Boundless Page 23

I look up, and there are angels all around, and I feel their eyes on me, solemn and questioning. What are you doing? they ask. What is your purpose?

“What is my purpose?” I whisper back at them. “Show me.”

But the vision doesn’t come.

I wait five minutes, which feels like longer, then sigh and make my way back through the pattern the way I came, faster this time. This is where the pamphlet tells me I’m supposed to enter the third stage: Return. Join with a higher power, come together with the healing forces at work in this world.

I’m so not feeling the healing forces.

I put my shoes on, suddenly exhausted and cranky and frustrated by my failure to connect. I better get back and start working on that nap, I think. The paper can wait. So much for finding Angela. So much for figuring out my vision.

So much for clarity.

The vision hits me as I’m biking home. It’s cloudy and chilly out—not Wyoming cold by any stretch of the imagination, but still cold enough to make me want to get warm and cozy under the covers. So I’m biking pretty fast, hurrying, when I suddenly find myself in the dark room.

This time it’s happening further along in the vision than it’s ever happened before. The noise, that high-pitched sound that echoes around us, is still ringing in my ears. It’s giving us away, I realize. It’s drawing their attention.

There’s the flash of light, as blinding as always.

“Get down!” Christian yells, and I dive for the floor, roll out of the way as he comes from behind me swinging a sword, a flaring, bright, beautiful blade, which he raises over his head and brings down hard. There’s a clashing sound like nothing I’ve ever heard before, worse than nails on a chalkboard, and then a curse and a low laugh. I scramble backward until my back hits something hard and wooden, my heart pounding. It’s still so dark in here, but I can make out Christian fighting, his light slicing the air around him, trying to get at the dark figures closing in on him.

Figures, I realize, plural. Two dark figures. He’s fighting them two to one.

Stand up, I tell myself. Stand up and help him.

I jump to my feet, my knees shamefully wobbly.

“No,” Christian yells. “Get out of here. Find a way out!”

There’s no way out without you, I think, but I don’t have time to form the words because, without warning, somebody else yells, “Look out!” and I’m back on the sidewalk at Stanford, where I’m about to crash my bicycle.

There’s no avoiding it. I swerve wildly but hit the half wall of a brick bicycle ramp. My bike stops. I keep going, soaring over the ramp, hitting the ground hard, bouncing off the pavement, then sliding on my back across the sidewalk and into a juniper bush.

Ouch.

I lie there for a minute with my eyes closed, sending a silent, sarcastic thank you so much for that in the skyward direction.

“Are you all right?”

I open my eyes, and there’s a guy kneeling over me. I recognize him from my happiness class, a tall guy with shoulder-length brown hair, brown eyes, glasses. My scrambled brain reaches for his name.

Thomas.

Excellent. I’ve biffed it big time in front of Doubting Thomas.

He helps me crawl out of the juniper bush.

“Whoa, you really bit it there. Do you need me to call an ambulance?” he asks.

“No, I think I’m okay.”

“You should really watch where you’re going,” he says.

He’s so nice, too.

“Yeah, I’ll try that next time.”

“You have a cut.” He points to my cheek. I touch the spot gingerly, come away with a smear of blood. I must have hit hard. I don’t typically bleed.

“I have to go,” I say quickly, getting to my feet. My jeans are a mess, split at the knee, a raw-looking scrape showing through on one side. I should get out of here now, before my wounds miraculously heal themselves right in front of this guy and I have some serious explaining to do.

“Are you sure you’re okay? I can take you to Vaden,” he offers.

“No, I’m fine. It probably looks worse than it is. I need to go home.” I grab my bike from where it’s fallen, the front wheel still spinning. When I set it upright, I discover that the frame is badly bent.

Crap.

“Here, let me help you,” Thomas says, and nothing I say works to get rid of him. I limp along, mostly because I know I should be limping, and he walks beside me, carrying my bicycle on one shoulder and my backpack on the other. It takes us forever to get to Roble, and by the time we arrive, I’m pretty sure both the cut on my face and the scrape on my knee have mended. I hope he’s not terribly observant.

“Well, this is me,” I say lamely. “Thanks.” I grab my backpack from him, stick the bike on the rack, not bothering to lock it, and turn to go into the building.

“Hey, wait,” Thomas calls after me. I stop. Turn back.

“Do you want to …” He hesitates.

“I don’t need to go to the health center, really,” I say.

He shakes his head. “I was going to say, do you want to go out with me tonight? There’s this party at the Kappa house. If you’re feeling up to it.”

Sheesh. There’s no discouraging this guy. I must look better right now than I think I do.

He stuffs his hands in his pockets but maintains eye contact. “I’ve been trying to ask you all semester. So here’s my opportunity, right? Now that I’ve officially rescued you.”

“Oh, wow. No,” I blurt out.

“Oh. You have a boyfriend, right?” he asks. “Of course you do.”

“No, not really … I mean I … My life is complicated right now … I can’t … I’m sure you’re great, but …,” I somehow manage to get out. “I’m sorry.”

“Well, can’t hurt to ask, right?” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a business card. He hands it to me. Thomas A. Lynch, it reads. Physics major at Stanford University. Tutor in math and sciences. Then it lists his cell number.

“If you change your mind about the party, call me, or just show up,” he says, and without another word he turns and walks away.

Wan Chen is playing Farmville on Facebook, her great weakness. She glances up from her laptop when I come in, her eyebrows drawing together in a little befuddled frown as she takes in the pieces of juniper bush in my hair, my dirt-and-blood-stained jacket, my torn jeans.

“It’s been that kind of day,” I say before she can get the question out. I go to the sink and start washing the blood and gunk off my face.

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