The Survivors

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Over breakfast, Mark and Everett decided to come with Ginny and me. She had insinuated that our car was for the younger, hipper crowd. Patrick glared at her when she said it, and I heard a low rumble from his chest. It was that same growl I’d heard from Mark that night on the Natchez Trace.

Ginny called shotgun as we walked toward the car. Mark groaned, but Everett grabbed her and looked her in the eye.

“What?” she said, obviously annoyed with him. He put his hands on her shoulders, almost shaking her, and stared into her eyes. “Wha-at?” she repeated, dragging out the word into two syllables.

“Focus!” Everett snapped. Then her face brightened, and she looked at me with a smile. He had just told her something in his mind. I hadn’t focused in time to hear it.

“Fine, you get it,” Ginny said. She walked toward the car and crawled into the cramped backseat. I hadn’t planned on carrying passengers when I bought this car.

“Hey!” Mark called. “Why’s he get shotgun?” he whined as Everett slid into the front seat with me.

Ginny flicked Mark’s arm. “Shut up!” she hissed.

“Now, children,” I said, jokingly.

We pulled out of the parking lot and made our way back to the main highway. The three siblings were arguing over whose iPod we should listen to. Ginny won and Everett opened the glove box for the connector and hooked it up. We were blasted with the sounds of Katy Perry singing about kissing a girl.

The boys both protested. “Fine, fine,” Ginny said. “Put it on the ‘Road Trip’ playlist.” I obliged, fingering the steering-wheel controls. The first song was Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” which seemed preferable to all involved.

I felt the same way I had in the hotel room, so comfortable, and like part of this family. It was one of the best things I had ever felt.

Not long into the journey, I began to hear Ginny’s thoughts effortlessly, and some of Mark’s thoughts became clear, too. He was annoyed with being crammed into the back of my two-door.

Didn’t we buy a Range Rover so this wouldn’t happen? he asked himself, trying to rearrange his long legs into a more comfortable position.

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Mark, do you want to pull over and get in the Range Rover?” I asked, meeting his eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Lame that you can do that,” he said. Ginny and I laughed.

“What? You’re mind-reading?” Everett asked in a panic. I bit my lip and nodded. “What about our deal?” he hissed.

“Deal’s a deal. I haven’t gotten into that thick skull of yours yet,” I said, tapping the side of his head. I was surprised at myself for how casually I was touching him.

“I’m holding you to it,” he said.

Ginny squealed in her mind. You have SO much explaining to do!

I smiled. You knew what was going on. What’d he tell you to get you to give up the front seat? I asked her back. It was our first silent conversation.

He brought me into the loop, she said, her eyes coy in the rearview. She flashed an image of me and Everett on the hill from last night: his arms around my waist, his forehead to mine. I was instantly embarrassed.

Boy can’t keep his mouth shut, I said.

More like can’t keep his mind shut, she retorted. Then she laughed out loud. I laughed, too.

“What?” the boys said in unison.

“Nothing,” we replied in unison. Maybe the connection to Ginny was going to be more fun than I had anticipated.

It was quiet for a little while save for the music. I heard Mark’s running dialogue with himself about what he would do if he, personally, had the kind of money I had. Ginny was envisioning a frilly wedding for Everett and me.

Then I heard, Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. It was Everett. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself, to me, or to his siblings, but he slid his hand quickly toward mine where it was resting on the shifter. He picked my hand up and flipped it over, interlocking his fingers into mine. This was why he’d wanted the front seat.

My chest tightened the way it always did around him.

Be cool, he said, clearly to himself in his mind.

“Oh!” I said. I realized I had broken a promise.

“What?” Everett asked. Oh no, she didn’t want them to know… Everett began to pull his hand away. I tightened my grip.

“No, that’s not it,” I said. I looked at him apologetically. “Deal’s a deal,” I said.

“What? Now? You couldn’t read my mind until right now?” he asked. Lovely timing.

“Sorry,” I said, frowning a little. Everett creased his forehead when I did this.

Oh, no, Sadie, don’t frown… he said, very tenderly. Wait! Shit! She could hear that! I looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “This is going to take some getting used to.”

