Seventeen-year-old Jaycie Lerner's psychokinetic power surge is over, and her astounding powers are under control for the time being - sort of. As she struggles to maintain her humanity in the face of the awesome terror and responsibility of her abilities, she also yearns for the chance at a normal life - and a relationship with Matt Carter, the best friend she had to leave behind. But Matt's got a few tricks up his sleeve, and he's not about to give up on his feelings for Jaycie.
As Jaycie and her family grapple with the day-to-day routine of trying to keep their world together, Jaycie's mother figure, Allison Young, endures a personal crisis of her own. The superhuman blonde possesses the physical equivalent of Jaycie's awesome psychic power. So evolved, at ninety-two she still looks twenty. But what good is extended life when everyone else around her is so fragile? With no one to share her unusual life, she's a uniquely lonely woman yearning for the romantic love she sees all around her. But in a dream she gets her wish - and it quickly turns to a nightmare for everyone else in her life. The memory of a rose is all she can hold onto in the storm of obsession that nearly sweeps her away.
Things quickly turn deadly for the vampires, but the Dey-Vah Guard fairies refuse to acknowledge there's an imbalance in the nature they protect. As the danger gets ever closer to Jaycie and her family, the race is on to find answers before a secret plot can destroy them all.
Haylee sat with her best friend and watched the four most powerful supernatural beings in the world approach Mason and John. Lucy’s face glowed under the dull street lamp, her delicate fairy features savage and unforgiving.
Haylee couldn’t see all the others, but she knew their unnatural and extraordinarily powerful enemies surrounded them on all sides, aiming weapons soaked in their own blood. I guess being attacked by a bunch of dead guys didn’t help our case, she thought to herself bitterly.
“What is Allison Young’s decision?” a male voice boomed suddenly.
Haylee resisted the urge to look around, knowing Allison was somewhere hidden from their view, fighting with every inch of her strength to protect him. All of this because of love. To defend a relationship that threatened to halt evolution in its tracks.
Haylee heard Mason tell Landon of the Inner Circle that Allison was on her way. She knew he was stalling in the vain hope this would not come to a fight. She thought of all the supernatural creatures that could kill her – a vampire or even a vampire slayer – and grew angry at the idea that a fairy might end her life tonight.
She could feel the fire from Jaycie itching to break lose. Hopefully Mason could get through to the Inner Circle and make them all see the truth. It was a futile hope.
Suddenly the scene in Big Spring Park changed right before Haylee’s eyes. Allison was loose. The Second Tier screamed for her blood. Chaos erupted all around them, and Haylee couldn’t focus her eyes on any one thing. Her family was surrounded by anarchy. They might be dying. The last image Haylee saw before that final flash of red was Lucy grabbing Jaycie by the neck. If no one got there fast enough, the being created to protect her was going to snap her neck.
Gurley, Alabama, was the last place Clarissa Fletcher thought she would wind up. With a population of barely nine hundred people and only one grocery store, the rural town made her want to vomit. As her six-inch stiletto heels tapped across the smooth marble floor of her old mansion, she rolled her eyes. She had no idea why John Gramm would choose to set up shop here. To get gas, one had to drive to the next town. Yet, here she was.
She loved her job and she was very good at it. She loved the power that poured into this place. But as much as she liked her work, she knew she was not well liked. Most people thought she was as abrasive as her flaming red hair. At five-foot-eight, with strategic curves and startling green eyes matched with delicate facial features, she should have been irresistible. But men rarely looked at her – and when they did, they quickly looked away. She could be a bit intimidating.
She stopped briefly at the door to John’s temporary office, then went in without knocking. John’s powder-blue eyes looked up at her wearily before she said anything. She guessed his weariness stemmed from the fact that he was already in the middle of something – but she really didn’t care. “John,” she said smoothly.
“Hello, Clarissa.” He sighed and rolled his eyes at her. “I’m kind of in the middle of something.”
She took that moment to appreciate her partner’s rugged beauty. She had always admired his prominent jaw line and that ridiculously long, curly, jet-black hair. Forcing a smile, she glanced at Mason Lerner, then back and John and said, “I have a meeting with Jennifer Fowler tomorrow at eleven o’clock and should be able to get you the equipment her son will need. She’ll want to talk to you. Placate her. Also, here is a copy of the case files you wanted.” She held out the folders and placed them on his desk when he made no move to accept them. “And, just to give you a heads-up, I have a pharmacist coming by later.”
John sighed again while Mason tried to stifle a giggle. Clarissa looked down at the incredibly handsome African American doctor. “Mason,” she said with a slight nod.
“How are you Clarissa?” he asked
His deep, soft voice stirred something in her she refused to acknowledge. She forged on with requisite small talk. “Well, my husband is cheating on me again, which – whatever. My only real concern is that he’s not being very smart about it. He’s so careless. He’s making the same mistakes he did when he got that stripper pregnant. And, of course, he’s such a weakling that I was the one that had to force her to get rid of it.” She sighed. “Why I’ve remained married to the man this long is a source of annoyance I need to remedy. Soon.”
