JUNE, SEVENTEEN AND A HALF YEARS LATER
At six foot four and two hundred pounds, very few things frightened Ryker Davis. Dragons were one of those things, but they hardly counted since dragons weren’t real.
Or at least, they weren’t supposed to be real. They weren’t real yesterday. Today might rearrange that fact. Ryker had just finished building the machine that would prove one way or the other whether he inherited superpowers to fight dragons. Were dragons just myths from the Middle Ages—the work of wild fears turned into legends—or was reality about to make a 90-degree bend?
The dragon heartbeat simulator was a metal box the size of a cedar chest and about as boring looking. According to the specifications, when it was turned on, it sent out energy waves that would fool his body into thinking a dragon was around. His dormant Slayer abilities would be triggered and he’d have extra strength, the ability to see in the dark, and one of the other dragon-fighting skills. Something along the lines of flight, throwing shields up, dousing fire, sending out freezing shocks, sending out fireballs, healing burns, or seeing what the dragon saw.
So far, all the machine did was make a humming-thumping sound, like something was loose inside.
He stared at it, not sure whether to feel discouraged or relieved that nothing amazing was happening to him. It was hard to feel anything but foolish while his cousin, Willow, stood by, making little quips to show that she thought the whole idea of dragon slayers was hilariously funny. “So if you’re a superhero, are you going to start wearing brightly colored tights under your clothes?”
“No, I’ve always thought that jeans were good superhero fashion.”
Ryker hadn’t known that anyone considered dragon Slayer a career option until two years ago when he did an Internet search of his name and found the website RykerDavis.com.
The site proclaimed, “All You Ever Wanted to Know about Ryker Davis.” It had a password to get past the first page. The clue was, What does Ryker dream about?
How could he not try to guess the password? For all he knew, one of the jerk-wad senior guys from the football team had put up the site to harass him. It bugged a few of them that the coach made Ryker starting varsity when he was a freshman. They’d never forgiven him for it. And they’d especially never forgiven him when he quit football a year later and went out for cross-country instead. Guys who could play varsity football weren’t supposed to like cross-country better.
Ryker had typed in a few things he thought the jerk-wads would say he dreamed about, but when none of them worked, he typed in the real answer. Dragons. Although strictly speaking, those weren’t dreams. They were nightmares.
Ryker didn’t find any jokes or stupid pictures of himself. He found something completely different. And in many ways much worse.
Ryker, although you’re unaware of it, you belong to an elite group of teenagers called the Slayers. Dragon eggs are here in the country, lying dormant, and will hatch within a few years. The resulting dragons won’t be humankind’s friends. You’ve inherited powers necessary to fight them. Your subconscious already knows this—which is why you’ve always had an obsession with dragons.
Granted, for as long as Ryker could remember, and he was seventeen, he’d liked weapons. As a child, he constantly stole the vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment to use as a sword. Ditto for his dad’s golf clubs. In kindergarten he turned a coat hanger into a bow and pencils into arrows. He started fencing lessons in third grade and now had a collection of swords that barely fit in his bedroom. And, okay, maybe he had a habit of buying plastic dragon toys, throwing them up in the air, and then seeing how many times he could slice through them before they hit the ground.
But that didn’t mean he had a dragon obsession.
If he was obsessed with anything, it was hang gliding.
I need to train you, the site read, but it must remain a secret. Tell no one.
As if Ryker would tell anyone about the website. He was constantly worried someone he knew would find it and think he’d created it. Ryker didn’t want to go through high school known as the weird guy who believed in dragons.
The site gave a phone number, an e-mail address, and a name. Or at least part of one: Dr. B. Ryker hadn’t contacted him. The guy was probably some wack job, and besides, Ryker’s parents were ultra-paranoid about identity theft, strangers, and all things that went bump in the night. If it weren’t for the fact that there were two other Ryker Davises who had information all over the Internet, his parents would already be freaked out that a website existed with his name.
Ryker had kept tabs on the website over the last two years. He even started believing it. Or at least believed it enough that he had to know whether it was true.
A couple weeks ago, Dr. B posted schematics on how to construct a dragon heartbeat simulator, and Ryker built it. He stared at the machine now. He didn’t feel extra strong. Nothing changed in his vision. The light in the basement was as dim as it always was.
Ryker picked up a screwdriver, walked over to the simulator, and twisted a screw tighter. It didn’t need tightening. He had picked up the screwdriver to test his strength without being obvious about it. As he stepped away from the simulator, he took the screwdriver in one hand and tried to bend it. It remained straight.
