Hi Everyone, sorry for the delay in updating the chapter. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 7

New Friends

I entered my marine biology class through the back entrance, mouthing sorry to my teacher in front. She waved me off and continued her lesson about the invasive species that are currently plaguing the eastern seaboard. The class was pretty full, luckily Mai was in this one and she waved me over to the seat she saved.

"Hey girl! I thought you weren't going to make it." She whispered to me, moving her bag so I could sit.

"Yeah just got a little turned around, still trying to get used to these halls." I mumbled, pulling out my 10th edition Biology/Marine Biology textbook and flipping to the pages Mrs. Maycreft was lecturing on.

"Hey, are you sure you're ok? You look a little pale." She said, turning to me with concern clear in her voice. I smiled a little at her and nodded. "I'm fine, thanks for asking." I said sincerely, appreciating her words.

"What are friends for, just let me know if you need anything." She smiled back nodding and turned to pay attention to the lesson.

I chuckled to myself. I couldn't believe how blind I was thinking I might actually have made a friend here that doesn't want anything all along. Mai might be the exception but I don't want to get my hopes up. Throughout the whole class Mai and I messaged each other about getting our homework done early. We planned to study after school since Mrs. Maycreft stated there will be a quiz on friday. Mai rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out pretending to gag when the teacher turned her back and I covered my mouth hiding my laughter. Finally the bell rang releasing us and we walked together toward our locker, laughing and joking all the way. I walked her over, saying I will catch up with her after school and headed to my locker to pack up my bag before going to the gym. I was trying to make sure I had everything so that I wouldn't have to see Nathaniel by the lockers at the end of the day. I heard Nate calling my name while he weaved through the crowded hallway but I ignored him. I packed everything up quickly, closing my locker and rushed downstairs using the opposite staircase so he couldn't stop me. Gym class went by without any incident. I stuck to teaming with Kyle and a couple of his friends just to avoid dealing with the Nights. It turned out that Kyle only had a minor fracture so he just had to take it easy for a month or so just to make sure it healed correctly. I ended up cancelling my plan to meet up with Nate over the weekend, much to his dismay. I couldn't possibly think of being alone with him after what he did.

The week was over bringing the peace of the weekend with it. It was late in the day when I decided to go exploring, the sun was starting to descend, casting an orange and red glow in the sky. Driving down random roads, I came across some quaint little local spots that were homey. Lights were strung all the way down the street, making the trees sparkle with a soft glow. It led to a small market with local thrift shops, book stores, restaurants and bakeries lined up in a half circle. I managed to find parking and got out to do some window shopping. I saw plenty of beautiful trinkets that I made a note to come back for. Reaching the end of the way, I was about to turn back when I spotted a sign with a saxophone down an alley in between two restaurants. I turned down the alley and noticed a glass door that said Jazzed. I blinked in surprise to find a jazz club here. Stepping through the door, I noticed a couple of people milling around the bar to the right, chatting amongst themselves. There were a couple of booths lined up against the walls and the middle had a few square tables spaced out with enough room to get around. A stage was towards the back of the room with spotlights and a purple backdrop. It looked like they were getting ready for tonight's events. A lady in a black tank top that said Jazzed came out through the beaded curtains behind the front desk. She was holding a clipboard, checking off something.

"Oh! I didn't see you there, I'm Seffirne, welcome to my club!" She said looking up in surprise. She smiled putting the clipboard down. She was a cute little thing, possibly 5'3" with a curvaceous body. Her hair was pulled up into a curly top bun with a few strands framing her delicate face.

"Not a problem, I was just looking around when I came across your awesome secret club." I said smiling. " I'm Celine, I just wanted to see what went on in here."

"Haha, not much right now. We are just setting up the stage for a poetry reading tonight. We usually put on little events for the local creatives. You should definitely come and check us out. I'm sure you would have a blast." She said handing me a business card and a little pamphlet.

"Thanks, I will definitely come back." I said looking at the pamphlet, it had a listing of all the upcoming events. Looking around the place again, I saw that the workers were almost done setting up the stage. I turned back to say goodbye but Seffirne was already gone. I walked out smiling to myself, glad I was able to find a possible go to spot. It was already very dark out so I decided to head to my car. There weren't a lot of people out today, just a few here and there. I was about to turn the corner to the parking lot when I saw a figure up ahead. Nothing about them particularly felt friendly so I decided to pick up the pace and keep my eye on them. Usually I am able to see pretty well in the dark; however, it felt like the shadows themselves were masking the person from my sight. I squinted my eyes trying to make them out but to no avail. Giving up, I got into my car and rode away, leaving the masked figure in the darkness.

School came and went in a blur, keeping to myself whenever possible. It went on like that for the next month. I would duck and avoid Nate as much as possible. Juliana was overly pleased with this new course of action but I couldn't care less. I was used to ignoring people and staying to myself. He eventually took the hint, messaging me that he would give me my space and to let him know when I was ready to talk, which I left on read. My group did notice the sudden stall in my relationship with Nate. They pressed me for days to try and make me talk about it, finally giving up after I wouldn't spill. They weren't entirely too surprised though, figuring that they only took interest in me because I was new, which bothered me more than it should. It was finally Friday and the last period of the day. My outfit was pretty plain, I only accessorized with my favorite stone necklace. I pushed open the door to the women's locker room and went down the third row of royal blue lockers toward the right side of the room. It was very crowded and noisy from the girls chattering and lockers banging. I wove my way through the crowd finally making it to my assigned locker. I fiddled with the combination and finally opened it to retrieve my uniform. I started lifting my top over my head when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Hey Celine!" I heard a high pitched voice say behind me. I mentally groaned wishing I came in earlier to avoid everyone.

