How much change can one person go through and still be the same person? There’s a metaphysical theory about that, perdurance versus endurance, but most people get a weird, glazed look in their eyes when I start talking about that kind of stuff, and they quickly find a way to change the topic.
Griffin will humor me for a bit, but Phoenix just rolls his eyes and says things like, “Okay, Einstein, do you want fries with that?”
Griffin and Phoenix were the biggest change that happened to me this year, and they were also the catalyst for most of the others. If the Oxford Dictionary chose a Word of the Year for my life, catalyst would be it.
Apparently, that’s what I am — a Catalyst. At least, that’s what Anders Grant tells me. I can command Conduits like the twins to do impossible feats with just a word.
As if the changes wrought in my life as a result of meeting Phoenix and Griffin weren’t enough, Anders wants to upend the rest of it, under the guise of mentorship. I can’t even decide which boy I like best, let alone whether or not I want to leave behind everything I’ve ever known to develop my special abilities.
Not that there’s much to stick around for. My father won’t be released from prison for a few more years, and my mother has always been too absorbed in her own self-pleasure to play much of a role in my life. The only friends I have are the boys, and if Anders gets his way, they would come, too.
The three of us sat on the worn, vinyl couch in Mr. Grant’s office, a boy on either side of me, while he explained what he was offering. I’d be chewing my fingernails to the quick if the boys weren’t holding my hands so tightly. There was nothing on the walls to distract us, no artwork or personal pictures, just a large, metal desk with neat stacks of file folders and a laptop computer, not even a cup of pens. I got the feeling that Mr. Grant didn’t spend much time in his office.
Being a Guardian Ad Litem, he probably spent more time in the field, interviewing the kids he was assigned to advocate for. But that was just a side gig. His primary job was running Magna Virtus Academy, a school for “gifted” children, where he trained Catalysts and Conduits, like the twins and me. The GAL thing just helped him locate potential students.
“You’ll love the campus. It’s a beautiful, old dormitory surrounded by acres of lawn and forest. Fully upgraded, of course. High speed wi-fi.” Anders smirked and handed us brochures filled with bright photos of happy students in a bucolic setting.
The boys let go of my hands to look at the brochures, and I took the opportunity to stick a strand of hair in my mouth to chew on.
A bulleted list boasted a wide range of specialty classes available, everything from Latin to archery. I noticed that “supernatural ability development” wasn’t mentioned. I guess this was the same brochure he gave out to unenlightened parents.
“Most of the students come to consider the school their home. We’re like a family there. You’d connect with other kids like yourselves, kids who understand your uniqueness.”
I’d never fit in with other kids, but that was because of my social awkwardness and my parents’ reputation, not the special powers I’d recently discovered.
The idea of a family sounded nice, but the twins’ foster parents, Stan and Linda Lewis, had already offered us that. I’d been staying with them for the last few weeks, ever since my mother let her boyfriend move in, and I couldn’t imagine anything better. They treated me better than my own mother ever did. I was safe, well-fed, loved, and best of all, the boys were just a few steps away.
In the end, it didn’t really matter to me where I lived, as long as the boys were with me. They were my family now. I’d go wherever they wanted.
“So, do we have to do regular school work there, or do we just learn how to use our powers and stuff?” Phoenix asked, flipping his longish dark hair.
Mr. Grant chuckled, his naturally serious face softening around his piercing blue eyes. The military-style haircut and starched dress clothes he wore probably impressed parents, but they were a little intimidating at first.
“A little of both. The schooling you’ll receive is commensurate with a typical high school education, but we offer you an opportunity to develop your unique abilities, as well.”
Griffin glanced between me and his brother, a worry line creased into his perfect face between his stormy grey eyes. “Would we be in a lot of the same classes?”
“Some. But Catalysts and Conduits require different training, so you and your brother would share several classes while Lexus took those best suited to her needs.”
Griffin ran one hand through his hair and squeezed my hand with the other, creating an intense burst of electricity. “Would we ever get to train together?”
“Yes, you’ll get the opportunity to train with several different partners. The variety will help develop a well-rounded skill set.”
The way the boys both squeezed my hands, I could tell they didn’t really like that answer any better than I did.
Anders must have sensed our reluctance. He leaned forward, softening his voice and face. “Look, I understand you three have a very special… relationship. Believe me, I want to encourage that. It’s very rare for a Catalyst to form such a strong connection to two different Conduits. I’m excited to see what you three are capable of. But why limit yourself? Wouldn’t you like to see what else you can do? Working with other students will give you the opportunity to reach your full potential. Besides, you’ll have plenty of free time as well, and the dorms are co-ed, so you can see each other whenever you like.”
Gah, he actually winked at that.
My relationship status is just one more thing in the long list of changes my life has undergone since I met Phoenix and Griffin Easton. I’d never even been on a date before, and now I was in love with two boys at the same time. If anyone deserved the “it’s complicated” label, it was me.
I’d told them that I just wanted to be friends, that I cared too much for both of them to ever choose between them, but that didn’t stop either one of them from trying. We’d come to an unspoken agreement of sorts. They both treated me like their girlfriend, and I let them.
As brothers, they were intensely competitive, but as twins, they were used to sharing. I guess that extended to me, as well. I probably ought to put a stop to it, but I craved their attention, and I didn’t want to risk losing them completely.
“Listen, I’m sure you need some time to think about this and talk it over. Why don’t you take a few days, and just let me know when you decide. If you have any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to call.” Anders stood, and the boys followed suit, pulling me to my feet.
“Thank you, Mr. Grant. We’ll be in touch.” Griffin held out his hand to shake.
Anders shook his hand but patted him on the back as well. “You can call me Anders, Griffin. Once you get to know me, you’ll find I’m more of a friend and less of an authority figure.”
He smiled at me and winked, an expression that seemed friendly and menacing at the same time. I wanted to trust him, but something about him left a niggling of doubt in the back of my mind.
As soon as we stepped outside, the boys expressed their opinions. Not surprisingly, they were completely opposite. Once again, it was up to me to decide.
Copyright Kellie McAllen. All Rights Reserved.