What happens when the one person Lily can’t heal is herself?

Lily’s sisters think her ability to heal the pain of others is easy compared to their truth telling and future seeing gifts. Who wouldn’t love to heal people with a simple touch? But all of that pain and suffering has to go somewhere, and Lily’s the one taking it all in.

When someone close to her dies, Lily’s life spins out of control. She clings to her best friend Micah, trying to feel something other than the suffocating emptiness that threatens to consume her, but what started as friendship morphs in to something much more. As Lily begins to fall for Micah, she realizes that while healing others is easy, healing herself is much harder.

A Touched Trilogy

The Matlin triplets are gifted with unique abilities. Phoebe hears the lies, Lily heals the hurt, and Chloe sees the future.

Follow the sisters as they learn to trust themselves, their gifts, and each other.

Excerpt – Chapter 1

Is it wrong not to love the person you’re with? I don’t know if that’s worse than not being with them.

I stared at the photo of Dylan and me, taken almost a year ago. We’d gone to Sea World with a group of his friends, and someone had snapped the picture. We looked happy. In love. Everyone always assumed we’d be together forever. High school sweethearts. I had believed it. I’d clung to the idea until it felt like it would swallow me whole. I thought that would be a good thing. I thought that was what love was supposed to do.

But things changed after that day. Dylan changed. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment or event. There was a slow building of anger and pain within him. Not the physical pain that caused my stomach to clench in dread, but the emotional kind that burned my hands until I was desperate for relief. He even looked different now. Oh, the wavy hair was a tad longer, and he was still reed thin, but his face was now drawn tight, a constant signal to me that he was hurting. As if the heat in my hands wasn’t enough. Fixing it would be easy if I knew the cause, but in all the healings I had done for Dylan, I’d never been able to figure out the source.

“Yo, Lily? You still with me?” Phoebe waved her hand in front of the photo.

I tried to remember what she’d been talking about. Something to do with junior prom. Something I hadn’t even thought about yet. I should think about it. Dylan would want to go. He always wanted to go to those things. To be in the middle of a crowd and feel their energy. All I felt during those was a suffocating sense of dissatisfaction drifting from the girls and boys discovering that high school dances were less exciting and glamorous than movies portrayed. But Dylan would want to go.

The photo wobbled in my hand, and I blinked, trying to blend the Dylan of a year ago with the one I knew today.

“Are you and Nathan in love?” I asked, still staring at the picture. The question popped out. I wasn’t even sure why I bothered to ask. I already knew the answer. Whenever she was with him, it radiated from her. Once, I even managed to transfer a bit of it.

“Yeah. I mean, I guess we are. We’ve never said it, but it’s there, you know?” She gave a lopsided smile.

Her answer didn’t surprise me. Out of the three of us, Phoebe always seemed the least likely to exhibit any girly emotions. Although, since she and Nathan started dating, she’d been a lot softer—even more now they’d gone through the whole ‘time apart’ thing.

“Do you think that’s strange? Should I tell him?” she asked.

“No. Not unless you really want to.”

I glanced at her and tried to smile. She rolled on to her stomach, scrunching one of my pillows under her chest while mussing up the comforter with her legs. Visits with Phoebe tended to end with me having to tidy up either my room or hers.

“How did you tell Dylan?” she asked.

I looked back at the photo.

I had loved him. Once upon a time. A time that got harder to remember each moment I was with him.

When we started dating in seventh grade, he had been sweet and cute. All of the girls at school had been jealous—well, except Phoebe. Every day, he would share the dessert his mom packed in his lunch with me, since my dad never thought about that type of thing. He’d walk me home, holding my hand every step of the way, and then stay to help me with my homework.

It was like Phoebe had said. It was there; just never said. But now, there was nothing. I wanted to feel something for him, but he was surrounded by pain, anger, sorrow. And nothing I did healed him. I’d tried so many times I wasn’t even sure I wanted to love him again.