"Hi," I said quickly with my back still facing her. I pulled off my top and jeans and quickly stepped into my shorts and pulled on the shirt, hiding my necklace under my shirt. I turned toward her, closing my locker.

"It's nice to finally meet you, I'm Laurela." she said sticking her hand out.

"Umm hi, it's nice to meet you as well." I said tentatively, taking her hand. When I shook it, I got a rush of feelings flowing from her. The two strongest feelings at the forefront were greed and jealousy. I rocked back a little and quickly let go of her but recovered before she could notice. She had covered her eyes with her hand and reached down to sit on the bench close to us.

"Hey are you ok?" I asked looking at her with concern and trying to disguise my disgust.

"Yeah yeah I'm fine," she said waving me off. "I just got really light headed all of a sudden. I'm on this new diet so I sometimes get dizzy spells. It should pass soon." she said awkwardly laughing.

"Well if a diet is doing this to you, you should probably consider a different one." I said, chuckling a little, rubbing my neck. A look of annoyance crossed her face but she quickly covered it up with a wide smile.

"Yeah, maybe." She said lightly but I heard her voice float through my mind. "Well some of us aren't naturally gifted with a perfect body." I slightly rolled my eyes while finishing packing up my gym bag.

"Well anyway, I'll see you in class." I said trying to step around her.

"No wait!" She yelled hoping up in front of me but she moved too fast and tumbled forward. She slapped her hand on lockers to stop herself from falling.

"Are you ok?" I asked wide eyed, trying not to laugh.

She waved me off, brushing her shorts down into place. "Yeah, yeah I just wanted to see if you were busy next, next Friday? I might be throwing a little get together so I just wanted to get a count of who might be there." She said, raising up fully smiling. I could see that she was forcing herself to keep a pleasant composure. I looked down acting like I was contemplating it.

"Umm... I'll think about it and get back to you, thanks for the invite though." I said smiling at her. I turned and walked away before she could say anything else. I could feel her frustration following me out the doors.

"Ok ladies and gents! Today we are set up for dodgeball. I know most schools have outlawed this sport for it being too violent or for bullying but this is my gym and I believe it builds character and a strong backbone! If you have a problem with this, you can gladly sit out and write a 10 page report on the positive effects of physical education for young adults." Coach Von yelled at us from the middle of the gym. No one moved to leave. I looked around the gym to see who was here. We were all sitting on the bleachers waiting for Coach Von to pick teams. I was at the top so I could see everyone. I spotted Nate and Juliana huddled together on the bottom bleachers. Their heads were bent close together looking like they were having a heated argument. I rolled my eyes and looked away, focusing back on Coach since she started calling out for the team captains.

"Well today you all will be split up into 4 teams so we can have two games going. The winners of the first match will compete against each other. The ultimate winner will receive the prize...a gym pass for the day of their choosing!" Coach said excitedly, lifting her hand and clipboard over her head. Everyone's heads snapped up after hearing that perk. I laughed to myself knowing everyone will be going all out since this is the last period of the day. That meant we could leave early.

"All right so all the team captains, I want you to come down and stand by me." She said looking down at her clipboard. "Nancy Lavil!" Nancy hopped up gracefully laughing on her way down. She was the captain for our school's dance team. If you saw the live action Wonder Woman movie, you would swear they were sisters. She had beautiful thick black hair, pearl green eyes, plump lips, a sparkling smile and sun-kissed skin. She went to stand on the left of Coach giggling with her friends.

"Alright, next I want Nathaniel Night!" Everyone started cheering and hooting. He glided up laughing and waving. I couldn't help the smile that crept up seeing him smile. He glanced up at me, eyes twinkling. I scowled, looking away to avoid his gaze. I could feel his disappointment but I didn't care, at least that's what I kept telling myself. I glanced back but he was no longer looking at me. He went to stand next to Nancy. She pretended to swoon when he passed by causing everyone to laugh and he briefly smiled but it didn't meet his eyes.

"Ok, next is Jordan Yalor!" He popped up looking ready to tackle the competition. The typical jock, quarterback and captain of our Lion's football team. He already has scholarships lined up with numerous colleges. He was pretty tall, about 6'1", with shaggy chestnut brown hair, strong jaw line, coffee colored eyes, tan skin from being on the field and a defined muscular build. He just oozed confidence when he passes everyone. I rolled my eyes at his showboating, leaning forward to rest my arms on my knees. I placed my head in my hand, waiting to see who the last captain would be.

"Alright! Alright! Settle down people!" Coach said, blowing two short bursts into her whistle. Everyone winced and quieted down. "Ok my last captain will be... Celine Apophis." She announced putting her clipboard down.

What... I whispered to myself, jaw slightly agape. I did NOT want to go down there. I sat frozen, I couldn't believe my ears. "Celine, please make your way down here." Coach said again. Some of the kids turned to look at me when I didn't move. I saw Juliana smirk at me from the corner of my eye. I took a deep annoyed breath and made my way down the bleachers. I walked past Nate making my way to stand by Jordan.

I felt Jordan bend down slightly towards me. "Hey beautiful, hope there won't be any hard feelings when my team creams you." He whispered in my ear trailing the back of one finger down my arm and winking. I snickered, placing my hand on my cocked hip, shaking my head slightly at his arrogance. I saw Nate stiffen out of the corner of my eye. I smirked up at Jordan, pursuing my lips like I was thinking over his comment. I beckoned him to bend down, making sure Nate could see.

I placed my lips close to his ear and whispered, "I'm pretty sure I can handle anything you can dish out but...there's nothing wrong with a little cream in my coffee every now and then." I winked at him.

"Oh!" he gaped at me, shaking his head, pleasantly surprised. I saw annoyance flicker across Nate's face before looking away. I smiled to myself.