Mason’s eyes widened, and John glanced toward the ceiling with an almost pained expression she’d long ago come to recognize. That look hadn’t bothered her at all when they’d first met and he’d accused her of being a sociopath. It bothered her even less now.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Mason said, giving her a confused look.
“May I ask why you are sending us a pharmacist?” John asked in a monotone that suggested he didn’t really want an answer.
She huffed impatiently. John was beautiful and talented, but his frequent stupid questions irked her. “For Jaycie.”
“You think Jaycie needs a personal pharmacist?” John asked a little louder than necessary.
“Yes. She went insane, correct? And her therapist can’t write scripts.” Clarissa watched the two gorgeous men look at each other like idiots and shook her head in disapproval. She knew they were highly intelligent and gifted, but sometimes their behavior suggested they didn’t utilize those talents appropriately. She couldn’t understand why she had so much trouble communicating simple information. Were they that dense? She’d given them her personal mansion to live in after Jaycie’s recent power surge, not because she cared, but because Jaycie’s telekinesis was supposed to give her unlimited power – and she went insane because of it. Clarissa was rarely impressed, but after hearing that a seventeen-year-old erected two psychic blocks that pushed back that much power, she was intrigued. Hopefully she wouldn’t be mentally unstable forever. Hence, the pills.
“I have to go now,” Clarissa said, her hand on the doorknob. “Not that watching the two of you being useless isn’t always a blast.”
* * * * *
Mason and John watched silently as Clarissa left John’s office and slammed the door. Mason whistled. “You would think that I’d be used to her by now.”
“She’s a hard pill to swallow.”
“Well, at least you don’t have to listen to her if you don’t want to.” Mason said, referring to John’s super human power of persuasion. Not even Clarissa’s iron will could make her immune to his commands.
“Yes, thank God,” John said with his usual cheery grin.
Mason’s smile widened as he leaned forward onto John’s desk. “Well, the house is done. Allison made sure that every detail is as it was before we left.”
“Of course she did,” John said knowingly. “That’s Allison.” He frowned. “Jay still has no memory of the surge or of her telekinesis blowing up the house, and that concerns me. I want you to let me try a few things for the memory loss and the depression. We may have to go as far as medicating her.”
Mason looked at his friend with what he hoped was a calm expression on his face. “This is your area. What are you thinking?”
“Dr. Ando, the psychologist I hired for her, is very good,” he said, handing a folder across the desk. “She’s already agreed to sign a telepathic confidentially agreement because she isn’t one of us.”
Mason nodded and felt slightly comforted that he could help with at least that. He trusted John with Jaycie’s care as much as he could possibly trust anyone; he just felt the need to do more than he was already doing. “When will she begin working with Jaycie?” he asked as he quickly scanned Dr. Ando’s file.
“Do you think it will help?”
“It can’t hurt.”
Mason forced a smile to cover the fresh flood of guilt. Allison’s healing ability was still off because he’d allowed Jaycie, in her unstable mental state, to temporarily get into his head, causing him to hit her trainer and mother figure with a psychic bolt that damaged her superhuman ability to heal any wound inflicted on her. While Allison Young was nearly invulnerable, she harbored a weakness to psychic attack.
“She’ll be back to normal very soon,” John assured him. “Don’t beat yourself up.”
Mason raised his brows. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were the telepath here.”
“By the look on your face, it’s not hard to figure out what you’re thinking about, Mace.”
Mason sighed. So much had changed in the past few months. His family had a lot of work ahead of them. The most important thing to all of them was supporting Jaycie.
“You want to head over to the Institute and take care of Dr. Ando?” John asked as he stood up from behind his desk.
Mason nodded and got to his feet. “Yeah, let’s roll, Johnny boy.”
* * * * *
Jaycie stared at the stack of letters on her computer desk. She still hadn’t been able to muster enough energy or patience to actually read them yet. She couldn’t remember a lot of things, but she knew this wasn’t her home. Her power had destroyed her real home. Jaycie recognized she wasn’t stable, and that was the reason she was living in Clarissa’s ridiculously lavish mansion. She had to be near her godfather, John, and the other people at his Institute for ‘treatment.’ She knew she would be here for as long as it took to control her telekinetic ability. Her only comfort was her family. Seeing their faces made her want to get better. She was a little annoyed that John was making her see a therapist. She didn’t see how it would help.
Yawning, Jaycie picked up her first unopened letter, and a pang of sadness and frustration stabbed her hard in the chest when she stared down at the return address. It was from Matt Carter, her lifelong best friend and ex-boyfriend. They’d had a falling-out right before her surge, and it seemed like years since she’d seen him. She stared down at the envelope, deciding whether or not to open it, when a flash of anger surged through her and she threw the letter down. Maybe some other time, she thought to herself bitterly. She decided to leave all the letters unread, and leaned back in her chair.
