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Those green eyes locked on mine, a smile gracing his lips. In those woods he had felt larger, more powerful. Somehow it felt like he was somewhat less in this small cramped room.

“Jaxon Hatter!” Those green eyes turned toward Mr. Parker who had a Expo marker in his hands. He pointed the marker at the young man and threw it towards him. It was fast, like a missile going through the air. Jaxon, the young man with the cat like eyes, stretched up in his seat, his back arching slightly. I reached out with my mind to stop the marker, but before I could Jaxon had already reached out and snatched the marker from the air. His reflexes were almost too fast for me to follow. He looked at the marker, unimpressed before missiling it back at Mr. Parker. This time I stopped the marker an inch away from Mr. Parker´s nose. The Mad Hatter grinned from ear to ear at me.

“You can drop it, Echo,” he said, his hand underneath the hovering marker. I let go, and glanced back over at Jaxon. He was watching me, appraising me in a way that sent a shiver up my spine. I felt like I was no longer invisible like I had been when I was in Chicago. These hands of mine could shape my own future. I never even thought about making my dreams come true. Whenever it would come within reach, I´d give up.

Maybe I had always made myself invisible on my own. I turned away from those eyes and looked back up at Mr. Parker. Let’s see what this school was all about.

An hour later the class ended, Sam hopped over to me from his seat across the room. The look he gave Jaxon in passing was almost venomous. Jaxon returned the side glance before shrugging it off and wandering away. His hands buried deep in his pockets and eyes heavy lidded. Sam slid on top of my desk and tapped my hand.

“Lunch? The food here isn’t horrible.” Juni rolled her eyes and stood up quickly. She swung her backpack into Sam’s shoulder, knocking the boy off of my desk. Her eyes flashed angrily at him. I blinked, surprised by her reaction to the student council president. Sam, unbothered, rubbed his shoulder and adjusted his shirt.

“Thanks, but no thanks, Echo and I are off for an adventure.” I looked up at her, astonishment on my face.

“We are?” I don’t remember making any plans to do such.

“Yes, we are.” Juni took my hand and stuck her tongue out at Sam. Sam rolled his eyes at her and nudged Ethan from his crouch position, unbothered by her dismissal. I smiled all the way behind her. I was really beginning to like this girl. She glided through the hallways, holding my hand the entire time, and for some reason, I wasn’t bothered by the contact.

I looked over at one of the classrooms and saw a man standing underneath the shadows. Ice blue eyes met mine and a small serpent underneath his eye slithered. I shuddered, my mind going blank. No, he couldn´t be real. My eyes were flickering everywhere, looking over all of the faces of everyone else. Why had no one else noticed him?

Pain exploded behind my eyes. It stretched tight, threatening to strangle even the air from my throat. The lights in the hallway blinded me, the pain was so intense. I jerked to a stop, pulling Juni back with me. I squeezed her hand hard, closing my eyes, focusing on the pain. It swirled, and threatened and expanded.

Hands touched my shoulder, soft, warm, reassuring. I squinted up and found Jaxon standing beside me, everyone in the halls was surrounding us, worried looks on their faces.

“Let go,” Juni’s voice was soft as she pulled at my fingers, trying to release my death grip, Jaxon ran a hand down my arm to where I gripped Juni, he touched the base of my wrist and then pushed down. I released Juni’s hand. Breathing hard, the pain still threatening to pull me under, I wanted to cry out but my voice was caught in my throat. From within the crowd, those blue eyes that were watching me before, blinked and turned away.

Jaxon still had a hold of my shoulder, I was aware of people talking around me, of Juni saying something and a response from Jaxon, the rumble in his chest. I didn’t know what was going on. I´d never had this bad of pain in my head. I was truly frightened at the moment. Jaxon took my hands, slowly rubbing up and down my arms, starting at the base of my fingertips and extending all the way to my elbows. His hands were warm, soothing, and before I knew it the pain behind my eyes had lessened. My breathing began to calm, the shivers in my body became tame. I breathed in and out. Jaxon´s voice finally penetrated the fog.

“Come on, little mouse, come out of it.”

“You should take her to the nurse. I don’t like the color on her face.”

“Little mouse, can you hear me?” I closed my eyes, breathed in, exhaled. I nodded, Jaxon’s hands stopped at mine again. “Keep your eyes closed, I’m going to walk you to the nurses. Alright?” I nodded again, keeping my eyes closed like he had told me to. One of his hands left mine, I could feel the black band around his wrist touch mine. He tugged lightly, then we were moving. I could hear Juni talking in the background, asking all the students to go back to lunch or to their classrooms. I focused back on that hand wrapped around mine. It was large, a little rough but still it exhumed warmth. I clung to that warmth all the way to the nurse’s office.

“Oh, dear,” I heard a warm, elderly female voice say. Cold hands touched my cheeks, but it felt oddly comforting. “What happened?” The question wasn’t directed at me but to Jaxon. His hand slowly let go of mine, the warmth leaving my fingertips.

“I don’t know, one minute he was fine and the next he was whimpering in pain.” Slowly I opened my eyes and found the elderly woman frowning at me, her hands still on my cheeks. She was muttering to herself, then I felt a large force push itself into my head, it was warm, healing.

“Dear, it seems you’ll need to sleep a couple hours. There is darkness within your mind.” She pulled her hands away “Hold on, let me go grab something.” Her chubby figure darted out of the room, her white coat flaring out behind her. I looked over at Jaxon, he was staring at me.

“You’ll be fine, little mouse.” He tried to reassure me. I must of had a look of worry on my face. What he said penetrated through the fog around my mind.

