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Fighting for infinity, p.6
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       Fighting for Infinity, p.6

           Karen Amanda Hooper
 

  Her head thrashed side to side as Dedrick stuck the needle in her arm. He pulled away and stood up as Rina’s eyelids fluttered, then her head fell forward.

  “You’re a heartless pig.”

  Lexie repeated me. “You’re a heartless pig.”

  Dedrick sighed as he locked the cabinet. “I’m far from heartless, Maryah. If you only knew.”

  I played the white noise in my head again. There was no point in arguing with a madman, and I didn’t want to give Lexie anything else to report.

  “Nothing,” Lexie said. “She’s gone silent again.”

  “I expected as much. Lexie, you’re free to go.” Dedrick licked two fingers then doused the candle flame. The black curtain fell. Much to my disgust, he was still there when the light returned.

  He grinned at me like a vulture about to swoop in on its prey. “It’s just the two of us now. Time to get reacquainted. I know you view me as some evil monster who murdered your family, but for the record, Gregory did the killing, and I am not a monster.” He sat on the corner of the table. “First, I’d like to start by apologizing for Gregory almost killing you that night on your parents’ boat dock. I thought you weren’t you. I thought we had attacked the family of a complete stranger who would be able to describe us to the police. In truth, he shouldn’t have killed an innocent girl, but Gregory had just murdered your whole family. The only humane thing would be to kill you as well. Who would want to live through an ordeal like that after losing her parents and brother?”

  “But I did live through it.” My eyes stung as if producing real tears. “You left me for dead, but because of Nathan and Krista, I lived.”

  “I’m still not certain how you survived,” Dedrick mused. “I assume Krista stumbled upon you in the nick of time.” He lifted a brow while watching me for a reaction I didn’t give him. “Hmm, well, perhaps someday you’ll enlighten me.”

  “Never,” I growled.

  “Next, as if you hadn’t suffered enough, jaded and damaged River also attempted to kill you.” Dedrick shook his head. “I apologize for his recklessness a million times over. He’s a spoiled child. I’m partly to blame for that. He feels entitled to whatever and whomever he wants. He wanted you, and when you rejected him, well, let’s just say he gets his temper honestly.”

  River had told me Dedrick ordered him to kill me or he’d take everything away from him: his car, house, music career. Not that River was excused from almost murdering me, but did Dedrick really think I’d believe he had nothing to do with it?

  “I can guess what River told you,” Dedrick continued. “He told the police I made him do it, threatened his financial security and such, but I did nothing of the sort. You told him about your kindrily and how they believed you and Nathaniel were destined to be together. The thought sent him into a frenzy, and then you denied his kiss and fell asleep in his bed, calling out for Nathaniel as you dreamed. That is what set him off.”

  Dedrick crossed his arms over his chest. “You most likely don’t believe me and that’s understandable, but here’s something to ponder: Why would I break River out of jail just to lock him up again? I’ll tell you why, because he hadn’t given up, Maryah. He called me every day, begging me to make sure you were killed. You and Nathaniel.”

  I stiffened at the thought of anyone trying to kill Nathan.

  “Did he try to play it cool during your private visit?” One side of Dedrick’s chapped lips lifted into half of a sinister smile. “Still claiming he suffers from temporary insanity? Did he assure you that he’d help you break free if he could? Did he strategically remind you of the friendship you shared?”

  Dedrick’s brows rose as he waited for me to answer. I stopped myself from nodding. I wasn’t telling Dedrick anything.

  “Schizophrenia with violent tendencies,” Dedrick stated. “That’s his diagnosis. He cried to me on the phone from prison. He couldn’t bear the thought of you with Nathaniel. I didn’t trust that prison to contain him. A heartbroken man will stop at nothing when his mind is hell-bent on a woman.” Dedrick stood and walked closer to me. “I’ll be honest with you. I intend to always be honest because I want to regain your trust.” He reached out to touch me, but dropped his hand when I backed away. “I didn’t care about what River might do to Nathaniel, but I couldn’t allow you to be harmed again. I’m keeping you safe. From the mentally unstable side of River, and from that group of meddling souls who claim themselves to be your kindrily. Sometimes the true monsters disguise themselves as the good guys, while the unexpected hero stays hidden in the shadows.”

