Authors: Kelly Carrero
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Young Adult
By Kelly Carrero
Copyright 2012 by Kelly Carrero
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, characters and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author holds the rights to this work. It is illegal to reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the author herself.
A big thank you to my editor Sean Fox of Red Adept Publishing.
Cover Design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc.
It was amazing how my perception of reality changed in a single instant. How I could pinpoint the exact moment when I realised that I would never be the same. The world I’d known all my life ceased to exist, and a new reality began.
That moment hit me as I stood naked, staring at myself in the mirror.
To the unknowing, I still looked the same. Only I had noticed what was different about me. I was thankful that not a single doctor or nurse at Holy Spirit Hospital had picked up on it. If they had, I certainly wouldn’t be getting discharged as soon as I left the bathroom. In fact, I was pretty sure they would lock me up in a psych ward, or worse, hurl me away to some top-secret government facility, never to see the light of day again.
Not knowing if my eyes were betraying my sanity, or if what I was seeing was really possible, my whole body went numb as I watched the only sign that I had just been in a car accident disappear.
What I was seeing belonged on the screen of a Hollywood blockbuster, not in real life, and especially not in mine. It defied everything I had ever been taught. God, it defied everything anyone had ever known.
The inch-long slice above my right ear was no longer there. It was as if my head had never gone through the car window. I was, once again, in perfect condition.
I stood there staring, too scared to move or think. I hoped what I was seeing was just a side effect of the head trauma I ought to have experienced. The accident should have killed me.
But if what I was seeing was real, what did it mean? What would become of me? And more importantly, what the hell was I?
A knock at the door jolted me out of the hysteria I could feel myself slipping into. “Jade?” It was my mum. “Is everything okay in there?”
Panic rippled through me. Things were the complete opposite of okay. What if I went out there and they noticed my head was no longer being held together with the stitches they had put in no less than an hour ago? Or what if the cut really was still there and I was having hallucinations? Were hallucinations even a side effect of severe head trauma?
I stepped closer to the mirror, rubbing the stitches. I hoped the cut would reappear, and I could blame the incident on my eyesight being affected by the accident – that would be the best explanation. But sure enough, the cut was gone.
“Jade?” Mum called again. Her voice was etched with concern.
“Yeah?” I replied automatically, my voice barely a whisper.
“Do you need a hand?” Mum tried opening the bathroom door, which thankfully, I had locked.
I had to quickly pull myself together. I knew I couldn’t let them see me like this. “I’m fine, Mum. I’ll be out in a minute,” I called out, throwing on the clean clothes she had brought in for me.
Taking one last look in the mirror, I let down my long, dark brown hair, trying to cover the spot where my cut should have been, and stepped out of the bathroom to face her.
Even though my heart was beating so hard that I was sure it would pop out of my chest, I tried my hardest to put on the same carefree face I’d worn before my life turned upside down only seconds ago. And it worked.
I was discharged without anyone noticing that my cut was no longer there, and my mum was still too caught up in the fact that I had somehow cheated death to pay any attention to my wound – or lack thereof.
After listening to my mother going on and on about how lucky I was to be alive, and how I should be more careful when I was behind the wheel, we finally arrived home, and I was quick to make excuses as to how tired I was and headed off to bed. Reluctantly, she let me go after I promised I would let her know if I got worse or needed her for anything. I swear, I thought she was going to insist that she stay with me all night, which was more than a little disturbing.
The last thing I wanted was sleep. My mind kept replaying the vision of my wound healing before my eyes. How was it possible? It defied logic. It defied science. But I saw it with my own eyes, and for some reason I was sure I wasn’t going insane.
My freakishly fast healing wasn’t the only thing that was bothering me. There was something else. Something at the back of my mind that kept slipping away just as I thought I was grasping it. All I could catch was that it was important. Something I desperately needed to remember but couldn’t.
A soft tap on my door snapped me back to reality. What was with her? I didn’t need her making sure I was okay. What I needed was some time alone to try to figure out what the hell was going on with me.
I decided to ignore the knock and pretend I was asleep when the door handle started turning. All I had time to do was make sure my hair was covering my stitches, and to make a mental note to cover them with gauze as soon as I was free from my mother’s watchful eye.
To my surprise, it wasn’t Mum checking in on me, it was my boyfriend, Aiden. “Hey, I wasn’t sure if you would be sleeping,” he said in his usual soothing tone. His eyes scanned over me, checking that I was okay. Normally that kind of attention would send the butterflies in my stomach into full flight, but at that moment I wanted him to look away. I was afraid that if he kept looking at me, he would figure out something was wrong with me. That I wasn’t normal. That I was possibly not even human anymore.
In that instant, Aiden’s eyes showed that he was satisfied with what he saw, and he made his way over to my bed.
“I guess Mum’s told you what happened?” I asked, already knowing the answer. I was sure that before Aiden had come up to my room, he would have had to listen to her tell him all about my brush with death – not that I came anywhere even close to dying. But Mum being a reporter and all, well, it was in her DNA to be overdramatic.
