Authors: Sophie Davis
Tags: #romance, #paranormal romance, #paranormal, #young adult, #teen
by Sophie Davis
Talented (Talented Saga
Caged (Talented Saga
Hunted (Talented Saga
Captivated (Talented Saga
Created (Talented Saga
Exiled: Kenly’s Story, A
Talented Saga Novel (Kenly Chronicles #1)
Inescapable (Talented Saga
Fragile Façade (Blind
Barriers Trilogy #1)
Platinum Prey (Blind
Barriers Trilogy #2)
Vacant Voices (Blind
Barriers Trilogy #3)…2015
For all of the Talia and Erik lovers out
The tension in the arena was
palpable; the spectators’ emotions ranged from sheer astonishment
to reluctant admiration. Few, if any, of the people watching the
trials thought I’d make it this far undefeated. Proving them wrong
The four challengers that I’d
already faced were decent fighters, but their Talents were no match
for mine. Their minds had been easy to control, their wills easy to
bend. This final adversary would be the true test of my skill; Mac
had promised to save the best for last, after all.
“Ready?” Mac asked, placing a
large hand on my shoulder. The cat-that-ate-the-canary gleam in his
steely gray eyes caused my heart to pound. I fisted my hands at my
sides to stop my fingers from trembling, not wanting to display my
nerves. A pledge position with the Hunters was within my reach, as
long as I didn’t screw up. That knowledge should have calmed be,
but it had the opposite effect.
Mac squeezed my shoulder, more of
a warning gesture than one of fatherly support. He was reminding me
that my future hinged on the outcome of this last match. A win
would cement my place among the Hunters. A loss would prove my
doubters correct, and give the Placement Committee the ammunition
they needed to refuse me a spot with the same.
“Let’s finish this,” I said with more confidence
than I felt.
Mac signaled to the referee with a
wave of his hand, letting him know I was ready to face my final
With four wins under my proverbial
belt, I should have been confident that the dark-haired guy
standing in the middle of the arena was going to be the fifth
notch. But his self-assured grin and lackadaisical stance caused my
stomach to roil. He exuded poise and determination that I couldn’t
You can do this
, I told myself.
You have to do
Failure was not an option. Not
only did my future career with Toxic hinge on winning this next
fight, so did avenging my parents’ deaths. If I never became a
Hunter, I would never have the opportunity to find the man who’d
made me an orphan.
I strolled to the center of the
mat, head held high, and mind focused. My expression was blank,
showing absolutely no emotion. The short walk gave me time to size
up my opponent, gleaning every detail possible from his mental
projections and filing them away for later use.
There was nothing exceptional
about the guy’s appearance, unless being gorgeous counted – which
it didn’t, I reminded myself after staring a little too long at his
brilliant turquoise eyes and lop-sided grin.
, I mentally chastised
myself. Strangely, the guy chuckled softly at this, almost as
though he’d read my thoughts.
Every eye in the gymnasium
followed me as I took my position, the combined weight of several
dozen gazes pressed down on me until I felt about two-inches tall.
The hum of excitement emanating from the spectators’ brains grew to
a dull roar inside my head. My steps faltered. This hadn’t been the
case for the previous four rounds. At best, many of the onlookers
had projected mild interest, but most casual indifference. They
seemed to know something I did not. Sure, this last opponent would
be stronger, faster, and all-around better than the others, but
those facts hardly warranted the suffocating level of anticipation
in the arena.
While the referee finished
conferring with the judging panel, I studied my opponent closer. He
was several years older than me, eighteen or nineteen if I had to
guess. A green bandana kept shaggy black hair from falling into
those beautiful eyes. An adapti-suit – just like mine – covered his
entire body, emphasizing his lean, muscular frame. I thought I
recognized him. There was something familiar about his lithe,
graceful movements, the determined glint in his eyes. Both
completely at odds with the amused smile he offered me when we
His palm was warm and dry and I
immediately felt the need to apologize that mine was still sweaty
from my previous matches. But before I embarrassed myself by doing
just that, the referee blew his whistle.
The shrill noise erased all the
lingering questions about who this opponent was, the one everyone
was so interested in watching me fight. In truth, it didn’t matter.
This kid was my final hurdle in achieving the goal I’d been working
towards for years; I had to beat him.
Seven minutes and my fate would be sealed.
We began circling each other, each
of us waiting patiently for the other to strike first. Ordinarily I
would have forced him to make the first move, but I was eager to
demonstrate my sparring abilities, and to wipe that smug grin off
of his face. I struck out with a well-placed kick to his left side.
The blow was deflected with a lazy swat of his hand. Anger caused
my blood to boil. Was he toying with me? What, was I not worthy of
his full efforts?
Fueled by my annoyance, I
attempted a second hit, this time a jab to his shoulder. Again, the
arrogant twit deflected the blow with as much effort as it would
take to swat a pesky fly.
He wanted to
play it that way, fine,
indignantly. Hadn’t he been watching my other matches? Didn’t he
realize I was not some little girl trying to play with the big
I reached out with my mind,
latching on to his. Well, at least, I tried to latch on to his. His
brain waves were unusual, not like any I’d ever encountered. I
couldn’t decipher his Talent. He wasn’t a morpher like the others,
that much was certain. I cycled through the other Talents, trying
to get a handle on his.
Sensing my distraction, the guy
pressed his advantage. A crushing force hit me square in the chest,
knocking the wind out of me. I stumbled, using my telekinetic
powers to right myself, so I didn’t end up flat on my
The watching crowd cheered and I
had to refocus in order to block them out. Once again, my opponent
took advantage of the situation, advancing towards me with slow,
methodical steps. Unlike me, he was in no hurry; he had nothing
riding on the outcome of this fight, save his pride.
I glanced at the digital clock
counting down the time: six minutes, two seconds.
An uncomfortable thought occurred
to me, my opponent hadn’t touched me. The strike to my chest wasn’t
the result of physical contact; he was a strong telekinetic.
Something about that realization didn’t sit right, though. If he
were a telekinetic, then his brain patterns should be familiar. I’d
sparred with quite a few during my classes, and none of them
projected the strange signals that he currently was.
“What is your deal?”
I thought bitterly.
My opponent froze, a bewildered
expression overtaking the self-satisfied one he’d had plastered on
since sauntering to the center starting ring. This time, I took
advantage of whatever temporary confusion he was suffering from.
Summoning all of my strength, I threw him across the room, watching
as he landed on his butt before sliding several feet and coming
within inches of hitting the far wall.
“Now I’ve got you,”
I thought, charging after him and hoping that I
could reach him before he regained his composure.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,”
an angry voice responded in my mind.
Startled by the mental
communication, I lost focus. Next I knew, my feet were yanked out
from underneath me as if an invisible rope had wound around my
ankles, and been pulled by the wielder. I hit the mat with a thud,
my head bouncing on the unforgiving surface. The pounding between
my ears dulled his mental voice as he said,
“You aren’t the only one who can play mind games.”
The next instant, he was over top
of me, strong hands pinned my shoulders to the ground. I struggled,
but the kid was stronger than his lithe build suggested.
“Get off of me,”
I sent, putting all my will into the
For a brief second, his hold
slackened, allowing me enough time to wiggle free. I rolled to my
right, sweeping my leg out in the process. Either my mental
abilities were weakening, or this kid had the strongest will I’d
ever come across. He fought the hold I had on his mind, breaking
the connection in time to jump out of harm’s way.