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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This is an excerpt from one of my young adult novels- let me know what you think!

THE ELEMENTAL SOULS AND THE CRYSTAL PROPHECY
By GG Anderson
Young Adult Fantasy
63,650 words


Chapter 1

“This is so pointless,” he threw the cigarette down, “What are we even doing Smith, come on, we need to go.”  The man looked sketchily out the crack in the wood, “Seriously, we’ve gotta get out of here now!”
The sound of gunfire rang the length of the street, echoing off the buildings, wrapping around the vehicles parked safely by their owners.  Smith turned to the unconscious woman.  “I love you, never forget that.”  He kissed her softly, pushing the large crystal into her still hand.  “Don’t forget anything.”  Smith stood, looking back one more time as the gunfire drew closer.


“Mom, I don’t know why you have to pack my lunch.  I’m in high school now!”  Kai yelled from the hall.  His t-shirt hung wrinkled enough to appear he didn’t care about his appearance.  He ran his long fingers through his hair one last time, making sure it stood up just right. 
“You are going to be late.” His mom met him in the hallway, handing him a paper sack and the brand new backpack.  “Now, have fun and make some friends.”  She kissed him lightly on the cheek, pushing her hand through his hair. 
“Mom, now it’s messed up.”  He rolled his eyes and walked out the door.  “See ya after school.”
“Call me if you need me!”  As he shut the door, Kai knew she wished nothing but the best for her son.  He deserved that at least.  A new school, a new house, everything seemed to be causing him serious stress these days. 
He reached the front of the high school.  The stately brick front towered down over him.  He pulled on the wrong door.  Of course, he chose the locked one.  Rolling his eyes he entered, through the second set, wondering what this one would be like.  It was his third school since going public, as he called it.  His mom kept him in private school as long as possible, but with job changes and school tuitions going up, it was inevitable to mainstream to public education. 
Since then, she had been lucky enough to earn promotions in her company, resulting in two moves for them as well.  The money was nice, not having to shop thrift stores for everything.  Then again being the new kid wasn’t an easy price to pay, but he willingly paid it for her happiness.  After all, they had no one except each other.  No grandparents, no aunts no uncles.  His dad died before he was born so as far as he remembered, it had always been just the two of them. 
Kai checked into the office, watching the secretary sum him up in a judgy glance.  “It never changed.” he thought with a low sigh.  He leaned casually against the tall file cabinet, resting his elbow on top.  Everyone assessed him on his appearance.  She started with his messy hair, examining his high, sharp cheekbones.  Her eyes appraised his wide shoulders, carrying his long, lanky arms.  His ashy pale skin laminated Kai’s heavily veined hands.  All covered in a black t- shirt with dark jeans- must be trouble.  No one realized it had more to do with his incredibly sensitive skin.  The doctors said light colors were better for people with hypersensitivity, but he disagreed.  His blond hair fell carefully over his eyes, covering the mark embedded in his brow he carried since birth.  The only birthmark he hated. 
He had several of those however - birthmarks.  The one on his brow was most apparent because it caused the hair to change to a coppery bronze color.  The blue grey eyes he inherited from his mother drew more attention to his different colored brows than he preferred, so the punk, messy hair style served him well. 
He looked at the secretary and smiled with his full lips, trying to change her opinion.  It didn’t seem to matter.  Her mind already decided, she handed him his course schedule without even the slightest smile in return.  At least the secretary at the last school tried to be nice.
Kai entered his first class, unbelievably on time, and took a seat as close to the door as possible.  The first day entering ninth grade, he’d made the rookie mistake of taking a seat in the back, which left ample opportunity for people to corner him as he tried to make his way out the door.  He wouldn’t do that again.  Public attention was the farthest thing from his list of desires. 
He pulled his notebook out doodling miscellaneous figures in the margins as he waited patiently for the class to start.  Kai hated being early, but being late sucked even more. 
“Hey, what’s your name?” the blonde girl a row over asked flirtatiously. 
He ignored her, retracing his last geometric figure. 
“I said, what is your name?”
He glanced quickly.  His voice barely audible replied, “Kai.” 
“So, you’re new this year?” 
Oh how he hated that question.  As if he’d been in this school his entire life and she hadn’t noticed until now.  As if.  “Yeah.”  His eyes stayed glued to his notebook, directing all of his energy to will the teacher to appear. 
As if on cue, she walked in.  “Ok, class, I am Ms. Goodman.  Please take a book and pass it back.” 
  One class ended, running into another, then into another.  Lunch finally came and, to his surprise, Kai found himself starving.  Avoiding the lunch room, he took his brown bag outside to find solace under a tree.  Alone time would be nice after a day spent trying to be normal.  Kai had never been normal. 
He found a tree which called to him across the grassy area.  Sitting against the stable trunk, he felt his strength returning.  He always felt that way when he communed with nature.  His psyche fed off the sound of leaves rustling overhead.  He sighed peacefully, eyes closed, chewing mindlessly on his lunch.  So far the day had gone pretty well, nothing too difficult, no one too challenging.  Maybe this would be a nice place to graduate from.  After all, he could look forward to two years here.  His mom’s job had contracts she would be handling for at least that long.  He didn’t think about college much- it didn’t matter.  He would get in almost anywhere he wanted.  Tests were too easy for Kai.  He didn’t have to study; he knew the answers before he finished reading the questions.  It was other knowledge that scared Kai.  
“So, do you own this tree or can others sit here as well?”  The short stocky girl stood in sunlight directly in front of him.
“You can sit down if you want.”  He shrugged his shoulders, looking intentionally uninterested. 
“So, you’re new here right?”  She gave him a sideways glance.
“Yeah.”  Kai silently rolled his eyes.
“I bet you hate that question.”
"Pretty much.”  He smiled.
“Have you met anyone yet?”   She pulled out a small apple from her pocket and took a bite.
“A few people,” he said, unfolding his long arms.  “Everyone seems really nice.”
She laughed.  “That was the most pathetic lie I have ever heard.”
“No, really everyone’s cool.”
She grew serious for a minute.  “Don’t you realize things are not always what they seem?”
“Yeah, I’ve been told that.”  He looked off into the distance, refolding his arms atop his knees.
“If you knew what was good for you, you would make sure you don’t forget it.”  Her smile returned, but not to the extent he expected.  “I have to go, thank you for letting me sit with you.”  She stood and turned. “Remember what I said.”  With that, she walked away, her brown hair drifting silently behind her. 
Kai looked down at his hands.  “Don’t worry.  I know all too well things aren’t what they seem.”  He focused to see where the girl had walked to, but she had faded into the crowd.  The bell rang, pulling him back to his incredibly mundane day.
