Stay (Page 32)

Gareth and I grabbed the second couch at the same time. I stepped back and let him do it. No reason to step on his desire to help.

“There’s only one problem with this.” I hated to bring up any difference between Casey and me, but I had too. “Casey’s mind can be influenced since she’s half bear, but mine can’t.”

“We know.” Daria appeared unconcerned. “You aren’t going to let me influence your mind, you are going to make the choice to follow Casey into her subconscious. If you are the one choosing to do it, everything will work.”

“Have you done this before?” The woman asked Daria. “Are you sure it’s safe? There’s powerful magic at play. By allowing himself to be part of this isn’t he opening himself up to being harmed?”

“I don’t care.” I brushed off her concern immediately. “I will do whatever you think will help Casey. I’d rather she not have to do this alone.”

Taliana smiled. “I knew I had a good feeling about you.”

“You know I’m going to make this up to you.” Casey tugged on my hand.

I smiled. “Make it up to me by being okay. That’s all I’m asking.”

“I can do better than that.”

Gareth cleared his throat. “Do you really want to say such things with your father in the room?”

Casey shot me a look. I think all this father talk was beginning to mess with her. “I’m just kidding.”

“Ok, good.”

I lay down next to Casey, trying to stay off the crack between the two couches but wanting to stay close. I couldn’t really believe we were about to willingly put ourselves into some deep sleep. Then again I knew I’d do anything to help Casey so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

I wrapped my hand around Casey’s. “I’ll be with you.”

“I know you will be.” She squeezed my hand back. “But, Toby?”

“Yes?” I turned my head to look at her.

“No judging me on anything you see. I mean letting you inside my head is a little nerve wracking.”

“You mean you don’t tell me everything?” I joked.

“I tell you most.”

“No judgments at all. Zero.”

“Good.”

“When you’re ready, you both need to close your eyes,” Daria said from above us. “But take your time. This all needs to be at a natural pace.”

“Natural pace?” Casey asked. “Is there anything natural about what’s happening?”

“Actually, yes. My magic comes from a very natural place. My tree. I promise this isn’t like any magic you’ve experienced before.”

“And Toby will be okay?” Casey sounded panicked for me.

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.”

“Just stay focused on the goal,” Daria explained. “Everything else will fall into place.”

“And the goal is to get the magic out of my head?” Casey asked.

Everyone laughed.

She sat up slightly. “What? It’s a reasonable question. I just want to double check.”

“That’s the goal,” Daria touched Casey’s arm. “Just lie down.”

“Okay, let’s try this again.” Casey rested her head back.

I waited until Casey had closed her eyes before closing mine. I held her hand securely in mine. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing, but I hoped it came naturally. Daria had seemed confident of it.

Chapter Eighteen

Casey

Daria’s touch was feather light on my forehead, but I immediately felt the effects of it. I was overcome with a strong calming sensation, my body relaxed, and the pounding headache that had been mounting began to disappear.

I focused on the comfort, and the only other sensation I was aware of was Toby’s hand wrapped around mine. His touch was strong and grounding. It provided a tranquility of its own.

Things were foggy for a few minutes, like the feeling you have after waking up suddenly from a dream. I just let the fog set in, trying to save my energy for when I really needed it. Then slowly the fog started to dissipate, and I was no longer on the couch, I was standing in the middle of a city street.

I looked all around me, trying to get my bearings, but nothing looked familiar. I started to panic. Where was I? Why was I all alone?

“I’m here.” Toby’s voice calmed me immediately.

I glanced around for him. “Toby? Where are you?”

“I’m here,” he repeated.

“Where’s here?”

“I’m here.”

Each time he said the two words they sounded exactly the same. No louder, no softer. “Toby?”

“I’m here.”

I walked down the street. “Where are you? Show me where you are.”

“I’m here.”

His voice sounded like it was behind me, so I turned around again. “Toby?”

“I’m here.”

I started running. Where was he?

“I’m here.”

I ran faster. I needed to find him. That was what I was supposed to be doing, right? The goal was to find Toby?

Wait. No. It wasn’t. I stopped running. “I’m supposed to push the magic out.”

“I’m here.” Toby’s voice came from right next to me.

I looked down and found the old teddy bear I used to sleep with as a kid. I picked it up.

“I’m here.”

“What?” I spoke out loud. It hadn’t been Toby, it had been a toy? I needed to stay focused. This wasn’t about Toby; it was about the dark magic.

I spun around, trying to figure out what direction to go. I still held the bear, not sure what to do.

“Hello?” a small voice said.

I glanced around, half expecting to find another toy, but it was a little girl. It was me I realized with frightening certainty. I was looking at myself as a kid. I stumbled back.

“Can I have my teddy bear back? I can’t sleep without it.” The girl walked toward me.

I held out the bear. “Here, take it.”

I was so hot, and sweat started to pour down my face. “Mommy told me that bears will protect me. She said I had an inner bear. Do you like bears?”

I shook my head, not sure what to say to make this vision disappear. It had to be a vision. It couldn’t be real. Find the magic I reminded myself. “Take the bear. Be careful.” I handed the bear off and started down the street. I glanced over my shoulder, and the girl and the bear were gone.