“Are we going to pretend nothing is happening?” Ginny asked.

I looked at Everett. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

Mark moaned. “I mean, I get that it was inevitable and all, but still,” he said.

“Inevitable?” I asked.

Shut up! A chorus of Ginny and Everett’s thoughts rang. There were a few expletives, too, but I tried to tune them out.

Ginny elbowed Mark hard in the ribs. “Jerk,” he said, and pushed her back. Soon they were fighting like little kids.

You’ll get used to them—eventually, Everett said to me in his head.

I smiled at him when he said this. He was accepting my abilities. And he alluded to my continued presence in his life just like he had the first time I met him.

Excerpt - Twin Falls” Post-Kiss Walk


Ever since he had turned to me in concern, we were sit-ting much closer together than we had been at first. I felt the heat radiating between our arms even though we weren’t touching. Even though we weren’t warm. I was dying to know if he was feeling what I was feeling, thinking what I was think-ing.

I looked at him, and saw that his golden-green eyes had a faint glow, even in the darkness. I started counting so I would remember how long we held each other’s gaze. One, two, three, four. I counted slowly. Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. He smiled. Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, six-teen. He looked down, finally.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“We are not as alone as your family believes,” he said. Sadly, this had nothing to do with professing an undying love for me, so I was disappointed.

“Of course we aren’t. I’m here talking to you, aren’t I? That already proves their beliefs to be fallacious,” I said.

“No, Sadie. That’s not what I mean. There are other im-mortals out there, not just your family and mine,” he said.

“I inferred,” I said.

“It’s as hard for us as it is for you because we’re pre-dominantly alone,” he said again. “I have my family, but you and I are the same in many ways. After all, who is there for us to love?”

I said nothing. I found it interesting that he had the same questions I had. Only I had surmised that I could love him, whereas he had made no mention of the possibility of finding solace in me.

I laid back into the grass, trying to keep a poker face. Then he lay back, too, rolled onto his side, and propped himself up on one elbow to face me. I cradled my hands under my head and focused on the stars. Anytime I looked back at his face, I got a rush that made it hard to converse normally. I was going to have to control myself.

He began again. “I guess I’m trying to say that you in-trigue me.”

“Because of a lack of options?” I said, my tone implying offense.

“No!” he said quickly. “That wasn’t what I meant at all.” Tension billowed off him in thick clouds. He was frustrated I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.

I decided to let down a bit of my wall. “Ditto,” I an-swered. “And not for a lack of options,” I said, truthfully. I was afraid that I had been too honest, so I added, “Because I could always go for Mark.”

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” he laughed. He slid his hand across his face and then through his dark, thick locks.

“There are three billion mortal men on this earth and several dozen Survivors I could choose from. Your competition is fiercer than you think,” I said.

“I’m not concerned about the mortals,” he said, “unless you’re more sadistic than I think.” He said it just the way Ginny had when she said I could never be with Cole. They clearly be-lieved that our kind and humans could never mix. “But the Sur-vivors, well,” he paused and grinned at me, “you didn’t pick any of them in the last century and a half, so I say my odds are pretty good.”

“A good point.” Satisfaction and excitement emanated from him.

He reached out to me, and lightly traced the skin of my temple down my cheek and along my jaw line with his finger-tips. I didn’t move. Then his whole hand stroked my cheek. I had never felt anything like it.

I was drawn to him so strongly it was painful. I could see a life I had never envisioned forming in my mind. I imag-ined walking down the beach near Everett’s family’s home, holding hands and laughing on a night much like this. We’d chase after each other in the moonlight, splash into the water and eventually fall to the ground, bodies intertwined, lips en-tangled. Then he’d pull my face to rest on his chest so he could kiss my hair. He’d whisper that he loved me, and he would mean it. And I would want him to say it because I loved him, too.

The vision felt like a fishhook in my stomach as I came back to reality. We were not in that world.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Just thinking,” I said.

“About?” he asked lightly.

“You,” I said. I could feel his smile. But I was getting scared. This was so unlike me! I was a cool-headed person, but when I would take one look at his beautiful face I felt oddly soothing flames engulf me. I knew I was falling in love with him, and it was happening too fast.