Everyone kept telling her that she would be out of control, power hungry, and unpredictable. But for the past few weeks, she only felt weak and depressed. Sure, she felt frustrated and angry as well, but the one thing she did not feel was powerful.
Johnny told her something about being able to manipulate energy at the molecular level. He had told her this a long time ago, but she’d always ignored him. She told herself possessing that kind of ability was impossible, even in her world. To have that much power, especially at only seventeen years of age, was unthinkable.
Other than the fact that her telepathy was gone and she had mood swings, she didn’t feel any increased energy. Her father said she didn’t feel the change because she put up such powerful shields, and now her mind was worn out. He told her that once her brain started functioning normally again, all hell would break loose. He also told her that a six-foot-tall fairy Guardian would be hanging around to help her – Lucy of the Dey-Vah Guard, the most powerful being from the elite Guardian race. Apparently Lucy was the one who saved her family from the destructive force of Jaycie’s new power.
Jaycie looked at her watch. Soon this Dr. Ando would be here. Johnny told her a week ago that he’d hired Dr. Ando to provide ‘mental health services’ for his program, but Jaycie knew the Institute already had a psychologist for people that came here. She found it odd that he’d hired the third best psychologist in the country right after her surge. Apparently he thought she needed someone who was specialized in super human crazy.
* * * * *
Ten minutes later, Jaycie sat in Clarissa Fletcher’s sitting room with its plush black leather furniture, glass tables, and Tiffany lamps. Ten minutes after she’d been introduced to the pretty Italian doctor, they were still staring at each other, not speaking. Jaycie began to wish she still had the use of her telepathy.
Determined not to be the first one to talk, Jaycie simply scrutinized the doctor. Anna Ando was very lean, about five-feet-six-inches tall, with shoulder-length light brown hair and large hazel eyes that looked almost amber in the dim light. She wore a perfectly pressed, professional grey suit with the skirt hitting her just above her knees.
“So, Jaycie. What are your goals for our therapy sessions?” Dr. Ando finally asked in a smooth voice.
Jaycie tried not to snort. “I don’t really have any.”
Dr. Ando nodded. “Understandable. Do you believe you need therapy?”
“That’s what they tell me.”
“But, you don’t agree?”
Jaycie sighed and gripped the edge of the couch cushion in annoyance. “I don’t know.”
Dr. Ando wrote on a yellow legal pad, but Jaycie couldn’t imagine what she was writing. Nothing had been said that was worth writing about.
“Well, we can just talk for a few sessions. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Jaycie sighed as boredom washed over her. “Okay...”
“What do you do for fun?”
“Um ... I draw and read,” Jaycie said slowly as she narrowed her eyes at the doctor. “Hang out with family...”
“And your family, they are a good support base for you?”
“Why don’t you tell me about them?”
For some reason, this question made her angry. “If I do, will that provide you with the insight as to why I’m really here?” she snapped without thinking.
Dr. Ando just smiled. “And why do you think you’re here?”
Jaycie’s eyes burned into her now. “Because, at the moment,” she whispered, pausing to laugh darkly, “I might snap.”
Dr. Ando was obviously unaffected by her attempt to scare her. “You’ve been through a very trying ordeal,” she noted.
“Have I? I don’t really remember any of it.”
“Does that frustrate you?”
“Of course it does!” Jaycie screamed suddenly. She could feel her body temperature rise with her voice. “Everyone remembers me going insane except me. How would you feel?”
Jaycie saw the table between her and the doctor tremble, and then saw the doctor’s chair vibrate. “How can you help me with that?” she asked hotly as her control fell away almost completely. All of their surroundings attached to her mood. The room crept alive under the heat of her anger, and Dr. Ando stiffened. She jumped at the crash of glass shattering all around them.
Jaycie, calm down, a male voice whispered inside her head almost as soon as it happened.
Then suddenly everything fell still, and she felt a blanket of calm soothing her. She knew it was her father inside her head. She should have known he would set up some kind of link with her to turn himself into a telepathic human shutdown lever.
Jaycie felt guilty when she saw Dr. Ando’s expression. The woman was trying to hide it, but she was terrified. “I’m sorry,” Jaycie whispered. “This was probably a bad idea.”
Dr. Ando shook her head. “You’re right. I have no idea what it’s like to have the kind of power that you have.”
Jaycie looked at her carefully. “Then ... why do you think you can help me?”
Dr. Ando shrugged.
Jaycie smiled now. “You aren’t afraid of me?” she asked with curiosity.
“Of course I am.”
Jaycie was impressed by her honesty. “Then why did you accept this position?”
