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Taking back forever, p.17
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       Taking Back Forever, p.17

           Karen Amanda Hooper
 
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  “They know what they’re talking about.”

  Carson laughed. “Technology is your friend, Harmony. Embrace it.”

  “Nature is a better friend. I’d rather embrace that.”

  “I’ll make a deal with you.” Dakota paused the game. “Let me come on the next kindrily adventure and I’ll give up video games for a year.”

  “What?” Carson gawked. “That’s the worst deal I’ve ever heard. Start with a week and maybe negotiate up to a month max, but not a year. We still have ten levels to beat on this game alone.”

  Dakota ignored him and looked at me hopefully. “What do you say, sis?”

  “I say enjoy your video games.”

  “Gah!” Dakota flailed backward. “Shot down again.”

  “Come on,” Carson urged. “Unpause it. We’re wasting precious time.”

  After a few futuristic sounding beeps they went back to virtually blowing up stuff.

  “So nothing happened while you were gone?” Dakota asked. “Nobody used any powers whatsoever?”

  “Carson used his powerful charm to woo Krista.”

  “What?” Dakota dropped his remote. “Krista? You can’t be serious.”

  “Serious as it gets,” I said.

  Carson kept his eyes on the game, punching buttons on his controller with his super speed. “Some partner you are. I’m beating this guy all on my own.”

  “Carson?” Dakota glared at him.

  On the TV, a huge beastly monster of some kind let out a final roar and melted into a pool on the ground at Caron’s character’s feet. “Killed him!” Carson lowered his remote and looked at Dakota. “What do you want me to say?”

  Dakota scrunched his nose. “You were so against dating anyone. “

  “I know, but that was before I met Krista.”

  “Aww, man,” Dakota whined. “We won’t ever hang out anymore.”

  “We’re hanging out now, aren’t we? Nothing will change.”

  “Everything will change! You’ll spend all your time with her. Does she even like video games, or dirt bikes? Are you going to bring her along everywhere?”

  “I’m not. Stop bitching already.”

  “I knew this would happen,” Dakota grumbled.

  It was like watching a bad reality show. So much drama for no good reason.

  “If you spent more time with her, you’d understand,” Carson told Dakota.

  I pictured Carson and Krista sitting side by side at our kindrily’s table. I had wondered once, imagined what if Krista was his soul mate, but they didn’t seem drawn to each other at first—the way it’s supposed to be—so I dismissed the idea. But there was no denying it in Calgary. They naturally moved together, as if they were each other’s shadow. They lit up around each other.

  “She might be his twin flame,” I said. Carson’s head snapped around to look at me. We hadn’t discussed it yet, but he wasn’t blushing. He didn’t look away. A grin crept across my face.

  “You said you’d never fall in love!” Dakota shoved him. “That all this ‘soul mate BS’ wasn’t worth the hassle.”

  Carson tucked his hair behind his ears. “I know what I said. It’s not like I planned this.”

  “She’s a phenomenal person,” I told Carson. “I couldn’t imagine a better match for you.”

  “So you approve?”

  “How could I not approve?”

  “Because you’re so protective of me.” Carson glanced at Dakota who still looked horrified, but then he turned his back to him and spoke directly to me. “I was scared to tell you. I thought you’d tell me to stay away from her and focus on school or something lame and parentish.”

  “I’d never tell you to stay away from your twin flame. And I’m not your parent anymore.”

  Dakota stood up. “Why is everyone so quick to believe they’re soul mates? Just because they’re together in the order? What if they aren’t meant to be and they end up hating each other?”

  Dakota had a point. I eyed Carson. “How sure are you?”

  He shifted in his seat. I could tell he didn’t want to say anything else in front of Dakota. Guy code. “Pretty sure.”

  “See,” Dakota said. “He doesn’t know. I was pretty sure Emma Cohen was my soul mate last year. Until she shot me down and told me she only dates football players.”

  I rolled my eyes. “Emma Cohen wasn’t worthy of shining your shoes.”