I stood up. The moment was too perfect. It gave my im-agination too much to work with.

“What’d I do?” he asked, jumping to his feet. I felt his protectiveness hit me, like what I had felt from Cole at the wedding. Did I really seem that fragile to them?

“You didn’t do anything,” I said. I began to walk away, but he reached for my waist and turned me around, his eyes asking permission. I relaxed my body, and he pulled me in close.

He was so strong, so solid, and so much bigger than I was. But even in such a passionate moment, I felt only pure and respectful emotions coming from him. He was every bit as wonderful a man as I had thought.

“You’ve never…” I said, an unspoken question hanging between us.

“Never,” he said, his eyes earnest.

“So it’s new to you, too?” I asked.

“And terrifying, of course,” he said.

“You aren’t like Mark, then?” I asked.

Everett pulled away. “Um, what do you mean?” he asked nervously. Instantly I had ruined our moment by men-tioning Mark.

“I can hear his thoughts. Do you know what he thinks when he looks at girls?” I asked.

Everett laughed. “Do you know what he does?” he coun-tered. I was instantly embarrassed.

“Are you more like humans than I gave you credit for?” I asked him. My voice was light, but it was a serious question.

“Mark is. Ginny’s got a little bit of that in her, too. But Pat and I are cut from a more traditional cloth. He had never even kissed another girl when he married Madeline,” he said. “He did dance with one at a wedding we went to in like 1890, but that was it, no joke. He felt bad about it afterward, like he shouldn’t have been able to touch her waist like that if nothing was ever going to progress between them,” he laughed. I bit my lip. Was Everett laughing because he thought it was ridicu-lous? This concerned me. Maybe I had misread him. He sensed my discomfort.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“Something,” he said, not letting our eyes part.

“’I’m wondering if you’re really more twenty-first centu-ry or nineteenth,” I admitted. It was the best I could come up with.

“Definitely nineteenth,” he said. “There are just things to do and things not to, I guess. It may not be the way things are done today, but it’s the way I am. Mark embarrasses the hell out of me sometimes. He’s worse than most human nineteen-year-olds I meet.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this. I was definitely glad that Everett seemed to think Mark’s behavior was too explicit, but it made me realize that there was a real chance that Ever-ett might not be a mate-for-life kind of person if his own sib-lings weren’t. Then again, based on my family’s moral transgressions, I could appear guilty by association, too. A Bi-ble passage flicked into my head. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

“And you, princess?” he asked.

“Nineteenth, as well,” I said. “Though I’m sure that’s ob-vious.”

“It is,” he said. He pulled me closer again. We stood there for a while, holding each other. I sensed he was afraid of doing anything that would make me pull away.

“Can you do something for me?” I asked, my grasp on him tight.

“Anything,” he said.

“Can you kiss my forehead?” I asked. If he thought my request was strange, he didn’t let on. And he didn’t hesitate.

He gently pressed his lips against the thin skin below my hairline, then pressed his brow into the spot he had just kissed.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

Eventually we broke apart and walked down the hill to an old split-rail fence. I hopped on it, but Everett stayed back, watching me look at the stars. He was unapologetic for the way he admired me, and so he was not careful how he looked at me. This should have bothered me more than it did.

“You definitely can’t read my mind?” he asked.

“Not yet,” I said.

He grinned deviously.

“Why? What are you thinking?” I asked.

“All the things I’ve wanted to think since the moment I met you and been afraid you would hear,” he said.

“You didn’t know I could read minds then!” I protested.

“Ginny could read your mind the minute you walked in the door. I’ve known since the beginning,” he admitted.

“Well,” I said, feigning agitation, “I hope you aren’t be-ing any less of a gentleman than you usually are,” I said. Real-istically, I only halfway hoped that was true.

“I’m doing my best, but no promises,” he joked. “You’re so beautiful,” he said.

I looked at my feet. “As are you,” I said.

“That’s not a very girl thing to say,” he said.

I kept my eyes down. “Sorry, I’m bad at this,” I said.

