Destiny Revealed by Rita Durrett by Rita Durrett - Read Online

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Destiny Revealed - Rita Durrett

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Revealed

Chapter 1

I needed mall time. Thanks for going with me. I leaned my head back against the headrest of my best friend's car, drew in a long breath, and exhaled slowly. A much-needed peace settled over me.

No problem. I like going to the mall. It's the biggest thing to happen to Stillwater since forever. Kat parked the car. She unfolded her long legs and extracted herself from behind the wheel. Hey, look at that big old bird. He looks like he's staring right at you. Weird, she whispered as we approached the entrance.

My skin tingled. I shivered as an electrical feeling ran through my body, and a chill traveled down my spine. The bird was looking straight at me. Kat, strange as it might sound, that bird looks a lot like the one that sits on my window sill. I've tried everything, but he won't go away.

That figures. You've got all the guys following after you, and now the birds have joined in. She laughed as she walked through the entrance doors.

I shrugged off the weird sensation and smiled. You are such a dork. Maybe I should say 'bird brain'. Only you would tie romantic overtones to a bird.

Well, he sure was giving you the eye, like you were a McDonald's French fry and he wanted to eat you.

Kat, stop it. Seriously, it's creeping me out.

Okay, let's go buy a Cinnabon. I'm starved.

I couldn't help but laugh. "You and your Cinnabon. Go on ahead. I'll be down in a minute. I want to check out this shoe store. I need some new flip flops for summer, and that teal pair in the window are awesome.

Kat's head disappeared as she traveled down the escalator and my attention diverted to the shoe display. I immediately became acutely aware of someone standing directly behind me. I half turned and found myself staring into the face of a stranger. A head taller, his dark hair barely stopped short of his eyes as he looked down and held my gaze. Oh, those eyes. Emerald orbs, peering intently at me. I guessed it was the sun rays from the skylight causing them to appear to glow. What do you want? I stammered. I tried to move back, but bumped into the glass, trapped.

Jade, we need to talk.

Hey, Jade, who's your friend? Kat's voice sounded from behind the stranger.

He blinked, frowned, and glanced away. The locked connection between us broke, and he stepped back as Kat moved by my side.

Sorry, he muttered. I thought you were someone else. He turned and walked toward the front entrance where he quickly disappeared through the doors.

Who was that? He was kind of cute.

I don't know, but he lied. He didn't mistake me for another person. He knew my name.

We both stood looking at the doors until Kat finally broke the silence. I decided not to get a roll. I wasn't really hungry and knew you'd be ready to eat in a little while. Let's forget about that dude and go inside to check out the shoes.

I followed her, unable to shake the unease of the recent encounter. I hoped a day of shopping would make it all go away. Deep down I knew it wouldn't.

Chapter 2

I hate dreams. Well, not all of them. I don't hate the ones where I'm hangin' out with my friends or playing soccer and winning. It's the unknown something in the dark trying to grab me sort of dreams that scare the crap out of me.

It ticks me off that the one I just woke from keeps coming back. I've had other reoccurring dreams through the years, but this was the strangest. At least this time I knew what triggered it. That guy from the mall had creeped me out. In my dream, there was a dude following me. I glimpsed his coal black hair before his body dissolved right in front of my eyes. My senses warned me of danger.

Awake, my heart still pounded in my chest. I wiped the perspiration from my forehead and pulled my hair back. I needed to pee, so I made a quick trip to the bathroom, splashed my face with water, and got a drink.

My parent's angry voices came to me through the wall. Like the nightmare, their bickering happened too often.

I couldn't escape the dream, but I could get away from my house. It was Saturday and time to go shopping with Kat. That's what everybody calls her. It's short for Katrina Cline. We've been friends since first grade. We seldom changed our weekend routine.

I jumped into the shower. The water pelted some of the stress from my body, and I stayed an extra few minutes before dressing.

Deciding what to wear is never easy in Oklahoma. The mall temperature is set on the cool side because of the scorching hot July temps outside. Add to that the fact I'm not very large. Some of my friends say I'm too skinny. Personally, I think I'm about right for my petite frame. I opted for jeans, and a spaghetti-strap chemise with a thin, see-through over-blouse. I like the feminine look even though I can already see the 'give me a break' face I'll probably receive from Kat. She hates it when I go ultra fem on her. She says it makes her feel like a slob. Oh well, she'll get over it. A touch of make-up and I was ready to go downstairs to face Mom.

