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.Did it still bother him that much?His eyes dropped from her and his touch disappeared from her side to her hand on his face, which he grabbed in his and pulled to his chest.Now she knew something was wrong.Her insides ran cold with dread.What had she done?"Elis?"His fingers rubbed hers and those purple eyes stared at her and through her at the same time.This wasn't right.Oh, God."Did I do something wrong?" Say no.Please say no."No." His fingers tightened around her hand.Whew! But that still didn't tell her anything."Then…what is it?"He released her hand to softly comb the hair from her face.The distant ring of the phone filled the silence as his hand slid down her shoulder to her back, and he pulled her close so her face tucked into his shoulder.She held tight to him, unwilling to let go for any reason.Everything felt right when they were together and nothing else in the universe could separate them."I would never do anything to hurt you," he whispered.She swallowed the lump of emotions sticking in her throat, afraid yet eager to know what he tried to say."I know."His swallow sounded loud in her ear and spiked her through with dread."Everything is happening so fast and… ""Elis! Raea!" The shout from downstairs chilled the room.No! Evelyn couldn't have worse timing."And what?" Not yet, Evelyn.She had to know what he meant to say.A million ideas raced through her mind, some of them bad."Raea! Debbie needs to talk to you!"No! Not now.Her aunt had the worst timing.They were next door.Couldn't she wait?His arms loosened around her."It's not important."Not important? But— What was he going to tell her? That he wanted a break? That couldn't be right.Did his cousin Nare get to him and make him more cautious? Was the idea of bonding to her now wrong? Was she moving too fast for him? What?Elis sat up and pulled her up next to him."You better take the call.""Debbie can wait." Besides, it was probably another call to check up on whether she planned to come home for the night as an excuse to talk her out of sleeping with him.Sure, she'd stayed a few nights, but nothing had happened, at least nothing that involved clothes coming off.And it wasn't anyone else's business if something did.She was eighteen and done with high school, technically.A few more days and a stupid speech and she would be completely free, at least from school.Debbie would still be there.A wry smile crooked up his face—so cute on him she wanted to forget everything else.Elis might not be the hottest guy in that town, but he was cute and loved her, or at least she hoped that's what he was trying to say.He'd never had any trouble before.Geez, each time he kissed her was like it was their last breath.Maybe it was.No.No.No! Don't think that."No, she won't.You know that."Raea huffed out her frustration and stood.Damn.She hated that he was right.He was always right.This checking up on her by her aunt had to end.She wasn't a child anymore; she controlled her own life."Fine." This was the last time her aunt would interfere; then he would finish what he intended to say.His hand grasped hers, stopping her from storming down the stairs.To her relief, he stood with her, a calm look on his face.Her anger melted—he'd always had a soothing effect on her—and she led him by the hand out the room and down the stairs with her.Maybe she wouldn't be so hard on Debbie.Maybe.Leaning on her cane for support, Evelyn stood at the bottom of the stairs with the cordless handset.Her cheeks sagged with age and her back hunched from years of osteoarthritis.The short curls of gray outlined a friendly face inspiring guilt in Raea for her anger.Evelyn put the phone to her cheek."She's right here, dear," she said and handed it Raea.Raea took the handset and lifted it to her face, glancing at Elis a step behind her for the calm strength he offered.His fingers tightened within hers momentarily and relaxed, releasing her frustrations."Debbie.""Oh, good.Raea.I'm glad you're all right."Her aunt sounded relieved, as if she'd been deeply worried.Not good."Why wouldn't I be?""I know; you're with Elis.But the message on the machine—"Uh, oh.Her stomach knotted."What message?""He said he called on behalf of a Matthew Stein.He sounded out of breath as if he'd been working out…or running."Raea grimaced and looked to Elis.Matthew Stein had been the bodyguard of Mister Torres, the protector.Elis had used the abilities of the Starfire to link to Torres's mind for the secrets of the Eye, an amulet protecting a fifth shard of the Starfire crystal from detection."What did he say?""I think you should hear it for yourself…both of you.He mentioned you and Elis.Raea, you're not in trouble, are you? I mean, besides the Shirukan?""I don't know.We'll be right over.""Good.Hurry, before Mike gets home.You know how he feels about all this."Yeah, did she ever know.Her uncle Mike had never thought much of her, usually ignoring her and favoring his own two boys.He had become grouchy since all the attention by Nina Russet, the reporter who had nearly exposed her secret two months ago.Mike knew nothing about what Raea was, and she'd prefer to keep it that way."Be there in a few." Raea clicked off the phone and handed it to Elis, freeing her hands to open the foyer closet.In one hand, she lifted her cheap slip-ons and in the other Elis's sneakers."Is something wrong, dear?" Evelyn stood in the doorway between the foyer and the sitting room.Elis took his shoes and sat down at the bottom of the steps to put them on.Raea slipped her feet into her shoes while he was still tying his laces."I don't know.Nothing we didn't expect, I guess, but it could be trouble." Torres and Stein had come to them because they had lost contact with other protectors of the Eye.They didn't want the knowledge of its location lost.Elis now possessed all of Torres's knowledge.If someone knew he had visited them…This could be trouble.Big trouble.Eye of GodElis followed Raea across the short lawn of adjacent yards to the blue-sided house next door.Across the quiet street, a couple cars parked at the curb in front of the gray house.An unfamiliar dark van across the street gave her the creeps.Raea caught it in a glance as she ran up the cement steps to the front porch and the door with the full-length oval pane of decorated glass and matching sidelights.Anxious to get away from the creepy van, she yanked open the door and entered the main floor with the vaulted ceiling.Buddy's nails clicked on the laminate in his excitement to meet her, his long tail whipping behind him.The chocolate lab skidded to a halt and squatted, his tail sweeping the floor.She reached down to rub his head and to stop him from jumping up on her."Hey, boy.""Raea." Across the main floor, Debbie stood by the answering machine next to the stainless steel fridge.She sounded almost relieved.Raea slipped off her shoes and hurried to meet her aunt."Did Dave or Eric hear the message?" Although she and Elis had been exempt from finals, like many of their senior class, it was after school hours.Her cousins could be home at any time."No.Dave's still at track practice and Eric's with him."Good.She didn't need them overhearing.Debbie pressed a few buttons on the machine and a raspy voice echoed from the speaker: "Raea.I hope this is the right number.My name is Jeff Richards.I'm a friend of Matthew Stein.He said to call if anything happened to him." He let out a shaky breath [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]