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Blind Sight: Through The Eyes Of Leocardo Reyes

Ermisenda Alvarez

Chapter FIVE

TUGGING AT THE SEAMS

BlindSightLeoBookCoverDespite his decision to leave the island as soon as possible, Claudia had talked him into going to the Founder’s Day Carnival. He had even gone out and bought new clothes and cell phones for him and Odette. If he was going to be here for now, he would make the best of it, no matter how little he cared about the day the first explorers ‘landed’. It was more likely that they were kidnapped, Leo thought bitterly.

“Odette you ready yet?” Leocardo called as he finished his cereal and started to sip the excess milk.

“What’s the rush?” she called through her bedroom door.

“Claudia is taking us and I don’t want her waiting outside.”

Leocardo swore he heard a displeasing scoff. “What did you say?”

“Nothing!”

Leocardo frowned. Claudia had done nothing obnoxious toward Odette and he had no idea where the insolent attitude came from. He left the bowl in the sink and raised a fist to bang on Odette’s door, but it swung open before he could knock and Odette brushed past him. His frustration grew when she started to make breakfast as if she had hours to spare.

“What are…?” Leocardo started before he felt his phone ringing in his pocket. Quickly, he fumbled for it, taking it out just in time. “Claudia?”

“Hey, Leo, I’m outside.”

“We’ll be down in a minute. Let’s go, Odette.”

“I haven’t even had breakfast yet,” she whined, feeling around in kitchen cupboards with her fingertips. “Are we taking Cielo?”

“I don’t think Claudia would like Cielo being in her car.”

“Of course she wouldn’t.”

“Odette, she is allergic. Why are you being so—?”

Odette sighed loudly, cutting him off. “Cielo never gets to go out anymore, you’re working, I have school, and you always forget to take her for walks because you’re too busy with Claudia,” she complained. “She’s your dog.” Leocardo folded his arms, irritated. “I’ll take Cielo; I’ll just walk to the carnival alone.”

“Don’t be stupid.” He was getting more intolerant of her proposals. He knew teenagers were moody, but Odette seemed excessively so. Had he ever been this annoying?

“The carnival isn’t even that far from here.”

“Hurry up.”

“You’re not my parent,” she mumbled, clenching her jaw. Leocardo wondered how many more cliché teenage phrases he would have to endure today. He bit back the wave of negative emotions. He couldn’t hold onto his parents who had let go of both him and Odette. She, on the other hand, had seemed to have forgotten them just as easily as they had forgotten their children. Discussing the topic only brought him distress.

She stormed toward the door and tripped. Leocardo ran over and helped her back up. Had he been expecting thanks, he would have been disappointed.

“Let go.” She yanked her hand away.

When she got into these moods, there was no way of making it better by hanging around. Cielo whined loudly from the bathroom, locked away for chewing on the furniture…again. It was true she needed to get out more. Guilt replaced his anger as he reflected on how he had doled out his time since arriving.

Leocardo attached Cielo’s leash as Odette stomped out the door. At least an excited smile had briefly spread across Odette’s face when he changed his plans. Claudia didn’t mind and said she’d meet him there. Cielo loved the jog to the carnival, practically prancing in-between peeing on objects. He had not meant to neglect her and felt better about himself. For once it felt like he was the favorite again. He promised Cielo to take her out more even though her sudden love for Odette had him feeling neglected.

While Cielo took her sweet time sniffing a bush, Leocardo gazed up at the sky, wanting to spend this time with Claudia. The sky was clear; a gentle blue painted the heavens. The air was crisp with the smells of autumn. He pulled his short, thick white scarf tighter as the wind picked up.

He heard Claudia yell his name as he neared and turned to see her beautiful smiling face shining in the sunlight. He walked over, feeling the tug on the leash as Cielo pulled toward Odette.

“Hey,” he greeted happily before handing the leash over to Odette.