Finally, classes ended and Kai made it to his locker, avoiding most conversations, as well as confrontations.  Over all, it ranked as a very successful first day.  In truth, he almost liked it here, simply because he appeared invisible to a great number of the students.  He blended better at this school than he had in the last two.  Maybe things would be good here.  Not that they were bad at his last schools; it wasn’t like he hated his life or anything.  It was just a bit blasé.  He made a few friends at each school, got along with most of the teachers, but never felt they understood him.  Then again, it was difficult to understand Kai. 
Reaching the front door of home, he turned the key, smiling silently at the immediate comfort and safety the interior held. 
Reaching his room, he changed into his sweats, tossing his jeans on the floor for tomorrow.  He entered the basement of their little house, happily breathing in the musty smell.  Something about a basement made his whole being settle.  He walked over to the grass mat already on the floor.  Yoga had been part of his daily ritual since he was old enough to walk.  His mother insisted it be his after school scheduled activity and he found it easier to give in rather than to battle her on it.  She would win.  She always did, and if he admitted the truth, he had begun to enjoy it.  The simple stretches and meditation kept his anxious thoughts to a minimum. 
He finished, heading upstairs to take in a little of his other private pleasure - Wii.  His mom found him lounging on the sofa when she arrived home.
“How was your day?”  She asked over putting a bag of groceries away. 
“Good.”
“Really?”  She rinsed off the broccoli for dinner.
“Actually, it was better than good.”  He stopped the game, heading to the kitchen to help. 
“Serious?  What was better than good about it?”  She left him to finish putting the rest of the bag away.
“I met a really nice girl.”
“Uh oh,” she said, reappearing after slipping out of her work clothes.  “And what is this girl’s name?”
Kai paused over the frying pan, “You know I don’t remember her telling me.”  He dumped the chicken in.  “Anyway, she seemed pretty cool.”
His mother eyed him cautiously. He could tell Greta had never really thought about her son getting involved with a girl. Although the few grey hairs streaked through her blonde tresses proved that time had marched on, her eyes told him he had remained five years old in her mind for the last twelve years. 
“I am glad you’re making friends here.” She began setting the table.  “I really like my new department, so maybe this is a place we can land for a while.”
“I think so too.”  Kai smiled, thinking of the girl biting her apple.  If lunch every day was spent with her, it would be an okay year.
The next few days went much the same, with the exception of lunch.  The girl didn’t show and Kai hadn’t been able spot her in any of his classes.  Assuming she must be an underclassman, he decided to leave his comfortable tree and scout around.  To no avail, he followed the masses back into the building. 
The last class of the day was journalism.  Not exactly what Kai had asked for, but since they didn’t have a photography class, it was the next best thing.  So far, he found he could sit back and let the more experienced shutterbugs snap the shots the paper needed.  He hadn’t been given any newspaper assignments yet, so it left him to do the brainless homework his other classes required. 
“So, how bad does this school suck compared to your last one?”  The boy stood almost as tall as Kai, but was twice as wide and wore a school football jersey. 
Kai looked up with surprise and finally answered, “Not so bad.”  His smile tried to pull off the ultra cool –has-everything-together- look. 
The boy grinned, “Yeah it could be worse.”  He sat on the desk next to Kai.   “Name’s Ethan.”
“Kai,” he smiled back.
“Hey, you oughta come out to the game tonight.”  Ethan sat up a bit taller. “I’m the tight end.”  His cheeks revealed large dimples to match his dark purple lips.  “We really suck, but hey, football is still fun no matter what, right?”
Kai laughed.  He never played football- again the super sensitive skin.  “Yeah that’d be cool.”
“Right on.  Then I’ll see you there, or afterwards.  I gotta bounce; coach hates it when we’re not in the locker room right after school.”  Ethan literally bounced off the desk and headed out of the door.  “Hey, Kai?”  He yelled across the entire room.  Kai looked up, noting every pair of eyes now rested upon him. “Bring your camera.”
Kai nodded and resumed his homework, immersing himself in the text.
The game didn’t seem to be that big of a deal.  It wasn’t like he hadn’t watched football; he just wasn’t able to play himself.  This game made him a bit nervous however, because he had been invited.  A guy had said he should come and to bring his camera.  What exactly was that supposed to mean?  What kind of guy says that to another guy? 
He took his seat in the stands, happy he could hide behind the lens.   The action began and he started snapping photos: downs, tackles, passes, all the typical sports shots.  Then, out of nowhere, the sky started to change.  Winds began to blow and the rain let loose.  The grass became a mud puddle and it was difficult for Kai to tell which team had control of the ball.  Finally, it ended with a drizzly loss of 36-13. 
He pulled open his jacket, stashing his camera in the pocket.  He made his way down the bleachers and out to the parking lot. 
Finally reaching the solace of his room at home, he clicked on his computer and began looking at the pictures from the game. 
Surprisingly enough, they were incredibly good.  Kai always enjoyed photos, but hadn’t really perfected excellent at timing on action shots.  This time, it was if the game had stopped and posed just for him. 
“I am heading to bed.”  Greta poked her head in her son’s room.  “Hey, those are really good.”
“Thanks.  I don’t know how I got so lucky.”
“You get it from your father.  He was always the lucky one.  Good night honey.”  She kissed him lightly on the top of the head.
Kai coughed at her comment.  She’d said that for years, and for years he had wondered if his dad was so lucky, why he died without meeting his son?  
He saved the best pictures to a flash drive and then decided on checking his email before shutting down the system.  Checking his spam folder, a return address caught his attention.  It simply read, ‘Treegirl’.
He clicked on it and saw it contained a simple message.  ‘Remember things are not always what they seem – Treegirl”.  He read the message again, making sure he hadn’t missed anything. 
Kai saved the email, making a special folder entitled ‘stuff.’  He shut off his system and headed to bed.  This would be a long weekend.
For some reason, the email made him think she would be around at lunch on Monday. 
“Hey, Kai!”  The voice came from behind him.  He turned to Ethan standing with a few other guys all wearing the signature letterman’s jackets.  “Did you like the game?  That weather was wild!”  Kai closed the gap between them cautiously.  He had never been included in the jock group, simply because he wasn’t one.  “This is Eric and Will.”
Kai nodded to both.  “The weather definitely was a bit out there.  I did get some great shots, though.”
“Yeah, I told you we suck.”  The guys all laughed.  “Hey, we’re headed out to listen to some music, come along.”  Ethan started to move with the others down the hall opposite from Kai’s tree.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but maybe I can catch ya next time?”  He took a step away from the group and they stopped immediately. 
“Ok that’s cool.  See ya in class.”  Eric and Will turned toward the hall, but Ethan looked disappointed. 
Kai made it out the end door to the tree.  He hoped he would see her.  He ate slowly, waiting for her to show herself, but to his disappointment, nothing.  Her elusiveness felt annoying.  He ran his thin fingers through his hair and scratched the round birthmark at the base of his throat.  Where was she and how did she have his email address?  He stood slowly, stretching his thin legs out.  He adjusted his shirt to keep the thin fall sunlight off his skin and headed towards the school.
