Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(5)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(5)
Author: L.J. Smith

She was very happy. Somehow, once the decision to go was made, Kait's spirits had lifted and lifted. It no longer seemed a grim necessity to come to the Institute; it was the dream Joyce had described, the beginning of a new life. Her dad had been unbelievably sweet and understanding-he'd seen her off just as if she were going to college. Joyce was supposed to meet her here at San Francisco Airport.

But the airport was crowded and there was no sign of Joyce. People streamed by. Kaitlyn stuck close to the gate, head high, trying to look nonchalant. The last thing she wanted was anyone to ask if she needed help.

"Excuse me."

Kaitlyn flicked a sideways glance at the unfamiliar voice. It wasn't help; it was something even more disturbing. One of those cult people who hang around airports and ask for money. He was wearing reddish robes-Tuscan red, Kait thought. If she were going to draw them.

"I'd like a moment of your time, please." The voice was civil, but persistent-authoritative. It sounded foreign.

Kait edged away-or started to. A hand caught her. She looked down at it in amazement, seeing lean fingers the color of caramel locked around her wrist.

Okay, jerk, you asked for it. Outraged, Kait turned the full power of her smoky blue, strangely ringed eyes on him.

He just looked back-and when Kait looked deeply into his eyes, she reeled.

His skin was that caramel color-but his eyes were slanting and very dark, with an epicanthic fold. The phrase "lynx-eyed" came to Kaitlyn's mind. His softly curling hair was a sort of pale shimmery brown, like silver birch. None of it went together.

But that wasn't what made her reel. It was a feeling of age from him. When she looked into his eyes, she had the sense of centuries passing. Millennia. His face was unlined, but there were ice ages in his eyes.

Kait couldn't remember ever really screaming in her life, but she decided to scream now.

She didn't get a chance. The grip on her wrist tightened and before she could draw a breath, she was jerked off balance, moving. The man in the robes was pulling her backward into the jetway-the long corridor that led to a plane.

Except that there was no plane now and the corridor was empty. The double doors closed, cutting Kaitlyn off from the rest of the airport. She was still too shocked to scream.

"Don't move and you won't get hurt," the man in the robes said grimly. His lynx eyes were hard.

Kaitlyn didn't believe him. He was from some cult and he was obviously insane and he'd dragged her into this deserted place. She should have fought him before; she should have screamed when she had the chance. Now she was trapped.

Without letting go of her arm, the man fumbled inside his robes.

For a gun or a knife, Kaitlyn thought. Her heart was pounding violently. If he would just relax his grip on her arm for an instant-if she could get to the other side of those doors where there were people . . .

"Here," the man said. "All I want is for you to look at this."

He was holding not a weapon but a piece of paper. Glossy paper that had been folded. To Kaitlyn's dazed eyes it looked like a brochure.

I don't believe it, she thought. He is insane.

"Just look," the man said.

Kaitlyn couldn't help looking; he was holding the paper in her face. It seemed to be a full-color picture of a rose garden. A walled rose garden, with a fountain in the center, and something thrusting out of the fountain. Maybe an ice sculpture, Kaitlyn thought dizzily. It was tall, white, and semitransparent-like a faceted column. In one of its many facets was the tiny, perfect reflection of a rose.

Kaitlyn's heart was still pounding violently. This was all too weird. As frightening as if he were trying to hurt her.

"This crystal-" the man began, and then Kaitlyn saw her chance.

The iron grip on her arm loosened just the slightest bit as he spoke, and his eyes were on the picture. Kaitlyn kicked backward, glad that she was wearing pumps with her red dress, slamming a two-inch heel into his shin. The man yelped and let go.

Kaitlyn hit the double doors with both hands, bursting out into the airport, and then she just ran. She ran without looking behind her to see if the man was following. She dodged around chairs and phone booths, heading blindly into the crowd.

She didn't stop until someone called her name.

"Kaitlyn!"

It was Joyce, heading the other way, toward the gate. Kait had never been so relieved to see anyone.

"I'm so sorry-the traffic was terrible-and parking in this place is always-" She broke off. "Kaitlyn, what's wrong?"

Kaitlyn collapsed in Joyce's arms. Now that she was safe, she somehow wanted to laugh. Hysteria, probably, she told herself. Her legs were shaking.

"It was too strange," she gasped. "There was this guy from some cult or something-and he grabbed me. He probably just wanted money, but I thought-"

"He grabbed you! Where is he now?"

Kaitlyn waved a hand vaguely. "Back there. I kicked him and ran."

Joyce's aquamarine eyes flashed with grim approval, but all she said was, "Come on. We'd better tell airport security about this."

"Oh-I'm okay now. He was just some nut. . . ."

"Nuts like that, we put away. Even in California," Joyce said flatly.

Airport security sent people looking for the man, but he was gone.

"Besides," the guard told Joyce and Kaitlyn, "he couldn't have opened the doors to the jet bridge. They're kept locked."

Kaitlyn didn't want to argue. She wanted to forget all about it and go to the Institute. This was not how she'd planned her grand entrance to California.

"Let's go," she said to Joyce, and Joyce sighed and nodded.

They picked up Kaitlyn's luggage and carried it to a sharp little green convertible-Joyce's car. Kait felt like bouncing on the seat as Joyce drove. Back home it was freezing, with twenty inches of snow on the ground. Here they drove with the top down, and Joyce's blond hair ruffled like down in the wind.

"How's the little girl from the crash?" Joyce asked.

Kaitlyn's spirits pitched.

"She's still in the hospital. They don't know if she'll be okay." Kaitlyn clamped her lips together to show that she didn't intend to answer any more questions about Lindy.

But Joyce didn't ask any more questions. Instead, she said, "Two of your housemates are already at the Institute; Lewis and Anna. I think you'll like them."

   
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