That's what you get for eavesdropping.... I thought to myself with a sharp laugh. He jerked like he'd been slapped. Coach Von stepped out of the way so we could start picking our teams. We picked everyone one at a time taking turns. I didn't know most of their names, thank goodness for mind reading. Of course Nate went first and picked Juliana. I rolled my eyes as she sashayed over to him, causing all the boys to drool. The class was split up evenly so it didn't take long to break everyone up. Once we had our teams, we broke off to stand across from the opposing team. I was facing Jordan's team first. He smiled a crooked smile winking at me before turning to give a speech to his team. I turned to face my own team and saw them standing in their own little groups, either chatting with each other, looking nervous or just plain bored. I quickly prayed to the heavens for strength and straightened up to face them.

"Hello team!" I shouted to get their attention. "I know most of you don't know me so I just want to quickly introduce myself. I'm Celine, just moved here a couple of weeks ago. Can everyone just quickly say their names for me please?" I asked looking around at the seven of them. The first of the four boys stepped up and introduced himself.

"Hey Celine, it's nice to meet you officially, I'm Kevin." He said in such a smooth baritone voice, the one that just makes your knees weak. He wasn't bad to look at either with a swimmer's body. He had creamy chocolate skin, green eyes, defined jawline, and a neat fade cut. He smiled, showing off his pearl white teeth and dimple on his left cheek. I nodded my head smiling and said hi before turning to the three girls standing together with their arms crossed.

"Ok I guess we're doing this, I'm Winter." She said pointing to herself with her thumb. "This is Rainn," she said gesturing to her left, "and this is Nova." She said gesturing to the girl on her right. They both nodded, still looking quite bored. They all had a different goth look going on based on their accessories, hair and shoes. Nova had more of a cybergoth style, which consisted of blue and black cyberlocks intermingling with her silver hair. Metallic headphones draped around her neck, black buckled boots and very extravagant makeup with blue, black and silver gem studs intricately placed above her eyebrows to the bridge of her nose. She literally looked out of this world. Rainn had a lovely cropped leather jacket on over her gym shirt, bright red lipstick stained her lips and sleeve tattoos covered both arms. She shaved down the left side of her head and clipped back the right side so that her wavy blonde hair would fall in a long mohawk, pulling off the gothabilly style. Lastly, Winter was more of the traditional goth, with black fishnet stockings, black sneakers and leather studded cuffs with pink skulls around both wrists. Her black hair was frizzed out and she had pale white makeup with dramatic eyeliner and ebony lips. I said hello to them all and turned to the last three boys. They looked very nervous, you could tell this was not their arena.

"Umm hi, I'm Daryl and they are Max and Tom." He said in a nasally voice indicating to his left than his right. Daryl was very slim and was only about 5 '3", he had a baby face and just seemed like he didn't fully grow into himself yet. Max was the opposite, he was very tall roughly 6'4" and was very lanky with shaggy brown hair and was wearing wirely glasses. Tom was on the chubby side, he had nice tan skin and black hair with hazel eyes. A couple days in the gym and he would be a stud if he overcame his insecurities.

"It's great to officially meet you all." I said, clapping my hands. "I do want to go over some strategy plays before we start because let's be honest, a free pass is pretty hard to come by." I said laughing awkwardly, clearing my throat. Kevin chuckled and smiled at me encouragingly. I smiled back and continued. "I just want to get an idea of everyone's strengths. Can we separate into two groups, throwers on the left and catchers on the right?" They broke off with Kyle, Rainn and Daryl as the catchers and the rest as throwers. While I waited for them to move, I started drumming my fingers against my leg feeling the air dancing around my fingers. An idea started formulating in my mind on how I was going to get us through the competition easily.

"Perfect, thank you!" I said getting excited, finalizing my plans in my mind. I made sure my shields were up so prying minds could not overhear my thoughts. "Ok so I believe we should stand in a V formation with me as the point, Winter and Max to my left and Tom and Kevin to my right. Kyle, Rainn and Daryl will stand guard with me protecting the throwers and tossing the balls to them when necessary. Of course if you see an opportunity to take someone out by throwing or catching, please do so! Does that make sense? Any questions or concerns?" I asked, clapping my hands together.

They all looked around at each other with a mix of excitement or nervousness. "Umm, I know you're new and all but is this really necessary? I mean I know you beat the Nights once, but literally they always win. There is no point in trying..." Winter said rolling her eyes, disdain dripping from every word.

"Ok I hear your concerns, but we can do this! We just have to be confident in our abilities and not give in." I said placing my hands on my hips. "Let's not worry about them, give it your all and have fun! The only way they can win is if we let them by not even trying in the first place." I said bouncing in place excitedly. I could see hope flicker across their faces and I smiled, glad that I could inspire them a little.

"You can try half breed, but that's wishful thinking with that sorry group you have!" Juliana's venomous thought breaking through my barrier like nails on a chalkboard. I glanced over to the opposite side of the gym and spotted her showboating with her stretching. My anger spiked and my control slipped for a split second causing my eyes to flash. I could feel her laughter from across the gym. Closing my eyes, I turned back to my group and opened them smiling brightly. Glad I kept some of my talents to myself. I tuned out everyone except for my team and focused on the overall feel of the group. I paced around a little while everyone was chatting, waiting for the game to start. I started picking out the individual tendrines of energy that were connected to each member of my team and linked them to me. This would let me know their dominant emotion and if they were in danger of being hit by an oncoming ball.

I felt Kevin move in my direction."Celine, are you ok?" I heard him ask. I pulled myself back to the present and looked at him.

"Yes I am fine, just thinking." I said chuckling a little, checking to see if my hair was still securely in place.

"Well don't think too hard, like you said just have fun out there." He said reaching out and squeezing my shoulder lightly.

"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." I half smiled at him. He smiled back and stepped away to fix his laces.

