I ripped the phone out of Samson's hand. "Mom?"
"Jacklyn!" my mother said. Her voice was hoarse and she sounded exhausted but she was laughing, almost relieved. "Is that you?"
"Yes, it's me." I stared at the phone in confusion, noticing the unfamiliar number on the screen. "Mom, where are you calling from?"
"Honey, listen we don't have much time. I'm glad you went back to the camp. It is best you aren't here. It's not safe."
"Mom, what's going on?" I asked, knitting my eyebrows together.
There was a loud crash and the twinkling sound of shattering glass in the background. She let out a strangled breath, like she'd been hit with something. My mom coughed into the phone. "Don't come home," she said urgently, breath ragged. "I love you."
"Mom?" I repeated.
"Stay… Safe…" she managed.
"Mom! Mom!" I screamed into the phone but nothing but the dial tone responded.
One time when I was six or seven, I was playing soccer. A kid had kicked the ball and it hit me hard in the stomach, whipping the air from my lungs. My entire body felt like lead and I collapsed on the ground, choking for air. I couldn't break, couldn't speak. I just laid there, struggling to breathe. That's what I felt like now.
I slid down the wall, slumping down on the ground. Tears ran down my face as I cradled the phone in my hands. Jason kneeled in front of me, taking both of my hands in his. "Jacklyn, what happened?" he asked, brushing a tear from my cheek.
"My mom," I sobbed. "I think somebody took her." I explained to him what I'd heard in the background and what she had said. "Why would someone want to take her?"
"I'm not sure," he said. His warm hands closed around mine. He was silent for a while." It's going to be alright, Jackie."
I buried my face in his shirt, crying. I felt his arm wrap around my neck, pulling me closer. Why would someone want to do that, to take her? Where was she now? Who would do a thing like this? My mom's words replayed over and over in my head.
Don't come home.
I love you.
I couldn't understand why someone would take her? She was just a normal, human mom living a normal life, except for her daughter. Did they want her because of me? The only person who knew about my powers was her, besides the people at camp. How would they have found out?
Tears flooded down my cheeks. After a while, Jason scooped me up into his arms and carried me out of the lodge. I barely even noticed it. He took me to my cabin and gently laid me on my bed. I burrowed myself in the covers.
Jason rubbed my back slowly. "Hey," Jason said, pulling the blankets off of me and brushing a stray strand of hair from my face. "It's going to be alright Jackie. We'll get you're mom back."
Jason looked at me, his deep orangey-yellow eyes staring into mine. He smiled. "We got Kathleen and back, didn't we? You remember that?" I sniffled, recalling when we'd gone to rescue Kathleen, Alex, Lorena, Ally, and Aiden when they'd been kidnapped by the Armors. I rubbed my eyes, still red and puffy from the tears.
Eventually, my crying died down. Jason and I laid on our sides, facing each other, our eyes locked. Jason put his hand on my shoulder. He knew what it was like to loose your parents.
Jason had never told me where they were or even if they were still alive. I didn't ask because I knew it was a sensitive topic for both him and his sister. All I knew was he and Kathleen had been put into foster care when they were little and they'd been separated. Eventually Jason found out he was different and ran away. Somehow, he ended up here.
Jason wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me to him. I gently draped my arms around his neck over his shoulders. My eyes closed as I kissed him and everything else seemed to melt away, just for a moment. It felt like electricity flew though my body. And I couldn't get enough of it.
Pulling me closer, Jason kissed my lips. Was this what it felt like to be struck by lightning? My powers just went haywire, but I was too busy to care. The lights in the room began to flicker as my lips pressed against his. Rain began to patter against the roof as we kissed. Nothing else mattered in this moment. It almost seemed like nothing else existed.
Reluctantly, I pulled away from him and stared into his eyes. Both of us were breathing heavily. "I love you," Jason whispered in my ear.
And that's how we fell asleep. Side by side, holding each other. I never wanted to let go.
That night, my last conversation with my mom played over in my head.
"Don't come home. I love you."
"Mom?" I repeated.
I woke up with a start. I could feel Jason's warmth next to me. Tiny raindrops clinging to the window caught the sunlight like hundreds of little prisms. I lifted my head to see Jason, lying on his side and propped up on his elbow. "Good morning, Sleeping Beauty." He placed a soft kiss on my cheek.