“Lils! Come on. How did you tell Dylan?”

“I didn’t.”

“What?” She nearly fell off the bed when she sat up in surprise, saving herself by grabbing the headboard and hoisting herself upright. “You’ve been with him for, well, forever. How could you not have told him?”

“Almost five years.”

Nearly a quarter of my life.

“Whatever. Five years, and you never said it? Not even once?”

I shrugged and shoved the photo back in my desk drawer.

“Do you love him?”


It was an automatic answer. One I felt I was supposed to give. Why else would I stay with him for so long? I’d loved him once. Part of me must still.

“You’re lying.”

“I’m not.”

“Uh, hello? Truth Teller here.”

She waved her hands, gesturing to herself. As if I could forget that lying to Phoebe was pointless. Since first developing her gift four months ago, she’d taken to testing pretty much everyone. Up until now, I’d been able to avoid anything I would want to lie about.

“Lily, I might not like Dylan, but how could you let him think that for years? That’s kind of messed up.”

I looked at Phoebe. She blurred, filtered through the tears welling up in my eyes. She was right. I was messed up.

“Ah, Lils. I’m sorry.” Phoebe rose and awkwardly tried to wrap an arm around me. I brushed her off and went to my door, holding it open for her. She walked out in to the hall, and I shut the door before she could say anything else.

I flopped on to the bed and curled into a tight ball, making myself as small as possible. There must be some love for Dylan left inside of me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be so worried about him. But whatever there was vanished a little more each day. Messed up, maybe, but I didn’t want to hurt Dylan. He already hurt so much. How could I add to what he was dealing with?

Knowing Phoebe’s big mouth, I probably had only a few minutes until Chloe was at my door wanting to share her visions of my life. I pushed off the bed and checked myself in the mirror. I looked paler than usual, but at least I’d kept in the tears so my eyes wouldn’t be puffy for hours after. Porcelain skin, Nanna always called it. More like a freckled window to my soul.

A short knock preceded Chloe’s entrance. She looked only mildly concerned, but it was easy to be calm when you knew everything that was going to happen.

“Hey,” she said with a bit too much casualness in her voice.

“Phoebe has got to be the fastest gossip in town.” I gave a semi-smile. It wasn’t Chloe’s fault. The two of them were natural snoops. They just didn’t understand that I wasn’t much into sharing. Emotions were a private thing, and most people didn’t want someone else to know everything they felt. “Despite what I’m sure Phoebe said, I’m fine.”

“Oh, sweetie, you and Dylan are gonna be okay.” She used her big sister voice granted to her originally by her two minute and thirty-eight seconds head start on life, and now by a seven-inch advantage.

She gave me a more successful hug than Phoebe, and, for a moment, I actually believed what she said. Then reality checked me back in. Nothing would be okay with Dylan and me, because I didn’t want it to be.

“I don’t know what crap Phoebe fed you, but you and Dylan have always been perfect for each other. Just because you haven’t said I love you yet, doesn’t mean you won’t.”

“Have you seen anything?”

Normally, I didn’t ask her about my future. When we were little, I asked all the time, wanting the security of knowing what would happen, thinking it would give me some control. It didn’t. Knowing only made me realize how little control I did have, and knowing things I couldn’t change only made me feel sick. But right now, I wanted something to hold on to.

“I saw you guys going to junior prom and homecoming, and he’ll be here at Christmas. Next year, you guys will go to senior prom together.” She smiled down at me, thinking that was what I wanted to hear. What would she say if I told her that was the one thing I didn’t want? “Now let’s go make pizza. Dad won his case, and he’s going to want to celebrate.”

I followed her up the stairs, glad to be out of my room, away from the photo of Dylan.

“Are you sure?” I asked before we joined Phoebe in the kitchen.

Chloe’s smile faded. “I saw it, Lils.”

