Chapter 2

Caretakers

(Mason)

The final bell rings as Olivia and I stare at Robin. We are both too stunned to react, but Robin jumps at the sound. “Oh my goodness! I am never going to make it to class today. Can we meet up at lunch? I don’t know anyone else, and I have like a zillion questions to ask you! Where do you two usually sit? Oh never mind, I better run. I’ll just look for you, okay? See you at lunch!”

She whirls away, nearly dropping her books again, and starts jogging toward the office. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around Robin. The rambling monologue she just threw at us certainly didn’t help. Olivia is the first to break the silence.

“Mason, what did she just call you?” Olivia asks.

I shake my head. I have a million questions, but I’m also terrified. I try to play it off as nothing, hoping Olivia won’t notice my fear. “I think she said Air-ling. Maybe? Either that or she called me an earring.”

Olivia smacks my arm. “She did not say earring.”

The fact that the bell rang, and we are both now tardy, finally sinks in. We start toward our class, but that hardly means our minds are on school. Fear tried to hold my curiosity hostage, but it isn’t strong enough. “What the heck was she talking about? And why could she see me?”

“I have no idea. She was beyond weird,” Olivia says. She bites the corner of her lip. “I mean, she was nice, but strange.”

“She said I was hot.” I grin as Olivia rolls her eyes. “What? It’s nice to know! No one has ever told me that before.”

“That’s because no one but me has ever seen you before,” Olivia says as we approach the door to the classroom.

I smirk at her. “So are you saying I’m not hot?”

Her answering glare isn’t very encouraging. “Really?” she snaps. “We just met the only other person who has ever been able to see you, and she seems to know something about what you are, and all you can think about is whether or not you’re hot?”

“So? I’m curious. You know you’re beautiful. Everyone thinks so. Guys stare at you all the time. I don’t have the benefit of external validation of my appearance. I’ve got you, that’s it. You’ve never said a word about my looks. So, yes, I’m curious. Am I attractive?”

Olivia shrugs, annoyed that I am not taking this as seriously as she is. “I don’t know. I guess? I’ve never really thought about it, okay?”

Her hand reaches out for the door, but before she pushes it open, she turns around to glare at me. “When you decide to take this Robin chick seriously, let me know. Her seeing you may not be a good thing. Think about that,” she snaps.

She yanks the door open and stalks to her desk. I follow at a more leisurely pace. In truth, Robin’s words did freak me out. I think it’s awesome that she can see me. Her having a name for me…there’s a good chance Olivia is right. It could change things. One thing I know from experience is that change is not good.

Lately, living under a separate set of rules because of who I am has been getting to me, but I still wouldn’t trade my life for anything. The idea of not being with Olivia, or Evie and their parents, scares me more than I care to admit. They are my whole world.

Slipping into an empty seat at the back of the room, my mind continues to whirl. For a long time, I am stuck thinking about the word Aerling and what that might mean. I try to contemplate the impact Robin might have on my life, but after a while, I decide to give up because I know too little to figure anything out and I’m too scared to try. I resign myself to three more hours of confusion before I can ask Robin a few questions. In an effort to distract myself, my thoughts turn back to Olivia and the answers she gave today.

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