What’s a cruel ex-boyfriend compared with a government organization out for your powers?
Aaron and Anna have fallen in love, despite an ex that threatened to tear them apart. When they start zapping evil cheerleaders with their powers over electricity, they’re forced to break off their relationship to avoid attention from the Agency. A part of the Department of Defense that studies Pairs like Aaron and Anna, the Agency is searching for the source of the Pairs’ powers and doesn’t care who gets in the way.
Anna tries to blend in at the camp where she and Aaron start working for the summer, but it’s not easy when touching your not-boyfriend invites lightning storms. Only weeks pass before a dark secret and an attack from the Agency tear apart their temporary place of refuge. If the camp isn’t safe, where is?
This is the sequel to Connection, but you can jump into the Le Garde series with this fun YA scifi!
Read part of the first chapter after the jump:
1. danser (to dance)
I should have known this whole prom thing was going to get out of hand. Sam and her mom ordering a limo should have tipped me off. Or how Sam talked her cheerleading friend Jessie into going with the rest of us. Or maybe, just maybe, when Aaron and I decided to go together.
I mean, seriously. How were we going to get through a dance without ruining something?
We had a lot more control over our powers than a couple months ago, yes, but we were also getting more powerful. We’d nearly fried the circuits in the old house with our blast of voltage while practicing last week. Kissing was out of the question, much to our chagrin.
Sam’s horn outside interrupted my thoughts. I looked at Kaylie, who was one of my best friends. “Ready?”
She turned off my TV and grinned at me. “Anna, I was born ready.”
We turned to our dresses hanging up on the back of the living room closet. “You were born ready for prom? Ready for pretty dresses and dancing?” I asked.
“No! I was born ready for danger and adventure. In other words, anything. Bring it on!” She pumped the air with her fist. “Jessie can do her worst!”
I laughed. “I don’t think you will have to worry at all.”
She put an arm around my shoulders. “If you have to worry, I have to worry.”
I smiled. That was Kaylie. We’d been friends since elementary school, and she was the only one who had stuck with me through my disaster of a sophomore year. She was the best.
My mom and my sister Ginger helped us take all our stuff out to Sam’s car—dresses, shoes, overnight bags. Sam jumped out of her dad’s SUV, squealing in excitement. “Hey!” She opened the back for us. “This is going to be so cool. Kaylie, I cannot believe you never told me your aunt has her own salon!”
Mom pulled me into a hug, patting my hair down. “Be careful.” She met my eyes with a meaningful look. My mom knew about mine and Aaron’s powers over electricity. I couldn’t keep anything from her. Well, mostly. “Take lots of pictures.”
“Have fun!” Ginger said as we got in the car. She was going to be a freshman this fall, and she was already looking forward to prom, pep rallies, and spirit week. She’d be another Sam. I wished there was a way to keep everyone from knowing we were sisters, because I worried everyone would make things difficult for her. But it wasn’t easy when there were only a few black families in all of El Dorado Hills, California. I could probably count them on one hand.
At Kaylie’s aunt’s salon, we looked through magazines and catalogs of hairstyles, trying to figure out what would look best on each of us.
Sam got her dirty blonde hair curled and put in a fancy updo. She looked so pretty, so perfect. When I first met Sam at the beginning of the school year, she was already on the cheerleading team and hanging out with the girls who’d made my life hell sophomore year. I didn’t think we could ever be friends, but Sam didn’t care for drama, gossip, or cliques. She hung out with who she liked and had fun doing it. It was one of the reasons I loved her, one of the reasons she hung out more with me and Kaylie than the rest of Jessie and Vickie’s crew.
Kaylie’s brown hair couldn’t hold a curl for more than an hour, so we went with a fancy braid with rhinestones. I was on the chair the longest, simply because Kaylie’s aunt wasn’t quite sure how to work with my hair. It wasn’t as coarse as my mom’s since my dad was white, but the stylist struggled with the extensive curls, the roughness. Finally, though, we had it up in an awesome updo with just a few curls hanging down from the sides, framing my face.
