Authors: Kelly Carrero
“Quit it, Gemma,” Mum scolded her.
“Was it really necessary to have
here?” I asked my mum as I took a seat next to her.
“Jade,” Mum warned.
Aiden sat down beside me. Then everyone else followed suit, but Harry was missing from the table.
a voice whose owner I couldn’t see called to me.
“It’s Harry. Can you meet me down in the room? But don’t tell anyone where you’re going, okay?”
I guessed “the room” was code word for the sterile, windowless, doorless room.
“Ahh, yeah. I’ll be there in a sec,”
I said to Harry. I put my hand on Aiden’s leg under the table.
“Harry’s asked me to come see him in the room, but he told me not to tell anyone.”
“Do you want me to go with you?”
“No, it’s okay. You stay here, otherwise Gemma will probably start telling everyone we’re getting it on somewhere in her house.”
Aiden did a mental laugh that threatened to burst into a vocal one.
“I need to go to the bathroom,” I said, getting up from my seat. Nobody said anything, and so I walked back inside the house. When I was out of sight, I transported to the room.
“Sorry about asking you to come down here,” Harry said, turning in his swivel chair to face me. “But I wanted to have a quick chat with you about something before we go up.”
“Is something wrong?” I asked nervously.
“It’s nothing to be overly concerned about, but I wanted to let you know that I found something unexpected in your bloods, and I thought you should know about straight away.”
“Oh?” A sick feeling had started to come over me.
“Have you noticed anything different about yourself lately?”
“Noticed anything like what?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t want to alarm you, and I don’t think what I’m about to tell you has had any significant effect on you.”
“Geez, you really know how to make a girl feel calm, don’t you?”
“One of the test results showed you’ve been drugged.”
“Say what?” My eyes practically bugged out of their sockets.
“Not illicit drugs. This was something more advanced. In layman’s terms, it was a sort of suppressant.”
My mind reeled with possibilities. I knew my father was probably responsible, but I didn’t know why he would drug me. Then it dawned on me. “My visions.”
“What about your visions?” he asked, drawing his eyebrows together.
I shook off my daze. “The other day, I realised I hadn’t had almost any visions since I thought my mum was dead.”
He sat in deep thought as he tapped a pen on his desk. “We can try to work this out later,” he said, standing up. “But for now, I have something that can counteract the drug.”
I sucked in a sharp breath as he walked towards his cabinet that housed the damned needle he’d stuck me with.
Seeing my unease, he said, “I know you have a thing about needles, but it really is the quickest way to get it out of your system.”
I nodded, but his explanation did nothing to ease my nerves.
He turned around with a tray in his hand. A cloth covered the needle.
I sat on the same stainless steel bench I’d sat on before.
“Seeing as how your boyfriend isn’t here, did you want me to take your nerves away?” For anyone else listening to this conversation, what he’d just said would’ve topped the creep scales, but I knew I had nothing to be worried about.
“Thanks. That would be good.”
Harry put his hand on mine and sent some calming endorphins my way. “Thanks,” I said when I got my fill. I no longer cared that I was about to get jabbed. Apparently, Aiden had been holding back on me last night or what Harry did was something different.
I pulled down the shoulder of my top to expose my arm. I looked the other way as Harry gave me the injection. “All done,” he said as I heard the syringe clank on the metal tray. “It should start taking effect within twenty minutes or so. And hopefully, you’ll be able to work out what exactly the drug was suppressing.”
“Okay, then. I guess we should probably get back to the lunch thing.”
“You go ahead. I’ll be up there in a minute,” he said, then added, “I think maybe you should keep this to yourself for now. I think we’re both assuming it was your father who has been giving you the drug, and we don’t know how far his reach stretches at this point in time.”
I nodded, then transported back to the lounge room. I went back outside to the table and rejoined everyone without any suspicious looks.
“Is everything okay?”
Aiden asked when I sat down beside him.
I thought about what Harry had said about not telling anyone, but Aiden wasn’t anyone. And I wasn’t broadcasting the information to everyone. Even if my father was listening, there was no way he would be able to get inside our minds.
“Try not to get alarmed or anything.”
Aiden said as he put his hand on my thigh.
“Harry said I shouldn’t tell anyone about this, so you can’t tell anyone.”
“Of course I won’t.”
“Harry found traces of some sort of suppressant in my blood. He thinks I’ve been drugged.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, he’s given me something to counteract the other drug, and it will start working in about twenty minutes.”
“I can understand why he told you not to say anything.”
“Earth to Jade,” Chelsea said, leaning across Aiden and waving her hand in front of my face.
“Err, sorry,” I said, snapping out of my silent-conversation daze.
