Sever (The Ever Series Book 3)(3)By: C. J. Valles
“Ever’s coming over. Is it okay if he comes with?” I ask with an innocent expression.
My mom’s forehead crinkles. Apparently she hadn’t anticipated that possibility. But the way I figure it, if she’s bringing a date, then I should be allowed the same privilege—even if I am her kid.
“Sure,” she sighs. “Why not? I’ll see if they can change the reservation.”
My eyebrow arches. Reservation? That means my mom’s been working up the nerve to tell me about this guy. Tucking my clothes under my arm, I kiss her on the cheek before hurrying past her into the hall. As soon as I reach the bathroom, I close and lock the door behind me. Then, even though I’ve only seen his image in the antique mirror on the landing, I still search the bathroom mirror for any sign of Alex or the inky blackness I’ve seen before.
“Alex,” I whisper.
Like every other day, it’s just my reflection staring back at me. Embarrassed, I start the water and watch as the mirror begins to fog up before stripping out of my pajamas. Stepping under the spray, I allow my tears mix with the hot water.
Crying in the shower. It’s been another twisted ritual of mine for the past year.
Most days I’m okay, but others I’m acutely aware that things were irrevocably altered that day when Alex sacrificed himself for me. Things I thought I understood—loyalty and love—changed forever. I thought I knew myself. And I thought I understood Alex. Now I question everything. Well, everything except Ever.
I hate myself for feeling so torn. What I feel for Ever hasn’t changed. It’s my feelings about Alex—and myself—that have evolved without my permission. I wish I could make my feelings for Alex untrue, change things back to the way they were—to the way I understood them. I can’t, though. Turning off the water, I step out and wrap my towel around myself. My entire body freezes when I see the writing scrawled into the fog of the mirror.
I stare into the misty glass. Other than my name, there’s nothing there but my own blurred image. I think back to the first time I had looked into the mirror on the landing and seen the blackness. I had been so sure it was my imagination—or that I had just gone completely crazy. The same way I had felt when I first realized that I could hear people’s thoughts.
Now I know better. I’m not crazy; the world is just bigger, scarier, and crazier than I ever imagined possible. Wiping away the writing, I bury my thoughts before my mind can betray me to Ever. As soon as I’m dressed and my hair is wound up in a bun, I join my mom downstairs in the kitchen.
“Honey, were you crying?” she asks.
I look down and frown. My eyes give me away every time—turning from olive-colored to a bright dragon green. Shaking my head, I smile.
“Allergies. And a really hot shower. It’s freezing in this house!”
“You’ve never had allergies.”
“I do in Oregon.”
“Look at us two Southern California girls!” she laughs. “I keep waiting … and waiting for the weather to warm up. And it hasn’t happened yet!”
She holds out her phone and shows me the weather in Topanga. Eight-four degrees. Of course it’s warm in Southern California. It’s the beginning of June. I sigh. Last year it didn’t get warm in Portland until at least mid-July.
“You think we’re going to get a summer this year?” I ask. “’Cause last year’s was about two weeks long …”
“According to the weather people—yes, we are going to get a summer.”
“And you believe them?”
I take out a yogurt. The last thing I want is to be crazed with hunger when I meet my mom’s new boyfriend for the first time. My mom, Caroline Sullivan, who’s sipping black coffee, has already learned the hard way how psycho I get when I’m hungry. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t question my pre-brunch snack.
“Isn’t Ever going to be disappointed when he shows up and finds out he’s been roped into brunch with your mom?” she asks in a hopeful tone.
The doorbell rings the second I finish my yogurt, and I smile.
“I texted him before I got in the shower. He’s fine.”