“I’ll spread my wings
And I’ll learn how to fly
Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye”
– Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway.
Felicity winced as she heard the sharp sound of her high-school’s bell. Sighing, she slammed her locker’s door, checking that her padlock was in place before heading toward her advanced math class. She blended in with the crowd of loudly speaking students, walking close to the wall in an unconscious attempt to go unnoticed. Her first days at Las Vegas High-School, she had had to force herself to do so. Now, it had become something that she needn’t think about, a habit that was anchored deep inside her.
She reached Mrs Duncan classroom without crossing anyone’s path. Sighing in relief, she sat down on a chair in the far corner of the room. Grabbing her things and arranging them on her desk, she put her backpack on the floor and pushed it under her seat. Looking forward the beginning of the class, she waited for the class to start, doing her best to ignore the voices of her classmates, who either were talking about their plans for the weekend or the last game of the basketball team, the Wildcats.
A heavily pregnant Mrs Duncan walked in, carrying a worn out brown bag and sheets of paper in her hand. Felicity’s heart jumped in her chest when she saw them as excitement filled her veins. It was the test they had taken the previous week, the last grade of the trimester. She cared a lot about her average but she had reached a point in her life where she didn’t want to get good grades because it was what every student needed to get into college. No. She wanted good grades because she needed to have one thing in her life that didn’t suck. She needed one thing in her life to go well and getting good grades would do the trick since she couldn’t rely on anything else.
Mrs Duncan started giving papers back. Felicity got hers and pushed her glasses up her nose.
Letting out a shaky breath, she bit on her lip. She had never gotten anything under A. Never ever. But then, she shouldn’t be surprised that it had finally happened. She hadn’t gotten enough time to study, between her shifts at work and her other assignments. Her hands shaking slightly, she grabbed a pen and listened carefully to Mrs Duncan’s explanations. She talked about a few important things that hadn’t been quite understood before the test. Felicity took down a lot of notes, willing her mind to learn all the things it hadn’t had the time to learn before the test. When she was done with the correction, Mrs Duncan went back to the lesson they were currently studying. When the bell rang, Felicity jumped on her feet and rushed toward her next class without looking back.
Her morning went smoothly after that. She didn’t run into any of the people who loved to turn high-school into a hellish experience for her. It didn’t happen often, most of the days she got at least two or three snarky comments before lunchtime. Apparently, that day was one of her good day and she was left in peace for four hours straight. It was so rare, it deserved to be highlighted.
Going back to her locker, she emptied her backpack and put the books and copybooks she’d need for the afternoon. She was almost done when she heard a grating coming from behind her.
“So I heard that someone got a bad grade today,” the owner of the voice said.
Clenching her fingers around the handle of her bag, Felicity turned around, her shoulders stiff. “Mandy,” she let out through gritted teeth.
Mandy Miller was the high-school’s queen, quite literally considering that she had been elected Queen at all the school balls she had intended since she was six years old, and Felicity’s persecutor-in-chief. She had taken a dislike to her, because she was two years younger than her and yet attending all her classes. Felicity had learnt the hard way that bullying the youngest was a rule set in stone that didn’t only stick to the movies and that the bullies were very often considered the bravest person by their pairs.
Mandy reached for the sheet of paper stuck in Felicity’s advanced math book, the last one that she was holding and held it out for her friends to see. “See? Our little genius got a bad grade. What happened Ugly Smoaky? Was it too hard for you? Maybe you should consider going back with the sophomores?”
Sighing, Felicity tried to get her paper back. “Mandy, give it back!” She demanded when she held it up higher so that Felicity, who was small and not wearing heels couldn’t reach it.
“Oh no! I need to take a picture of this! I’ll hang it in my room and watch it when I have a bad day.”
Standing on her tiptoes, Felicity grabbed her paper and yanked it from Mandy’s hold. The sheet tore and Felicity fell back against the lockers. She felt pain start from where her back hit her padlock and huffed back a whimper.
“Look what you did!” She yelled at Mandy, rising the half she had managed to get back.
Mandy frowned before nodding toward one of her friends. “I think that you need to cool down Smoaky,” she told her, her tone so cold Felicity had to repress a shiver. Then, her friends slightly bumped into her and Mandy pretended to trip and fall toward Felicity. Half of her smoothie ended up on the latter.
Felicity shivered when the coldness of the frozen drink reached her skin, the thin fabric of her dress doing nothing to protect her.
“Oops I’m sorry, she pushed me,” Mandy said as the bell rang, signalling the ending of their lunch break. She threw one last scornful glare at Felicity before walking away, her group of friends behind her, already congratulating her.
