The Twelfth Keeper(11)

By: Belle Malory

Kennedy rolled her eyes, letting Ashley know exactly how she felt about that question.

“Well, you must have done something wrong.”

Okay, that was officially becoming annoying. “You can’t really make a mistake, Mom. You sit in a chair. A nurse stabs you with a needle. Then it’s over.”

“Then why did they schedule a follow-up?”

“I don’t know!” she yelled. “Do you think I actually want to go back there?”

Ashley wagged a finger in Kennedy’s direction. “Watch your tone.”

Kennedy let out an exasperated groan and walked away. Her mom was one hundred percent crazy.

Mess up her vaccinations on purpose—ha! Just the idea of it was ludicrous. Like she’d really want to back to that place again after what happened last time.

Reagan was in the kitchen sprinkling flakes of food over the goldfish bowl. “Look on the bright side,” she said, “you get to miss class. They scheduled it during your last period.”

Didn’t sound like much of a bright side. Algebra was more appealing than needles, and she despised Algebra.

“Oh yeah? And who’s going to give me a pass to miss work?” Ashley yelled from the living room.

Aha. So that was why her mom was so fired up. Another kid problem she had to explain to her boss. Kennedy suspected the hospital’s upper management was getting tired of hearing about kid problems. Now Ashley would have to explain this one in order to leave work early tomorrow.

Kennedy sat down at the dining room table with a glass of water. She rested her chin on her hand and watched Lincoln’s fish swish around its bowl in search of food flakes. He’d named it Bobo, or something silly like that.

Suddenly Bobo whipped around and looked at Kennedy.

She sat up straight, her eyes focusing in on the fish.

Okay, it couldn’t actually be staring at her.

She touched the bowl with her index finger. The fish swam towards her finger. Kennedy moved her finger to the other side of the bowl. The fish followed it to the other side.

Weird. Like, freakishly weird.

She looked around the room, expecting someone else to be watching in awe too. No one was paying her any attention. “Reagan, do you see this?”

Her sister yawned and stretched her arms out in front of her. “What is it?”

“Lincoln’s fish. It’s following my finger.”

“So?” Reagan shrugged. “Fish do that.”

“But…it’s looking at me.”

Her sister giggled. “Kenn, really? It’s just a fish. Go to bed. You’re probably overly tired.”

Kennedy stared at the fish. It still watched her, as if it was waiting for something, wanting something.

She shook her head, figuring Reagan was right. She must be tired. Either that or Ashley’s crazy genes had passed onto her.


Spirals of hair floated around her head like unraveling crimson ribbons. The locks swayed back and forth, dancing. It was peaceful down here. Quiet and tranquil. The outside world seemed miles away. Lifetimes away.

Something above the surface caught her attention. She looked up, seeing someone’s tall frame crouching over the water. Ripples stilled, allowing her to linger on the black eyes that studied her, on the soft crease between them leading down into the straight line of his elegant nose. Her eyes wandered over the shape of his mouth, curved up on one side in an almost-smile.

She knew that face. Adored that face.

He spoke to her, but his voice was muted. She read his lips. Come up, he urged. She started to say something back, bubbles escaping her lips in place of words.

Using the balls of her feet, she pushed herself towards the surface. Crashing through, she gulped in air, gasping for breath as if her lungs had never tasted it before. As if she couldn’t get enough of it.

When her chest was no longer heaving, she slung a lank arm across the edge of the pool, water sloshing the ground. A pair of hands grasped her around the waist, and lifted her out.

Water dripped from her skin and from the dress she wore, staining dark gray puddles in the surrounding cement. Unmoving, she lay there on the edge.

She stared up at the stars and space through the skylights, and felt a strange combination of weariness and invigoration. Her breathing slowed, until finally her heartbeat fell back into a normal rhythm.

Strong arms came around her head, caging her between them. She looked up at his beautiful face, only inches from hers, his smile still there, tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Hello, beautiful.”

“Hello, yourself.”

“You’re fully dressed.”

She looked down at her sopping white gown indecently clinging to her damp skin, hugging every curve. “Impulse,” she explained sheepishly. “Didn’t think to change.”