Avoidables - Hope's Awakening
Get this book for free by entering your details above.
‘She’s only got one arm,’ the man cried and backed away, bumping fast into the dancing crowd.
Everything had been going so well. I was lost in the music, swaying and thumping my good hand in the air. The man had looked over at me as I’d glanced up from the floor. He was handsome. As our gazes clashed, a grin spread over his clean shaven face. I let the corners of my lips sink into my cheeks as I circled my hips in a mating dance. He swayed over to me, but as I turned in a circle, his eyes locked onto my shoulder and that’s when he’d started shouting.
Everyone around me turned to stare. I laughed loudly as the others started to back away from me as if I was a freak. Shaking my head, I noticed the guards coming from the direction that the gorgeous man had just gone.
Why had I been so careless? All I wanted to do was dance. The loud music ran up and down my nerves, making me want to move with it.
‘Come with me,’ a deep throated voice shouted as a strong hand gripped my forearm and pulled. I turned to see the familiar purple eyes and grinned.
It was my best friend, Purple.
Although, I wasn’t sure if it was better to be caught by him or the guards. I allowed him to pull me through the crowd and out the back entrance. We ran towards the river and started over the bridge. Mid way over, we stopped and looked back. The guards stood by the end of the bridge. They wouldn’t come any further. They wouldn’t risk it. I did a little dance and stuck my middle fingers up at them.
I heard a thud and pain sliced through me as a dart lodged into my good shoulder. I gasped and spun towards Purple, wincing when I saw that they’d hit him too. I was going to be in so much trouble for this.
‘Why were you on the Upper Side?’ The guard asked as I sat against the concrete wall.
‘I wanted to dance,’ I replied, bringing my knees up and resting my arm on them.
‘You know Avoidables are not permitted to enter Upper Side.’ The tall good looking guard was sitting in a plush chair, brought in just for him.
‘I just wanted to dance,’ I sighed.
‘You will be escorted back to the Lower Side and you will be confined to a cell for three days punishment.’
The guard got up and came over to me. Bending down, he ran his hand over mine. I tried to struggle, but he pulled and yanked my t-shirt up over the end of my stubbed shoulder. He looked in fascination and I had to bite my lip. Perfects were so often surrounded by good looking people. I cringed away from him, trying to grab at my shirt.
‘Let her go,’ came a quiet, but deadly voice from behind us. Purple was a master at escaping. I was glad that he’d forgiven me enough to come and get me before he left. The guard started to laugh as he fisted his hand and sent it flying into my stub. I cried out before Purple grabbed the man by his throat and threw him across the room.
‘We need to get out of here,’ he said.
Holding onto my throbbing shoulder, I stood up and went towards the door.
‘No time,’ Purple said, grabbing me and jumping us up through the ceiling. The smash of plaster deafened me as we landed on the outside of the building. A siren went off inside. It was illegal for Avoidables to use their powers on the Upper Side.
‘Oh man, I can do without this right now,’ I said, tucking my t-shirt back over my stub.
‘Why couldn’t you just stay over on the Lower Side?’
I grinned at Purple. He was crazy. Why would I want to stay where there were so many misfits? The men over here…
‘You’re mad,’ he said, reading my thoughts…literally.
‘Get out my brain, Purple.’ I punched him in the arm.
‘Are we just going to stand around here all night?’ He took my arm, but I shook free. I had unfinished business. I’d been enjoying myself until that handsome weasel had ruined it for me. I turned and as I started to run, I heard Purple curse behind me. He could never catch me when we ran and he was too well behaved to use his powers on the Upper Side, unless he had to of course. Me, on the other hand, I didn’t care.
I was back at the club within a few minutes. Just in time. It was almost closing time, but I could hear the music still pumping. Climbing in through the toilet window, I sneaked back inside. There was one guard left on the door, but he was talking to the gorgeous girls dancing in front of him. There he was, the good looking creep…it was payback time. He was sitting at the bar. I walked up to the man and sat next to him on a stool. He turned to me. He was all smiles, expecting to see a perfectly formed face I bet. Only beautiful people lived on the Upper Side.