She’d been wrong lately, though. While everyone else came through spot on for her, Phoebe and Tonya’s futures had been a complete disaster for Chloe to see. I could only hope she was wrong about mine, too, and I wondered if that made me more messed up than Phoebe thought. I didn’t ask her anything more. Instead, we worked together to fix dinner, and I let the questions go.

Sleep came only moments before my alarm went off the next morning, and I resigned myself to yet another exhausting day. As a young child, I’d imagined school as a place that would give me a break from the overwhelming emotions of my dad and Nanna. Though their pain from Mom’s passing had faded by the time kindergarten came around, there were moments it overtook them, and the rush of heat would rip through me. School meant distance from their hurting. The first day of school had shattered that idea.

School was worse than being at home. At least at home, I had my own bedroom and could close the door when my sisters fought. School was just one big melting pot of emotions, and only got worse as we got older. There was no escape, and while one person was riding the high of first love, like Phoebe and Nathan, others were consumed by insecurities, jealousy, and anger. Which maybe would have balanced out if I’d been able to take in the positive stuff. But people tended to hold on to those warm and fuzzy feelings, leaving me constantly absorbing all of the unwanted crap.

The bell rang, and I frantically pulled my English books from my locker. I’d planned on arriving to class early, but Phoebe had caught me right after first period, needing me to take care of her monthly cramps. It was definitely not how I’d wanted to start my day, but I couldn’t say no to her. A five-second healing had ended up with me sitting on the floor in front of my locker for ten minutes, recovering.

“Chill, Lils. Ms. Garcia is running late,” Chloe said as she sidled up to me.

“Yeah, but I wanted to read over some of my notes before class. You know how she is with pop quizzes.” I closed the locker door and started down the hall.

“Don’t I always warn you before one?” she asked, walking beside me.

“Well, the last time you waited until about five minutes before class, so I don’t really count on you seeing it in time to do me any good.”

“Whatever,” she said and flipped her brown hair over her shoulder in a perfect wave.

I’d always wanted hair like hers or even Phoebe’s darker curls. Instead, I suffered through my carrot locks that were gradually becoming a little less orange and more of a deeper auburn. Somehow, I had ended up with the recessive genes in hair color and the short end of the stick with my height. Together, my sisters and I averaged normal height. Independently, though, they towered over me at five-eight while I was barely five -one.

“So, I’m thinking I want Andrew to ask me to junior prom,” she said, smiling. “But the only time I see him is in English.”

I could hear a question somewhere in there. “And?”

“And I want you to switch seats with me, so I can sit beside him. Maybe play him up a bit.”

“I thought you didn’t like Andrew anymore?”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like I have many options. I was hoping the new guy would ask, but he seems entirely oblivious to my beauty.”

She laughed, but an underlining tone caught my attention along with a tingle in the tips of my fingers. Casually, I grazed her arm with my hand. A small jolt went through me, followed by a fleeting tangle of emotions I couldn’t dissect before they faded.

“So? Will you?”

I didn’t want to, but I was a path of least resistance person. “Sure.”

We walked together to class, and I did my best to avoid brushing against the other students, but it was nearly impossible. The more negative they felt, the more they closed in on me, their bodies sensing my ability to take it all away. For the most part, I could ignore it all, but the stronger the feeling, the harder it got. Once I would never have considered not healing someone. I would have gladly laid hands on anyone who came near. But now, with Dylan … I needed every ounce of energy.

English wasn’t exactly my favorite class. I loved reading, but some of the old stuffy pieces they forced on us absolutely bored me. It was the only class where I constantly struggled to maintain a B average. Ms. Garcia was an eager, overly creative teacher who simply tried too hard sometimes, but I figured there wasn’t much you could do with Shakespeare to make a person like it. They either loved him or hated him. I fell in to the hater group.

Today was no exception. Ms. Garcia had warned us the previous day that with our Othello papers due, she’d have a final partner assignment ready for us. Partner work never seemed to help my grade much, and Dylan would want to work with me.