  Was he freaking kidding me? He was so demented that he thought his creepy speech would make me believe he was a good guy and my kindrily were bad? I almost felt sorry for him. “You’re even crazier than I thought.”

  His eyes softened as he stared at me for several silent blinks. “My, how I wish you hadn’t erased. I wish it every day.”

  I drifted backward again, needing to get away from him. Why would Dedrick care that I erased? If anything he should have been happy that I still had my power for him to steal and use as his own.

  He freed the top button of his shirt then rolled his neck. “There’s so much you need to know. So, so much. I don’t know what lies they’ve told you, but I fear I’ll never be able to convince you of the truth.”

  I was confused by how forlorn he sounded.

  After another long silent moment, he raised his head and much to my shock, his eyes were glassy. He pressed his lips together. “I’m happy you’re here. I’m sorry it has to be under these conditions, but please know—” He tapped his fingers against his lips. “I’ve said enough on that matter for now. The important thing is you’re safe.” He turned toward the candle. “I’ll see you soon.”

  “Wait!” I wanted to know what he meant, what he almost said. For a brief moment, he seemed sincere and almost human. As the darkness enveloped me, I shook my head at my own moment of stupidity.

  Dedrick was not sincere. He was far from human. He was the reason my parents were gone. The reason I no longer had a brother. The reason my heart was breaking for them all over again. A lump swelled in my throat as I thought about how much Dedrick had taken from me. Tears that couldn’t be real blurred my vision.

  Dedrick was the devil, and I wouldn’t fall for his tricks.

  A FAR CRY

  Nathaniel

  “What do you mean you feel nothing?” I asked Faith.

  She released Maryah’s hand. “I mean exactly what I said. I feel nothing. No emotions from her at all.”

  “How is that possible? Has your ability stopped working?”

  She stood and put her hands on her hips. “My ability works just fine. She’s astral traveling, Nathan. Her soul isn’t here. Emotions radiate from the soul.”

  “So we have no way of knowing if she’s all right.” I had hoped Faith could tell me if Maryah was scared, worried, peaceful, anything at all.

  “I’m sorry.” She touched my hand. “I wish I could have helped confirm that she’s okay, but I don’t have a bad feeling about this. Even if she is stuck somewhere, I don’t think she’s in danger.”

  “You’re not psychic. You can’t know that.”

  She crossed her arms over her blaring pink tank top which matched her hair. “I know I’m not psychic. It’s woman’s intuition.”

  The slightest movement from the bed pulled my attention away from Faith. I maneuvered around her, rushing to Maryah’s side.

  A tear ran down Maryah’s cheek. I watched it cling to her jaw bone for a moment before it dripped onto the pillow. I sat beside her as another tear trailed down her other cheek.

  My heart, which had been struggling to stay whole, cracked and splintered in a dozen different directions. I inhaled a shaky breath. “She’s crying.”

  “What?” Faith moved closer.

  I wiped away one tear and then another. My own eyes burned as I imagined what might be happening to her.

  “What do I do?” My pulse hammere
d so hard I could feel it in my knotted throat. “Clearly, she’s suffering.”

  “She can’t be,” Faith said. “She’s not in her body.”

  I tucked Maryah’s hair behind her ears. “You just said emotions radiate from the soul. He’s emotionally hurting her. What if he’s torturing her in some barbaric way?”

  “I don’t see how that’s possible.” Faith walked around the bed, sitting on the other side of Maryah. “Maybe she’s upset because she can’t figure out how to return to her body.”

  I shook my head as I held Maryah’s soft hand. “No, it’s more than that. I know it.” I looked up, locking gazes with Faith’s blue eyes. “Soul mate’s intuition.”

  THROUGH THE LOOKING GLOBE

  Maryah

  “I’m glad you don’t believe Dedrick,” Rina said. “Don’t believe anything he says. Ever.”