When we got to Sam’s house, Jessie’s Lexus was already in the driveway. She was already inside, hanging out with Sam’s mom like they were best friends. I tried not to cringe as Jessie jumped up and accosted Sam with a hug.
Jessie had been Carmen’s friend. Carmen had nearly ruined my sophomore year with her bullying when she started dating Jordan, my ex-boyfriend. Together they formed a malicious duo whose only purpose seemed to be making my sophmore year a living hell. Tenth grade had not been a fun experience, but my junior year had gone much better. I credited it to Kaylie’s loyalty, Carmen’s move to Washington last summer, a new friend in Sam, and me and Aaron becoming friends again.
“You know Anna and Kaylie, right?” Sam asked Jessie.
Jessie flashed a tight smile at us with rosy, full lips that accentuated her tan skin and glossy brown hair. Next to Sam, she towered in height, even though by the looks of it, she was maybe a hundred pounds. At the most. She grabbed her dress bag from the dining room table. “Come on, let’s go to your room.”
Upstairs, Jessie hung up her dress bag on the back of Sam’s bathroom door. Sam lived in a huge house, and her room was nearly as big as the master bedroom. She always gloated about having her own bathroom when she stayed over at my place.
“You’re Jordan’s ex, right?” Jessie asked me.
I made a face. “Unfortunately.”
Kaylie giggled. “Unfortunate that you’re no longer together?”
“Ugh, no!” I said. “It’s unfortunate we ever went out.”
Jessie sniffed, her lip curling in disgust, and she turned to Sam. “Sam, look at this,” she said, pulling her over to her dress. “Satin. Doesn’t it feel amazing?”
Sam gasped. “Yes, and it’s so gorgeous!”
Jessie grinned. “It feels like I’m wearing nothing. It looks great.”
“Yeah, that’s what happens when you look like a model.” Sam shook her head. “I hate you.”
Jessie brushed her hair off her shoulder and soaked up the compliment.
Sam clapped her hands. “All right, it’s already five o’clock!” She studied Jessie’s straight hair. “Are you wearing your hair like that?”
“No!” Jessie grabbed Sam’s wrist and tugged her into the bathroom, and I heard them start talking about hairstyles.
Kaylie turned to me and shrugged. “Let’s do our make-up.”
While the others were in the bathroom, we did our make-up in front of Sam’s vanity. I thought about the night ahead with Aaron. My one-shoulder-strap dress completely bared my arms and part of my back. . .maybe I should have gotten a different dress. Aaron wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off me, virtually ensuring a power outage would ruin everyone’s night.
“Are you okay?” Kaylie asked quietly.
“What? Yeah, I’m fine. Why?” I asked.
“You just seem. . .nervous. You and Aaron have been going out, for what, a month now?”
I did some calculations in my head. We’d officially gotten together at Chandler’s party which had been the second week of April. “Yeah, almost five weeks. It’s just. . .I don’t know. . .” I trailed off and glanced back at the bathroom. I could blame it on Jessie, right? It wasn’t like I could tell Kaylie we were afraid of attracting the attention of some mysterious agency with our power to control electrical currents. Kaylie and I were best friends, but some things, I just knew, I couldn’t tell her.
Kaylie rubbed my arm. “Don’t worry. You guys will have fun.”
I carefully applied mascara to my lashes. “Even if he can’t dance.”
She laughed. “You’d think since he was a musician, he’d be able to.”
I giggled, shaking my head. “I know, right?”
“Wait, are you talking about Aaron Bender?”
I looked over my shoulder. Jessie sat on the edge of her bed while Sam curled her hair. “Yeah,” I replied, “he’s my boyfriend.” I still got a thrill from saying that.
Jessie groaned. “Sam, you didn’t tell me he was going to come!”
“Who did you think I meant when I said, ‘Aaron’?” Sam rolled her eyes at Kaylie and me.