Willow swished her long blonde hair off her shoulders dramatically. She was tall, thin, and graceful—willowy—which was a good thing since it would be hard to live down a name like Willow if you were short and dumpy. “Can I be your sidekick?”
It had been a mistake to let his cousin see the simulator. She had promptly e-mailed Dr. B and asked if a Batmobile came with the Slayer job description.
Immediately after she sent her e-mail, Dr. B contacted her, giving his phone number and asking that Ryker call him.
Yeah. Ryker wasn’t going to do that. He fingered the screwdriver again. It still didn’t bend. He tossed it onto the floor near his dad’s toolbox and decided it served Willow right that she’d e-mailed Dr. B. The guy would probably send her daily spam trying to sell her tinfoil hats and elf repellent.
Willow looked upward, thinking. “For my sidekick costume, I want a cute headband like the one Wonder Woman wears but not the star-spangled bathing suit. I mean, fighting crime shouldn’t require a girl to shave her legs. That’s asking too much.”
“I don’t think you have to worry. I’m not experiencing any superpowers—at least not ones I didn’t already have. I think my innate genius probably qualifies.” Ryker kept his voice light, but there was a sort of numb disappointment filling him. He was normal. Like everybody else. Which meant he had an entire mundane, unimportant life to look forward to.
“Maybe you’re not trying hard enough,” Willow said. “See if you can shoot spiderwebs from your palm.”
“Sorry,” he said. “As much as I’d like to encase you in a web and leave you dangling somewhere, I can’t.” On the other hand, Ryker didn’t have to worry about dragons attacking cities, or about his genetic responsibility to fight them. When he looked at it that way, a mundane, unimportant life wasn’t such a bad thing.
Dragons. Sheesh. When had he become so gullible?
Willow let out a dramatic sigh. “I guess we’d better inform Dr. Alphabet Letters that you’re not as cool as he thought.” She picked up her Kindle. Dr. B’s e-mail to them still sat on the screen.
“Don’t,” Ryker said. With one swift motion he grabbed the Kindle out of Willow’s hands. “Don’t encourage whoever…” He stopped talking when Willow let out a gasp. She stared, openmouthed at his hand.
Ryker looked down. The Kindle had cracked. The screen was nothing but a starburst of lines and colors.
Willow took a step toward him, her hands lifted in frustration. “What did you do that for?”
Ryker peered at the broken Kindle, dumbfounded. “I didn’t grab it that hard. It just shattered.”
Willow yanked what was left of the Kindle from his hand. Pieces of plastic fell onto the floor. “These don’t just shatter. You must have…” Her voice trailed off, her anger fading away.
They looked at each other. Then they looked at the simulator. It was still making the same soft thudding sound. They looked back at each other. Neither said anything for a moment.
“Do you feel extra strong?” Willow asked tentatively.
“No,” he said. “I still feel the same.”
Willow scanned the room, saw the screwdriver, and picked it up. “See if you can bend this.” She handed it to him, then took a step back from him as though the screwdriver might not only shatter, but explode, too.
Ryker laughed at the change in her expression. He already knew he couldn’t. “I bet anyone can break an e-reader if they grab it wrong.” He put one hand on the tip of the screwdriver and slowly applied pressure to show Willow it was pointless. “I’ll buy you a new—”
He didn’t finish. His mind couldn’t form words. The metal spike of the screwdriver was bending into a horseshoe shape. He did have extra strength. It had just taken a few minutes to kick in.
Willow let out a high-pitched squeal. “You did it!” She bounced on the balls of her feet, a bundle of excitement. “This is so awesome!”
Ryker turned the ruined screwdriver over in his hand. “No, it isn’t.” His heart beat against his chest in a fast rhythm, a drumbeat pounding out a new and insistent call. He wasn’t normal. He wasn’t like everybody else. “This is really bad. Do you know what this means?”
The excitement drained from Willow as quickly as it had come. Her mouth opened into an O of understanding. “It means,” she said in a voice that had gone still, “that the other stuff is true, too. Dragons are real. They’re going to attack.”
* * *
Ryker paced around his living room waiting for his parents to come home. He and Willow had just had a long talk about secrecy and caution, about what they should say and who they should tell. Slayer or not, signing up to fight dragons was going to take some thought. Especially since Dr. B had written about Overdrake, the dragon lord, who was lurking around somewhere, waiting to pick Slayers off.
