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Chapter Eight: Natalia

Sunday was the first day I emerged from my room after Friday's kiss with Todd. I intentionally avoided my family on Saturday so I wouldn't have to answer all of the questions running rampant through their minds. Today, their curiosity spike to an all time high; I sensed it as soon as I stepped into the kitchen for breakfast.

I sat down at the table silently as my mom brought over my breakfast; I was the last one to receive my plate. The only sound you could hear at the table was the sound of our silverware scraping against the plates as we ate. Everyone's anxious energy flooded the room, making it unbearable for me.

"I let him kiss me, okay? Can we please drop this?"

Everyone stopped eating mid-bite to look right at me. "You don't have to keep playing his game," said my dad. It was obvious he didn't approve of Todd, but I knew he would disapprove of Jesse more.

Mark went back to eating his food. He knew better than to get in the middle of two arguing Telepaths. "I'm not saying I'd continue to see him, but he's a nice guy. Now, that's all I'm going to say about it."

My dad shrugged his shoulders and went back to eating his eggs. "We want you to be happy, darling, but you can't get too close to him. It's dangerous for you."

I nodded. Jesse said the same thing to me Friday. It seemed everyone around me knew Todd would be my undoing. "I know."

We went to church after breakfast like we did every Sunday. I sensed nothing wrong, until I walked inside. I sensed twice as many Telepaths attending this human church. From the small amount of power I was releasing, I could tell they were in the room, but I didn't know where exactly. I wanted to know but increasing my power would only alert them to my presence.

I took a seat in the pew. It felt like every one of the new Telepaths had their eyes glued on me. I tried to listen to what the preacher was preaching, but my mind kept wandering to the other Telepaths. I looked to the people around me. None of the humans or my family seemed concerned by the spike in Telepaths. I prayed to God they were a part of my imagination.

After church, the family piled into our beat up van. I turned to look out the back window to find a cluster of people out in front, eyeing only our van. I could sense the mass of power they were emitting. It was all focused on us and more specifically, me.

"Step on it!" I yelled from the backseat. My dad slammed his foot down on the gas pedal. "Drive around before going home." We drove around for an hour before we deemed it safe to return home.

I manually shut our garage door once we arrived and ran straight into the house. Every window and door was still locked as well as intact. No one was inside the house and no one had attempted to get in. I was relieved.

My family walked into the house from the garage very slowly. I stood in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. I was shaking from head to toe, unable to stop. The counter was the only thing keeping me up on my feet. "Natalia, what's wrong?"

I held onto my hands, trying to steady them. "Did you guys feel all those Telepaths at the church?" Everyone looked at each other before turning their attention back on me. "They were watching us. They're coming for us. I know it." I paced the floor. Anxiety was building to a dangerous level within my chest, suffocating me.

My mom grabbed my shoulders. "What are you talking about? I didn't sense any Telepaths."

I desperately wanted to collapse into my mom's arms like when I was a kid after a nightmare. Her arms were always warm and safe. Nothing could get me when she held me.

"I swear there were Telepaths in the church. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to their presences than you guys, but I know I'm not imagining this."

"Natalia, I want you to go upstairs and rest," said my mom calmly.

I stared at her speechless. "You don't believe me? I'm not wrong about this."

My dad came up next to my mom. "Natalia, please go up and rest. You're looking a little pale." His voice had a different, more authoritative tone to it.

I stayed in my room for the rest of the day. My parents brought me soup and crackers for dinner, convinced I was coming down with some bug that affected my Molecular powers. I thanked them before turning the soup into the filet mignon I had on Friday at Anthony's party.

Monday finally arrived and I was actually excited to go to school for the first time in my life. I left the house and was over at Alex's before a single member of my family stirred from their sleep. I couldn't bear to see the fear on their faces.

Alex was unusually quiet during our walk to school and it was killing my already fragile mood. "What's up? Usually I get some long winded rant about Telepaths and how they're destroying the world."

Alex finally focused on me with his vacant stare. It was the look I saw when he was reliving his brother's death but that wasn't the image I pulled from his head. "I saw you with that Telepath from school."

I pushed Alex gently, trying to get him to relax a little. "What were you doing? Spying on me?" I meant it as a joke, but Alex's ears turned bright red. "I'm kidding. Look, Todd isn't a bad guy once you get to know him. I'll admit to kissing him."

Alex kicked every single rock in his path. "I can't believe you would betray the human race like that. Dating a half-telepath would be better than dating one of them." I kept my disgust at his tone at bay.

"What if Sally was a half-telepath?"

Alex shot his head up fast. "Is she?"

I shook my head. "No, but you can still like her if she was. Would you still be my friend if I was a Telepath?" It was a loaded question that'd been rattling around my mind for a while.

Alex laughed. "You? A Telepath? I can't picture that."

