Why was it that, every time Jeremy wanted to see Laura, rain poured down as if the Gods wanted to drown every living thing in York? The buses squelched through huge puddles; the drivers cursed at the sheets of water impeding their view of the roads. And then, there was the final trek through what might as well have been a river to the door.
Once again, he found himself wearing his long underwear, sitting in the Primrose’s kitchen, eating cookies and drinking herbal tea. However, this time he was not alone with Laura. Heather sat with them, asking him question after question about his competitor, Zeke. He told her everything he could remember, even the way Zeke’s face lit up when the fairy teased him.
“I thought he’d hate it, but he loved the attention,” he said.
“I noticed that, too,” Laura said.
“Well here’s what I think,” Heather said. “Zeke could turn bad if we don’t find something for him to do. He’s a natural leader. Sure, he isn’t for everyone, or even for the majority, but a lot of people like him.”
“Right,” said Jeremy, unconvinced.
“Laura and David are safe for now, but it won’t stay that way. Her uncle is planning an assault.”
“What?” Laura asked. “You haven’t said anything about this. I thought that he doesn’t know what we are.”
“He doesn’t. Not yet. Not until you leave York without me. The moment you step outside of our protective spell, one of the dark witches will sense you. It won’t take them long to bring him forward in time.”
“Shit. Can’t someone put him back in the rock?” Laura asked.
“Where does Zeke come in?” Jeremy asked. He drummed his fingers on the table. “If he goes over to the dark forces, he’ll betray Laura and David.”
“I don’t believe he will if we put him in charge of protecting them.”
What an awful idea. Zeke as protector? He’d just as soon tear Laura limb to limb. However, Heather looked serious. Perhaps she didn’t understand the danger. Jeremy had to explain it to her. “I’ve read enough Shakespeare,” he said, “to know that’s a very risky plan. He could create a whole army and turn them on us on a whim.”
“Zeke isn’t a character from fiction,” Heather retorted. “He’s lived in this community all his life. We know his character. He’s loyal and he’s a warrior in the making, with strong magic of his own. If he agrees to do this, we can count on him.”
“Heather’s been pulling your memories,” Laura said. She laughed. “I’ve been following along. She’s right. That’s what Zeke’s always done. He protects his friends. He protects his sisters and his mother. You haven’t been able to see it, but it’s in every action he’s taken at the teen meetings.”
“Dang,” Jeremy’s face turned red. “You’d better teach me how to hide my thoughts, like you promised, Laura.”
“I will, don’t worry.”
“I’ve talked with his mother and sister, and even met with some of his gang,” Heather said. “He’s the right guy. The council agrees with me.”
Jeremy shook his head. The idea scared him. He wanted to put his arms around Laura, cast a spell, and keep her safe forever, but he didn’t even have the right to touch her.
Heather smiled like a cat in catnip. He remembered too late that she could read his mind. She patted his hand, reassuringly. Laura didn’t seem to have noticed his intense burst of feeling. Instead, she sat with her finger on her chin, her look far away.
“Laura?” Heather asked.
She blinked, as if coming back from another world. Who had she been spying on? He bet it was Zeke. If she could do that, without permission, maybe she’d know before Zeke managed to betray them. At least until Zeke learned how to hide his thoughts. Jeremy relaxed a little.
“It’s a good idea,” Laura answered Heather. “No, really, Jeremy, it is. But I want to propose it to Zeke myself. He’ll like that.” She slid out of the booth. “Come on, Heather, let’s help this poor boy.”
“You sure?” Heather asked.
“If he’s going to be a leader in the movement, he needs to hide his thoughts from spies.”
A warm feeling started in Jeremy’s belly and spread up to his heart and out his arms. Laura touched his cheek, then left the room, sucking her burned finger.
The cat grin appeared on Heather’s face again. “It’s okay,” she said. “There isn’t a thing you can do to stop love, no matter what Laura believes. Give her time. You’re both young.” When she waved her hand, the burn mark Laura’s finger had left on his face disappeared.