The bullet didn’t seem to faze him. It hit him square in the arm yet he didn’t flinch, didn’t budge an inch. It is like nothing hit him at all.

Now the two guys standing in front of me are panting. They’ve been fighting for ten minutes, throwing punches, knocking each other down only pick each other up to give a knee to the gut. It looks painful.

Then the one whose face is familiar to me somehow pulled out a gun and shot his opponent. Only it didn’t do anything. Now they both look angry.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure why they are fighting. The only thing I can tell is that they are fighting over me; but I don’t know why.

The guy I thought looked familiar is the first to speak.

“So who is it?”

His voice is thick with heavy breaths and his hands are now resting on the tops of his thighs.

The question throws me off. Of anything that could be said after a fight, he says that? Boys are weird sometimes.

“Who is what?” I ask, finally ungluing my tongue from the back of my throat. The intensity of the fight had me practically swallowing it.

“Your Protector, Gracie.”

Protector? Why would I need a Protector? You’d think I would know if I was one of the Gifted. My whole life up to this point has been relatively tame, with no hint of special abilities–abilities while remarkable, weaken the Gifted so they require Protectors to keep them alive and safe. The Gifted tend to be hot targets for threats and kidnapping since their powers can be unpredictable, highly desirable, and sometimes downright damaging.

Just the thought that I could be Gifted makes me shiver. I never wanted that. The last Gifted in my family was my grandmother and she passed away when I was little. Neither of my parents are Gifted. This can’t be true. But I did just turn 19, the age where the powers of the Gifted start to manifest.

The hazel eyes are what get to me. I know I’ve seen his face before. It has a boyish look to it but somehow still grown up with some subtle scruff. And the other has darker hair and dark eyes that seem to see right into me. So I look away. It’s making me uncomfortable.

A voice behind me makes me jump.

“You’re both Protectors now. How else do you think you both survived this altercation?”

When I turn around, there’s an older man walking towards us. The street glistens under the subtle curbside lights. His steps seem to echo off the brick buildings surrounding us.

“One of you attached to Gracie here,” the man says, gesturing at me. He has a thick goatee and a scar slicing through one side of his upper lip. “The other attached to another Gifted close by, one we didn’t plan on.”

There’s another Gifted in my neighborhood? They are never that common.

And I thought that one would be able to feel it once an attachment is made between a Gifted and a Protector.

If I’m Gifted and have been attached to someone, odds aren’t in my favor to not fall in love with them. That usually ends up happening since they spend so much time together. It’s weird, but I feel different kinds of tugs to both guys. Dark eyes is intriguing, and truly gorgeous. Baby face is familiar and I wish I could pinpoint where from. Either way, I think both of them could be decent Protectors. One of them did, after all, repel a bullet with his bare skin.

Not a moment, a spark of shivers travels down my spine and I find myself looking at the guy with dark eyes. Could it be him?

“From what I can tell,” the man with the scar on his lip goes on, “Gracie, your Protector will be Graham. Liam, your connection is in one of these apartments. We must go track them down. I’m surprised we didn’t know about this Gifted one. We track all of you very closely.”

He nods pointedly at me and extends a hand. “Nice to meet you finally, Gracie. My name is Caine. I expect we will see more of each other very soon. We are expecting great things from you.”

Liam, the one with dark eyes, avoids my gaze completely as he heads off with Caine. A part of me is disappointed. But at the same time, I’m happy that Graham, who I now recognize as a preschool playmate, will be able to share more about all of this with me. At least we have a somewhat background already, so that should make a relationship–friend or more–easier. My stomach squirms at the thought but not in a good way.

But if I’m Gifted then I very well may be a danger to everyone here without even knowing it, and then where would we be?



I want to be a soldier.
They are trained to handle
the toughest of situations,
how to fight tough
when something is
worth fighting for,
how to carry heavy loads
and oh, so much more.

I want to be a soldier
and protect something
precious to others,
protect those who can’t
even protect themselves,
and I want to be a saver…
someone who rescues
even the strongest
and never waver.

And I want to be a soldier
so I will never need a shoulder.

Inspired by “Louder” by Charice.