Claudia was eager to give them the grand tour, taking them to the best food stands and rides. A kaleidoscope of colors, streamers and balloons streaked the carnival. Children led their parents by the hand, eagerly hopping on the rides. Before they had made it half way through, the colorful stalls lit up with strings of lights, Odette tugged on Leocardo’s arm.

“I found friends, bye.” She had told him earlier that she planned on meeting up with friends and would be with them overnight.

“Okay.” He watched her go before reminding her, “It’s up to you to get Cielo home. Be safe!”

Countless groups of children darted across the expanse, running to rides, games, or their parents. Claudia taunted him into participating in one of the games. As she threw heavy balls at bottles in an attempt to knock them over, Leocardo could not resist looking at the small of her back when her shirt rode up. He caught a glimpse of a small tattoo, but it vanished too fast for him to tell what it was. The clatter of glass sounded just before the carnival attendant announced she was a winner.

“Do you want to get your face painted?” he joked gesturing toward the stall.

“No not really…oh, Aniela is there,” she noted with surprise as she pointed at Nate’s girlfriend sitting at the stall with a little child on her lap.

“How do you know her?” he asked, surprised.

“She’s the princess, of course.”

“The little girl?” he asked, feeling confused. Claudia laughed. “On Ana’s lap?”

“No, Aniela, she’s the princess. Not that it matters much here. Nobility is treated like everyone else, just their bloodline has more history and her mother has the final word over political matters.”

“Princess?” he asked, startled.

“Yes,” she noted. “No one bothers with that title unless it’s a formal occasion though. Far as I know, she just goes by Aniela. Royalty doesn’t mean that much over here on a small island like this,” she insisted. “The ruler has lots of power, but there are wealthier commoners trying to buy their way in all the time. The Dawsons move the country’s wealth into what’s needed, but it’s not theirs.” She sounded bored.

He thought that the royal family would have been more important.

“I thought she was just…” he started and tried to stop from gaping at her in disbelief.

“You’ve met her before?”

“At the bar, with her boyfriend,” he stated. How did Nate, a shameless womanizer and bartender end up with a princess? Whether or not royalty was idolized here, she still had that title. The memory of Nate, Ana, and himself in the car flashed in his mind, except now he kept envisioning Ana with a crown and a medieval white dress she had probably never worn before. The face-painted Ana with her casual clothes did not fit the image in his head.

“How long ‘till the shock wears off?” Claudia teased as she eyed an ice cream stand.

“So she’s Theodore’s sister?” Leocardo asked for clarification.

“Yep and Tatiana’s,” she added. Leocardo had no idea who Tatiana was unless she too was an average looking girl he had met who neglected to tell him she was a princess.

It was just a lot to take in. The more he thought about it, the less important it appeared, until it did not matter at all. If the citizenry was not going to make a big deal about it, why should he? Nate and Ana did not seem to either.

“Let’s go get ice cream,” he said, taking one last glance at Ana.

“Are you also a princess I never knew about?” he joked.

She turned and laughed. “You know I’m an immigrant.”

“A Spanish princess?” he pondered comically. She raised her eyebrows before laughing and shaking her head, her shoulders bouncing with amusement.

“A hungry princess.” She stepped up to the stand and ordered a chocolate dipped cone.

They found a spot underneath a tree and finished eating. Jazz tunes wafted from the elevated stage as bands took their turns in the limelight. The carnival was still in sight, but far enough away to feel secluded.

“I don’t know how you do it,” she murmured.

“What?” he asked lying down on the grass and closing his eyes.

“Take care of your sister. It would drive me crazy.”

Leocardo laughed. “It drives me crazy sometimes.”

He looked at her, captivated by the way the sun illuminated her face. Leocardo could smell the faint fragrance of honeysuckle waft up from her neck. Calmly her dark eyes focused on him before she cocked her head.

“Nothing,” he murmured and his eyes fell on the lake in the distance. “You know I still have more questions.”

“I know.” Her response was placid rather than the usual argumentative and he felt her softening.

The hours ticked by as they rested in silence beside each other or engaged in conversation until the sun struggled to stay above the horizon.