Dr. B also reported on his site that he had met with Ryker’s parents when his mom was pregnant with him. Dr. B didn’t give many details about what led to the meeting. He just said that, instead of agreeing to let him train their son, Ryker’s parents had moved without a trace. It was the reason Dr. B now kept Slayers from revealing any information about their training to their parents. It was the reason why Ryker wasn’t supposed to tell his parents anything now.
But then, maybe his parents had good reasons for keeping him away from Dr. B. Maybe the man was dangerous. Or crazy. Or had an agenda of his own.
Ryker looked out the living room window to the street in front of their house. No cars were heading in his direction. It wasn’t a surprise. They lived on a cul-de-sac. Ryker turned and paced back the other way.
No matter what Ryker’s parents thought of Dr. B, they still should have told Ryker he was a Slayer. That part really ticked him off.
Willow and he had spent the last couple of hours trying to find other powers. He jumped off his trampoline about fifty times. He could leap huge distances, but he hadn’t flown anywhere. He dragged every candle his parents owned onto the back patio and tried to extinguish their flames. That hadn’t worked either. He wasn’t sure what throwing a shield up entailed, so he waved his hands around, attempting to create some sort of force field over the basketball hoop while Willow shot baskets. That experiment was probably doomed from the start. Willow kept trying to make wild, impossible shots. He might have had a working shield up there half of the time and wouldn’t have known it.
Next, Ryker went into the guest bathroom to test his night vision. The bathroom didn’t have any windows, so it was the best place for that sort of test. Even in the dark, he could make out the gray shapes of Willow’s shampoo bottle and conditioner in the shower. He could see the tangled silhouette of her blow dryer and iPod dock sitting on the counter, and see her makeup junk that was scattered everywhere. Seriously, why did girls need all of that stuff?
After that experiment—while Willow informed him that, yes, she really did need all that makeup junk, and guys should appreciate what girls did to look nice—they took cups of water out on the patio. Ryker dipped his fingers into his, then tried to send out freezing shocks to the hydrangeas. No frost formed, and if the hydrangeas felt chilly, they didn’t let on. Before long, that experiment deteriorated into Willow and him throwing water at each other.
Besides the strength and night vision that all the Slayers had, he and Willow didn’t discover any extra powers. But then the website didn’t say how to access them. Maybe there was a trick to it that Dr. B hadn’t mentioned. It could be his way of making Ryker contact him.
Or maybe it just took more practice.
Ryker heard the garage door open. His parents were home from work. They both worked at the same doctors’ office: his dad as the office manager, his mother as a nurse. They were later than usual because they had to pick up Ryker’s twelve-year-old sister, Jillian, from basketball camp.
Willow probably heard the garage door open, too. She was down in the basement hiding the simulator behind boxes of Christmas decorations. The website said his powers would last for half an hour after the simulator was turned off. He’d started a countdown in his mind, already dreading the time his extra powers would leave him. He’d just found them. He didn’t want to give them up yet.
Ryker sat on the couch and picked up his laptop from the coffee table. It was already open to RykerDavis.com. A few moments later his sister Jillian and his parents strolled inside. His father was still fit for a man in his forties. His receding black hair and the wrinkles that creased the corners of his eyes were the only things that gave away his age. He prided himself on being able to occasionally beat Ryker at a game of one-on-one. Ryker had never told him, but beating his father at any sport had stopped being a challenge around seventh grade. Ryker lost on purpose sometimes because it didn’t seem right to make his father lose all the time.
Ryker’s mother was blonde, thin, and efficient in everything she did. She was the type of woman who could talk on the phone, stir three different things on the stove, and use hand motions to instruct her children to clean up their stuff, all without breaking stride.
As she came through the door, she was sorting through mail, already making a stack of things to shred. “The dog needs to be fed,” she told Ryker, without looking up. “His bowl is empty again.”
Griffin’s bowl was frequently empty because the dog was a glutton. “Mom,” Ryker said calmly, “I need to talk to you and Dad alone.”
His tone of voice made her look up from the mail. “What’s wrong?”
Ryker’s gaze slid to his sister. Jillian let out an offended huff. “Nobody ever lets me hear anything.”
His mother fluttered her hand toward Jillian’s bedroom. “Go find something to do for a few minutes.”
Jillian clomped down the hallway, still huffing, and shut her door with a loud bang.
