Awaken (The Awaken Series Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Awaken (The Awaken Series Book 1)
5.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“What the hell?” I heard Jasper mutter in the distance.

I left the perplexed woman and hastily made my way toward the building. I didn’t have the strength to face the confusing version of Jasper making his way towards me.

Instead of letting me pass, Jasper jumped into my path. I stopped and stared into his dark, haunted eyes. Time froze as we faced each other, our bodies only a foot apart. I tried to breathe normally as he scanned the length of my body before his gaze stopped at my lips. He looked away.

“Luna,” he said, sounding exhausted. It was the first time he had said something to me without any resentment in his voice. “Why are you doing this?”

“I honestly don’t know what I’m doing.”

Jasper ran his hand through his hair, looking away from me with obvious frustration.

“I don’t know because until last week, I didn’t even know your name.”

Jasper snapped his head back to me. “What are you talking about?”

“We knew each other last year, didn’t we?” I was unsure of myself, what if my memories weren’t memories at all? What if they were simply dreams with only a small part of the truth?

Jasper stared at me incredulously. “Are you being serious, or are you still screwing with me?” His eyes narrowed as he tried to understand my words.

“Last year I tripped on the steps of my front porch and hit my head. I fractured my skull…how did you not know about this? Your Mother seemed to think we were close.” I tossed a glance back to the woman standing outside her car.

Jasper just stared at me.

“Was this before or after the letter?”

I remembered him mentioning this letter to me in the forest. “I don’t know anything about a letter. I’ve been remembering some things lately, but I’ve had to keep it a secret because I’m not supposed to be remembering.” I paused. “I suspect that my fall was no accident.”

Jasper was staring off into space. He was wearing dark jeans and a nice button-up shirt. He had probably just come from an OGS.

“So the letter came before,” he murmured. He cast a nervous glance back at the school building and then at me. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this right now. I don’t know what to believe—”

“Stop acting like the victim here!” I interrupted. “You have no idea what it’s like to lose an entire year’s worth of time, and then realize everyone is lying to you. You never know who you can trust, and you constantly feel all of these emotions without your mind providing any explanation for them.”

“Luna, you have no idea what you did to me last spring. I’m sorry about what happened but I have to go.” The notebook he was holding slipped from his hands and landed between us. He looked at me strangely and nodded his head toward the ground. I squinted at him in confusion before I understood.

I bent down to pick it up at the same time Jasper did. He snatched it from the ground and leaned closer to me.

“Don’t tell him anything,” he whispered. “If someone caused your accident, it was him. I’ll find you later so that we can finish talking.” Jasper pulled himself up and walked toward the car that his mother was leaning against. It was obvious that she’d been watching us the whole time.

I watched as she got into the passenger’s seat, letting Jasper slide behind the wheel and speed away.

I turned toward the building and saw Tomlinson staring at me from the glass doors. That explained Jasper’s words and behavior. I wondered if Tomlinson had counseled Jasper as well.

Everything felt better after talking to Jasper. It felt so natural, so right. He said that he was going to find me later. I was finally going to sort everything out, and get the answers I so desperately needed.

“Was that boy bothering you?” Tomlinson asked as the door clicked shut behind me.

“No, he was just confused. He thought he knew me but he must have been mistaking me with someone else.” I gave him a sweet smile. Tomlinson looked old and tired, his face withered and hair thinned.

“Ah,” he said, content with my faked ignorance.

He led me to one of the conference rooms, the locks of the door clicking into place when it closed behind us. I sat down with my pen and notes, trying not to shake like I usually did when I grew anxious.

“Let us begin.” Tomlinson looked at me almost pityingly, which only fueled my anger towards him.
I was more aware than he thought
. “You will be earning substantially more income in whatever occupation you choose because of your helpful service to Oportet.” I nodded. “What line of work did you have in mind?”

I was trying my best not to reach over the table and slap the smug little smile right off his face. I knew in my heart that he was behind it all—Jasper had just confirmed what I had felt all along. As if any amount of money would ever cover the costs of what he did to me. Was that how he got rid of opposition? Did he stage an accident just because I wanted to leave Oportet last year?

We went over the jobs I had picked out, discussing what my best fit would be based on my interests and talents. Tomlinson was very insistent that I consider working in the government like my parents, which made me set on choosing one of my other two options.

Tomlinson stressed in detail how much training and higher education was needed for each job, and I took notes accordingly. I tried to concentrate, but my thoughts enjoyed distracting me, and I had a hard time telling them to stop.

The most devious thought of them all was of Jasper. I ran his words through my head, both in my memories and just moments ago. I needed to talk to him soon.

In the middle of writing a word something strange started to happen. I was seeing two different things: my pencil hovering above the paper and a white, wooden door with a house number on the top. I tried to snap out of it—now was not the time to relive one of my memories. I was in the middle of an Occupational Guidance Session with Oportet’s leader, of all things. I felt myself slipping….

No, no, no. Focus.

My head was spinning and starting to throb. I noticed Tomlinson squinting at me, and I realized that I was staring at him. His mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear any of his words over the unbearable ringing in my ears.

Deep breaths
. I was struggling to hold on to reality—the
reality, not the past. I was reaching my hand out to knock on the door, but was also massaging my temples at the same time. This needed to stop.

“I’m really sorry, Mr. Tomlinson... I’m getting a migraine.” I could barely hear myself talk. My voice seemed far away.

I focused in on Tomlinson’s moving mouth and was able to hold my memory at bay. I just hoped I hadn’t lost it for good.

“That’s all right, you are free to go. This session was almost over anyway. Just remember to contact the Occupational Placement Office when you make your decision.” I managed a weak smile and shook his outstretched hand.


