SAMANTHA & THE EMPATH
Young Adult Romance
Daryl Foley has a super power.
He can feel another's emotions as if it is his own. When he likes a girl, she finds him irresistible and usually when Daryl likes a girl, the feeling is always mutual.
Dating is easy until he meets Samantha.
Samantha is a closed book—he cannot perceive her emotions—at all.
Intrigued by the mystery, Daryl finds himself drawn into her world of disturbing family secrets.
For the first time in his life, Daryl feels true attraction and discovers—the girl he cares for, is in danger.
(Previously published as Insight)
It should have been quiet in the class for at least the next forty minutes or so of the period, while everyone had his or her head bent down toward the stack of papers on the desk in front of them.
Some students even had their arms curled protectively around their exam papers. Some stared off into the distance as if something only seen by them would suddenly give them the answers they were so desperately seeking for. Others were scribbling fast and vigorously across the sheets of paper, lest the thoughts melted away and they forgot what it was they wanted to write down.
So it was, when Daryl, sitting at his desk, balancing his pen between his index finger and his thumb, trying to come up with an answer for question 2B (iv), saw Samantha walk into the room and it was not so quiet anymore.
All of a sudden, he could hear his own heart beating wildly in his chest.
The teacher lumbered his six-foot, heavy built frame over to the front of the class from his leaning spot against the back of the classroom, where he could watch each one of the students with a suspicious eye. When the teacher reached her, he leaned closer to her and she whispered something close to his ear. He frowned briefly as she spoke and then he moved away from her and nodded.
Daryl dragged his jumper from his body, suddenly feeling too hot in the over-warmed room. Pushing his finger in between his collar and his neck he pulled at it a little, and then, after glancing around the room while fumbling his fingers in under his tie, he undid the top button before he wiggled the tie a bit looser. Totally against the rules, but he needed to find the evading answer to this question, and he could not think if he did not feel comfortable, and now it felt as if he was overheating.
Samantha walked past his desk to get to hers, and an envelope dropped from her bag onto the floor.
Glancing down at it, he was not entirely sure why he did it, but he moved his black Van’s and hid the envelope under the sole of his shoe.
Exactly thirty-five minutes later, the bell rang and alas, the answer to that one question had still not popped into his head. He bet tonight it would flash as bright as a neon light in his mind, most probably at the most inappropriate moment.
Samantha had to walk past his desk again and he watched her until she disappeared through the doorway. She was a pretty girl with a splendid body, her long dark hair was sometimes, most times, a little untidy. Her large green eyes had shadows beneath them, he supposed from weariness, and today there was something about her that interested him more than usual.
They had known each other for some time now and they maintained a pleasant, rather cool relationship. They might, on occasion, hold a brief conversation about mainly the weather, but never showed any interest in each other.
Usually, Daryl knew when a girl liked him more than just wanting to be his friend, and so he never wasted his time going after girls he knew did not like him. He had, as some might say, an unfair advantage.
He stood up from his desk and leaned down to grab his bag from the floor. The white rectangular envelope was still laying on the floor, but now it was stencilled with greyish squares from the bottom of his shoe. Picking it up, he held it up to the light but could not really make out what was hidden on the inside and turning it around he noticed it was sealed. He did all of this without conscious thought, and when he realised, he was scrutinising the envelope closely and he had a strange need to know what was inside the envelope, it shocked him a little.
He tossed his backpack across his shoulder, folded the envelope in half while pushing it into his blazer pocket. Lifting the exam paper from his desk, he turned to walk to the front of the classroom. Then. Bam! Murphy's Law. The answer to question 2B (iv) hit him square between the eyes.
With a feeling of disappointment, because he could not think of the answer earlier when it mattered, he added his stack of papers to the pile already on the teacher's desk.
The June afternoon, although bright, was chilly and he paused at the exit from the school as his eyes scanned the street and parking area already teeming with traffic, and he knew the buses would all be full by now.
The big glass door swung open behind him and Samantha came to a stop beside him. She asked, “Are you walking?”
“Deciding if I should get the bus,” he replied without looking at her.
She touched his arm. “You never get the bus; you can walk with me. Come.”
As they started walking away from the school building, he pushed his hands deep into his pockets. His hand brushed against the edge of the envelope, but he pushed it from his mind. He did not want her to know he had picked it up, he did not want to give it back, either.
As they walked, they talked about the weather, the exams, nothing personal.
He lived not far from school, in Queen Street, and he supposed one could call it shabby civilised, with its facing rows of terraced houses, peeling paint and always drawn curtains in every window facing the street.
As they walked closer to his house, the front door flung open to allow Chris to emerge with their dog. There were no gardens in front of the houses on his street, and all the doors opened onto the sidewalk.
Chris peered at them as he crossed the street on his way to the park, two streets away. “Good afternoon, Daryl,” he called when he recognised Daryl and stopped walking. Jack, their dog, barked a brief greeting. Chris turned and came sauntering back to them.
Daryl could see him turn his charm button to high when he reached them.
Chris faced Samantha, smiling. “His brother, Chris,” he said as he pointed his finger in Daryl’s direction. He then pushed his hands deep into his trouser pockets and in the process, his biceps flexed, and the material pulled tighter around his muscled legs.
The stance made him appear more masculine than Daryl cared to admit, and he turned away from them. “See ya,” he said to Samantha.
She lifted her hand in a wave.
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