Read The Mind Readers Online

Authors: Lori Brighton

Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Love & Romance, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Romance, #Paranormal & Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban

The Mind Readers

The Mind Readers



Copyright 2011 Lori Brighton


All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under
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without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above
publisher of this book.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination
or used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademark status and
trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which
have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is
not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like
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The Mind Readers


Lori Brighton


Chapter 1


The man sitting across from me
at the café was thinking about murdering his wife.

He imagined stabbing her and
pretending like it was a robbery. Or perhaps, he thought, he’d take her hiking,
push her off a cliff and say it was an accident; that she’d slipped. I wanted
to tell him it wouldn’t work, that in those CSI shows on T.V. they always
suspected the husband first.

Instead, I huddled deep within
my down jacket, the diner booth pressing uncomfortably hard against my back. I
didn’t dare move for fear of drawing attention to myself. I didn’t want to know
his thoughts. I wished he’d keep them to himself. But I suppose he couldn’t
help it. The thoughts seeped from his mind like the fog currently drifting in
from the harbor.

Slowly, I slid him a glance out
of the corner of my eye. With his thinning brown hair combed neatly into place,
and his blue button-up shirt free of wrinkles, he looked like a normal suburban
dad. But if there was one thing I’d learned early on in life it was that
normalcy, as we thought of it, didn’t exist. It was amazing and frightening
what humans were capable of.

His pale blue eyes met mine. My
heart slammed frantically against my ribcage. I dropped my gaze, my long, dark
hair falling around my face like a curtain. He’d noticed me looking at him. He
was wondering if I was a virgin. He hoped I was.
. Bile crawled up my throat. I wrapped my hands around my
cup of Chai tea, hoping the heat would warm my insides. It didn’t.

But the guy sitting at the table
next to me who’d been imagining killing his wife and was now imagining seducing
me wasn’t the problem. No, it was the guy sitting across from me, the man with
his bright orange hunting cap pulled low over his eyes, the guy waiting for the
right moment to rob the café… he was the one who worried me.

For a second I thought about
alerting the owner. Common sense and years of warning got the better of me and
I remained stubbornly silent. With a trembling hand, I latched onto the strap
of my bag, gripped my cup and slid from the booth.

My conscience screamed at me to
return, to help, say
. Years
of warning overtook any soft feelings. Shifting my bag strap to my shoulder, I rushed
from the café before guilt got the better of me. Outside the air was crisp,
cool. It was early fall and the bees were swarming an overflowing trashcan.
Dumping my cup, careful to avoid the stinging insects, I pulled my hood atop my
head and stuffed my hands into the soft, fleece-lined pockets on my jacket,
trying to get warm…always trying.

A black truck zoomed by, sending
fall colored leaves of orange, red and yellow into the air. For one brief
moment, as the leaves settled around me, I felt like I was in the safety of a
snow globe. But safety was an illusion. We were never safe. Not the people in
the café. Not the few pedestrians strolling down the sidewalks. And certainly
not me.

A deep shout resounded from
inside the café, a muffled demand. I shouldn’t have been surprised, still my
heart made a mad leap for my throat. People screamed, the sound noticeable even
through the thick glass windows. I wouldn’t turn back.

I stepped off the curb, glanced
left, then right and darted across the street. I had five minutes to make it
home in time and couldn’t be late…
or Grandma would worry. I focused on the long road that led to our small Cape
Cod style cottage, focused on the crunch of brittle leaves under my sneakers,
focused on breathing. I would not react to the scene around me. I couldn’t. As
Grandma repeatedly warned, my very life depended on silence.


A sudden blast rang through the
air, vibrating the glass windows. A flock of black starlings burst from the
maples lining the road. I flinched, sucking in a sharp breath of cold air and
resisted the urge to drop to the cracked sidewalk. Surprise faded quickly and
guilt churned deep within my gut. A sickening guilt that was almost unbearable.
So much regret. Angry at myself, I shoved the feeling aside.

A woman with gray hair who was
walking her poodle next to me froze, her gaze pinned to the café. “My God, I
think they’re being robbed!”

I didn’t respond but continued
down the sidewalk, forced my feet forward as she fumbled with her cell phone.

