“Of all the things you could’ve been doing with your freedom, the last thing I thought you’d do is meet up with a girl,” Camille said, spinning around in my computer chair. It was after school, and she’d been with me—as Teresa—ever since. Leaving the house the night I’d admitted to knowing the third descendant did not sit well with my father. He was furious, and I was grounded. Although he didn’t have much control on whether I left or not. I could transport out whenever I wanted to. “Me neither,” I admitted, throwing my stress ball at the ceiling. I’d used it since I was child, but it didn’t do much for me anymore.
I was surprised I hadn’t dented the ceiling. “I’m amazed they even told you.” “Of course they did,” she said, and the sickening smell of nail polish consumed my bedroom. Teresa was painting her nails. Again. “I’m your guard; I’m the one who should’ve told them.” “I know you’re my guard,” I said, and she sighed. “I’m your friend, too,” she said, and I could hear her scrape the brush along her nail. “You can talk to me.” “So you can tell my father?” I threw the ball again. “No, thanks.” She kicked the back of my bed, and it rattled. “I wouldn’t,” she said. “He still doesn’t know about our deal. He has no clue how you snuck around without me knowing.” I leaned back, and she smiled. “I didn’t tell him that I knew you were out.” “But you already got in trouble once.” “Exactly why I didn’t confess again,” she said. Her nails were pink, for spring, and I had to turn away. I hated the reminders of spring’s arrival. The Marking of Change was closer than I wanted it to be. “I told you I was your friend.” “And my guard.” “A guard who can keep a secret,” she said, winking her blue eye. “Especially when it involves loveeeeee.” I rolled onto my side and stared at the blue light creeping beneath my desk. I couldn’t help but feel conflicted about the word. I truly cared for the nameless shade, but I hated the idea of fate controlling my emotions. I wanted one piece of my life to belong to me, but the more I learned, the more I knew how much my life didn’t belong to me. And her life wasn’t hers. The Light was after her, and she didn’t even know it. I wasn’t sure what was worse: being oblivious or living within reality. “What’s she like?” Camille asked, leaning over to catch my eye. My stomach twisted as the girl flashed through my memory. “She’s—” I stopped. Logically, I didn’t want to admit to anything, but emotionally, I’d been dying to confess to someone. Her smile was unforgettable, her power was startling, and her personality shook me. “She’s stunning,” I breathed, and Camille grinned. “My little Eric—all grown up,” she said, and I laughed. “I’m not much younger than you.” “But you’re like my little brother,” she said, finishing her nails. She waved them through the air to dry. “How’d you meet her anyway?” “She was by the river,” I said, trusting Camille to keep the information to herself. “Same day as the Naming.” Camille sprang forward, and the chair squeaked. “I knew it. You were acting so weird that day.” I shrugged. “Can you blame me?” “No,” she sighed. “It’s terribly romantic.” “And you’re making me sick,” I said, rolling my eyes at her. Sometimes, I forgot how much of a girl Camille actually was. “I can’t help it,” she said, and she kicked her feet onto my bed. “You’ve been happier lately, but I couldn’t figure out why. It’s nice to know.” I looked at her and raised my brow. “I’ve been happier?” I asked, wondering how much I’d changed. She smirked. “You actually talked to Mindy and Noah,” she said. “It wasn’t hard to figure out something had changed, especially considering your timing. It isn’t exactly a time to get giddy.” I grimaced. “I’d rather not talk about my birthday,” I said, knowing where the conversation was going: The Marking of Change. Camille couldn’t let it go, and all I wanted to do was forget it.
