For two days straight I thought of nothing but the prophecy—what Tommy told me, what else it could say, where it could be, how I could get a hold of it, how it was me. That last thought was the one that consumed my mind the most. I couldn't deny it anymore. The savior in the prophecy was me. I had no idea what I was going to do about it, or, rather, what I was supposed to do, but I did know the only way I was going to find out was if I found the prophecy—the whole prophecy—which, of course, presented a problem because I had no idea where it find it.
I had put all my money on Tommy knowing everything about it, or at least knowing where I could find it, but even after I begged him to search the "seer" section of his encyclopedia for more on the prophecy he still couldn't find it. So, once again, it was up to me. Why was everything suddenly weighing down on my shoulders? Why couldn't other people take some of the weight?
I was sure feeling the weight as I walked from the school building to my Jeep that afternoon. My bag was full of folders, notebooks and textbooks. All my teachers had decided it would be fun for me to have to study for three tests on the same day. I was sure they were out to get me. I mean, didn't they know I had the added pressure of being the one person who can save all the shapeshifters in the world? No. Of course they didn't. They didn't even know shapeshifters existed.
I sighed and searched my bag for my car keys, rummaging through the extra pockets. Where had I put them?
A hand slid around my waist and a pair of lips planted a kiss on my cheek. "Hey," Jet said, not moving his face away from mine, "Ready to go?"
I turned so that our lips met briefly. Smiling, I said, "Yeah, as soon as I find my keys."
"Looking for these?"
Pulling away from Jet, I found Brad standing beside me, holding his pinky finger out towards me, on which my keys were dangling.
I snatched them from him, glaring. "Where did you get these?" I demanded.
Brad raised his eyebrows at me. "Woah. Relax," he said, "I didn't steal them, if that's what you're implying."
I could feel my cheeks burn in embarrassment. "Oh." I knew if I said anything else, I would probably chew him out—something that even I could admit he didn't deserve.
"I saw them fall out of your bag on your way out," Brad added.
"Umm, thanks," I said, breaking eye contact with Brad.
"Hey guys!" Cammie exclaimed bounding up to us. We seemed to have become opposites lately—she was always so cheerful whenever Brad was around, and I was so…not.
"Hey," Jet said. He was the only one to respond to Cammie.
"What's up?" Cammie said slowly, glancing between me and Brad.
"Not much," I said, attempting to smile at Cammie. From the look on her face, I could tell I didn't do so well.
"O-kay," she said and turned towards Brad.
"We better get going," Jet said, pulling me away from Brad and Cammie.
Cammie grabbed my arm, stopping me from getting in the car. "I'll text you later, okay?" she looked at me meaningfully.
"Sure," I said, attempting another smile. I did a better job that time. Turning away again, I got in the car beside Jet. Backing out of the parking spot and pulling away from the school, I saw Cammie talking animatedly to Brad in my rearview mirror. It was so obvious she liked him—to everyone but Brad it seemed—unless Brad was just too busy trying to get to me, something I really wished he would stop doing. Brad couldn't see that Cammie liked him and Cammie couldn't see that Brad liked me. I was definitely more thankful for the second blindness—I didn't want my best friend being mad at me for something that wasn't my fault.
Once home, I heaved my ten-ton bag over my shoulder and headed around to the back door with Jet right behind me (if you're wondering, Jet pretty much never goes home). I opened the door to the kitchen to find a stranger sitting alone at my kitchen table.
"What are you doing here?" Well, not a complete stranger, but that was the problem.
Skye emerged from the other room, holding a plate full of crumbs. "Relax, Marina," she said, "Valerie's okay." She then turned to address the woman from the clan, "Kelsey says she wants more cookies, that okay?"
Valerie smiled at Skye. "That's fine," she said.
Once Skye left the room again—glaring at me on her way out—I turned back to Valerie. "What do you want?"
"I came here to talk to John," she said, eyeing him standing behind me.