Throwing her book in her locker, Felicity slammed the door so hard, the whole locker tremble. Then, she turned around, her blonde curls moving as she did, and rushed toward the girls’ bathroom, cursing all the while because she was going to be late for her first class of the afternoon. Letting her backpack slide from her shoulder and fell on the floor, she grabbed toilet paper and started wiping the smoothie that was still on her dress. Tossing the now dirty paper away, she grabbed more, moistened it and tried to clean her dress as best as she could. Her hands now trembling, she reached for the edges of the sink in front of her, holding onto it so tight, her fingers turned white. She let out a shaky breath and shut her eyes, swallowing back a sob.
She didn’t know why she was reacting that way. It wasn’t as if it was the first time that Mandy had been mean to her or that she had emptied her smoothie on her. Actually, she had wasted so much food on her, Felicity now believed that throwing food at someone should be considered a felony, especially when there were people who were dying of starvation on the planet. She tried to imagine Mandy in an orange prison uniform, doing community work and the thought made her chuckle. Wiping at her eyes, she chuckled slightly. She felt the waves of emotions flowed back and she took a breath, anchoring herself into the present.
Bending forward, she splashed water on her face not caring that she was going to be late anymore. Her grandmother’s necklace escaped from under her dress and she put it back, sighing. She usually didn’t wear precious jewel at school but her mother was going through a rough time again and Felicity didn’t want her to sell any more family jewels to get more money to pay their bills. She had already sold most of the jewels her grandmother had left them, Felicity wasn’t going to let her sell that last necklace, the last thing that she had left from her bubbe. She’d keep it, even if it meant that she’d have to work more at Daisy’s.
Shaking her head, Felicity righted her now damp dress. She put on her sleeveless denim jacket and hid the wet stain as best as she could. She combed her curls with her fingers and when she was satisfied with her appearance, she walked out of the bathroom.
Felicity’s lungs were burning, begging for mercy as her feet kept hitting the pavement, never slowing down, never offering her muscles the rest they were craving. She turned right at a corner and finally saw Daisy’s, the diner she worked at every day. Pushing the door open, she walked in, her breathing erratic, every single nerve endings in her body burning.
“Felicity, there you are!” Her boss yelled. “I don’t pay you to be late, where the hell were you?”
“I am sorry Daisy, my bus…”
The older woman raised up a hand to stop her. “I don’t have time to listen to the little problems of an insignificant teenager!” She threw Felicity’s black apron to her face, and put a notepad and a pen in her hands. “Go take some orders!” She barked.
Swallowing back the insults on the tip of her tongue, Felicity slid her backpack behind the diner’s counter and went to take orders, as she had been told.
She worked at Daisy’s every night. Her shift usually started an hour and a half after her classes ended, giving her some time to go back to her place and trade her school clothes for the black jeans and white tee that Daisy forced her to wear at work. During the weekends, she worked all day on Saturdays, and had her Sundays’ afternoons and evenings free. There were two other employees, James, the cook and Georgia, another waitress. Daisy did nothing aside from barking orders and coaxing the customers. It had indeed been proven that it was how a boss was going to be respected by his employees.
“I swear she almost had an aneurism waiting for you,” Georgia told her from behind the counter. “What happened to you?” She asked, concern in her eyes.
Felicity smiled reassuringly. She liked Georgia, she was the closest thing she had to a friend in that damn city. “Nothing, it’s just my bus… It was late.”
“I am sorry to hear that sweetie. Don’t listen to whatever Daisy says. I handled things well in your absence.”
Felicity nodded. “Thanks G, you’re the best!”
The brunette winked at her before getting back to her orders.
Almost three hours later, Daisy called her.
“Someone for you on the phone,” she said harshly. “Don’t take too long,” she added as she gave her the phone.
“Felicity Smoak,” she said.
“Felicity, this is Gina.”
Her mother’s co-worker.
“Hey Gina!” Felicity greeted her, faking a cheerful tone. “How are you?”
“Felicity, your mother didn’t show up.”
Felicity bit on her lip. Of course she hadn’t. Why else would Gina call her?
“Felicity this is serious. If she misses another shift, she’ll be fired.”
“She promised me she’d come!” Felicity assured, recalling her brief meeting with her mother from earlier.
“She’s already twenty minutes late.”
Felicity let out a frustrated breath. “My shift ends in half an hour,” she said, glancing at her watch. “We’ll be here in less than an hour, I swear.”
“Unless you break all the traffic laws, you know you won’t. Felicity, I’m sorry but…”
Felicity snorted. “We’ll be too late?”
“I am so sorry Felicity, but the boss has given her many warnings…”
“It’s okay Gina I get it,” Felicity said as Daisy was starting to motion for her to hang up. “Listen, I have to go. Thanks for calling me.”