  “Whatever. I need a drink.” Dakota sulked off into the kitchen.

  Carson leaned toward me and whispered, “She’s the one. I feel it everywhere. I’d do anything for that girl. I’d figure out a way to lasso the moon and yank it out of the sky if that’s what she wished for.”

  I smiled. “She’s a lucky girl.”

  He blushed. “I’m way luckier.”

  ∞

  The three of us met up with Faith and Shiloh in Tlaquepaque for smoothies. Smoothies were so not my thing, but I needed some face time with Faith and Shiloh because they were still disappointed in me for the Sheila incident.

  Dakota tripped walking into the shop and probably would have wiped out face first in front of the table of gossiping girls, but Carson caught him by the shirt and up-righted him so quickly and nonchalantly that no one else seemed to notice.

  Faith ordered a mixed fruit concoction then asked them to add an energy booster.

  “The last thing you need is more energy,” I told her.

  Faith smiled warmly at the guy taking our order. “In hers, could you please add a shot of remorse and a sprinkle of common sense?”

  The guy laughed at Faith then turned to make our drinks.

  “I have both of those things,” I grumbled to Faith. “But regretfully they’re watered down by desperation.”

  “I forgive you,” she said. She wrapped her arm around Shiloh’s waist. “We all forgive you, even Krista, but you still need to make it right.”

  “I know,” I admitted. “And I will.”

  I just didn’t know when and the longer Sheila’s soul stayed in limbo, the more at risk she would be. I tried taking the focus off of me. “How’s your vision issues, Shiloh?”

  Faith beamed proudly.

  “Actually—” Shiloh glanced around, but no one could have heard us over the loud blenders. “I’m getting a good handle on it. I can be in the studio with my class then switch to viewing the lobby with only a blink of my eyes. It’s like I’m my own multi-view monitoring system.”

  “How far does it reach?” Carson asked. “Like right now, can you see into a different shop or building?”

  “Let me play with it.”

  We all watched Shiloh blink hard then his brown eyes subtly lightened. Not enough that any normal person would have noticed, but I was sure any of our kindrily would see the change. He appeared to be staring at a trashcan but then he blinked again and turned his head to stare toward the restrooms. Faith bounced up and down, giddy at witnessing Shiloh use his newly enhanced power. The blenders shut off and after one last slow blink, Shiloh’s eyes returned to normal. He leaned closer to Carson and me and quietly said, “I saw outside and through the door of the shop next door, but that’s as far as I could go.”

  “Cool,” Dakota said.

  “Very,” I agreed.

  “I made him promise not to ever spy on me again.” Faith giggled and pinched his side. “After he recited a play by play of my activities in the shower which I assumed were private.”

  “Hey, Wifey.” Shiloh pulled her close and kissed her nose. “You said I should practice, so I did. And the view was exquisite.”

  “Gross,” Dakota groaned, turning to grab his smoothie from the guy behind the counter.

  Carson’s phone rang. “What’s up, Maryah?”

  We all watched him listen to whatever Maryah was telling him. His forehead furrowed with concern. “Bring her straight to the house. I’ll be waiting there for you.” He hung up and hardly explained anything. All he said was, “Krista needs me. I have to go.”

&nb
sp; I could tell it took a lot of self-control for him not to blur out of there.

  FLYING TOO HIGH

  Maryah

  Krista told me to call Carson so I did, but he was meeting us at the house. The drive home alone with her was scary. She had started sitting up but eventually she collapsed across the front seat of my Desoto and put her head in my lap.

  “Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked.

  “I will be. I just need to recharge.” She was getting paler by the minute and the dark circles under her eyes were starting to look like bruises.

  “I thought you were going to let the candles heal her.”

  Krista mumbled weakly, “She needed more than candles.”

  Krista’s breaths were heavy and strained.

  “Rest,” I told her. “No more talking.”

  She didn’t nod. She didn’t move. She slept the rest of the excruciatingly long way home.

