Vanish, p.11
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       Vanish, p.11

         Part #2 of Firelight series by Sophie Jordan
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Page 11

  Author: Sophie Jordan

  Holding a hand over my eyes, I look up at him. “Thanks. I’m glad we’re . . . friends. ” I say the word friends deliberately, letting the emphasis get my point across.

  His mouth curves with a slow smile. “I’ve never wanted to be your friend, Jacinda. ”

  My heart stutters in my chest. Standing in the pouring rain, I watch him walk away.

  Chapter 9

  The rain finally stops after three days. Alone on my front porch, I look up from my lunch as the rippling veil of gray dies a sudden death. Almost instantly, Nidia’s fog rolls in, like something living, pulsing with breath. It quickly cloaks the township. The umbrella I used when walking home from school swivels on its side on the porch from the sudden shift in air.

  I’d just returned from Evasive Maneuvers, and flight patterns dance in my head like constellations as I nibble on a slice of verdaberry bread. I have to head back for my afternoon class shortly, but for now I enjoy the quiet. Kicking off my shoes, I let the mist slide over my bare feet.

  Mom’s at work. They keep scheduling her long hours, giving her back-to-back shifts. Deliberately, of course. I’ve seen so little of her. Living with Nidia, Tamra sees her even less. They want it that way.

  Without the drumming of rain, the abrupt silence feels eerie, like the world is holding its breath around me. I set my plate down and pull the throw from the back of the bench. The dry heat of Chaparral is a distant memory as I burrow into the fleece.

  Across the street, the hazy figure of Corbin steps from his house. As my gaze lands on his blue armband, something clenches in my stomach.

  His eyes immediately find me. With a wave, he saunters across the street and stops at the bottom step of my porch. Holding a hand up as if grasping the air, he smiles. “Guess we’re flying tonight. ”

  I force a smile. He’s my neighbor. He’s not going anywhere. And neither am I. Despite how distasteful I find him, I have to tolerate him. “Yeah. Rain finally quit. ”

  “You joining us then?”

  I nod. I promised I would . . . and I want to. I need to fly again. Especially with the sister I never thought I would get the chance to fly with. We’ll be able to share the sky at last. “Yes. ”

  “Good. ” Hues of purply black glint in his fair hair as he nods. “It’s good to see you coming around, Jacinda. ”

  This I can’t let pass. “I’m not coming around for you. ”

  His lips twitch. “But you’re coming around. ”

  He looks down the street then, staring for a long moment as if he sees something coming our way through the cool vapor. “I saw your sister this morning. ”

  I reveal nothing as I look at him, even as wariness trickles through me. He voiced his intentions. He wants one of us—is determined to have one of us.

  “She and Cassian were going to the orchards with some others. She looked . . . happy. ”

  “She is,” I say.

  And why shouldn’t she be? She has what she’s always wanted. Friendship, acceptance by her own kind . . . Cassian. If I don’t mess that up for her. The nasty guilt that’s been eating at me for the last three days, ever since that kiss with Cassian, takes another bite at my conscience.

  “I’ll come by after my shift ends and we can walk together to the flight field. ”

  I bristle. This is the Corbin I remember. The arrogant boy who never asks but simply takes. “I already have plans to meet up with Tamra. ”

  His mouth twists. “You can’t hide behind your sister forever. ” He turns and starts down the path. “See you tonight,” he calls over his shoulder.

  I watch his figure fading into the quivering mist and wonder what it will take to make him forget about me.

  “You’re avoiding me. ”

  I look up as I descend the school’s front steps. Cassian pushes off from a column and falls in beside me. He’s correct, of course. I have been avoiding him. But I don’t admit this.

  “It’s been raining nonstop,” I say instead.

  “I like the rain,” he responds thickly, and I know he’s thinking about our kiss in the rain. Something I’ve had a hard time putting out of my head.

  I slide him a look, study the sleek fall of his hair. My breath quickens. Hugging my book to my chest, I stride ahead.

  Cassian keeps up. “Why are you avoiding me?”