Journalism brought attention Kai wasn’t sure he wanted.  It so happened that the usual sports photographers’ camera erased the photos, so it left them needing new shots for the paper.  Ethan spoke up saying he was sure Kai captured everything they needed. 
Indeed, the perfect shot of the team battling it out bogged down by mud appeared crystal clear on the computer screen.
“I said ya needed to bring your camera.”   Ethan smacked Kai on the shoulder.  This whole guy bonding thing was new to Kai.  It felt strange and awkward. 
He smiled lightly at Ethan.  “You’re right, this whole thing was pretty lucky.”  Not that Kai bought it.  More was at work than simply dumb luck. 
Kai finished school for the day, finally making it down to his basement yoga studio.  He found himself thinking about the luck conversation with Ethan earlier.   Something about the situation made his arms tingle at his birthmark above his elbow.  Kai knew to listen to the sensations surrounding that mark.  It was a warning system of sorts.  He couldn’t quite pinpoint what the danger was exactly, but decided keeping his distance from Ethan and the other guys felt like the right decision.
It had been this way since he could remember.  His birthmarks were more than just marks.  They reacted to things around him, even people.  Most of them he hadn’t identified yet, but the one above his elbow definitely made him listen.  It proved correct on too many occasions to think it just coincidence.  He had a built in warning system against danger.    No, Kai wasn’t normal, although his mother insisted he was special.  He wasn’t completely convinced of that yet; still pretty sure he was simply a freak.
His sensitive skin had kept him covered almost his entire life.  Unlike most children, his skin would blister at the slightest sun exposure.  The doctors called it photosensitivity.  He didn’t care what it they called it; it still kept him from playing outside without long sleeves.  Not that Kai took his clothes off in front of anyone anyway, even the doctor if he could help it.  The birthmarks on his elbow and the one above his eye were just two of them.  He had eleven others, each one slightly different on various places on his body.  There were a couple that could easily be camouflaged by simple undergarments, one in the shape of the letter M rested right at the waist band of his boxer shorts.  Another one hovered over his lower back.  Both of them he ignored, knowing the possibilities of needing to dawn a Speedo in front of other people wouldn’t happen in his lifetime.  The marks on his chest, over his heart as well as one centered over his breast plate made summer swimming with friends a challenge, but honestly, the others on his legs he could usually ignore and pretend they were scars from a bike crash or falling down when he was young.  Overall, he pretended to be as normal as possible around others.  If activities involved changing in a locker room, he simply opted out, blaming an over protective mother to save face.  
He finished his yoga and headed upstairs to pound out a bit of Wii before dinner.


Chapter 2

The week’s monotonous schedule set in, and still Kai hadn’t seen treegirl.  Then again, he hadn’t had the opportunity to miss her much.   The newspaper editor fell in love with his first pictures of the football game, and named him the sports photographer for all upper class events including cross country.  Apparently he no longer blended into the surroundings since Ethan had taken an interest in him.  According to Ethan, Kai’s new found fame was the result of him.
Kai continued to avoid him, using the typical homework excuse, so far keeping him at bay.  “How long did it take normal people to get used to a schedule anyway?” he wondered.  But for now kept it going, avoiding the lunch room, packing around a book to sell his story.  Every day he sat alone by his tree waiting for Treegirl to reappear.
 Kai ate slowly, back against the tree, eyes closed, with an opened book propped against his knees in case anyone paid attention.  His light became blocked, forcing his eyes up to reveal a beautiful girl.   He squinted to focus more clearly.
“Hey, I’m Beth, do you mind if I sit down?”
“No, go ahead.”  Kai moved his leg slightly, allowing her to share in his shade. 
The girl sat on the ground, resting her hand on the trunk of the tree.  “So, you are in my history class.” Beth commented folding her long leg on top of the other.
“Yeah?”  Funny Kai hadn’t noticed her before. 
“Yeah.  I sit in the back corner.  You always sit close to the door.”  She shrugged, “I’m not surprised you haven’t noticed me, not very many people do.” 
Kai couldn’t quite see how that was possible.  Staring into her blue eyes, he felt he could see the actual ocean waves cresting.  “So are you new here too?”
Beth laughed, shaking her long tight black curls.  “No I wish.  I started here in kindergarten; people just don’t tend to see me, that’s all.”  She smiled widely, her features taking on a child like appearance.
Kai absorbed the air about her, “What year are you?”
“I am a junior, just like you.”  She pulled an apple out of her pocket, and took a large bite.  Kai shifted focus, staring at the bitten apple.  Beth looked at his strange expression, “What?  Haven’t you ever seen someone eat an apple before?”
He forced a smile, working to regain his composure.  “No, I guess I had dejavu.”   He straightened his knees one by one nervously.   “Tell me, have we met before?”
Beth swallowed her bite, crinkling her brows and raising them.  “Um no, that’s why I introduced myself.  Seriously, what’s your deal?”
“It must have been my imagination.”  Kai chuckled half to himself.  “So do we have any other classes together?”
Beth took another bite, shaking her head, “Nope, just history.”
“Who do you usually sit with at lunch?  I pretty much stick to myself.” 
She pointed to the far corner of the school yard, “I usually sit over there but I thought I would venture over today.  I felt a shift in the wind.”  Beth inhaled deeply reveling in the sudden breeze.
Kai grinned from ear to ear.  Not because he found her comment funny, on the contrary he so understood it.  It made perfect sense to him.
“Are you laughing at me?”  Beth asked accusingly.
“No no, actually, I’m smiling because I understand.”
“Whatever.”  Beth shook her curls back letting them tickle the tops of her square shoulders.  “Hey are you going to the game tomorrow?” 
Kai looked down at his hands.  Be cool, he told himself, “Yeah, journalism requirement and all.”
“Oh that’s right, you are the new poster child – get it?  Poster child?”  She laughed, “Anyway, so is it cool if I sit with you, or is this just a one-time thing?”
Kai blushed immediately, talk about blunt.  “No, it’s cool if you want to sit together.  I don’t talk a whole lot during the games; I hope you won’t be too bored.”
“Na, I’m usually too busy yelling at the team for making stupid plays.  It isn’t social hour.”  She laughed again, her curls bouncing in rhythm.  “Well, I’m gonna go- see you tomorrow then, cool?”
“Sure.”  Kai watched her get up, “Or if you want to hang out at lunch tomorrow that’s fine too.” 
“Oh I won’t be at lunch tomorrow.”  Beth looked down at him, the sun filtering through her hair.
“Why?  Where do you get to go?” 
“I have a dentist appointment.”  She turned to walk away, “See ya tomorrow night.”
