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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7. Chapter 7

Silence washes around us.

Ryder’s eyes widen. ‘Is this like in the Sixth Sense where the kid says he sees dead people?’

‘I said auras. Not ghosts.’

‘Auras?’

‘Yeah. I can tell what a person’s like by the colour of their aura. It’s like an energy field every living thing has around them. I can see whether people are good or bad, healthy or sick. And… I can make them feel different things – manipulate their emotions…’

Ryder stares at me, dumbfounded.

‘Now, your turn,’ I say quickly, feeling suddenly as though I’ve stepped off a cliff and am free-falling towards jagged rocks below. Why did I open my mouth? Now he thinks I’m a freak. ‘What about you?’

‘What about me?’ he asks, ignoring my question. ‘What do you see? Am I a good guy or a bad guy?’

‘I can’t tell,’ I stammer. But how can he be a good guy? He’s talking about robbing somewhere. I can’t kiss a robber. And I sure as hell can’t date one. If I’ve learned one thing from watching my mother’s disastrous life choices it’s to avoid guys who need you to tell them if they’re good or bad, and who are involved in illegal activities.

‘Why can’t you tell?’ he asks, perplexed.

I shake my head at him. ‘I don’t know. Your aura’s kind of weird. It’s different to most people’s.’

‘Different how?’

‘Different like mine.’

‘Huh?’

This is the hard part to explain. I take a breath. ‘So um, imagine a chandelier. That’s what your aura looks like. Over your head.’

He glances up, squinting. ‘And we have the same chandelier thing going on?’ he asks, looking deeply perplexed.

‘Yeah.’

‘And that’s weird?’

‘Yeah. I’ve never in my life seen anyone with an aura like ours. Except for my grandma. And…’ Should I tell him about the guy yesterday?

But Ryder’s straight in there with a question. ‘She was like you, right? Your grandma? She could see auras too?’

‘Yeah,’ I say, puzzled, wondering where he’s going with this. ‘Now your turn. Spill.’

‘OK…’ He pauses, drumming his fingers on the table. ‘I can make people forget things,’ he tells me.

I step backwards, bumping the counter. ‘What?’

‘I can remove memories. Or plant fake ones.’

I stare at him, scanning for any trace of a lie. He comes up clean.

He shrugs at me. ‘Guess we’re similarly gifted.’

Gifted. The word my grandma used to use. But I never realised there were others like us. Or who might have different but similar gifts. Oh… oh… OK… now I’m figuring something else out too. I suck in a breath and rest both hands on the counter. A light bulb pings in the air above me.

Suddenly Ryder’s hand flattens over mine. ‘What? What?’ he asks.

I’m sucked into the river, current ripping all around, but inside, weirdly, I’m calm as the eye of a storm.

‘That guy, the guy from the In-N-Out.’ I can barely voice the words. ‘He must be like us too. It explains the thing…’ I wave my hand wildly at the air above us.

A long beat and then Ryder just nods. ‘Yeah, I know.’

I tug my hand out from under his. ‘You know?’

An apologetic half-shrug. ‘Yeah.’

I blink in astonishment. What does this all mean? What are the odds? You wait your whole life to meet someone with a gift like your own and then two turn up in the space of one night.

‘What can he do?’ I ask quietly.

Ryder ponders this, grimacing. ‘It’s more like what can’t he do.’

I shake my head, confused. It never even occurred to me there could be different types of gift. ‘How did you get mixed up with him?’

‘Long story,’ Ryder answers. He frowns at the door. Through the glass I see the Chevy parked up just outside. A huge Labrador hangs its head out of the window, panting.

‘This is not good,’ Ryder suddenly says. ‘If he finds out—’

‘What’s not good? What do you mean if he finds out?’ I ask, but my gut is already twisting in anticipation. Wisps of green and blue are weaving around Ryder’s head. He’s afraid.

‘Look, Amber,’ he says and his expression gives away his feelings as much as his aura. Regret. Sorrow. ‘I came here to say goodbye.’ A pause. ‘And to do this—’

Suddenly he leans over the counter, reaches his hand around the back of my neck and pulls me towards him, and before I can take a breath his lips are on mine and he’s kissing me and wow… every thought in my head evaporates, every single cell in my body zings with electricity.

When Ryder eventually pulls away, his hand still rests on the back of my neck. I am breathless and my whole body is vibrating. We’re still nose to nose, his breath warm on my face, his lips just an inch away and my stomach is fluttering wildly.  

Ryder’s breathing hard and fast, his focus still on my lips. Then he pulls back an inch. ‘Bye, Amber,’ he says, and sadness falls over him like a shroud.

In that same instant I realise what he’s about to do and wrench myself backwards out of his grip.

He came here to make me forget.

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