Aiden nodded. He sat down on the bed, put his arm around my shoulder, and drew me to his side. I had been on edge all day, but almost instantly I could feel my nerves start to subside. It was the same unexplainable reaction I always had around him. The world could be falling apart—or in my case, me going insane—and the minute we were together all the craziness would somehow come to a halt, and my soul would be at peace.
“So… was it as bad as the version I got out there?” Aiden cocked his head towards the door.
I scoffed, “I doubt it.” I could only imagine the overdramatised story my mother had given him.
“I’m not exactly sure. All I remember was driving down the highway, and the next thing I knew, I had ambulance officers hovering over me telling me how lucky I was to be alive. All I got was a small bump on the head, which has given me a bit of a headache—but apart from that, I’m fine.” The first part was true, at least.
“Which reminds me.” I glanced over at the alarm clock sitting on the bedside table. “I’m due for my next dose of painkillers.” I looked up at Aiden, putting on my best helpless, ‘I need you to look after me’ face.
“And I suppose you want me to get them for you.” It was more a statement than a question. He leaned over and kissed my forehead before standing up. “I’ll be back in a sec,” he said, leaving my room.
I felt like the worst girlfriend ever. I had never lied to Aiden before, but what choice did I have? I couldn’t tell him the truth. Thankfully, he seemed oblivious to my deception.
Making the best of the little time I had before he was back with painkillers for my non-existent headache, I jumped up from my bed and turned the lights off, leaving only the moonlight coming through my window to illuminate the room. I quickly changed into a T-shirt that was lying on my pillow, and managed to climb back into bed just as Aiden came back into my room.
He sat down on my bed and handed me the pills and a glass of water. “Is your headache that bad?” he asked.
“Uh-huh,” I said, swallowing the pills. “I think I’ll probably need to sleep it off…” I faked a yawn.
“Is that my cue to leave?” Aiden started edging off the bed.
“No!” I grabbed his arm, pulling him back. “Do you mind staying for a bit?” I knew the longer Aiden stayed, the greater the chance of him discovering my secret, but I really didn’t want him going. For the first time since I had left the hospital, I was able to relax.
“I was hoping you’d say that,” he said, as he climbed over the top of me, stopping briefly to give me one of his irresistible kisses that left my lips wanting more. Sadly, just as sudden as it started, it was over. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I hope I didn’t make your headache any worse.”
I swear I could see a smirk on his lips, but it was gone before I could be sure. I was probably just being paranoid.
Aiden lay down beside me, pulling me into him so that my head was resting against his chest. “Now get some rest,” he said, stroking my hair.
“Okay,” I replied in my best sleepy voice. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to fall asleep, but I didn’t want to enter into any conversation just in case he caught me out on my lies.
Listening to the steady beat of his heart, I forgot all my worries and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning I awoke to an empty bed. Strangely, I no longer felt the fear of what I had become, although I still didn’t know what that was.
Somehow my rapid healing felt normal, as if that kind of thing had happened to me all my life. Even though I had gotten over my shock, I knew that I couldn’t say a word of this to anyone.
Pondering my newfound acceptance of my freakishly fast healing abilities, I made my way down the hall to the bathroom to get ready for school. Although I was sure Mum would allow me to stay home to recuperate, I would have to face everyone at school sooner or later. I figured I may as well get it over with. At least that way the rumour mill wouldn’t have hit epic proportions, and I might have a chance of convincing everyone that it had been just a minor accident and nothing to gossip about. The less attention I received on the matter, the better off I would be.
After showering, dressing, and bandaging my non-existent wound, I walked down the stairs, bracing myself for a heated discussion. All I found was a note on the kitchen bench from my mum, saying that she had to catch a flight to Sydney for some story and would be back in the evening, with a ‘P.S. stay home from school,’ at the bottom.
Yeah, right. I picked up my iPhone and called Aiden, hoping he hadn’t gotten to school yet. He picked up on the first ring. “Hey, beautiful. How are you feeling this morning?”
I heard a knock at the front door. “Better, thanks. You’re not at school yet, are you?” I walked to the front door to see who was there.
“Good.” There was another knock at the door. “Coming,” I called to the persistent knocker.
I took a deep breath and braced myself for any onslaught he might throw at me for wanting to go to school so soon after the accident. “Can you pick me up on your way to school?” I opened the door and found my persistent knocker snickering. Aiden was standing there, looking as gorgeous as ever.
“Want a lift to school?”
I grabbed his shirt and pulled him inside. He wrapped me up in his arms, lifting me off the ground momentarily before setting me back down. All I wanted was to melt into his embrace and never let go.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better,” he said, then kissed the spot where the gauze was covering my stitches. I swear there was something more to what he was saying. Like he knew that there was nothing under the bandages. Maybe he had taken a peep when I fell asleep last night. I knew I shouldn’t have asked him to stay with me. God, what was I thinking!
“Come on.” Aiden released me. “You’d better hurry before we miss first period.” He pulled me back into his arms, his body pressing against mine. “Unless….” He didn’t need to say any more.