“Alexis, use your mind to determine if anyone is nearby,” Rina said after Mom closed and locked the door.
This was something she could do herself, of course, but I was sure she was allowing me to practice. I probed outwards with my mind, careful to keep my mental wall in place. I sensed no other thoughts nearby and shook my head.
“Before we go into the council meeting, you need to know that we have not disclosed your gift of telepathy to anyone,” Rina said, moving to the chair behind her desk. Mom and I took the seats in front of her. “Only the three of us, Solomon, Tristan and Owen know and we would like it to remain so for as long as we can keep it secret.”
I nodded. She had told me this before, back at the beach house in the Florida Keys, implying that it had to do with the video I’d received showing the Daemoni beheading Tristan. The video was, obviously, a lie and no one knew who sent it.
“I do not even want the council to know at this time,” Rina said.
“Okay . . . but why? I thought you figured out that the Daemoni had hacked your email and sent the video to me—”
“That was a guess,” Mom said. “It makes the most sense that they would send it, but we’re still looking into it. Rina has reason to believe—”
“I would like you to listen to the council members’ minds during the meeting,” Rina cut in, her eyes hard as she threw a look of anger at Mom.
My eyebrows shot up. “Um . . . I could be missing something here . . . but isn’t that a big invasion of privacy?”
“You are missing something,” Mom said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms as she glared at Rina.
“What?” I asked, my eyes bouncing between the two of them.
“I—” Rina broke Mom’s gaze and began shuffling and stacking papers on her desk. “I just need you to listen and tell me what you hear.”
“But why me? Can’t you do it?” I didn’t mean to sound so demanding, but her request made little sense and made me uncomfortable. As did whatever was going on between the two of them.
Rina abandoned her papers and clasped her hands together. Her chest rose and fell with a deep breath and she shook her head slowly. I’d noticed yesterday, while she provided some of the answers I’d been waiting to hear for so long, a new sadness I’d never seen in her before. Something different—less confidence, I supposed, as if something had seriously shaken her. I thought it’d been my mention of Noah, her son and Mom’s twin, but today it seemed even more pronounced. Her face looked tighter than normal and she held her shoulders at a more defined angle, as if she were tense.
“Someone might be blocking her power,” Mom said when Rina didn’t answer me.
“But not mine? Wait—they can block your power?” I asked, taken aback, nearly knocking my chair backwards with my sudden jolt.
Rina sighed. What’s making her so unhappy? What can I do to help? I just wanted that look on her face to disappear.
“There is a possibility a mage might be able to shield me from entering his or her mind,” she finally said. “A slight possibility, but a possibility nonetheless. I would have thought only a sorcerer would be powerful enough, but the witch, wizards and warlocks on the council are among the most powerful in the world, nearly rivaling any sorcerer.”
“Then they could easily block me, too,” I pointed out.
“Not if they don’t know that they need to,” Mom said. “The reason for keeping it secret.”
“Well, there aren’t any guarantees it’ll stay secret. It’s not like I have the best control.” I anxiously pawed at the base of my throat, once again coming up empty, no pendant hanging there.
“I just need you to keep your wall up and listen—just listen,” Rina said. She implored me with wide, pleading eyes and again, I wanted to make that look go away. But could I do what she asked?
I stood up and walked over to the fireplace, gnawing on my lip and staring at intricately designed glass eggs lining the mantle.
“Alexis, I would not ask you if I did not think you could handle it,” Rina continued. “You have excellent control of protecting your own thoughts. I cannot even hear them without your allowing me to.”
I looked over my shoulder at her and lifted an eyebrow, hoping it was enough to remind her of last night.
“Yes, well, that is a different matter,” she said dismissively.
“You and Tristan won’t be having ... at the council meeting,” Mom said more bluntly.
“No, but what if something else happens?” I asked, throwing my arms in the air and nearly knocking over one of the eggs. Thankfully, my reactions were much faster than before the Ang’dora and I was able to steady it before it fell. I turned and began pacing. “That many people . . . all those thoughts . . . I nearly had a mental breakdown on the planes over here. If Tristan and Owen hadn’t been there . . . I’m just not ready right now. Can’t it wait until I’m better at this?”