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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8. Chapter 8

‘What are you doing?!’ I yell, pressing myself back against the wall, still shaking.

He frowns at me. ‘It’s better this way. If you can’t remember anything then you’ll be safer.’

‘What? No. You can’t come in here and tell me all this and kiss me’ – I gesture in the direction of his lips – ‘and then make me forget it all.’

‘It’s to protect you,’ he answers, grim-faced.

‘From what?’

‘It’s better that you don’t remember anything about this conversation. Or me. Or anything I’ve told you about Demos. Trust me. It’s for your own good. You don’t want to get involved in any of this. If he finds out what you are… well…’ He grimaces some more, ‘…then you’re in trouble.’

The sound of a footstep, echoing through the store, makes us both spin around. My heart flies into my mouth. Standing in the middle of the store, as though he just apparated there, is Demos. Behind him is the other guy – his goon.

‘I guess,’ Demos says, surveying us both with a cold smile, ‘you’re in trouble then.’

How the heck did they just appear like that? Then I remember that while Ryder locked the front door, the back door is only on a latch. But even so...

I turn to Ryder but he’s not moving. He’s not moving or saying anything because he’s completely frozen – one arm outstretched as though he’d flung it there to shield me, his lips half-parted.

‘Wh—’ I begin, but immediately my mind goes blank. I feel a drag, a pull, and my feet are moving all of a sudden, without any conscious thought on my part. My instinct is to struggle but I don’t. I feel unnaturally calm. Relaxed, even. And in the next instant I find myself standing right in front of Demos, staring up at him, noticing small details like the flecks of stubble on his neck and the scar across his chin, and the curve of a smile lifting his top lip. But I don’t feel fear or much of anything at all – I’m completely empty of emotion. But how can he do this? I start to ponder. How can he do any of this? The thought is foggy though and slips away as soon as it surfaces.

‘Amber,’ Demos says, and instantly the fog clears. I try to run but I can’t move. My limbs won’t respond to what my brain is telling them. He isn’t touching me but it feels as if I’m being held in an invisible vise. And now fear rushes in, obliterating every other thought and every impulse. If he wasn’t holding me I would fall.

‘It took me a while to figure out it was you back at the burger place,’ he says. ‘I thought it was Ryder.’ He smiles and shakes his head in wonder.

‘What do you want?’ I manage to stutter.

‘I want you to join my group of Psys,’ he says.

‘Psys?’ What is he talking about?

‘That’s what they call us.’

‘They? Who are they?’

A muscle twitches by his eye, his grip on me tightens, iron hands squeeze around my waist. Anger beats off him, slams like a jackhammer against my skull. ‘Oh, you’ll find out,’ he says through a clenched jaw.

I try digging my heels in but to no avail and then I try gathering up all my energy and directing it at him. I hurl all the terror I’m feeling back at him, throwing it like a punch, and his grip on me falters. I’m suddenly free. I stagger backwards as Demos presses a hand to his head and winces.

‘Amber,’ he says in a low voice edged with rage, ‘don’t do that again.’

‘I’m not going anywhere with you,’ I hiss, as I back away towards Ryder, who’s still standing motionless. ‘You can’t make me.’ My eyes dart to the door. How are we going to get out of here? But even as I measure the distance and try to imagine a way we could make it, a rail of clothing goes hurtling through the air and crashes to the ground just in front of the door, blocking our way out.

It takes me more than a few seconds to process what I just saw. I turn my head slowly back to face Demos, terror gripping my insides, and see that the other guy, the silent bald-headed one, is now grinning at me. He shifts his gaze to my right, to the stand of sunglasses and hats and then, right in front of my eyes, it lifts off the ground and ploughs into the barricade he’s already made.

‘OK, that’ll do, Bill,’ Demos says out of the side of his mouth. ‘We don’t want to scare her.’

No. Obviously.

Demos cocks his head to one side and suddenly my gut tightens as though he’s thrown an invisible lasso around my waist. And I’m being pulled towards him once again. I struggle, digging in my heels, but it’s useless. He drags me across the store until I’m a standing right in front of him, staring at the muscles across his chest.

‘That’s where you’ll find you’re wrong,’ he says. ‘I can make anyone do anything. But if it makes you feel better, Ryder’s coming along for the ride too. I’m sure you two can keep each other company.’

Darkness thick as grief billows around him in thundering waves, drenching me. A sob rises in my chest. And it’s then, only then, that I fully understand that I can’t fight him.

‘Where are we going?’ I ask, my voice strangled.

He draws in a deep breath. Exhales. ‘We’ll start with Bank of America.’ A twitch of a smile. ‘I need to make a withdrawal. Then we’ll hit up the Gun and Knife Show at the Fairground, and then, one final stop… San Quentin Prison.’

My mind slams to a halt. A prison?

‘A friend of mine needs a little rescuing,’ he says with a grin.

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