He was Mensa smart and had always made straight A-s, but, lately, his grades were going straight downhill. The last time we’d worked together, I did pretty much all the work myself and that hadn’t been much better than what we would have had by handing in the garbage he’d given me.

Ms. Garcia had the desks arranged in a giant U-shape, and, thanks to assigned seating, Dylan sat directly across from me. I stared at him, wondering which Dylan he was today. He whispered to the girl next to him. He seemed to be in a good mood. Unlike the day before, he didn’t mope at his desk. His hair fell across his eyes, and he brushed it back, his eyes catching mine. He grinned, and I forced myself to smile back.

Ms. Garcia droned on about the assignment, and I focused my attention on potential partners. I passed over Chloe. Working with either of my sisters never ended well for me, since they had seventeen years of learning how to manipulate my gift to their benefit. Besides, she was chatting up Andrew. The rest of the class was filled with people I rarely socialized with, including two newer students I’d never even spoken with.

One was a pretty Hispanic girl with long, curly, black hair. She seemed to do okay in class, probably similar to me, but she was already motioning to someone a few seats down from her.

I looked at the other new student, Micah. He’d enrolled a few weeks ago and kept to himself. He was in a couple of my classes and always seemed so intense, as if he was trying to absorb everything he heard because he might not get another chance. He wasn’t too tall, maybe average height, although he’d still tower over me. Chloe considered him a hottie, but she’d once said the same about Justin Bieber. I had to admit, though, he was attractive in a dangerous kind of way. Not something many guys in Beachgrove could claim.

“Now, about your partners,” Ms. Garcia said, pausing until everyone focused back on her. “I see some of you trying to pair up already, but this is your last project of the year. Over the semester, I have noticed a few of you consistently working with the same person. So, we’re going to draw random names.” A chorus of groans and protests followed her announcement that quieted when she lifted a hand for us to stop. “Everyone on the right side of the room will choose the name of a person on the left side.”

My plans crumbled around me, and I sagged in defeat. I wouldn’t be stuck with Chloe, who was beside me, but Dylan happily sat across from me, knowing luck always managed to throw us together.

“No arguments. Think of this as an opportunity to make a new friend.”

“Ms. G, you do know that we’ve all been stuck together since kindergarten, right?” Andrew asked.

“Not all of you have, and that does not mean you’re friends. After high school, you will have to work with not only people you have never met but also people you don’t like.”

Chloe half raised her hand and asked, “What if someone ends up with a partner they’ve already worked with?”

“Then lucky them,” Ms. Garcia said, smiling as she gave her standard response when someone wanted to make things more complicated. She handed the bag to the first student. “Tyler, pull a name and pass the bag.”

The paper bag made its way down our side of the U, and when it came to me, I pulled out a folded green sticky note then handed the bag to Chloe. She pulled out an identical piece and opened it immediately. I peeked at the name she had. Micah. Across the room, Dylan looked at me hopefully.

I unfolded my paper. Dylan.

I glanced back up at him. For a moment, I saw him as he was four years ago, passing me a note, asking me to the movies. He’d been on the scrawny side, and his hair had hung around his face in a mop of curls, but he’d been the cutest boy in class. He’d been a boy who made me smile when he said the sweetest things.

That Dylan was gone. The one staring at me now was a completely unknown person.

I shook my head, and he slumped back in his chair. I wouldn’t be doing his work again for him, though I had no clue how I’d get out of it. Chloe leaned over to see my paper, and when she saw his name, she gave me a big smile. She thought I should be happy to have Dylan. Maybe I should have been.

Ms. Garcia asked Tyler to call out the name he pulled, and she recorded it on her computer. The next person followed. When my turn came, I hesitated. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be with him anymore. I crumpled the paper in my hand.

“Ms. Matlin?”

Chloe nudged me with her elbow. Ms. Garcia was staring at me. I looked at Chloe, silently begging her to understand then turned back to Ms. Garcia.