“What’s up?” his father asked, coming to stand in front of the couch.
Ryker flipped the laptop around so that RykerDavis.com was showing. “Have you ever heard of Slayers?”
Ryker’s father squinted at the screen, then took the laptop from Ryker’s hands. His mother stood rooted to the spot, an envelope still clutched in her hand. “What are you talking about?”
“According to the website,” Ryker said, “I’ve inherited powers to fight dragons. A guy named Dr. B wants to train me.”
His parents stiffened. His mother strode over to read what was on the laptop. Two spots of angry color formed in her cheeks. “I don’t know what sort of scam this man is running, but you’re not going to have anything to do with him. Just forget you ever saw it.” She was speaking too fast, worry overshadowing her anger. “This Dr. B person is obviously making things up. Con men will tell you anything to get your trust.”
Ryker pulled the screwdriver from his pocket. It shouldn’t have fit in there, and wouldn’t have if he hadn’t twisted the metal around the handle. He stood up and handed it to his mother. “This used to be a screwdriver. It turns out I can bend steel.”
Ryker’s mother stared at the screwdriver and let out a gasp.
His father handed the laptop to his mother and took the screwdriver from Ryker’s hand. He tugged at the metal. It didn’t move. “How did you do this?”
Ryker wasn’t about to tell them about the simulator he built in the basement. “Slayers have extra strength,” Ryker said. “I can also toss my weights around like they were Frisbees.” He leaned forward. “Did you guys really skip town after Dr. B told you he needed to train me?”
His parents exchanged a glance, one of fear and frustration. “How did Dr. B know Ryker’s name?” his mother asked his father. “We never told him.”
Ryker knew the answer to that question. “You stenciled my name on the nursery wall. After you moved, Dr. B came by to talk to you again. He looked through the window and saw it.”
“He peered in our windows?” His mother let out another gasp, as if this were the worst part of the story—not running away after you found out your son was needed to protect the country.
Ryker’s father glared at the computer screen. “Don’t tell anyone about this. Not about dragons, not about Slayers. It isn’t safe.”
It isn’t safe? They were talking about dragons attacking the country. They were talking about a dragon lord who was trying to hunt down Slayers. How was any of it going to be safe? Ryker stood up sharply. “I thought you guys had a good reason for running off, but you didn’t, did you? All along, you knew what I was. Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“Because we want you to live.” His mother’s eyes were wide, and her voice spiraled upward, nearing hysteria. “You have no idea about dragons. I dreamed of them while I was pregnant with you—it’s genetic memory. I saw one pick up cars and toss them around like they were toys. They’re huge, they’re fast, and you’ll be killed if one finds you.”
Ryker wasn’t sure which surprised him more, that his mother had dreamed of dragons, or that she thought he hadn’t. He’d dreamed of them before he even knew what they were. They hovered around the edges of his crib, snapping their jaws and flicking their tails. “Mom,” Ryker said, trying to calm her so they could talk about it reasonably, “I’ll be safer if I know how to use my powers. Dr. B has a camp—”
“No.” She didn’t let him say anymore. “You don’t have our permission to go to camp or anywhere near that man.” She was pale, trembling. Even her lips had lost their color.
Ryker stared at her, not sure what to say. He expected there to be some grand and noble reason they’d kept his identity hidden from him—or at least one that made sense. He expected his parents to feel guilty for running away. They didn’t, though. They were mad he’d found out the truth.
Ryker’s father gripped the laptop hard, still reading. “Did you contact Dr. B? Did you tell him where we lived?”
“No.” Which was true. Ryker hadn’t e-mailed Dr. B—Willow had. Dr. B couldn’t trace the e-mail, though. Ryker’s father had installed software that rerouted their IP addresses. One more paranoid thing his parents did, which suddenly made sense. They weren’t hiding from identity theft or Internet predators. They were hiding from Dr. B.
Ryker’s dad shook his head at the laptop screen. He was nearly growling. “What sort of man tells you not to tell your parents that he wants to train you for life-threatening missions?”
“The sort of man,” Ryker pointed out, “that knows you ran away the first time he told you about dragons. The other Slayers at that camp know about me. They’ve saved me a spot every year, waiting for me to come.” This, surprisingly, had been one of the harder facts for Ryker to realize was true. The other Slayers were at camp right now, wondering if he would ever show up. They must think he was a coward.
Mr. Davis spun on Ryker, his finger pointed in accusation. “We’re trying to save your life. That man will throw it away.”