“Again, I am so sorry…”
“It’s okay,” Felicity cut her off dryly. “Goodbye Gina!”
She hung up before Gina could reply. Daisy walked toward her, a tray in hands. “This is for table 6. Hurry up!”
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Felicity walked toward table six. The rest of her shift passed in a blur. She welcomed customers, took their orders, brought them their food, the bill and then cleared the table. Her movements were mechanic though and her voice lacked any warmth, any life. Her conversation with Gina had sucked up all her energy.
She found herself standing in the storage room of Daisy’s after her shift ended. The room was dark and dusty but she couldn’t have cared less. She just needed a moment, to recentre her emotions, to get everything under control again. She was about to go home to a heartbroken, depressed and jobless mom. It wasn’t the first time it happened to her, it was certainly not the last either. It didn’t mean that it was getting any less hard with time.
Rising her tee, she exposed her hipbone and brushed the black arrow shaped into the infinite sign that lied there, a dark spot on the otherwise smooth and creamy skin. Immediately, the emotions of her soulmate, of that boy whose heart and soul were destined to be hers, exploded inside her. Her heart burst in her chest as his feelings meddled with hers, tangling their souls in a soothing embrace. They weren’t bonded yet, only a physical connection could seal an emotional one, making it unbreakable, but they still were connected to one another.
It wasn’t an invasive presence. Most of the times, it felt like a buzzing, a soft vibration coming from the depth of her soul that reminded her of his existence. She could always feel him, she knew he was there, somewhere, waiting to meet her. But some other times, the buzzing turned into a throbbing, so loud and powerful she couldn’t ignore it no matter how hard she tried. Then, she was overwhelmed by his emotions, his life and she could see things through his eyes, hear things through his ears and actually sense and feel everything through him. It was always brief, but intense. And some other times, when things were too hard for her, she could go to him and seek comfort in him. All she had to do was stroke her mark, the concrete evidence of their current connection, the promise of their future bond.
Electricity tingled at the tips of her fingers as she traced the shape of the arrow branding her skin and she closed her eyes, letting his presence comfort her. She gasped when his conscience crushed the psychic barriers of her mind and flooded her head. A kaleidoscope of colours exploded behind her eyelids and for a second, time froze around her. She wasn’t in a dusty storage anymore, in a sketchy diner located in an even sketchier area of Vegas. No. She was outside, under a sky so bright and so blue she had to blink several times to get used to it. Sounds of waves crashing against the shore reached her ears and she lowered her gaze, to see a crystal-clear sea and a pristine, white sand beach going for miles around. She gulped the salty air of the sea, letting it fill her lungs.
It was over all too soon. The barriers of her mind snapped back into place, throwing his conscience out of her. She took a step back and caught herself up on a swaying metallic shelve. Breathing in and out, slowly, she chased the remnants of his presence in her. His soul was bright and vibrant and always left a lasting print on her. She found it and closed her eyes to savour it, holding it close to her heart. She didn’t know if he felt it when she did that, when she drew comfort from him even though they weren’t bonded yet. She didn’t think he did because never in her life had she felt him draw peace and comfort from her.
But maybe, that was because he had never needed to. Maybe he didn’t need anything from her.
She shook her head to get that thought out of her head. Not everyone was like her father.
Feeling better, stronger, she walked out of the storage room and headed toward her place.
Scientists didn’t know where soulmates come from. They didn’t know why two people were born with the exact same mark on their skin or why these two people were intimately connected on the three planes of existence: physical, emotional and psychical. They didn’t know a lot about soulmates actually, but they knew the most important things.
Back in time, soulmates didn’t get together very often. Mainly because people generally did not leave the area they were born in, meaning that they never got the chance to meet their soulmates. And for the people who did get to meet their soulmates, they did not end up together as well, because of political alliances and arranged marriages. Distance, different beliefs, politics and wars kept soulmates apart for centuries, leaving people with a void in their heart and soul, a void they were desperate to fill but didn’t know how to. It was no wonder why they had spent their lives fighting. The loneliness of their soul had driven them crazy, slowly gnawing on the remaining pieces of their sanity.
Things started changing at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Technological development made it possible to travel further away, faster and at a cheaper cost, making it possible for more and more people to meet their soulmates. One of those lucky souls was a scientist. His name was Howard Krast and he met his soulmate in New-York, in 1911. She was an Irish immigrant and after they were bonded, he started studying soulmates and tried to understand how things worked. His researches were the firsts ever done in that area and still inspires people in 2012. Krast discovered a molecule that was released during the bonding. According to him, it was that molecule who tied people together. He tried to create it, in his lab. He used his soulmate and himself as test subjects but failed. He realised that the molecule was something that could only be made by nature. Krast created his own company and its main purpose was to keep studying soulmates and improve their knowledge of the bonding process and the abilities it unleashed. With the development of computer science, he opened a database, the Soulmarks’ International Database, collecting data about soulmarks, to help people find their soulmates. Teenagers could sign in at the age of sixteen.