  I never even saw Carson as I pulled into the driveway, but as soon as I put my car in park my passenger door opened and there he was. He ducked his head inside. “What happened?”

  I looked down at Krista’s dark hair pooled over my lap. She was still out cold. “She used a lot of energy trying to heal April’s mom.”

  Krista’s head slid off my lap. Carson’s hand never let her head so much as bounce. In one graceful movement she was out of the car and in his arms. I jumped out and followed him as he carried Krista into the house.

  “She’ll be okay, right?” I asked.

  “Yes,” Carson said, but he sounded upset or maybe angry as he blurred away to Krista’s room.

  I stood in the kitchen, my hands hanging helpless at my side, watching him carry her down the hall.

  “Everything okay?” Nathan asked from behind me. I turned and he was standing by the laundry room door holding a basket of folded clothes. Some of them were mine. “You did our laundry?”

  “Yes. Was that okay? I’m sorry. I should have asked you first.”

  “No, it’s fine. I’m just surprised.”

  “You don’t think I’m capable of doing laundry?”

  “It’s not that. It’s just, you’re so old-fashioned.”

  “Old-fashioned, not sexist. I do my share of chores.”

  I nodded and looked down the hall again. “Krista’s sick.”

  “Sick? She doesn’t get sick.”

  “I mean drained. She worked on April’s mom and now she’s wiped out worse than I’ve ever seen her.”

  He set the basket of clothes on the counter and hugged me. “She’ll be all right. Give her time to recuperate.”

  I wanted to stay there, wrapped in Nathan’s arms, listening to his heart thump against my ear, but I needed to make sure Krista truly was okay. I pulled away. “She might want a drink or something. I should check on her.”

  “She’ll appreciate that.”

  I walked down the hall to the Krista’s room but stopped in the doorway. They were both lying in bed on their sides. Carson’s arms were wrapped around her and he was talking so quietly I couldn’t hear most of what he said, but his tone was gentle and loving. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but I thought he called her his turtle.

  ∞

  We checked on Krista again after dinner. Carson tried waving us away because she was still sleeping, but I went in and visually examined her anyway. The color had returned to her face and the circles under her eyes were fading.

  Satisfied that she was getting better, Nathan and I left them and went to our room.

  “Told you she was tough,” Nathan said. “She always bounces back quickly.”

  “She does look almost back to normal.” I shut the door behind me.

  Nathan sat in the chair beside our bed and cracked his neck. He looked tired.

  “You okay?” I asked him.

  “I’m fine. How are you holding up?”

  “No.” I walked over to him. “Everyone is always focused on me, or Harmony, and today it’s been Krista too, but what about you? How are you feeling? How are you doing with all this...stuff?”

  “You’re sweet to worry about me, but truly, I’m fine. I have you back in my life. That’s all I need.”

  I stood there, looking down at him, thinking about how lucky I was, and how I had so much to learn about him, and how much I hated that I used to know everything about him. I ruined such an irreplaceable gift. “I wish I could make it up to you.”

  “Make what up to me?” He wrapped his arms around my legs, running his fingers up the back of my knees and thighs.

  “Erasing and making this life so hard for you.”

  “You’ve already made it up to me.” He pulled me down onto his lap and I wrapped my arms around his neck.

  “I was thinking, we’ve been focusing on my pleasure in hopes of me sensperiencing, but the other night when your eyes lit up and I glimpsed into your soul, we were both all hot and bothered.”

  He chuckled. “Accurate description.”

  I ran my fingers through his hair. “I’m thinking, for the greater cause of me remembering my past, and for the good of the kindrily, we should probably get all hot and bothered again and see what happens.”

  He raised his chin but kept his smoldering gaze locked on me. “That’s very charitable of you, to make such a sacrifice and work so diligently for the good of the kindrily.”

  “My middle name is generous.”

  “No.” He lifted me up and laid me on the bed. “Your middle name is Anne, but I accept your offer of generosity.”