Taking in a deep breath, I
slipped the ear buds of my iPod into my ears. Home. I had to make it home
before I was late, before nerves got the better of me and I was sick all over
the sidewalk. Or worse, before I turned and raced back to the scene.

But even as I attempted to
ignore the guilt thrumming in time with the music, anxiety clawed its way into
my lungs, making it hard to breathe. I knew, deep down, I could have stopped
it. If only I wasn’t a coward. If only….

Sometimes it really sucked to be
able to read minds.


Chapter 2


“Café was robbed, one person
shot. They just announced it on the news.” Grandma lifted her remote and turned
the volume down on the T.V. nestled in the far corner of the counter. She was
settled behind the round table where we ate all of our meals. A table that,
according to her, had come across the ocean with her English grandparents over
one-hundred years ago. I was pretty sure I remembered her buying it at a garage
sale when I was a kid. Still, it was one of the few things that continued to
travel with us as we moved from state to state.

Hello to you too, Grandma.

I dropped my backpack on the
kitchen table and headed straight for the refrigerator, my sneakers squeaking in
protest over the pea green 1970’s linoleum. I shouldn’t have been annoyed by
Grandma’s blatant attempt to pry. I’d been living with her since I was five and
my ability had surfaced. Grandma hadn’t said so, but it was obvious Mom pretty
much thought I was a freak and had shoved me into Grandma’s capable arms, the
one person who understood. Another freak.

I barely remembered Mom. But
overall, my childhood hadn’t been horrible. Lonely, as we’d moved a lot; a
little complicated as Grandma had to explain away my uncanny ability to know
what others were thinking. But I couldn’t complain. I had a roof over my head
and plenty to eat. Most importantly, she protected me as well as she could.

Grandma didn’t look like your
typical old lady. Yeah, she was in her fifties, but she colored her dark hair
and refused to cover her trim body with something as hideous as a housecoat. I
got my hair and eye color from her, but my smaller features from my mom’s side
of the family. Grandma was blunt and a little cold and it showed in her narrow
face. But she’d taken care of me when no one else would, and for that I was
reluctantly thankful.

“Anyone die?” I asked,
pretending a nonchalance I certainly didn’t feel.

“Nope.” She said the word with
ease. Her lack of empathy had always bothered me, but I guess years of running
for your life would do that to a person. She snapped her cookbook shut and
peered up at me through her wire-rimmed glasses. I tried to ignore her hazel
eyes, but it was impossible. I swear Grandma’s beady gaze could read a person’s
soul. It was why I’d never lied to her. What was the point when she’d know the

I wrapped my fingers around the
handle of the refrigerator and couldn’t deny the relief that released sweetly
from my gut. No one had died. Just injured. No death. No guilt. At least not
this time. But it was there, always in the back of my mind. Shame was the worst
of it, knowing I could help if I’d just open my mouth. But as Grandma had
taught me early on, there were worse things than feeling guilty, like feeling
dead. I hadn’t realized a person could “feel” dead, but knew it was pointless
to argue with Grandma.

“Cameron, isn’t that the café
you visit?”

I pulled the refrigerator door wide,
the burst of cold air adding to my unease. As if she didn’t know where I went.
As if she didn’t know every tiny thing I did. “Yeah.”

“Were you there?”

I pulled out a can of cherry
coke, letting the chill aluminum numb my fingers, hoping that numbness would
move to my heart, my gut, my brain. No such luck. “Yeah. I was there”

There was a short pause. I knew
what she would ask next. Not that I could read her mind. I’d never been able to
read Grandma’s thoughts like I could others. Grandma had learned, over the
years, how to keep her thoughts to herself. An ability she refused to share
with me and I knew why…then she wouldn’t be able to spy on me. Her power would
be gone. And at times like this, I resented the hell out of her.

“Did you know?” she asked, her
own voice casual.

Did I know the man was going to
rob the café? Did I know he had a gun? Did I know someone might die and I could
stop it? I swiped my hands on my jeans, wiping away the condensation. Slowly, I

“You didn’t say anything?”

Annoyed, I released a puff of
air through pursed lips. Why did she even bother asking? She knew the answer.
“No,” I grumbled.