In the nineties, a scientist working for Krast researches and development department discovered a way to cancel the effect of the soulmates’ molecule. The discovery came in handy because the soulmark was as much a curse as it was a blessing. When people lost their soulmates, they lost a part of themselves. The bond was broken, cut in half. The half of the remaining mate was left hanging and desperate to find the loss connection again, to get it back. Soulmates were so deeply and intimately intertwined together, they could no longer exist on their own, not after the bonding. Their souls were the two parts of a whole and a world where they were alone and separate was just unfathomable and that’s why they kept looking for their lost half. Only there never was anything to find in the cold darkness of a shattered bond.
Those who lost their soulmates were hurting, going through a pain that was not only psychical or emotional but also physical. Things were just too much for the heart and soul to take, and it was up to the body to relieve them from their burden. And as if an excruciating everlasting pain wasn’t enough, some of those broken people could lose their mind because of the void in their psyche. The Med could prevent that from happening. The Med shut down the link. It cut the connection, stopped the pain. It was salvation for those whose lives had become a living hell.
The Med was a blue pill and it had to be taken every day. It cut the link, erased the soulmark. Nowadays, not only those who had lost their soulmates took it but also those who didn’t want to have anything to do with their soulmates or those who wanted to be able to choose. It was indeed possible to fall in love with someone who wasn’t your soulmate. Krast had discovered that there were several levels of connection between two soulmates. Meaning that some connections were stronger than others before the bonding. He had created a scale, from one to ten, that measured the pre-bonding’s level of entanglement. For instance, people who got a grade from one to four were more likely to fall for someone who wasn’t their soulmate. And in response to that, some groups of people, who claimed that the soulmarks were taking away people’s ability to choose for themselves, were formed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Those groups saw the Med as a way to get that freedom back.
Felicity was thinking about all of this as her bus drove through Las Vegas, bringing her back to her apartment’s block. Her parents were soulmates but it hadn’t stopped her father from leaving them when she was seven. He had started taking the Med, so that her mother couldn’t use the bond to find him and had never come back.
Sighing, Felicity walked toward the staircase, knowing that their building’s elevator hadn’t been fixed yet. They were living on the fifth floor and after the day she had just had Felicity most definitely didn’t feel like climbing up the ninety steps that separated her from her home but she had no other choice. When she reached the door to her apartment, she only wanted to do one thing: collapse on her bed. But unfortunately, she had a mother to take care of.
She dropped her backpack in the hallway, put her key in a bowl near the door and went looking for her mom. She found her, passed out on the couch, still wearing her pajamas.
After her soulmate had left her and taken the Med to shut his side of the bond, Donna Smoak had been left with a silent void in her soul. She had refused to take the Med, arguing that if she did, then she’d lose her husband forever. Everything went from bad to worse after that. Donna became depressed and unable to keep a job for more than a few months. It was always the same thing, she always followed the same pattern. At the beginning, she came back from a low point and found a new job. Then, when Felicity started thinking that it was it, that she was finally getting better, that things were going to go well, her mother fell back down, harder and lower than before. Felicity’s bubbe had helped them, working in spite of her advanced age to provide for them since Donna couldn’t keep a job. But she had passed away the previous year, leaving Felicity alone to take care of both her mother and herself.
Krast’s company, which now belonged to his granddaughter had opened clinics to take care of these people who had lost themselves. Felicity and her bubbe had thought about sending Donna to one but they were unaffordable.
Kneeling in front of her mother, Felicity shook her shoulder. “Mom,” she said, her tone firm. No response. She shook harder. “Mom!”
Donna mumbled something unintelligible and turned around.
“Mom, wake up!” Felicity insisted.
“Leave me alone!” She muttered. “Go away!”
“Mom,” Felicity went on. “You didn’t go to work. You didn’t even shower. You promised me you would!”
“I can’t do it,” Donna said, her voice muffled by the pillow she had buried her face in.
“Yes you can,” Felicity assured her.
Donna turned around again, this time to face her daughter. Her blue eyes were moistened. “I tried, Felicity, I swear I tried. But then I thought, “what if he comes looking for me while I am at work, what if I miss him because I am at work” and I couldn’t go.” Her voice broke and a few tears rolled down her cheeks.
Biting on her lip, this wasn’t the first time they were having this conversation, Felicity said. “It’s okay mom, I understand. I am not asking you to go to work. I just want you to take a shower. Can you do that for me? You don’t have to leave the apartment to do that and you know it.”
