Even if John noticed the car, he wouldn’t be able to react fast enough. An out-of-control driver on rain-slick streets, or was he aiming? And Arlen? An easy target on crutches, crossing against traffic, helpless to jump out of the way.
What could she do?
She decided the instant the screech of the Mustang’s tires against the wet concrete cut through the little shopping area, when she saw John realized what was about to happen and he froze, bracing for impact—
The squeal of the tires was enough for her to grab onto, in a way she had not allowed herself to since the death of her parents. In front of her eyes, the rest of the world seemed to slow down as she reacted to that single, all-encompassing screech of the car’s tires.
She reached out and clenched her fists. Now!
The raindrops shimmered and solidified, the soft sounds of the rain and the shriek of the skidding tires coming together to form a giant, translucent net, almost directly above John Arlen, who was still frozen in that split second.
Yes! Twelve years without practice and she could still do it!
She didn’t have much time. Swiftly, she stepped forward and caught the edge of the net, yanking it down. It floated into her hands as if it were gossamer, wisps caressing her skin, and she wrapped the stuff around her fists.
With a cursory yank, she wrapped the net around John Arlen and cocooned him in it, gliding the wispy substance with him in it across the street. His left hand slipped out and scraped along the ground before she noticed and tucked it back in. His glasses had fallen off–folding them, she slipped them into his pocket.
The net started to dissipate–the short time it existed hadn’t changed since the last time she had done this. Sonya arranged Arlen into a sitting position on the curb, letting the net fall around him, and watched as the net crumbled away into the chilly rain. Right at that moment her own hyperworld and the regular world met and merged, the harsh meeting of the two making her stomach roil as it always did.
And then—nothing. None of the pedestrians had noticed.
Sonya winced. She was starving. That hadn’t changed since the last time she’d done this, either.
She watched as John, shaking his head, came to and stared at the bleeding gash on his knuckles.
He was dazed. Good.
Fighting her nausea, she knelt beside him. “Can you walk?” she asked, her voice soft.
He blinked and looked at her. “Sonya. I-I think I was in a car accident,” he stammered. Then, “Why can’t I see?”
His glasses. Sonya slipped them out of his pocket, wiped the lenses against the fabric of his shirt and slipped them on his nose. “Is that better?”
He looked up at her, blinking. “Yes…but there’s something wrong with them.” He unhooked his glasses from around his ears to examine them.
Oh, crap. One of the lenses had cracked, probably in her haste to wrap him up. She hadn’t noticed the hairline fracture.
He stared at it. “When did this happen?”
When someone tried to run you over, she wanted to say, but instead, she tried to scold. “You can’t run across the street when you’re on crutches. Can you stand up?” She touched his cheek.
He shook his head. “I’m still a little dizzy.” Together, they watched as the blood welled across the skin of his knuckles. It wasn’t a bad scrape, but it had to smart. “I remember checking to make sure the street was clear and then that Mustang came out of nowhere and–what happened?”
She chewed on her lip. He remembered more than she thought he would, considering. She didn’t know whether that was good or bad. “Did you hit your head? What are you doing here, anyway?” She placed her hand across his forehead.
His skin was moist and cool. Probably a little shock, she decided. “I decided to get breakfast at Adelaide’s,” he mumbled. “I don’t think I hit my head. I don’t know how I hurt my hand or broke my glasses, though.”
Sonya glanced up at the sound of rapid footsteps. “What happened out here?” Addy exclaimed, hurrying out of the coffee shop. “Johnny, what are you doing down there?”
The rain was coming down in earnest now. Blinking, he looked up at her. “Addy? How did I end up on this side of the street? I started off on the other side. I was at the music store. Where’s the triangle?”
Damn it, he was coming out of it too fast. If she wasn’t careful, he might actually remember something she couldn’t afford for him to remember. “You’re still holding it,” she said, tapping the little paper bag clutched in his hand. “It was almost a hit-and-run,” Sonya explained to Addy as she stood up and introduced herself. “I was running some errands when I saw Mr. Arlen crossing the street. There was a car going way too fast—I don’t think the driver even realized what happened.” That fit what happened–she wasn’t sure it was true, but it would explain why the Mustang was nowhere in sight.
Of course, in her haste to make sure she had John out of harm’s way, she had neglected to take note of the car’s license plate. If she hadn’t been so happy Arlen was more or less intact, she would have been furious at herself.
Just then she heard him repeat, “How did I end up on this side of the street?”
At least he didn’t remember how. She knelt again. “We’ll figure it out, but let’s fix your hand up first. Do you think you can stand now?”
“I think so.” He grabbed his crutch, then stopped. “Where’s my other crutch?”
Sonya looked across the street, where a single crutch lay on the sidewalk in front of the music store. He saw it too.
INTRODUCING SONIKA Available at Ellora’s Cave