“Ouch. You’re pulling my hair.” Priscilla pushed my shoulders to break the bone-crunching hug I had trapped her in and then massaged the sore spot on her scalp. “Quit freaking out, will you? You’ll only be gone a few days.”
I took a step back to give Priscilla some space and wrapped my arms around my chest to keep from lunging at her again. “I wish you could come with us.” My voice cracked, and I coughed to hide it.
The corner of Priscilla’s wide mouth lifted and her cornflower-blue eyes wrinkled at the edges. “Yeah, right. I’d fit in like a donkey at a dog show.” I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing, despite the butterflies flapping their wings against the lining of my stomach.
Priscilla stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb, what with her near six-foot frame and carrot-orange hair. She could sort of blend in at school, as long as she kept her opinions to herself, which she rarely did. But there was absolutely no chance of her fading into the background where I was going. Besides, Aunt Meg said it wouldn’t be appropriate for an outsider to attend any council meeting, and especially not this one.
It didn’t matter that Priscilla and I had been best friends since the fifth grade or that she was in on the biggest secret of my life—that I had unwittingly become the Katori tribe’s new Spirit Keeper and had the ability to manipulate the elements. She’d have to stay behind. I’d have to do this alone.
“You won’t be alone,” she said, as if reading my mind.
I shifted my weight to the other leg and watched the Templeton kids a few houses down practicing their graffiti skills with sidewalk chalk. “I know. It’s just . . . you know.” I’m scared, I wanted to say.
Priscilla grabbed my hand and squeezed. “I know.”
Uncle David promised me driving lessons when we got back, even offering to kick in a few hundred dollars toward the expense of a used car. But that promise did nothing to lift my mood out of the funk I’d been wallowing in for the past week. Any other normal girl might jump for joy or squeal with delight or otherwise exhibit some other age-appropriate reaction over finally taking those first steps to getting her driver’s license, but not me. All that concerned me was getting through the emotional drama of the next few days.
And let’s face it. It’s not like I was your average girl anymore. As far as I knew, no other girl—or person, for that matter—had brought her boyfriend back from the brink of death with just the touch of her hand and the love in her heart. Corny, but true.
Priscilla opened the car door for me and I reluctantly slid in, the backs of my bare thighs squeaking against the worn leather seat. Adrian sat shotgun next to his twin sister Shyla. He turned a pair of dark, sympathetic eyes on me. His bottom lip pushed out, mimicking the sour expression that had been plastered on my face for the past few days. I could tell by the way his nostrils flared and his shoulders shook that he was at least attempting to keep his laughter to a minimum. Everyone, including my boyfriend, thought I was overreacting.
“It’ll be okay,” he finally said when I glared back. “You have nothing to worry about. I promise.”
That’s what they all promised, but how could they be so sure? For the first time in seventeen years, I was going back to the place where it all began—the Katori reservation. There was still longstanding resentment for the trouble and grief my mom had unintentionally caused her people when she fell in love with the wrong man, aka, my father, and I knew there were some who wouldn’t ever let me forget it.
Priscilla closed the door and I pressed the automatic button on the arm rest. The window inched its way down with a sickly whir. “Call me when you get back,” she said.
“As soon as I walk through the door,” I promised.
Priscilla stepped back as Shyla eased the car into reverse and backed slowly out of the driveway. David did the same before pulling in front of us to take the lead. And even though I knew I would only feel worse for doing so, I turned in my seat and stared out the back window as my best friend faded into the distance.