"You need to focus! Stop daydreaming and concentrate!"
My grandmother's voice hisses in my ear as she gives me a sharp pinch on the arm.
We are seated on a bench in Grant park, a few blocks from my house. The warm weather has brought people out from the gloom of their homes. They swarm past us, laughing, strolling hand in hand, snapping photos. It's the perfect training spot.
"You are slacking child, quit trying to calm the projections, you've accomplished that goal already. Work on manipulating them,"
"See that couple over there, by the bridge, focus on their energy. Try to gain leverage over it, bend it."
My eyes glance over at the young man and woman. They are embracing and an aggravating amount of happiness is seeping out around them, creating an almost tangible aura.
"Good, you've spotted it, now take hold. Imagine their emotion pouring through you, not into you."
My brows knit together in frustration as I desperately try to grasp their aura. I'm able to feel them, feel their exuberance, but I struggle to latch on.
"Don't force it child, let it come naturally."
A growl rips through my lips and my fists clench tightly. My entire body tenses as I begin to grip their projections.
"That's it, good, bend it now!"
I ignore her and squeeze my eyes shut. A vision of gold and pink hues nearly blind me. Another guttural sound pushes up my throat as I imagine splitting the colors. They leak into the corners of my mind and I quickly transition them to black and white. I open my eyes again and spot them, I let a boiling anger slowly roll into my thoughts.
The couple suddenly pulls apart. The woman slaps her partner across the face and stomps off. The man chases after her and wraps his hands rough around her neck. A scream rises in her throat but is cut off before it's let loose. A few bystanders begin to notice the violence and struggle to break the bitter pair apart.
My grandmothers' hand is suddenly on mine. Her fingers are prying at my fists.
"Aislin, calm down! Rid yourself of them, focus on the water, the sky, but for God's sake get a grip!"
I shake my head and refocus my vision. She's got an anxious look spilled across her face.
"Let's go now."
She gets up and I follow after her. Her strides are long and filled with purpose. We brush past strangers until we've finally made it to the other side of the park. There are a few clusters of people milling around, other wise it's almost peaceful.
My grandmother spins around on her heels, her teeth are bared and her eyes are wild.
"So do you want to tell me how in the hell you preformed that well?"
I stutter and stare back, dumbfounded.
"I...I don't know. I closed my eyes and I couldsee their projections, almost as if it was light."
She eyeballs me and finally nods, giving my cheek a light pat.
"Fine granddaughter, say what you will. We will handle this another time. Perhaps you are growing faster than most."
I frown, puzzled and walk beside her as we head towards my house.
Several hours later, I find myself lying on my bed playing back my earlier phenomena.
"...Perhaps you are growing faster than most."
My grandma's words echo in my head.
I'd never been able to control my projections as I had with the couple. The power had an almost animal like quality to it, raw and dangerous. I close my eyes, trying to call it forth, but nothing comes. The cell phone on my night stand suddenly vibrates and I reach over to answer it.
"Aislin! What are you up to love?"
"Oh, hey Jess. Not much."
"Well you better get ready, I just got an invite to a sick party and you are coming with me."
I sigh and glance at my digital clock. It's 5:37.
"Zack Gold's. His parents are out for the weekend and he's got the place all to himself. Rumor has it he's got a thing for you too."
I laugh and roll my eyes.
"Zack Gold is a total douche bag Jess, and to be honest, I'd rather not go to the party."
Her voice suddenly turns fierce.
"Aislin Whitfield, I am not asking you to go, I am demanding! You are my best friend and I am coming over at seven o' clock, don't make us late."
I can't but help but chuckle at her motherly tone and quickly reply,
"Alright, okay, I'll be ready."
An hour and half later I'm in the passenger seat of Jess' beat up Toyota Camry. The car was a piece of crap, but it served it's purpose. We are driving towards Brighton Hills, the wealthy part of town. As we progress forward, the houses being to grow in size and opulence. I can't help but gawk at the ridiculously sized homes.
"Pretty fucking sweet, huh?" Jess mutters to herself.
I notice her projections suddenly spiking. Her nerves are growing and she feels out of place.
