“I will not freeze anyone today.” I wiggled my fingers. Not that they ever listened to my command, but I had to try something. I’d made it three months at this school without accidentally freezing someone.
Just needed to keep it that way for one more week until graduation.
I clomped out of my bedroom, backpack in tow, chanting my no-freezing-allowed mantra in my head. A steaming travel mug sitting on top of the breakfast bar caught my attention. A note taped to it read: Morning. I’m in the garage.
Despite his tendency to nag, my big brother had one or two redeeming qualities. I brought the coffee to my nose and flipped the sip-hole open. “Mmm.” Vanilla flavored. My fave.
I hustled to the door and yanked it open, ready to face another day. Dry, desert air greeted my skin with a gentle caress when I stepped onto the porch. The yard littered with cactus and rocks reminded me of the stark contrast between Arizona and Minnesota. Despite my icy tendencies and ability to withstand extreme cold, I’d rather have the sun shining down and warming me.
I started down the flight of stairs to the sidewalk leading toward the garage still repeating my mantra. A daily ritual, crazy by anyone’s standards but mine, considering I had to work pretty hard to not accidentally freeze something.
Clanking metal and a slew of curse words streamed out from the garage. My trot down the stairs morphed into a mad dash.
The Coats found us again!
My quick motion sent dark liquid splashing through the lid and onto my shirt. Coffee soaked the cotton, scorching my skin. I hurled the cup to the gravel yard. Please let Scott be okay. If I had to witness another relative—my last living relative—lying in a pool of blood, dead…I’d crack. Literally crack.
I kicked the side door open, my hand already chilled and ready to freeze anyone who wasn’t my brother. “Scott.” I screamed so loud, razors slicing my throat would have hurt less.
Oh my God. Did they get him?
Scott popped up from behind the car. He lifted his arms in surrender. “Whoa.” His gaze fixed on my hand.
Fanned open and aimed directly at him, my arctic-blue digits shimmered with a layer of frost. Panic squeezed my lungs. Tremors traveled up my legs and vibrated my gut. When I was scared, my power always exploded. Sometimes to the extent that I left a trail of dead people…
The crowbar Scott held clanked to the cement and rang like a tower bell within my skull.
I drew in a stuttered breath and scanned the single-car garage. “Scott? Are you okay? I heard—”
“Pull it back, Mandy. Calm down.” He inched toward me. White puffs of breath leaked from his mouth. “You can do it. Pull it back.”
“I thought—” I swallowed hard. My tongue turned as dry as cotton. I lowered my arm, and my bag slid off my shoulder to the floor. Damn those Coats for turning me into a paranoid freak.
More of a freak than I already was.
“I heard a crash and you cursing up a storm. I thought the Coats—” My jaw clenched. The mere thought of them triggered my gag reflex. They’d slaughtered my parents four years ago, and I’d been on edge every day since.
The fact that they’d captured me a few times didn’t help with the paranoia either.
I peeked behind me. Our tiny apartment above my brother’s smoothie shop remained dark and quiet. No jerks dressed in white doctor-type outfits or army fatigues stomping around, shooting their pointy little tranquilizer darts.
It’d been a while since we’d seen them, but I wouldn’t ever relax. How could I? They’d been chasing us for so long. And we’d had more close calls with them than I’d like to remember.
Scott grabbed my shoulder. “I’m sorry. They haven’t found us. We’re safe, Mandy. We’re safe.”
Thank God. I couldn’t lose Scott. Couldn’t see him hurt again. “What’s going on? I almost turned you into an ice sculpture.”
“I’d make a totally hot sculpture though, right?” He fingered his chestnut curls. “Can you turn down the cold first? It’s freezing in here.”
“Well, whose fault is that? You can’t go around cussing and clanging metal together, I thought someone was attacking you again.” Besides, I didn’t particularly feel like killing anyone this morning.
I shook out my hands. Back off. I didn’t have a great way of getting this ice-thing under control, so telling it to settle down seemed to work for now. If only I knew how this happened to me.
And why the hell didn’t Scott have any powers if Mom had this, too?
“Good job. I can feel it warming up.” If Scott’s indigo eyes got any bigger, they’d pop out of their sockets. “I’m sorry, Mandy. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
My heart finally slowed to a jog. I felt like I’d sprinted a marathon in record time. The thought of Scott getting hurt by those crazy scientists totally freaked me out. Although he told lame jokes and was kind of a nerd, he was all I had left.
I had to keep him safe. He was in danger because of me. Not to mention he was pretty wimpy.