“I didn’t mean to say you were bad at anything,” he clar-ified. He looked down at my dangling feet. “Your toenails are grey,” he said.

“Ginny did them,” I said.

“Mmhmm,” he mumbled. He wasn’t listening. We weren’t really talking about nail polish.

He lifted his eyes slowly from my toes to my knees to my thighs to my hips and on up my body. They stopped at the skin above my tank top, and he gently touched my collarbone. He traced my neck with his fingertips until his hand cradled my jaw. He closed his fingers behind my neck.

“Sadie,” he said, his voice low and heavy.

I couldn’t breathe.

I swallowed, and managed to get out, “Yes?” He closed the distance between us, pushing my dangling legs to either side of him.

“You’ll tell me if this gets too twenty-first century, right?” His breath was sweet and cool.

“Mmhmm,” I mumbled. Even with my lips pressed tight-ly together, my voice cracked. Our foreheads touched. I closed my eyes.

I counted again. I made it to eleven before he kissed me.

His lips were hard but smooth like sterling silver. I reached my arms around his neck, and he slid his around my waist. My lips parted against his as I heard a soft moan escape from my throat.

This was an out-of -body experience. It was much more intense than anything I had imagined on the Winters’ patio the night before. It was more than anything I’d imagined in my en-tire life.

I ran my fingers through his hair. He shivered and leaned back and looked at me, a cautious grin on his lips.

I hopped off the fence, knowing that if I didn’t exhibit some self-control, I might never leave. I turned to walk back to town. He slid his hand around mine.

Nick Drake - northern sky

Ever since he had turned to me in concern, we were sit-ting much closer together than we had been at first. I felt the heat radiating between our arms even though we weren’t touching. Even though we weren’t warm. I was dying to know if he was feeling what I was feeling, thinking what I was think-ing.

I looked at him, and saw that his golden-green eyes had a faint glow, even in the darkness. I started counting so I would remember how long we held each other’s gaze. One, two, three, four. I counted slowly. Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. He smiled. Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, six-teen. He looked down, finally.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“We are not as alone as your family believes,” he said. Sadly, this had nothing to do with professing an undying love for me, so I was disappointed.

“Of course we aren’t. I’m here talking to you, aren’t I? That already proves their beliefs to be fallacious,” I said.

“No, Sadie. That’s not what I mean. There are other im-mortals out there, not just your family and mine,” he said.

“I inferred,” I said.

“It’s as hard for us as it is for you because we’re pre-dominantly alone,” he said again. “I have my family, but you and I are the same in many ways. After all, who is there for us to love?”

I said nothing. I found it interesting that he had the same questions I had. Only I had surmised that I could love him, whereas he had made no mention of the possibility of finding solace in me.

I laid back into the grass, trying to keep a poker face. Then he lay back, too, rolled onto his side, and propped himself up on one elbow to face me. I cradled my hands under my head and focused on the stars. Anytime I looked back at his face, I got a rush that made it hard to converse normally. I was going to have to control myself.

He began again. “I guess I’m trying to say that you in-trigue me.”

“Because of a lack of options?” I said, my tone implying offense.

“No!” he said quickly. “That wasn’t what I meant at all.” Tension billowed off him in thick clouds. He was frustrated I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.

I decided to let down a bit of my wall. “Ditto,” I an-swered. “And not for a lack of options,” I said, truthfully. I was afraid that I had been too honest, so I added, “Because I could always go for Mark.”

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” he laughed. He slid his hand across his face and then through his dark, thick locks.

“There are three billion mortal men on this earth and several dozen Survivors I could choose from. Your competition is fiercer than you think,” I said.

“I’m not concerned about the mortals,” he said, “unless you’re more sadistic than I think.” He said it just the way Ginny had when she said I could never be with Cole. They clearly be-lieved that our kind and humans could never mix. “But the Sur-vivors, well,” he paused and grinned at me, “you didn’t pick any of them in the last century and a half, so I say my odds are pretty good.”

“A good point.” Satisfaction and excitement emanated from him.

He reached out to me, and lightly traced the skin of my temple down my cheek and along my jaw line with his finger-tips. I didn’t move. Then his whole hand stroked my cheek. I had never felt anything like it.