I shrugged my drowsiness away. "Good morning," I said, stretching.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Fine. Just a nightmare," I answered, brushing my messy hair out of my face. "You could have woken me up or gone to eat breakfast."
"No, I like watching you sleep," Jason said. I raised my eyebrows.
"Okay. That sounded really bad. It's not like that. You just look very… peaceful when you're sleeping."
I laughed and got out of bed. I was still wearing the clothes I'd worn on our date. I didn't even want to see myself in the mirror because I knew I looked hideous in the mornings. I brushed my hair out and made Jason leave so I could change clothes. I felt much more comfortable in my typical outfit of ratty old jeans and a t-shirt. After lacing up my shoes, I pulled on a sweatshirt and went outside. Jason waited for me, casually leaning against the side of my cabin. "Come on."
When we got to the dining hall, most everybody was there. We got plates of pancakes and bacon and sank into chairs next to Samson and Alex. "Hey," Alex said.
"Did you guys hear the rain last night? It just started pouring all of the sudden," Samson said. Both me and Jason held back laughter.
"Yeah," I said. "Really strange." I clenched my teeth to keep from cracking up.
"Anyway," Alex said, "you had a rough day yesterday. Are you okay?"
I nodded. "Just trying to figure it all out."
"You know, you might want to stop by Ava's cabin. She might be able to help a little," Samson added through a mouthful of pancakes. Ava is the oracle. She knows pretty much everything.
"Good idea," said Jason, drowning his pancakes in syrup.
"If anyone can find your mom, it's you, Jackie. You found us when the Armors captured us," Alex put in.
"That's exactly what I said," Jason insisted.
After breakfast, we took up Samson's idea and went down to Ava's cabin. Jason raised his hand to knock on the door, but Ava opened it before he could, as if she knew we were coming. She greeted us with a warm smile. "Hi," she said, "come on in." We entered the cabin. "Jackie I heard about your mom. I'm really sorry."
I nodded, giving a weak smile. "Thanks. That's why we came to you actually. Do you think you can help us?"
"I'll do everything I can," Ava answered. She motioned for us to sit down in a small couch. Her room was scattered with enough trinkets to satisfy Ariel in the Little Mermaid. Books, jars full glowing marbles, small golden boxes, and other items I couldn't identify lined her shelves, desk, and floor. The entire wall was covered with a collage of strange drawings, random lines of poems scrawled in messy handwriting, and pages ripped out of books.
Ava explained that she could try to show me a Memory to see who took my mom and if we can get any more information we could. It's one of the special powers of the Oracle. Can you try to clear your mind?" Ava asked. I tried pushing all of my thoughts out of my head. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. I'd never done this before. "Jackie, relax. It doesn't hurt." I settled down a little. "Now close your eyes. Think about the last conversation you had with her," she instructed. As her orange eyes turned a brilliant yellow-green, I closed my eyes. Her hand pressed against my forehead.
I'm floating. When I open my eyes, I'm standing in a building I don't recognize and I see my mother holding a phone up to her ear, tears running down her cheeks. I'm completely transparent.
"Jacklyn!" my mother exclaimed hoarsely into the reciever. "Is that you?"
"Yes, it's me," I hear myself say on the other line.
"Honey, listen we don't have much time," she says, looking around nervously. "I'm glad you went back to the camp. It is best you aren't here. It's not safe." There is a huge crashing noise and the window shatters, shards of glass spilling into the air and onto the floor. I hear growls and the scene disappears. I'm floating in darkness.
"If you ever want to see you're mom again," a female, sickeningly and inhumanly sweet voice hissed, "you need to go to the Lapse. Today."
It felt like I'd been thrown into a wall. Sucking in a deep breath, I asked, "What the heck was that?"
Ava shook her head. "It's charmed," she said. "They put a curse over it and I couldn't break it. Whoever did this is very powerful."
"They also have my mom," I added. "At the end they said I'd have to go to the Lapse today if I ever want to see my mom again."
"It could be a trap," Jason said.
I sighed. "I know. But I have to get her back."