She had a good point. I nodded my agreement. Then it hit me that even though I didn’t have a light saber, I was still about the closest thing to a Jedi there was on earth.
“Now…” Asa brought another training dummy to the middle of the room. “… let’s do that again.”
The days passed and Abby continued to avoid me. Waiting for her to come around, as Asa had suggested, was driving me nuts. I had to do something.
Sitting just inside my door, I listened for Abby to return to her quarters for nearly two hours. Then I heard it—footsteps followed by a doorknob turning.
I sprang from my quarters, barged into Abby’s room right behind her, and shut the door.
“Hey, get out!” Her voice was angry, but something about it told me it was for show. I didn’t doubt she was truly annoyed. Her eyes told me that much. But there was more behind them than just anger. She was conflicted about something.
“Tell me why you’re avoiding me and I’ll leave.” I folded my arms and gave her an unwavering stare.
“I don’t owe you an explanation. Get out of my room. Now.”
That’s when I realized it was fear behind the anger. What was she so scared of?
“Tell me and I’ll leave.”
She steeled herself, staring me down.
“Was it something I did?”
“No.” She softened slightly and looked away.
“Then why’d you shut me out?”
“It’s not you.” Her lip quivered.
“Then what is it?”
“It’s me, okay?” She didn’t yell it, but it wasn’t quiet either. She threw her hands down to her sides, frustration in her voice. “My dad left me thirteen years ago. Elian left me seven years ago. The Hunters captured my friend Thomas. Every guy who’s ever been close to me has left.” Her eyes sank with her shoulders as if she’d seen a small animal dead in the road. Had I really had this effect on her? “You don’t understand. It’s not the same with you. New people don’t show up in Winter’s Edge every day. I didn’t ever think I’d find the right guy. I was fine with that.”
I watched with a pained stare, not trusting if I were understanding her correctly. It almost sounded like she had feelings for me, but that interpretation could just as easily be coming from my crazed hormones.
“I’ve just never met anyone like you,” she said. “I’ve never had butterflies in my stomach when a guy looks at me. I can’t explain it. You do something to me I can’t resist. It makes the world seem right. Complete. You make me feel…” She hesitated. “…loved.”
That shocked me, especially after she’d run from me. The butterflies in my stomach were trying to tie it in knots right about then. I didn’t know what to do.
“It scares me,” she said. “It’s so easy to be with you.”
I started to move closer but thought better of it.
“But you’ll leave just like the rest of them.” Her voice was so weak and wounded now. “Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not a month from now, but you’ll leave eventually, or the Hunters will capture you. Something always happens.”
Watching the sorrow in her eyes tore me apart. I couldn’t stand to see her in pain. It was too much to bear.
“I can’t take it again, Ian. I just—”
And with that, I closed the distance between us, swept her up in my arms, and pressed my lips to hers.