“Micah.” I felt Dylan and Chloe’s surprise, and something else, too. The stinging heat of anger. Someone in the room was not impressed with my partnering with Micah. But there wasn’t anything I could do except wait to see what name Chloe called out.

She gave the same long pause I did before finally calling out, “Dylan.”

I’d never been so glad she was my sister.

The rest of the pairs were assigned, and Ms. Garcia handed out the rubric she would be using to grade the projects.

“Mr. Paulson has generously allowed us access to his film students, and is encouraging them to help you for extra credit. Presentations will begin the third week of May, and the sign-up sheet will be posted next week. Every class until presentations start is for you to devote to your project. If you choose to use the classroom, wonderful. If your project requires you to work elsewhere, please inform me, so I do not count you as absent. Good luck.”

Chaos erupted as everyone began moving at once. Desks shuffled and bodies bumped against me. Beside me, Chloe stood and, before she moved away, leaned close to my ear. “You so owe me.”

I nodded, still frozen in my seat, watching Dylan. When Chloe reached him, he seemed to argue with her. Probably asking to switch partners. She shook her head and made some gesture to Ms. Garcia.

“Are you even awake?” a gruff voice behind me asked. I twisted around. Micah looked anything but happy to be talking to me. Well, at least I knew who was angry about our pairing.

“Yes. Sorry. I was just thinking,” I said lamely.

“That’s surprising.” He rolled his eyes and pulled out Chloe’s vacant chair. He threw his books on the desk and sat down. There was no way I could miss his implication.

“What does that mean?” I asked, startled by his attitude. He obviously didn’t like me, although I’d never done anything to him.

“Nothing. Let’s get started.”

He opened his binder and flipped through his notes. My own were in front of me, but I had barely a third of what he did, and I’d actually been enrolled all year. I felt some relief knowing that he was an English buff. Maybe the project wouldn’t be the disaster my last one with Dylan had been.

“I ranked the projects I’d like to do, and thought the character interview would be a good one. What did you pick as your top choice?” He looked at me expectantly.

“What?” I glanced at his assignment sheet with penciled in numbers beside each option then at my unmarred page.

“Ms. Garcia said to number our top choices so we could get started quicker.”

“Oh. Uh…” I had totally spaced. I’d been so focused on figuring out who to partner with I hadn’t even thought I might have been missing instructions. “The interview sounds fine.”

“What about the movie trailer? Or the puppet theater? Maybe the game show?” There was an odd look in his eye, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Sure; any of those sound good.” I had no idea what the possible projects were and felt guilty. This was the type of thing I’d wanted to avoid with Dylan. Micah could choose the project, and I would just go with it. Pacifying people was much easier than arguing over petty things.

“Great. It’s much easier knowing you don’t have your own opinion.” He glanced back at his notes, and I just sat in shock. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why he was being so rude. “We’ll do the interview then, with a character from A Streetcar Named Desire. I can have a script together by next week then we can schedule with one of the film students. I guess that means you’re thinking the same thing.”

He glanced at me, and I wanted to argue if only for the sake of my pride, but my mouth simply hung open. No one had ever been so rude to me. I couldn’t even remember a single person being even a little mean to me. I wasn’t popular, but everyone liked me. It was part of my gift. I made them feel good, so they wanted to be around me even if they weren’t interested in talking to me.

The bell rang, and he sprang from his chair, grabbed his books, and took off out of the room. Apparently, we wouldn’t be getting together to work on the project after school.

“Hey,” Dylan said, coming up behind me.

He placed his hands on my shoulders, and I stiffened at the contact. His touch burned me from the inside out. I tried to focus on breathing normally, on finding the source of his emotions, but it passed through me so quick I couldn’t even get a glimpse of it.

“You’re really tense. Maybe you can ask Ms. Garcia to let us switch partners. Micah’s so serious. He needs someone like Chloe to help lighten him up.” He began rubbing my arms.

