Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(20)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(20)
Author: L.J. Smith

Gabriel didn't look gratified by the thanks. "And that's all?" he said mockingly.

"Of course."

"You're not just a little curious?" When Kaitlyn blinked at him, he leaned forward. His teeth were bared again. "You don't even want to know?"

Kaitlyn felt distaste pinching her features. "You mean ... about. . ."

"The murder," Gabriel said, his dazzling grin getting nastier by the minute.

Fear uncoiled in Kaitlyn's stomach. He was right-she was crazy. What was she doing sitting here in his bedroom? Two days ago she wouldn't have sat in any guy's bedroom, and now she was chatting with a killer.

But Joyce wouldn't have brought him to the Institute if he was really dangerous, she thought. Joyce wouldn't take that risk.

Kaitlyn said slowly, "Was it really murder?" Then she looked straight up at Gabriel.

His expression changed as he met her eyes-as if she'd startled him. Then he seemed to regain his balance.

"I called it self-defense, but the judge didn't agree," he said. His eyes were now cold as ice.

Something inside Kaitlyn relaxed. "Self-defense," she said.

Gabriel looked at her for a long moment, then away. "Of course, the other one wasn't self-defense. The first one."

He's trying to shock you, Kaitlyn told herself.

He's succeeding, her mind whispered back.

"I'd better go," she said.

He was very fast. She was closer to the door, but before she could reach it, he was in front of her, blocking it.

"Oh, no," he said. "Don't you want to hear all about it?"

Those dark gray eyes were strange-almost fixed, as if he were looking through her. His expression was strange, too. As if he were covering unbearable tension with mockery and derision. Kaitlyn could see the glint of clenched teeth between his parted lips.

"Stop it, Gabriel," she said. "I'm going."

"Don't be shy."

"I'm not shy, you jerk," she snapped. "I'm just sick of you." She tried to push past him and he wouldn't let her. They tussled.

Kaitlyn found out very quickly how much stronger he was.

Stupid, stupid, she thought, trying to get a hand free to hit him. How had she gotten herself into this mess? Her heart was going like a trip-hammer, and her chest felt as if it would burst. She was going to have to scream-unless he stopped her. Choked her, maybe. Was that what he'd done to the others?

Maybe he'd used a knife. Maybe he cut them. Or maybe it had been something even worse.. ..

She and Gabriel had been struggling silently, their faces inches apart. Kaitlyn's mind was dark with imaginings of how he might have killed before.

And then...

And then it all stopped. Kaitlyn's fantasies were cut off as if somebody had slammed down a window in her mind. And all because of the look in Gabriel's eyes.

Grief. Guilt, too, plenty of that, but mainly grief. A kind Kaitlyn recognized, the kind that makes you nearly bite through your lip so you won't make a noise. The kind Kaitlyn could remember from when she was eight years old, when her mother died.

Gabriel, with his handsome, arrogant face, and his savage bared teeth, was trying to make the tears go away.

Kaitlyn stopped struggling with him, realizing in the moment she did that he hadn't hurt her. He'd been blocking her, restraining her, but he hadn't bruised her.

"Okay," she said, her voice loud in the silence. "So tell me, then."

It caught him off guard. Actually rocked him backward. For a moment he looked shocked-and vulnerable.

Then his face hardened. He was taking it as a challenge.

"I will," he snarled back. He let go of her and stepped away-a hunted, constrained movement. His chest was rising and falling quickly.

"You've all been wondering what I do," he said. "Haven't you?"

"Yes," Kait said. She moved cautiously away from the door. "Is that so surprising?"

"No." He laughed-a very bitter laugh. "It's what everyone wants to know. But when they find out, they don't like it." He turned and looked at her with mock bewilderment. "For some reason, they seem to be scared of me."

Kaitlyn didn't smile. "I know what it's like," she said flatly to the carpet. "When they're scared of you. When they can't look you in the eye and they kind of edge away when you get close ..." She looked up at him.

Something flickered in his eyes; then he shook his head, turning away. "You don't know what it's like when they're so scared that they hate you. When they want to kill you because they're so scared that you'll..."

"That you'll what?"

"Read their minds. Steal their souls. Take your pick."

There was a silence. Ice crept along Kaitlyn's spine. She was bewildered-and afraid.

"Is that what you do?" she said, fighting to keep her voice above a whisper.

"No." The cold knot in Kaitlyn's stomach loosened slightly-until he turned around and looked at her with the calm gray eyes of a madman. "It's not as simple as that. Do you want to know how it works?"

Kaitlyn didn't move, didn't speak. She just looked at him.

He spoke precisely, as if giving a lecture. "Any time two minds make contact, there's a transfer of energy. That's what contact is, the transfer of a certain kind of energy. Back and forth, energy carrying information. You understand?"

Rob had talked about energy-channeling energy. But maybe that had been a different kind.

"Go on," Kaitlyn said.

"The problem is that some minds are stronger than others. More powerful. And if a strong mind contacts a weaker one-things can get out of control." He stopped, looking at the dark, curtained window.

"How?" Kaitlyn whispered. He didn't seem to hear her. "How can it get out of control, Gabriel?"

Still looking at the window, he said, "You know how water flows from a high place to a low place? Or how electricity keeps trying to find a ground for its force? Well, when two minds touch, energy flows. Back and forth. But the stronger mind always has more pull."

"Like a magnet?" Kaitlyn asked quietly. She'd never been great at science, but she did know that- the bigger the magnet, the stronger it was.

"A magnet? Maybe at first. But if something happens-if things get off balance-it's more like a black hole. All the energy flows out of the weaker mind. The strong one drains it. Sucks it dry."

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