It was Saturday, so everyone was either at one of Megan’s soccer games or at home. I thought I remembered Mother mentioning a game today.

I burst through the front door to a quiet home. No one was rushing to bug me about my OGS, so I assumed they were all out of the house.

My memory was still alive and insistent, urgently asserting itself into my mind’s forefront.

I lay back on my bed, staring up at my ceiling. In seconds I was transported to a different time and place.

Chapter Ten

My knuckles rapped on Jasper’s door three times. We barely talked at school today, but I caught him staring at me more than once. I couldn’t say that he was the only guilty one, either.

So this was it. I was officially lying to my parents and going to an Outsider’s home. There had to be something wrong with me.

The door opened, and to my surprise it was Alex who was smirking on the other side.

“You again, huh?” He stepped to the side to let me enter the small two-story home. “So did you live in Oregon, too? No, wait, Washington. You look like a Washington girl.”

“No, I’ve always lived in Oportet,” I replied.

Alex stared at me in bewilderment. “That was a joke, right?” He was smiling expectantly, like I was about to give him the punch line.

I shook my head.

“And I was just starting to like you.” Alex cast a glance behind me and leaned forward, his mouth right next to my ear. “I think I’d like you anyway.” He slowly retracted, waving at something behind me.

I turned around to see Jasper raising his eyebrows at us from what appeared to be the kitchen. He narrowed his eyes at Alex, who backed away with his hands raised in front of him, much like Megan did in her soccer games when she was trying to let the referee know she didn’t commit a foul.

I turned to glare at Alex, who was obviously using me in whatever feud he was in with his cousin. Alex winked at me like he had in the museum. I rolled my eyes.

“Hey,” I said when I reached Jasper. He led me past the bright-colored kitchen and into a room with blue walls, a couch and a TV.

“How are you?” Jasper asked politely. He knelt down on the ground, rifling through a bin filled with CDs in labeled sleeves.

“I’m fine. I’ve just never done this kind of thing before.” Oops, that came out wrong. “I mean, do something that my parents would hate me for.” Even worse. What was going on with my ability to speak coherently? English was beginning to feel like a second language.

Jasper looked up at me, his eyes tinted with concern.

“Your parents would never hate you. They might be pissed at you though…Listen, we don’t have to do this. I don’t want to get you in trouble.” He studied my face. “Or make you feel bad.”

I shook my head. “They just have a thing against Outsiders, which is ignorant considering everyone originated from the Outside in some way or another.”

Jasper nodded, still appearing skeptical.

“And I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t want to.”

Jasper seemed to weigh my word choice as he finally found the desired CD. “Ah, here it is. I promised you some illegal stuff, didn’t I?”

I stared at the disk labeled Nirvana. I’d never heard that word before, and I wondered if it had a meaning or if it was just a made-up word.

“I have no idea what your music taste is, since you’ve never heard any before. I’ll just play things from different genres, and you can tell me what you like or dislike.”

“I’ve heard music,” I protested. There were a few instrumental albums I used to study, composed by the appointed musicians of Oportet.

Jasper grinned and shook his head at me. “I meant real music, Luna.”

I loved it when he said my name—the way it rolled off of his tongue like it was his favorite word to say.

Jasper stuck the CD into a laptop and waited for it to load. The sudden burst of noise that shot out when he clicked the little triangle button made me jump. Jasper laughed, crushing my hope that he hadn’t noticed.

“Sorry about that. The volume was up all the way,” he said as he turned it down.

We sat on his couch in silence for the duration of the first song, Jasper casting amused glances my way every few seconds. I was swept away by the singer’s smooth, captivating voice as it transformed into angst-filled aggression. I had never heard anything like it before, and I wasn’t sure I was enjoying it.

“It’s one of the oldest albums we have,” Jasper murmured. “What do you think?” He looked at my face, appearing to be holding back laughter.

“I don’t know. Could we try something, um, softer, maybe?” I hoped that all of the music from the Outside wasn’t as rough.

Jasper finally let out the pent-up laughter, whatever he thought was so funny apparently had to do with me. It made me so angry and nervous all at once. Was it something I said?

“I was kind of just messing with you. I just wanted to see how you would react. Nirvana isn’t exactly what a native Oportet citizen should be starting out with.”

I let out a breath. I was glad all his music wasn’t like that. I shot him a mock look of irritation.

“Definitely not what I’m used to.” I watched as he pulled out an album by Coldplay.

“Now tell me what you think of this.” Jasper replaced the Nirvana CD with the new one, and once again pressed play.

I was in awe. It was so much better than anything the musicians of Oportet could create. Everything about it was perfect. It made me want to burst into tears. Music had never made me feel that way before.

“I love it.”

“I thought you would. It’s those spot-on instincts again.”

I smiled as he played each of his favorite songs for me, all by different artists and with different styles. So many of them spoke of love. Was that how I was beginning to feel about Jasper? Did I want him to be more than just a friend to me? I had never felt that way about anyone before. Even when I had a crush on someone in middle school, or when I thought I liked one of the boys I hung out with in high school, my feelings had never seemed so real—so exhilarating. How could I feel that way about someone I barely knew?

All at once I became aware of how close our bodies were, separated by his laptop. I looked at him, and he met my gaze. For a moment we just stayed that way, taking each other in. Was he thinking any of the things I was, or was something terribly wrong with me?

A petite woman wearing a white blouse and a long green skirt appeared in the doorway. She had wavy, dark brown hair like Jasper’s, and bright green eyes that radiated joy.

BOOK: Awaken (The Awaken Series Book 1)
5.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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