Kai watched her walk, following her as she drifted through the crowd.  It amazed him how he maintained sight of her until she entered the building.  The bell rang and Kai got to his feet, trudging off to the rest of his day. 
At home that night, Kai continued to think about Beth.  What an interesting girl.  Her comment about the wind kept repeating in his mind.  “I felt a shift in the wind”.  He had felt it on many occasions.  Shifts in several things, not just wind.  It wasn’t something one shared with people of little or no consequence.  In truth it was something he only shared with his mother. 
Greta knew firsthand what a shift felt like.  She spent years teaching Kai what to listen to and look for.  She had been his teacher in knowing what was important in all areas of nature.  She spent years educating her young son on many things normal people didn’t pay attention to.  Those normal people called her a witch.  Of course, for people like Kai and Greta, witch definitely wasn’t the proper term.  She didn’t carry a broom or even wear a hat.  She technically was a Keeper.  She not only kept Kai himself safe, she also was entrusted with the power stone.  The original stone keeper had been Kai’s own father, but before Kai was born, his father passed it to her, knowing she could keep them both safe. 
Other than being keepers, his parents were pretty normal.  They held jobs, paid bills and yes, even fell in love.  Their love however, created something the world hadn’t seen in centuries, a special boy who embodied spirit as well as many other special abilities. 
Kai was powerful, more powerful than any normal human.  After his father’s passing Greta became the sole protector of him until the time came when he reached the age to handle his gifts responsibly. 
In truth, neither Kai nor Greta knew all of the gifts he held.  It had been so long since a child like him had been born, the myths outweighed any true evidence.  She did the best she could by teaching him to calm, center and above all kindness. 
 “Kai honey, lights out, it is late.”  His mother’s voice interrupted his tangent thought. 
“Ok, just one more minute,” He replied, trying to make his avatar move through the maze.
“Kai.  Now.  You have school tomorrow.” 
He sighed, letting his character die and began shutting down the system.
 “Speaking of school, how are things going?”
He shrugged his shoulders.  “Good.”
“Have you seen the girl again?”  Greta leaned carefully on the door frame.
“No.  I don’t know what the deal is.”  He paused, thinking through his next comment.
“What?  Come out with it.”
“Well, I met another girl.”  Kai put the controller down avoiding his mom’s eyes.
“Another girl?”  Greta sounded nervous, but pressed on.  “So what is she like?”
“Her name is Beth.  She’s really different.  I mean cool different, not freak different.  She said we have history together, but I don’t remember her.”  He stood up.  “Anyway, she just came and talked to me at lunch today.”  He walked into the bathroom, pulling out his toothbrush.
“Really?  She just came over to talk to you?”
“Yeah.”  He brushed his teeth, delaying the conversation.
“And what did you talk about when she came over?”
“Well,” He rinsed his mouth out, “she wanted to know if she could sit with me at the football game tomorrow.”
“And what did you say?”
“I said that was fine.”  He shrugged, putting his toothbrush away.  “I am going to be taking pictures anyway.” 
“She sounds nice.”  Greta’s voice faltered slightly, girl issues were new this year.
“Yeah she really is.”  Kai paused and looked at his mom, “She said the strangest thing.”  Reading Greta’s look he added, “No, it wasn’t anything like that, no prickles honest.  It was kind of cool.  She said she felt a shift in the winds.”
Greta swallowed hard.  In all of his seventeen years, she had been able to trust Kai to listen to his warnings, but something
“No, really.  I watched her walk away and focused really hard.  Nothing.”
“Ok. I know you are not going to like this-“
“I know, you’re coming to the game tomorrow.  I figured as much.”  He rolled his eyes. 
“I am sorry honey, but you have to understand –“
“Mom I do understand.  If I didn’t understand, I would’ve never told you.”  He turned toward his bed.
“Well, goodnight honey, see you in the morning.”
“Goodnight Mom.”  Kai crawled under the covers, while Greta watched helplessly from the hall. 
Moments like this made her wonder where the years had gone.  She remembered when he used to be small and wouldn’t go to sleep without her near.  Now he rolled over almost a man.
She made her way towards her bedroom. Something about the girls comment intrigued her.  Comments like that don’t come out of nowhere, especially for a seventeen year old.  Tomorrow night would be interesting.
As promised, Kai turned around in his history class to find Beth sitting in her desk close to the windows.  Her eyes stayed focused on the outside, with a longing that washed over her entire expression.  Kai turned back towards the front of the room.  No way did he want her turning around and seeing him staring.  Totally not cool.
Class broke and he took an extra minute to collect his things.  He made it to the door right before her.  “Hey.”  He nodded, bumping into her shoulder intentionally.
“Hello.  Did you see the sky today, you better bring an umbrella, it’s totally going to rain tonight.”  With that she floated down the hall.  Again, he watched her mix in and out of the different collections of people without the slightest reaction from them. 
The game finally grew close.  At least close enough for Kai to head into the bleachers.  They hadn’t made a specific plan as to where to meet, so he tried to be early.  He felt silly carrying an umbrella, with skies still clear and no rain storms predicted.  Greta took a seat below and to the side of Kai, making sure she was far enough away to give him some space, but close enough to hear anything important.
  The stands began to fill up and right before the color guard presented the national anthem, a high strong wind came up from nowhere.  People grabbed jackets and hats as the wind picked them up effortlessly and carried them towards to the parking lot.  The wind whipped and whistled while it worked through the crowd of spectators trying to keep their possessions in a respectful order. 
Over the wind currents, Greta and Kai exchanged a long look.  Greta’s brow spiked knowing full well this to be one more clue that the girl known as Beth was more powerful than anyone else in the stands- anyone except for Kai that is.
As soon as the wind began to move on to other victims on other parts of the valley, Kai felt the first fat raindrop land squarely on his lap.  Gazing across the field, he too felt the wind shift into a colder, damper cousin.  The drops grew more intense demanding the attention of the crowd.  Again Greta looked at Kai, while they opened their now very valuable umbrellas.  Greta silently moved up and over a bit, securing a safer seat to ease drop from.
Beth came up the bleachers wearing a black trench coat with a sporty hot pink umbrella.  “Sorry I am late; everyone just stopped driving in the wind.  Seriously, how stupid is that?  Did I miss anything?”  She asked immediately turning her attention to the field.
Kai looked at her and noted her eyes seemed darker tonight.  “Um, not really, it just started.”
“Good, did we win the toss or did they?”
Kai looked at the field, “I’m not sure.  I was taking pictures of the clouds.” 
“Yeah, they’re pretty wild tonight.  I don’t know what made them mad, but I could tell it was coming- RUN, RUN, RUN, that’s it!  Yes!!!”  Beth slapped Kai’s shoulder.  “Did you see that?  I can’t believe he got almost thirty yards!  We’re on fire!”  Beth brushed her dark curl behind her ear.  “I love football, the air is cool, and the nights are clear – well most of the time.”  She laughed.