We were about to start and I watched them get into position. They still seemed pretty hopeless but they didn't know I had two aces up my sleeve. I stood there at the peak facing our opponents with anticipation for a match that will definitely leave an impression.

"Alright captains, I hope you had sufficient time to plan, if not too bad we're starting." Coach Von yelled out to us from the bleachers, lifting her whistle. I could feel the anxiety washing against me like waves coming from my team. I took a steadying breath visualizing the trendrins I attached to myself linking to everyone around me. It looked like shimmering orange strands pulsing with light in my mind's eye. This was the right time to unleash the first part of my secret weapon. I started pushing through a steady stream of calming emotions to relax them that sparkled with blue light. I could see it entering them and calming their centers. Then I started shooting out gold bursts of excitement every couple of seconds to build their confidence and motivations. I could feel them practically bubbling with anticipation to defeat the competition. I smiled knowing it was working and prepared myself, widening my stance and shaking my hands out, wiggling my fingers to loosen them up. Gazing out in front of me, I saw Jordan's team was staggered around waiting excitedly. They were all football jocks, milling around, tussling, joking and bumping each other just oozing overconfidence. Jason was in the center, getting in position. He smiled when he saw me looking and blew a kiss. I pretended to catch in and then threw it behind me, wiping my hands on my pants pretending to be slightly disgusted. Both teams busted out laughing which caused him to scowl but he quickly replaced it with a forced smile. So she thinks she's hot shit, I'll make sure to take her out first not too gently. He thought angrily.

I took a deep breath and shouted, "let's show these wannabes who it is they should fear!" My team responded with a roar in unison and I laughed with pride. The other team was taken aback looking slightly worried. Drumming my fingers on my legs again, I felt the air respond and swirl around my feet and hands in a steady stream. I had realized while speaking to my team that I could use the air to my advantage to add speed to my teammates to help them dodge or while throwing the ball or even as a barricade to slow oncoming balls. Coach Von placed the whistle between her lips and blew sharply. The gym was filled with thundering steps running towards the line of balls in the center. Sprinting forward I ducked down, grabbing two balls quickly and tossing them back to my waiting teammates. I saw my other guards Kevin and Nova doing the same, quickly backing up out of range of any shots. Suddenly I shot my hand out stopping a ball dead in its tracks two inches from my face. The impact echoed over the sounds of squeaking shoes and shouts. I brought it down holding it with both hands looking straight at the Jordan who was standing there dumbfounded that I was able to catch it. I straightened up with a smirk, spun on one foot and whipped it forward striking two opponents at the same time, too fast for either to catch it. A cheer roared out from my team as I hopped backwards to them. Jordan grinned, bowing his head slightly and quickly shuffled off the court with his two teammates in tow.

"You seriously are amazing!" Nova said slapping me on the back. Kevin and Winter touched me on the arm smiling before getting back into place.

"Thanks!" I said excitedly crouching slightly in a guarded stance focusing ahead with the others mirroring me. Everyone determined now rushed forward dodging, catching and throwing. I saw Kyle stumble a little about to be hit by a ball. I shot a stream of wind out at him turning him slightly, the ball missing him by a hair. He shook his head a little amazed that it missed him and went to retrieve the ball. It didn't take long for us to find our rhythm, with me providing minimal assistance. With the confidence boost from earlier and taking out three opponents at once, it seemed to have awoken their competitive spirit right up. We took out the team easily and rushed to each other for a group hug jumping up and down. Jordan's team came to congratulate us with real admiration. We really worked well together.

It looked like the Night's team were just finishing up. There were only two people left on the opposing team. Nate jumped somersaulting forward grabbing two balls in front of him. He threw one up in the air above him crouching forward. Juliana came up running behind him propelling herself off of Nate's back grabbing the ball in the air. They both threw the balls simultaneously, knocking both opponents out winning the game before they could even blink. Nate and Juli turned to each other, performing such a cute sibling handshake. They clapped their hands tapping each side against each other. While the backs of their hands are still connected, they grasped one hand under the connecting hand like a normal handshake and repeated the motion again and then dropped them like an explosion. They laughed at each other and she jumped up hugging him. Their laughter sounded like crystals chiming. Their team rushed them with high five and praises. I couldn't help but be impressed by that last move.

"Alright, beautiful games Team Night and Apophis! Now go get ready for the last match of the day. Losing teams please gather the balls and line them up for our next match. Then go sit on the bleachers!" Coach said, blowing her whistle again.

I turned to my team drawing their attention to me. "Ok guys are you excited!" I shouted.

"Ummmm did you not see that last move they did? They are a well oiled machine ready to annihilate us! What do you think?" Kyle asked breathy looking like he was going to have a panic attack.

"Yeah if I wanted to end up bruised and battered, I would have continued playing paintball over the weekend." Rainn said with a dry laugh.

"Come on guys, cheer up. It's not over until the fat lady sings right?" Kevin said, pumping up his arms.

"Exactly guys! This is going to be fine, just stick to the plan. We worked so well together, it will pay off I promise. If not then we will leave here proud knowing we gave it our all!" I shouted, placing a hand out in front of me. "So what do you say to bringing it in and bringing it home?" I asked, waiting expectedly. I covered my hand with a thin stream of air just to prevent direct contact.

"Whatever, why not!" Nova said placing her hand over mine.

"You know I'm in!" Kevin said doing the same. The rest followed with grunts. "I'll take it, one, two, three!" I shouted with us all raising our hands up shouting "All In". We all shuffled into place, ready to strike. The last ball was placed and they ran off the court, everyone was excited and anxious to start. Nate's team looked pretty well balanced. Laurela was on their team as well, she looked my way and waved which I returned. Nate was standing staggered in the back and Juliana was to my far right. He looked my way whispering good luck with a small smile. I nodded slightly and said "same to you." Juliana gave us both an annoyed look before focusing. I gave my team one last emotional boost before Coach blew her whistle in a long loud stream. We all rushed forward, not knowing how we would come out on the other side.