I was drawn to him so strongly it was painful. I could see a life I had never envisioned forming in my mind. I imag-ined walking down the beach near Everett’s family’s home, holding hands and laughing on a night much like this. We’d chase after each other in the moonlight, splash into the water and eventually fall to the ground, bodies intertwined, lips en-tangled. Then he’d pull my face to rest on his chest so he could kiss my hair. He’d whisper that he loved me, and he would mean it. And I would want him to say it because I loved him, too.

The vision felt like a fishhook in my stomach as I came back to reality. We were not in that world.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Just thinking,” I said.

“About?” he asked lightly.

“You,” I said. I could feel his smile. But I was getting scared. This was so unlike me! I was a cool-headed person, but when I would take one look at his beautiful face I felt oddly soothing flames engulf me. I knew I was falling in love with him, and it was happening too fast.

I stood up. The moment was too perfect. It gave my im-agination too much to work with.

“What’d I do?” he asked, jumping to his feet. I felt his protectiveness hit me, like what I had felt from Cole at the wedding. Did I really seem that fragile to them?

“You didn’t do anything,” I said. I began to walk away, but he reached for my waist and turned me around, his eyes asking permission. I relaxed my body, and he pulled me in close.

He was so strong, so solid, and so much bigger than I was. But even in such a passionate moment, I felt only pure and respectful emotions coming from him. He was every bit as wonderful a man as I had thought.

“You’ve never…” I said, an unspoken question hanging between us.

“Never,” he said, his eyes earnest.

“So it’s new to you, too?” I asked.

“And terrifying, of course,” he said.

“You aren’t like Mark, then?” I asked.

Everett pulled away. “Um, what do you mean?” he asked nervously. Instantly I had ruined our moment by men-tioning Mark.

“I can hear his thoughts. Do you know what he thinks when he looks at girls?” I asked.

Everett laughed. “Do you know what he does?” he coun-tered. I was instantly embarrassed.

“Are you more like humans than I gave you credit for?” I asked him. My voice was light, but it was a serious question.

“Mark is. Ginny’s got a little bit of that in her, too. But Pat and I are cut from a more traditional cloth. He had never even kissed another girl when he married Madeline,” he said. “He did dance with one at a wedding we went to in like 1890, but that was it, no joke. He felt bad about it afterward, like he shouldn’t have been able to touch her waist like that if nothing was ever going to progress between them,” he laughed. I bit my lip. Was Everett laughing because he thought it was ridicu-lous? This concerned me. Maybe I had misread him. He sensed my discomfort.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“Something,” he said, not letting our eyes part.

“’I’m wondering if you’re really more twenty-first centu-ry or nineteenth,” I admitted. It was the best I could come up with.

“Definitely nineteenth,” he said. “There are just things to do and things not to, I guess. It may not be the way things are done today, but it’s the way I am. Mark embarrasses the hell out of me sometimes. He’s worse than most human nineteen-year-olds I meet.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this. I was definitely glad that Everett seemed to think Mark’s behavior was too explicit, but it made me realize that there was a real chance that Ever-ett might not be a mate-for-life kind of person if his own sib-lings weren’t. Then again, based on my family’s moral transgressions, I could appear guilty by association, too. A Bi-ble passage flicked into my head. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

“And you, princess?” he asked.

“Nineteenth, as well,” I said. “Though I’m sure that’s ob-vious.”

“It is,” he said. He pulled me closer again. We stood there for a while, holding each other. I sensed he was afraid of doing anything that would make me pull away.

“Can you do something for me?” I asked, my grasp on him tight.

“Anything,” he said.

“Can you kiss my forehead?” I asked. If he thought my request was strange, he didn’t let on. And he didn’t hesitate.

He gently pressed his lips against the thin skin below my hairline, then pressed his brow into the spot he had just kissed.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

Eventually we broke apart and walked down the hill to an old split-rail fence. I hopped on it, but Everett stayed back, watching me look at the stars. He was unapologetic for the way he admired me, and so he was not careful how he looked at me. This should have bothered me more than it did.

