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EBOOK ISBN/EAN 13: 978-1-935563-50-1
Also available PRINT ISBN/EAN-13: 978-1-935563-51-8
Life can get pretty complicated for any seventeen-year-old girl, but for a home-schooled telepathic black girl trying to survive in a prestigious private school in small-town Jonesborough, Tennessee, it can be maddening – especially when her telepathic father keeps eavesdropping on her thoughts!
Jaycie Lerner’s family isn’t the usual mom-dad-kid setup. Jaycie’s mom’s MIA, but Allison, her personal live-in ‘trainer,’ is more than a mom, with her own special abilities, like being able to lift cars and run incredibly fast. And Jaycie’s godfather John is more than persuasive – he can literally convince anyone to do anything.
As far as the rest of the world’s concerned, Jaycie’s on the outside looking in. The townsfolk love Jaycie’s pediatrician father, but she doesn’t fit in with ‘normal’ kids, and she doesn’t really want to. Most of her free time is spent training to keep her telekinetic and telepathic powers under control. But there’s one thing she can’t control – and that’s her feelings, especially when her best friend Matt is nearby. If only he knew what she was truly capable of...
Everything seems to be status quo for Jaycie until she receives a cryptic message from a stranger and meets a very unusual girl new to Jonesborough. Then all hell breaks loose!
From the other side of the glass, Mason Lerner watched Haylee Mitchell circle the monster like an aerial hunter while Sasha Gray stood like a statue, waiting. The revulsion Haylee felt was visible in the air around her. Mason had to stop himself from going in there and killing the man himself – his perverted and cowardly thoughts were sickening.
Mason watched Haylee’s mouth move. Her eyes were cold and unforgiving. She leaned over the man who’d stolen her very soul and whispered something that filled his face and thoughts with terror. Then silence filled the room. Mason could tell that Haylee had said everything she needed to say. He stuck his head in and met her eyes. There was something there he couldn’t place ... something that worried him. “Haylee,” he entreated, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice. “I don’t think...”
Haylee glared him to silence. He already knew she wanted to be there in the room when it happened. He hesitated until he saw the need in her mind. She had to do this her way. It was her battle to fight.
He nodded to Sasha Gray and retreated from the room, closing the door behind her. He watched her move with an unsettling grace, like an undead ballerina preparing for the hunt. Her alien blue eyes flashed with thirst.
Sasha gave Haylee one last questioning look. Haylee nodded, and Sasha went to her victim. It looked as if the vampire was simply giving him an intimate kiss, but Mason could hear her razor-sharp teeth ripping the flesh away from his neck. Mason had deliberately shut himself off from the man’s mind, but he could still see the utter agony in his eyes. Being burned alive by his own daughter would have been a serene death compared to this. Mason knew the pain accompanying a vampire’s bite was so incomprehensible that the living world held no equivalent to it. No one had even given voice to it. It was the physical equivalent to Haylee’s internal pain. Possibly even worse.
The man’s face twisted in agony and, despite his psychic defense, Mason still heard a whisper of the scream inside his head that never escaped his lips. His body offered no relief. The pain was trapped inside. He couldn’t go into shock or pass out. He felt every ounce of his blood being sucked out of him. His organs gave out, one by one, and he quickly went mad from the pain.
The dying man looked up at Haylee smiling down at him sadistically. As his body fell to the floor with a dull thud, he finally understood Haylee’s pain. His body was drained, and his life was over.
Jaycie Lerner sat on a high stool at the marble counter that stood in the middle of the modern kitchen. Her elbows rested on the counter’s cool surface as she glumly shoved small spoonfuls of cereal into her mouth.
She looked up when her father’s rich, resonate voice filled the kitchen. Wearing his favorite Calvin Kline khakis paired with a plain white button-down shirt tucked in, he stood six-foot-two, with his dark, kinky hair shaved very close to his scalp. His deep dark brown eyes were the same shade as Jaycie’s.
“I thought you were gone already,” she answered in a moody monotone.
