Sparks Ignite

(The Dreamcatchers Saga #2)

by Jessie McClain

Not caring is Ian’s defense against the world. Against hurt, abandonment, and lost love. Until a girl shreds his armor and steals his heart. Wild and free, she wants him but cannot give herself over. He haunts her and she runs. But the sparks that have ignited between them burns deep and refuses to be ignored. Will the fire consume their souls or can the enchantment of the Dreamcatcher free them to love?


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Chapter 1

The sun reflects off of the lake in front of me and almost burns my eyes. There are not many places to go in this town. Falls City. I huff. Pfft, I still have yet to see a waterfall here. I know there is one… somewhere… theoretically. I just haven’t seen it. Yeah, this place is definitely not California, but I never cared much for where I would settle down anyway as long as there was water nearby. I didn’t necessarily mean a swimming hole either, more like oh say… the ocean. But I’m not complaining and besides, it’s not far from the Pacific either.

I’ve seen my share of swimming holes and lakes. It happens, especially growing up in the south. I used to fish until I got bored and then I would resort to skipping rocks across the lake to see how far they would go before they finally stopped and sank to the bottom. I became an expert. My dad always yelled at me to stop. He claimed I was scaring the fish away. And now, lakes just remind me of him.

I remember he would take me and my brother Jason fishing at this secret fishing hole that he came across one day when he was looking for new camping spots. Talk about primitive. Dad’s camping spots I mean. I’m not talking nice men/women bathrooms, water fountains, playgrounds, or neighbors enjoying themselves in their luxurious expensive RVs. No I’m talking like… we didn’t even have one of those disgusting blue boxes that strangers use only when they’re desperate. We had trees. And leaves. And maybe a couple of holes if you dug them yourself. A few of those camping trips reminded me of how important toilet paper was and how hated you would be the whole trip if you were the one to forget it.

Passing through to these spots that my dad would find, we could see families together in campers and RVs that put some houses to shame. We had a nice house sitting on a decent piece of property, but we definitely were not rich. At least not enough to get one of those RVs. But I didn’t care. Wouldn’t have if I could anyway. Lesson one in not caring: don’t think too much about it.

I look up as a shadow sweeps across my peripheral vision. It’s just that stupid rope. It really needs to be taken down or something before someone decides they want to try to use it and it snaps and someone breaks their fool neck. Maybe if a regular bone would break it may be funny to see, but not a neck. My humor and brutality only goes so far. I say things in the worst of times though and have no filter in my brain. Something enters my head, it comes straight out of my mouth. I can’t help it. It’s how I operate. Whenever someone is fighting or something supposedly serious happens, I can’t help but laugh at them.

Kind of like the arguments between my mom and dad, or better yet Jason and my dad. They fought more than they should have I think. Or even that time when we first met Iris and her mom flipped out. Wow! I had to bite my tongue on that one. You can’t make insane jokes on a first impression. Second maybe, definitely third, but never the first. Not if I can help it at least. I’m not stupid. But like I said, it enters my head and instantly becomes verbal. There’s no telling what will happen.

I fan my shirt out trying to dry some of the sweat dripping down my neck and back. This last winter was bone-chilling cold and now this summer is way too hot. You wonder which is worse. Feeling like you’re going to puke everywhere in the car when you drive in the winter while too much heat pours on you and everything becomes closed up and stuffy, or dealing with headaches and stomach cramps in the summer due to the intense heat waves. But we all complain don’t we? In the winter we’re complaining about snow, in the summer we complain about heat. Human beings. Never satisfied. I just try to go with the flow of it all and not complain as much as the others. Maybe God will notice.

“Get in the lake, Ian! Get in!” Iris screams. Her voice is demanding and then clips off at the end. Jason and I met Iris last year in a coffeehouse when we stopped off in this small town. Because of her we never left. It doesn’t bother me though. We came from Georgia, but for years have driven all over the U.S. never really searching for anything, or so we thought. As it turns out, I think both Jason and I were hoping for some kind of permanence. Someone who would care if we left. And we found it. Jason got the girl, but I gained a best friend.