I touch her arm as we pull in the massive drive way. Cars are lined up all along the sides and in the front lawn.
"Hey, calm down. Quit getting being nervous."
A grin suddenly splits her heart-shaped face in half as she responds,
"I don't know how you do it Aislin, it's like you can read my mind or something."
I frown and mumble,
"Or something like that."
She laughs her breathy laugh and pulls into an empty spot. We grab our purses and climb out of the car. The cool night air smells like alcohol and perspiration, dance music shakes the ground as we head towards the front doors. Colorful lights fill the drawn windows, and as we grow closer, I feel the tugging sensation of a massive amount of emotion. I clear my throat and part a small piece of my mind, blocking out the sea of projections before we enter.
We're greeted by a puddle of puke, random couples necking, and at least a hundred people dancing in the main hall. The music is so loud that I feel my face buzzing. I slacken my jaw to release the pressure and practically have to shove people out of my way to avoid getting grinded on.
The small part of my brain not focused on my surroundings is having a rough time trying to block everyone out. I tighten my fists and gain a bit more control.
As we slowly make our way forward, towards the head of the crowd, I begin to recognize some of my classmates, none of which I consider friends. They ignore us and continue dancing, sloshing their cups of beer around. Every few steps, I have to look behind me to make sure Jess is still there. I notice she's already nodding her head to the beat. Any minute now she's going to start bumping on some poor guy.
I sigh and finally manage to get out of the densest part of mob. I'm standing on the outskirts with a few other faceless people and we sort of sway along with everyone else. I unconsiously back away from the mass and look around, realizing I've stumbled into the living room. It's spacious and perfectly arranged, no doubt by the hands of some revered home decorator.
I've been so deep in thought, that I don't even notice the boy standing behind me.
"Hey there. Escaping the party are we?"
I jump and spin around, nearly knocking the contents of his cup onto the floor. His face is hidden in shadows as the light casts an odd glow around his tall, lean figure.
"Huh? Oh, uh, no, I was just..er...looking around."
He chuckles, his deep voice rolling,
The music's volume is muffled and I'm able to hear him without straining my ears.
"Sure, whatever you say. I'm Breckin by the way."
I raise an eyebrow and reply,
"Breckin? That's an odd name."
"So is Aislin."
I freeze and gaze up at the stranger.
"How do you know my name?"
"I asked your friend, the girl who came in with you."
I eye him suspiciously and respond,
"Well I needed some sort of excuse to talk you."
My face reddens, and I'm suddenly thankful for the dim lighting. I regain my composure and awkwardly fidget with my nails.
"How about we head over to the kitchen, there's better lighting."
I swallow nervously and nod my head, following him through the rest of the living room, past a a giant window and into the kitchen. He leans casually against the granite counter and I do a double take.
He's gorgeous, just leaning there, like some sort of Adonis. His long, wiry, muscled body, is clad in a pair of faded jeans and a white v-neck tee shirt. As my eyes travel up his chest, past his powerful looking neck, and onto his face, I can't help but blush. He's staring straight at me, with his dark, endless eyes. His strong jaw and full lips are pulled into a boyish grin.
"You okay? You look a little hot, you're face is red."
I narrow my eyes and crack my knuckles.
"I wouldn't tease me, I'll make you regret it."
We glare at each other until we're suddenly holding our sides laughing.
He cracks another heart melting smile and softly whispers,
"Maybe it's a bit forward, but you are very beautiful."
I smile back mischievously and whisper,
"I hope you're not trying to fish for compliments Breckin."
He lets out another deep laugh and reaches out with his hand, tenderly tilting my face up towards his.
My breath cuts short and my pulse sky rockets. I can feel him, he's nervous despite his smooth exterior. As my mind translates his emotions, I suddenly realize my grip on the rest of the house's guests has slackened. Their projections race towards me like a car down a highway. I get hit by a barrage of them and nearly double over in pain. There's so many of them, they feel like a dead weight crushing my skull. Flashes of color dance before my eyes as I struggle to stay conscious. Breckin's dark eyes search mine, his face plastered with worry. I barley notice his arms as they wrap around me, pressing urgently. My vision fades and I fall into blackness.