  “I won’t,” I assured her. Dedrick had terrorized me for too long already. Difficult as it would be, I couldn’t be scared of him anymore. “While I was waiting for you to wake up, I came up with a plan.”

  Her eyes glimmered with interest. “A plan?”

  “All those needles and drugs are right there in that cabinet. Load up a couple syringes and hide them under your blanket. Next time Dedrick visits, give him a dose of his own medicine.”

  “He keeps the cabinet locked.”

  I glanced at the rusted but sturdy padlock. “So shatter the glass.”

  “And then what?”

  “He’ll be knocked out.”

  “And what will I do when he wakes up? I’ll still be trapped in this room, and he’ll be angrier than ever.”

  I forgot Rina couldn’t come and go as easily as blowing out a candle. “I hadn’t thought that far through my plan.”

  “Trust me, I’ve been here a long time. I’ve thought of everything you can think of and more. Besides, those potions don’t work on him. He’s shielded.”

  “Shielded?”

  She nodded. “From the effects of the magic.”

  “I don’t think he’s injecting you with magic sleeping potions. I’m pretty sure he’s drugging you.”

  Rina chewed on her fingers while changing the subject. “River loves you?”

  “Huh? Oh, no way. River is as crazy as his uncle.”

  “I saw the way he looked at you. He was worried about you.”

  “River tried to murder me. That’s a far stretch from caring.”

  “Dedrick wanted you dead. River didn’t.”

  “I’m not so sure.”

  “I’m sure. I know Dedrick too well.” Rina had an abrupt way of talking. Not one second passed between me saying something and her replying. It was like she never took time to think about anything. She just blurted out the first thing that came to her mind.

  “Regardless,” I said, “I doubt I’ll be seeing River again. Dedrick locked him up because he was obsessed with me. I’m sure he won’t arrange anymore visits.”

  “Silly soul,” Rina said.

  “What?”

  “You. You’re a silly soul.”

  “Why am I silly?”

  “Because you should know better.”

  She was several years younger than I was, but her odd and cryptic way of talking almost made her seem too wise to debate. “I know what it feels like when someone cares about me. Nathan cares about me. My kindrily cares about me. They’re probably worried to death.”

  “Worried because you’re here with Dedrick?”

  “I doubt they know I’m with Dedrick, but they’ll be worried that I’m not waking up from my astral traveling session. I don’t even know how long I’ve been gone. I can’t keep track of time.”

  “What will happen if they worry for too long?”

  I tried thinking of an answer, but her question was odd. “I’m not sure. They’ll be upset, I suppose. Especially Nathan.”

  “They love you.”

  I couldn’t tell if it was a statement or if she asked it as a question. “Yes, they love me.”

  “They shouldn’t worry.”

  Again, I didn’t know if she meant they shouldn’t worry that I wasn’t waking up, like it was no big deal, or they shouldn’t be put through the pain of worrying. “I wish they didn’t, but they do. And I seem to keep getting myself into situations that make them worry more.”

  “Then stop doing that.”

  I huffed. “Easier said than done.”

  “You make it difficult.”

  “I don’t make it difficult on purpose. Bad things keep happening. Usually because of people like River and Dedrick.”

  Rina hopped up on the table and ran her fingers over her book. “You attract those bad things and people.”

  I was offended by her incorrect assumption and bluntness. “I do not.”

  “Yes, you do.”

  “No, I don’t.” My defensiveness peppered each of my words. “I just have really bad luck.”

  “The universe doesn’t operate with luck; it operates with energy and laws of attraction. You attracted the bad people and negative events in your life.”

  The nerve of her. “If that’s true, then it’s your fault you live here like this, and it’s your fault Dedrick treats you so horribly.”

  “That is true.”

  “How can you say that? You didn’t ask to be imprisoned here your entire life. You’re a victim of circumstance.”

  “No one is a victim.”

  “Rina.”

  “Maryah.”

  I let out a frustrated sigh.

  “You attracted the good people too,” Rina said, trying to backpedal. “Your kindrily shouldn’t worry.”

