Friday, September 3, 2010

Chapter 24 Ghosts

“You didn’t like that man.”

Alex walks so quick it's almost hard to keep up with him. Thankfully, once we were away from the others and walking down one of the streets, he let my wrist go otherwise I’d probably be dragged along behind him. There is still a tenseness to him that makes him alert, his eyes dart from the horizon at any small sound.

“Alex,” I reach a hand out and touch his arm. That seems to work. He stops and looks down at me, giving me all of his attention.

“He is dangerous.”

“But who isn’t around here?”

Alex suddenly steps very near me, placing his hands on my hips like he had earlier when he surprise tackled me.

“He doesn’t like humans.”

It takes a second before I can think clearly enough to realize what he means. “You mean people like me who don’t have powers.”

“Yes. He thinks they're weak.”

There is something to Alex’s face that tells me there's more than he’s saying. “But I'm sure he's not the only one who thinks that way.” In a lower voice, I add, “I mean, you know where I'm from.”

Alex doesn’t move. “He is a Ghost.”

That throws me. I don’t know what that's supposed to mean.

He probably catches my utter confusion. “They are people who are high rank, but work alone. Southlanders don’t know they exist.”

I roll my shoulders instinctively trying to shove off the chill threatening to roll down my spine. It doesn’t make any sense to me. How could the Southlanders not know about that guy? He looks like he’d stand out like a sore thumb. “How?”

But Alex shakes his head. “Not here.”

At the apartment building, he pulls me inside and then into one of the abandoned apartments on the bottom floor before he stops and looks at me again. My back is to the wall and he stands in front of me with that look of mature concern. It feels weird to be trapped like this in a very abandoned room with a shirtless Alex. His skin still holds some of the heat from the sun and with as near as he stands to me I can feel it bouncing onto my own cheeks.

“Your cheeks are red,” he says as he brushes them with his fingertips. “And hot. This happens a lot?”

“It’s called ‘embarrassment.’ It might happen less if you had a shirt on and didn’t do things like that,” I say as I take his hand and move it away from my face. He chuckles again and I do my best to completely ignore it. “You were talking about the Ghosts. How do you know about it when no one else does?”

Alex becomes serious again. “They know of them, but most think it is a story. I know because I have seen him.”


“Yes. With Brandon. They once visited my tribe together.”

My body is frozen, even my heart feels like its slowed down with this surprising new information. “To do what?”

Alex stands back and crosses his arms. I can see him thinking about his answer. “Brandon is our link to the Southlanders. We helped protect the border.”

“Border? What border?” The only one I can think of right away is the Neutral border.

“The Lost Lands.”

A picture comes into my head and right away I remember where I am. We're closer to the other border. The Lost Territory where the worst of the worst live. They're different from the Wildlanders because the Lost Territory was lost even before the time of the labs.

They say Lost Landers are more animal than human. They hunt to live, eating animals and each other if they have to. Supposedly they roam the land in real tribes, attacking each other constantly. That’s all that’s known about them.

It sheds a new light on Alex. He helped protect the border from truly wild Lost Landers, and he’s hardly older than me. Some part of me feels horrible for him having to grow up fast enough to protect his home from people like that. And then I realize that I watched him sparring for fun where the ultimate goal were “kill taps.” He's hardly older than me, but I still get the feeling he's packed more into his life than I probably would have even if I were 30.

Maybe there’s something to my expression. Alex steps forward, his long arms enfolding me like I'm the one who needs the hug. I wrap my arms around him instinctively. His skin against my cheek is still hot like we're still standing in the sun.

“It’s getting late,” he says before he pulls away.

He’s right. I still have dinner to prepare. We step into the hall ready to go our separate ways. I don’t ask him up as I'm needing some time with my thoughts before Henri gets home.

And Alex doesn’t ask. We quietly say good bye, and then I turn away to head up the stairs. Before I get far though, Alex smacks me with an open hand on my behind. It comes out of nowhere and when I turn around, he's grinning hugely. He points to his cheeks and I lift my hands to my own which’re hot enough to cook dinner.

I'm completely mortified. Not very appropriate at all.

Next chapter -->


  1. Naughty Alex, he can smack my behind anytime he likes *wink wink* :)

    Another great chapter, loving how this story is developing :)

  2. Oh man...that Alex. He has caught on to the notion of embarrassment rather quickly, and he knows what will make Paula's cheeks flame. How funny that he'd want to make her turn red. :)

    In any case, he sure knows how to distract her from serious thoughts, lol. I'm glad he got her away from Aaron, and I shiver to ponder what he was leaving out when he was telling her about his dislike of humans without powers.

    So Brandon serves as a kind of ambassador for the Southlanders? That's interesting, and really kinda perfect, given his ability.

    Wonderful chapter as usual. :)

  3. I nearly needed a paper bag to breathe in at the end of this, lol. o, Alex~~~ <3 (I went from being fairly indifferent to a fangirl within a few chapters.)

    Fangirlish giggling aside, the chapter really made me think about Alex's past more. I mean...I knew he went through a lot, but I never really thought about it.

