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Chapter Seven: Natalia

It was Friday night, the night I'd been silently dreading all week. I was in my silver dress with my hair curled into tight ringlets. I pinned half of my hair up in a small ponytail while allowing the rest of my hair to flow down my shoulders. It provided a practical elegance to my look.

Cubic zirconium earrings dangled from my ears, stopping half way down my neck with a teardrop at the end. I had on light silver eyeshadow to match the dress without bringing too much attention to my eyes. My brown contacts were in place, irritating my sensitive eyes like always.

I looked at myself in my full length mirror without recognizing myself. My silver dress was strapless and laid perfectly over my hips, giving me more of an hour glass look than normal. I matched my dress with beaded high heels of my own creation to tie the look together. I looked like some TWA wannabe and I hated myself for it.

My mom walked in. "You look beautiful, honey."

I took my eyes off the mirror, thankful for the distraction. "Thanks, Mom."

My mom stood behind me, looking at the two of us in my mirror. "I want you to have this."

She reached over me, holding a delicate silver chain between her slender fingers. At the end of the chain was an emerald cut into a small rectangle and set in a sterling silver. It was eerie how perfect they matched my emerald eyes hidden by the brown contacts.

"It's beautiful."

My mom clasped the ends together before letting the necklace rest on my bare chest. "It was your grandmother's." She turned back to the mirror, looking at my completed look with a smile on her face. "You remind me so much of myself. You're a strong, independent, and defiant young woman. Don't lose yourself in this crazy world."

I turned around and hugged my mom. 'I love you." The doorbell rang. "That's probably Todd."

I descended the stairs to find Todd standing in front of the front door with a navy blue tuxedo on. His tux made him look more grown up and mature, however the dusting of freckles on his nose gave him a hint of innocence. I couldn't deny he looked amazing.

My dad was glaring at Todd as I hit the large stair between the first and second floor. He shot me a quick look that said 'I will beat him to a pulp if he hurts you.' I smiled and slowly walked down to meet Todd.

"Don't stay out too late now," said my dad half joking. He was trying to clear the tension in the air that I was beginning to tune into.

Todd scoffed. "I'll bring her back as late as I want." Todd grabbed my hand, towing me to the end of the driveway. My parents waved to me as they closed the door. I was on my own.

It was easy to see Todd was pissed for some reason. I hadn't done anything to him at school for the past few days. I read his mind before he ever knew I was there. He was replaying my quick kiss with Jesse over and over again in his mind. I sighed. I knew Jesse was going to get me in trouble one of these days and today seemed to be the day.

Todd moved his hands around in a swirling motion to form a beautiful cloud in front of us. "This is the way to travel. I bet none of your boyfriends have done this for you," he spat.

I have to say none of my boyfriends had taken me anywhere on a cloud. Jesse could easily create one if he wanted since he was a Molecular, but we found portals to be a much more efficient method of travel.

I sat down, noticing the cloud was dark gray instead of white. Todd's emotions were leaking through to his powers. He wasn't even trying to hide the anger anymore. "Is there something you want to get off your chest?"

Todd sat down next to me. "I saw you with that other guy at the mall." I smiled; Todd didn't reciprocate it. "I don't think this is funny."

I scooted closer to Todd even though every fiber of my being told me not to. "You're cute when you're jealous." Todd moved the cloud up into the sky slowly. "That guy at the mall kissed me out of nowhere. He was one of those Telepaths that thinks they can take whatever they want whenever they want. I don't even know the guy."

Todd moved the cloud in the direction of the party; it began to turn white, a good sign. "Really?"

I grabbed his hand. "I would never lie to you. There's no point since I speak my mind often already."

We landed at Anthony's party in less time than I was expecting. People our age were pouring out of limos and town cars and hopping off clouds as we arrived. I didn't see many arrive by portal, but I wasn't surprised. The number of Moleculars dwindled during the war since we were the main targets of the human armies.

I barred my mind from all intruders, projecting a blank and unaware mind as we landed on the ground. Keeping my chin up, I walked around all the TWA officers and trainees in the ballroom where the party was taking place. I belonged here as much as any of them. I was going to let them know it.

Todd stopped us to chat with a Telepathic couple not too far into the crowd. I could tell from one look at the girl that I wasn't going to like her and vice versa. "I can't believe we're starting training next year. We can finally serve our leader unlike those humans," spat the girl with her nose turned up at me. It was a normal response I got from girl Telepaths when they felt threatened by my looks.

I turned my attention away from the conversation to prevent myself from retaliating. I caught sight of jet black hair and emerald eyes across the room. He's here? He definitely had a bigger death wish than I thought.

"Excuse me for a second," I said, interrupting the girl Telepath mid-sentence.