‘What the…?’ he started when he saw me there. His mouth stilled as I looked him directly in the eyes. I showed him my soul. See, these people believed that the Perfects were beautiful, but their souls were dark and cold. Outer beauty didn’t last a life time. The soul however…did.
He gasped and reached a hand out to me. I batted it away and stood up, gesturing for him to follow me. He was in a daze as the pure love that radiated through me penetrated his cold chest. Like a puppet, he followed me into the toilets, through the window and into the alley outside. I had to be quick. Purple was nearby. I could feel him.
‘What…?’ he started. I was going to kill him with beauty. I started to smile, but he reached out a hand and gently lifted the sleeve of my t-shirt. I froze. Never had one of the Perfects looked at me with such wonder. He may have freaked out earlier, but now, he gently brushed his fingers over my puckered skin.
‘What are you?’ he whispered. Our gazes met and I couldn’t speak. A Perfect was speaking to me. A handsome, good looking, perfect person actually wanted me to speak to me.
‘You really want to know?’
The fingers that were caressing me sent shivers over my sensitive skin. No one had ever touched me there before. I could feel a strange sensation shifting in my shoulder. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him and it seemed that he was just as stuck as I was.
‘Yes, I want to know. I’ve never met an Avoidable before,’ he whispered, his face coming closer to mine. I realised that my soul was still showing in my gaze and I shut it off. He blinked a few times, but didn’t back away.
The sensation in my shoulder came from the bone and I gasped. The man took his hand away as a slight movement started to shift. I stepped back and started to breathe heavy. I had no idea what was happening.
I’d never experienced this before. I’d been born with just one arm, but my powers had not fully developed yet. Suddenly a tearing sensation had me on my knees. I grasped my hand over my shoulder stump and gritted my teeth. If the guards found me here, they would probably execute me. Something started to come out of my shoulder. It was quick and painful. That’s all I was aware of. And him.
He was still there, standing in front of me. I felt a splitting sensation in my good arm. I closed my eyes and bent forward almost rocking, while he stroked my back. The pain grew. I tried to focus so that I could call Purple to me, but before I managed it, the pain eased and I sprung up into a stand. The gorgeous man was knocked to the ground. When I looked down at him, his eyes were wide open. The look on his face was pure lust, or was it love? I looked down and noticed that I had an arm where there hadn’t been one before. I could feel something heavy on my back too. The splitting feeling hadn’t come from my other arm; it had come from my shoulder blades. I felt tears prickle my eyes as I reached behind me to feel the massive wings. I heard a gasp as Purple finally came upon us. The young man came to me.
‘You’re beautiful,’ he said, stroking my wing.
‘Don’t touch her,’ Purple growled, coming down the alley towards us.
‘What’s your name?’ the man said, looking from Purple to me and taking my hand in his. I was torn. This Perfect had not only had me locked up, he’d unlocked me too.
‘I’m Jason. Please tell me what your name is?’
He stepped back as Purple approached. The Avoidable’s size was big enough to make anybody take a step back, but the purple eyes and ridges down his arms made them want to run.
‘Going,’ Purple interrupted, grabbing my arm and flying us upwards.
‘Wait!’ I called, struggling against his grip. But it was no use. I was too weak and my new wings were getting in the way. Purple was dangling me in the air by my new arm and I could hardly breathe. The scene below us changed from dark nightlife, to water, and then to even darker grimy alleyways.
We were back in Lower Side.
‘What the hell were you thinking?’ Purple said flying us into the window of our flat.
Avoidables lived in groups. We tried to pick people with different abilities that would serve us all. Avoidables were survivors. Lower Side was a cruel and dangerous place made up of all the people that the rulers deemed not perfect enough for their side of the city.
‘I wasn’t,’ I replied, hugging myself with my good arm. I was trying not to cry. My wings and new arm retracted as soon as we landed. Purple sighed and sat on the sofa. I went to the armchair and allowed its softness to cradle my vulnerable body.
‘Did you know?’ He pushed his hand through his long dark hair. It was the softest hair I’d ever seen on any woman or man. It fell to his shoulders and he mostly wore it up when out. He was a handsome man, but he was still from the dark side. The ridges on his arms told of a dragon ancestry as did the purple eyes and flying abilities. He was yet to come into his fire powers. I shook my head, blinking away the tears that started to fall from my eyes.
