The target. She reached out with her mind and read his thoughts. Yes, that was him. Jade plunged deep, deep into his mind until she was in sync with him. Then she made the now all-too-familiar twist. From where she was hiding on the rooftop, Jade felt the man’s death. The next moment, she lost consciousness. A blessed reprieve…nothing.
Jade was tired, so tired. But she had done her job. Now she would get her reward. They knew they owned her. They knew she’d kill whomever they told her to. She just had to have their drug. While she was under its influence, she couldn’t hear anything but her own thoughts. That relief …no price was too high to pay for that kind of peace. Jade struggled up from the rooftop, her joints stiff. The chill of the evening air had settled into her bones. She must have been out for a long time. It didn’t matter. Clumsily, she descended the stairs from the roof.
She clung to the banister as a flashback hit her. It was the first time. Almost seven years ago. It was nighttime and drizzling. She was outside, trying to escape them on foot. They were hunting her. They knew what she was. Jade was running now. She veered off a brightly lit sidewalk and into the shadows of a back alley. She had meant to cut through to the next street but she found the end of the alley blocked by a rough brick building. Jade put her back to the wall and tried to slow her breathing. She reached out for the mind of the ones who were chasing her. Would they pass by the back lane? She found a mind. All cold business. She would be theirs. Jade watched through his eyes as the man paused and looked down the darkened alley. What would he do? She pressed deeper into his thoughts.
“Let’s check it out,” said the man’s partner.
Panic rose up inside her and she twisted in the man’s mind.
When she had awoken, the government had her. But that agent was dead.
The intense memory dissipated, and Jade continued her progress down the dingy stairwell. Her reward was waiting. She would be free from the thoughts of others until her next assignment.
It was almost time. Her intel said that he would be exiting a bus, at this stop, just about now. Jade was glad to be out of the chilly, winter air, looking down at the street from a second story, hotel room. A transit bus pulled to a stop. Several people, including a tall lanky man with red, curly hair, stepped off. She plunged into his thoughts. Yes, this was the man. A school teacher – that’s what they had said. Jade pushed further into his mind, past the concerns for his students and other surface thoughts. As her mind synced with his, she felt peace and…bliss. The man walked briskly down the street, unaware of her intrusion.
She could not, would not kill him. No. Not him. Yes, they would send someone else after him and she might be terminated but…With reverence, she tasted the light within him as she prepared to disengage. Jade pulled away. To her shock, nothing happened. She tried again to break the connection to the man’s conscious but she remained mind synced to him. Her heart swelled on a wave of love as she looked down through the window at him. His figure receded as his long strides carried him up the street.
Jade grabbed her parka and rushed after him.
She ran full out to catch up, the freezing air burning her lungs. Tears streamed down her face as she neared him. The man stopped and turned. He looked into her face, and she fell into his soft brown eyes.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Are you okay?”
Jade said nothing. The thrumming in her heart, the beauty of the mind sync with him…she had never felt so good. She reached out her hand to him.
He shook her hand.
“Jade,” she gasped.
He studied her face, still holding her hand.
“Could I take you out for a cup of coffee?”
“I’m more of a tea drinker myself,” Jade said, “and I’m not much for the rush and bustle of public places.”
“Would you like to come up to my apartment for a cup of tea then? It’s not far.”
“Yes, I would like that very much.”
He released her hand and Jade fell into step beside him.
“I feel like I know you from somewhere,” Max said. And then he laughed. “I guess that’s a little cliché. It’s not that I recognize you…I guess I just feel comfortable with you…I’m sorry, is that too weird?” He glanced down at her as they walked along.
“No. Not weird. I feel the same.”
He smiled warmly and held open the door to his apartment building. Jade could only mind sync with one person at a time. The curse of her peculiar talent was forever broken. She could never look into the darkness of another mind because she was linked with Max. As her connection with him continued, she could feel their life forces being permanently intertwined and she was glad. Jade basked in the light of his presence.