I scooted out from under his touch, shoving my binder in to my backpack. “Sure. Why don’t I try to talk to her alone, though?”

“Good idea. She likes you more than me. Especially after I blew off that Great Gatsby paper. I’ll see you at lunch.”

“Um hmm.”

He leaned down to give me a kiss, and I shifted, so his lips grazed my cheek. I watched the door swing shut behind him as he left then yawned and widened my eyes, trying to wake them up. He’d completely drained me, and I still had over two hours until lunch. I had no idea how I would make it through another two classes when all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep until next week.

“Lily, is everything all right?” Ms. Garcia said from her desk, looking up at me all concerned. “You seem a little distracted lately, and it can’t only be because you don’t like Shakespeare.”

“Yeah. I’m okay.”

I tried to move, to be natural and act anxious to get the day over with like everyone else, but I couldn’t. Hiding my ability had never been that important to me, and while our close friends knew about it, most people simply didn’t believe in what I could do. Ms. Garcia was new enough to the school that she probably had never even heard the rumors about my sisters and me. I wanted to keep it that way. I liked that she treated me like everyone else.

She got up from her desk and came around to perch on the edge of mine. “You’ve seemed very withdrawn the past few months. If something is going on at home, or with Dylan…”

“No. I’m just tired. Really. I’ll try to get more sleep tonight.”

“This is more than simply being tired, Lily. Last year, you were an entirely different student. You were always on top of things, eager to learn, an amazing role model for your classmates, and for your sister.” There was no need for her to call Phoebe out by name. “Are you sure there’s nothing more going on?”

“I’m sure. Honestly, it’s lack of sleep. That’s all. I need to get to bed earlier.”

“If you’re sure. I want you to know, though, that you can always come talk to me if you need someone to listen.”

“Thanks.” I tried to give her a reassuring smile, but it felt disjointed, and considering the expression she wore, she wasn’t buying it. She glanced at her computer screen then back at me.

“I’m glad you ended up with Micah. He needs someone like you in his life right now.”

Someone like me. The healing me? Or the opinion-less, messed up me?

Dylan met me at the entrance to the cafeteria, and I swung my backpack on to my shoulder between us, trying to keep him from touching me again. I needed my energy to make it through the rest of the day.

“What did Garcia say?” he asked.

“I tried, but she said if she changed it for us, she’d have to do it for everyone.” I gave a casual yawn and hoped he didn’t try and ask her himself.

“What a bitch. You should have dumped that in your locker,” he said, gesturing to my bag as we made our way in to the line.

I shrugged, gripping the bag tighter. Typically, I avoided eating in the cafeteria. It was like a wading pool of emotional problems where everyone congregated. Dylan and I had our favorite spot to sit under one of the trees in the back courtyard, and the endless space allowed me to feel more of myself. But being alone with Dylan outside wasn’t any more appealing than the crowded lunchroom. I glanced around, trying to avoid his gaze, and my eyes stopped on Micah. He sat at a back table with a couple other kids. “I’m going to talk to Micah. We didn’t set up a time to meet.”

“What the hell?! Can’t you just eat lunch with me?” Anger sparked his words, and I shifted a step away from him. He stomped off, and my body sagged in relief. The mood swings were always the hardest to prepare for.

I placed a ham sandwich and apple on my tray, punched in my lunch number, and headed straight for Micah. I didn’t want to talk with him again, but if Dylan saw that I wasn’t, it would only cause a bigger problem.

Sliding on to the bench across from Micah, I gave my brightest smile. “Hi.”

He glared at me over the top of the book he was holding before going back to reading. So, that was how he was going to be.

“I was thinking about the character interview, and it’s a good choice.” I tried for a friendly tone. Maybe he thought I was bitchy, like Chloe and Phoebe had a tendency to be.

Silence. He didn’t even seem to hear me, but I could feel the annoyance rolling off him.