He poured himself a cup of black coffee. “Having a bad day already, bonehead?” he asked, trying unsuccessfully to keep the sarcastic grin off of his face.
“I don’t understand why you’re still insisting on this school thing,” she objected, suddenly angry.
“Well, then, it’s a good thing you’re not the one doing the parenting around here.” He filled up a silver thermos with black coffee for his short ride to work.
Jaycie narrowed her eyes and frowned petulantly. “I’ve been home schooled since I was eight. Why would you throw me into high school now? Last year was horrible!”
“Learning some social skills won’t kill you,” he told her, his expression serious.
Jaycie rolled her eyes and snorted. “It’s unnecessary.”
“Edenvale is the best school in the South. It’s one of the best schools in the country. You should feel honored to attend. All of their graduates go on to Ivy League schools.”
Jaycie rolled her eyes again. He’d told her this so many times, all she heard now when he gave her this speech was unintelligible mumbling that sounded just like all the adult characters in the Charlie Brown cartoons. She huffed. “You know I won’t have any problems getting into a good school, Dad.”
As soon as she told him this, she felt a familiar tingling at the back of her neck, followed by a warm pinch that radiated down her spine. She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously. He met her glare with perfect composure as he warned her in a stern voice. “The phone will be next.”
“What?” Jaycie asked innocently.
“If you decide to skip school today. I would change that plan, if you want your truck back.”
“It’s not fair when you do that,” Jaycie whined, turning her head away from him dramatically. This was her way of telling her father how indignant she felt about his intrusive behavior. For a teenage girl, it could be a real pain having a telepath for a father.
“Oh, I’m sorry, baby.” His tone made it very clear he didn’t mean it. As he made his way to the back door, he said, “I have to get to work now. Remember, tonight we’re going out to dinner to celebrate Allison’s birthday.”
Jaycie’s mood improved slightly at the reminder.
“She’s been wanting to go to Five Corners Grill,” he said.
“Really? Did she tell you that, or did you rudely read it in her thoughts?” Jaycie scowled at her father in reprimand.
He winked at her with infuriating calm. “Gotta get going, kiddo – I’ve got some early patient appointments this morning. And keep in mind that I have no qualms about calling your teachers this afternoon, to make sure you were in class.”
With this last comment, he was out the door, leaving Jaycie alone with her annoyance and a soggy bowl of cereal.
* * * * *
“Can you please stop sighing?” Allison Young asked sweetly. She shot Jaycie an annoyed look as she drove past the winding green hills forming the scenic backdrop of Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Jaycie looked out the passenger window at the small town she’d called home for as long as she could remember. Located in the rapidly expanding region of East Tennessee, the town housed a population of only nine hundred twenty people. “I’m sorry,” she said, glowering at her live-in trainer, “but if you were heading into the mouth of Hell again, you would be a little annoyed too.”
Allison laughed. “You’re so melodramatic, Jay. It’s your senior year, you know. You could try to have fun, maybe make some friends while you’re at it.”
“I don’t see how I’m supposed to relate to them.”
Allison rolled her eyes. “The same way I relate to my students.”
“Whatever,” Jaycie grumbled. “Happy birthday, by the way,” she added, looking forward to celebrating with her mother figure.
Allison shot her a quick smile. “Thanks.”
Allison Young had been in Jaycie’s life since she was eight years old, at the request of John Gramm, her father’s best friend. Allison had moved into the Lerner household to train Jaycie in everything from meditation to martial arts.
Allison looked like a gorgeous alien – or how Jaycie imagined a gorgeous alien might look. Her eyes were silky blue and so big that she always appeared surprised. She had an ethereal baby face with a perpetual pink blush just below her cheeks. Her layered light blond hair looked almost white in the sun. At five-foot-seven, she stood three inches taller than Jaycie. Jaycie always referred to Allison as her alien baby doll. “I can’t wait to give you your gift.” Jaycie beamed.