“The people are different here,” he noted aloud as he watched the last band pack up their instruments and people in matching t-shirts take down the decorations.

“They are,” she admitted, but he wanted more.

“I think that…” his voice trailed as he turned his head in observation. “It’s like…” he said, biting his lip in thought. “Everyone is okay with living here yet everyone must have been brought here at some point, most likely against their will,” he added under his breath. Other than the people born here, he did not understand how none of them tried to escape. “The island is spooked or something. What’s so good about this place compared to others?”

“You tell me…” her voice was soft and he noticed she was curled up on the grass with her eyes closed.

“Why don’t you tell me? I’m still hassling the travel agencies to sell me a ticket. I can’t get any buses to take me to the port without a ticket either. Isn’t that the only way out of here?”

“That’s right,” she murmured. “But you can’t leave in winter.”

“What?” Leocardo was not happy about this unpredictable news.

“The port freezes over and the tourists are all kicked out before that happens.”

“Why don’t they stay here?”

“Most don’t want to. They have to be sent out because if not we wouldn’t be able to—”

Claudia suddenly tensed.

“Be able to do what?” he scooted closer, urging her to continue.

“You’re right, Edaion is spooked, or haunted. Let’s just leave it at that.”

“The people are spooked too though,” he insisted. “I’m spooked! I can feel it because my thoughts become clouded or my anger disappears when I think about leaving. It doesn’t want me thinking about abandoning it.”

“You are spooked indeed,” she yawned. She pushed herself up from the ground and stretched. Her shirt rode up her back slightly, exposing her skin.

“What’s the tattoo on your back?” He could not resist asking.

“A symbol from the country’s flag.”

“Like a prisoner mark? A barcode?” he asked lightheartedly, although he did honestly consider it a possibility.

The sweet sound of laughter erupted from her mouth. “It’s a common tattoo here.” She continued to baffle him. Claudia was not brought up here and yet she appeared devoted to this country as if it was her own.

“I’m guessing you don’t have a tattoo of the Spanish flag,” his tone suddenly became cold. Claudia looked at him with a concerned expression.

“Do you?”

“Of course not. But why do you have Edaion’s symbol marked on your… You weren’t even born here.” Leocardo said, exasperated. He was not sure which made him more infuriated, that she had a symbol of Edaion scarred onto her skin or that she chose it over their Spain.

“You’re really getting boring.” She put her hand to her mouth and yawned exaggeratedly.

An idea had electrocuted him. Leocardo rose suddenly and grasped Claudia by the shoulders, bringing his face intimately close to hers.

“I can save you too,” he whispered.

Her eyebrows knitted together and her lips scrunched up. “Save me?”

“I’ll find a way so you, me, and Odette can escape this place. You don’t have to stay here. We’ll go back to Spain. We’ll live our real lives.” As he said it aloud, it sounded like a brilliant idea. It was spontaneous yes, and they did not have much time before winter, but he knew he could make it work. If only he could just…break into the travel agency and print tickets.

“Leo…” she whispered and he noticed her cheeks glowed crimson. “You don’t know what you’re saying. I appreciate what you’re trying to do but—”

“No buts. You can’t think straight because you have been here too long. You drank the water or something, lotus blossoms, they have sedated your thoughts, but I am still awake. You take the red pill, I don’t want anything to do with rabbit holes,” Leocardo insisted.

She caressed his arm. “You are the one who can’t think straight because you haven’t been here long enough.” Leocardo brushed her words away along with her hand on his arm.

“Then just me and Odette,” he growled as he began walking away from her. Claudia caught up beside him.

“Don’t be stupid, I’ll drop you off at home; it’s nearly dark.”

“What could happen to me? Another kidnapping?” he spat. He felt like the biggest delusional idiot for saying all those things to her. Toxic embarrassment worsened his state and he felt sick in the stomach. It didn’t help that he liked her either. What did she think of him now? He kept averting his gaze. They were quiet the whole way home until she parked in front of his apartment.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured as he reached for the door handle.

“No, I am,” he reassured her. “If you want to stay here, then you can. I’m leaving as soon as winter is over.”