  “I’m not avoiding you,” I lie. “I just haven’t gone out of my way looking for you. Did you expect I would . . . ” after that kiss . . . Guilty heat floods my face. I shoot him a glance. “Aren’t you a little old to be hanging out around the school? You finished up last term. ”

  “How else am I going to catch you?”

  “Um, I don’t know. At my house maybe. ”

  I can’t help wondering whether he doesn’t want to risk Tamra hearing about him coming to visit me at home. The two of us seen together like this . . . out and about town—not such a big deal. This can be chalked up to coincidence. If that’s the case, he’s not so immune to Tamra after all. I frown a little, wondering why this prospect doesn’t fill me with immediate relief. Isn’t that what I want? For him to like my sister as much as she likes him? I walk faster.

  “We need to talk. ” He grabs me by the arm and forces me to face him.

  “About what, Cassian?”

  “The other day—”

  Panic claws up my throat. “Was a mistake,” I finish, determined that he sees it that way, too.

  Something passes over his face. An emotion I’ve never seen in him. Come to think of it, emotion from him is pretty rare—period.

  “Cassian! Wait up!”

  We both turn. Miram is behind us, hurrying to catch up.

  I mutter something unkind. Others might be softening toward me, but not Miram. She continues to look at me as though I’ve done something to her.

  I start to go, but Cassian holds my arm. I stare down at his fingers, then look back at his face. “She didn’t call my name. Do me a favor and let me go. ”

  Cassian frowns and his dark eyes drill into me. “This isn’t over,” he murmurs.

  “Yeah. ” I nod, cool resolve stealing over me. “It is. ” Twisting my arm free, I march away before Miram reaches us.

  We gather in the flight field at the far north of the township. Close to thirty of us have arrived in our usual robes, garments easy to discard and don again.

  Tall pines shroud the clearing. Beyond the field, mountains spill in a jagged line several shades darker than the murky night.

  Even Severin joins us, although not robed, so presumably he’s only keeping an eye on us and not flying out tonight. He catches sight of me, and I don’t miss the flash of approval crossing his face. Despite not wanting to care, something lightens in my chest. This is what I’ve decided to do after all. Put everything behind me. Set aside my selfish desires that only brings hurt to others. Move on with my life here and forget the feelings I have for a boy who isn’t meant for me.

  So that means getting along with everyone. Even Severin.

  Holding his clipboard, our flight master looks us over, taking count.

  Traditionally, we’re assigned a flight partner. Someone we can’t separate from at any time. Immediately, I step up next to Tamra, stake my claim. Tonight, we’ll fly together.

  I spot Az and feel a pinch in my heart when I notice she’s paired with Miram. She sees me, too, holds my stare. For a moment, I think she is going to come over, but then she looks away.

  “She’ll come around,” Tamra says. “She’s afraid. ”

  “Afraid? Of what?”

  “That she’s lost you. ”

  “But she’s the one avoiding me!”

  “Yeah, but she’s in control of that. She can’t control you or anything else that’s happened. Not having any control over what matters in your life . . . well, that scares people. ”

  I shake my head with a smile. “Whe
n did you get so smart?”

  She winks at me. “Hate to break it to you, but I’ve always been the smarter twin. ”

  I snort and give her a light punch on the shoulder even as an easy warmth sweeps through me. I still have Tamra. Maybe more than I ever did before. Maybe we’ll be like we used to be when we were little girls, before I manifested. We have common ground again. Standing beside Tamra, I think of Dad. How happy he would be if he could see us standing here now.

  Feeling a swell of emotion, I look away. And that’s when I see Cassian. Instantly my lips tingle with memory.

  He’s watching me with his intense purply dark gaze. I feel a surge of guilt. Here I am, standing beside my sister, reveling in our newfound closeness with the secret of my kiss with Cassian hovering unspoken between us.

  “Hey, there’s Cassian!” Tamra waves him over cheerfully.