Allison grinned as she pulled her black Mercedes into the main parking lot at Edenvale Academy.
Jaycie glanced at her watch and saw she had half an hour before the morning assembly. She sighed again as she stared out the tinted side window past the parking lot. The only upside of attending a private school was that the landscaping was beautiful. It looked more like a college campus than a high school, with eighteen buildings, five of which served as housing units for students and parents who resided at the school. Most students that attended Edenvale were from out of state. Jaycie was one of two students who were actual residents of Tennessee, and she was the only one from Jonesborough. Previously home-schooled students were unheard of at Edenvale. Jaycie was the only one ... ever. This fact was well known and made her a topic of gossip, hostile stares, and constant whispering. Jaycie was perhaps the most despised student at Edenvale.
Allison had told her last year she wouldn’t have any problem being one of the popular girls at school because she was painfully beautiful. Jaycie had rolled her eyes at that. With her toffee-toned African American complexion and jet-black eyes surrounded by long curly lashes, just like her father’s, she admittedly she thought of herself as cute, but not beautiful. She hated her big, pouty lips, because she thought they made her look like a trout. However, she was proud of her physique that reflected years of training with Allison. She was toned and soft at the same time. Allison once told her she was made of pure estrogen – a fact that didn’t do her any good on her first day at school.
Sitting in the car with Allison, Jaycie thought back to her first day at Edenvale. Hundreds of thoughts had sliced into her mind as soon as she’d entered the student union building. The entire student body had fallen silent when she’d screamed, “Oh, God! Stop! Get out of my head!” The pain in her head and spine was so intense, she literally saw red. A bloodcurdling scream escaped her lips, and a flood of vomit heaved itself up from the bottom of her stomach. She wasn’t able to see past the blinding red to face the startled teacher who tried to console her. “Get away from me!” she’d shrieked. When she finally regained some degree of control, she found herself covered in her own vomit and prepared a strategic retreat, darting out the door with as much speed as her legs could rally. Once her thoughts were the only ones in her head, she had frantically called Allison and demanded to be picked up right away.
Afraid he’d been wrong about her ability to block the thoughts of others, Jaycie’s father almost withdrew her from school that year. He discussed the matter with Allison and John, both of whom decided that the ‘episode’ had been psychological. Her father agreed and told Jaycie she would return to school. She remembered slamming the door in his face after pleading with him for at least an hour to reconsider.
Two days later, she returned to school unwillingly. The voices were just as strong, but at least this time she expected them and didn’t react. Instead she forced a blank expression onto her face and kept her eyes on her feet while putting all her energy into blocking everyone’s thoughts and dampening her telekinetic power to avoid destroying anything in her immediate vicinity. She ignored the laughing, pointing, and mocking that followed her all over the campus.
When she wasn’t in class, she had her ear buds in with music blaring from her iPod as loudly as the mp3 player was capable of delivering. The first two weeks were the hardest. By the third week, the voices became an incoherent buzz, and nothing tangible filled her head. After a month and a half, the voices were a dull murmur, and soon they stopped altogether. Unfortunately, by then she was already a social outcast. She was unhappy about this at first, but then decided it was inevitable anyway.
“Babe?” Allison’s soft voice interrupted Jaycie’s reverie. Startled, Jaycie shifted her gaze to her mentor’s smiling face. “I would love to sit and watch you daydream all morning, but I have an early kickboxing class to teach.”
“Oh, right,” Jaycie said absentmindedly, leaning forward to grab her heavy backpack. “See you later,” she mumbled as she climbed out of the car and into the slightly chilly outside air. Allison gave her one last smile, then sped off.
Jaycie walked with deliberate slowness toward the student union building, unaware of the students around her. She opened the glass doors of the Chamberlain Building and headed right to her favorite spot in front of the large gas fireplace. The fireplace looked like it belonged in the middle of a cottage living room rather than a high school. She glanced at her watch briefly, then stuck her nose inside a book, purposely ignoring a group of girls that scooted away from her.
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