Epilogue: Chapter Forty-Two

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When I told Noah I needed a day before talking to Selena, the guy went and took it literally. He'll never own up to it, but he's prime suspect number one for being behind some sort of mind magic when I set myself up for a run-in with her and didn't clue in.

Seven words were all it took to set the stage for this likely disaster: "Want to come to my yoga class?"

That's what I asked Riley at some point in yesterday's hazy euphoria, my common sense rocketing off to another planet. I can't help it—this seems to happen a lot when I kiss him. I'm sure it sounded like an amazing idea to me at the time, filled with rose-colored plans to introduce him to my friends from class and to Amarleen. We'd talk, practice our kriya, meditate, and then hang out at the café down the street.

Maybe I didn't think much about it because I've been at Amarleen's class less often over the last two weeks, and the times I have gone, Selena wasn't working. Whatever the reason, encountering her with Riley beside me wasn't on my radar even once when I described what Kundalini yoga is and assured him he didn't need the ability to twist himself into a pretzel or to do a headstand, or when he seemed adorably disappointed that he wouldn't get to watch me do either of these things.

The reality of it slams into me like a freight train the second we walk into the lobby of Diamond Lotus Yoga, hand-in-hand. It takes Riley approximately one-half of a nanosecond to spot Selena at the front desk, and my stomach lurches at the thought of what she might say that I'll have to explain. He still doesn't know we were friends once, and finding out this way isn't how I pictured me telling him.

"Who let you in here?" Riley calls out to her, grinning. "Isn't yoga supposed to be zen?" I sense he's going to keep walking right up to where she is with me in tow.

Noah may have said I should talk to her, but he didn't say I should do it with Riley there. I'm making my own executive decision on this one, which is absolutely not. The next time I have a brilliant idea, now matter how well-intended, someone shake me. Or make me wait until the dopey grin caused by kissing Riley fades from my lips before I'm allowed to propose any sort of dynamite plan.

"You need to register for class," I say to him, forcing myself not to mumble. "There's a form you have to fill out."

I release his hand and amble over to another woman at the desk who's checking students in. I mean for him to come with me, but he stops in front of Selena.

"I knew you worked at a yoga studio, but didn't realize it's the same one Cassidy goes to." He leans against the counter, oblivious to the tension in the air.

"This is it," she chirps, her voice dripping with forced cheer. If Riley had come here on his own, I'm sure her enthusiasm would have been genuine. "Is this your first class?"

She sidesteps his mention of me, and we avoid being formally introduced to one another by him. After I check in, I busy myself with pretending to look at some yoga clothing on display in the lobby while he registers for class and chats with her.

He materializes at my side a few minutes later. I feel a weight lift from my shoulders now that we've gotten through the three of us being in the same room without him realizing how much Selena can't stand me, or why.

I glance over at the desk, taking care to be subtle about it. I make sure my gaze lands to the side of Selena, rather than directly on her, in case she's looking at Riley and me. This happens to give me a direct view of her energy field, and that's what I'm most interested in. It's the best way to find out if she's angry or upset, or if she might be on the path to forgiving me.

She's focused on helping another student, though—a girl about our age with sky-blue hair. As I take a peek at Selena's energy, it's how it interacts with the energy of the blue-haired girl that catches my attention. Their energy fields both expand and mingle together, and the little sparks light up and glow brighter when the girl leans in to say something. The once-familiar sound of Selena's laughter fills my ears.

The girl steps away from the desk and gives Selena a quick wave. "See you in there."

Something curious happens then. The happy sparks that had been dancing and weaving around Selena disappear almost instantly, and her energy field recedes. Her forehead creases, and I can't help but wonder what's suddenly caused her to pull her energy in tightly around her to form a protective shield. It's not unlike what I saw Riley's energy do the night he took me out for my birthday and almost kissed me.

She turns her head in my direction then, and our eyes meet. What I see in our brief exchange tells me the note I left in her mailbox hasn't changed how she feels about me.

I touch Riley's shoulder. "Want to go in and find a spot to sit?"

"Will I come out in one piece?" He sets a book of meditations back on a shelf.

"I'll stitch you together if you don't," I promise, taking his hand. I lead him to the door of the classroom, feeling Selena's eyes on us as we leave the lobby.

The group I sit with is in their usual spot in the classroom, close to the stage where Amarleen is already setting up for class. I introduce Riley to everyone while he and I roll out our mats, and then notice the girl from the lobby is sitting there, too.

"I don't think we've met before," I tell her. "I'm Cassidy, and this is Riley."

"I'm Ivy," she responds, extending her hand to me. "It's my first time here. Everyone seems so welcoming and nice."

"Glad to know I'm not the only newb," Riley says. He points at a round black bag beside Ivy's mat. "Is that a cymbal bag?"

"Yeah." She looks sheepish. "My apartment is a sea of unpacked boxes right now and I couldn't find anything else to put my stuff in. My drums and cymbals are the only thing I have set up right now, so it was easier to use this."

"You play drums?" He settles onto his yoga mat.

Ivy's face brightens. "Every day. I had a band back home in Cincinnati, but I just moved here for college and my band didn't."

"You should come jam with us sometime. Cass and I both play guitar, and I have a few friends who are musicians."

"I'd like that." I don't need to look at Ivy's energy to tell she's being sincere. I can see why she and Selena hit it off out in the lobby, although I'm still perplexed about what caused Selena's swift change of mood right after they had been laughing together.

Amarleen taps her microphone then, a signal she's about to start class. I see Selena slip into the room. She pauses, her gaze landing on Ivy. There's an empty spot on the floor beside us, but she hesitates.

The sparks of energy around her intrigue me again. If I'm reading them right, she's both conflicted and exhilarated about something, with pink and gold sparks mixed in among the more subdued colors of indecision and holding back.

I notice Ivy is also watching Selena. Her energy takes on a similar exhilarated form, only with no hint of conflicting emotion. The sparks around her grow and expand, reaching in Selena's direction. I attempt to be less obvious about observing them, but I can't entirely look away. The instant Selena and Ivy's energy meets, I see Selena visibly jolt. Her energy retreats and she looks away, then heads for the opposite corner of the room.

I'm sure there's a reason I'm noticing this, but I don't understand what it is. I also now wonder if Selena and Ivy have met before. Ivy claimed this is her first time here at our yoga class, and that she just moved here, but the two of them have a clear energy dynamic taking place whenever Selena isn't using her energy as a suit of armor, which she's doing now.

"Sat Nam." Amarleen breaks into my thoughts. I look up and see her smiling at Riley at me. She nods, almost imperceptibly. I can't tell if it's approval, congratulations, or confirmation that I'm on the right track for noticing what's taking place between Selena and Ivy.

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