“It’s nice out,” Aidan said, his legs stretched out toward me. A streetlamp beside the sidewalk cast an oblong patch of light on the grass where we sat, making his hair look like gold.
“Yeah, it feels good out here,” I said. The café had been hot and crowded. I still felt flushed all over.
He nodded. Above us, the light flickered, then went out, leaving us in total darkness.
I let out my breath in a rush. “Did you do that?”
“Do you want it on?” With a hiss, it popped back on.
I rubbed my eyes, seeing spots now. “No, it’s okay.”
Out it went again. You’d think I’d be used to such things by now, but it still gave me chills.
“So,” I asked, figuring I might as well get it all out in the open. “What else can you do? I mean, besides read minds—”
“Not yours, not anymore,” he interrupted, and I smiled in self-satisfaction. I’d gotten really good at blocking my thoughts. I did it automatically now, whenever I was with him.
“Let’s see…you can speak telepathically,” I continued, finally getting the lingo down, “and turn lights on and off. Does that make you telekinetic, too?”
“Yeah, I guess you could call it that.”
“Oh, wait,” I said, leaning toward him, trying to make out his face in the darkness. “I forgot the thing where you manipulate feelings.”
“I promised not to do that anymore, remember?”
“And I’m supposed to trust you on that?” I asked, only half kidding.
“You can trust me, Violet.” His voice was silky smooth. Seductive.
“Then why won’t you tell me what you were doing all week? Why the secrets?”
“Because I can’t tell you.” He took my hand and drew me closer.
“And that’s all you’re going to say about it?” I pressed, scooting a few inches closer, drawn to him like a bee to honey. I could feel his breath on my neck, and I shivered.
“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” he teased, his lips moving toward my throat. I knew he was kidding, but there was an edge to his voice—something hard, almost angry.
“That’s not funny,” I said on a sigh, willing his mouth closer.
With a groan, his lips retreated. “Trust me, I know.”
Disappointment washed over me. Suddenly cold, I pulled up my knees and wrapped my arms around them, studying Aidan’s face—in focus, now that my eyes had finally adjusted to the darkness.
“What do you do when you’re not in class?” I asked. “I never see you around campus.”
“I told you, I work in the chem lab,” he answered.
“Yeah, I know. But I meant, like, for fun.”
“Well, to me, the work I do in the lab is fun. Challenging. I read a lot, too.”
“Yeah?” Well, that was one thing we had in common, then. “What do you read?”
“Classics, mostly. Some fantasy and science fiction.”
He reached for my hand. “Anything else you want to know?”
“What were you like as a kid?” I asked. It was hard to imagine Aidan a kid. He seemed mature beyond his years, I guess you could say. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but there was none of that insecurity in Aidan, that awkward, self-consciousness that most guys our age seemed to suffer from. He seemed pretty comfortable in his own skin.
I heard him laugh—a low, soft rumble. “Me, as a child? I can barely remember, it was so long ago.”
“It wasn’t that long ago. When’s your birthday, by the way?”
“October ninth. You just missed it. When’s yours?”
“March twenty-seventh,” I answered. “I won’t be seventeen till spring.”
He nodded. “Anyway, to answer your question, I was arrogant and spoiled. Used to getting my own way. You wouldn’t have liked me very much.”
“And what about dreams, aspirations? I guess you want to be a scientist or something?” Considering he liked to work in the chem lab. For fun.
“I don’t think about the future,” he said, his voice sharp. He glanced off at the horizon, and then I saw him take a deep breath before he turned back to face me again, looking contrite. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”
“No, it’s okay.” I gave his hand a squeeze.
“It’s not okay,” he argued. “I…you must excuse me. I’m not used to…I mean, this isn’t something I’m in the habit of doing.”
“What, talking?” I asked with a laugh, trying to lighten the mood. Our eyes met, our gazes locked—literally. I couldn’t look away, no matter what.
A tiny burst of light caught my peripheral vision, and I looked up, beyond the treetops. A shooting star. I scrambled to my feet, and he rose to stand beside me. “Did you see that?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, but he didn’t turn to look. Instead, he pulled me into his arms, his mouth moving toward mine.
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