Two chapters in one day? You lucky beasts, you!
Also, if you've read Seeking Crystal yet, tell me!
Hope you enjoy!
A tall, curly haired girl bursts into the room immediately, with wild eyes and a pale face. When she sees Xav, slack-jawed and cradling his face, and me, flexing out my hand, she straightens and rolls her eyes.
She glares at Xav.
"I thought you'd been shot." She growls. "With that telepathic scream I thought I'd burst into a room with bullets flying."
He looks to the weird looking and sounding girl. "This crazy girl just punched me in the face!"
She rolls her eyes again and crosses her arms over her chest. "Believe me, babe. It was long overdue."
Xav looks back to me with mock pleading eyes.
"See? You see what I have to put up with?" He tells me.
I frown and look to his father.
The girl stalks over to me – but I think, with those long legs, every movement looks like a stalk – and puts her hand out. She smiles, her sharp features softening.
"I'm Crystal." Her accent is weird, and I can't place it right away.
I shake her hand, but I don't reply.
"Shy?" She asks me.
"Maybe her throat is sore from all the screaming." Xav says dryly as he stands up and rubs his jaw.
My eyes flick to him and I glare. He flinches and then blinks. His eyes narrow, all trace of his good humour gone, and he stares intently at me. I feel his presence in my mind, but my shields are too strong to let him in. My dad taught me how to make my shields so strong not even he himself could get into my head.
Oh, the lessons a villain can teach his daughter.
Crystal looks at me with a slight frown.
"You're almost twenty, right?"
"Are you from Amsterdam?"
I shake my head.
She "hmphs" but then shakes her head and grabs hold of Xav.
"Lucky. You don't have to suffer with having this creep as a brother-in-law then." She motions to Xav.
Xav grins and looks back at her. "Aw, you say that, but you really do love me, Cupcake."
"Alright, kids." Saul says before I get out of my bed and have to strangle them both. "I have a situation to sort out and I'd like you to leave. That's if she's medically okay, is she, son?"
Xav stares at me for a moment and then his dark brows pull together.
He really is gosh darn good-looking. I think.
"I don't know."
The people in the room pause. As if this is weird, unheard of news.
"But I doubt she'll let me touch her again, so I'll have to get Sleeping Beauty with a surprise attack." He winks at me and Crystal purses her lips.
"Come on, Xav." As if sensing her jealousy, he leaves without another sarcastic comment. The door shuts and Saul brings a wooden chair up to sit beside me. He surveys me, sitting in the bed as I am.
"Sorry about them. Soulfinders. They've only had since Christmas to get used to the idea, so we're all giving them the benefit of the doubt."
The pang of want is so sharp and painful it brings tears to my eyes, but I blink them back.
Saul sees this and blinks. "Do you want to have a shower?"
Is he implying I smell?
I nod and he helps me out of bed. My legs are shaky and my vision swims. I have no idea why I'm here. But I want a shower. A proper one.
Saul leads me down a hallway and into a large en-suite room with a huge, king bed. He leads me past the happy family photos and clothes. I can only assume that this is his room. His and his wife's from what I'm seeing.
He opens the en-suite door.
"There's towels, a dressing gown, soap and you can use my wife's shampoo. I'll wait out here for you." He backs away. "Yell if you need anything.
I hurry and shut the door. I look around the place with large eyes. I quickly by-pass the mirror – not wanting to see me reflection – and I strip off my hospital gown. I hop into the shower and turn the hot water on. It's too hot, but I like it. Like it's scalding the dirt off of me. I survey my body. It's so thin, it's practically non-existent. My body is also covered in deep, purple bruises. After applying some pressure on a few I realise they don't really hurt, but they look angry and big.
I also notice that I have a huge problem with my female duties. Seriously, my legs look like a man's. After grabbing a random razor – who cares who owns it? – I get to work. Shaving… well… everywhere.
After my hair has been treated enough and I smell like some sort of perky flower, I step out of the shower on shaky legs and wrap myself in a soft towel. After tying my hair up in a towel – yep, not even a savant prison can make me forget how to do that – I wipe the condensation off the mirror and stare at myself for the first time in five years.
All traces of the baby fat that I used to wish would leave my face, are gone. My face is full of angular cheekbones and a dainty nose. My eyes are like saucers, big and round and green, a stark contrast to my translucently pale face. My skin is flawless. Not that I'd call my freckles flaws, but they've disappeared. And I can't believe it.
Where've they gone?
My lips are pouty and cracked and I'd kill for some chap stick. I bite my lower lip and unwind the towel from around my hair. The red ripples crash down my head in dark, red tangles. My hair is so long it goes to my hips and I make a split second decision. I grab a pair off scissors from the cabinet beside the mirror and I start hacking at my hair. Making clean even cuts. My hair goes way past my shoulders, still long, but not ridiculously so. I grab the chopped off bits and flush them down the toilet, hoping Saul doesn't think I'm about to start self-harming or something.
Really, I have enough problems to deal with than that.
I take a deep breath and wrap myself up in a small, white dressing gown. It's tiny, only reaching mid-thigh. It must be the wife's.
I brace myself for Saul as I leave the bathroom, towel-drying my hair. I throw the towel at him when I'm out and I take a stoic pose.
He catches the towel and purses his lips. "Nice shower?"
"Want to meet the rest of the family?"
Rest of the family?
Would they all be as bad as Xav?
I shake my head.
"Want to go to bed?"
"Are you from the Savant Net?" I shock myself by speaking.
He hesitates, but then nods. "Yes, why?"
I shake my head again and the slow motion thing happens again. I follow him back to the room, the walk is a blur. I go through the door and he says something, but I ignore him. Getting into the soft, comfortable bed with a borrowed dressing gown and soaking hair, but I don't care.
Eventually, Saul leaves and flicks off the light and I curl up into a ball. And all I can think is:
He works for the Savant Net.
The people who murdered my father.