Home > The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(11)

The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(11)
Author: Ashley Stoyanoff

Ma’am? Amelia wondered, thrown off by the formality. Who even says that anymore? And Angelle was not what Amelia thought qualified as a ma’am. She was too young, too pretty, too… well, really not ma’am material.

Angelle, stuck out her arm and gently, but firmly pushed Amelia back behind her. “Erin Truscott, hmmm, that does sound familiar.”

Erin really didn’t seem to be bothered by Angelle’s attitude. She was acting as if this was normal. “I’ve lived in town for a few years,” she said.

Angelle put her hands on her h*ps and raised a questioning eyebrow. “What do you want with my little sister?”

“Angelle,” Amelia snapped, appalled. She snuck out from behind Angelle and managed to dodge Angelle’s attempt to stop her. “I’m sorry about my friend. I’m Amelia. Can I help you with something?”

“Wow, Amelia Caldwell in the flesh,” Erin said, grinning like a fool. “I can’t believe I’m actually meeting you. Your favorite color is purple, you love animals and you’re majoring in mathematics and specializing in mathematical finance, right?”

“Um, yup,” Amelia said. The cashier came up, took the armload of clothes from her and went back to the counter. Amelia mouthed a thank you and looked back at Erin, questioningly. How in the world did she know so much? “Sorry, but have we met before?”

“Nope, you’re kinda a celebrity around here and I’m in the same program at school. Hey, you’re like a genius, right? Maybe we can study together. I really suck at math.” Erin rolled her eyes and put up her hands, showing that she knew exactly how idiotic she sounded and without taking a breath kept rambling on. “I know, I know… why take it then, right?” She shrugged. “Didn’t have a choice. It was either take the program or don’t go at all. Then I would have to do the whole getting a job and working thing and that really didn’t sound like much fun.”

Amelia gaped and eyeballed Erin in disbelief. She hadn’t thought it was possible, but she might have just found someone that could give Angelle a run for her money in the talking without breathing department. Was every girl in this town super excited and bubbly? She hoped not, because living with one, not that she would change it for the world, was more than enough.

“Erin,” Angelle interrupted, “Did you really come in here to talk about school?”

“No ma’am,” she answered and the animation on her face was replaced by the original nervousness. “Sorry. I was shopping,” Erin held up a blouse to prove she really was, “and this girl came in when you guys were in the dressing room. She was young and sorta sick looking, like really pale and grayish. She shoved this at me.” Erin handed a single long stemmed rose to Amelia. “She asked me to give it to you with a message.”

“What message?” Angelle asked, impatience tinting her tone.

“She said tell Amelia we’ve been waiting for you. I tried to tell her to do it herself but she vanished before I could.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Amelia asked, twirling the rose between her fingers, inhaling deeply the sweet fragrance. At first glance she had thought it was deep red, but on closer scrutiny, she realized that the large velvety bloom was black as night.

“Not sure,” Erin shrugged. “Like I said, she just vanished. Never got a chance to ask.”

“Thank you, Erin,” Angelle said. “Was that all?”

“Yes ma’am. Sorry to bother you guys. Maybe I’ll see you at school, Amelia.” Erin turned to walk away. But there was something she had said that caught Amelia’s attention. A girl with pale, grayish skin. Could it be? The kid from this morning? And if it was, why a black rose? And why was she waiting for her? Waiting for what?

“Hey wait a minute,” Amelia called after her. “You said it was a girl that looked really pale. Was she young, maybe eleven or twelve with white-blonde straggly looking hair and really creepy looking?”

“Yeah, why?” Erin asked, curiosity creeping up in her eyes. “You know her?”

“Millie,” Angelle said, shoving another stack of clothes at Amelia. “You’ve got to try this stuff on.”

Amelia sighed, loud and gusty and looked at the heavy stack that had been dumped in her arms. She smiled at Erin apologetically. “I have to get back to the torture. Thanks for the message.”

Erin nodded and darted out of the store, leaving Amelia with more questions than answers. Why couldn’t she just leave it alone? Accept the rose and chalk it up to a nice welcome to town kind of thing. But who would give a black rose as a welcome? Black never meant welcome.

Amelia caught Angelle before she could add to the pile, grabbed her hand and towed her into the dressing room. When they were in and the door was securely closed, she dumped her burden onto the floor and shoved the rose in Angelle’s face. “What is this about? What did that message mean? Why did Erin say I’m like a celebrity? How does she know my favorite color? And what is your problem?” The questions just poured out in a stream of frustration; out of the top weirdest days ever, this one was sailing right on past and kept sky rocketing upwards.