“You mentioned filming it. Do you know any of the film students? My sister’s boyfriend, Nathan, is in that class. Maybe he could do it for us.”

No response. He was ignoring me. He wasn’t even pretending to listen.

“So, we didn’t set up a time to work on our project. I thought after school today would be a good time to start.” Another yawn took over me, and this time, I didn’t mind as it brought his head up from his book.

“Look, Liz—”


“Lily. I don’t care if you know one of the film students, or if you suddenly love my choice of projects. It’s real cute that you think you can help, but I don’t need you dragging down my GPA. Just show up in class, and I’ll tell you what to do.”

Okay, I was officially offended. It was something I tried to avoid because I could usually tell the other person was just being overly emotional. But Micah was entirely flat as if he didn’t feel anything other than annoyance from my presence at his table.

“I’m not stupid, you know,” I said, finally finding my voice to defend myself.

“Sure. Whatever.” He turned back to his book.

I felt like I was ten again, and Phoebe had just told me I was the ugly sister.

“Why are you being so rude to me? Why don’t you like me?” Well, that came out completely pathetic.

He sighed and put his book down. “I don’t dislike you. I just hate getting stuck with lazy partners.”

“You haven’t even given me a chance to do anything!”

“I don’t need to give you a chance. I know you.”

“You don’t know me! Today is the first time we’ve even talked.”

“I have three classes with you, and it’s the same in each one. You’re completely spaced, half asleep, and your sisters are always lending you their notes.”

I wanted to yell that I was exhausted because Dylan kept sucking all of my energy out. That I was spaced because I was trying to figure out what was happening to Dylan. Instead, all I said was, “They borrow my notes.”

“Lily,” Dylan’s voice came from behind me, and Micah and I both looked up at him. “I’m sorry about storming off. I just wanted to spend some time with you.”

“It’s okay,” I said, my fingers tingling as Dylan’s hurt reached me. I clenched my hands into fists, trying to resist the urge to heal. “Micah’s busy reading, so I’ll come eat with you.”

“Why don’t we just sit here?” He sat next to me, an inch away. One inch that carried the burning from my hands to the entire right side of my body and caused my stomach to churn.

Micah’s face was back in his book, I silently munched on my sandwich, and Dylan filled the silence with endless complaints about how the last project we’d worked on had lowered his GPA by two points. Just what I needed to instill confidence in Micah.

I finally shoveled my food in to my mouth, not caring that I resembled a chipmunk with cheeks stuffed. I just wanted to get away from both of them. Dylan was doing a good job of not showing how furious he was, but the heat of it on my skin grew every second.

The afternoon warning bell rang. I stood up, holding my tray with both hands, careful not to bump Dylan. But he took it from me and stacked it on top of his own, then holding it in one hand, he looped his free arm around my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. The pleasure I’d once felt at the action no longer existed. His anger rushed through me, ripping my heart apart. My shoulders ached with the transfer of his negative energy, and a slight gasp escaped my lips. It lasted only seconds, but when it ended, I sagged against him, barely managing to stay standing.

He glanced down at me, concern filling his eyes. “You need to get more sleep, babe.”

I nodded absently, and reached back to snag my backpack from the bench. Micah’s eyes caught mine, and there was a curious look in them. Did he know what had just happened? Unless he knew about the gifts my sisters and I had, he’d have no clue. And since most people put it down to gossip, it was more likely he didn’t know. Besides, Dylan knew about my healing ability, and most of the time even he had no idea when I was healing him.

Spanish class was the only thing that kept me going for the rest of the day. Immediately after lunch, Mr. Mason decided to show us a Spanish language film, and I was able to sleep for the entire hour. At the end of class, I asked to borrow the movie overnight so I could watch it again because it had been so interesting. He handed it over eagerly, hoping I would share it with Phoebe, who had been conveniently sick during her Spanish block.

I begged a ride from Phoebe after school, and, once home, collapsed in to bed, utterly exhausted.