“I can see you in the mirror!” Jessie glared at her. “And you didn’t mention him at all! He’s a jerk. He totally broke Vickie’s sister’s heart.”
My stomach twisted in guilt as I looked back at my make-up.
Jessie turned to me. “How long did he wait until he asked you out?”
I wasn’t going to answer that. Only about twenty minutes had passed before he was telling me he loved me. I loved replaying his words from that night over in my head, but I did feel bad for Wendy. Aaron had said, ‘Poor girl never even had a chance.’ He told me he wasn’t sure why he went out with Wendy at all when he’d had such a thing for me. It probably had to do with the fact I’d had a boyfriend. Poor Steven. He never had a chance, either.
When I didn’t answer Jessie, Sam snickered. “Like you’re any better, Jessie.”
Jessie gasped. “Shut up, Sam!”
Sam grinned at me, winking.
“Hell-oo!” Jessie said in a sing-song voice. “I can still see you!”
“Then you know how much I enjoy making fun of you.”
Jessie huffed. After a moment of silence, she said in a casual voice, “Well, I guess you’re the right girl for him, Anna.”
My shoulders tensed, and I looked at her reflection. “Oh, why’s that?” I tried to ask coolly.
“You both get around,” Jessie said.
“Nuh-uh, no,” Sam said, dropping Jessie’s curl and hopping off the bed. She stood between her vanity and her bed and stared Jessie down. “I am not having any of this drama tonight. Don’t think I won’t kick you out of this house.”
Jessie gasped and put her hand on her chest. “I didn’t even say anything!”
“Sam, it’s—” I began to say. I was used to catty comments, but Sam held her hand up to me.
“You know how I feel about this,” she told Jessie. “Leave Anna alone so we can have a good time.”
Jessie rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms. “Fine. Can you please finish my hair?”
“We only have two proms ever.” Sam crawled back onto the bed. “And I want to spend my first one with all of you, so stop pissing me off.”
Kaylie held up her right hand. “I’ll be on my best behavior. Scout’s honor.”
“Were you a boy scout when you were little?” I asked with a grin.
“Girl scouts do that, too!” Kaylie paused. “Don’t they?”
The next hour passed without incident. Sam’s mom fluttered in and out, taking pictures, chatting with us about the night. Kaylie and I were ready before the others, and when Sam’s mom announced that a few of our dates had showed up, I knew Aaron wasn’t down there. I would have felt him down the block. It was just another perk, courtesy of our connection: I could feel his presence, feel his emotions, sometimes even hear specific thoughts. We had shared it ever since we met when we were eight years old, and we’d have it until one of us died. I’d spent a lot of time fighting it, but now I accepted that it was a part of who I was. Probably more than just our connection, though. It was Aaron who was part of me.
I kept fidgeting with my dress. The midnight blue fabric bunched up over my chest, which made my boobs look great, but not too big. A belt of rhinestones ran under my bust, and the knee length skirt hugged my hips. It even made me look a little taller and more slender, yet somehow enhanced my curves. I couldn’t wait to see Aaron’s face when he saw me. But it didn’t keep me from worrying about dancing with him and touching him and hugging him and trying not to kiss him. . .I shook my head and bit my lip, looking over the other girls to get my mind off of him.
Jessie really did look like a model: her curls fell down her tan shoulders, and the dress made her look even taller and thinner than she was. The gold satin caught the light whenever she moved, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she held every guy’s eyes tonight.
We had found Kaylie’s knee-length dress on sale: it was lavender colored with a v-neck and flowing fabric. When we first bought it, she spun around and I took pictures of her with the skirt up in the air. We had fun posting them online and putting photo filters on them. Sam’s purple spaghetti strap dress went a little past her knees and made her look like a fairy princess.
“Ladies, we look amazing,” I said, putting my hands on my hips. “Those guys are going to flip when they see us.”
Kaylie nudged me. “Especially you, gorgeous! Aaron won’t be able to keep his hands off you.”
Didn’t I know it. But he’d have to if we wanted to keep the power on at Prom.