Dr. Ando seemed to consider this for a while. “Because my life was so predictable. Working eighty hours a week. A husband who cheated with his assistant, which is such a cliché. A son who was a bit too much for me – a psychologist – to handle. I got bored with work and wanted a diversion from a nasty divorce...” Dr. Ando paused and fixed Jaycie with a very meaningful look. “Then I got a very interesting patient. Diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. She told me that she could make things explode by touching them.” She smiled gently. “Then, one evening as I was leaving my office, I found her waiting for me at my car. I went back into the elevator and called security. Before they got there, my car exploded. Of course, I thought it was an explosive device. But nothing was found, no explanation for what happened. Shortly after the incident, I met John and your father.”
Jaycie found herself leaning forward; her eyes wide with interest. “When?”
“About a month ago. You father was going to make me forget, but John saw something in me. So, he told me to call him in a week. He wanted to check my credentials. Then he offered me this job. I took it because the idea that there was more to life than hating my husband and job was too intriguing to pass up.”
“Wow,” Jaycie breathed. “What happened to your patient?”
“She passed away. They called it a suicide, but I’m not sure.”
“Does your son know about all of this?”
“Yes. He’s fascinated,” Dr. Ando admitted with a chuckle.
“Did John hire you because of me?”
“Because of your family.”
Jaycie grinned. She couldn’t picture Haylee Mitchell, her best friend and sister – in spirit if not by blood – in therapy.
After Dr. Ando’s story, they sat in silence for several minutes. Then Jaycie sighed and said, “I don’t really know what to talk about.”
“Whatever you want.”
Jaycie laughed. “Well, I can tell you that I’m angry.”
“And why is that?”
“Because, the last thing I remember is getting my dream bike. I was going to go on a motorcycle trip with my dad, but instead of doing that, I have to deal with all of this.” Jaycie shook her head and looked down at her feet bitterly.
Dr. Ando smiled. “That certainly is frustrating. Is the bike here?”
Jaycie frowned. “I don’t know.”
“Well, if it’s not, we can get it down here for you.”
* * * * *
“What’s up, psycho? How was crazy camp?”
Sitting by the pool in the backyard, Jaycie smiled at the sound of Haylee’s voice without looking up from her book. “Hey,” she said, enjoying the refreshing breeze, relieved that, for once, Alabama’s humidity wasn’t stifling.
Jaycie finally looked up when Haylee sat on the lawn chair next to her. One of Jaycie’s favorite things to do was look at Haylee. She was six feet tall with a slender build and pale white skin. Allison had cut her beautiful, auburn hair into layers that framed her perfect face. Her stunning emerald green eyes always danced with sarcasm, but Jaycie’s favorite feature was the tiny freckles spackled across Haylee’s nose and cheeks.
Jaycie was glad that she had finally begun standing up straight instead of hunching her shoulders like a beaten dog. Haylee still wore her clothes slightly too big, but Jaycie could see a big change in her. When the two of them first met, Haylee was like a broken doll, and Jaycie had been waiting to see her whole for a long time.
“What is the doctor thinking? Electric shock? Insulin injections?”
Jaycie rolled her eyes. “How long have you been waiting to make that joke?”
Haylee grinned. “Since John told me you agreed to go, so, about a week now.”
Jaycie laughed. “You’re such a loser. Maybe you should have gone to school instead of putting it off for a semester.” She was making a joke, but for her, it was a true statement. She hated the fact that Haylee had postponed college to stay here. For her.
When Jaycie voiced this opinion, Haylee rolled her eyes and insisted that Jaycie had done a lot more for her. Jaycie secretly felt Haylee was overly grateful, due to the fact that she’d arranged for a vampire to kill Haylee’s father. As if it wasn’t her duty as Haylee’s best friend to help destroy the soul that tied hers down.
“No, but seriously. How did it go?”
“Fine, I guess. I like her.”
“Do you think she can help you?”
“I don’t know,” Jaycie admitted. Then she looked at Haylee with curiosity. “How did your thing with John go?”
Haylee was going to start developing her incredible ability to heal the human psyche. That part of Haylee’s ability was untapped as of yet, but went hand in hand with her ability to see and destroy evil. She could even sense evil committed against an innocent and heal it.
“He wants me to start by working with your dad,” she said.
Jaycie smiled. Her father hadn’t trained anyone, other than her, in quite some time. “Has John figured out your other ability?”
Haylee shook her head. “No. All he knows is that it’s some kind of attack energy thingy, or something.”
Jaycie laughed. “He’s had a hard time focusing. I wonder why.”
“Something about research. Someone has information that he wants, and won’t share it. You know how he is.” Haylee shrugged. “At least, that’s what Allison told me.”
“Huh. I wonder why he can’t get it. John always gets what he wants.”
Haylee shrugged again. “Well, if you weren’t a telepathic retard, we could find out.”
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