“Yeah football’s great.”  Kai looked at the field again, his camera sat forgotten in his lap.  “Hey what did you mean you didn’t know what made them mad?  Who mad?”
Beth looked at him briefly, returning her eyes to the field.  “Oh I don’t know.  I just say stuff like that sometimes.  It doesn’t mean anything.” 
Kai studied her response for a moment, trying to decide if it was the truth or just a cover.  He settled on too difficult to tell.  It almost appeared like she was trying to convince herself it was just something she said, but deeper inside she knew it had to be more.  “I have always listened to the wind.”  Kai whispered softly under his breath.
Beth turned towards him ignoring the game for a moment, “What did you say?”
“I have always listened to the wind.”  He looked her straight on, noting his grey eyes reflected the dark blue tones of hers tonight.
“What on earth does that mean?”  Beth broke eye contact and turned back toward the game.  Her exterior cracked slightly, but she tried to keep it contained, hiding behind the touchdown on the field.  “Yes!  Oh my jellybeans we scored!”  Her excitement pushed a bit over the top, but Kai wasn’t fooled.  He had gotten to her. 
He picked up his camera clicking away, not really caring who it may be in his shot.  The visiting team wasn’t much better than the home team, so over all it turned out to be a bit better of a game than expected.  It ended, another loss on the board, and the stands began to clear slowly.  “Did you want to get a coffee or something?”  Kai asked as non-interested as he could muster.
“I would like to, but I can’t.  Sorry, my Dad is expecting me.” 
“Oh that’s cool.  I’ll see you on Monday?” 
Beth stood.  “Hey give me your phone.”  Kai handed it over and in seconds she handed it back.  “Ok, now you have my number if you want to get a coffee this weekend or whatever.”  Beth jumped down to the bleacher row below them.  “I’ll catch ya later, ok?” 
“Yeah, see ya.”  Kai watched her as she drifted effortlessly through the exiting mob.  Still no warning, no prickle on his arm to indicate she couldn’t be trusted.  So if she wasn’t registering evil, what exactly was she?
“So, are you ready to go?”  Greta quietly stood beside her son.  He nodded and they began to head towards the parking lot.
“She does seem very nice.”  Greta commented as she started the car, pushing her blond hair behind her ear.  Kai rolled his eyes at her and turned toward the window.  “I am just saying she seems nice.  Normal mothers say that sort of thing when they meet their son’s girlfriend for the first time.”
“She’s not my girlfriend.” 
“Ok, not their girlfriend - yet.”  Greta glanced over at him.  “Come on Kai she likes you.   That’s a good thing right, I mean you like her don’t you?”
“MOM- Seriously!” 
She sighed, “Ok, fine.  We can talk about something else.”
“Why don’t we talk about how something is wrong with her?”
“I thought you said you didn’t”- Greta glanced quickly at him.  “Ok.  What about it?”
Kai rolled his eyes, “Mom what is her deal?  She knew that storm was coming; she can hear the wind talk.  She knows what its feeling.  Mom, I can’t even do that!”
“Kai can I ask you a question?”  She took his silence as an answer, “What are you afraid of more- that she might like you or that she is special like you?”
Kai remained silent, staring into the darkness.
“Kai, it is ok to be scared.  Just because you’re special, doesn’t mean you’re perfect.”
“I know I am not perfect.”  He turned back toward the window.
“Kai, look at me.”  Greta glanced again at her son, meeting his storm cloud eyes.  “It IS ok to be scared.”
“Not for me.”  He turned back toward the window, “Dad died protecting me, protecting all that I am supposed to be.  How is there room in that for fear?”
“Kai your father died believing you were the most important thing in the world not because of what you posses but because of who you are.  You are his son.  No matter what kind of power you may have, or abilities you developed as you got older, the most important thing to him - and to me- is who you are.  Kai you are human, you are flawed as we all are, so fear is something you better get used to.”  She glanced at her silent boy again, noting he seemed to grow up and shrink back to a toddler at the same time.  “And remember the only thing we have to fear- Is”
“Fear it’s self.”  Kai looked at her briefly, smiling at the historic quote that used to be on their fridge.  “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.”  She put her hand on his knee.
“So what should we do?  I mean where do we go from here?” 
“I think it’s obvious.  You have a date for coffee this weekend.”  The engine roared to life and she pulled out of the parking lot.

He sat at the coffee house waiting patiently.  He was early, but his anxiety wouldn’t let him stay home any longer.  What exactly was he going to say?  His mother had given him a special tea to help with clarity.  She said it would guide him through the evening. 
Beth breezed in exactly on time, “Hello.”  She said, unbuttoning her jacket, “Did you order?”
“No, I waited for you.”  Kai jumped up to get their drinks while Beth settled into the corner table he had ever so slyly acquired.
“So how’s your weekend?”  She asked as soon as he returned with their drinks. 
“Ok, Mom and I did some stuff in the garden today, you know harvest time.”
“She gardens?  That’s something I have never understood.  I just don’t get the whole dirt thing.”  She shuttered almost to herself.
Kai smiled, “I am sure you don’t.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” 
“Just you seem a bit more comfortable with air, so why would you want to be with earth?”
Beth paused in the middle of her sip of coffee, “I never really thought of it that way.”
Kai changed the subject.  The sun was almost completely set so the sky reflected oranges, tangerines and lemons.  “Would you like to go for a walk?”
“Sure.”  Beth headed for the door ahead of Kai.  They walked out, as a middle aged shaggy man walked in.  Kai grasped his arm.  Pain shot through it, making his face crinkle.  Quickly he smoothed his expression, trying to recover in front of Beth.  He grabbed his phone, dialing 911 as he stepped away from the door of the coffee house. 
“Yeah I need to report a robbery.  I just left the Bay Leaf Coffee house and I saw a man with a gun.”  Kai hung up the phone quickly, avoiding any further questions by the dispatcher.
“How did you know he had a gun?”  Beth walked closer to him.
He jumped slightly, almost forgetting she was there.  “I saw it under his jacket.”
“And what happened to your arm?  You grabbed it like it had been put in a vice or something.”  Beth tipped her head staring at Kai with suspicion.
“Oh, I had a muscle spasm.”  He looked down, trying to sell the lie.  “How embarrassing.”   Subject change seemed very necessary.  “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” 
“Yeah, I have a bother.  He’s completely opposite of me.  He’s older, already in college, majoring to be an accountant.”  She rolled her eyes, “Anyway, we don’t connect much.  Never really have.  How about you?”
“Na.  It is just me and Mom.  My dad died before I was born.”
“Really?  My parents both died when I was three.  I don’t really remember either of them.”
“Wait I thought you said your dad was expecting you the other night.”
