Chapter Twenty-One: Emma
“Levi!” Emma chirped, enthusiasm dripping from her voice.
The past few days were so crazy, she had completely forgotten about her situation with Levi. Well, not completely. Emma checked herself in the mirror twice before deciding on an outfit to wear. She had never cared what boys thought about her looks before, but now there was Levi. At least, she hoped so.
When Emma walked into the class, she looked up at Levi’s normal seat and smiled, but he wasn’t looking at her. She thought that was a little strange; they had become friends since he volunteered to help her with her assignment. Emma brushed it off, but once class was dismissed, Levi didn’t even stop by her desk to chat. Instead, he continued walking into the hall. Emma practically pushed through the crowd of bodies to catch up with him.
“How are you?” she asked, pushing in front of another student to walk beside Levi.
Emma hesitated. She wasn’t used to Levi’s one answer responses. A conversation with Levi usually lasted forever, and Emma didn’t mind. She loved his carefree nature. Today, he seemed different. Distant.
“So… how was your weekend?” Emma persisted. “I saw you on Friday, but you were going the opposite way, otherwise I would have said hello.”
Levi stiffened but continued walking. “Yeah, I saw you, too. I was going to say hi, but you were with your boyfriend so I figured it wasn’t a good idea.”
“Yeah. The tall kid with brown hair who wouldn’t stop staring at you.”
Emma laughed with relief, finally understanding what Levi meant. “He’s not my boyfriend. That was Tyler; he’s just a friend.”
“I’m sure y’all would be more if it was up to him.”
Guilt stabbed at Emma’s heart, but she kept her feelings hidden from her face. “You didn’t answer my question,” Emma said, hoping Levi wouldn’t notice the topic change. “Did you have a good weekend?”
Levi sighed, and when he spoke again, his voice was lighter. “Yeah, it was okay. I was looking up information for summer classes. It’s weird to think we only have five weeks left until the semester is over.”
“Wow. Five weeks, and I’ll never have to take accounting class again!”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. No more math class for me! We probably won’t have any more classes together after this semester,” Levi said, his voice growing quiet toward the end.
A thrill rushed through Emma’s veins. Levi was going to miss her!
“Well, you’ll still help me on my assignments, won’t you?” she asked, grinning.
“Of course I will,” Levi said without missing a beat. Then, his eyes brightened, and he turned toward her. “Do you need any more help on your artifact report?” he asked hopefully.
Emma paused. She didn’t want to lie to Levi anymore. He was more important to her now than ever before. “No,” she replied, “I finished my report this weekend.”
“Oh. Okay. Good,” Levi said, trying to hide his disappointment.
It didn’t work.
“Since I’m finished with my project, I’m going to be free a little more. Maybe we can hang out sometime and actually do something fun,” Emma said, winking her eye.
Levi laughed. “Yeah, that’d be great! Not that I don’t love doing your work for you and all…”
That night, Emma told her friends about Levi. “He’s a really great guy, and he helped me find the information about Rebecca and the jewel. I wouldn’t have made the connection without him,” she said.
Emma hoped Meg wouldn’t judge her the same way she had done with Ryan, and she felt guilty withholding information from Meg and Vivian for so long.
“Are you sure Levi isn’t a member of the Brotherhood?” Vivian asked.
“Positive. He had no idea who Rebecca and Isaiah were until I mentioned it. Levi just loves digging up history.”
“I’m fine with that, as long as we don’t have to dig you up.”
“Vivian!” Meg interrupted.
Vivian looked at her and held up her hands. “What’d I say?”
Meg rolled her eyes and turned her attention to Emma. “The last time I got close to a boy you told me not to trust him,” she said.
“I know, and I’m—”
“You were right,” Meg interrupted. “I shouldn’t have trusted Ryan. I should have listened to you. So if you believe Levi isn’t in the Brotherhood, then so do I.”
Emma chewed her lip. She wasn’t expecting such an easy conversation. “You don’t think this is a trap?” she asked.
Meg shrugged. “The important thing is that you don’t. I support you in whatever you decide.”
“Dido,” Vivian agreed.
Having her friends’ support made Emma feel more confident the next time she saw Levi. She also felt the need to find out as much as possible about him, even though there wasn’t a doubt in her mind Levi wasn’t in the Brotherhood. Emma wasn’t sure if the desire to know Levi was for safety purposes or her own reasons, but she decided it didn’t matter.
After accounting class, Emma hurried together her belongings. She was afraid Levi would exit without stopping to talk to her, and Emma didn’t want to chase him down the hall again.
“Hey,” a familiar voce greeted from over her shoulder. Emma’s breath caught in her throat, and her face heat up. Emma smiled and turned to face Levi.
“Hi,” she said, looking into his dark green eyes.
“I was wondering if you would like to have coffee with me since your project is finished now,” Levi offered. He ran a hand through his black hair nervously.
“I’d love to!” Emma exclaimed, and a smile stretched wide across her face. She was thrilled Levi wanted to spend time with her, too.
They walked through the crowded halls, and Emma fought the urge to grab Levi’s hand. Levi pushed open the door leading to the outdoor patio. “After you,” he said, holding his hand out to Emma.
“So, you’re originally from California?” Emma asked. She took a sip of her caramel frappacino and waited for Levi to respond.
