Meanwhile here is chapter three of Kindred- book two of the Earthshaker series, and don't forget to check out Tracker- for sale now at Amazon.com
After meeting with Alice and Dan I headed to the park to meet Dustin, Hannah and Sam. I found them quickly and walked over to the basketball court where Dustin and Sam were playing a game of Horse. I ignored the other people who were playing Frisbee in one area and football in another, skirting around the edges of the games in order to reach the basketball court. Hannah sat on a bench on the sidelines, watching and laughing at Dustin's intense concentration as he lost to a twelve-year-old.
Dustin was letting Sam win, but he was doing a good job of looking like he was trying his hardest, and he kept the game close. The look of joy on my brother's face as he made the last basket made me smile. It was good to see him having fun. He hadn't been able to have much fun in his life, and now that we were in a relatively stable situation, he was able to be a kid again. If only his big brother wasn't so screwed up. I felt a pang of self-pity for my own lost childhood, but quickly pushed it away. What was done is done, I reminded myself firmly. There was no point in dwelling on it.
The sun was nearly blinding, so I reached into the backpack I'd retrieved from the house before coming to the park, and grabbed my sunglasses. "Hey guys," I said walking up behind Hannah. She jumped and squealed slightly. "Sorry," I said with a laugh. "Didn't mean to scare you."
"I didn't realize I was so jumpy," she said laughing. "How did things go with Alice?"
I didn't feel like talking about it in front of Dustin or Sam, so I shrugged. "Fine," I answered vaguely. She frowned, but Dustin came over before she could respond.
"Hey, Jason. You want to join in this round?" My new friend asked, clapping his hand on my shoulder. I tried to hide my flash of discomfort at the contact and be happy he hadn't chosen my left shoulder that still had pain issues, but from the way he pulled back, I obviously hadn't succeeded.
"Sure," I said, wanting to move on. I didn't want Dustin to start acting uncomfortable around me, like he had to walk on eggshells or something, so for now we'd move past this awkward moment. There were enough people treading lightly around me already, and I knew it was my fault. After what had happened last fall, I’d pushed them away. Even after telling Hannah it was the last thing I wanted, I couldn’t help it. Running was my response to pain. Always had been. But it didn’t always have to be.
We spent the afternoon playing ball and having fun, eventually convincing Hannah to join in. It was the first time in…well, I didn’t know how long, that I allowed myself a day to be normal. Despite that, I was unable to shake the feeling that something was about to go very wrong. Strangely, it was Dustin who picked up on my mood. Hannah and Sam were seemingly oblivious as they shot around while Dustin and I took a break on the sidelines.
I watched Sam and Hannah laughing and playing, but I could feel Dustin's concerned gaze on me. "What?" I asked softly, finally looking at him.
"What's going on, man?" he asked, his brow furrowed in concern. "It's like you're a million miles away all the time, but you seem scared again today. You haven't been scared lately, so what happened?"
After Dustin had discovered my powers, Alice and Hannah had told him what they knew about the case, so I simply said, "Kindred's back."
His eyes widened and he opened and closed his mouth several times without speaking. He swallowed a couple times and asked, “Who?”
He wasn't asking who Kindred was, but rather who the man had killed. “A friend of my father's. Same M.O. as my father.” He'd been tied to a chair and his throat had been cut just as deeply as dear old dad. “Not that he didn't deserve it, but I'd rather not have some psycho killing people for me.”
Dustin seemed thoughtful for a moment. “You said he was doing this to thank you, right?” I nodded. “Maybe he's done now,” he said hopefully. “This ‘friend’, I assume he was the one who knocked you out when your father tried to grab you?”
“Yeah,” I rubbed my hand over my face wearily.
“Then maybe he's done.”
I shrugged. “Hopefully. Or maybe he starts going to the less obvious threats, or Mason's men who avoided the police but knew about me. Who knows?”
I tensed suddenly, going to the ground in a crouch, my right hand in the dirt. “Speaking of...we need to get out of here,” I said standing up and wiping the dirt off on my pants.
“Hannah, Sam, let's go.” Sam came immediately, used to following my orders without question. Hannah came more slowly, grabbing the ball before joining us.