Claudia bit her lip as if she was holding back vital information.

“Come inside for a little bit,” he offered, feeling guilty about how he had acted. Her life was hers to do what she pleased. It was dinnertime and neither had eaten since lunch. She nodded and together they made stir-fried noodles to share.

They spent the evening watching movies and keeping the conversation light. If it was not for Claudia, Leocardo thought he probably would have gotten himself arrested by now.

“Do you mind if I stay the night?” she asked as she went to clean her face in the bathroom.

“No that’s fine, if you don’t mind sharing the bed.” Realizing how it sounded, he worried she would take it the wrong way. “I mean I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.” He gave her some of the second hand clothing from Odette’s dresser.

“Don’t be stupid!” she exclaimed as she closed the bathroom door to change. “I am sure the bed is enough for two!” Her voice was muffled by the door, which was good because it meant she could not see his cheeks redden.

Leocardo noticed his sweaty palms and felt the knots in his stomach. What did this mean? Did she expect something? Nothing had happened between them yet so it must have just been an absolutely platonic proposal. Just friends…right?

Claudia retired to his bedroom early and he cleaned up what he could in the living room or kitchen, stalling. She seemed exhausted, but he was drowning in anxieties; he could not get off the island and a woman he liked had unexpectedly invited herself into his bed. After changing in the bathroom, he could procrastinate no more and slid beneath the bed covers.

“I’m so tired,” she groaned as she turned to face him. She had pulled the blankets up to her shoulders.

“Me too,” he lied. A few minutes ticked by before he turned to sneak a glance at Claudia and with relief saw her peacefully closed eyes. He smiled at the innocent sight but felt his stomach turn to ice when her eyes opened.

“Leo?” she murmured, and Leocardo could not help but stare at the movement of her lips.

“Is it so hard to imagine leaving this place?” he asked.

“Are you actually asking if it’s hard to imagine running away with you?” A smile tugged at her lips.

Leocardo leaned in and brushed his lips against the corner of her mouth before kissing her tenderly. He felt his head high in the sky as his heart beat heavily in his chest. He had not expected to find the courage to kiss her, much less that she would kiss him back.

She pulled away. His mind crashed into the present and his heart pounded in his chest for an entirely different reason.

“Leo I…I’m sorry,” hearing those words from her mouth dried all moisture from his.

“I’m the one to apologize. I don’t want you thinking I took advan—”

“As much as…you…well…you’re the closest…I would…” Leocardo saw a coy smile flicker across her face before she became solemn. “I don’t date guys.”

“You’re a…”

“No labels,” she responded with a hint of annoyance.

“I didn’t mean to…” Leocardo murmured, embarrassed. “I guess I just…well, it’s no secret now. I like you.”

“I like you too.” She admitted, but she averted her gaze. “Just not…like that.” He was not sure if she was referring to his gender or a lack of chemistry between them. He didn’t really want to know because he couldn’t change either.

He nodded. Claudia’s worried eyes scanned his face and he looked away. The thread of happiness and hope he had been pulling on for weeks had just run thin. He raised his hands and rubbed his eyes in frustration.

Leocardo began to apologize for his actions, hoping that he did not offend her before he felt her cool fingertips caressing his face. “Don’t,” he sighed.

“I like you,” she said again, leaving soft kisses against his cheek. Without hesitation, he turned his head to capture the rest. Could she still be his? He caught the soft, wet pockets of bliss with his lips until they both turned away, without another word, and slept peacefully through the night.

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FROM THE START (ProloguE)

Blind Sight is an urban fantasy series about a blind girl who develops the ability to draw. You are reading Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes. This volume is told from the point of view of Odette’s brother who thinks she’s having premonitions. The companion novel, Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson tells the same story, but through a different point of view. Odette’s new friend Ana is convinced Odette is a medium channeling spirits and cannot be convinced otherwise. Who is right? Whose eyes will you read through?

amazonbutton-purchaseYou can also learn more about our novels on our page, Ermilia Books.

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