“Are you sweating?” Axel’s voice brought me back to my room. “Christ. It’s like lying next to a furnace.”
I elbowed him as I rolled away. “Your fault. That’s a sweatshop shirt you’re wearing.”
“Shit. I actually liked this shirt.” He pulled it away from his chest, making a face as if it’d suddenly grown mold. “I should let you touch my stuff before I buy anything.”
I wiped the sweat from my brow. “If you like it, then wear it. You already did whatever damage you were going to do by buying it in the first place. You never would’ve known if you didn’t have a freak for a sister.”
He was quiet for a second. “You’re going to have to come out of this room at some point. You can’t hide forever.”
He did this at least once a month, but he hadn’t gotten the family “gift.” I had.
“You’re not Rogue, you know,” he said.
Oh God. He was on variation five-B of the speech also known as The Comic Book Rip-off. “You’re not going to kill someone if you touch them,” I finished for him, mimicking his deeper voice.
“Right. Well. I still think that if you learned to block it out instead of trying to avoid it, then you’d be able to have some kind of normal life.”
Maybe he was right, but you couldn’t wash your mind or un-see things. “Yeah, well, believe it or not, too much information is an actual thing. Like getting the glimpse of when you and Bambi—”
“Whatever.” I gagged.
“I don’t know why you’re so stubborn. Not letting anyone touch you isn’t the answer.”
I elbowed him again. “Gross! You want people to touch me. That’s so messed up.”
“Shut it. You know what I meant.” He messed up my hair. “I’m gone in a few weeks, and I’m worried about you.”
I glanced up at him. We looked like twins, except he was all angles, whereas my face was round. Axel was only two years older than me, and was, without a doubt, my best friend. “I’ll be fine without your butt stinking up the house.”
He smiled like I wanted, but I wasn’t so sure that I’d actually be fine. Even if he wouldn’t admit it, I knew he’d picked a Texas college because we’d still be within driving distance. I hated that he’d turned down other schools, and hated myself a little for being glad that he’d done it.
He nudged me. “I dare you to find out what the deal is with Dad’s new job.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s leaving his celeb-filled job in LA to work for some random boarding school in Texas. That doesn’t strike you as odd at all?”
I shrugged. “I guess I hadn’t thought about it. I’m just looking forward to not going back to school here. I don’t think I could take another year of those monsters.” I paused. I shouldn’t have brought that up. “Look. The gloves will work fine in a school that’s clueless as to what they mean. I’m old enough not to talk about what I see anymore. Plus, I’m getting better at minimizing the number of visions I get. It’ll be a fresh start, and I’m not about to poke holes in something that might actually be a good thing.”
“Aren’t you curious? Even a little?”
I thought about it. “Well, I wasn’t…”
Axel sat up so quickly that I almost fell off the bed. “You have to go downstairs, to Dad’s office, and touch some of those papers from St. Ailbe’s.”
“That’s a terrible idea.” Going downstairs during a party where people might actually want to hug me good-bye was a disaster waiting to happen. Add messing around in Dad’s office, and I’d be begging for a grounding. Only a moron would agree to this.
“Come on.” He gave me the look-that cocky, half-grin that told me I was about to get into trouble. “We’ll go downstairs, sneak a glass of champagne, you can get an eye-full of Sir Hunkalot, and then we can find out the real story on this move. We’ll be sneaky, and no one will see us.” He paused. “I didn’t want to have to say this, but I double-dog dare you.”
I couldn’t stop the grin. “What are you? Twelve?”
“What are you? Forty?” He poked me. “Live a little. You’ve gotta start having some fun, Tess.”
I wouldn’t mind seeing Sir Hunkalot. I snickered at the name. Plus, whatever we did had to be more entertaining than bouncing a ball against the wall. “Fine. But if I do this, then you’ve got to do something for me.”