Sever (The Ever Series Book 3)(2)

By: C. J. Valles

The sound of footsteps coming down the hall causes me to roll over and look at the clock. I’ve been lying in bed for way too long. On the other hand, it’s still too early for my mom to be up on a weekend after working the night shift at the hospital. I sit up, bracing myself for disaster, because I’ve known that tragedy will come to claim me someday, and someday could be today. I’ve learned to expect it, so that when it comes, I’ll be ready.

“Wren? Are you up?” my mom calls through the door.

“Sort of,” I mumble.

I sit up just as my mom walks in. Turning on the light, she shakes her head at me like I’ve committed an egregious sin by sleeping in until nine. I smirk and throw back the covers.

“Still sleeping?” she asks.

“You do realize that if I were the leader of the free world, I would make sleeping in mandatory on weekends, right?”

What I can’t mention is that, if I do become like Ever someday, I’ll never sleep again.

“Besides,” I continue. “When I get to college, I’m making it my life’s goal never to take a class before noon.”

During the summer, while I was visiting my dad—and Jessica, my stereotypically evil stepmother—he had offered to let me live with them if I attended UC Irvine. I had smiled and thanked him, not having the nerve to tell him that I have absolutely no intention of returning to California. Instead, I spent all of last summer applying—late—to schools in Oregon while keeping my acceptance letters from California schools tucked in a shoebox. None of the California schools was my dream school, mostly because I’ve never had a dream school. And I’m definitely not one of those people who would have an epic hissy fit if I didn’t get accepted to a particular school. Getting to college is good enough for me.

Stretching, I roll out of bed and go over to the dresser. I’ve pulled out a pair of jeans and a shirt before it dawns on me that my mom is not only awake before ten, but fully dressed and watching me with an anxious expression. My stomach flips.

“Mom?” I laugh. “You okay?”

“I just wanted to see if you were interested in coming to brunch with us.”

It’s the us part of her sentence that stops me.

“Us?” I repeat, trying not to frown.

“Richard and me.” She smiles nervously. “You’ll really like him, sweetie.”

Uh oh. New guy. Right before I had gone on the attack and abandoned my life here for a week in Southern California—a week that had culminated in me racing around the globe with Alex to escape the four terrible and unearthly beings that he saved me from—my mom had been dating Dave, someone she never mentioned again after I got back, which has left me feeling guilty. Because it makes me think that even though Ever altered her memory, somewhere in the back of her mind, she still remembers the awful things I said to her before leaving. A year later, I still feel guilty for it.

After I had been back for months and finally worked up the nerve, I had asked Ever: Why had he refused to alter my memory when he had been perfectly willing to mess with my mom’s? His answer had been simple: You’re different.

As in my brain is different. From other humans.

So it was Alex, not Ever, who had managed to suppress my memory without destroying my mind. Alex. The one I’m supposed to pretend never existed. Like I can erase my memory of him the same way he erased my memory of Ever for that week.

Suddenly the image of Alex standing on the beach at West Street hits me full force, sending the air whooshing from my lungs. Most days, I’m able to keep his image firmly locked away in my subconscious. Other days? Not so much.

Over and over, I’ve tried to will him out of my consciousness. Because he’s gone, trapped in Ever’s dimension and never coming back. The problem is I can’t forget him. He saved me. And during that week in Southern California, I fell in love with him. I can’t deny that.

Smiling at my mom, I pretend I’m not having a mini immortal-related meltdown. She’s dating, which is good. Still, for the longest time I had seen my mom and me as an invincible team. Just the two of us. Now, in the oddest way, I feel like a parent having to let go of her child. Still, whatever my own insecurities are, I don’t want my mom to be alone, especially after I leave—whether for college or to wage immortal warfare. On the other hand, I’m not brave enough to meet her new boyfriend without backup.

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