When you're cursed with the Touch, the world isn't a friendly place. Heather has had to run for a long time and this time, she's detirmined to forge a life for herself with her new minders. But falling into a strange, uneasy love with the son of your minders is always going to complicate things. As well as the struggle not to be found out... and more importantly... make sure you do not Touch anyone else.
You can never run away from the past, it'll dog your footsteps like your shadow, clinging to your ankles as you flee.
Running doesn't work; we were counting on hiding instead. Hiding and cleansing, and maybe over time, the events of the past few weeks would become just an ugly memory… like an old film… playing behind our eyelids when summoned. But gradually, over more time, it would fade.
I wanted that, I thought, as I sat in the back of the car, hugging the pillow to my chest. My eyes were slowly closing and I was drifting in and out of uneasy spats of sleep. Each time my eyes opened, I saw the blurred smudge of the fiery glow of streetlights whizzing by overhead and heard the drumming of the perpetual rain on the windscreen of the car and the wheeze and thud of the wipers as they attempted to clear the glass.
Below that was the subtle murmur of the radio. I guess Chris had been turned it on for company. It had been a long drive.
I wanted that. I wanted to leave everything behind and begin again.
"You all right?" Chris asked; his voice surprisingly loud after the deathly hush we'd been travelling in for the last few hours.
"Where are we going?" I asked, but when he didn't answer I allowed my tired body to lapse into sleep once again. I didn't mind where Chris was taking me, so long as it was far away.
"We're nearly there," was the next thing I heard him say. I stirred, struggling to sit upright. The strap of the seatbelt was cutting cruelly into my shoulder and my limbs and neck were stiff from sitting still for so long in such an awkward position.
I set my pillow down on the seat beside me and rubbed my neck to ease the crick in it as I looked out of the window. The black sky of the motorway had become hazy brown smog, which lay like a thick blanket over the stars. We were in a town or city.
Chris was driving slowly down a main road. As we pulled round a roundabout I saw a large grey building and a sign by the road for Buxtonbury University.
"Is this Buxtonbury?"
Tiredness swamped me again; my eyelids weighed heavy like lead.
"Chris? Did you give me something before we left?"
"How do you mean?"
"I feel drugged."
He didn't answer and suddenly I felt a lousy sense of indifference as I realised I didn't care. I didn't mind… so long as I could sleep.
The car door opened and arms passed overhead and hands ran down the length of my side, trying to find the clasp of the seat belt.
"Careful!" a sharp voice warned. "Don't touch her hands."
The hand on my side immediately drew back.
"Would you care to do the honours then?"
Chris's familiar smell filled my nostrils as his dark shadow loomed over me and he leaned across me into the car. I felt the seatbelt slowly retracting and he helped its progress, slipping it off my shoulder, raising my limp arm to do so.
"Chris?" I asked.
"Hey… we're here."
Awkwardly, he's arms forced their way underneath me and haphazardly half-lifted, half-dragged me out of the car.
"Shit…" I heard the same voice as before say as I dangled uselessly from Chris's arms. "How much did you give her?"
I clung like a weak limpet to Chris as he hoisted me up in his arms. My head flopped back uselessly and, briefly opening my eyes, I saw the sky overheard. It had now softened to a pale grey. It was nearly light.
I felt Chris turn and start walking. I didn't turn or try to raise my head to see where we were going. I trusted him. I let myself be carried away.