“My name is Echo, not little mouse.” He grinned at me, that smile tightening my heart.

“And mine is Jax.” He smiled, reached out and touched my cheek, “Little mouse suits a skittish, small creature who doesn’t know his way.”

“I’m not skittish.” He smiled at me, put a hand on my back and led me toward on of the many beds lined up with curtains in the room. He lightly pushed me down onto the bed and pulled his hand away.

“Sleep, Dr. Holloway will be back.” I squinted up at him, ready to tell him I didn’t need to but, my arms were heavy and my mind still almost numb. Jax smiled at me, and whispered incoherent words. I was suddenly exhausted, I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I laid down, curling into a ball, my eyes desperately not wanting to leave Jax’s silent form. He squatted down, until our eyes were level.

“Who will tell me that it’s okay for me to be here?” I whispered into the pillow I hugged, all my worries suddenly at the surface. Jax tilted his head in that cat like way he had and reached out the hand with the black band around his wrist. His fingertips touched my forehead, soothing and warm.

“Just wait, it is not time yet,” those words seemed so familiar, as if I had heard something like them before not too long ago. I tried to cling to my conscious but all I could see was the darkness behind my eyelids.

There were noises all around me that were unfamiliar. It took me a moment to remember where I was. Keeping my eyes closed, I waited to see if the pain still lingered in my head. Dr. Holloway was right, all I needed was some rest. I don’t know how long I lay there, warm underneath the blanket and comfortable behind the closed curtains. I didn’t even know what time it was. I heard the sound of a door opening, soft padding of feet on the tiled floor.

Soft voices whispering on the other side of the curtain. Both of the voices were male, the soft rumble vibrated the air. They were too quiet to tell whose voices they were but I could make out what was being said to the other.

“Rumor has it that the stray cat has made its move.” The first voice whispered, a mere hiss through his teeth.

“We should warn him of this.” The second voice sounded younger but I still couldn’t place it.

“He should already know. I felt his presence today.” Who were they talking about? Who was this him they continued to mention?

“No, he shouldn’t be here.”

“He must have not been able to wait for the right time.”

“It’s too soon. The mind is not ready for the other world.”

“We just need a little more time and it will be.” As my mind processed this conversation, the door to the office opened rather loudly.

“What are you two doing in here?” Dr. Holloway’s voice was loud in the once quiet room. I could hear her walk over to the two she was speaking of. “Skipping classes again? I’ll have none of that, shoo, shoo, go back to class.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the two male voices singsonged. I heard them scamper away, their shoes rough where they had once been quiet. Feeling like I was able to finally move, I shifted in the bed. She must have heard me because I heard her footsteps and she opened the curtain a smile on her face. Now that I wasn’t hurting I took a good look at the Doctor of Silverleaf Academy.

She looked to be in her early fifties, her salt and pepper hair was up in a small, tight bun. She now wore a set of blue glasses that perched on her nose. She was shorter than normal and more plump than what others would deem attractive. However the knowledge in her eyes and the soothing feel of her presence was worth more than her looks. She waddled over to me, putting her hand onto my cheeks again.

“How do you feel, hun?”

“Better,” I muttered into her open palm. She closed her shockingly violet eyes and breathed out. I could feel her powers seeping into my skin, searching for ailments, hungry to heal. It felt as though a calm morning summer wind was blowing through my system. It reminded me of sitting next to a pool, with your feet in the water. She opened her eyes, patted me on the cheek and took a step back.

“The darkness is gone.” She regarded me with a curious expression on her face. Awe clearly etched into her skin.

“What do you mean by darkness?”

“There are three ways I see illnesses.” Dr. Holloway began, “A lot of the times it looks like the petals of a flower covered in mud. Those are the times that the injury can be healed.” She sighed, sitting down in the chair beside me. She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Another way that I see an illness is if it is incurable. Those times it looks like a seed so far buried under the soil that it begins to grow roots that cannot be tore free. The third is either a blessing or a curse.”

“The darkness?”

“Yes, if I see darkness covering the soul, it’s the touch of a god. It either means you will live a long life, or you will soon die.” I stared at her, my mouth opened, no sound escaped. “But,” she continued, “Your darkness disappeared. I’ve never seen that happen before. Once it’s there, it should never leave.” She reached out and touched my hand this time, sending the tendrils of her power through my body. “So strange,” she muttered to herself, “not even a speck of it’s presence remains.”

“You’re saying I was touched by a god?”

“Somehow, yes. It´s gone for now, but I have a feeling the darkness will creep back in, for a god is never satisfied.” She stared at me. “Come back immediately if you have any other odd symptoms. I do not like this. Not one bit.” She stood up and from her pocket she withdrew a small satchel the size of a marble. She handed it to me. “Keep this on you at all times. It will protect you from the gods that wish to do harm.”

I grasped the satchel in my hand, tightening my grip on it as I saw the worried look in Dr. Holloway’s eyes. It seemed that I had found another hole to fall into.

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November 16, 2017 8:04 am

THAAAAANKS! I don’t know where to read this. Wattpad? Or at this site 😂😂😂😘😘😘😘😘😘

November 16, 2017 11:15 am

Thank you 😊 this is so exciting I like it a lot (Inked is first in my book this one is next so far) 💖💖😘💖💖

February 2, 2018 3:44 pm

Soo intese

July 3, 2019 9:03 am

Waaaaaa! I began reading this story during a break from work..and now, I can’t stop! LOL! This is intense! But, man…I loved that hospital bed moment between Echo & Jax. (Ack…that’s right. Work. I’ve to. Heheheh..)

August 1, 2022 4:06 am

This novel has really captivated me. Thank you for the chapter.

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