Seer (The Seeker Series Book 3) (14 page)

“Hey, hon.” He came up behind me and leaned over to kiss me as I raised my confused face to his. He quickly took in the situation and took over in his capable way. He sat down, scooted his chair close to mine, put his arm around me possessively, saying, “Sorry I’m late. Who’s this?” He jerked his chin in Michael’s direction.

“This is Michael. Michael, this is my boyfriend, Jack.” I leaned into him, relieved to have an out. “Michael is in my Shakespeare class. We just met.” Michael’s shoulders slumped as he acknowledged that I was already taken.

“Mike. Nice to meet you.” Jack held out his hand. Michael obliged, putting his slender hand into Jack’s much larger one.

“It’s Michael.”

Jack actually smirked.

“So, you’re Ally’s boyfriend?” At Jack’s firm nod, Michael shrank even more.

An uncomfortable lunch ensued. Jack and Michael barely spoke to each other, leaving the majority of the conversational burden to me. When Jack made a move to get up and buy himself some lunch, I sunk my nails into his thigh.
Don’t you dare leave me alone with him!
I used every ounce of mental energy to send him the message. He either heard me or read my body language, because he sank back in his chair and began to eat the pizza slice I shoved in front of him.

We were all silent for several minutes as Jack and Michael ate; I picked at the salad still in front of me. When I could stand the awkwardness no longer, I began to gather my books, saying, “I’ve gotta run. I forgot I need to stop by and talk to my advisor about my schedule.” I leaned over and kissed Jack briefly. “So, I’ll see you at home tonight,” I purposely overstated our living arrangements, hoping Michael would assume we were living together.

“Sure,” Jack agreed casually. “I may be a little late, but don’t bother holding dinner. Love you.” He kissed me as we parted ways. “See you later, Mike.” He stood, watching, as I walked toward my next class and Michael had no choice but to go his own way.

I waited at our usual spot, an alcove by the engineering building, where we frequently met up between classes. I paced back and forth, hoping he would realize that the story about needing to see my advisor was just that: a story.

“Aaah!” I squeaked in alarm as someone touched my shoulder from behind. I spun around and straight into Jack’s arms. “Oh, thank God.”

“Hey, shhh. It’s okay, sweetheart. I’ve got you.” He smoothed my hair and kissed the top of my head. “What the hell was that back there at lunch? Who was that guy?”

Now that I was away from Michael and the bizarre situation at lunch, standing in the security of Jack’s arms, I realized that I had overreacted. Seriously overreacted. I laughed slightly and pulled away to look up into his wonderful face. “I am so sorry about all that. I just…freaked out, I guess. It’s nothing.”

“Ally, I was there. It wasn’t nothing. That guy was weird! Where did you meet him?”

“He’s in my Shakespeare class. I was mean to him and I felt bad so I smiled at him and was nice and he wouldn’t stop talking and then he followed me to the SUB and bought me all that food—” Jack put his thumb over my lips to stop my nervous chattering.

“I have a hard time believing that you were mean to anyone, querida,” he interrupted.

“I was!” I said as I took his hand away. “I was cranky because I had that nightmare again last night and I couldn’t get back to sleep afterward.”

“Well, it looks like you’ve picked up a stray. If he bothers you again I will happily kick his ass. I don’t want to have lunch with him again. He bought you all that food? That is just weird!”

I nodded. “Ugh! It was embarrassing. I hope he got the hint and leaves me alone from now on. Why would he do that? I don’t get it.”

Jack smiled. “I do. He would do that because you are beautiful.” He kissed me. “And sweet.” Kiss. “And sexy as hell.” Long kiss. “And mine.” Longer kiss. “And now I have to get to class. I love you and I’ll see you at your house later tonight.”












master through his art foresees the danger

That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth”

The Tempest


Michael did get the hint, at least somewhat. In class the next day, he apologized for over-doing it on the lunch the day before.

“I am so sorry about that, Ally. I just got carried away. They don’t let me out much.” He laughed in a self-deprecating way. “I’m really sorry. You must think I’m crazy.” He delivered this apology in such a sincere manner, reminding me again of a small puppy, that I readily forgave him.

“It’s okay, Michael. No problem. I just…well, I have a boyfriend, so…”

“Yeah, I got that. Loud and clear.”

I winced. I hadn’t meant to come off as a jerk, but Michael’s behavior had freaked me out. Now I wondered if I had overdone it. Had I let my stress and worry about being followed color my reaction to this sad, rather pathetic guy? And who was I to say that he was pathetic? Who was I to judge? I let my shame over my behavior tamp down the warning bells going off in my head as I said, “Hey, there’s no reason we can’t be friends. If you want.”

His smile transformed his face, and I realized that with some help, fashion advice, etcetera, he could be kind of cute. “Sure. Yeah. That would be great.”

