Wren was taken aback by that. It seemed he was very familiar with her. She had often paused to rest on one of the benches but had never realized someone was watching for her to do so. She felt his puzzlement at her out-of-character appearance at this time of night.
She didn’t like this seeming knowledge of her walking habits. She also didn’t like the strange familiarity he felt with her. It had a possessive overtone, somehow, a proprietary edge that was not affectionate or welcoming. There was a longing to it, yes, but not one she’d ever felt before. Was this the difference between women and men?
No. In her brief experience in the minds of others she hadn’t yet felt anything quite like this. His focus on her was intense and spiked with arousal, guilt and anger twisted with the still present thoughts of the fight with his father. She tried to make sense of it but feeling it was upsetting and she had to pull back. She couldn’t understand how her mere presence evoked such a reaction from him. She tried to distill the sense of it into a word and didn’t like the result: Violent.
It wasn’t hatred exactly. Resentment, perhaps, and loneliness and frustration. She wondered if he’d had a bad breakup recently or a fight with a girlfriend. Tentatively she prodded the bare edges of his mind to see if she could glean anything and caught a more intense flash of arousal similar to that of the other night.
She’d had enough. She remembered Mr. Newcombe and his reaction to her inadvertent order the other morning. It seemed an opportune moment for an experiment. Wren took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself, then addressed the young man in her mind.
“Go inside and watch T.V..”
He dropped his cigarette instantly, grinding it out, and stood and went indoors. She caught her breath, half-delighted, half-horrified, and followed his awareness with her mind. He headed to his basement bedroom. Wren felt his irritation with himself that he’d wasted half a cigarette, wondering to himself why he’d done so. He was nearly out of smokes.
She waited a moment to see if he’d decide to come back outside but he turned on his television and zoned out. She backed out of his mind and sat for a few moments, astonished at what she’d just done.
She stood up, a rush of adrenaline thrilling through her. She felt for his father’s mind again and found him in his own bedroom, trying to settle himself for the night but too worked up over the argument with his son to relax. She took a breath, then addressed him in the same way she had his son; “Sleep.”
He relaxed instantly into his pillows and slept.
Tags: Chapter Three