“They were probably thinking of a way to get away from here for a little alone time,” Georgia said, twirling the water inside the bottle she held in her hand.
“I like her,” Gemma said from the other end of the table.
I narrowed my eyes at Georgia. “Don’t you have a street corner you should be standing on? You wouldn’t want some other tramp to steal your regulars away from you.”
Chelsea spat out her mouthful of water in surprise.
“Ha ha, you’re so funny,” Georgia said, then took a sip from her bottle.
Ignoring Georgia, I turned to Gemma. “And you,” I said, pointing my finger at her. “You may want to ease up a little, otherwise you’ll end up joining her on the corner.”
“I think maybe we should get stuck in to lunch, then,” Mum said, trying to ease the palpable tension. I guess she figured there wouldn’t be any bitching if our mouths were full.
“Good idea,” Anna said. She looked mortified by how our meet and greet had gone so far.
Harry arrived, and everyone dug into the Chinese boxes Mum had ordered.
Anna put down her fork. “How’s your mum doing, Nikki?”
“Wait.” I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen my grandmother since the hospital. “Where’s Grandma? I thought she was staying here?”
“She’s gone back to Australia to bake some lamingtons.”
“What?” I asked with a laugh.
“Apparently, there’s no way she can let that recipe-stealing Beryl White take first prize in her absence.”
I laughed, thinking how passionate the ladies in the CWA were about those things.
“Do you know what the long-term effects will be on Mrs. Grey?” Nathan asked Mum as he twirled some noodles around his fork.
Mum looked to Harry. “Not yet,” he said. “We’re still running some tests, but we’ll hopefully have something soon.”
The table grew quiet. Everyone was probably wondering what my blood would do to a normal person.
“So,” Kai said, breaking the silence. “Do either of you surf?” he asked Harry and Jack.
“I do,” Gemma piped up before either of them had a chance to respond. “We should go surfing sometime.”
“Yeah, sure,” Kai said, although I could tell he was only humouring her.
Dave cracked open a beer. “Maybe we should talk about trying to find out more about Jade’s father.”
“Do you have any pictures of him?” Nathan asked.
Mum shook her head. “When I left him, I didn’t take anything with me,” she said, looking down at her plate.
Clearly, the memory of that day still caused her pain, which I’d started to feel. Pressure had begun to build in my head, pushing against my skull. I put my head in my hands and tried to breathe through the pain. I thought maybe the drugs Harry had given me were starting to work against the drugs my father had been doping me up with.
Aiden put his hand on my back and leaned closer to me. “You okay?” he whispered into my ear.
Unable to put any words together, I nodded my reply. Aiden continued to rub circles over my back, but didn’t say any more.
All of a sudden, the pain stopped, and the pressure felt as if it imploded on itself. Then I felt a snap that jolted my head back a few inches. My head was filled with people’s thoughts that I shouldn’t be hearing. I slowly scanned the faces at the table and realised none of them had let down the barriers to their minds. But I could
Just as I was about to say something, someone’s thoughts stood out from the rest. The thought sent chills down my spine. My father was amongst us. He was sitting at that very table.
I looked up and stared in disbelief. How could he have been right in front of me all that time and I had never known? Nathan laughed silently as he thought about how easy it had been to play me, my mother, and every other person at the table. Through the sickness in my gut, I was also relieved to know that no one else knew his secret. He was the only one who had been deceiving me.
I thought for a second that I might’ve been able to beat him because I knew his secret. I knew it was him. That was until his next thoughts. I sucked in a sharp breath when he briefly thought about how he and my mother had
me. They had
me. I was a… an experiment. Unable to believe she had willingly participated in creating me, I turned to my mother.
Nathan’s attention turned to Aiden, and my whole world crumbled on top of me. The reason Aiden and his family had come to Australia became clear. Nathan had sent them there to meet me. He had planned for Aiden to run into me on the beach that day. Aiden was the one chosen to bring me closer to my father.
Unable to breathe, I turned to Aiden. He smiled, then mouthed, “You sure you’re okay?”
Nathan saw the look of concern on Aiden’s face and wondered, just as I did, if he would feel the same way about me if he hadn’t been pushed into liking me.
Black spots infiltrated my vision, and I realised I was going to pass out if I didn’t get away from everyone right that minute.
They all stopped talking and looked at me. “Honey, are you okay?” Mum asked, putting her hand on my arm. I ripped my arm away from her as fast as I could. I wanted to tell her not to touch me, but I couldn’t muster my voice.
Everyone was stunned.
Aiden asked. When I didn’t answer, he put his arm around me and said,
“Let’s get out of here.”
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I slowly shook my head. My vision had come true. I took one last look at the one person I thought loved me more than anyone, then disappeared—alone.
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