Ryker raised his voice to match his father’s. “You should have told me who I was. When I was little and was worried that dragons were going to pop out of my closet—you knew why I was afraid of them. You never said one thing about it.” Until Ryker started elementary school, he’d made his father check his closet every night. It was a ritual—his father pushing shirts and toys aside to show that nothing lurked in deep shadows.
“What should I have told you?” his father asked. “That they were real and you were supposed to fight them? That would have given you good dreams.”
“What about now?” Ryker asked, incredulous. “You knew it was in my DNA to fight dragons, but you never did anything to prepare me for it.”
A flush of anger reddened his father’s throat. “I don’t care who your ancestors were. You’re a child. It’s not your responsibility to fight dragons. If you ever hear about an attack, you stay away from it. Do you understand?”
“It’s my life,” Ryker threw back at them. “You can’t make my decisions.”
His mother’s eyes narrowed and her lips tightened into a line. “We can until you’re eighteen. I swear I’ll put a restraining order on Dr. B if he comes near you.” She turned to Ryker’s father, shaking even more now. “We need to read the entire website. We need to know what it says.”
Ryker’s father put his arm on her shoulder and guided her across the room. He shot Ryker a look over his shoulder that said this was far from over, and then his parents disappeared down the hallway to their bedroom.
Ryker stared after them, gritting his teeth. This was turning out really well. They didn’t listen to anything he said, didn’t ask him what he wanted to do. They were determined to treat him like that same five-year-old who had cringed from shadows in his closet.
He stormed downstairs to talk to Willow. It wouldn’t take his parents long to read all the pages on the website. Maybe an hour or two. Once they found the blueprints for the dragon heartbeat simulator, they would realize that’s where Ryker had gotten his strength from. They would come for it. Ryker wasn’t about to give it up.
When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he found Willow leaning against the doorway that led into the rec room. She’d listened to the whole thing. Which was good since it saved him the trouble of having to repeat any of it.
Griffin, Ryker’s dog, sat at Willow’s feet, looking up at her as though he knew she was upset, and was just waiting for her to bend down so he could lick her hands to make her feel better. Stupid dog. Griffin hadn’t even cast a glance at Ryker and he was the one who fed him every day.
Willow sighed. “I just realized why superheroes wear masks. It’s so their parents don’t ground them.”
“We were right not to tell them everything. If they knew—”
“Don’t say it,” Willow looked up the stairs. “They might hear you.”
Ryker strode into the rec room so his voice wouldn’t carry. “What are we going to do?”
Willow followed him, Griffin trotting along at her heels. “What can we do? They won’t let you anywhere near Dr. B. And if you ran away, they’d have the police scouring that camp to find you.”
Ryker turned this over in his mind. Willow was right. Dr. B wouldn’t want police questioning him or looking into his camp. Ryker had been wrong to ever confront his parents about what he’d learned, to think it would make any difference to them that he could pretzelize screwdrivers or leap ten feet into the air. They didn’t care about protecting the country. They were afraid and apparently couldn’t even imagine Ryker might win in a fight against a dragon.
“I’m going to train whether they like it or not,” Ryker said. “They can’t stop me from doing that. I’ll call Dr. B and ask how to access my other power.” He turned and walked toward the boxes where they’d hidden the simulator. Restless energy filled him. He pulled the boxes away from the machine, lifting each as though it were empty. “We need to find a place to hide the simulator.”
“D.C. isn’t that far away,” Willow said, thinking. “We can find a way to see Dr. B without your parents knowing.”
“I’ll have to build a fake simulator—something my parents can get rid of so they think they’re solving the problem.” Ryker had messed up enough times while building the simulator that he had extra parts. He could put something together quickly. It didn’t have to do anything except switch off and on.
He reached the real one. It was silent now and no longer vibrating; still, the thing was big enough that there weren’t many places in the house he could hide it. “I’ll take this to Kyle’s, tell him it’s a science project on measuring hang-gliding trajectories or something.” His friend wouldn’t ask too many questions about why Ryker couldn’t keep it at his house. “I’ll pick it up every time I go hang gliding, which I’ll be doing frequently since you just decided you wanted to learn how to hang glide. We’ll train up on the ridge.”
Willow’s lips twitched. She’d never wanted to hang glide and was probably worried she’d have to show some proficiency at it if they went with that story.
