My stomach twists. The alley fills with harsh growling from the van’s exhaust system. Brody climbs inside and slams the door. The van speeds off toward the street. Julian could use his brain and not make so much noise. Madison would burn a hole through his arm if she saw him acting that careless. I’ve seen her kill crew members for much less.
The van disappears in the distance. A rustle pulls my attention to a garage door. A young guy with wide eyes stands there holding plastic bags filled with newspapers. Brown curls stick out from his plaid fedora. A nervous smile settles between his two dimples. From his Converse sneakers to his skinny jeans to his tight T-shirt, he looks like something out of a Seattle-based sitcom. What did he see? How long was he there? Shit. Being sloppy like this is gonna get me killed.
I ready my hands in front of me. The guy sees this. He takes a step back. Judging by the fearful expression on his face, he was there long enough to see me use my powers. Shit. This means he also saw us robbing the house. He’s got to go. I straighten my fingers as I wrap him in my thoughts. My mind tightens around his throat. Our eyes lock. His are bright blue.
“Wrong place, wrong time,” I say without much thought. My grasp tightens. A gasp escapes from between his thin lips. Static hums in my ears. What’s that about? Trying to shake it off, I focus on my attack. I need to wrap this up. If I take too long to get back to the house, Madison will be suspicious.
His face turns red. A cry breaks through me. Powers. She has powers. That isn’t me. My heart beats faster. The wideness of his eyes suggests that he’s scared, but I can feel something more there. Feel? I don’t want to die. Am I hearing him? Feeling what he feels? My stomach knots up. I let go. My thoughts come back to me. We stand there, staring at each other.
“Were you talking to me?” I ask. My voice cracks as the words come out.
“I couldn’t talk.” His voice is hoarse. “You were choking me . . . from over there.” Our eyes stayed locked.
“I heard you saying something.” I shake my head. When my thoughts latched onto him, something happened. I could hear his thoughts and feel his fear. Nothing like that has ever happened before.
“Don’t kill me. I won’t tell anyone. I didn’t see a thing.” The guy’s voice is slightly less hoarse now. He puts his hands out, surrendering.
The ache in my stomach is forming an army. Madison can’t find out someone saw us—and that I let them live. I ready my hands again. My thoughts twist around him, beginning at his feet. His eyes widen. Can he feel me?
Static fills my head. I really won’t tell anyone. I’m not ready to die. Don’t kill me.
Guilt and dread wash over me. My mind lets go. My hands drop to my sides. “We never met. Forget tonight,” I whisper.
I run down the alleyway in the opposite direction that Julian and Brody went just moments ago.
*An Excerpt from The Highly Capable