Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(6)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(6)
Author: L.J. Smith

Lewis-a boy. "How many of the five of us are boys?" Kaitlyn asked suspiciously.

"Three, I'm afraid," Joyce said gravely, and then gave Kait a sideways look of amusement.

Kaitlyn declined to be amused. Three boys and only one other girl. Three sloppy, meaty-handed, too-big-to-control, hormone-crazed Power Rangers.

Kaitlyn had tried boys once, two years ago when she was a sophomore. She'd let one of them take her out, driving up to Lake Erie every Friday and Saturday night, and she'd put up with what he wanted-some of what he wanted-while he talked about Metallica and the Browns and the Bengals and his candy-apple-red Trans Am. All of which Kait knew nothing about. After the first date, she decided that guys must be an alien species, and just tried to deal with him without listening to him. She was still hoping that he'd take her to the next party with his crowd.

She had it all planned out. He'd escort her into one of those big houses on the hill that she'd never been invited to. She'd wear something a little dowdy so as to not show up the hostess. With her boyfriend's arm around her shoulder, she'd be modest and self-effacing, complimenting everything in sight. The whole crowd would see she wasn't a monster. They'd let her in-maybe not all at once, but over time, as they got used to her being around.


When she brought up the party, her lake-loving boyfriend blustered around, but eventually the truth came clear. He wasn't going to take her anywhere in public. She was good enough alone in the dark with him, but not good enough to be seen with him in the daylight.

It was one of the times when it was hardest not to cry. Stiff-lipped, she'd ordered him to take her home. He got angrier and angrier as they drove. When she jerked the car door open, he said, "I was going to dump you anyway. You're not like a normal girl. You're cold,"

Kait stared after the car when it had gone. So she wasn't normal. Fine, she knew that already. So she was cold-and the way he'd said it made it obvious that he didn't just mean her personality. He meant more.

Well, that was fine, too. She'd rather be cold all her life than feel anything with a guy like that. The memory of his humid palms on her arms made her want to wipe her own hands on the skirt of her red dress.

So I'm cold, Kait thought now, shifting in the front seat of Joyce's convertible. So what? There are other things in life to be interested in.

And really, she didn't care how many boys were at the Institute. She'd ignore them-she'd stick with Anna. She just hoped Anna wasn't boy-crazy.

And that she likes you, a small, nerve-racking voice in her head added. Kaitlyn squashed the thought, tossing her head to feel the wind snapping her hair back, enjoying the motion and the sunshine.

"Is it much farther?" she asked. "I can't wait."

Joyce laughed. "No, it's not far."

They were driving through residential streets now. Kaitlyn looked around eagerly, but with a tingling in her stomach. What if the Institute was too big, too sterile, too intimidating? She'd pictured a large, squat redbrick building, something like her old high school back in Thoroughfare.

Joyce turned the convertible in to a driveway, and Kait stared.

"Is this it?"


"But it's purple."

It was extremely purple. The shingled sides were a cool but vivid purple, the wood trim around the windows was darker purple; the door and wraparound balcony were glaring high-gloss purple. The only things that weren't purple were the slate gray roof and the bricks in the chimney.

Kait felt as if someone had dropped her into a swimming pool full of grape juice. She didn't know if she loved the color scheme or hated it.

"We haven't had time to paint it yet," Joyce explained, parking. "We've been busy converting most of the first floor to labs-but you can have the full tour tomorrow. Why don't you go up and meet your housemates?"

Thrills of nervousness wound through Kait's stomach. The Institute was so much smaller, so much more intimate, than she'd imagined. She'd really be living with these people.

"Sure, that's fine," she said, and held her head very high as she got out of the car.

"Don't worry about the luggage yet-just go on in. Go straight past the living room and you'll see a staircase on your right. Take that upstairs-the whole second floor is for you kids. I told Lewis and Anna that you can work out the bedroom situation for yourselves."

Kaitlyn went, trying not to either dawdle or hurry. She wouldn't let anyone see how nervous she was. The very purple front door was unlocked. The inside of the house wasn't purple-it looked quite ordinary, with a large living room on the right and a large enough dining room on the left.

Don't look at it now. Go on up.

Kaitlyn's feet carried her down the tiled foyer that separated them, until she reached the staircase.

Take it slow. Just keep breathing.

But her heart was going quickly, and her feet wanted to leap up the steps. The stairs made a U-turn at a landing and then she was at the top.

The hallway was crowded with odds and ends of furniture, piled haphazardly. In front of Kait and to the left was an open door. She could hear voices inside.

Okay, who cares if they're nice? They're probably creeps-and I don't care. I don't need anyone. Maybe I can learn to put curses on people.

The last-minute panic made her reckless, and she plunged through the door almost belligerently.

And stopped. A girl was kneeling on a bed without sheets or blankets. A lovely girl-graceful and dark, with high cheekbones and an expression of serenity. Kaitlyn's belligerence seeped away and all the walls she normally kept around her seemed to dissolve. Peacefulness seemed to come from the other girl like a cool wind.

The girl smiled. "You're Kaitlyn."

"And you're . . . Anna?"

"Anna Eva Whiteraven."

"What a wonderful name," Kaitlyn said.

It wasn't the sort of thing people said back at Warren G. Harding High School-but Kaitlyn wasn't at Warren G. Harding High School anymore, and Anna's serene expression broke into another smile.

"You've got wonderful eyes," she said.

"Does she?" another voice said eagerly. "Hey, turn around."

Kait was already turning. On the far side of the room was an alcove with a bay window-and a boy coming out of it. He didn't look threatening. He had a cap of black hair and dark, almond-shaped eyes. From the camera in his hands Kaitlyn guessed he'd been taking pictures out the open window.

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