I reached the front line grabbing two balls again. I tossed one back but kept one for myself. I jumped back, distancing myself from the shots. I felt two balls coming towards me. I used the ball I had in one hand to bounce the first ball off and caught the second ball with my other hand. Coach called out that Nicholas was out. I didn't have time to see who that was when another ball was whipped my way. This one coming from Laurela she had a slightly evil gleam in her eye. "Get her, Get her!" Was all she was chanting over and over in her head. I dodged to the left rolling on the ground and tossed a ball to Kevin who grabbed it, jumped up and shot it straight at Laurela. She was so focused on me that she didn't see it coming. It hit her on the side of the head, she rocked back holding her head. "Ow! That is a foul! Coach, that was a foul!" She cried in a nagging voice.

"There are no fouls in dodgeball! You should have dodged! Off the court!" Coach yelled pointing beside her. Laurela scowled holding her arms over her head to avoid any oncoming balls.

"Thank you!" I said to Kevin getting up and slightly breathey.

"Anytime!" He said blushing a little and running to grab another ball.

"Ugh!" I heard Tom grunt getting pummeled by three balls.

"Tom!" I shouted, running to him, ducking around.

"Are you ok?" I asked concerned, crouching slightly in front of him keeping my eyes out for any opponents.

"Yeah I'm fine, thanks." He said with a sad smile.

"Of course, good game!" I said, helping him to stand. He smiled brighter and stumbled off.

I turned back looking over my team quickly. They were a little panicked. I quickly gathered up the wind I created and sent it out to circle everyone's feet to help them dodge faster. I spotted Juliana targeting Rainn. I sent a stream of wind out knocking the ball off course. It sailed over her head slamming against the wall to bounce over towards Winter. Juliana turned to face me, scowling.

"Cheating I see, wouldn't expect anything less from someone like you." She spat at me. What followed was a sharp ringing in my ear that felt like needles bouncing around in my head. I felt the world tilt for a second and shook my head trying to get my bearings again.

"It's not cheating when I'm protecting my team from the likes of you. Are you trying to hurt somebody?" I retorted meeting her gaze trying to ignore the pain.

"I wasn't but it looks like I have a target that's not so easily broken ...oh wait that was my brother's job. How did he do, by the way?" She asked in a sickenly sweet tone. Again the piercing sound penetrated my skull throwing off my equilibrium. I swayed to the side, stepping out to get my balance. Feeling woozy and sick, I tried to push past the disorientation. A smile was creeping up her evil little face and I realized that she was disrupting the sound waves using her voice as a weapon.

"Impressive..." I whispered, still trying to fight off the effects. I bent down in a crouch making sure to still watch what was around me.

"Juli!" Nate shouted angrily, head whipping towards us. "Knock off the crap and you know it wasn't like that! Celine it wasn't like that." He whispered distractedly, catching a ball thrown at him.

She shrugged, smiling and released her hold on me. It felt like ten tons of pressure was raised off of my head.

"Kevin, Winter, you're out!"

"You snake..." I hissed under my breath, raising up and walking slowly towards her. I bent down in a smooth motion grabbing a ball, never removing my eyes from her. Briefly registering that I was down two more players.

She smiled widely, mirroring my movements. Everyone moved out of our way, deciding to target an easier opponent. We both picked up the pace and sprinted towards each other. The wind whipped across my face, loosen my bun causing my hair to bounce on my back in two twist. We both jumped up, spiking the ball towards each other. We both turned in the air dodging the balls easily. She landed on the balls of her feet, skipping back to stand by Nate smiling deviously. Nate scowled down at her shaking his head. She looked up asking what, which he rolled his eyes to. I landed in a one legged crouch with my left leg stretched out to my side and left hand resting on the floor balancing me. I lifted my head, anger sizzling in my eyes. They both looked at me, determination written across their faces mirroring each other. I stood up brushing the loose strands of hair away. They both moved quickly finding balls near them. Coach was still calling out names letting us know who was out. I looked around quickly realizing that I only had two members left and the Night's had one. I ran forward dropping down to slide on my knees to grab a ball and chucked it straight at the last opponents legs. They tried to hop away but Nova also throw a ball. My ball hit his feet but he still caught Nova's ball, holding on to it as he fell to the floor.

"No!" I cried when Nova's face fell and she walked off the court.

Kyle looked at me, totally panicked now. I tried to give an encouraging smile while keeping my eyes on the Nights. They were stalking towards me. Nate targeted Kyle and Juliana on me. I looked between them trying to figure out who would strike first.

"Poor Celine, looks like you didn't take into account that Nate will always choose blood over murky water any day!" Juliana taunted. I narrowed my eyes at her slowly moving towards Kyle trying to draw Nate's attention away from him.

"Julis I'm warning you, cut it out! He barked at her preparing to throw the ball.

"Oh stop trying to pretend so hard," she said, giving him a hard look. "She already knows where she stands. Don't you Celine?" She said drawing out my name. I grinded my teeth together, refusing to answer.

Nate stood up straighter looking at his sister through narrow eyes. "Juliana." He said curtly, anger laced in his voice. She sighed irritated and looked at him annoyed. He walked over to her, whispering harshly for her to cut it out. They started to get into a mini argument while everyone looked on amazed. I made my way over to Kyle now that they were distracted.

"Kyle!" I whispered quickly.

"Huh?" He said in a small voice, frightened stiff.

"Listen, quickly while they are distracted. I am going to distract both of them by drawing their fire. When they have effectively forgotten about you, I want you to take your shot at whoever is in your reach. Can you do that?" I said rushed, keeping my eyes on the bickering siblings.