Breakfast is cereal. My mother didn't even glance at me as she rummaged in the cabinet. Help yourself to toast and milk.

The indifference in her voice wasn't directed at me. I knew she had used up her emotions. She sat a bowl in front of me and walked into the living room. She resembled a zombie, pale, with dark circles under her eyes.

Nice. Nothing like a family breakfast with everyone together, having a pleasant conversation. My sarcasm was for my ears only, a barely audible mutter. There was no point in making her more miserable. Besides, she had already gone to find Dad and resume the fight.

My parents really are good people. Mom is tender hearted. She would help anybody. That's probably why she went into nursing, and why she has me. One or both of my real parents abandoned me on Lindsey and Carl's doorstep at the age of five. The Abbotts turned me over to the police, who put me in the custody of the Department of Human Services. Mom said when nobody showed up looking for me, they fought really hard to become my foster family. They gave me my name, Jade, because my eyes were dark green. Ten years ago, when I was seven, they adopted me, and I legally became theirs.

When I'm not at school, I spend my time doing homework, listening to music in my room, texting, or hanging out with Kat. You'd think there'd be lots to do in a university town, but nope. There's a miniature golf course, an arcade, which is usually full of middle-school kids, and the mall.

I made fast work of the cold cereal. Luckily, Kat had an uncanny sense of good timing and called as I put my dishes in the dishwasher. We arranged for her to pick me up. She wanted to buy a new pair of jeans, and I needed out of the house.

I dashed through the door as soon as I heard her car pull in the drive. Kat's a big girl. She isn't fat, just big boned. I mean that in the nicest kind of way. She has curves in all the right places. Her hair is dark brown and will frizz at the hint of moisture in the air. The humidity in Oklahoma, and around Stillwater in particular, creates a constant struggle for her to keep her curls under control. Today was no different, and I smiled as I watched her trying to smooth down a fly-away strand.

I climbed in her Camry and snapped my seatbelt together. Thank goodness you made it quick. It's like a morgue in that house.

Chapter 3

I leaned back in my seat and relaxed while Kat concentrated on driving. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have Kat. We've been friends since her family moved to town when we were in the first grade. She's funny, sincere, and understands what I'm going through. Her parents divorced a couple of years ago, so she knows what I’m going through.

Why do mom and dad fight so much? I complained.

Her glance told me she felt my pain. They've forgotten they're in love, Jade. I know you're really smart and can solve any math equation, but there isn't anything you can do to solve their problem. It's not your fault. They have to fix their relationship. Give 'em space to work it out.

Easier said than done.

Kat quickly found a parking spot and pulled in.

We got out and started for the door. I froze. My feet refused to budge. Kat, I stage whispered. Kat!

She looked back and stopped as she noticed I wasn't walking.

What's wrong, Jade? Come on.

Look at that guy by the door.

Well at least it's not a bird, she teased as she turned to look. A tall guy, about our age, with dark hair and tanned skin, stood near the mall entrance. He walked away as we watched.

That's the guy who talked to me last time. I'm sure of it.

Kat watched him for a couple of seconds and then turned back to me. Maybe. He did resemble him, but he's gone. Come on, let's check out the music store before we look at jeans, okay?

Sure, then I want to hit a couple of designer shops. I had lost my enthusiasm for shopping but wasn't going to ruin Kat's day. Besides, she was right. He was gone.

Plus, we have to save some time for a Cinnabon, Kat agreed with a chuckle.

I laughed with her and led the way to escalators. Kat walked beside me, chatting away about the medicinal benefits of cinnamon. A casual glance in her direction and my heart skipped a beat. Kat, keep walking like nothing's wrong, I commanded, trying to keep the panic from my voice.

What's wrong? She croaked. Her face pale, her eyes widened with concern.

Shhh! I took her arm and pulled her close enough to whisper in her ear as I dragged her along with me. That guy we saw as we came in... We continued the ride downward.

What about him? she asked, stepping off on the bottom level of the mall.

He's following us. I caught a glimpse of him in a store window.

She stopped and forced me to stop. She turned and put her face in mine. So why are we running away? He's gorgeous. He obviously likes you. Maybe he's just shy. Exasperation oozed from her voice, and she scanned our surroundings, looking for our predator. It's time you found out what he wants.

