Flicker blue 2 jigsaw, p.1
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Flicker Blue 2: Jigsaw


  Flicker Blue 2:

  Jigsaw

  Brea Nicole Bond

  Copyright 2011 Brea Nicole Bond

  Chapter I

  Spring

  The morning after her birthday, Jane decided to do a little sunbathing.

  She wasn’t sure why—hadn’t Evan Everword (not to mention his father) turned out to be a jerk?

  Everything about Jane Thomas’s sixteenth birthday had gone horribly wrong, beginning with the shock of discovering her new supernatural ability and ending with her outrage at Evan. If not for him, she wouldn’t have teleported back to the home she’d shared with her parents. But she really, really wanted to see him again. Not talk to him. That had been disastrous. But what could the harm be in just looking at him? Besides, I have reading to catch up on for school. I can get that done at the same time, she assured herself.

  When she was sufficiently lathered in sunscreen, Jane dropped into her lounge on the third floor balcony and waited for her neighbor. For the first hour, she simply stretched out on her stomach and attempted to focus on the reading assignment she’d brought up with her. Evan would show up, sooner or later. He always did.

  Sometime during the second hour, though, she became fidgety. Obsess much? she scolded herself. Fifteen more minutes, and I’m going inside. This was a stupid idea anyway. It was bad enough when he didn’t know who I was…now he probably thinks I’m a freak.

  Evan Everword and his father were two of the only four people in the world who had witnessed Jane’s unnatural gift, but that hardly made them friends. The other two were her godfather, with whom she’d lived since the accidental death of her parents just three months earlier, and her best friend Cristobel Marquez.

  “Janie?” Cris appeared at the French doors as if Jane’s thoughts had summoned him to her. He had a paperback book in one hand and a large paper bag in the other.

  Jane sat up. “Oh! Uh, hi. You surprised me.”

  “I’m sorry. Mamí told me I might find you up here.”

  “Yeah, here I am. Did you need something?” She hoped that the view of the neighbors’ backyard wasn’t too obvious.

  Cris held up the book. “You didn’t get very far last night.” That was an understatement. “I thought you might want to get a jump on Andersen’s assignment—looks like you had the same idea.”

  Jane ventured a darting glance next door. If Cris stayed, and Evan came out for a swim, her game would be up. Cris would know what she’d been up to for the last few weeks since she first saw her horrible, perfect neighbor. He might simply tease her for being silly, or he may be jealous. Either way, she didn’t want to risk him finding out. “Yeah, but I’m getting a little hungry—and I think I might be starting to burn, too. Let’s get some lunch first, then go down to the swing.”

  “No worries. I brought lunch to you.” He placed the paper bag onto the iron table, then extended his empty hand to help her up from the lounge chair. After she stood, he began unpacking stacks of sandwiches onto the table.

  “Uh…great.” She just had to cross her fingers that Evan didn’t show up, after all. “Cris, I…I wanted to thank you for coming to rescue me last night. And for everything. You’ve been a really good friend.” If not for him, she might still be stranded in the empty shell of her old home.

  “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you, Janie,” he replied. He leaned down and planted a soft kiss on her cheek. For a brief moment before straightening back up, he lingered near her face, waiting for her to respond.

  Tears welled up in Jane’s eyes. Damn it! She fervently wished that she could postpone this conversation for a week or so, but she couldn’t keep leading him on. So much had changed between them in the last twenty-four hours, but all she really wanted was his friendship. “I need to talk to you about yesterday.”

  “Okay.”

  “I don’t know what got into me. I shouldn’t have kissed you like that. I’m—I’m sorry.”

  “Don’t apologize.”

  Jane put her hands on Cris’s chest in order to maintain some distance. Why does he have to make this so hard? She could feel her resolve dissipating. “No, Cris, I’m sorry because I shouldn’t have kissed you at all. I think I gave you the wrong idea,” she blurted in one breath, before she changed her mind.

  Cris dropped his arms to his sides. “Why would you say that? I thought that you—that we….”

  “Please try to understand. I do like you. A lot.”

  “Then what’s the problem?” He looked shocked…hurt.

  “There’s just so much going on right now. I’m so confused about everything that’s been happening to me, and I can’t handle any more drama. Please don’t be upset with me. I really need you to be my friend right now.”

  He looked down at his feet while he processed her words. “I’m the only one who knows….”