“Oh he was.  That’s my adopted dad.  Well, my uncle really, he adopted me after they died.”
“So you and your brother lost both your parents?”
“Ok, I guess my brother isn’t technically my actual brother.  He’s my cousin, my uncle’s son.  We call each other siblings because it is easier than explaining everything.”  She shook her head.
“How did your parents die?” Kai kept his voice quiet.
“Plane crash.  My dad had his pilot’s license and something went wrong with their plane.  I don’t really know all the gory details.”  She shoved her hands in her pockets, looking off into the distance.
“I’m so sorry, that was out of line.”
“No it’s ok, I don’t really mind.  Sometimes it is good to talk about it to remember you know.”  The sirens stopped them both in their tracks.  “Wow they took their sweet time getting there didn’t they?”
“I would say that is back up.  He was definitely responding to a call, not just following up on a tip.”  Kai watched the car speed past them.
“It’s just your Mom and you, right?”  Beth pulled him back to their previous conversation.
“Yeah.  She and I are pretty close.  I am lucky she’s so cool.  What’s your aunt like?”
Beth laughed.  “Non-existent.  When my parents died and my uncle decided to take me in, she was furious.  She moved out and never speaks to me.  She blames me for breaking up her happy home.”  Beth shrugged, “Dad says it was bound to happen sooner than later.”
“She was mad that your dad would take you in?  Are you kidding me?”
“Nope.  She is a real piece of work.”  Beth kicked a leaf.
“Boy I guess.”  He kicked the leaf farther forward where it broke into pieces.
“Your father died, right?  How did that happen?”  Beth’s hands still buried into her pockets, but she leaned closer towards him.
Kai hated this, he didn’t want to lie to her, but telling her the truth wasn’t an option.  So he opted for his partial truth.  “He was shot.  In the line of duty.”
“He was a cop?”
“Something like that.  He was in the middle of a high speed chase and they got him.”  He subconsciously veered a bit away from her. 
“Wow.  That makes sense.”
Kai stopped walking.  “What makes sense?”
“That’s why you noticed the gun.  You’re the son of a cop.  It’s in your blood.”  She smiled widely. 
It was in his blood alright, but it wasn’t because his father was a cop.  He smiled in return, thinking all the while for another subject change. 
He didn’t need one however because Beth spoke next.  “I don’t want to seem rude or anything, but we need to get going.  Another wind storm is headed this way.” 
Kai became still for a moment, “You’re right, I can feel it too,” but only if he concentrated really hard.   Beth looked sideways at him and he added, “We could go back to my house, my Mom is really cool.”

Greta opened the front door, greeting Beth and welcoming them both in.  She offered them refreshments, and then excused herself using her latest book as an excuse.
“Your mom’s really great, very open.”  Beth said after Greta left them.
“Yeah she’s pretty cool most of the time.”  Kai positioned himself carefully on the sofa.  “So can I ask you something?” 
“Sure.”
“Can you feel the water?”
“Can I what?”
“Can you feel the water?”  Kai repeated softly.
“Well, yeah can’t everyone?”  Beth’s face filled with confusion, her brows tightening.
“I mean the way you can hear the wind?”
Beth grew very still.  “You know I thought you were different Kai.”  She stood up. “Thanks so much.  If I wanted to be made fun of, I could have gone out with the other guys from school.”  She began walking to the door.
Kai stood to stop her.  “Wait, Beth, I wasn’t making fun of you.  Honest.  Please just sit down.  I really want to know.”
“Right, sure you do.”  She began to push past him. 
“I can hear it too.”  Kai tried one last time.
“What?  What are you talking about?”
“I told you before, I can hear it too.”  Kai’s words were low, almost a whisper.
“Why did you ask me about the water?  Can I, what was it, feel the water?” 
“Because I can.”
Beth stood staring at him, frozen in the moment between wondering what may be real and what appeared to be reality. 
“It is late, I think I better go.”  She stepped around him slowly.
“Beth?”  Kai didn’t turn to look at her.  “Can I call you tomorrow?”
She paused carefully thinking about her answer.  “I don’t know.  I’ll call you, ok?” 
Kai listened for the door to close, waiting for the sound to press against his back.  So close.  For once he found someone who was special in ways he understood, and yet he ruined it by trying too hard.
“Are you ok?”  Greta appeared in the doorway.
“I really don’t want to talk about it mom.”  He headed to bed.

Chapter 3
   
Sunday came with an answer of silence.  Obviously Beth wasn’t quite sure she could deal with what Kai had shared with her.  Or maybe she feared what he said was truth.  Either way, Kai tried to keep busy, making sure his homework sat completed perfectly in his backpack. 
Monday brought tension Kai wasn’t familiar with.  Not only the age old feeling of rejection from a girl, but also the deeper knowledge that she was connected to him in more ways than romantically, somewhere on a level that neither of them completely understood yet.  He needed to change the situation, so Kai did something he never did, he evoked his birthright. 
Greta left early for a meeting at work, leaving the house quiet as he made his way down the stairs to the basement.  He lit the candles, rather than the over head light, feeling natural fire may help.  He stood in the center of the room, closing his eyes, pulling all of his energy to his core and slowed it to a crawl with just his mind.  He imagined a ball of electricity slowly freezing in mid air.  He rooted his feet, took a deep breath and opened his eyes.
“Guardians of the East element of Air, Witness of Intellect I summon stir and call you to me this day, Kai turned towards the South, “Guardians of the South, element of Fire Witness of passion, I summon stir and call you to me this day.”  He breathed deeply, turning to the West, “Guardians of the West element of Water, Witness of mercy, I summon stir and call you to me this day”.  He turned toward the north, “Guardians of the North element of Earth, Witness of stability, I summon stir and call you to me this day.”  Finally he looked down and then looked up, “Guardians of the Spirit, Witness of balance I summon stir and call you to me this day.”  He took another deep breath, feeling the power of each element fill him.  Every birthmark on his body tingled in response to the intensity of the energy running through him.  “Element of air; speak clearly to Beth, waking her knowledge of you and her abilities.  I ask this of you and send you to her this day.”  The birthmarks on his arm, lower back and ankle tingled in response.  “Thank you element of Air.”  He turned toward the North, “Guardians of the North I thank you for protecting me this day, go if you must, stay if you will, hail and farewell.”  He turned to West, “Guardians of the West, I thank you for protecting me this day, go if you must, stay if you will, hail and farewell,” turning to the South, “Guardians of the South, I thank you for protecting me this day, go if you must stay if you will, hail and farewell,” turning to the East, “Guardians of the East, Element of Air, thank you for doing what I asked today.  Thank you for your protection of me and Beth this day, go if you must, stay if you will, hail and farewell.”  Finally he looked down then up, “guardians of spirit, thank you for your guidance today, go if you must, stay if you will, hail and farewell.”  He took a deep breath, stepping away from the center of the room.  It was done now.  Nothing more he could do about it.  He blew out the candles counterclockwise and headed upstairs. 