“You won’t make me go to work?” Donna asked, her eyebrow rising as her hopes went up again.
Felicity closed her eyes, fighting back her own tears. “No I won’t.” She then reached out for her mother’s hand and helped her up. She led them to the small bathroom and let her shower, leaving the door open on her way out, just in case.
Walking back to the living room, she heard her mother shrieked. Her heart skipped a beat in her chest and she ran back toward the bathroom.
“What? What’s going on?” She asked, panicked.
“Water’s cold,” Donna explained.
Felicity put her hand under the spray. It was freezing. Repressing a shiver, she turned toward her mother.
“You said you had paid the water bill,” she told her.
“Maybe I forgot…” Donna said, looking down toward her feet.
Felicity groaned before going back to the living room. No shower for them tonight. She grabbed her laptop and paid the bill online.
“Everything should be good by tomorrow,” she informed her mother.
Donna, who was now sitting on the couch, holding her knees close to her chest, nodded.
“Are you hungry?” Felicity asked.
Donna shook her head.
“Are you sure?” She insisted. You didn’t have lunch.”
“I am not hungry,” Donna repeated.
“Alright then, let’s put you to bed,” Felicity decided. There were cereal bars in her mother’s room because chances that she’d wake up hungry in the middle of the night were high.
She walked Donna to her room and helped her get under comforter. She tucked her in her bed, kissed her forehead and bid her goodnight.
When she was alone again, Felicity served herself a bowl of cornflakes. She was too tired to cook a proper meal, especially if she was the only one who was going to eat it. Sitting down on the couch in the living room, she turned on the TV and reached for the mail. She hadn’t had a chance to look at it earlier.
There were a few bills and their sight tied a knot in Felicity’s stomach. How were they going to pay them, now that Donna has lost her job again? Felicity couldn’t work more at Daisy’s, she still had to go to school. Not knowing what to do, she put the bills away. They would still be here to mock her in the morning.
Her heart froze when she saw the envelope.
Opening it up with shaking hands, she unfolded the letter.
On behalf of the Admission Committee, it is my pleasure to offer you admission to the MIT class of 2016. You stood out as one of the most talented and promising students in one of MIT’s most competitive applicant pools ever. Your commitment to personal excellence and principled goals has convinced us that you will both contribute to our diverse community and thrive within our academic environment. We think you and MIT are a good match…”
Letting out a relieved breath, she felt tears prickled at the corner of her eyes. She wiped them away.
She had gotten in and they were offering her a full scholarship.
She knew she’d still have to find a job but she didn’t care. Nothing could be worse than working for Daisy.
But what about her mother though? She couldn’t leave her alone in Vegas and she knew she’d refuse to move away, just in case Felicity’s dad ever came back. When she had applied, Felicity hadn’t honestly thought that she’d get in. She hadn’t thought about any of this, she hadn’t felt like she’d need to.
But now she did and she was lost.
A week later, Felicity still hadn’t talked to her mother about the acceptance letter she had gotten. She couldn’t come up with a suitable solution for her mother and herself. She was considering turning college down and started working immediately after she was done with high-school. The thought depressed her but her mother needed her more than she needed to go to college.
When the bell rang, signalling the end of another day at school, Felicity packed her stuff back slowly, her heart heavy in her chest. Getting up, she walked out of the room and headed toward the exit.
She immediately noticed the man. He was actually kind of hard to miss with his black suit, black tie and white shirt. He looked like a bodyguard. She walked past him, wondering who he was and what he was doing here when she felt him move and follow her. She stopped dead in her tracks.
“Felicity Smoak?” He asked, his tone polite. His shoulders were large and broad but nothing in his demeanour felt threatening.
“Who’s asking?” She replied suspiciously, crossing her arms over her chest.
“James Wilde, private detective. Here’s my card.”
He handed her a small folded cardboard piece of paper. “You know it proves nothing, right?”
He nodded. “As it is written on my card, I work for the Soulmarks’ International Database,” he explained her. “Your soulmate’s family hired me.”
She blinked several times. She had turned sixteen in February but hadn’t created a profile for herself in the SID’s database yet.
“How do they know about me? I haven’t signed up yet.”
The man took a folder out of his small briefcase. “You didn’t, but your mother, Donna Smoak, did.” She reached for the folder and opened it. He had printed the file created and administrated by her mother as a proof. Her heart clenched when she saw that her mother had filled her profile with a lot of things that weren’t accurate. No, she was not a cheerleader, she was a tutor. No, she was not a fan of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, she loved watching Doctor Who and Sherlock. And no, she didn’t dream to attend the Fashion Week, she wanted to leave for a road trip someday. As usual, her mother had skipped the “boring” parts of her life. Clenching her fists, she crumpled the file.