“Good girl.” She pushed her
chair away from the table, the legs screeching across the linoleum, and stood.
“You’d only be courting questions and trouble. You remember what happened in
Michigan. Always remember that when you want to warn someone. I’m going to the

Michigan. There it was again. As
if I could ever forget the incident. The time I’d blabbed and we’d almost been
caught. The time I’d realized I couldn’t trust anyone with my secret.

I watched her move to the door,
my bitterness growing with each step she took. Whenever she praised me for
keeping quiet, it felt so patronizing. Like inside she was smirking. Good little
girl had done what she’d been told once again because she was too afraid to

The screen door banged against
the frame and she disappeared into the back garden. Truth was, Grandma
controlled me; she knew every one of my dark secrets, and I couldn’t do a damn
thing about it. At times I felt beaten down, exposed, exhausted. Imprisoned
like an animal at the zoo, constantly watched. One of these days she’d find me
pacing my room…back…forth.

At other times I felt ready to
explode, like a giant piñata full of secrets. I’d imagine myself standing on
top of a table in the cafeteria and proclaiming to all that I could read minds.
That for the past year I’d read every single one of their ridiculous thoughts.
The idea left me grinning.

But in less than one year I’d be
free of Grandma. She had to know I was eager to attend college, yet she never
said anything. She had to know that when I went away, I could do whatever I
wanted. She had to know I had plans to visit her as little as possible. Part of
me worried that she had some nefarious plan to keep me by her side forever. I
shuddered at the thought.

Slowly, as if pulled by some
invisible string, I made my way to the screen door. Grandma stood in the middle
of our small, overgrown yard, just stood there, looking at her stupid lilac
bush. She worked on that thing night and day and still it didn’t bloom. Why, I
wanted to know, would she waste her time? But she never could give me a proper
answer. She’d lost her son, she’d lost her daughter-in-law and maybe she knew
she was losing me. Was the lilac some desperate attempt to hold onto something?

A horn blared out front, pulling
me from my morose thoughts. For a brief moment, I paused, feeling bad about
leaving her here alone. She didn’t have friends, she didn’t have family but for
me. Her entire life revolved around some desperate attempt to keep us safe from
unknown enemies. I knew, deep down, she was only trying to protect me, but it
didn’t make me feel any less caged. The horn blared again. If I stayed here,
I’d become alone and bitter. I’d become her, and I couldn’t let that happen.

I set my pop on the counter and
moved to the front door. Emily was parked alongside the curb, her new red
convertible shiny, free of dents and scratches. I knew that wouldn’t last long,
the girl had almost flunked Driver’s Ed. I hadn’t said how ridiculous it was to
get a convertible when you lived in Maine. Icy roads and convertibles didn’t
mesh. But Emily loved the car and Emily got what she wanted, everything but
attention from her parents.

Blonde and blue eyed, she was
everyone’s idea of perfection and she was my best friend. I couldn’t hate my
abilities, no, because if I couldn’t read minds, I would never be friends with
Emily. I would never get the grades I got, and I wouldn’t be as good at soccer
as I was. I knew answers, I knew game plays, I knew what people were thinking
practically before they did.

“Come on!” She waved me over,
large Chanel sunglasses covering half her face. Fall in Maine was far from
warm, but she liked to pretend she was some incarnate version of Audrey
Hepburn. If anything, with my petite features and dark hair, I looked more like
the old movie actress. But if Emily wanted to be Audrey, Emily got to be

I rushed down the brick steps,
eager to escape if only for the evening. Some days were harder to get through
than others. Today was one of those days. At times I felt like I was acting; no
one knew the real me. My smile wavered and I swallowed over the sudden lump in
my throat. They only knew the person they wanted me to be. It was exhausting.
But today I didn’t care. I wouldn’t care. Today no one had died at the café and
I was going driving with my best friend. And most importantly, after today I’d
no longer have to take the bus to school.

“It’s gorgeous,” I said the one
thing she was waiting for me to say, the thing she wanted to hear. She could
have gotten a car months ago, but had waited for them to ship this one
specially from Germany or some other car-loving country. “You’re so lucky.”

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