I walked toward the black hair to find it was a girl with a pixie cut on the arm of a Storm Telepath. I was disappointed to say the least. "Funny seeing you here," said a masculine voice behind me.

I spun around to see Jesse in a server's uniform behind me. "You look good in a uniform," I said; Jesse blushed. "What're you doing here?"

Jesse put a tray between us. Crystal glasses filled with some kind of sparkling liquid, that was either champagne or sparkling cider, sat on the silver tray. Knowing the Telepaths, it was probably high end champagne.

"I came to talk to you. I thought this would be a pretty good gesture to show my feelings toward you."

I smiled. "It's a very dangerous gesture, don't you think?"

Jesse shrugged. "Love's dangerous too. Especially in this world." I about lost all of my composure. I wanted to drag him in close so I could press his warm lips against mine.

I picked up a glass of champagne off Jesse's tray instead. "Seems like it worked."

"Natalia!" called Todd from the crowd. I walked in the direction of Todd's screaming while Jesse disappeared among the crowd. "I've been looking all over for you."

I held up the glass. "I saw some refreshments. I thought you might want one before dinner."

Todd reluctantly took the glass. I looked into his stormy gray eyes to see...fear? What did he have to fear here?

"Thank you." He grabbed me around the waist. "Come on. I want you to meet our host for the evening." Todd pushed through the crowd. "He's a Molecular Telepath, so be on your best behavior. Try to keep your thoughts from wandering the best you can." I was sure I could handle Anthony. Most Moleculars were coddled by their parents. His power would be extremely limited until he got proper training.

Anthony was surrounded by a lot of pretty Telepath girls as we walked up. Todd stepped up to the edge of the group and they parted like the Red Sea. Every single one of them shot me a dirty look that I responded to with a smile. They were threatened by me and rightly so.

Anthony's hair was a chocolate brown with streaks of black dancing randomly throughout. It was cut close to his head with a set of bangs brushed over the right side of his forehead. His eyes were green with a little bit of blue scattered among the iris. His cheek bones were prominent and his jaw strong. He was handsome, but I was sure that was all he had going for him...other than the fortune he was sure to inherit when his parents died.

Anthony's eyes widened as he laid eyes on my Telepath features. "And who might this lovely lady be?"

I stuck my hand out; he kissed it gently. "Natalia. I'm grateful to have such a handsome and kind host like yourself tonight."

Anthony smirked back at me. I passed his little test with flying colors. "You have really trained this human. Is your family looking for a new pet?"

It would've made me ecstatic to punch Anthony repeatedly in the face, but I couldn't do that here. Instead, I settled with imagining the scenario behind the strong walls around my mind. "No."

Anthony looked me over; it felt like he was undressing me with his eyes. "It was nice to meet you, Natalia. I hope to see you more often." I curtsied. Todd offered me his arm once more and I took it, glad to be getting away from Anthony, the creep.

Once we were a safe distance away, Todd looked at me approvingly. The fear disappeared from his eyes. "You really know how to clean up."

I rolled my eyes. "He knows how to treat a lady." We took our appointed seats and started our dinner.

For an appetizer, we had a basic house salad that was drenched in dressing. Our main course was a deliciously cooked, medium-rare filet mignon with cooked mixed vegetables on the side. It was hands down the best thing I ever tasted...before the dessert. It was something humans rarely got to indulge in anymore because the Telepaths tried to keep any sweet food among themselves. We had small chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream plopped on top. All the humans around me dug right in once the dessert was placed in front of them. I took a different approach. I savored the cake and creamy ice cream as long as I possibly could.

Real conversations started up again once people rose from their seats. I spotted Jesse again but only for a brief moment this time. Todd took a sip of his water, staying quiet as if he hated what came next. I noticed the DJ doing last minute checks on his equipment next to the dance floor.

"How many of these parties have you been to?" I asked Todd, trying to start up a conversation.

Todd focused on the condensation on his glass of water. "This is my second. I hate coming to these things. They're too stiff and formal for my liking." He took a water droplet and suspended it in mid-air.

That was the moment I saw Todd for what he truly was, a normal teenager wanting to fit in. He wanted the freedom humans had. He wanted the ability to be independent of the working machine.

Suddenly, music flooded over the speakers. I grabbed Todd's hand and dragged him onto the dance floor. I saw the other humans do the same. The music seemed a bit slow for a dance party but at least it was music.

I noticed all the Telepaths take up the formal position for a slow dance. I put my hand on Todd's shoulder and my other in his hand. He hesitated putting his hand around my waist but finally came to the conclusion I wasn't going to kill him. We walked in circles like that for three straight songs.

"Is there any upbeat music at this party?"