‘You were stunning,’ he whispered, his eyes going to the spot where my new arm had been. My gaze snapped to him and I saw awe reflected back at me. He wasn’t hitting on me, he was being genuine.
‘My father must have been an angel,’ I said the words quietly. It was rare to have an angel ancestor because most of them had abandoned the planet. They hadn’t had a choice. The darkness had become too much for their light and they’d left. The history books said that it was with regret. They had tried one last attempt to revive the human race, whom they’d loved dearly, but it had backfired.
‘Did your mother never tell you that she’d mated with an angel?’ Purple replied, standing up and pacing the room.
I shook my head. My mother had died when I was young but I always pretended that she’d died only a short while ago. Somehow the lie made me feel closer to her.
‘No one must know about this for now, Hope,’ he said, nodding his head and turning to leave.
‘Where are you going?’ I didn’t want to be left alone with my thoughts.
‘To do some research. Try to get some rest.’ He left without another word.
As the motorbike spun, the screeching of metal on concrete seeped into her ears. The brutal abrasive surface ripped at her skin, beating her body with its unrelenting hardness. This wasn’t good. She stopped. Everything stopped. The sound of traffic, people speaking, sirens and crying, attacked her ears. She let it sink into her head. She knew it would be too late for her; she couldn’t feel her body. The numbness crawled over muscles, towards her brain. Her mind was the last thing to die.
‘Hello there,’ a deep voice whispered. She cracked open her eyes, letting in the glaring light. It didn’t hurt though. In fact, she felt good. She started to climb to her feet, noticing a pulling sensation as she sat. Looking up, she saw a tall, dark-haired man standing over her. His hand was held out towards her as he smiled.
‘Who are you?’ She reached out slowly and placed her palm against his.
‘I’m Danny,’ he replied as he pulled her to stand. She looked back at where she’d been lying and rubbed her eyes. Her heart tried to escape her chest. There, on the floor, lay a body - her broken and twisted body.
‘What...?’ Her words trailed off as Danny turned her away from her old self. A bright flash enveloped them, clearing to reveal a sparkling lake.
‘Anna, I’d like to welcome you as my newest recruit,’ he said. She looked around her. Where was she? Where was her mum?
A community of houses and buildings lay in the distance.
‘What is this? What’s going on? Am I in heaven?’ Anna spun in a circle, facing the woods, the buildings, Danny.
‘No, this isn’t heaven. This is your new home. You’re a spirit, Anna, and you have a new job.’ He took her hand and made her face him.
‘Yes...welcome to your new life as a Deadliner.’
Twenty years later, Anna came up to the window at the front of the house and peered in. The old lady sat in the living room wearing a faded summer dress. Her messy hair was loose and she slouched into the soft brown chair, staring at the moving picture in front of her. Her skin was worn. Lined like a map. Her hair shone grey as it reflected the light from the bulb overhead. It wasn’t dark outside. The beams of sunlight that lazed on the carpet went ignored as the bulb glowed on.
‘I can’t do this,’ Anna’s whispered words caused a fog to appear on the glass in front of her.
The woman’s head turned towards her. Her dull blue eyes were wide as they looked out of the window.
‘You can’t get away with it again,’ a deep voice came from behind Anna. Spinning around, she pushed her back against the hard grey wall, her hands gripped together in front of her. The tall dark haired man stood inches away, his heavy breath landing on her face.
‘Please, I’ll do anything...’
‘No. This is it,’ Danny hissed, as the masculine scent of him climbed up her nose. She tried to pull her head back, but his hand came up, holding her chin steady as his eyes moved closer to hers.
‘This is the day. No more bargaining, no more time.’
She closed her eyes and nodded her head. He was right. This was the third time she’d come to this house. She’d managed to bargain with him twice already.
‘Just one thing...’ She pushed his shoulder. He stepped back and looked down at her. His eyebrows lifted as he took a packet out of his pocket and lit a cigarette from it.
‘My next assignment is Mia.’ The words fell from her mouth. His hand stilled in mid-air, the cigarette going limp in his fingers. He lowered his head and closed his eyes.
‘It can’t be,’ he whispered, the agony that coated the words sunk into her skin.