We made it to school, leaving the conversation there as we parted ways. My good mood was dead before the day started, but I was glad Alex was feeling better. Both of us didn't need to be miserable.

I walked into biology to find Todd fidgeting at his desk. I sat down at my own with a smile on my face, trying to regain some of my good mood. "Hey."

Todd jerked his head up as if I pulled him out of a fantasy world. "Natalia?" He relaxed a tiny bit as he registered who I was. "I can't see you anymore," he blurted out. There was no lead in. He just went straight for the punch.

My eyes widened involuntarily. I knew this was a good thing, but it wasn't how I pictured our separation. Especially after what happened Friday night. "What?"

Todd lowered his eyes. "I really like you, but my parents don't approve of our possible relationship."

I nodded, not really understanding why he was now considering his parents' approval. "I don't expect them to approve."

Suddenly, the trailer rose up into the air and began rocking violently. Outside the window was a lady I'd never seen before. She had straight brown hair and electric blue eyes. She was wearing a navy blue jumpsuit that was too big for her tiny frame. She was obviously a Storm Telepath.

"Come on out, Telepath."

My heart was pounding a mile a minute. How'd they find me?

Todd stood up from his seat. "I'll handle this," he announced. Todd exited the trailer with confidence.

The lady dropped the trailer back down to the ground to focus her full attention on Todd. I kept my eyes on them and enhanced my hearing to pick up on their conversation. I wanted to know what was going on.

"I'm here. What do you want?" asked Todd.

The lady laughed in his face; it made my stomach sink. "You're not the Telepath I'm looking for. Your power pales in comparison to theirs."

Todd pointed to the trailer. "I have been in that class for a week now. There are no Telepaths in there other than me."

The lady crossed her arms. "You think you know more than the high ranking TWA officers who sent me?"

Todd raised his hands up in surrender. "No. I'm just saying I haven't sensed a rogue Telepath at this school."

The lady held up a machine I was not excited to see. The machine created high pitch frequencies that only hurt a Telepath's sensitive ears, especially ones belonging to Moleculars. I wasn't sure exactly how it worked but from what I did know, it was kind of like a painful dog whistle with severe side effects.

"Let's just see if you're right." Todd stepped aside. He accepted his loss.

Ninety-nine percent of my classmates covered their ears and put their heads down on the desk as the frequency generator was turned on. To them, the sound was uncomfortable to listen to; it was like a mild shock to their nervous system. Telepaths, on the other hand, could have seizures or blackouts depending on how long the machine remained on.

A girl two seats in front of me was the only one to perk up instead of take cover. "Does anyone hear that?" I hadn't sensed she was a half-telepath, but I was more concerned about Todd than the rest of my classmates.

I pushed the molecules around me close together to form a sound proof barrier to keep the frequency from reaching my ears. Somehow, it worked perfectly even though I'd never attempted this before. The lady looked straight at me, waiting to see what I would do next. I covered my ears and put my head down like the rest of the humans.

I realized the sound stopped when the humans' heads popped back up. I dropped the sound proof barrier as I sat straight up. I, once again, enhanced my hearing to eavesdrop on Todd's conversation with the lady.

"Are you hiding the Telepath from me?" It seemed like a dumb question. How could Todd protect me from the frequency with his Storm abilities?

Todd shook his head. "No. I'm loyal to the TWA to the end."

The lady placed the valuable piece of equipment back in its case. "Your parents will be hearing about this." The lady left and Todd re-entered the classroom.

Todd stepped in front of the entire class. "The TWA officer asked me to relay this message to the rogue. You have one day to turn yourself in. Failure to do so will result in torture and/or death." Todd returned to his seat.

I worked to hood my eyes in an attempt to show indifference although I couldn't get my heart to stop its escape attempts. I couldn't even look at Todd or any of my other classmates because I was afraid they already knew it was me the lady was looking for.

I kept my eyes pointed straight ahead, wondering how I could've slipped up so badly. I'd been careful through the entire ordeal with Todd. I had the one slip up in the mall, but I covered my tracks expertly. Besides, I barely used enough power to send up a red flag this big to the TWA. There was no way the lady could know I was the rogue she was looking for.

The half-telepath burst into tears. "I should've given myself up."

I felt Todd's eyes drilling a hole into the side of my head. He had a hunch the lady was talking about me. It was even possible that the lady told him I was the rogue the TWA was hunting while I was preoccupied by the frequency generator.

"She doesn't want you, half-telepath," spat Todd. He never took his eyes off me when he spoke.

The rest of the day, I was completely in a fog as I played all of last week over and over again in my head. I had to slip up somewhere. Todd kept trying to get my attention but it was futile. When the bell finally rang to dismiss us for the day I ran home, leaving Alex to fend for himself.

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