  “That I’m a complete freak of nature? Pretty much.” Not counting Evan and Mr. Everword, she added silently.

  “I guess you have been going through a lot. First with your parents, and moving, and now—” He swallowed hard, then lifted his gaze to meet hers.

  “So you’ll still be my friend?” Her voice shook.

  Cris reached up and swept one hand softly across her cheek. “Oh, Janie. Didn’t I just tell you I’d do anything for you?”

  The two friends embraced and held one another in silence for several seconds. They sat down to lunch, then Jane and Cris spent the rest of the afternoon in the sunshine catching up on their reading—precisely where they’d left off.

  “Evan.”

  “Hmmm?”

  “Come back to bed.”

  Evan Everword glanced at the copper-haired woman lounging beneath his gray bedsheet and twisted his upper lip into a smirk. Where Lorena had come from in the middle of the night, he couldn’t guess, but he was fairly confident of her reason. He turned his eyes back to the narrow slit between his heavy curtains. Daylight poured out from the opening and highlighted the sharp angles of his face, the smooth planes of his bare chest and stomach.

  “Evan, are you ignoring me? What are you looking at?”

  “Nothing. You should go now, Lorena. I don’t think my father would be pleased to find you here.” Charles Everword wouldn’t be any more surprised to see her than he had been, but he would not appreciate first discovering her presence in his son’s bedroom. Likely as not, she had been invited into town by Sylfaen himself, but everyone who knew Lorena knew exactly what she was. Trouble.

  The woman rose up on the pillows and tilted her head; one flirtatious ringlet fell onto her shoulder. “Perhaps not,” she conceded, flashing a wicked grin.

  Evan pursed his lips and looked once more out the window with narrowed eyes before sweeping a shirt from the back of a nearby chair and making his way to the door. “I said it was time for you to go,” he said over his shoulder, and he closed the door behind him.

  Lorena allowed herself the span of two breaths to feel hurt by Evan’s coldness, then she brushed it aside. That’s just his way. He’d seemed eager enough to invite her in when she arrived—it had been obscenely late, and she’d found him pacing the length of his property making frantic phone calls to God-knows-who. Probably Charles. Evan Everword was quite possibly the coldest man she’d ever encountered, but he was his father’s puppet, through and through.

  She redressed and plaited her long curls into a loose braid down her back. With a hesitant glance at the closed bedroom door, she made her way to the window that had stolen her lover’s attention and pushed back the curtain.

  From Evan’s second-floor window, she could see a large swath of the back side of the Everwords’ property, as well as a great deal of the Sylfaen estate. It was a shame that Evan and his father c
hose to live so close to the mad Dr. Sylfaen, but some things couldn’t be helped. The two families had been intertwined for years, and he wasn’t a man to trifle with despite his lunatic opinions. She had been on her way there herself when she’d been sidetracked by her discovery of Evan. Lorena shrugged and began to move away from the window when a small movement from the direction of the Sylfaen mansion caught her eye.

  There, high on the third-floor balcony, stood a tall, dark-skinned boy with a much shorter and fairer girl wrapped in his arms. Who are they? Who is she? Amused, Lorena watched as their embrace lasted too long to be considered strictly friendly, and then she turned back to the door where Evan had made his icy exit. Whether jealousy or simple curiosity fueled her decision, she didn’t know, but Lorena determined to uncover what Evan was up to. Perhaps she would wait a while before answering Dr. Sylfaen’s invitation….

  The following weeks were blissfully uneventful. No more teleporting, no return visits from the racist neighbors, and surprisingly little weirdness with Cris. Since her birthday, he had resumed working with Dr. Sylfaen in the library with renewed vigor. Even bereft of her study partner, however, Jane felt optimistic about finishing the school year and finally beginning her trip with Dr. Sylfaen. She knew that the answers to all of her questions were just around the corner.

  Final exams were scheduled to take place over the last three days of school. Though not without much effort and anxiety, Jane’s first two days of exams went reasonably well. As she walked out to the parking lot on the afternoon of the second day, she felt confident that she had secured A’s in all of those classes, so she was in a better mood than she had been in a long time.

  “Hey, Janie! How’d your tests go?” Cris was leaning against her car as she approached.

  “Really well, I think. Yours?” She unzipped the front pocket of her backpack to retrieve her keys.

  “Piece of cake.” He grinned and gave an overly dramatic shrug.