  As Cassian heads our way, Corbin falls into step beside him. A look passes between the two cousins as they approach us. It’s not friendly, but then the two have never pretended to like each other. Corbin has never disguised the fact that he wants to be the pride’s next alpha, that he believes himself a better candidate. In that way, he reminds me a lot of Xander, Will’s cousin.

  “So you both made it. ” Cassian smiles and I know he understands just how special, how momentous this is for Tamra and me.

  I say hello back, keeping my voice small, like it might make me less noticeable . . . make our kiss something forgettable, something that didn’t happen.

  “Thought it would never stop raining,” Corbin says, rubbing his hands together in anticipation. “I need to hit some wind. ”

  Tamra nods, looking like an eager child. “Yeah, me too,” she says as though she’s been doing this for years. I fight back my smile.

  “Got a partner, yet, Cassian?” Corbin asks.

  Cassian hesitates. “No. ”

  “Cool. You and me then. ”

  I frown, wondering when was the last time these two paired up during group flight. They’re so competitive. . . .

  I don’t ponder it for long because our flight master calls us to the center of the darkened field. Perimeter lights line the edge, there for when we land and when we play a night game of airball. Not that it’s necessary. Most of us have excellent night vision. I shoot Tamra a glance. Most of us. This is still new to her.

  We stand in our pairs. When the signals are given, we will each drop our robes, manifest, and take off two at a time. Tamra and I wait behind Cassian and Corbin, but I don’t even look at them.

  Shoulder to shoulder with my sister, I absorb the significance of this moment. Our first flight together. Dad always expected we would have this. It broke his heart when we never did.

  We would listen raptly in our beds as he talked to us about flying, Mom smiling on indulgently, never getting it, never understanding his love for the sky and wind. As much as Dad loved her, he wanted us to be like him. At least in the way he loved to fly. And tonight we would.

  Before we drop our robes, Tamra’s hand reaches out and squeezes mine. She looks so happy, so at peace with herself, that I know this is right. Me, here with the pride—it’s where I should be. In this moment, I can believe everything will be okay.

  Leaving our robes behind, we shed our human layers, too.

  The familiar pull begins in my chest as my human exterior melts away, fades, replaced with my thicker draki skin.

  I tilt my face up to the night, feel my cheeks tightening, bones stretching and sharpening. My breathing changes, deepens, as my nose shifts, cartilage crackling as the ridges appear along the bridge. My limbs loosen, extend longer. This drag of my bones feels good, like a nice long stretch after being stuck in a car for endless hours.

  My wings push out from behind me, and I sigh, reveling in their release. They unfurl with a whisper, slightly longer than the length of my back. I work them, let the wiry sheets of fiery gold test the air.
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Comments 6

Sanamjmd 25 August 2018 17:06
Why isn't it the whole book
admin 25 August 2018 17:13
Quote: Sanamjmd
Why isn't it the whole book

the book is entirely here, to the very last word
Sanam 25 August 2018 20:03
So you are telling me that the whole book consists of 31 pages? That is complete and utter rubbish it took me less than a day to finish that honestly why puthe it online if you won't put the whole thing and another thing I really don't believe that it ends like that so please stop lying to me
admin 25 August 2018 20:15
Quote: Sanam
So you are telling me that the whole book consists of 31 pages? That is complete and utter rubbish it took me less than a day to finish that honestly why puthe it online if you won't put the whole thing and another thing I really don't believe that it ends like that so please stop lying to me

send txt original file to you
this book is part of series - here it is -
Sanamjmd 26 August 2018 13:18
Quote: admin
Quote: Sanam
So you are telling me that the whole book consists of 31 pages? That is complete and utter rubbish it took me less than a day to finish that honestly why puthe it online if you won't put the whole thing and another thing I really don't believe that it ends like that so please stop lying to me

send txt original file to you
this book is part of series - here it is -

The book is supposed to have 294 pages
lilianna 7 May 2019 04:03
people can't you just accept that the people shortened.... but I have read firelight and I loved it, but where is the romance in this book... *sigh* I will read this and wait for the romance...
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