“You definitely can’t read my mind?” he asked.

“Not yet,” I said.

He grinned deviously.

“Why? What are you thinking?” I asked.

“All the things I’ve wanted to think since the moment I met you and been afraid you would hear,” he said.

“You didn’t know I could read minds then!” I protested.

“Ginny could read your mind the minute you walked in the door. I’ve known since the beginning,” he admitted.

“Well,” I said, feigning agitation, “I hope you aren’t be-ing any less of a gentleman than you usually are,” I said. Real-istically, I only halfway hoped that was true.

“I’m doing my best, but no promises,” he joked. “You’re so beautiful,” he said.

I looked at my feet. “As are you,” I said.

“That’s not a very girl thing to say,” he said.

I kept my eyes down. “Sorry, I’m bad at this,” I said.

“I didn’t mean to say you were bad at anything,” he clar-ified. He looked down at my dangling feet. “Your toenails are grey,” he said.

“Ginny did them,” I said.

“Mmhmm,” he mumbled. He wasn’t listening. We weren’t really talking about nail polish.

He lifted his eyes slowly from my toes to my knees to my thighs to my hips and on up my body. They stopped at the skin above my tank top, and he gently touched my collarbone. He traced my neck with his fingertips until his hand cradled my jaw. He closed his fingers behind my neck.

“Sadie,” he said, his voice low and heavy.

I couldn’t breathe.

I swallowed, and managed to get out, “Yes?” He closed the distance between us, pushing my dangling legs to either side of him.

“You’ll tell me if this gets too twenty-first century, right?” His breath was sweet and cool.

“Mmhmm,” I mumbled. Even with my lips pressed tight-ly together, my voice cracked. Our foreheads touched. I closed my eyes.

I counted again. I made it to eleven before he kissed me.

His lips were hard but smooth like sterling silver. I reached my arms around his neck, and he slid his around my waist. My lips parted against his as I heard a soft moan escape from my throat.

This was an out-of -body experience. It was much more intense than anything I had imagined on the Winters’ patio the night before. It was more than anything I’d imagined in my en-tire life.

I ran my fingers through his hair. He shivered and leaned back and looked at me, a cautious grin on his lips.

I hopped off the fence, knowing that if I didn’t exhibit some self-control, I might never leave. I turned to walk back to town. He slid his hand around mine.

Excerpt - Twin Falls: Sadie and Everett’s First Kiss

I don’t know how long I had been lying there when I heard rustling in the earth behind me. I was concerned that an elk I’d seen in the distance was wandering in my direction, so I sat up to appraise my surroundings and get out of its way. But I didn’t see anything, up or down. I topped the hill, walked along a row of trees, and looked down the other side. When I heard a low humming coming from behind me, I spun around.

Even in the pale moonlight, I could see every feature of Everett’s face. He was slightly breathless. At least an eternity passed before he said anything.

“I hope you don’t mind that I followed you,” he said.

“I don’t,” I said plainly. I did not assume he was here for the same reasons I wanted him here, and so I wanted to main-tain a safe distance. I didn’t want to be disappointed.

“You do this every night, don’t you?” he asked.

“Most,” I admitted. “I can’t help it. There are too many hours in a day for me, even though people always say there aren’t enough.” I smiled. I could tell that disarmed him.

He grew quiet. I suddenly empathized with all the hu-mans I had met who couldn’t leave a silence be. I felt the need to speak. “But what about you? You sleep, so what are you do-ing out here?” I asked. I began to stroll across the hilltop. Standing still was an impossibility.

He followed me. “I don’t need to sleep. I am not as dif-ferent from you as you think I am,” he said.

“I don’t think you’re all that different from me,” I said. “You’re more like me than anyone I’ve met since I left my family. The differences seem minute.”

“Are they?” he asked, his pitch high. I shrugged, not sure what he meant.

“I wanted to talk to you,” he said. “We haven’t talked. I mean, maybe you haven’t noticed,” his voice sped up, “but you and I…”

I interrupted him. “I’ve noticed,” I said. He exhaled in relief. “I’m not sure what took so long.”

“It just seemed like the right time,” he said.