"Uhh...ummmm... I think so...I'll try." He said, gulping. I smiled and quickly squeezed his shoulder before walking away towards them.

"So are you two going to argue all day like a bunch of babies or are we going to finish this game?" I asked loudly, quite annoyed, tossing a ball up and down in the air. The whole gym got quiet, waiting for what was to come next.

"You're really cruising for a defeat huh?" Juliana asked, turning her head to look at me with a bored expression.

"I'm ready to get this over with, are you?" Nate asked her annoyedly.

"Whatever." She said both turning to face me.

"I'm sorry Celine." Nate said with sadness in his eyes.

"It's fine, let's just finish this." I said smiling stiffly. "Let's go then!" I shouted, running towards them raising my arm and shooting the ball towards them. Nate effectively blocked it, bouncing it off of his ball and it went sailing behind them. Juli had a wicked grin on her face when they both, in sync, shot their balls toward me. One high and one low. I gathered the air around me jumping up and twisting in the air so that I was horizontal in a tight spiral. The wind loosed my hair causing it to flare out around me. The balls flew above and below me missing me completely. I landed gently on the ground, my hair still wiping around until it finally calmed mostly landing in front of my face. I used my arm to swipe it back and tousled it a bit, smiling grandly while the whole gym roared and cheered.

"Is that all y'all got?" I asked, raising my hands in the air causing more yelling and taunting from the bleachers. Everyone's cheering was split up equally for either the Nights' or me. Juliana yelled in anger, eyes flashing dangerously while Nate looked at me with admiration. She dashed to her right ducking to grab another ball. We all saw a bright red ball sailing towards her. She lifted her head at the last second with a look of surprise clear on her face. She lifted her hand trying to stop the ball but it ricocheted off of her fingers bouncing back behind her.

"Are you serious!" She yelled livid, turning her gaze on Kyle. Everyone got up cheering and hollering, running towards him, picking him up and jumping with him. She scowled at them and stalked off, pushing past the doors to the locker room and disappeared.

"Ok, ok people let's finish this game!" Coach said, though clearly just as excited from that play.

Nate was laughing to himself looking a little stunned as well. I joined because her face was completely priceless. "I wish I had a camera!" I said,

"That makes two of us, she will never live this down." Still laughing tears, shining in his eyes.

"Uh oh, better wipe those tears, someone might think you actually have feelings." I huffed bitterly rubbing my arms.

"Celine..." He said defeatedly walking towards me. "I cannot... I don't know how to make this up to you. I didn't know what Juliana did to you earlier that day either. Tell me what I can do?" He asked quietly, stopping in front of me. His gaze was still and unwavering. He moved his hand to briefly brush against mine, I looked down at our hands mimicking his movements until we were holding hands by our fingertips. Sparks sizzling deep in my stomach just from this small touch. I swallowed hard, my mouth suddenly dry. I looked up at him seeing the truth in his eyes knowing that in my heart I couldn't keep blaming him.

"I guess we'll see this coming Saturday what you could do." I whispered nervously, feeling totally ripped apart and exposed by this guy and it terrified me...but to be honest thrilled me as well. A gorgeous smile spread across his marble face, lighting him up from the inside out. "Sounds like a date." He said, raising my fingers to his lips and lightly kissing them.

Too many emotions flew through me too fast to process. My legs weakened and I felt like I was going to faint but I refused to give him the satisfaction. "You're not off the hook by a long shot though!" I said a little breathy moving back from him taking my hand back slowly with a small smile gracing my lips. He tipped his head, eyes never leaving mine while he stepped back to his section of the gym.

"Ok people let's go. Kyle, Celine, Nathaniel let's finish this game." Coach yelled, blowing her whistle initiating us to start. Kyle hopped over pounding his fist against mine. "Great shot man, I knew you could do it!"

"Yeah it kinda shocked me that it worked though, you all have such great reflexes. She must have really been off guard." He laughed, snorting a little. "And it looks like you and Nate made up huh, lucky you!"

"Wait what?" I asked, taken aback.

"The fight you were in...it was all over the school." he said shrugging. I looked over at Nate raising my eyebrow. He shook his head, raising his hands and shrugging. Then he dodged over grabbing two balls and chucked both of them at us, a devilish grin on his face. I tackled Kyle down just in time and jumped up. "You jerk!" I yelled stalking forward, moving closer to a ball that's to my left.

"What! Coach said we have to finish this." He said innocently moving to find his next ball.

"Hey Celine, we should both strike at the same time. He can't catch them both." Kyle whispered, running up to me. I saw Nate smile out of the corner of my eye. "Let's keep that as plan B, I think he is expecting that." I said looking at him quickly. "Just follow my lead. I think I have an idea." I said winking at him. I took off leaving him stunned and grabbed two balls that I quickly chucked one and then the other at his face, angling it to make sure that they bump into each other and split at the last minute. I beckoned Kyle to throw me another ball and I quickly threw that towards Nate's feet while he was still distracted. Of course he sailed over that ball easily grabbing the ball when it bounced and returned fire at Kyle.

"No!" I yelled turning to get back to Kyle but he was too far without using my true speed. While I was focused on Kyle, Nate shot a ball at me, nipping my shoulder and falling off. I looked at my shoulder in shock when Coach yelled my name saying I was out. Looking over at Nate, he smirked at me and winked. I shook my head and went to sit by the bleachers where classmates congratulated me on a good game. We all looked over at Kyle trying to see what happened. Kyle prepared himself to catch the ball that was coming at him. It hit him square in the chest, making him wince. Everyone started to yell HOLD ON! You could see that he got excited but lost his balance at the last minute and stumbled back, the ball fumbling from his grip. Coach blew the final whistle announcing the end of the game. The whole gym erupted, half running to Nate and the other to Kyle. I smiled to myself, making my way to the locker rooms glad that Kyle was getting recognition. Entering the room, I looked around seeing that it was completely empty. I zipped over to my locker, packing up and locking it before heading to the parking lot.

