We spent the weekend bumming around town, resting up, doing some sight seeing, and then met Jade today. We pulled up to an old brick apartment complex in a rundown neighborhood with lots of chain link.

The boys sat in the car steeling themselves for like… a solid while.

“So… is she like mean or something?” I finally asked.

“No,” Julian replied. “Jade’s… you’ll see. And goodness knows she does this town a huge service just by existing. But a really good psychic is never easy to be around and Jade is a really good psychic.”

I didn’t understand until we were in the stairwell and Neal warned me: “she’s going to know what happened to you.” For a second I felt like I was falling backwards through space. “She’s trustworthy,” he added, trying to reassure me. And then, “Also, because this is bound to come up, we grew up here. Like four blocks that way.” He gestured. “Jade and Nolan were very close. That’s how we know each other.”

Oh, and you just decided to mention that NOW? After almost a full WEEK of being in town? If I had known that they were going to milk our whole I won’t lie to you but I can’t promise to tell you everything deal so much I never would have agreed to it.

A door at the top of the stairs creaked open, and the muffled music got louder.

Neal made a face. “Here we go.”

I don’t know what I was expecting from the psychic’s apartment. Maybe black velvet and a cat, or lots of plants and sunlight and crystals. Instead the walls and ceilings had been painted black and it was covered in assorted alcohol bottles. There was some furniture, but not much.

“There you are.” Jade was wearing only a black sheet, which contrasted sharply with her skin, which was the palest white I’ve ever seen. She’s potentially albino. “You boys were really gonna try and get out of here without stopping by?”

There was one black futon in the living room and on it a pair of girls were passing a blunt.

“You know Mercy and Zinia,” Jade said as she opened her fridge and tossed me a bottle of water. I was indeed thirsty.

“Hi,” Julian said. “We didn’t see you two at White Pyre.”

Mercy, the curly-haired one coughed and passed the blunt to Zinia, the one with all the tattoos. “We were on a case.”

Neal said nothing.

“You brought me something,” Jade said, pushing herself up onto the black marble counter top. She meant me, I could tell because she was staring. Her eyes were so dark I couldn’t distinguish iris from pupil.

“She’s actually not why we’re here,” Neal said.

Jade raised one eyebrow.

“You’re just going to tramp around in her head?” Neal said and Jade scoffed.

“If I could help it I would, but I can feel her blasting at me like a air raid siren.”

Neal sighed. “Go easy.”

Jade cocked her head, pale, scraggly, hair falling over her shoulder. “Protective,” she commented. Then she reached for me with one hand. “Come here, let me see you.”

Neal put a hand on my shoulder. “Jade, I’m serious. I don’t know where she’ll take you.”

She must have understood something in his tone because her eyes narrowed and she fixed him with a look. Then she rounded on me. “Who are you?” she asked.

Uhhh lmao. “Shiloh?”

She made a face like this was a bad answer. “Give me your hand girl.”

“Shiloh —” Neal began but it was too late, I was doing what Jade said. Sorry Neal. When a pretty girl says jump I say how high I am weak and small.

Jade’s hand was cool and soft at first but almost instantly after touching me she went rigid. Her eyes flew open wide, her pupils shrank to pinpricks and her irises bloomed out of them, bright acid green. She started to shake violently.

People were yelling. I tried to let go of her hand but she had me in a vice grip. It took Julian literally prying her off me before I could scramble away. My back hit the wall.

Jade ducked down into the sink and vomited violently. Julian reached to pull back her hair and she spat and snarled, “you don’t touch me.” Mercy, the curly-haired one, edged Julian out of the way, murmured soothingly and pulled her hair back off her shoulders. Both Mercy and Zinia cast accusing looks at me.

When Jade emerged from the sink her eyes had gone back to their usual dark disks.

“What did that thing make you?” she gasped.

I didn’t know what to say.

“And this ISN’T why you came here?” she demanded.

“No,” Neal said. “We came about the masked vigilante.”

“What about him?” Jade demanded.

“His name is Jon Cooper and he’s got supernatural strength,” Julian said. “He’s a cop. We tried to bring him here, but he refused to see a psychic.”

Jade was still breathing hard and staring at me.

“We’re here about him, too,” Mercy said. “At least, as far as we can tell we are. This town has been radiating insane, tidal waves of energy for nearly a month, and the only thing we can figure is that he’s the reason.”

Neal and Julian exchanged a glance and this time I couldn’t decipher it.

Later they would explain that Mercy and Zinia are mediums. They don’t hunt just anything, they mostly handle hauntings and the like. They’re in tune with the energy of places and follow those energies to cases. Apparently.

“We’re following a wave tomorrow morning,” Zinia said. She had a low raspy voice, and I had the distinct impression that they were trying to get rid of us. “We don’t know where it’s going. You should join us.”

Neal and Julian nodded, both obviously willing to be gotten rid of. “We’ll meet you here?”

Julian was already hustling me out of the black apartment.

“Yeah,” Mercy said. “7, no later.”

I glanced over my shoulder as they body checked me out the door and saw Jade still staring at me, eyes fixed, expression raw.

Neither of them spoke until we were in the car.

“What do you think?” Julian said.

“I think we’re at the end of our lucky run,” Neal replied.

“Your lucky run of what?” I asked. I was, predictably, ignored.

“What should we do?” Julian said, and Neal shrugged.

“I’m not sure there’s much we can do,” he said. “We’ll go tomorrow. See where it takes us. If they find out, they find out.”

“Find out what?” I asked.

“That we’ve got a… specialized ability,” he said and when I just looked at him blankly he said, “the lying thing.” He’s so weird and uncomfortable about it, like bruh if I could always tell people were lying to me I’d be STOKED. I don’t understand why it’s this big weird secret. I mean I get not wanting to explain to everyone, but Jade’s a full on PSYCHIC, Neal’s lie detector is small beans compared to that.

For goodness sake, I put Jade in like a full-on breakdown with whatever freaky shit I’ve got going on, so I don’t know what he has to worry about.

Literally, what is wrong with me?

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