    I'm glad he pulled her away from Aaron. That guy still creeps me out after Mary's story. :(

    Good stuff!

  4. ooooh, lots of food for thought in this one! Has Alex seen Aaron do something that the others, even Brandon, hasn't? Something involving tormenting (or worse) of the "humans". Is this why he thinks he is dangerous and why he was so eager to get Paula out of there before Aaron gave her a second thought?

    He says he has seen Aaron before, that once he visited Alex's tribe with Brandon - but he doesn't elaborate and he doesn't say that was the only time he had seen Aaron.

    I mean, even Paula picked up immediately on Alex's unease around the man - I wouldn't expect someone like Alex to consider another man so dangerous that he can't even hide the feeling unless he had witnessed something.

    *giggle* ... that's more than brotherly concern Alex was showing to Paula. I loved the slap on the behind, though, so typical of Alex. Just when you start to forget how young he is because of what he has done and seen, he acts like a teenager again.

  5. I had the same thought as Illyandra. That little slap on the behind at the end really served as a reminder that Alex really is still quite young. And I love that he seems to get kind of a kick out of Paula's discomfort. Poor Paula though.

    Gosh, it goes without saying, really, but Alex has just seen and done so much. Paula probably doesn't even know the half of it.

    Also, the picture right after this line?

    “Yes. With Brandon. They once visited my tribe together.”

    That one is really amazing!

  6. strelitaiz, thanks. And lol! Don't invite Alex to do it. I can see him probably going, "Really?" With a head tilt. "Okay!"

    Rachel, I think he gets the concept, but I don't think that anyone else really has the time for embarrassment, you know? So I'm sure he understands it, but it's probably something he wouldn't be used to seeing in someone he'd consider to be an adult.

    Yep, Brandon is like an ambassador for the Southlands. It seemed like it'd be the perfect job for him with his ability and with his personality.

    Aw, thanks Rachel.

    Nicole, lol! Awesome that Alex has a fangirl.

    Exactly. It's easy to forget, and I think Paula didn't think about it until she actually thought about it right here.

    Thank you.

    Illandrya, I won't deny it's a possibility Alex has seen something. Aaron is a very intimidating man for normal people even, I think, and he's always on the border of good and bad.

    Plus Alex is very young compared to Aaron who's about 30 here, so over ten years older than Alex. Alex can handle himself well, but I think there are things that bother even him. It's just the sort of man he is.

    lol, yes. That surprised me when I wrote it, and it's true. It does remind you how young he is.

    Carla, Poor Paula could use some loosening up I think, lol. Though, I understand her hesitation. Alex is just the one for her to joke around with I think (even if he doesn't get her jokes and he now seems to think it's funny to make her blush).

    Paula has no clue yet all the stuff he's done and seen yet.

    Thank you. I just love TS3 eyes. Alex's always seem to look like they're glowing.

  7. Haha! What a great chapter, I love it, well done :)

  8. Alex is a total doll! oh god I am in love LOL! His unease, what he's seen, what he knows and what he's not sure he knows, but there's something terrible there.

    The detail where he points to his cheek and grins is beyond good!! Perfect perfect!!

  9. Awww, your so sweet to give your fans what they want . . . told ya I needed more Alex, you gave . . . ;)

  10. Thanks poida!

    SB, I'm glad you enjoyed. Yes, Alex is a mass of contradictions... well most people are, but in his case, there are things he knows and things he's not sure he knows, still he's going to do whatever he thinks is right. I think he'd have been a totally different guy under different circumstances.

    Mrs. Stuffy, lol! Don't worry, there'll be more Alex. :D

  11. I adore the awkward yet comfortable relationship that Alex and Paula share. He is adorable!

    I keep waiting for a liplock with those two...

  12. Hehe, thanks. These two are very cute in my head, especially as Alex gets a bit more comfortable around her in his own way.

  13. Oh love! lol! That was cute! :)

    I'm very interested to know what exactly Alex saw that made him consider Aaron so dangerous. And yes, I totally see Brandon as an ambassador type. So if they travel together then, I wonder if that means Brandon has seen these dangerous things Aaron does, and if he's been a part of it as well?

    But oh, yes, let's get those two caught up in quiet corners more often, huh? ;)

  14. Wonderful, I loved the explanation of the Lost Lands and the rest, my old brain needs these occasional reminders so I can keep my head wrapped around all the web like plot threads.
    And Alex continues to charm. I don't blame Paula one bit, I would be flushed from head to toe.
    Back to read some more soon,

    And sorry to hear about your computer woes, I can relate~

  15. Thanks Laura! I'm trying to get Alex to explain now. It will probably be interesting, lol. As for Brandon's stance on the matter, I had sort of expected that to come out more on the last chapter, but it didn't. Only in the rough draft. But that's a good question.

    Also, lol! Can do!

    Drew, thank you. Sometimes I worry about repetition, but sometimes it's important. I try to keep things simple, but there is a bit to this world to keep track of.

    Also, computer is fixed now thank to Gayl sending me a replacement graphics card!