Chapter 25: Voyeur
IAN seemed to feel a little better as the days passed, but he still wasn’t completely himself. I figured I’d try a new tactic with him.
I knocked at his door.
A moment later, it opened and Ian stood staring at me with a drab look. “Hey, what’s up?”
I half-smiled, then gestured toward my door. “I have an idea. Come on.”
He looked at me with a furrowed brow of curiosity and confusion but shrugged and followed me anyway. When we reached my loft, his look turned insistent, as if expecting me to reveal this grand idea I had.
I obliged. “I wanna separate and search for the murderer.”
He gave me a pointed look. “What good’s that gonna do?”
I shrugged. “I might see something useful.”
He didn’t look convinced. “So, you expect to be at just the right place at exactly the right time and just happen to catch the murderer in the act or doing something suspicious?” Ian’s pursed lips and unsure eyes were anything but supportive. “Too much luck involved.”
His protest was probably more about keeping me from separating than disagreeing with the effectiveness of my tactics.
“True, but I can’t just sit here and do nothing.”
“Of course you can. Here I’ll show you.” Ian laid on my bed and tucked his hands behind his head. “See? I’m doing absolutely nothing. It’s really nice. You should try it.”
I gave him an ornery smirk and slapped his leg.
“So you’re just gonna spy on everyone?” He frowned. “Didn’t you berate Kat for that?”
“She does it for fun,” I said. “I’m trying to catch a murderer.”
He got up from the bed and started pacing. “You know this is probably a waste of time, right? No way you’ll be in the right place at the right time.”
“Look, you wanna get the suspicion off yourself, and I want an excuse to use my power. It’s a win-win.”
Worried creases sank into his forehead as he stopped pacing the room to stand dangerously close to me. Okay, maybe not dangerously close. More like intriguingly close. Yeah, we’ll go with that.
“So, you really aren’t afraid to do it again after what happened before?”
“No.” Truth be told, I was scared to death, but I’d never tell him that. And besides, I had to try again. I needed to know if dark ones were lurking in the city or just in the graveyard. I needed to learn to use my power. I needed…to feel safe again. And the only way to do that was to confront my fear as many times as it took to overcome it.
“Okay, I don’t like it, but I’ll help.”
I let out a breath. “Thank you.”
Before I knew it, Ian had pulled me close, hugging me tight, his warmth against me, even filling me. If he’d done it a minute before, it might have convinced me not to separate again. I hugged him back just as tight. It felt like I was home for the first time since I was five.
Then he let go much faster than I wanted, and stepped away, his cheeks flushing a light shade of red. His shyness was cute.
I began breathing deep as I climbed into the bed and relaxed back onto my pillow.
Ian came up beside me and took my hand. “You sure about this?”
He returned the nod. “Okay. Ready?”
I pulled in one last breath before giving the okay and bringing up a painful memory. “Here goes nothing.”
Images of my father flooded my mind, causing a wave of sadness to wash through my body. The wave filled me in a split second and forced me from my body. I burst into the air, weightless, leaving the grief of my body behind. Exhilaration was the only thing left as my feet hit the ground. I leapt from my loft, flipping to the first floor. God, it was a rush. My whole being vibrated with life and excitement. Why couldn’t I feel like this all the time?
I headed for my door and walked right through it, barely noticing the fear below the surface. When the exhilaration wore off, hopefully the fear wouldn’t be too strong. I looked to my left, searching the shadows down the hall for anything out of place, anything unnatural. Nothing there.
Part of me wanted there to be something there, something I could fight. But if there was one thing I’d learned in training, it’s that you cannot fight your fears. You must embrace them. Fighting some demonic beast right now wouldn’t take care of the fear. Simply feeling the fear was all I could do until I got used to it.
I turned and walked toward the town square. Robert came out of the showers in blue flannel pants and a gray t-shirt, obviously ready for bed. He carried a damp brown towel as he headed for his quarters and disappeared inside.
When I turned the corner toward the park, Lena and Reilly came into view. The pair passed by and I followed them back to the private quarters. Reilly walked Lena to her door and she gave him a kiss on the cheek before going inside. Reilly smiled and wandered back to his room, just one door down. It was hard to imagine anyone in a relationship with the old Lena, but she’d changed quite a bit since her accident. A smile crossed my lips.
I left the private quarters and trekked through the park, through the North Passage toward the commons. Just before I reached the end of the hallway, I stopped and peeked out. Kat was exiting her restaurant, locking up for the night. She’d stayed awful late.
Wait. Why was I hiding while invisible? I stepped out into the commons.
Kat glanced right and left with a furrowed brow. She acted strange. Granted, Kat was always strange, but more so tonight than usual.
