Home > Soulmate (Night World #6)

Soulmate (Night World #6)
Author: L.J. Smith

Chapter 1

The werewolves broke in while Hannah Snow was in the psychologist's office.

She was there for the obvious reason. "I think I'm going insane," she said quietly as soon as she sat down.

"And what makes you think that?" The psychologist's voice was neutral, soothing.

Hannah swallowed.

Okay, she thought. Lay it on the line. Skip the paranoid feeling of being followed and the ultra-paranoid feeling that someone was trying to kill her, ignore the dreams that woke her up screaming. Go straight to the really weird stuff.

"I write notes," she said flatly.

"Notes." The therapist nodded, tapping a pencil against his lips. Then as the silence stretched out: "Uh, and that bothers you?"

"Yes." She added in a jagged rush, "Everything used to be so perfect. I mean, I had my whole life under control. I'm a senior at Sacajawea High. I have nice friends; I have good grades. I even have a scholarship fromUtahState for next year. And now it's all falling apart... because of me. Because I'm going crazy."

"Because you write notes?" the psychologist said, puzzled. "Um, poison pen letters, compulsive memo taking... ?"

"Notes like these." Hannah leaned forward in her chair and dropped a handful of crumpled scraps of paper on his desk. Then she looked away miserably as he read them.

He seemed like a nice guy-and surprisingly young for a shrink, she thought. His name was Paul Win-field-"Call me Paul," he'd said-and he had red hair and analytical blue eyes. He looked as if he might have both a sense of humor and a temper.

And he likes me, Hannah thought. She'd seen the flicker of appreciation in his eyes when he'd opened the front door and found her standing silhouetted against the flamingMontana sunset.

And then she'd seen that appreciation change to utter blankness, startled neutrality, when she stepped inside and her face was revealed.

It didn't matter. People usually gave Hannah two looks, one for the long, straight fair hair and the clear gray eyes... and one for the birthmark.

It slanted diagonally beneath her left cheekbone, pale strawberry color, as if someone had dipped a finger in blusher and then drawn it gently across Hannah's face. It was permanent-the doctors had removed it twice with lasers, and it had come back both times.

Hannah was used to the stares it got her.

Paul cleared his throat suddenly, startling her. She looked back at him.

" 'Dead before seventeen,' " he read out loud, thumbing through the scraps of paper. " 'Remember the Three Rivers-DO NOT throw this note away.' 'The cycle can be broken.' 'It's almost May-you know what happens then.' " He picked up the last scrap. "And this one just says, 'He's coming.' "

He smoothed the papers and looked at Hannah. "What do they mean?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?"

"I didn't write them," Hannah said through her teeth.

Paul blinked and tapped his pencil faster. "But you said you did write them-"

"It's my handwriting. I admit that," Hannah said. Now that she had gotten started, the words came out in gasping bursts, unstoppable. "And I find them in places where nobody else could put them ... in my sock drawer, inside my pillowcase. This morning I woke up and I was holding that last one in my fist. But I still don't write them."

Paul waved his pencil triumphantly. "I see. You don't remember writing them."

"I don't remember because I didn't do it. I would never write things like that. They're all nonsense."

"Well." Tap. Tap. "I guess that depends. 'It's almost May'-what happens in May?"

"May first is my birthday."

"That's, what, a week from now? A week and a day. And you'll be ... ?"

Hannah let out her breath. "Seventeen."

She saw the psychologist pick up one of the scraps-she didn't need to ask which one.

Dead before seventeen, she thought.

"You're young to be graduating," Paul said.

"Yeah. My mom taught me at home when I was a kid, and they put me in first grade instead of kindergarten."

Paul nodded, and she thought she could see him thinking overachiever.

"Have you ever"-he paused delicately-"had any thoughts about suicide?"

"No. Never. I would never do anything like that."

"Hmm..." Paul frowned, staring at the notes. There was a long silence and Hannah looked around the room.

It was decorated like a psychologist's office, even though it was just part of a house. Out here in centralMontana , with miles between ranches, towns were few and far between. So were psychologists-which was why Hannah was here. Paul Winfield was the only one available.

There were diplomas on the walls; books and impersonal knickknacks were in the bookcase. A carved wooden elephant. A semi-dead plant. A silver-framed photograph. There was even an official-looking couch. And am I going to lie on that? Hannah thought. I don't think so.

Paper rustled as Paul pushed a note aside. Then he said gently, "Do you feel that someone else is trying to hurt you?"

Hannah shut her eyes.

Of course she felt that someone was trying to hurt her. That was part of being paranoid, wasn't it? It proved she was crazy.

"Sometimes I have the feeling I'm being followed," she said at last in almost a whisper.

"By... ?"

"I don't know." Then she opened her eyes and said flatly, "Something weird and supernatural that's out to get me. And I have dreams about the apocalypse."

Paul blinked. "The-apoc ..."

"The end of the world. At least I guess that's what it is. Some huge battle that's coming: some giant horrible ultimate fight. Between the forces of..." She saw how he was staring at her. She looked away and went on resignedly. "Good." She held out one hand. "And evil." She held out the other. Then both hands went limp and she put them in her lap. "So I'm crazy, right?"

"No, no, no." He fumbled with the pencil, then patted his pocket. "Do you happen to have a cigarette?"

She glanced at him in disbelief, and he flinched. "No, of course you don't. What am I saying? It's a filthy habit. I quit last week."

Hannah opened her mouth, closed it, then spoke slowly. "Look, Doctor-I mean, Paul. I'm here because I don't want to be crazy. I just want to be me again. I want to graduate with my class. I want to have a great summer horseback riding with my best friend, Chess. And next year I want to go toUtahState and study dinosaurs and maybe find a duckbill nest site of my own. I want my life back. But if you can't help me ..."

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