When Shay first heard Sienna’s voice in her mind, it startled her.
It was like she had been singing in the shower, and someone had suddenly barged into the bathroom. Like her feet on the wet porcelain floor, her contact with her subconscious almost slipped away, but at the last moment she quickly latched back on to it.
Sienna’s gentle voice and the swirling colors had helped ease her back into her calm meditation. It had felt a bit intrusive to have Sienna in her mind, but she knew she wasn’t trying to pry.
Shay hadn’t meant to think of Matt. With her mind so open and free though, she hadn’t been able to help it. It had just happened on its own. All of her thoughts and feelings floated around her like clouds for Sienna to see.
“No. No. No. No.”
She wasn’t aware of her mouth moving as she thought the words in her mind at Sienna. She could feel her hold loosening again and she clung to it. If she let go, she didn’t know what she’d do. She’d hurt someone.
“Shay, you’re not going to hurt anyone,” Sienna assured her. “You control your powers, not the other way around.”
Carnelian . . . Cassiterite . . .
What came after cassiterite? She couldn’t remember. Celestite wasn’t next. There were others. She tried to draw up the alphabetical labels on the stones in the practice room, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t remember.
Instead of the stone labels, the colors were blending together to form other pictures. Mother Ophelia’s face came into shape, her dark brown eyes staring down on Shay with disgust.
“Abomination. Curse. It’s all my fault.”
“No. It was an accident. It’s not your fault, Shay.”
Mother Ophelia’s eyes continued to bore into Shay’s mind. She could sense Sienna’s concern as it grew. The colors that made up Mother Ophelia’s face began to blend and melt like wax in the sun. They became Krista and Paige, the girls from the orphanage. Rowan, and then Matt.
The fear was building in Shay.
“ They’re dead. They’re dead, and it’s all my fault. I killed them. Krista, Paige, Rowan, Matt, the vampires. They’re all dead because of me.”
The image of Matt’s face dissolved to one of Shay holding his dying body in her lap. His chest still rose and fell faintly, but his eyes, instead of being sad, were betrayed and accusing.
“I didn’t mean it!”
She wasn’t sure who she was trying to convince. Maybe Sienna, or Matt. Maybe even herself.
“I didn’t mean it! It’s all my fault. All my fault, all my fault, all my fault . . .”
The darkness was rolling in like storm clouds. The colors were running and bleeding into black.
She needed to think of the next stone. She couldn’t think of the next stone. Start over. Yes, she could start over and make her way back to the C’s.
Agate . . . Alexandrite . . . Amazonite . . .
“Shay, calm down. Chant with me. Agate, alexandrite, amazonite . . . What comes next? Come on, you know this.”
“Good, Shay. Good. You don’t have to remember anymore now, do you hear me? You can come back.”
“I can . . . come back?”
Sienna’s words were comforting and helped to push the dark clouds away. Color broke through like sunshine. Dull pinks and blues and streams of translucent, sparkling light.
Chalcedony, Shay thought suddenly.
“Yes. You can come back, Shay,” Sienna’s voice continued. “You can wake up.”
The colors bathed over her, wrapping around and enclosing her like the wings of a great butterfly. She was being dragged backwards through a tunnel where everything flashed by in a blur.
Shay snapped back into her body with a jolt and a burst of light like a supernova.
She opened her eyes to Sienna’s face, and then she was falling and the floor was rising to meet her.
Sienna gasped, and someone dove for her. Shay knew it wasn’t Sienna because she could see her yelling out of the corner of her eyes. The person’s had caught the back of Shay’s head before it could hit the wall. The other hand darted out and scooped up her legs.
It all happened in a matter of seconds, and in the end, Shay was being held bridal style in the arms of Jack.
Sienna released the breath she’d been holding and dropped the hands she’d thrown up over her mouth. “Oh, Hecate.”
Shay was glad Sienna was not longer in her mind because in a small burst of optimism that had died as quickly as it had come, she’d thought it was Matt that had saved her. When she looked up into Jack’s face, shame colored her cheeks.
“Thanks,” she squeaked.
Jack set her back down on her feet, and she teetered and fell against the wall. He reached out to help steady her, and she waved him away. She could do this on her own. Her legs felt like jelly, but she was able to stand and lock her knees before they could give out again.
“I’m okay,” Shay assured them.
“I’m sorry, Shay. I didn’t realize you would snap out of it so fast. I thought you’d be able to get your feet under you first.”
“Blame it on the short legs and bad reflexes,” Shay told her with sympathetic smile.
“On the bright side,” Sienna said, “you have a very colorful mind.”
Shay blushed once more. “Oh, I’m sorry you had to see all that.”
“Don’t apologize. I agreed to help you.” She tried to sneak a subtle glance at Jack, but Shay caught her, and she began to stutter excuses. “Jack, is Lacey back yet? She told me earlier she needed help with something . . .”
“She got back a while ago,” Jack replied.
“Alright.” Sienna shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, and then blurted, “I better go see what it was she needed help with.”
Shay’s sentenced ended with the door slamming closed after Sienna had hurriedly slipped through it. The sound resonated through the room, and Shay lowered the hand she’d stretched out when she’d called after Sienna. She stared at the closed door, panic rising in her.
She turned back to face Jack, who raked a hand through the back of his hair and smiled nervously. The next three words that left his mouth made Shay’s stomach plummet.
“Can we talk?”
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