“What's wrong, Jase?” Sam asked as we nearly sprinted to Hannah's car.
“One of Mason's men, along with some other footsteps I don't recognize. They were heading in our direction.”
“From where?” Dustin asked looking around quickly, trying to spot the threat.
“A few blocks east,” I answered, gesturing in the general direction, still running to the car.
Once we'd reached the car and climbed in, Dustin asked, "Are you sure they were coming to us? How would they even know where we were?"
I shrugged. "I don't know for sure, but it seemed like a bad risk to take. I killed their boss. They probably don't like me very much."
"Alright. So I guess we go back to Hannah's and study," Dustin said mildly.
Sam pouted. "That's boring. I don't wanna study."
"You don't have to, bud," I said glancing back at him from my spot in the front seat. "You can watch TV or a movie, or play on the computer." He shrugged and watched out the window as we got closer to Hannah and Alice's house.
The tension I'd felt when I noticed the footsteps refused to loosen as we reached home, so as soon as I got out of the car, I dropped to a knee and sent streams of my consciousness into the ground, searching for any signs of a threat. There were multiple echoes around the house, none of them familiar. None of them had entered the house either. "I think we're clear," I said standing up and brushing the dirt off my hands and onto my jeans.
My three companions trusted me to know when the house was clear, so they piled out of the car and headed in.
"Jason, there's an envelope here for you," Hannah said after opening the screen door.
"Another one? In the same day?" I said incredulously, taking the envelope from her. We went into the living room and sat down: Hannah and I on the couch, and Dustin and Sam in the chairs.
"Sammy, go play on the computer please," I said.
"Go. Now. If it's something important I'll tell you later," I promised. It was a lie. The only thing I would tell my brother about this new note was if it said that he was in danger.
"Fine," he said shortly, probably sensing my lie. I waited until he was out of the room, and then opened the plain white envelope. I stared down at the single sheet of paper, unable to believe what I was reading.
"What? Jason, what does it say?" I handed it to Hannah silently, and she read it out loud. "We need your help. Mason's assassin has turned on us and is hunting us down. We worked with Mason, but had nothing to do with what he did to you. Please help us." Hannah stopped reading and looked at me in shock that quickly turned to anger. "Why ask you? Why not just go to the police?"
I shrugged. "In a way they kind of are," I said. "They'd have to know that I'm still working with the police and will tell them about this note. The thing I'm not sure of is what they think I can, or will, do to protect them."
"They're desperate," Dustin pitched in. "They know you have no reason to help them, but they have no real way to fight Kindred. From what you've said, the man's a ghost. They know you took out Mason, who apparently controlled Kindred, so they think you might be able to beat Kindred too." I stared at him for a moment, not knowing where he'd come up with that. He shrugged in response. "I'm pretty sure it's how I'd think if I were them."
"Besides, just because they worked for Mason doesn’t meant they deserve a death sentence. They’re coming to you probably because they know about your abilities," Dustin continued. I snorted. Yeah, them and about every other dirt bag in the city thanks to Mason. Dustin had found out about them shortly after the incident with Mason. He hadn't known that he was supposed to announce himself before coming down to the basement, and the sudden footsteps in my sanctuary had startled me. My lack of control showed once again as I nearly tore through the basement floor in an attempt to protect myself.
It was a good thing Alice and Hannah's house was very solidly built. That hadn't been the first or last time I'd lost control. I still hadn't reached the last time. At least I don't think so. That I hadn't lost control when I'd felt the footsteps of people who worked closely with Trevor was a good sign. I'd felt my control slipping when the note had arrived...
"JASON!" Hannah yelled, dragging me out of my thoughts. I blinked and jerked backwards when I noticed her face only inches from mine. "You back?" she asked, her voice back to normal. "You were a million miles away again," her tone was light, but her concern was obvious.
"I'm sorry. I was just thinking."
Dustin spoke up. "Your 'just thinking' looks a bit like you going catatonic. You're slipping more, Jase. You need to talk to someone."
Talking. How could talking solve my problems? Yet my friends kept urging me to do so. I looked up at Hannah and saw the worry all over her face. Regardless of my original response, I was beginning to think they might be right.
End Chapter Three
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