Shorts; check. Sunglasses; check. That’s it. Everything is packed and ready for our trip to the Bahamas. I hear Sky mumbling something about a delivery while she slams a drawer shut. She’s projecting her impatient mood, and the calm I send her isn’t helping.
I tap my wristband, a device that Jewel’s dad invented so we can communicate telepathically. We all have one: Storm, Jewel, Sky, me, and our folks. They’re coded so that we can open a communal line among the four of us, or speak individually to each other. Our parents are linked to Sky and me and to the other adults. The problem is that Jewel’s device isn’t working for some reason, and we’ve only heard from her once since she was abducted and all she said then was “Antiss.”
What are you upset about? I ask.
That bikini I ordered might not get here in time, she answers. What if we don’t find her, Pax?
We will. We know the Dracans have her in Atlantis. The Allarans are pretty sure it’s somewhere in the Tongue of the Ocean off Andros Island. They’re fully aware that we can’t fix any more of the artifacts without her, so they have a vested interest in helping us get to her.
I wish we’d never met any of the aliens. Her familiar fragrance precedes her when she comes into my room. My twin sister is a strong empath, with the ability to feel everyone’s emotions and to project her own to those around her. I’m like a bloodhound; with a nose sensitive enough to smell pheromones and scents too subtle for most humans to pick up. Thankfully, I can turn it off by raising a scent guard like a shield when I don’t need it. I can also calm her down; usually.
It’s worse for Storm, she says. He was only ten when a Dracan ship killed his parents and now this. Bullhorn, Pax, it’s no wonder he’s angry all the time.
Sky is in love with Storm, and the feeling is mutual, judging by his pheromones when he’s around her. He won’t acknowledge it, though, and I hate how it affects my sister. I became aware of his feelings the day he saved her after a Dracan ship caused her car to slide off the road into a ravine. His telekinesis kept her from dropping into the river far below.
All four of us have unique abilities, including Jewel, who sees millions of colors with her remarkable aquamarine eyes; multiple times more than any other human. She also sees through disguises and cloaking devices, which is how she’s always been aware of her sentinel floating in the sky above her. I remember when she told us about the Allaran ships assigned to watch each of us. She thought they were here to protect us. Hers didn’t do such a great job of it.
The doorbell rings and Sky goes back to her room while I go to open it. Sheriff Green stands outside, hat dusted with a thin layer of snow, red nose puffing steam with each breath. He stomps his boots on the ice-encrusted mat, steps in and hands me a small box.
“Found it on the doorstep. It’s addressed to Sky. Are your mom and dad here?”
I take his heavy down jacket and hang it on the coat rack. “I wish you were coming with us, Sheriff.”
“So do I, Pax. There’s a good chance my son is there with Jewel. If I didn’t have responsibilities here…” His voice trails off and he heads toward the kitchen, where stairs lead from a door in the pantry down to my parents’ labs and the gym. It’s supposed to be a secret door, but pretty much everyone in town knows about it.
Max Green disappeared with Jewel when the reptilian Dracans invaded the cave where we’d just repaired the tetrahedron; one of many artifacts planted in different parts of the world to keep the planet in balance and in proper working order. It seems they’re failing, and we four are supposed to fix them, according to an ancient Cherokee prophecy. The Dracans took the artifact along with Jewel and Max.
“My bikini, and just in time,” Sky exclaims, taking the package from my hand. “Now I’m ready for the Bahamas.” She rushes off to stuff it with the rest of her clothes in the suitcase.
I hear the pantry door shut, and Dad shouts, “Pax and Sky, time to go.” He grabs his bag, Sheriff Green picks up Mom’s and we load up the back of Dad’s SUV. We’re going to meet the other families and the Allarans in the field in front of Jewel’s house.
Dressed in her winter boots and jacket, Sky shivers next to me in the back seat. My nerves crawl with anticipation, and I shiver, too.
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