“I am guessing that she didn’t tell you about any of this,” James said, his eyes glued to her hands torturing the folder.
Felicity pursed her lips, anger and frustration making her heart swell in her chest. Her mother had created her account three weeks ago, right after her birthday and lied about many things. She had created a file for her, but hadn’t thought that saying true things about her would be a good idea. “No, I didn’t,” her voice taut.
“Would you mind walking?” James suggested. “I know there is a nice park down the street. It’ll be better to talk sitting down on a bench than here, standing.”
She nodded following him to the Lewis Family Park. They found a bench under a shade tree and sat down.
“Why did my family’s soulmate hire you?”
The detective took a deep breath. “They got a notification telling them that a match had been found for their son’s mark a few days after your mom created your account. They deleted his data right after that.”
Felicity tilted her head. “That still doesn’t tell me why they hired you,” she noticed, her frustration bubbling up in her chest.
“They asked me to investigate on you. And when I was done, they asked me to become a mediator between you and them.”
Felicity blinked several times, astonished. What kind of family was her soulmate living in? Who do they think they were? “A mediator? For what?”
The detective blue eyes met hers. “They want you to give up on your soulmate’s rights,” he told her, his tone colder than before.
Felicity felt like she had been slapped. Except this time, the pain was ten times worse than everything she had ever felt, because the slap had ended on her heart and not on her cheek. The quiet buzzing of her soulmate’s emotions roared to life, and she knew it was a reaction to the abrupt twist in her emotions.
“Why?” She managed to say, in spite of the lump in her throat that was making it hard for her to speak and breathe.
“It’s not in their family’s best interests to have their only son bonded to someone like you.”
Felicity felt like she had been slapped for the second time in a row. Tears prickled at the corner of her eyes, the insult leaving a stinging cut on her heart. Her soulmate’s emotions grew stronger within her and she identified concern. Digging her nails into the skin of her palms to anchor herself in the present, she shut them down.
“They are willing to pay the necessary price,” James Wilde went on.
“They can keep their money, I don’t want it,” she spit out, her tone ferocious. She still had some pride left inside her after all.
“You should reconsider your words Miss Smoak. They are willing to offer you a huge amount of money. And they also happen to be friends with Amanda Krast and they can get your mother a place in one of the best soulmate’s clinics of the country. You wouldn’t have to worry about anything, her medical care and everything else would be taken care of,” Felicity started shaking her head and he leaned toward her, his tone more insistent. “Think about it Felicity, your mom would get better, you could go to MIT, all your debts would be paid off…”
“What does my soulmate think of all this?” She asked, her voice shaking.
A shadow crossed the man’s face. It disappeared quickly though and Felicity didn’t linger on it.
“He wants what’s best for his family.”
“And I am not it?” She asked and she hated herself for sounding so piqued and bitter.
“No you’re not.”
She closed her eyes to keep her tears at bay. “If that’s true then why doesn’t he cut the link himself?”
Instead of answering her question, James got up. “Take a few days to think about it,” he told her. “Give me a call when you’re ready.”
He left her then and Felicity watched him leave, feeling more alone than ever. Her pain was strong enough to protect her from her soulmate’s emotions. For the first time in her life, she didn’t feel his presence with her.
She was utterly and completely alone.
She didn’t know what to think of what she had just been told, she didn’t know what to do. On the one hand, the promise of a place in a soulmate’s clinic for her mother was very tempting. She was doing so bad and Felicity didn’t know how to help her anymore. She needed doctors and psychologists, not a sixteen-year-old daughter who didn’t know what she was doing. But to get a place in the clinic, she had to accept the offer. What she had gathered about her soulmate’s family told her that she didn’t want to have anything to do with them. Who do they think they were? Some kind of royals? What kind of twisted people asked a private detective to investigate on a teenager and concluded that she wasn’t a good enough soulmate for their son? Felicity didn’t want to be connected to that particular kind of cold, cruel and calculating people. But on the other hand, she had been connected to her soulmate for so long, it felt like he was already an integral part of herself. How could she just cut everything? How could she close that door? How could she refuse them to ever be completely whole?
She hadn’t signed up in the SID’s database because after what her father had done to her mother, how he had walked out on her without looking back, she had realised that having a soulmate didn’t mean living together happily ever after. She knew better, she knew the ugly truth that was hiding behing the beautiful tale. She knew that a soulmate could either be the other half of your heart or the only one able to shatter it into pieces so small there was no way to ever bring them back together. She had needed time to think about whether or not she wanted to expose herself to that kind of pain and that was why she hadn’t signed in the SID right after her birthday. That and the fact that her life was a mess and that she didn’t want to drag her soulmate into it.