  “I wish I could find a way to tell them I’m okay.”

  She slid off the table then poked me in the stomach as if I had a real body. “Stop wishing and start doing.”

  “I can’t do anything!” I was almost shouting. “I’m trapped here.”

  Her lips pursed inward like she didn’t believe me. She could see that I was trapped in my invisible cage. What did she expect me to do?

  “You act like I have any control over being stuck here,” I said. “I’m helpless.”

  “No one is helpless.”

  “So what do you suggest I do?”

  She flapped her hands at her sides like wings. “Break out of the jar, my narrow-minded lightning bug.”

  “Break out? And how do you suggest I do that?”

  She mocked my earlier words. “Shatter the glass.”

  I pretended to knock on the air between us. “I would if there were glass to break, but there isn’t.”

  “Even easier. Glass is energy turned solid. There’s nothing solid about the energy confining you. It should be easier to break.”

  “I’ve tried reconnecting to the energy cords that link me to my body. They’ve been erased.”

  She giggled while shaking her head. “Energy can’t be erased. Energy moves and changes, but it never vanishes.” She giggled again then muttered, “silly, silly soul.”

  I still felt defensive, but also sort of ignorant. I should’ve paid more attention in science classes so I understood energy better. “If you know how I can return to my body, please tell me.”

  Her lips straightened into an unreadable expression. “You already know the answers to all of your questions. You just have to open your eyes.”

  Open your eyes. Those words had been haunting me since the night Dedrick and Gregory almost killed me. “I’m trying, but I don’t see anything.”

  Her midnight blue gaze pinned me in place. She leaned in and whispered, “Look closer.”

  I looked much more closely at Rina. Clearly, she wasn’t the scared, helpless soul she first pretended to be.

  M IS FOR MYSTERIOUS

  Maryah

  Sometimes hours passed without Rina and I speaking to each other. She slept a lot, and I didn’t have many reasons to wake her. While sleeping, she’d twitch and make sounds like she was trying to talk with her lips sealed shut.

&nbs
p; Did she dream of beautiful places, people who loved her, maybe even a knight in shining armor who would rescue her and take her someplace safe where she’d live happily ever after? Or was she reliving nightmares and imagining new ones?

  I watched her, curled on her side, asleep on her dingy bed. Even though she was helping Dedrick—hopefully not by choice—I wanted to help her break free. She was so young. She had her whole life ahead of her. If she got out now, maybe she’d still have a chance of living a normal life and escaping from Dedrick’s world of darkness and corruption.

  The black curtain fell.

  When it lifted, a woman with a long black ponytail and the signature Nefarioun snake eyes stood across from me. She held a tray in her hands that contained a dictionary, bowl of water, washcloth, glass of milk, a couple slices of bread, and a container of what looked like some sort of chocolate and vanilla spread. My mouth watered.

  I pressed my invisible hand to my invisible lips, amazed how real the sensation of my mouth watering felt. I could have sworn my stomach growled.

  The woman set the tray on the table. She soaked the washcloth in the water and wrung it out then walked over to Rina and knelt down beside her. Then, much to my surprise, as she wiped one of Rina’s hands with the washcloth, the woman sang.

  Wake up, darling girl,

  A new day is dawning.

  Wake up, starry eyes,

  the future is calling...

  Rina bolted upright and ran to the table. Like a starved monkey, she attacked the tray, plowing her fingers into the container of chocolate and vanilla spread and shoveling it into her mouth. The woman rose from the mattress as she folded the washcloth into a perfect triangle and set it beside Rina. “Remember to breathe, darling.”

  Rina continued licking the spread from her fingers. The woman stood behind Rina, smoothing down her tangled hair. “I heard about our guest, but seeing her for myself, it’s almost unbelievable.”

  Rina nodded while inhaling a bite of bread.

  “How are you doing with it?” the woman asked. Rina shrugged then chugged her milk. The woman nodded as she wiped Rina’s mouth with one corner of the washcloth. The two of them interacting so comfortably reminded me of the bond I once shared with my mother.

 
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