She left the commons and I followed her across the town square to the private quarters. She stopped in front of Robert’s door, looked around, then vanished into thin air. Why was she using her powers for no apparent reason? She usually had a good reason for using them. Well, maybe not always a good reason, but a reason. What was she up to?
I made a mental note of it, then went back to the commons and checked Kat’s Kitchen, the Library, then Murphy’s Tavern. All empty. I moved on to the clinic, the gardens, and the supply room. Nothing.
After another half hour of searching, I checked Kat’s room. She was nowhere to be found. Weird.
I came out of Kat’s room and saw Joseph down the hall. He walked into Mom’s quarters. I treaded down to her door and went through it, then jumped back out the door. They were right behind it. I stuck my head in.
“He’s powerful,” Mom said. “Dangerously powerful.”
Joseph sighed. “You said you figured out what his power is?”
She gave him the you-know-better look. “I won’t tell a soul until the killer is caught. If the wrong person overhears, it could put Ian at risk.” Mom’s gaze jumped up as if startled, then she searched the room, looking for something. Her eyes landed squarely on me. I backed my head out of the door.
Had she seen me? Or felt me? Maybe I was putting off some kind of magnetic resonance she could pick up.
I put my head back through the door.
“—matter, anyway. I was wrong about his powers getting weaker after his run from Bennett. He’s just as powerful as the day we brought him here.”
Joseph thought for a second. “We may need to do something about him.”
Mom gave him a flat stare. “There’s no need for that, Joseph.”
He tilted his head to the left, eyes locked in on her. “Keep an eye on him. Make sure he can control it. We don’t need to lose any more citizens.”
Mom nodded, then broke her gaze again to glance at me.
I jerked my head back into the hall, just in case. She was starting to freak me out. Not just because she kept looking right at me but because it sounded like they were scared of Ian. What did she know about his power? Did he know? They’d been working on it for a while now.
I put my head back in.
Mom had a concerned look on her face. “I don’t need to tell you this, but the murder was staged exactly like Jonathan’s murder years ago.”
He scowled. “Then this is a copycat murderer.”
Mom had a hard look. “You’d better be right.”
I pulled my head back out of the room. What was that all about? I was told Jonathan had a fatal accident, not that he was murdered. Maybe that’s just what they told me because I was only five years old at the time.
I jumped as Joseph stepped right through me. He left the private quarters, probably headed back to his room for the night. Couldn’t help but shiver a little at someone stepping through me. Such an odd sensation, like our energetic fields were merging and intertwining momentarily, then breaking apart.
I looked back to Mom’s quarters and poked my head through the door one last time. She stood about ten paces away, looking right at me again with a puzzled brow. Her hand extended out. Oh crap, she was trying to feel me magnetically.
I bolted down the hall toward my room.
She’d sufficiently weirded me out for the night.
Her magnetic power opened her senses on a whole new level, making it a particularly expansive power. Lots of possibilities. But tonight, I was done snooping. I’d tried to justify it with good intentions, but it still felt inconsiderate.
When I arrived in my loft, Ian paced back and forth, worried.
I touched my body and it sucked me in. Darkness flooded my vision, then luminescence invaded my eyes as they adjusted to the sudden burst of light. I gulped air and sat up straight on the bed.
Ian sat beside me. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
He let out a breath of relief. “So…any luck?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” I swung my feet over the side of the bed and began pacing the room. “I saw Lena and Reilly together, but nothing suspicious. And it can’t be Lena anyway since she was in the medical center with my mom all night when the murder happened. And Reilly just doesn’t make sense. He really liked Braden.”
Ian nodded in agreement.
“I caught a conversation between my mom and Joseph. They said the murder was staged just like Jonathan’s murder a long time ago. Joseph thinks it’s a copycat murder.”
“What do you think?” he said.
“I don’t know. I was so young I don’t remember much of what happened back then.”
Ian nodded again.
“I saw Kat disappear in the private quarters for no apparent reason. She wasn’t in her room later, either.”
“That’s a little odd considering her power.”
“Yeah, but I’d hardly call it evidence,” I said. “Kat’s unpredictable.”
“Didn’t Joseph say Braden’s door was locked and the key was on his body?”
“Is there a master key to all the rooms?”
“No, but Joseph has a copy of every key locked up in his quarters.”
Ian looked up, considering something. “Then there are only three possibilities. Someone used Joseph’s key somehow and put it back, someone picked the lock and managed to lock it back somehow—which is unlikely—or someone walked through the wall and back out again.”
“And I’m not the only one who can walk through walls,” I said, thinking out loud.
Ian nodded and we were both silent in contemplation for a long moment.
“Anything else? “ he said.
I shook my head, lying. He couldn’t know that I’d learned something about his power.
Then a dark look came over him. “There’s one other possibility.”
I cocked my head.
“The one who holds all the keys.”