Angelle grinned. “Of course everyone’s gonna know who you are. Mr. Lang owns half this town and in case you missed it, you did just move into his house. That’s pretty big news around here. Now hurry up and try this stuff on. We still have a few more stores to hit.” She gave Amelia one of her overly bright smiles, snagged the rose and zipped off over to the racks and started rummaging through the clothes again.

Amelia stood there, watching Angelle flutter around and listening to the chatter of the other shoppers, and all of a sudden she wanted to cry. It seemed silly because everyone had been so nice to her.

She rubbed at her eyes, took a deep breath, and closed the dressing room door to try on more clothes.

CHAPTER 9

The clicking of the calculator was a soothing sound as Mitchell punched in some figures, and it helped to ease some of the tension that had built up in him during the last twenty-four hours.

This was what he needed. To bury himself in work. Keep his mind occupied. Stay at the office. And away from Amelia.

“Amelia,” he breathed and rubbed at his face. Staying away was torture and he was sure that the pain it caused in his heart was worse than dying.

Mitchell sighed and forced himself back to work. He knew if he kept thinking about her, he would drive himself crazy and that wouldn’t do either of them any good.

In no time, he was back at it, buried in the mound of work before him. The tension was slowly easing away and he was starting to feel normal, at peace.

The peace was short lived. Suddenly, his office door swung open, cracking against the wall. “Yo, pops, you work too much,” Eric said, that stupid half grin spread across his face. His green punk style hair was sticking up every which way and he was wearing a gray tracksuit.

Mitchell groaned, annoyed at the disruption and leaned back in his chair. “What are you doing here, Eric?” And what were they thinking sending him? He assumed they probably figured he wouldn’t hurt Eric, but Mitchell wasn’t so sure. If he couldn’t trust himself with Amelia…

Pain flashed across Eric’s face. “Do I need a reason to visit you?” he asked, unsure of himself.

Shit, Mitchell thought, annoyed, confused and all-round pissed off at himself. “Of course you don’t need a reason,” he said, desperately trying to sound welcoming. He got up from his desk and gestured towards the empty chairs in the corner. “What’s on your mind?”

Eric plopped down, stretching his legs out and crossed them at the ankles. He was still so young and carefree. Mitchell wondered if Eric would ever be able to take his place. Not that Eric knew yet, but that had been Mitchell’s plan and Eric still had a long way to go before he was ready.

“What’s going on with you? Angelle told me you lost it on her last night.”

“It’s about time you guys learn your place,” Mitchell said sternly, and instantly regretted it.

Eric’s face seemed to crumple at his harsh words and his shoulders slouched. “Dude, did you really just say that? What the hell?”

Mitchell sighed, long and loud. “You shouldn’t be here, Eric. I…”

“Why are you doing this?” Eric asked. His looked so desperate, so unsure of himself that it pulled at Mitchell’s heart. Eric looked up to him, Mitchell knew that and dammit, he wasn’t setting the best example for his child. “She’s your soulmate. Why are you hiding from her?”

“It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Fine,” Eric threw up his hands. “You want to sit here and hide, then fine. But she’s really special and if you wait too long something might happen. Whatever it is, it pours from her and it is…” Eric licked his lips and a dreamy look clouded his face. “It’s going to attract the others and if you don’t claim her soon you might not get a chance to.”

“Eric, I know you think that I should be there but I just can’t," Mitchell said carefully. “And to be honest, it doesn’t really matter if I’m there or not. They won’t touch her and I won’t bite her.” He spoke with so much passion, that it almost seemed like he meant it. He wanted to mean it but…No, he did mean it. And until he was sure that he could trust himself, he would stay away. “She needs time. I can’t push this on her. I won’t.”

“Dude, she’s broken. What she needs is love. Not time. She needs a family. She needs friends,” Eric persisted.

Mitchell opened his mouth to speak but then stopped. He couldn’t explain it all. He didn’t even understand it himself. The connection between them was already stronger than he had ever imagined and he wasn’t even in the same house as her. If he couldn’t keep his emotions in check with his family, how the hell would he be able to do it with Amelia? He knew he would never forgive himself if he let things get out of control. It would only take a second and they would both regret it. He loved her too much to let that happen.

   
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