I caught Todd gazing into my eyes. His face turned as red as a rose when I caught him. "This is the most upbeat it gets. Anthony thinks anything else will result in total chaos and ruin the fun."

The song ended. I spotted Anthony in the crowd dropping the girl he was dance with before immediately searching for a new one in our general area. "I'll be back."

I got to Anthony before any of the other girls. I heard girls audibly pout and turn away behind me. They were all being over-dramatic. Anthony was nothing special.

Anthony seemed surprised by my visit. "So, Natalia decided to dance with me."

We took up the dancing position. "I wanted to talk to you about the music choices."

"I know. They're quite lovely. It allows intimacy with my dancing partner." He moved closer to me as we twirled past Todd, who was dancing with a new girl.

I smiled. "The music is lovely but what if the DJ played some modern, upbeat music." Anthony opened his mouth, ready to protest. "Let me finish." He shut it. "Upbeat music brings girls into much larger groups as they ditch their uptight dates. You can easily move between the groups to dance close with as many of the girls as you choose."

Anthony didn't hesitate to protest once I'd finished talking. "But I like my slow music."

I felt time slipping from me as the song started to wrap up. "Mix in the slow songs. Girls will look for the closest guy to dance with. Trust me." I saw the information finally click in his head. Anthony kissed my hand at the end of the song before we parted.

I found Todd finishing his dance with a blonde girl with red lipstick too bright for her pale skin. She brushed past me like I was a piece of trash in her way. I was ready to bring her to her knees, in a very human way, but someone beat me to the punch.

A gust of wind caught her dress, causing it to fly up and expose her cheetah thong to the world. Everyone began laughing like they were twelve as she ran toward the door. I looked for the gentleman who came to my rescue; it was Todd.

I caught Anthony in my peripheral vision, talking to the DJ as I approached Todd. "What did you say to him?"

The DJ nodded and started messing with his system. "I persuaded him to add in some real dance music to his playlist."

An upbeat song started blaring through the speakers. I watched as all the humans began grouping together, thrilled to leave their uptight Telepaths behind. The Telepaths stood on the outskirts of the dance floor, bouncing from foot to foot unsure what to do. Todd was no different.

I dragged him onto the dance floor with me. "Follow my lead."

I moved my hips and arms to the beat, doing whatever seemed natural. Todd swayed in time with me, smiling as we danced. Some of the Telepaths started joining in as they got the hang of it. By the end of the party, everyone was comfortable being teenagers instead of adult drones.

Todd led me outside to take me home once the party ended. Todd turned his back to me for a second to create a cloud. A guy grabbed me from behind, clamping his hand down on my mouth. "Don't scream."

I let the guy take me further into the shadows. He dropped his hand from my mouth. "Please. I'm just a human."

Jesse laughed. "We both know that's not true." I let out a long sigh. "We need to talk. I know you're careful and all, but you can't keep hanging out with this Telepath and his Molecular friend. He's dangerous to you and you will get caught sooner rather than later."

"Natalia?" called Todd. I peered over my shoulder to find Todd frantically searching for me.

"Get rid of him." Jesse kissed the top of my forehead before vanishing into thin air like he always did.

I came out of my hiding spot and walked over to Todd. "Sorry. I dropped an earring."

Todd inhaled deeply. "Don't wander off like that. Not all humans make it home from these parties." He looked around. "Let's get you home." Todd recreated a cloud while I put some feelers out into the dark. No one else was getting the drop on me.

Todd walked me to my door when we arrived at my house. We stood there awkwardly for a moment, moving our weight from the balls of our feet to our heels. "I had a really great time tonight," said Todd.

I kissed Todd on the cheek. He put his hand up to where my lips touched in complete awe. "Me too." I reached for the door knob; Todd pulled me toward him.

Todd held me around my waist as he pulled me closer to him until there was no space left between us. Todd was warm and the sweet scent of rain washed over us. He stared down into my eyes as I looked up into his gray ones. They were so different from Jesse's. He put his lips against mine and I didn't resist.

His top lip led the way as he brushed it against my lips as if he was afraid anymore contact would have me running for the door. I leaned in toward him, brushing my lips just as lightly against his. I know it was wrong, but I was thinking about how different this was from the passionate kisses I shared with Jesse every chance I got. It wasn't a bad different. I actually enjoyed the innocence behind it.

Todd ended it mid-kiss. "See you Monday." He ran for his cloud and took off into the sky. I stood there, flustered for a minute, trying to regain my composure before I stepped into the house.

I found my parents, Melinda the Terrain Telepath, and Mark, Melinda's human husband, all watching the porch from the windows. "Not a word." I ran upstairs and dove into my bed with a smile on my face.

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