He would be late for school, no question about that.  The ritual had taken longer than he had anticipated.  Then again, he had never done one by himself.  Greta always called the elements, not him.  This time it felt different.  Doing the calls by himself, was by far, the most difficult thing he had done, and yet at the same time, it seemed effortless.  Greta told him it would.  She said it was a natural thing for him, very little effort would be needed, simple concentration and listening to his inner voice. 
Kai stepped out the door to find the wind had indeed listened to him.  It howled threateningly, whistling through the trees, forcing the remainder of the leaves to fall to the ground.  He pulled his jacket closed and headed to school.
History brought with it fear of his actions that morning.  Beth wasn’t there.  He hoped at lunch, she would show herself, but again no trace of her.  He sat under his tree alone, braving the harsh wind, hoping he hadn’t caused her harm.  He silently sent up a message, through the energy of the tree.  A prayer of protection for her and try as he might, he couldn’t quite get the hint of an apology out of his mind. 
His arm tingled sharply and he snapped his eyes open.  “Hey I didn’t mean to scare you.”  The tall beautiful cheerleader from his first day stood blocking the light of the sun.  “I wondered if I could sit with you.”
His arm burned and Kai immediately stood, “I was just leaving.  I have to get to the journalism room.” 
“Are you sure?  We could just sit for a moment,” her voice dripped with emotion and sensuality.  His birthmark surrounding his left breast began to sear in pain.  He inhaled deeply, feeling deep anger, but not his- the cheerleaders.  This was a new one.  He hadn’t felt this particular gift before. 
“No, sorry I really need to go.”  Kai brushed past her, touching her arm briefly.  His head filled with sharp shooting pains, but he forced himself to walk forward, blindly, his eyes swam with images of the cheerleader killing something or someone.
Finally reaching the solace of the boy’s bathroom, Kai locked the stall and began to breathe deeply.  What possibly could be going on?  He never experienced this before.  He pulled up his shirt to look at his chest.  The two interlocking sixes still encompassed his nipple, just as they had since he could remember.  He pulled his shirt completely off to turn his left arm and examine just above the elbow.  The mark closely resembled the Roman numeral two hadn’t grown more prominent as the burning before may have indicated.  He rubbed the mark, recalling the searing pain.  He left the stall to examine his forehead in the mirror.  Looking closely through the discolored hairs of his brow he traced the outline of the symbol representing the horns and head of a ram.  He took a deep breath.  Obviously his actions this morning had done more than send Beth a message.  It had set into motion the development of more precise senses for himself. 
He left the bathroom, focused on making it through the remainder of the day, avoiding the cheerleader at all costs.
“I can’t believe you just decided to call the quarters without even a simple phone call to me.  Kai, you know this is serious stuff you’re messing with don’t you?”  Greta’s tone was anything but calm.  “Besides, what on earth did you think would happen?  I’ve told you what your marks indicate.  We’ve talked about each symbol and what element it is connected to.”
“I know, each symbol represents one of the signs of the zodiac.  I get it.  They are on me remember?”  He held his voice steady.
“Honestly Kai, I don’t even know what to do now.”  She shook her head, pacing the length of the room.  Although the experiences at school were most interesting to Kai, Greta remained focused on the events in the basement.  The most natural and basic thing he did that day.
“Mom could you please calm down?  Nothing happened.”
“Yet!  Nothing happened yet.”  Her eyes spread wide with frustration.
“Mom, I am not worried, neither should you.”
She turned toward her son, her expression reflective of years gone by. 
Kai’s mind filled with Greta’s memories of his tiny hands in hers crossing the street as a toddler. He shook his head clearing the foreign thoughts.
“I’ve spent my entire life worrying about you.  Why would I stop now?” Her voice lingered barely above a whisper.
Kai stepped closer to his mother, his height towering over hers.  “I know you will always worry, but I am in control.  I feel fine, honest.  In fact, I feel better than fine.  I think it was time Mom.  I think that’s why Beth entered my world when she did.  Remember the winds brought her to me?  There’s a reason for that.  I can feel it.”  As if on cue the doorbell rang.  Kai squeezed his mothers frozen shoulders and turned to get the door.
“No, let me.”  The life returned to her body and she cut in front of him.  Peering through the peephole, she unlocked the door, swinging it open.  “Come in Beth.”
Beth hesitated, looking from Greta to Kai standing behind her.  Timidly she stepped inside.  “I think we need to talk.” 
Kai nodded and sat down on the sofa.
“I am going to put on some tea.”  Greta disappeared into the kitchen, as Beth sat next to Kai.     
“I missed you at school today.” 
“Yeah, I had a killer headache.  I couldn’t even see straight.” She rubbed her forehead.
“Oh,” Kai looked down at his hands, “I’m sorry about that.”
Beth tipped her neck in his direction, “Why would you be sorry?”
“I thought you-“ he stopped, “I just meant I am sorry you had a headache.”  Kai looked down in his lap, “I am glad you came over.” 
“Yeah, well I didn’t feel I really had a choice.”  She fidgeted with one of her curls.  “I kind of had to come and talk to you.  It was like if I didn’t my head would never stop pounding.”  She stole a small glance at him, “Sorry, that probably sounds strange doesn’t it.”
“No, it really doesn’t.”  Kai stood beginning to pace with heavy feet.  “Look Beth, we need to talk.”
“I know you probably don’t want to see me anymore, right?”  Beth looked down at her hands.  “I am sorry I say things so bizarre.”
“Beth, I don’t think you say things that are bizarre at all.”
“You don’t?”  She cocked her head to the side, “So why do you not want to see me anymore?”
“I never said that.”  He stopped pacing standing directly in front of her, “We have a connection.  I mean what you feel in the wind, or hear rather, I do too.  We both have that power.”
“Are you mocking me again?  Seriously, I am not going to put up with this.”  She got to her feet.
“Wait, no that isn’t what I meant, Beth, we’re supposed to be together.”  He blushed deeply, “I mean on another level, I don’t know about on that level, but we are connected you know?” 
Beth’s expression wrinkled in confusion, “What?”
Kai sighed, tossing his hands up.  “I don’t know how to describe it.  It’s bigger than just you and I.  This has never happened to me before.  I mean I didn’t even know it was possible in all honesty, but obviously it is and now you are having headaches which are probably all my fault.”  He turned to her, “I am really sorry about that.  I didn’t realize it would affect you so much.  I mean I sent air to you, but I didn’t know it would cause you pain.”
“Wait, you did what?”
“I am not explaining this very well.” He began pacing again.