“Was there something you wanted to talk about that re-quires the privacy of nighttime in a field in the middle of Ida-ho?” I asked.

“I suppose not,” he shrugged. “Sadie, you have to be the bravest…person…I’ve ever met. I would never have it in me to take off alone.”

“Oh, you would,” I assured him. “You’ve got such a wonderful family that you wouldn’t have to, though. If Anthony and Adelaide had been my parents, I would never have left. There’s a lot of hypocrisy and secrecy in my family, but mainly there’s isolation. And I never liked or understood it. I felt im-prisoned every day of my life.”

“Was it really a prison?” he questioned, his voice imply-ing I was being dramatic.

“More than it will seem when you see it, yes,” I said. “I’m not sure what would have become of me if I’d stayed.”

He laughed softly. “What do you mean? You’d have been fine. Maybe not happy, but fine. You are immortal, are you not?”

“You see it like they do, I guess. You think of our im-mortality as a privilege, while I think it’s a curse,” I said.

“What would you prefer instead? Death?” he asked in-credulously.

I shrugged, unsure of what to say and hesitant to lie to him. I could sense his alarm, and I couldn’t look him in the eye. I sauntered down the far side of the hill and sat down. He fol-lowed me.

I pulled my knees to my chest, crossed my arms over them, and rested my chin there. “I can see the virtues of mor-tality,” I said, avoiding his gaze. “But I worry that we’re too powerful. Does God want a force so powerful in the universe? One that no one, that nothing, can destroy? What if we turn evil? Shouldn’t there be a way to stop us?” I asked.

“Are you afraid of becoming evil?” he asked seriously.

“It’s not that,” I said. “But just what if it did happen?”

He shrugged his shoulders. I tried to focus on pulling thoughts from his mind, but I only heard white noise.

“You’re reading my mind, aren’t you?” he asked. He sounded offended, as if I had invaded him.

“No,” I said, truthfully. I had been trying, yes, but I had been unsuccessful.

“Bull,” he said. “Don’t lie to me, Sadie. I know what you can do.”

“I can’t do it all the time,” I said. Sighing, I added, “But I was trying, yes.”

Still offended, he didn’t respond, so, on instinct, I reached out to him. I put my hand on his bare arm. That was it. I felt the electricity I knew I would. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Warmth radiated through my body, and my head began to swim.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I tried to speak, but the words died in my throat. I nod-ded.

“What is it?” he asked. He leaned in toward me and put his hand on my shoulder.

The spinning began again. Every nerve ending he touched was on fire. My body made a strange movement re-sembling a shiver. I think I had stopped breathing.

“Sadie?” he asked again.

“I’m fine, I promise,” I said. Although he wasn’t satis-fied, I brought us back to the conversation. “I’m not lying when I say that I can’t read minds very well yet. Like right now I can sense that you’re concerned about me, you might even think you’ve done something wrong. But that’s all I’ve got. I can’t tell anything else,” I explained.

“Will you tell me when you can read my mind? Just so I know?” he asked. I understood his concern. I was frustrated and insecure about Ginny being able to read my mind, so I couldn’t imagine an intimate moment like this if he could read mine.

“Agreed,” I said.

I planned on spending this night learning more, but the drive with Ginny had been exhausting. My mind was over-worked from trying to keep her from reading it. She must have felt the same way, so I tried to keep out of her mind for most of the trip. But she wasn’t returning the favor. It would be good to get away for a while.

I walked out of the hotel through a side door as I always did late at night if one was available. I hated everyone giving me sideways looks as I walked through a lobby, out of the parking lot, and into the night by myself at such hours. I also hated to hear what people thought I was doing, so I avoided them.

The land was mostly flat, but I could see hills in the dis-tance. After walking until the paved road ended near the Snake River just above the deep falls, I jumped over it, and then leisurely ran north for about ten minutes until the plane of the earth began to shift upward under my feet. I found a lush, green hill that provided privacy, and a gentle slope to lie on. I looked up at the stars. I was far enough away from the town that I couldn’t even hear the falls. The quarter moon was set-ting, but the sky was clear enough that it was still casting a faint glow.