Now, she was realising that, maybe, she didn’t want to be the one dragged into the mess that was his life.
The ringtone of her cell-phone pulled her out of her thoughts. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the caller’s ID. It was Mrs Mill, her neighbour across the hall. She knew about Felicity’s mother condition and had offered to keep an eye on her when Felicity was at school or at work.
“Mrs Mill, what can I do for you?”
“Felicity, I am so sorry, your mother left! I tried to stop her but you know how she can be…”
Felicity let out a deep breath. Yeah, she knew exactly how her mother could be. “Did she say anything before leaving?”
“She mumbled things about an engagement. She kept saying that she was going to be late.”
“I see, thanks for calling me Mrs Mill, I’ll call you back when I find her.”
“Are you going to be okay? Do you know where she went?”
“Yes I do, thanks again Mrs Mill, but I really need to go.”
Hanging up, she got on her feet. She knew exactly where her mom was, it wasn’t the first time that something like that was happening. One of her mother’s only way to cope with the loss of her soulmate was to lock herself in their past memories. Judging from what Donna had said to Mrs Mill, she was living her engagement all over again. Thankfully, Paris Las Vegas was only fourteen miles away from her high-school and since her mother had lost her job, she was the one using their car.
Driving skilfully through the city where she was born, she reached the Paris Las Vegas hotel complex in record time. Parking herself, she started looking for her mother, her heart beating wildly in her chest. When she was locked up in a memory, Donna was so lost in herself, she could put herself in harm’s way just because her mind was focusing one the past and completely obliterating the present.
Felicity ran toward the replica of the Eiffel Tower, making her way through the crows. Her parents’ dream had always been to go to Paris but they had never had enough money, especially with a baby on the way, to travel there. Despite that, her father had found a way to make part of their dream come true by proposing to her mother under the Eiffel Tower in Vegas.
She breathed in relief when she saw her mother, wearing a quilted yellow dress and bright red heels. She was standing next to one of the tower’s foot, oblivious to the people passing by her, pacing as she waited for a man that would never come.
Biting her lower lip, Felicity headed toward her, slowly. Patience and gentleness were the only tools that she could use to coax her.
“Mom,” she called her, her voice soft.
Donna’s eyes fell on her but Felicity knew that even if she saw her, her mother didn’t recognize her. At least not completely.
“I am waiting for my boyfriend,” she said cheerfully. “He asked me to meet him here after the end of my shift! He asked me to look pretty, do I look pretty enough to you?” She swirled, her blonde curls following her movement.
Felicity put a hand on her shoulder to stop her. “Yes mom, you look very pretty.”
Donna shook her head chuckling. “I am a bit young to be your mother sweetheart!”
Felicity swallowed tightly, tears threatening to roll down her cheeks and she forced her mom to look at her. Visual contact could bring her back faster. “Mom, we need to go home,” she told her, her tone firmer.
Donna’s smile faded slightly. “Felicity?” She asked.
“Yes mom, it’s me. We need to go home,” she repeated, carefully pulling her away from the Tower’s foot.
“No!” Donna protested, yanking her arm away from her grasp. “My boyfriend, he called me! He told me to meet him here, I can’t leave!”
Felicity looked around and saw that a few people were watching them. Not caring about what they might be thinking, she straightened her spine. “He’s not going to come,” she stated calmly.
Donna frowned in confusion. “He’s not.” It was half a question, half a statement.
“No,” Felicity went on. “He couldn’t make it. But he’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” Donna’s voice sounded more hopeful, more cheerful.
“Yes,” Felicity confirmed. Donna would have snapped out of the memory by then. Felicity knew from experience that she wouldn’t leave if she felt like he was going to come.
“And he’ll ask me to marry him?”
Felicity nodded, a tear rolling down her cheek. She caught it quickly and brushed it aside. “Yes, he will,” she promised.
“Are you okay, sweetheart? You look sad!”
“I am perfect,” she lied, cocking her head so that her mother could not see her eyes, “now let’s go.”
She offered her mother her arm and drove them back to their place. She called in sick at Daisy’s and helped her mother remove her make-up and get into her pajamas. She then tucked her in bed and left her, coming back a while later with a tray of food. She made sure that her mother ate properly before telling her to sleep.
She was working on her homework when she heard someone knocking at their door. Getting up, she opened the door to see Mrs Mill standing on the threshold.
“Mrs Mill!” She said, slapping her forehead. “I am so sorry, I forgot to call you.”
“It’s okay Felicity. I brought you some pizza,” she added, holding out a plate covered by aluminium. “Figured you’d need some comfort food after what happened.”