Ryker pulled the simulator into the middle of the room. It had wheels, but with his extra strength, he could carry it. He hefted it onto his shoulder. “I’ll put this in my truck, then I’ll go talk to my parents again—distract them while you drive this to Kyle’s.”
Ryker hadn’t heard Jillian walk downstairs and didn’t know she’d come into the room until she gasped out, “No!”
Then he realized what he should have known all along. When his parents sent Jillian to her room, she hadn’t gone there. She went into the guest bedroom—Willow’s bedroom—right next to the family room. She heard everything he and his parents had said.
Jillian clutched her iPad. He didn’t have to ask what site it was open to. She walked toward Ryker and her hands shook, jiggling the image of a dragon that was on one of the website pages.
“Is this stuff about dragons true?” she asked. “It says their scales are bulletproof. It says they eat people. And what is EMP? What does that mean?”
Ryker put the simulator back on the floor and sighed. Dr. B’s website had lots of gory dragon details on it. They ate voraciously for their first year—people or animals, whichever was easiest to catch—adding to their size until their bodies alone were the size of a large commercial bus. With their wings, tails, and necks added to the picture, they looked more like dinosaurs than animals from this day and age. Dragons could outmaneuver planes and helicopters, and their skin absorbed radar, making it impossible for people to shoot missiles at them from a safe distance.
Those details, however, weren’t what made dragons so dangerous. When dragons screeched, they sent out an EMP: an electromagnetic pulse that destroyed anything with electronics. Vehicles, lights, cell phones, TVs, computers—so many of the things people depended on—none of them worked if a dragon screeched in the area. A few flybys from a dragon, and entire cities would be crippled.
Ryker stared at Jillian, unsure what to say. He didn’t want to scare her more than she already was, but he didn’t want to lie to her, either.
Willow walked over and took the iPad from Jillian’s hand before she dropped it. “It’s going to be all right,” Willow said.
Jillian scowled and grabbed her iPad back. “You want Ryker to fight dragons. I heard what you said about training and sneaking off to D.C.” Without waiting for Willow’s response, Jillian stomped over to the simulator, looking like she would kick it. “If you call Dr. B, I’ll tell Mom and Dad what you’re doing.”
Ryker strode over and grabbed her arm. “Don’t you dare say a word about it to anyone.”
“I will,” Jillian said. Her face scrunched up until her eyes squinted with emotion.
“You won’t,” Ryker told her firmly. He didn’t know he was squeezing her arm too tightly until she grabbed at his fingers, crying out. Then he realized her emotion had been pain, not stubbornness. He immediately dropped her arm. Red lines circled her skin. His fingerprints.
A wave of sickness washed over him. He hadn’t meant to hurt her. “I’m sorry,” he stammered. It seemed a limp apology next to the welts he’d left on her arm.
Tears dribbled down Jillian’s cheeks. She held her arm and whimpered. In the quiet of the room, the noise sounded even louder. “I don’t care what you do to me,” she whispered. “I’ll tell if you go see Dr. B.”
Her words slapped Ryker. Jillian thought he’d meant to hurt her. The red lines were swelling now. If he had applied a little more pressure—if he’d been a little angrier—he would have broken her arm without meaning to. “I’m sorry,” he said again, and his voice caught. “I didn’t mean to. I forgot about my extra strength. Here, let me see it.”
He reached for her arm as if he could undo the damage, as if he could keep the bruises from forming. Instead of showing him the injury, Jillian wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him. She was still crying. “I don’t want you to die. Promise me you won’t join the Slayers.”
He hugged her gingerly, carefully, so he wouldn’t hurt her again. She seemed so small and thin, so breakable. “I won’t,” Ryker said. “At least not until I turn eighteen. That means you can’t tell Mom and Dad anything about what I’m doing. Promise?”
Jillian clung to his neck and muffled her words into his shoulder. “I don’t want you to train at all.”
Willow walked around Ryker’s side so she could look into Jillian’s face. “He has to learn how to use his strength,” she reasoned. “Otherwise he might accidentally hurt someone again—or do something worse. Besides, Ryker will be safer if he learns how to use his powers.”
Ryker felt Jillian sigh against him, relent a little. “All right. But you can’t go see Dr. B.”
Ryker patted Jillian’s back so softly he was barely touching her. His gaze went to Willow’s. He could read her expression. The more our family knows, the harder all of this will be. He nodded at her. She was right. Which was why they couldn’t tell anyone the other secret they’d discovered today.
Copyright © 2013 by C. J. Hill