Jet moved forward and sat down at the table with Valerie while I took the seat next to him. "Okay, so talk."
Valerie's eyes shifted from Jet to me and then back to Jet. "I was hoping we'd get to talk...in private."
Jet straightened up—something he tended to do when he got defensive. "Anything you have to say to me you can say in front of Marina," he said.
I felt my cheeks burn again, but not out of embarrassment like before, but out of shame—I still hadn't told Jet what I discovered about the prophecy. I didn't know what was holding me back—I just couldn't seem to tell him for some reason. I also probably should have reminded him that, according to this woman, we were brother and sister—and his behavior wasn't exactly "brotherly".
"Okay," Valerie said, glancing at me again, "You're not a part of their family, are you?"
Or maybe it didn't matter that Jet wasn't acting "brotherly".
"No," Jet admitted.
Great. Now this woman was probably going to run off to Geoff and tell him that my dad had lied about Jet. He was probably going to get carted off to this tribe that was supposedly so horrible.
"I live a couple miles away," Jet told her.
"Do people tell you that you look like your mother?" Valerie asked.
Jet frowned. "Umm, no. I'm adopted."
Something that looked oddly like hope flashed across Valerie's face.
"Sorry to interrupt your conversation," I said, leaning forward, "but, why are you asking him all these questions?"
Valerie stared at Jet—her eyes rounding his face. "You…" Valerie paused, clearly flustered, "you…it's just look like…you look like my sister."
Everyone was silent. The only sound was the T.V. in the other room, where I assumed Skye and Valerie's daughter, Kelsey, were watching a cartoon.
"Your sister?" Jet asked finally.
Valerie nodded. "You look exactly like her. She ran away from the tribe when I was fourteen."
"Why?" I asked.
"In the tribe, when you turn eighteen the elders pair you with a compatible mate," Valerie started.
"A mate?" I said, "That doesn't sound very romantic." No wonder my dad hated the tribe.
"It's not as bad as you may think. Even if you aren't friends with your mate, you soon become best friends," Valerie countered, "My mate and I didn't spend any time together before we got paired but after we got very close."
"Where is he now?"
Oh God. Way to go, Marina.
"We're so sorry," Jet said softly.
"Thank you," Valerie said, "Anyway, Deirdre didn't like the idea of being married to someone she didn't love, even if she knew she might come to love the person over time. She didn't want to take the chance that things wouldn't work out. So, she left."
"Just like that?"
"Well, no. See, unless you are with a clan on an expedition, you aren't allowed to leave the tribe."
"At all?" I asked incredulously. I was starting to truly understand why my dad faked his own death to get away.
"You can go outside the walls to explore and stuff but you can't go alone or be gone for more than four hours at a time," Valerie explained, "And Deirdre was always a bit of free spirit. She felt so confined in the tribe—she constantly got citations for being outside the wall for too long." Valerie smiled at the memory. "Anyway, on the night before her eighteenth birthday, I caught her sneaking out of our house. When I asked her where she was going, she said she was leaving, that she was going to find a better life for herself. I asked her why and she told me that there was much more to life than what the tribe offered. She said we deserved to be free. I didn't understand what she meant then, but I do now."
"Did you ever see or hear from your sister again?" Jet asked quietly.
Valerie shook her head. "No," she said then looked up at Jet, "but you really do look a lot like her. I think you may be her son."
Jet was silent. I didn't think he knew what to say. The woman sitting in front of him could very well have been his aunt—the first blood relative he ever met.
From her pocket, Valerie pulled out a photograph that was torn at the edges. Very carefully, she placed it on the table in front of Jet. I leaned in closer to him to see clearer. The picture showed to young girls. They had their arms around each other and were smiling. One had curly brown hair and blue eyes like Valerie and the other straight black hair with green eyes…like Jet. Judging by the picture, there was no doubt about it.
Deirdre was Jet's real mother.