Felicity’s heart clenched in her chest at the thoughtful gesture. It wasn’t much but it was more than what anyone else was willing to do for her. “Thank you so much Mrs Mill,” she hugged her then.
Mrs Mill hugged her back, rubbing her back tenderly. She pulled away after a minute. “Is she okay?” She asked then.
Felicity shrugged. “She is sleeping.”
“It’s getting worse Felicity,” she stated. “Less and less time passes between two rough patches.”
“I am well aware, but what can I do?” Felicity tried not to sound too desperate but truth was, she was desperate.
“Have you considered making her take the Med?” Mrs Mill wondered.
“Unless I force it down her throat, I don’t see how I can have her take it.”
Mrs Mill sighed. She squeezed Felicity’s shoulder. “Take care.”
Felicity nodded. “Thank you Mrs Mill, for everything.”
Loud music. White heavy smoke. High pitched cheers. Green lasers light. Glasses clinking. Kaleidoscope of colours.
A girl’s laughter. Brown curls, beautiful eyes, a pretty smile.
A stolen kiss.
Forbidden heat and lust rushed through her veins, burning everything on its way toward her lower body…
Not her lower body.
Felicity woke up with a gasp from her dream, her heart beating wildly in her chest. She sat down on her bed and took her head between her hands, a sob wracking her body as she felt her soulmate’s desire for the gorgeous brunette flood her veins.
Getting up, she walked toward the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face. She gripped the edge of the sink tightly when another wave of a lust that wasn’t hers wreck her insides. She had figured that her soulmate was older than her and it wasn’t the first time that he was enjoying the company of someone from the opposite sex. It didn’t happen often but it had happened a few times already.
She breathed in and out slowly, pushing his emotions in the back of heart, letting her own rule again. Then she went back to bed, but couldn’t fall asleep, in spite of her exhaustion. She felt like she had been slapped again and she didn’t know why.
Because it was not the first time that something like that happened.
But now things were different. She knew she wasn’t good enough for him now, she knew he didn’t want her.
And she wondered if the reason why she had never felt him seek comfort in her was because he actually had never tried to.
Because he hadn’t wanted to.
Because he hadn’t wanted her.
She called James Wilde three days later. He told her that a place could be found in Boston’s clinic for her mother, and that money would be transferred on her bank account as soon as the connection would be cut.
So there she was, standing in a drugstore, staring at the different boxes of the Med.
“Can I help you with something?” A voice asked her.
She turned around and her eyes met dark ones. A young slender boy, Andy his name tag supplied, was staring at her, his head cocked.
“Yes please,” she replied. “I’d like to…” She gestured toward the shelf.
“You want to buy the Med?” Andy guessed. “Aren’t you a little too young for that?”
“There is no age limit,” she shot back, crossing her arms over her chest in a defensive gesture.
“I know, I was just kidding,” he told her, a small on his lips. “You okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I just want to get one of… These!”
“That’s something I can help you with. They are so many boxes because the dosage is different, depending on the strength of the connection pre-bonding.”
Felicity nodded, she knew that.
“What’s your number?” Andy asked then, a hand already reaching toward the boxes.
“Nine,” she blurted out, her nervousness coming back and hitting her, hard.
His hand stopped mid-air. He arched an eyebrow. “Are you sure that you want to do this? Nine is… high.”
“I know. Just, give me the box please?”
Andy swallowed tightly, she saw his Adam’s apple go up and down in his throat.
“Here,” he said, handing her a white box. “Take the pill every day, around the same time. It will work instantly, and erase your soulmark. If one day you want to have it back, just stop taking the pill. The effect should take a few days to wear off but soon enough the connection will be back.”
“Thank you very much,” Felicity said before walking toward the cashier.
The pill was small, its colour a weird transparent blue.
It was funny when she thought about it, how the simplest and smallest thing could change her life forever.
Her soulmate’s emotions were pounding on the doors of her mind, heart and soul. She had successfully kept them at bay for the past few days, finding it less hard to ignore them every time a new day started. She wondered if he could feel her new resolution. If he could feel that she was about to separate them forever. She wondered if he’d miss her.
She shook her head at that stupid thought.
Why would he miss her when he had willing and available gorgeous brunettes around him?
Bringing the pill to her lips, she lowered her barriers one last time and let her conscience seek his. They brushed each other, a ghost touch on their soul, one last emotional caress before the end.
Then, she swallowed the pill.
She pushed her jeans down, exposing her hipbone to her hungry gaze one last time. She watched her arrow fade away, felt silence wrapping his cold arms around her.
Their arrow had been shaped to look like the sign of the infinite. She chuckled bitterly, fully appreciating the irony of the situation.
They had ended before they could truly begin.