About the Author
For Gemma Green’s first time, things should have been straightforward. Find your subject, hold their gaze and push a thought into their head to save them from future disaster – Aversion complete. A pretty simple process given that the subject was to have no recollection of the experience. But Russ Tanner doesn’t seem to want to forget. In fact the more she tries to avoid him, the more he pushes to get to know her. Gemma knows she has a problem but is she facing the side effects of a failed Aversion or has the school’s tennis champ really fallen for her?
I took a deep breath and walked over to Russ’s window, lowering my head to the same level as his face. Despite my common sense, I could see what half the girls in my year went on about when I overheard them going on about how cute he was. He had an appealing mix of his mother’s Persian features and his father’s athletic build. His dark eyes were wide and expressed his confusion, yet he said nothing. Funny how I had never noticed his eyes before; right then it felt like they were trying to bore holes through me. At least he was cautious enough not to wind down the window. But the glass only protected him physically. I didn’t need to touch him for this to work. All I needed was eye contact and I had it.
Hello Russ. You will start to forget every word I say even as I speak. You will also forget that I was here tonight. There’s no need to panic, going to the party is not an option. Do what you have to do to get out of it. Whatever happens tonight, do not get into this car again.
That should do it, I thought as I saw his pupils dilate ever so slightly and flash a pale blue shade before clearing up again. But then I remembered something else that I had thought about earlier on that afternoon after I had felt the jolt and realised that I’d have to see him again that night.
Oh and stop that filthy habit of smoking with Dean and those idiots at break. Seriously, tennis pro with tar coated lungs?
I stepped away from the car and walked back to where Dad was waiting behind the car. It was time to see if it had worked, if I had finally crossed the threshold between exceptionally perceptive human and Averter. At first nothing happened as Russ remained in the car with his head bent low.
“I blew it, didn’t I?” I said with a sigh.
“Patience. You’ve just attempted to alter his psyche, give it a moment.”
Almost on cue, the car door flew open and Russ got out. He didn’t turn back to acknowledge us. Instead he walked into the house and shut the door. Lights went on inside as he found his way round the house and Dad motioned for us to return to our waiting area. We had to make sure that he wasn’t going to convince himself that the party was still a good place to be at. Dad said that sometimes it didn’t matter what we tried to achieve, strong will power had been known to be the cause of failed Aversion attempts, especially when the subject was young and feisty. But the front door remained shut and after about an hour, Dad indicated that it was time to go.
That was it. My first Aversion. It was that easy. I was finally going to receive my Orb, a vessel that helped channel the emotions of our assignees to us from a great distance. Receiving it would truly mark my graduation into the big leagues.
I was certain things had gone smoothly until the next day at school when I walked past Russ in the cafeteria. I usually kept my head down when there were a lot of people around but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek at him. I was still slightly fascinated by the fact that I had altered his mind and he was supposed to have no recollection of it. He was sitting with his usual group of noisy friends, probably the same ones who would have died last night if it hadn’t been for my little stunt, so I expected him to be engrossed in whatever they were saying. But when I looked up, he was staring at me. Not just a quick glance like I was attempting, but outright staring. I was so shocked by this that I looked away really quickly. Something didn’t feel right. I thought I had detected a flicker of recognition in his eyes. But it couldn’t be. He had no reason to stare at me. It could only mean one thing.
I ate my lunch as hurriedly as I could, left the cafeteria and headed for the girls’ toilets where I locked myself in a cubicle and tried not to hyperventilate. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe he hadn’t even been looking at me. I suppressed the urge to ring Dad and tell him that I might have botched the Aversion. What could I have done wrong? He hadn’t gone to the party so that part had clearly worked. Maybe I hadn’t been strong enough when I told him not to remember anything about me being there. That could be why he thought he recognised me.
I couldn’t hide in there for long, I had classes to attend and our school toilets didn’t smell good enough to hang about in for more than a few minutes. When I emerged from the cubicle, I caught sight of my reflection in the large mirror above the washbasins and gasped. I looked like someone had smacked me across the face and was coming back to finish the job off. I wasn’t usually superficial enough to notice what I looked like so for me to say that I looked bad, I really did look awful.
I had left the toilets and was walking to my next class when the sound of my name hit me in the gut. Please let this not be happening, I prayed silently as I turned round to face my addresser.
Sure enough it was Russ standing behind me, frowning like he had done last night and still looking incredibly cute. I had never let myself consider what the boys in my school looked like and yet for the second time in less than twenty four hours, I was struck by Russ’s large dark eyes. Urgh, what was wrong with me? Think cocoa allergy, I scolded myself.
Even worse than that was the thought that I had definitely messed up my first Aversion. I had to have. Russ Tanner had never spoken to me before today and suddenly, there he was, calling my name right in front of everyone. Damn it. That probably meant that I was not going to receive my Orb today.
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