I tried to relax into a casual friendship with him, which worked, for the most part. I gently let him know that I wanted to eat lunch with my boyfriend. Alone. I softened the blow by asking him to meet me for coffee before class the next day. When he tried to pay for mine, I put my hand on his arm, shook my head, and said, “Friends, remember?” He nodded once and stepped aside to let me pay for my drink.

Michael was a sophomore, like me, and planning to major in English. When I teased him about having no future job prospects with that major, he shrugged and said he would worry about it later. College was for learning to think. This was a great sentiment, but I would never be comfortable with not having a firm career path after college; hence my double major in English and education.

My roommates were mixed in their opinions of my new friend: Tara thought I was too nice and in grave danger of being run aground by my sympathy for the downtrodden. “This is what you do, Ally. This is why Travis hung around, even after he dumped you. You always seem to pick up strays.” She had adopted the term from Jack’s description of Michael, when he had shared our lunch story over dinner the night before.

Mina took a gentler approach. “I think it’s nice.”

“Thank you, Mina.” The rest of the group rolled their eyes and let loose a collective groan. We were in the midst of a Jason Bourne film fest—it had been Rémy’s turn to choose.

“He sounds very much like he needs a friend,” she said as she reached for another slice of pizza. My boss, Rudy, also the owner of the restaurant, had handed me a giant box containing one of the 26-inch pizzas he was famous for as Tara and I left at the end of our shift.

“Table that ordered this sent it back. Said they didn’t order green chile. You take it home to those boys,” he had said gruffly. For some unexplained reason, he had sort of adopted Tara and me, giving us shifts that worked with our schedules, time off whenever we needed it, and he always sent food home, frequently manufacturing a reason why it was extra when I knew good and well that he had made it just for us. Although we were both too young to have a server’s license, he allowed Tara and I both to be waitresses, having other waiters deliver our alcohol orders.
“I put some slices of cheese pizza in there, too,” he finished, knowing that I was a vegetarian.

“Thanks, Rudy,” I had given him a hug. He was a good guy.

“Jack, what do you think?” Tara appealed to him. “Are you okay with her befriending this Michael character?”

Jack paused in the act of chewing, wide-eyed. He swallowed and reached for his soda, taking his time before answering, as if sensing a trap. “I am not Ally’s boss. She can be friends with whoever she wants.”

There was a beat of silence before he was hit in the face with a sofa pillow, thrown by Mat. “What a suck up! Ally, he told me he was gonna kick the guy’s ass if he ever saw him sniffing around you again! Oof!” he said as Jack threw the pillow back with greater force.

I intercepted the pillow as it was returned. “Stop wrecking my living room, you two! Jack gets points for a good answer, at least.” I settled on his lap and kissed him. “I already knew how he felt about Michael. I don’t know how I really feel about him, either, but I can’t…” I let my sentence fade.

“We know, chérie, we know,” sighed Rémy. “You just don’t have it in you to be unkind to someone.”

“Hey, don’t knock it.” Tara now came to my rescue. “That’s why you’re still around, after all.”

I ignored the others and slid off Jack’s lap and snuggled into his side. He put his arm around me and pulled me close, kissing the top of my head. “Jack, you know he’s not a threat, right?” I whispered. Why in the world would I be tempted by anyone else when I had this amazing guy right next to me? There was absolutely no comparison between him and Michael, either physically or emotionally.

“I know, querida. I just can’t help being jealous when I see any other guy around you. It’s natural. Sorry,” he whispered back.

“It’s positively primeval.” I giggled and reached up to kiss him.

“Umm, hello. We’re all still here, you know,” Tara complained as our kiss went on longer than was probably appropriate in mixed company.

I smiled against Jack’s lips. “Later,” I whispered.

“Count me in,” he said.




nightmare changed that night. Up until now, I had searched frantically for something and then tried to follow the shadowy figure; tonight I was followed. I wove in and out amongst the rows of cars in a parking garage, trying to find whatever it was I had lost. At this point in the dream I usually caught a glimpse of the figure in the black hoodie and started following. Tonight, I heard a noise behind me and turned around, startled, just in time to see the figure dart behind a concrete column. My stomach flipped as I realized the nearest exit was three rows away. I moved quickly around a Toyota Camry—what was it with the car brand recognition?—and toward the elevator that I knew would lead me to the street level. My stomach dropped further as I heard footsteps behind me. My pace increased; so did the footsteps behind me. I began to run, reaching the elevator just as the mysterious figure caught up with me, his hand—I was fairly sure it was male—grasped my shoulder. I screamed in terror.


“Ally! Wake up! You’re having a nightmare. God, girl, you need to wake up!” Tara sat beside me, shaking my shoulders.

I sat up, knocking her hands away. “What? Where?” I panted, looking frantically around my bedroom. “Oh, my God,” I slumped back against my headboard. “Oh, Tara. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“You didn’t. Don’t worry. I was in the living room working on a paper and I heard you whimpering. I was coming to wake you up when you started screaming bloody murder. You scared the shit out of me! Look! I’m still shaking.” She held her trembling hands in front of my face.