I met Mai out front so she could follow me to my place. She already heard about the great game that we had, it always amazes me how fast word travels around here. Getting to my car with ease, I backed out waiting for her to pull behind me and headed home. The ride was smooth like usual. I kind of wished I could go to the beach again, but knew it would probably be a bad idea. Driving up my driveway, I parked with Mai pulling up beside me. Entering my extremely quiet house. I sighed a little, wishing that I had someone here to greet me. I dropped my bag by the couch. Mai gasped upon entering, I smiled back at her expression. It was refreshing having someone over for once.

"This is so beautiful! And you have this all to yourself?" She asked, amazed looking around.

"Yeah, pretty much. I've been on my own for a while since my parents passed."

"Oh no, I'm so sorry!" She said touching my arm lightly.

"It's ok, I had to become an emancipated minor a while back so I'm used to being alone." I said the lie, easily slipping from my lips.

"That explains a lot..." She said thoughtfully.

"What! What do you mean?" I asked incredulously, placing my hand on my chest dramatically. She laughed.

"You're just so independent. You don't need anyone to help you. You're like superwoman, you can do it all!" She laughed raising her hands in the air. "Or that's at least how you come across." She said flippantly flopping on the couch.

"Whatever,"

"No but seriously, you are so strong, I don't think I would be able to go through what you did." She said sitting up with a serious expression.

"Yeah well, it was hard but you do what you must, you know?" I said not looking at her and rubbing the back of the couch with both hands.

She stood up and came over to me, hugging me from the side unexpectedly. Shocked, I stood there frozen for a few seconds before turning to return her hug. I could feel her empathy blanketing me and soothing my mind.

"Thanks Mai," I said into her hair.

"Anytime." She started to sway a little bit and I realized I was absorbing too much of her energy. I slowly stepped back and she let go.

"Well let me show you around and we can hit those books."

"Ugh fine..." She laughed and I laughed.

My little house was nice and cozy with only two floors, a nice wooden porch in the front and a decent sized backyard framed with trees leading into the surrounding forest. The living room had a small electric fireplace built into the wall and was framed by black and white marble. I had two burgundy loveseats adjacent to it and a glass coffee table in the center. The living room had nice stained wood flooring and a long black fur rug under the table. Two modern light fixtures hung from the ceiling which you could dim. I had different resin paintings that I worked on throughout the years, hung around the room. The walls were off white and reflected the yellow tones from the lights. I had a large black bookcase lining the wall leading to the kitchen. I am very proud of my collection, there were a variety of genres there that could rival any bookstore. Mai absolutely loved the bookcase saying we should start a book club. We both kicked our shoes off by the door and headed to the kitchen. The kitchen was pretty modern with chrome appliances, a large sink, and a mosaic tiled backsplash consisting of midnight blue, iridescent blue, white and glitter black. Dark grey flooring leads up to the raised breakfast nook with cushioned navy blue seats and white pillows. I loved sitting there because the windows opened outward so you could enjoy the breeze and read. We ended up staying in the kitchen. Setting up our books with a whole bunch of snacks to munch on. We studied late into the night going through, four chapters laughing and joking the whole time. I had my Beats speaker blaring my Pandora stations. Right now, In my feelings by Drake was playing and coincidentally my phone started to buzz with a text from Nate. I smiled slightly to myself but locked the phone without answering. My phone buzzed a few more times with messages from Nate but I just kept the phone flipped so I didn't have to look at it.

"So who's trying to get into your pants this late at night?" Mai said, wiggling her eyebrows biting the end of her pen.

I choked on the popcorn kernel I just popped into my mouth. She laughed while I was coughing and I flipped her off which caused her to laugh even more.

"You're such a jerk." I said, wiping my mouth laughing.

"Hey don't change the subject! Is that Nate?" She asked excitedly, bouncing in her seat.

"Ugh, must we talk about him?" I said exasperatedly slumping in my seat.

"Celine!" She whined flopping forward on the table stretching her arms out toward me, pleading with her eyes.

"Fine, fine." I laughed. "Yes it is, he's trying to plan an outing for Saturday but I'm not really sure if I should go."

"What! Why are you even questioning it? Goooo!" She exclaimed, jumping up in her seat.

"It's just complicated and I just don't know." I mumbled looking away from her questioning eyes.

"Well just from my experience, the only way to uncomplicate something is to meet it straight on and conquer it!" She shouted, winking at me.

"I guess you're right." Giggling to myself I picked up the phone reading the messages.

6:45pm "Hey Celine, busy?"

7:10pm "Well I just wanted to get a feel of what you wanted to do Saturday?"

7:35pm "I was thinking, maybe the movies? Movie Tavern is pretty poppin."

7:55pm "Ok maybe that is cliché, hit me up if you think of something else."

I smiled to myself thinking of him lying in bed, overthinking everything that he is saying. I finally texted him back saying:

8:05pm "The movies sounds great, maybe a comedy?"

Responding immediately, he said:

8:06pm "Perfect, I'll take care of everything." ;)

"Well it looks like we are going on a date Saturday." I said shyly looking up from my phone. She squealed rushing over to hug me, I couldn't help getting excited as well.

"What are you going to wear? Where are you going to go?"

"I don't know yet and Movie Tavern, it looks like!"

"OMG this is going to be great, the girls and I could take you out and make sure you look FABULOUS!" She said whipping out her phone and sending a group text before I could even blink.

"Mai, why did you do that?" I pouted. "You know they get weird anytime something about Nate comes up."