I glanced behind us. The guy stood at the top of the escalator. The hair on the back of my neck tingled. I don't know, Kat. I-- feel odd about him. Fear caused my voice to falter.

Another glance backward surprised me. The guy had disappeared. I was relieved but felt uneasy. He's gone.

Kat stared at me like I was crazy. Gone? Her eyes scanned the area. Are you sure you really saw him?

Yeah. I did, twice. I'm positive I'm not crazy, and I'm not prone to seeing things that aren't there.

Kat sighed. No. That's not you. I think we need cinnamon. Let's go eat.

The food court consisted of about six restaurants, each with a different cuisine. My little bowl of cereal must have worn off because the smell of grease, in the form of stir-fry, French fries, burgers, and fried chicken, made my stomach do back flips. All of a sudden I was starved. Kat, I'm not sure I want a Cinnabon. You go on and buy yours. I'll decide and catch up with you.

Wong's Chinese finally won out. Several people stood in line ahead of me, so I found myself absently scanning the room. Interlocking skylights bathed the cafeteria with light. The sun's rays filled every corner. Metal bars crisscrossed the entire ceiling, creating a design pattern on the floor. I think it was the birds, chirping from their perch on those bars that drew my attention up. Music streamed from speakers hanging on steel support girders throughout the area. My ears had to strain to hear the melodic notes over the echoing conversations, scraping chairs, and shuffling footsteps. The place was packed. I guess we came at just the right time for late breakfast or early lunch.

It occurred to me we were going to have a hard time getting a table. I only saw one open, and it was located in the middle of the room. The tables surrounding it were occupied. A young mother comforted her infant, snuggled in its stroller, at one table. At another, two older men talked while sipped their cups of coffee. Three hot looking guys chowed down on burgers and fries at the third.

I scanned the room for Kat, hoping she might get to the empty spot before someone else took it. She stood at the register, already paying for her cinnamon roll. She got her change and looked around the room. I knew from her face she had spotted the dudes. She'd get the table, of that I was sure. I paid for my meal and worked my way through the crowd to find Kat. True to my faith in her, she sat at the empty table, strategically positioned, so the guys I'd spotted earlier were in her line of vision. Kat seldom disappoints me.

She whispered in my direction as I struggled to unload my tray and sit. Check out the guy in the middle. He resembles a movie star, with muscles.

I couldn't help but follow her instructions. He had a cheerful smile and an air of confidence.

Don't stare, she hissed as she peeked from under her lashes. At that moment a burst of laughter sounded from their table. They were apparently joking with each other and having a great time.

I let my hair fall forward to hide the side of my face. The dudes were cute. I could see that much from behind my wall of tresses. Obviously, they were friends, or from the resemblance, possibly related.

I watched the trio. Kat's movie star look-a-like was probably the cutest. He was a not-so-tall guy with expensive clothes designed not to look expensive, and muscles that made those garments look great on him. One guy was of average build, had the same brown hair as Hollywood, but wore it shoulder length and with bangs nearly in his eyes. He brushed the bangs away from his face, and I could see a scar on his forehead. He kept brushing his fingers across his bangs in an effort to keep the lighter slash mark hidden. The repeated action made me wonder how he got it. The third guy was tall and skinny. He wore his hair straight back and down to his shoulders. He struck me as a jokester, kind of silly and maybe the clown of the group, considering his really colorful clothing.

Kat caught my eye from across the table and gave me a conspirator's smile. Let's see if we can convince them to come over.

Without waiting for an answer she turned and gave movie star guy a huge smile. I followed her gaze to their table. They stared straight at us and returned her smile. Then, almost as one, they rose and ambled our way. The movement was smooth until lanky guy tripped and fell into scar-face. Scar-face pushed movie star guy straight for the baby stroller. In his gallant attempt to avoid capsizing the baby, he propelled himself toward the old men drinking coffee. I held my breath as he crashed into their table and drinks spilled everywhere.

A hushed silence enveloped the room. Every eye darted from their own companions to the trio of boys, to the spill.

Could I purchase you, gentlemen, a cup of coffee? quipped movie star guy, displaying his cool smile. Yours has, unfortunately, spilled.

A roar of laughter went up. The older men declined the offer, good-naturedly wiping up coffee with napkins. The three guys proceeded to our table, led by movie star guy.

Hey, ladies. What's up this beautiful Saturday morning? He spoke to both of us, but his smile was