Turning Amber

Amber has a secret.  She can read auras and feel emotions.  Which means she’s never trusted any boy to get close, because she can ALWAYS tell what they’re thinking.  Until she meets Ryder.  He’s the first person she’s ever told about her power.  But will her secret tear them apart?

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6. Chapter 6

‘So he arrived in town six weeks ago. He surfs, has an athritic dog called RJ and is wise to the In-N-Out ways of ordering, but you don’t know how old he is, what his last name is or whether or not he’s a good kisser.’ Nancy shakes her head at me in disgust, though from the starbursts above her head I can tell excitement outweighs her disappointment.

 

I hesitate. I don’t lie, remember? But equally I can’t tell her the truth about what happened. I mean, what’s there to say anyway? We were having a great time when suddenly two guys with guns burst in and escorted him off the premises, oh, and by the way, they all had identical auras!

 

Nancy is my only friend. I don’t want to be friendless.

 

‘Next time I’ll take my thumbscrews and a Nancy-approved list of questions to grill him with,’ I tell her. Not that there’s likely to be a next time, I think to myself.

 

‘Look, I have to go,’ Nancy says, glancing at the clock. ‘I have to babysit my cousin, but later, I want all the details, OK?’

 

She tosses me the keys to the store, grabs her jacket and goes. Leaving me to sort through a pile of new stock and all my confounding thoughts.

 

The day is long. Summer break means listless teenagers coming into the store, trying on everything, taking photos of themselves and then leaving without having bought anything or having bothered to rehang the clothes.

 

And the whole time I’m barely functioning because I’m worried sick about Ryder (a boy I hardly know, I remind myself) and what grisly things might have happened to him. I’ve run a million scenarios through my head trying to figure out who those guys were and what they wanted, and spent several useless hours wishing my grandma was still alive so I could fire questions at her about what I saw. What was that? I stare in the mirror more than a few times trying to figure out what it all might mean and end up shaking my head at my reflection… it’s too improbable.

 

I keep glancing at my phone and wondering whether I should have called the police. It’s just… I’m known to the police. I’ve reported a few things to them (including the Sunday School teacher guy and my mom’s boyfriend Ricky-Ray who had an aura more filthy than a sewer rat’s and who did eventually get busted for dealing meth) and every time I’ve been met with a sceptical eyebrow and, on the last occasion, with a stern warning to stop wasting police time.

 

The worst thing is, I have no idea of how to contact him. I stuck a note under his windshield wiper telling him where I worked in case he wanted to find me. I wasn’t about to give him my address, which this month is the second to last trailer on the south side of the Purple Sky Trailer Park. Every time the door of the shop dings my head flies up, but so far, he’s not made an appearance. I decide that after work I’m going to head back to the burger place and see if his car is still in the lot. If it is, then I’m going to call the police.

 

I’m on my knees behind the counter folding my fiftieth item of clothing when the door goes. I know even before I look up who it is. I can feel him.

 

I stand up, a little unsteady on my feet.

 

‘Hi,’ he says, relief rushing off him in waves that buffet against me. He strolls casually to the counter and props himself up on one elbow, giving me one of his lazy crocodile smiles.

 

‘Hi?’ I splutter. ‘That’s all you have to say to me? You got dragged out of In-N-Out by two completely sketchy looking guys… one of whom had a gun… and now you wander in here and act like nothing happened?’

 

‘Wow, it sounds like you were worried about me.’

 

‘Of course I was worried!’

 

‘Sorry,’ he says, frowning. ‘That wasn’t exactly how I was hoping the night would end.’

 

I flush. How was he hoping the night would end?

 

‘Who are those people? What did they want with you?’ I ask quickly, so he doesn’t notice my fluster.

 

He starts playing with some price tags lying on the side. ‘They want me to do something for them,’ he mumbles.

 

‘What?’

 

‘You don’t want to know.’


‘Yeah, I do.’

 

He scowls at the price tags, runs his thumb along his lips. Then he stands up straight and strides to the door. My stomach shrinks. He’s leaving? Just like that?

 

But he doesn’t leave. He turns the key in the door, and flips the Closed sign instead.

 

‘You can’t—’ I begin, but he cuts me off.

 

‘OK, I’ll tell you,’ he says, strolling back towards the counter. ‘But you first. What did you do to that guy to make him run out of there? And the one in the club who burst out crying. Don’t tell me nothing. Because I was there. I saw. You did something.’

 

I open my mouth and then shut it again. I’ve never told anyone what I can do. And I’m not going to have the first person I admit it to be a near total stranger, even if he’s the first person I’ve ever met who doesn’t give me a headache after prolonged contact, who doesn’t seem to have his speech set to default: lie; and who I am also not afraid to touch.

 

‘You first,’ I say defiantly, crossing my arms over my chest.

 

He smiles triumphantly. ‘So you did do something!’

 

I press my lips together. Damn.

 

He hops up beside me onto the counter. ‘OK, cards on the table. Full disclosure. And only because I want your secrets too.’

 

Why does he want my secrets too? And am I really about to tell him what I can do? Yes, I realise. I am. Because I really, really want to know his secrets.

 

‘I’ll know if you’re lying,’ I warn him.

 

‘Amber, I won’t lie to you. You have my word. Test me if you like. Ask me what I think of you.’

 

‘I don’t care what you think of me.’

 

His eyebrow arches. ‘Now who’s lying?’

 

I exhale loudly. ‘Fine. What do you think of me?’ Did I really just ask him that? I cringe. But I’m holding my breath all the same.

 

He locks eyes with me. ‘I think you’re the most beautiful, intriguing, smoking hot girl I’ve ever met in my life, and I really, really want to kiss you.’

 

OK. Not what I expected him to say. Not even close. And he’s not lying. Not as far as I can tell. My stomach does a triple somersault and my focus falls straight to his lips. I’ve never kissed anyone before. Ricky-Ray once tried but I used the knee to soft groin area defensive move on him. But the thought of kissing Ryder makes a rainbow sprout above me.

 

‘You not going to say anything?’ he asks.

 

Heat floods my face. ‘What were you doing at The Majestic?’ I stammer.

 

‘I was there to get some information from your leather-clad suitor.’

 

It takes me a second to figure it out. ‘The fat guy who came onto me?’

 

‘Yeah.’

 

‘What information?’

 

‘Just some insider knowledge we need.’

 

My ears prick up. ‘We?’

 

‘Demos needs,’ Ryder rectifies quickly.

 

‘That’s the guy from the In-N-Out?’

 

‘Yeah.’

 

‘Why are you mixed up with him?’

 

Ryder shuffles from foot to foot. ‘He needs me to do him a favour.’

 

‘What kind of favour?’

 

‘He wants me to help him break into a few places and steal a few things.’

 

I study him for any trace of a lie but there is none. ‘And you’re going to?’ I ask.

 

He shrugs. ‘Not much choice.’

 

‘Why not?’

 

He exhales loudly. ‘It’s complicated.’

 

I scowl at him. ‘Why does he need you? He had a goon.’

 

He looks at me, amused. ‘A goon?’

 

I narrow my eyes.

 

The smile vanishes. ‘He needs me because I have special skills.’

 

‘What kind of special skills? Lock-picking?’ Please, please, I think to myself, don’t say you know how to kill a man with your bare hands. But the memory of the biker guy who came looking for me, and the blank expression that fell over him when Ryder touched him, hurtles to the forefront of my mind.

 

Ryder shakes his head. ‘No. You first. What did you do to that guy at The Majestic?’

 

‘I see auras,’ I blurt before I can stop myself. It was that easy, I think. Three words and my life’s secret is spilled.

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