Home > The Initiation (The Secret Circle #1)(5)

The Initiation (The Secret Circle #1)(5)
Author: L.J. Smith

Cassie felt even more queer. Looking up at him made her almost dizzy, but she couldn't take her eyes from his. There was no sparkle now; they looked like blue-gray steel. Compelling-hypnotic. Drawing her closer, drawing her in.

But I do know you, she thought. In that instant a strange image flashed through her mind. It was as if she were floating outside herself and she could see the two of them, standing there on the beach. She could see the sun shining on his hair and her face tilted up to him. And they were connected by a silver cord that hummed and sang with power.

A band of energy, linking them. It was so real she could almost reach out and touch it. It bound them heart to heart, and it was trying to draw them closer.

A thought came to her, as if some small voice from deep inside her was speaking. The silver cord can never be broken. Your lives are linked. You can't escape each other any more than you can escape destiny.

Suddenly, as quickly as it had come, the picture and the voice vanished. Cassie blinked and shook her

head, trying to wrench her mind back. He was still looking at her, waiting for an answer to his question.

“I was glad to help you,” she said, feeling how lame and inadequate the words were. “And I didn't mind –what happened.” His eyes dropped to her wrist, and there was a flash from them almost like silver.

“I did,” he said. “I should have come out earlier.”

Cassie shook her head again. The last thing she'd wanted was for him to be caught and hurt. “I just wanted to help you,” she repeated softly, confused. Then she said, “Why were they chasing you?”

He looked away, drawing in a deep breath. Cassie had the sense of trespassing. “That's all right. I shouldn't have asked-“ she began.

“No.” He looked back at her and smiled, his wry one-sided smile. “If anybody has a right to ask, you do. But it's a little difficult to explain. I'm… off my turf here. Back home, they wouldn't dare come after me. They wouldn't dare look at me cross-eyed. But here I'm fair game.”

She still didn't understand. “They don't like people who are-different,” he said, his voice quiet again. “And I'm different from them. I'm very, very different.”

Yes, she thought. Whatever he was, he wasn't like Jordan or Logan. He wasn't like anyone she had ever met.

“I'm sorry. That's not much of an explanation, I know,” he said. “Especially after what you did. You helped me, and I won't forget about it.”

He glanced down at himself and laughed shortly. “Of course, it doesn't look like there's much I can do for you, does it? Not here. Although…” He paused. “Wait a minute.”

He reached in his pocket, fingers groping for something. All in an instant Cassie's dizziness overwhelmed her, blood rushing to her face. Was he looking for money? Did he think he could pay her for helping him? She was humiliated, and more stricken than when Jordan had grabbed her wrist, and she couldn't help the tears flooding her eyes.

But what he pulled out of his pocket was a stone, a rock like something you might pick up on the ocean floor. At least that was what it looked like at first. One side was rough and gray, embedded with tiny black spirals like little shells. But then he turned it over, and the other side was gray swirled with pale blue, crystallized, sparkling in the sunlight as if it were overlaid with rock candy. It was beautiful.

He pressed it into her palm, closing her fingers around it. As it touched her she felt a jolt like electricity that ran through her hand and up her arm. The stone felt alive in some way she couldn't explain. Through the pounding in her ears she heard him speaking, quickly and in a low voice.

“This is chalcedony. It's a-good-luck piece. If you're ever in trouble or danger or anything like that, if there's ever a time when you feel all alone and no one else can help you, hold on to it tight-tight”-his fingers squeezed hers-“and think of me.”

She stared up at him, mesmerized. She was hardly breathing, and her chest felt too full. He was so close to her; she could see his eyes, the same color as the crystal, and she could feel his breath on her skin and the warmth of his body reflecting the sun's heat. His hair wasn't just red, but all sorts of colors, some strands so dark they were almost purple, others like burgundy wine, others gold.

Different, she thought again; he was different from any guy she'd ever known. A sweet hot current was running through her, a feeling of wildness and possibility. She was trembling and she could feel a

heartbeat in her fingers, but she couldn't tell if it was hers or his. He had seemed to hear her thoughts before; now she felt almost as if he were in her mind. He was so close and he was looking down at her…

“And what happens then?” she whispered.

“And then-maybe your luck will change.” Abruptly he stepped back, as if he'd just remembered something, and his tone altered. The moment was over. “It's worth a try, don't you think?” he said lightly.

Unable to speak, she nodded. He was teasing now. But he hadn't been before.

“I've got to go. I shouldn't have stayed this long,” he said.

Cassie swallowed. “You'd better be careful. I think Jordan had a gun-“

“Wouldn't surprise me.” He brushed it off, stopping her from saying anything further. “Don't worry; I'm leaving the Cape. For now, anyway. I'll be back; maybe I'll see you then.” He started to turn. Then he paused one last moment and took her hand again. Cassie was too startled at the feeling of his skin against hers to do anything about it. He turned her hand over and looked at the red marks on her wrist, then brushed them lightly with his fingertips. The steely light was back in his eyes when he looked up. “And believe me,” he whispered, “he'll pay for this someday. I guarantee it.”

And then he did something that shocked Cassie more than anything else had during that whole shocking day. He lifted her wounded hand to his lips and kissed it. It was the gentlest, the lightest of touches, and it went through Cassie like fire. She stared at him, dazed and unbelieving, utterly speechless. She could neither move nor think; she could only stand there and feel.

And then he was leaving, whistling for the dog, which romped around Cassie in circles before finally breaking away. She was alone, gazing after him, her fingers clenched tightly on the small rough stone in her palm.

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