“Kai, sit down.”  Greta came into the room, carrying a tray of tea.  “Here,” She handed them both a cup, “I think maybe I should handle this.”  She sat across from them on the chair, meeting Beth’s eyes with a warm smile.  “Beth, I understand you are a gifted girl.”  Beth began to speak, but Greta held up her hand, “Let me finish.  You are a gifted girl, and since there is no indication that you are a danger to Kai or myself, I am going to explain who or maybe what we are.”  Again she smiled warmly, allowing the feeling to reach her eyes.  She paused and looked at Kai, “Take off your shirt.”  He looked at her wide eyed, fully blushing.  “Kai take off your shirt.”  He slowly pulled it over his head.  Greta continued, “My son’s been bestowed several birthmarks, each one of them symbolizing a power he has.  You Beth, have the ability to hear the wind, which means you have a connection with air.  Kai also carries that affinity, but his birthmarks each carry other gifts as well.”  Greta’s smile rested on her son, then moved back to Beth.
Beth had been avoiding looking at the topless boy sitting next to her, but now she turned towards him.  Greta continued with her explanation.  “We have always known Kai was special, more special than any other boy.  When he was born even I was amazed at the amount of marks he bore.  Never in recent history had a child been bestowed all thirteen marks, one here and two there maybe, but never all of them.”  Greta looked lovingly at her son, “Kai stand up please.”  He did as he was asked, and stepped to stand in front of Beth, “The first mark I will have you notice is the one on his arm.”  Kai extended his arm out for Beth to see. 
Her eyes got bigger.  “What is that?”
“That is one you should be familiar with.  It is the sign of Gemini.” 
Beth’s eyes grew even bigger.  “I’m a Gemini.”
“I know.  This mark is Kai’s best friend in a way.  It warns him if he is near dangerous people or is in a dangerous situation.”
“Like at the coffee house.”
Kai looked at her and smiled impishly, “Yep.”
“You said you saw a gun.”
He shook his head, “No, I just knew the danger was coming from that guy, I couldn’t see a gun.”
“But how did you know it wasn’t wrong?  I mean you called the police, what if the guy would have been innocent?”
“Do you think the cops would have sent back up if nothing had been going on?” 
“The mark is never wrong.”  Greta said flatly.   “The other mark on his back is the next one I want to show you.”  Kai turned.  There in the center of his back, below his shoulder blades was what appeared to be a small figure eight on its side.  “This is the sign of infinity, representing all of the elements as well as spirit.  This mark is the reason he can hear the wind like you.”   Greta paused, waiting for Beth to catch up.
Kai watched Beth closely, waiting for her head to spin off, or her mouth to explode with pea soup.  “I know this is a lot for someone to take in.”  He whispered.
“No, I am ok.”  Beth looked from Greta to Kai, “Go ahead.”
Greta exchanged glances with Kai and continued with the story, “The one in his eye brow is the symbol of Aires.  Until recently we were not exactly sure how that one worked, but after this morning”-
“Yeah you said something about that earlier,” Beth’s eyes met Kai’s, “What did you do this morning?”
Kai looked down and then forced himself to meet her gaze, “This morning I called all the elements to help you know about your connection with air.  I wanted you to know what you already knew.”
So the wind in my ears this morning, the headache, the pull that forced me to come over here tonight- that was all you?”
“Not exactly, you already have the affinity for air, so partially it was because of your own gifts.  The rest I just asked the elements to help me with.”  Kai held his voice steady.  Never in his life had he admitted his power to a stranger before. “Sorry about the headaches.”
“That is why we didn’t know until this morning what type of power the mark in his brow contained.  Beth, when he called the elements he awakened some of his gifts.  The scar above his eye is for insight or visions.”
“Wait, how did you know it worked today?”
“Someone approached me.  I had a vision bad things happening by them.”  He looked at Greta for reassurance, “I also felt her anger.”
“Anger?”
Yes”, Greta answered. “The scar on his chest is the sign of cancer.  It gives him the emotions of what others are feeling at that moment.”
Kai looked around the room uncomfortably as Beth’s eyes focused in on his bare chest.  “Wow that is really wild.  She stood to look closer, and then realized Kai’s uncomfortable expression.  “Sorry.”  She sat back down clumsily, blushing through her mocha shaded cheeks.
“It’s ok.”
“Beth you must understand you are not alone.”  Great spoke softly, to add comfort to her words.
“And I am really happy about that, honest.  But I still don’t’ get it.” 
“What don’t you get, dear?” 
Beth looked again at Kai’s birthmarks and then back at Greta.  “I don’t understand what I have to do with anything.  I mean it’s great I can hear the wind and I am glad you have the warning thing, but so what?”
Greta met Kai’s eyes.  “No.”  Kai exclaimed defensively.
“Kai she needs to understand.”
“Not yet.  We don’t know if it is even true.”
Greta smiled softly, “Yes we do honey.  We always have.”  She moved her eyes to Beth.  “There is a great power in the gift you have.”
“Listening to the wind is powerful?  Huh, I never got anything from it.”
“Imagine what would happen if you were a company who relied on the winds to build their fortunes, shipping for instance.  You would be able to direct the routes of their cargo to keep it safe from harm.  You would be able to indicate when the next disaster would happen in tornado alley for example.” 
“Ok, but that helps people.  That’s a good thing right?”
“To every good, there is a bad.”  Greta looked from Kai to Beth.  “Imagine if you could put your enemies in the line of a tornado?  Or place your competitions ships in the line of an unforeseen storm?  Can you see how that information may be helpful?”
Beth looked from Greta to Kai.  “Ok, but no one knows I have this thing.  Well except for you guys and I am not planning on telling anyone.”
“Who already knows?”  Kai asked his arms across his bare defined chest. 
“No one, I mean not really.”  She looked down.
“Who already knows?”  Kai asked again.
“My uncle, but he doesn’t believe me.  He thinks I’m crazy.”
“Then we need to be sure to keep it that way.” Kai relaxed his stance slightly.
“Are we the only people like this or are there others?”
“There are others.  We haven’t found them yet, but we know there are three more.”
“No we don’t!” Kai spoke up anger teaming off his voice.
“Kai we’ve been over this.  Yes, we do know it.  There are three more.  Once they are found, the circle will be complete and the crystal will be safe.”
“What crystal?”
Greta smiled sweetly, “I think you have had enough for one day, Beth.  Why don’t we explain more details later?”
Beth took the statement as the subject had officially closed.  “Ok, then I guess I’ll go.”
“Wait, do you really have to go now?  Can’t we just hang out for a little while?” 
“I can put out some snacks if you two were going to watch a movie or something?” 
“No, I really think I should go.”  Beth looked down at her hands.
Kai took a step closer, touching her hand with his lightly.  “Stay, please?”
She met his eyes and quickly looked away, “For just a bit.  I really do need to get home.”
Greta disappeared into the other room, while Kai and Beth sat on the sofa channel surfing and talking like normal teenagers.