“Yep. Born and raised. I love the ocean, but it’s nice to be on my own for a while.”
Emma nodded. Even though she grew up in Texas, Emma chose to move in with her friends instead of staying home with her family. She loved them, but it was exhilarating moving out.
“You must be excited to visit your family for the summer,” Emma commented.
“Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. What are your plans for the summer?”
Emma hesitated. This was a question she had asked herself often. “Originally, I planned on getting a summer job to make some extra money, but I don’t know for sure,” she admitted. After all, what if Meg needed her while she was working?
She knew Devin would be there to assist, and there wasn’t a doubt in her mind he would protect Meg. Still, if the battle came early, how could Emma be sure DeLauro wouldn’t send someone to attack her at her job? She didn’t know if Tyler would be willing to work alongside her all summer, especially when he had no use for the money. Then again, Ty would probably enjoy anything if it meant spending more time with her.
Emma shook her head in an attempt to get Tyler off of her mind. Lately, she had been thinking of him a lot, but she didn’t think it was fair to Levi. Not when he was sitting right in front of her.
“Well, I’m sure your family will support you either way. They must be excited to know you’ll be coming home soon,” Levi said softly. He looked down at his drink, and Emma’s heart skipped a beat.
“I’m excited to go home,” she began, looking at Levi, “but I’ll miss getting to know you better. It’s been nice.”
Levi looked up with hopeful eyes. “It has been nice,” he agreed. “We can still talk over the summer, though. Maybe we can swap phone numbers and keep in touch,” he offered.
Emma smiled. “I’d like that.”
That Friday, Levi surprised Emma by asking her on a date. “Are you busy tonight?” he asked quietly. “There’s a movie playing at the theater, and I thought you might like it.”
Emma faltered for just a second before replying, “I’d love to!” Levi gave her his phone number, and she wrote down hers for him.
After he left, Emma thought about how this news would be taken at the Council. For weeks now, the girls had spent every weekend at the Council, training for the day DeLauro decided to strike. Emma knew how important the inevitable battle was, but Levi had become an important part of her life, too.
Plus, Tyler says I’m further along in my skills than he expected, she told herself. It’s just one night. What will it hurt?
Emma pictured Tyler’s face and realized the question shouldn’t be what will it hurt, but who will it hurt. Tyler would not be happy to discover Emma was going on a date. He hadn’t exactly kept his feelings for her a secret. Emma knew Tyler liked her, and at times, she felt like she liked him, too. There was something about the way he looked at her that made her heart race. She had never felt such strong feelings for someone she barely knew.
Then, there was Levi. Emma’s attraction to him had grown slowly; naturally. She had met Levi first, and they had become friends before she realized she cared about him in a different way. While he was less obvious in his approach, Emma knew Levi cared about her a lot, too. Levi helped her find the answers she needed when her powers had just begun, and he was always willing to assist her with anything she needed.
Emma shook her head and pushed the thoughts of Tyler aside. She didn’t want to think about what the consequences of her decision would be. Instead, Emma concentrated on the present time. Levi had asked her on a date, and she agreed. There was no turning back now.
“You’re skipping practice? I never thought I’d see the day that Meg was looking forward to working, and Emma was ditching to go on a date!”
Emma rolled her eyes at Vivian. The girls were packing for their usual weekend stay at the Council, but Emma was preparing for her date with Levi.
“I’m going to train,” Emma insisted. “Once the date is over I’m going to call Devin and ask him to pick me up.”
Vivian smiled. “Taking advantage of his shortcut, eh?” she asked.
Emma cringed, remembering Devin’s unique way of traveling. “I thought it’d be best if I didn’t drive through the woods by myself after dark. This way there won’t be any… surprises.”
Vivian looked like she was going to ask another question so Emma turned her attention to Meg. “Why are you so excited for practice today?” she asked. “Did Whitnee agree to meet you?”
Meg scrunched her nose. “I haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m hoping Devin will have some good news for me today. Whitnee could give me the answers no one else can. Maybe she can show me how to use my powers... like really use them. What if I could control my visions? What if I found out what this jewel is capable of?”
“DeLauro wouldn’t stand a chance,” Vivian answered. She didn’t care if Meg’s questions were rhetorical. Vivian knew Meg would use her powers for good reasons. With the other members of the Council fighting with Meg, Damien and his Brotherhood would crawl back under the rock they came from. Well, wherever they came from, anyways.
“Hopefully Devin will think so, too,” Meg said. She closed her luggage and turned to Emma. “Do you want us to carry your luggage for you?”
Emma sprayed perfume on her neck. “No, it’s okay. I’ll just take it when Devin picks me up.”
“What do you want us to tell Ty if he asks where you are?”
Emma bit her lip. She knew Tyler had a crush on her, but she really liked Levi. She didn’t want to hurt Ty’s feelings, but Levi was a good guy, too. One way or the other, someone would get hurt. “Just tell him I’m okay, but something came up so I’ll be there tomorrow.”
It would only fix the problem temporarily, and Emma knew it. Still, she didn’t want to deal with heartache tonight, especially if things worked out between her and Levi.
“How do I look?” Emma asked, spinning in a circle.
Vivian clapped. “Levi won’t know what hit him.”