‘Now you know how it feels.’
He looked up at her. His pupils met hers; she tried to inhale oxygen into her lungs.
‘How long…?’ The giant’s tone had her stepping towards him. This was a side of him that she’d never seen. The house and its occupant were forgotten for the moment.
‘Well, let me see...’
‘WHEN IS HER DEADLINE?!’ He took a step towards her and curled his fingers around her neck. The pressure squeezed the soft pipe enclosed within. She gasped and wrapped her hands around the pumping tendons in his arm.
‘Three months,’ she managed to push through the small hole in her throat. She watched as the muscles in his neck moved up and down. His Adam’s apple quivered as he slowly loosened his grip on her. This man had the power to destroy anything. Yet, here he was, his eyes welling with water as they stood facing each other in an old lady’s front garden. Passers-by didn’t acknowledge the exchange. The woman inside couldn’t hear a thing. The cat sleeping by the front door gazed at them lazily.
‘Last time we were here, you bargained with me for an extension of six months.’
Nodding, she ignored the burning muscles in her throat. Her feet were firmly planted and her hands were at her side.
‘And the time before that…?’
‘I got the deadline extended for two years.’ She lowered her slender frame onto the grass and leant her back against the cold wall. His shoulders dropped but he stayed standing as he looked down at her.
‘Two years and six months later, here we are again. Are you satisfied that everything’s been done?’
Her head bent back, her bobbed brown hair brushed her shoulders and her eyes landed on the top floor window directly above her. Shaking her head, she let air rush out of her lungs.
‘I’m sorry, Anna, I can’t give you any more time. I’ll give you this though...the rest of today, to spend here, before you come back.’
Her neck snapped forward, her gaze landing on the red cigarette end.
‘Give Mia six months and I’ll give you a whole day.’
The lit end of the cigarette glowed as he sucked the life from the dying tube. She nodded at him and smiled. The corners of his lips lifted as she stood and turned towards the house.
Making her way inside, Anna glanced into the rooms that she passed. The décor was stuck in the eighties. White walls with peach carpets. Glass cabinets and shiny brass handles.
She could hear the television, but she didn’t follow its sound. Her feet carried her up the stairs and into a bedroom. The walls were black with big white circles on them. A bed in the corner had an Aztec patterned throw over it. Bon Jovi posters littered the ceiling, their yellowing edges curling in on themselves. A collection of paperweights sat on a dressing table, trapped in a time that no longer existed. Anna concentrated her energy as she thrust out her arm, swinging it in an arc. The paperweights leapt into the air and thudded onto the wooden floor.
She heard her coming up the stairs, her light footsteps attacking the carpet. Rushing into the room, the grey-haired woman came to a stop. Her eyes landed on the scattered mess on the floor. She ran her hands over her face and knelt on the wood. There was a carrier bag sitting next to the weights. Looking around the room, the woman let tears roll down her cheeks. Picking up the bag, she slowly lowered each weight into it. When she’d finished packing up the room, the lady lay down on the bed and let the breath escape her lungs. The dust danced in the sunlight that shone in through the window. Anna started to cry as she sat next to the sleeping woman. She smiled and sighed in relief as the lines on the woman’s face relaxed for the first time in twenty years.
‘I’m sorry, Mum, but it’s your deadline and I’ve come to collect you.’
The shout woke me. The blurred vision of my flatmate staring down at me made me pull my head out of the water. She squeaked when bathwater streamed from my mouth, pouring out of my lungs. My long wet brown hair stuck to my back, turning it black.
‘What the hell? You looked dead. I thought you were dead…!’
I tried to cover my nakedness but Kat didn’t pay any attention.
‘I can breathe underwater,’ I said as I climbed out of the bath and wrapped a towel around myself.
‘You can breathe underwater?’
My stomach clenched as I debated whether to make a joke out of it. Maybe if I told her that all my siblings had powers, she would just think that I was mad.
‘You can’t tell anyone.’ I took her hands into mine. If I could convince her to stay quiet, maybe I could still live a normal life.
She was shaking. Her hands vibrated against mine. ‘I thought there was something weird about you,’ she said, going out of the bathroom.