I took her hand in one of mine, the other wiping the sweaty hair out of my face. “I’m sorry. I had a nightmare.”

“The same nightmare you’ve been having?” I had told her about the recurring dreams several weeks before.

I nodded. “Yeah, but it was worse this time. This time I was being chased. It felt so real, Tara. Why is this happening? I’m so tired of it!”

“I know, sweetie. Hey.” She pulled me into her arms. “I’m here. It’s okay.”

I managed to keep from completely falling apart, but I clung to my best friend, not able to let her go.

“Do you want me to stay with you for a little while?” she offered.

“Oh, no. You don’t need to do that. I don’t want to bother you.” But I didn’t let go of her hand.

“Scoot over.” She curled up against me on the bed. “I’ll stay until you fall asleep.” She was still there in the morning. Just another reason why she was my best friend.




“Ally, the guy at table four requested you specifically. Can you take it?” Amber, one of the other waitresses asked as she came in the kitchen.

“Um, sure, if you can take over here.” I was prepping dinner salads. She smiled and swapped places with me. I wiped my hands and hurried toward the dining room, sure that it was Jack who had stopped in to surprise me. The surprise was entirely on me as I approached table four; it wasn’t Jack. It was Luc.

“What are you doing here?” I stopped a few feet short of the table.

“Having lunch. That is what one does at an establishment of this sort, isn’t it?” He smiled suavely.

“I mean, what are you doing here in Albuquerque? It’s a long way to come for lunch.”

“I wanted to speak to you, Ally, without the rest of the Conseil there. You seem like a sensible young woman; I’m sure you will be able to understand what I have to say.”

“I have no interest in what you have to say.” I turned to go.

“Well, if you are afraid…”

Did he really just dare me? What was this, middle school? And yet, I sat down across from him. Dang it, why did dares always work with me? “Talk. I have a ten minute break, then I’m done.”

He inclined his head in acknowledgment. “Very well. I will take what I can get. Ally, I have come to make another plea for you to listen to reason. The Conseil is living in the past. We are standing at the precipice of a new world of opportunity. You are the next Oracle—”

“Shh! We’re in public, you idiot! Do you think I want the people I work with asking about that kind of stuff?”

He looked irritated for a moment before covering it smoothly. “Of course. My apologies.” He lowered his voice. “You are the next in line. Everyone knows this. I want you to know that there are options beyond what Kate and the rest of them have in mind for you.”

“Options? Like what? What are you trying to tell me, Luc?” I was running out of patience.

He leaned across the table. “The Conseil has no vision! They would have you spend your life hidden away in that mansion, doing nothing but running the family business, making money. With your abilities, you should be running countries! I can help you make that happen.”

“Sorry, Luc. You are barking up the wrong Oracle. I have no plans to take over anything. The gods or fates or whatever chose poorly when they picked me.” I stood up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work. I have salads to make.” I retreated to the kitchen to spend the rest of my 15-minute break—yes, I had lied to Luc—thinking about what he said. Oh, not so much
he said—I truly had no interest in the kind of power he seemed obsessed with—but more
he said it to, to me, at least. He had been extremely circumspect this last summer during my visit to Rouen, not starting any of the controversy he had begun during my first visit. In fact, he had been absent more often than not. So why was he here now? And why come to me?

I sent my thoughts to him, hoping my long-distance communication skills were up and running. It took quite a bit of concentration for me to talk with him over any kind of distance. Nothing.
I tried again

—I’m in class. Is this important?
he finally responded.

—Luc just showed up here at the restaurant,
I replied somewhat impatiently. As if I would bother him for trivialities!

—What? Merde!
he cursed.
What did he want? Are you okay?

—I’m fine. He spouted more of that crazy ‘let’s take over the world’ crap.’ He’s gone now. I just thought I should give you a head’s up in case he hunts you down.

—Thanks, chérie. I will keep my eyes open. Can I come by your house later so we can talk about this?

—Sure. See you later.




He was waiting for me in the driveway when I got home after my late afternoon class.

“You have a key, Rémy. Why didn’t you go on in?” I asked, juggling my book bag and the bag of groceries I had stopped to purchase.

“I was fine listening to music in my car.” He took the groceries from me and shut the door of my SUV. “I haven’t been here long.”

“Thanks,” I said, opening the front door. “Come on in. We can talk while I get dinner ready. It’s Mina’s night to work late, so I’m cooking. Why don’t you stay? I’m not as good a chef as Mina, but it’s pretty hard to mess up spaghetti. Unless, of course, you have a hot date?”

He laughed lightly. “No date, hot or cold. Thank you. I will be happy to stay for dinner. I assume Jack will be here, as well?”

“No. He has plans with Megan tonight. She’s been feeling a bit neglected, so they’re going to try and spend more quality time together. It will just be myself, Tara, Mina, and now you.”

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