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Jesse stepped into his bedroom, already knowing who would be waiting for him there.


“You felt that, right?” Theo asked.


It made no sense to jump to conclusions, especially if it could scare the girl away. He shook his head. He’d felt it too but wasn’t sure.


“She’s marked. I’m telling you, man. If I could feel it, you had to have felt it.” Theo’s voice was low.


Not only had Jesse felt she could have been marked, he also sensed the colorful wisps of light that rose off a freshly marked person.


“But that doesn’t make it her mark, or a mark at all.” Some powerful Oracles were able to produce those same colorful wisps of light. He rubbed his forehead, trying to smooth away the tension there.


He’d known Abi for years and had seen her the previous summer. There hadn’t been a trace of a mark anywhere near her. Now there was something faint, like a thin mist surrounding her. If her body was transitioning, it had either just started or was just finishing.


“And anyway, she’s too old for that,” he said. The oldest he’d ever found was twelve. He had never seen or heard of anyone marked this late in life.


Different was dangerous where he came from.


Theo picked up an old picture frame of him and his dad, angling it in the dim light so he could see. “Oh, come on, there’s no hard and fast rules and you know that.”


Jesse wanted to step forward, to take the picture from him, but he restrained himself. He nodded toward the balcony, not wanting to chance Cora or his mom overhearing anything. Once outside, he took a minute for the crisp air to sink through the warmth of his skin.   


His job required delicacy. If a Marked wasn’t approached at the right time, it was possible Jesse could lose them. Especially at Abi’s age.


“What do you know about her?” Theo asked, his shivering obvious even through his heavy coat. He wasn’t used to temperatures this cold.


“Not much. Just the little that Cora has mentioned offhand. I think we may be on to something, but I wouldn’t bet on it yet. I tried to throw a phrase to her and I didn’t feel or see any response.”


“Well, if she’s not an Oracle herself …” There was warning in Theo’s voice.


“She’s been near a powerful one,” Jesse finished. And he didn’t like that. No Oracle had that strong an aura without having honed their abilities with an elder. Whoever it was, this powerful Oracle was either a member of the King’s Army or with the Order of Elysia. And there was only one known Brethren in Logan’s Bluff. “I think we should keep an eye on her.”


“Agreed.” Theo went inside and left Jesse staring up toward the stars.


Uneasiness settled in his stomach, something he had learned long ago never to ignore.

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