  Jane scanned the parking lot. Everywhere she looked, she saw fellow students drudging out to their cars as if they were leaving a war zone. Not everyone was feeling so certain of their own performances on the exams, then. “You’re evil, Marquez. Stop gloating and get in the car.”

  “Yes ma’am.”

  When they got home, Jane didn’t hang up her backpack. She still had two exams the following morning, and one of them was English.

  “Hey, you two. How did you do on your big tests?” Angelita was already chopping vegetables. At three-thirty in the afternoon, that was a sure sign that dinner was going to be something extra special.

  “Great, Mamí. No problemo.” Cris leaned down to kiss his mother hello.

  “Really well, Angelita, but we aren’t done quite yet.”

  “I know. I have snacks set out on the table for you to nibble while you’re cramming for the last couple of exams. Oh, and Dr. Sylfaen wants to see you, Jane, before you get too wrapped up in your studying.”

  Uh-oh. This should be good. She saw her godfather every night at dinner, and around the house at other times, but it had been ages (okay, weeks) since she had been summoned. “Alright, I’ll go see him now. Thanks for the snacks.”

  “You’re welcome. I have to take care of my babies, after all.”

  Cris tried to retort, but his mouth was already full of chips and salsa. As he rolled his eyes, Jane smiled and left the kitchen to find out what Dr. Sylfaen wanted with her.

  She was shocked when she entered the library—she’d never seen it so clean. A warm smell of wood polish indicated that Angelita had been in to dust, and the great oak table was completely clear of books and papers. The piles of books that usually littered the floor had been put away upon the shelves, too. “Wow,” she whispered. “It’s so…tidy in here.”

  Dr. Sylfaen’s green eyes twinkled. “It is, isn’t it? Angelita and I spent the whole morning working on it.”

  “What’s the occasion?”

  “Well, that’s why I asked Angelita to have you come up here when you got out of school. We’re going to be having a little dinner party tomorrow evening, and I wanted to prepare you for it.”

  “A dinner party? Tomorrow?”

  He nodded.

  “I suppose it’s no coincidence that we’re having this party on the same day I finish my exams.”

  “You suppose correctly. The party is in your honor.”

  “And Cris’s, then. It’s the last day of the school year for him, too.”

  Dr. Sylfaen tightened his lips but did not answer.

  “Oh. Just for me then. Is Cris invited, at least?”

  Again, the old man gave no answer.

  “Ah—okay. So, if this isn’t a party to celebrate the end of the semester, then it must have something to do with our, um, trip that we’re taking this summer.” Jane was proud of herself—she was getting better at voicing her thoughts as statements rather than questions, and the effort had resulted in improved communication with her godfather.

  “Indeed. You will not, of course, be permitted to ask anything of the guests, but you must pay close attention to everything that is spoken to you, about you, or in front of you. Do you understand?”

  “Yes.” So I might be able to find some answers tomorrow, if I pay close enough attention. The thought stirred a deep excitement in Jane; she nearly trembled with anticipation. “Will anyone I know be there?”

  Dr. Sylfaen paused as he decided how to speak without hurting himself. “I’m afraid so.”

  Jane pondered his answer, then groaned. “Oh, I gotcha. Fantastic. But Angelita will be there, too, at least for some of the time.” Her godfather gave her an approving nod. Jane was relieved that she would be present for at least some of the evening; she wouldn’t feel as vulnerable around the Everwords knowing Angelita was nearby, even if she was there in a purely domestic capacity. “Oh, damn. She was preparing food for tomorrow night, wasn’t she?”

  The old man overlooked her profanity and laughed. “Is that a problem, dearest?”

  “No. I was just hoping we were having fajitas tonight.”

  “I am sorry to disappoint you. I believe I overheard that we’re ordering pizzas this evening.”

  Then Angelita must be really busy getting ready for tomorrow, Jane thought. She didn’t think she’d ever see the day that a pizza delivery boy rang the Sylfaens’ doorbell. Not that she minded, of course. She’d become quite the connoisseur of take-out pizza during the long evenings that her parents had disappeared into Dr. Sylfaen’s library. Back in another lifetime. “Alright, I’m going to get started on my studying. Hey, thanks for the heads up about tomorrow, Uncle Mederick. I promise to behave myself.”

  “I am certain that you will be a tremendous success, Jane.”

 
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