"Oh hush, they will stop once they realize they have no chance and start supporting you." She said stubbornness written all over her face. Her phone started buzzing like crazy from the incoming texts. "Don't worry girl, we got you!" She said without looking up from her phone, her fingers working a mile a minute responding to the texts.

"Well I'll trust your judgement then, just please don't let them go overboard." I said getting up to throw away the trash and pack the dishwasher. She followed me over sending her last text and helped me clean up.

"I told you, I got you girl." She said lightly punching my arm smiling. We finished cleaning up and I walked her to the door. Hopping into the car, she rolled down the window, waved and drove off. I stood in the doorway until I couldn't see her rear lights anymore and closed the door, locking it behind me. I wasn't ready for bed so I decided to head back in the kitchen, exiting out the back door wanting to just relax in the hammock I set up under the trees. I felt the most at peace surrounded by trees since I spent so much time surviving by myself in the forest. I lied back in the hammock letting it rock me while I watched the clouds pass by in the darkening sky.

Closing my eyes relaxing, feeling the breeze brush softly across my cheek, I sighed. Still swaying slightly, I rubbed the small stone necklace I hid under my shirt. Pulling it out I examined it in the retreating light, it glowed slightly like it had an inner light. I brought it to my lips kissing it and letting it bring my mind back to that time long ago. I spent fifteen years isolated trying to master my abilities. I remembered how when I mastered a new ability, the stone would feel like it was heating up. Warming me like it was praising my success. It was also another small comfort left to me by my father. After my escape from town, I tried going back to visit my parents. I wanted an explanation as to why they would abandon me but when I reached the town I was met with destruction and death.

The villagers were all slaughtered like lambs and the homes and buildings were burned down to the ground. Ashes blew in the wind, while I stood there petrified. I ran to find my old home was one of the few that wasn't completely destroyed. I entered, trying to find any trace of my parents. I walked around the small cottage, entering my room. Walking slowly to my bed, I spotted a small white note on my cotton pillow. I slowly reached for it, terribly scared of what could be written inside. Picking up the note I felt something heavy fall out and hit the floor. Bending down to pick it up, I gasped tears pricking my eyes. It was my father's Lapis Lazuli stone that was laced with azurite. It was one of his most prized possessions.

He told me stories of traveling from Egypt to the new world and that this stone was thought to have magical properties and was converted by all. He said that it was sacred to his people, that only priests were allowed to handle it because of the azurite. Azurite is a blue copper mineral and the lapis lazuli is a deep blue stone with flecks of gold throughout. He went on and on about beliefs that lapis lazuli was able to lead a soul into the afterlife and to recognize its immortality. They also believed this stone to be a stone of love, and therefore it had the ability to open one's heart to the love of others and towards oneself. It was called the soul of the gods. The azurite was called the stone of heaven. He told me it was used to help in focusing one's mental abilities and was also used in healing practices to cure many ailments. Another benefit that a lot of people did not realize was that it increased spiritual and magical powers, acting as an enhancer of sorts. His eyes always shined so brightly with pride when speaking about his past. He would always tell these stories late at night, sitting in his favorite chair feeling the warmth of the fire pit. He made sure to always tell me that no matter what, I would always be his favorite and most precious jewel hugging me tightly on his lap by the crackling fire, shadows flickering around us. I picked up the stone gently, seeing that it was still attached to a leather cord. Finding a small cloth to wrap it in, I cradled it to my chest. Sitting on the floor, leaning back on my bed I cried softly into my hands.

I didn't know how long I stayed there before remembering that I also had the piece of paper in my hand. I opened my hand revealing the paper, now a little crumpled. I opened it gently, trying to flatten it out. I saw my father's handwriting, triggering another set of tears I tried holding back. I read the letter slowly:

My beautiful lapis Celine,

The ever shining jewel of my eye. I have failed you. I will never forgive myself for this indiscretion and will forever have a burning deep hole in my chest; which will never fill unless I have you in my arms again. That God forsaken day will forever be etched in my heart. I pray that you have found some sort of peace if you have indeed passed to be with our gods. I have vanquished those who sought to harm you. You will not be pursued if you have escaped through the shadows. Please believe I did everything I could to ward off this attack. Somehow, something overpowered me, leaving me weak and I passed out. I know someone tampered with my mind. I will do everything in my power to find out the truth. Just know you will always be my favorite and most precious jewel. I leave you my truth in this note. If you do return to this tainted place, please wear this necklace. The stories I told you were true, this stone will protect you. There were secrets - family traits...I never got to share with you and I will regret that as much as letting you slip from my fingers. You will need it now more than ever, but you will survive because you are my child, strong, brave, brilliant and true. My beautiful star.

Will love you forever,

Papa

I opened my eyes, bringing myself back to the present. I now wondered if those secrets were about our families' origins. That we were actually immortal beings; however, if that was true, how could he not have found me after all this time. I rubbed my eyes, tucking the necklace back under my shirt. I got up stretching and started walking back to the house when I stopped in my tracks. My back started tingling with the sensation that I was being watched. I turned around scanning the trees and forest behind. The wind picked up, rustling the leaves and causing the branches to sway. Not seeing anything, I shrugged it off and continued inside. A hint of what smelled like cinnamon clung to the air. That's odd... I thought to myself as I looked back one more time, making sure the door was locked and closed the blinds. I walked up the stairs, grabbing a quick shower and rolled into bed. I closed my eyes, trying to calm my turbulent mind. Sleep whisked me off soon, plaguing me with memories of the past and more questions with no answer in sight.

I hope you enjoyed reading. I do want to let you know that this will be the last update. I'm currently rewriting the story. Need to make some necessary changes. :)

Please do comment, rate, share and like.

I hope you see you all soon.