You want a sneak peak? Do ya? Huh? Ok, ok...
Principal Irene Collins was sitting at her desk opening her mail and thinking of the meeting she had coming up in the next hour. That Clark boy had hit another girl, and her parents were none too pleased about it. This kid seemed to get worse as he got older. He was in fourth grade now and had already punched his fist straight through a double paned glass window. Anger management was going to be required in this kid’s future if his parents didn’t get a handle on whatever was bothering him. She knew the parents, and knew he was adopted. He’d come to them with problems from a difficult home. She had sympathy for them. She really did. She had to give the parents credit. They’d been willing to adopt this child that they knew had issues. But, he was wreaking havoc on the boundaries she had to maintain for the safety and security of the other children in school here.
Though he was a big kid for his age, to look at him with his mild manor, dirty blond hair, and shy smile, you’d think he was harmless. He was basically a quiet kid. That was until he flew into a rage. No one seemed able to figure out what triggered it. He’d be fine one minute, for days even. Then, he’d just fly into a rage at the slightest provocation. One thing was certain, it couldn’t continue. His tantrums had progressed to some pretty heavy destruction of property, not to mention the liability of him hitting other kids. After she tried to sooth the parents of his latest victim, she was going to have to sit down with his parents and make some tough decisions. Enough was enough.
She picked up the next letter in her pile. It had the appearance of another parental complaint. Great. Who was mad now? She wondered. She used her letter opener, slit the envelope, and pulled out the paper. What she read had her frowning. According to the letter, Mrs. Marshall, one of her best third grade teachers, was being accused of using drugs at school. She glanced down to the bottom of the typed page and noted there was no signature. Was this supposed to be some sort of hoax? Because, if it was, she wasn’t laughing.
The letter was brief. It started out like a formal letter, but simply stated that, as the principal, she should be concerned. It alleged that Mrs. Marshall openly used drugs at school, and this could not be allowed to continue. That was it. Nothing more. Ms. Collins turned the paper over. Nothing. She looked at the envelope. There was no return address. She glanced at her clock. She only had 45 minutes before her meeting. She took a deep, slow breath in, counting to 10. Then, she let it out just as slowly. She’d known Mrs. Marshall for some time now. She was a good teacher. She didn’t believe for a moment that there was any truth to this letter. And, considering the sender didn’t even bother to sign it, she took it even less seriously. But, she still needed to ask Mrs. Marshall about it, and at least let her know of the accusation. She picked up her phone and called Betty Marshall’s classroom.
“That’s good,” Ethan encouraged. “But, don’t kick the bag so hard. Grace still hasn’t cleared you for combat training.”
“Kicking the bag isn’t combat training,” Lela gritted out as she gave the bag another hard kick.
He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her away. “I think that’s enough for the day.”
“It’s just the bag, Ethan!” she grumbled as he kissed her on the top of the head and released her. She punched him. “I wish you guys would stop coddling me. I’m fine.”
“Look. I know you’re frustrated, sweetheart. But, Grace knows what she’s doing,” he said, trying to sooth her temper. “Be patient. I’m sure Grace will clear you soon.”
“But, I feel fine,” she pleaded. “Just spar with me a little.”
“I know, babe,” he replied sympathetically, throwing an arm around her shoulder companionably. “And, as soon as Grace clears you, I’ll let you beat me up as much as you want.”
He gave her a gentle punch in the arm. Lela was the girlfriend of his cousin-in-law, Jordan. She’d been sidelined after a case they’d worked almost three months ago, when she’d almost died going head to head with a very deadly drainer. Drainers? Drainers were people who happened to have some extraordinary abilities such as superhuman strength and speed. They could also drain the life from living things with a simple touch, hence the name drainer. Yea, not many people knew they even existed. And, it was in their best interest to keep it that way. Exposure would be catastrophic.
If not for himself, his cousins, Grace and Daisy, as well as another healer named Shane, Lela would undoubtedly be dead. It took all of them to save her life after her encounter with that very brutal drainer. Healers, like himself, could heal with a touch the way drainers could kill with the same touch. Luckily for Lela, it just so happened that Ethan, Daisy, Grace, and Shane were all healers. And, it had taken all of them to keep death from claiming her. Just like drainers, healers also fiercely protected the secret of their existence.
They didn’t know why they were this way, they just were. They were people, like everyone else. They just had a few extra abilities like being really fast, heightened hearing, smell, taste, strength, and stamina. And, the most important one, the ability to heal. But, just like drainers, healers knew if everyone knew about them, they’d be treated as aliens. Some people can solve any mathematical problem in their heads. Others can master an instrument in mere weeks. Others may have photographic memories. Heck, Lela had telepathy. They would all be seen as savants, miraculous, whatever. But, all would still be seen as human. Have the ability to heal people? Have heightened speed and senses? Public knowledge of that would likely guarantee torture in your future. Still, they were good abilities to have.
Three months ago, they’d been protecting a client. While awaiting orders to transport the client to a more secure location, they’d been attacked by a criminal organization run by drainers. Lela had been shooting and fighting her way through the middle of the battle to get the client and his family to safety, when she’d encountered one of the leaders of the attack. The client and his family had made it to safety for the moment, as she’d stood her ground and engaged the drainer. She’d taken quite a beating, allowing the family to get inside and lock themselves into the panic room. Ironically, she’d been saved by the first drainer in this very crime organization that had tried to kill her. That was the case that had brought her under the protection of Alexander Consulting and Investigation. If there was any question as to whether Kevin had been successfully flipped, there wasn’t after he’d killed the drainer who was just about to finish Lela off.
Ethan shuddered involuntarily at the memory. He loved Lela. They all did. She’d become part of the family so quickly. She was this tough, kick-ass, spitfire, who kept them all on their toes. And, when he’d seen her broken and unconscious, he’d never been so afraid in his life. He knew how devastating it would have been for him to lose her. He couldn’t imagine what Jordan would have done. Jordan had, had to be held back from her by his brother, Logan, and Kevin. There was nothing he could have done for her besides get in the way of those frantically trying to save her life.
Grace, Logan’s wife and Ethan’s cousin, was a physician and a healer. But, it had taken all of them working on her to keep her alive. She’d had broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken bones, internal bleeding, and all sorts of other injuries. There was no way a hospital would have been able to save her, even if they’d somehow managed to get to one still alive. Grace, was literally her saving Grace. As healers, they could detect injuries and assess them by touching an injured person. The time it would have taken a hospital staff to take x-rays and other tests would have taken too long. Lela hadn’t had that much time. She would have either bled out, or drowned from her lungs filling up with blood and fluids.
Shane, who was actually in love with Lela too, had barely held it together enough to help stabilize her. And, oh, how that had complicated things. He’d felt as bad for Shane as he did for himself in that moment, as the image of Shane holding her and begging her not to die as Jordan helplessly watched replayed in his mind.
“Hey.” He looked up to see Lela looking at him curiously. “You ok?”
“Fine.” He gave her one of his carefree grins. “Let’s go get something to eat.”
“Ok,” she said, still watching him closely. “But, I need to take a shower first.”
They’d been stuffing their gear into their gym bags. She zipped hers and Ethan took it from her, slinging it over his shoulder. Then, he led her to the door.
“Then, how about I drop you off and then get food,” he suggested as he locked the door to the dojo. “Looks like it’s going to be just you and me tonight.”
She didn’t reply right away. They climbed into his car and he pulled out, heading for her house.