Closing my eyes, I released my held breath. Did that mean I would have to leave and start over, or even worse, go home? Trusting her to keep my secret was a massive risk. I wouldn’t find it easy to stay quiet if I knew that someone could breathe underwater.
I rushed to get dressed, hoping that she wasn’t letting the world know. My snuggly pyjamas looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care. I rubbed my hair with a towel as I left the steaming bathroom. Kat hovered by the home phone.
She shook her head. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.’
A knock sounded at the door. I knew exactly who it was. I could feel them. Why couldn’t they just leave me alone?
‘I’ll get it.’ Kat rushed to the door and opened it.
The boys stood there, towering in the hallway. They completely blocked any view past the open door.
‘Hello, gorgeous.’ Leo pushed his way into the apartment, his gaze locked on Kat.
I froze by the bedroom door. I mentally tried to calculate an escape. It was no good. The only way out was blocked by three men over six foot.
‘You need to come home,’ Leo ordered.
Kat’s eyes popped out of her head as Leo stretched. His tight shirt lifted to reveal toned, tanned abs. Her gaze roamed over his arms and landed on his blond hair. I crossed my arms as he strutted into the flat, showing off his tattoos.
‘I don’t want to come home.’ I was adamant.
He took my elbow gently and looked down into my eyes. ‘You can’t stay here, Pisces.’ His previous cockiness had gone. A flash of something crossed his face. I wondered what he wasn’t telling me.
I was being difficult. I needed freedom. All my life I had been around eleven other people, and although I begged for space, the boys never gave me any.
‘Quit with the small talk. You’ve been compromised. Let’s go.’ Aries came into the room, took hold of Kat and put his hands on either side of her face. She looked up at him, unable to take her eyes from the tall, dark haired man.
Leo nodded. ‘I’m sorry.’ Before I knew it, I was thrown over his shoulder.
Grabbing his hair, I tugged, making him grunt. He laughed at my weak efforts. My strength was nothing compared to his. Why were they doing this to me? It wasn’t my fault Kat had caught me. How did they know?
‘Get her stuff.’ Aries gestured to Scorpio without taking his gaze away from Kat.
My chest constricted as Kat’s eyes went blank. Aries wiped her memory of me and yet again, I was losing a friend.
‘I hate you,’ I hissed as Leo carried me out of my new life and back to my old one.
I was twenty. I wanted to fly from the family home. They had promised me that I could try and live alone. On the condition that no one ever found out about my power. It hadn’t lasted five minutes.
‘You know you can’t do this,’ he said as we got to the vehicle outside. The old Royal Mail delivery van had a bright red exterior with a black leather interior. With six seats, only half of us could go out at any one time.
‘Do what?’ I mumbled as he let me drop to my feet. I was tempted to try and escape, but there was no point. He was faster. His long legs would catch up with me in one step. I hesitated when he opened the passenger door. I had to admit defeat. My brothers would never let me stay.
Climbing in, I switched on the radio and turned it up to full volume. Leo sat in the driver’s seat and flicked it off. ‘Do you want to get us noticed?’
I glared at him before staring out the window.
‘You can’t live a normal life.’ He put his hand on my arm.
Glancing down at where his long slender fingers rested against my pale skin, I growled. He pulled away and muttered under his breath as he started the engine. Aries and Scorpio checked over their shoulder as they came out of the building.
I could never run away. They would never let me leave. A glint of silver caught my eye as I rested my chin against my fist. The bracelet around my wrist looked dark blue in the light from the street lamp.
‘Sorry, it had to be done.’ Aries climbed into the back.
‘Shame, really. The flatmate was probably worth a—’ Scorpio was cut off as Aries punched him in the arm. I ignored them as they bickered.
I studied the ancient astrological star sign on my bracelet. The leather was worn but the silver charm with the Pisces symbol was still intact. Fingering the leather, I tried to pull the whole thing off. I wanted to release myself from the life I had apparently agreed to live. It infuriated me that I didn’t even remember what I had signed up to do.
‘You will find him.’ Leo squeezed my arm as he steered the van away from the life I could’ve had.
‘It’s bloody cold tonight,’ Scorpio whined.
‘London town, baby, I’ve missed this place.’ Aries laughed, slapping the back of my seat.