“But this changes everything,” she said, dropping her voice to a whisper. “A third descendant; who knew?” “The elders,” I said, feeling my anger rise again. “I still can’t believe that they lied, let alone about her.” “I can,” Camille said. “Think about it. If they told you the truth, you probably would’ve looked for her. You would’ve been emotional.” I frowned and laid my hands behind my head. “But their lies didn’t change anything.” “It might have,” she said. “If you’d followed the rules.” I met her gaze with a glare. “You can’t blame me for this.” “I’m not,” she said. “No one is.” I sighed, grasping my hair. “It feels like it.” She stood up, and my bed sank as she sat next to me. “I think you’re blaming yourself,” she said, and my jaw locked. “You can’t let Abby’s death linger like you have.” I gaped at my guard. “Who said anything about Abby?” “I did,” she said. “Because I know that’s why you’re beating yourself up. You always have, and this information makes it worse.” “No shit.” She tapped my leg. “She’ll be okay, you know,” she said, smiling, and I sat up, pressing my back against the wall. “Abby’s dead.” She rolled her blue eyes. “I was talking about your lover.” I opened my mouth to argue, but concentrated on her words. “You’re the first to believe in me,” I said, stretching my legs out. They were sore from training. “Everyone thinks the Light will find her, because of me.” Her gaze flickered over my face. “You must be somewhat scared for her.” I sighed. “Of course I am.” “When are you going to see her again?” Not, ‘Are you going to see her again?’ Camille knew I couldn’t stay away. “Soon,” I said, and she breathed in. “I’m supposed to follow you.” She managed a small smile. “But you’re going to tell me you’re training, and I’m going to believe you.” I straightened up. “Seriously?” “Tell me,” she said. “I’m going to train tomorrow night.” She grinned. “Have fun,” she said. “But be careful.” I opened my mouth to thank her, but footsteps thundered toward my door, and rapping shook my door. “Eric?” Mindy’s voice was high-pitched. “Your father wants to know if you’re doing anything tonight,” she said, opening the door, and her mouth opened. “Teresa. I didn’t hear you come in.” That’s because she transported in. She never used the front door. Camille smiled. “I came in a few minutes ago, ma’am,” she said. Mindy blinked her round eyes. “But I was right by the front door.” “And you were so into your novel,” Camille said, and her blue eyes flashed black. The air crackled with light energy, and I cringed, watching Mindy’s red eyebrows furrow. Camille created an illusion, a power unique to the Light, and I knew Mindy would believe it. “It was a good book,” she said, touching her frizzing red hair. “Do you two want anything to eat? I just made lemon cakes.” She’d even forgotten what she came to ask. “I’m allergic,” Camille said, and Mindy blushed. “I can bake something else if you’d like.” “That’s okay,” she said, standing up. “We were just about to leave.” “We are?” I asked Camille silently, but she ignored me. “Oh,” Mindy’s face fell. “You kids have fun.” She turned to leave, but I stopped her. “Mindy?” She spun around, her face flushed. “Yes, Eric?” “Can I take one of those lemon things to go?” She hopped up, beaming. “Of course. I’ll be right back.” She left, and Camille stared at me. “You really are happier.” I brushed her off. I didn’t want to talk about it, but I knew I had to be nicer to Mindy. I’d partially blamed my father’s marriage for Abby’s death, since we’d been heading to the wedding when we crashed. But now I knew. Abby was murdered because of me. Not my father or Mindy.
Zui wu dao
“Where are we going anyway?” I asked, and Camille walked into the hallway. “I’m going home,” she said. “But I don’t know about you.” I chuckled, shutting my door before I followed her down the hallway. Mindy popped up and handed me a cake, wrapped in a paper towel. “Here you go,” she said. “Thanks.” “You guys have fun,” she said, grinning so widely I was sure her face would split. I nodded, bounded down the stairs, and opened the front door. Camille and I rushed outside, and she stared at her old BMW, parked next to my Charger. She sighed. “I love that car of yours.” “Don’t even think about it,” I said, pulling my keys from my pocket. I knew she loved speed as much as I did. She’d crash it if I let her drive. She laughed and strode to her car. “I’ll see you later,” she said, winking before she ducked inside. “Have fun training.” “I will,” I said, waving at her as I got into mine. My car was perfect, my dream vehicle, but the reason behind the gift destroyed my ride as if it had a broken transmission. It was a pre-death present, and my father was lying if he denied it. He’d bought it out of guilt, nothing else. I turned over the engine and bit into Mindy’s lemon cake. It was sweet, moist and delicious. My taste buds tingled, and I shoved the rest of it in my mouth. Not bad, Mindy. Not bad at all. I had to warm up to her more often.