  My insides melted. I should have known Nathan would know my middle name. We weren’t exactly a normal couple. Our conversations consisted of questions like “How many countries have we lived in?” Not, “What’s your middle name?” But still, hearing him say it made me feel that much closer to him.

  He crawled onto the bed and hovered above me.

  “Wait,” I said, just before his lips met mine. “I don’t know your middle name.”

  Nathan grinned. “That’s because I don’t have one.”

  “Oh.” I tilted my head. Good. The name Nathaniel Luna was too perfect to be botched up with a third name. He moved in to kiss me again.

  “Wait.” I pushed against his chest.

  His chin jutted up and he pursed his lips. “Do you want to get hot and bothered or not?”

  “Lock the door.”

  He vanished. He reappeared across the room, locked the door, and was back on top of me before the grin finished spreading across my face.

  “Finally ready?” He asked.

  “Ready. Hot and bother me.”

  “I thought the plan was for both of us to become hot and bothered.”

  “Shut up and kiss me.”

  He did, and I kissed him back. I was instantly hot and not the least bit bothered. I couldn’t get enough of him. His lips trailed down my jaw to my neck and I clutched the pillow beside me. He gently turned my chin and kissed below my ear and down the other side of my neck. I didn’t want him to stop, but his steady breath in my ear made me realize he was too much in control.

  I didn’t really know how to take charge in a sexy way, but I had seen enough movies and read enough of my mother’s Cosmo magazines to fake some confidence. I pushed myself onto my elbows. I used a couple forceful kisses to get him on his side then I lifted my upper body on top of him. He lay on his back, looking up at me and tucking my hair behind my ear.

  “You’re beautiful,” he said.

  I had never thought of myself as beautiful. Average, yes. Beautiful, no. But when Nathan looked at me and said those words, I believed him. I actually felt beautiful. “Thank you,” I said, “but you’re way too composed right now.”

  He licked his lips and put his hands behind his head. “I’m flying.”

  “What?”

  “The reason I love to BASE jump off mountains is for the rush. After the initial fall, I fly. I soar through the sky, free as a shooting star. Physically flying is the second best feeling in the world.”

/>   “The second,” I repeated. “What’s the first?”

  “Love. You. For me, they’re the same thing. You are the best feeling in the world, and right now, lying here kissing you, my soul is flying. You have no idea how much I missed this feeling while you were gone.”

  I tried to breathe, but couldn’t. Time stood still. Not literally, like Anthony had stopped time, but figuratively like I wanted to capture that moment in a glass dome and keep it forever and ever.

  Pain burned behind my nose. That pain I’d get when I fought back tears. It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to me, but I didn’t want to cry all over Nathan and ruin the moment. Even happy tears made me snively and puffy eyed. I took a breath and looked away, making sure my tears were safely at bay, then I met his gaze again. “You leave me speechless sometimes.”

  He grinned with satisfaction. “You don’t have to say anything. Actions speak louder than words.”

  I kissed him. It was unlike any other kiss we shared so far. I didn’t think. I didn’t worry if I should keep my tongue in or out, or if my lips were moist enough, or wonder if he was enjoying it as much as I was. I didn’t think about where to strategically touch him. I didn’t think at all.

  I just fell into him. Like leaping of a cliff and enjoying the fall. It was our best kiss ever because I felt what he had just described. My soul flew. And it felt incredible.

  “I’m flying,” I whispered.

  Our lips never came apart, but Nathan smiled. “Amazing, isn’t it?”

  I nodded and kissed him again. My hands might have raked down his back, or caressed his face, I have no idea what happened physically. I was too caught up in the rush of soaring through an infinite sky with Nathan.

  “This,” I gasped, still kissing him. “I want to feel like this forever.”

  “Forever is yours for the taking.” He momentarily pulled back. His green eyes shined with longing and love. “It always has been, Maryah.”

  He slid his arms around me tighter and kissed me again. I understood what he meant when he said he felt like a shooting star. And what a euphoric ride it was.

 
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