“I can’t! I’ll have to take my shirt off and then you’ll see my sexy body and leave Jason. It’ll cause too much strife,” I tease.

“Don’t count on it!” her voice echoes.

Really maybe I would get in. Maybe. And I’ve been thinking about it for the past hour, but to be honest, I’m pretty lazy right now and the more the sun bakes me, the less I want to move. My dad used to tell me that few things in life are important or worth dying for, but when I find one of those things, that I need to keep it because they don’t come around often enough. And I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, but just sitting here and doing nothing seems pretty important to me right now.

Little Danny stands at the shoreline by my feet and throws water into the air, laughing. Cold sprinkles onto my toes and legs and then evaporates just as quick. I lean forward closer to the water and grab a palm full and splash it at him before it escapes in between my fingers and hits the sand. He screeches and splashes harder. So I do too. Danny is Iris’ little brother. He turned four today. She raises him because, well, if she didn’t, no one else would. Their mother Cassie has given up on them some time ago.

“Come on little guy, take that! And that! And that!” I taunt between clenched teeth.

He laughs which pulls my own smile to my lips and then he splashes a nice amount into my eye and I’m temporarily blinded. I forfeit and resume my position and Danny sits in the shallows playing with a couple of stones once he recognizes my defeat.

Being that it’s Danny’s birthday today, Iris insisted that we come here for a while before we have cake later and set off some fireworks. A cloud passes over the sun for just a moment and I relish in it as I rub my right eye as my vision starts to clarify again. Damn, I think there was sand in the water Danny splashed on me.

“Well played son, well played,” I encourage him. He turns for just a second and smiles before studying his stones once again.

You know those memorable birthdays you have? The ones that stand out more than others and just the smallest reminder will bring up that day that was forever ago once again? I remember one of mine. I was turning six. Mom insisted that I have a birthday party even though I wasn’t exactly the most sociable kid you could meet. In fact I was shy. I mean really shy. Jason was more outgoing at that time. And even at that age, I realized if any kids came to this birthday party, I would have to try to figure out how to entertain them or whatever. I mean, what did Mom expect me to do? Magic tricks?

Actually magic tricks would have been pretty cool, but we’re trailing off subject here. So I begged her not to have this party, but she made out the invitations and sent them out anyway to everyone in my first grade class. The day arrived and I sat on the doorsteps and waited… and waited… and waited until I realized that no one was going to come. And I clearly remember that realization. The epitome of it. Embarrassment. Now Mom and Dad would know I have no friends. Anger. Anger at Mom for sending those stupid invitations anyway when I didn’t even want this. And then frustration, which brought on a few tears. They stung. And then, last of all, there was an underlying saving grace. Nothing. I felt nothing. After the first of the emotions surfaced, the one underneath was the one I needed the most. Simply nothing. I didn’t care if they weren’t there. I was going to have presents anyway and eat all of the damn cake myself. Lesson two in not caring: ignorance. Ignorance is bliss some say. I really believe it. Even at that young age I was learning.

Mom and Dad had been telling me for a while to come on in and eat, but I didn’t know if I could face them. So I just sat. And every now and then, Jason would come out and just sit with me. He never said anything because he knew me well enough to know I wouldn’t want him to. When I turned to go inside the house hours after everyone was supposed to be there, that’s when I noticed a truck pull up and then she hopped out. Sadie. She was seven then, but started school late, so she was in my class and was the only one who would come sit next to me during lunch or on the playground when I was swinging. We never said a word to each other. She just smiled, would share her snacks, and offered her company without so much as a ‘hi’ or ‘look how blue that sky is.’ I didn’t even recall remembering her voice. Had I ever heard it?

Her mother started apologizing to mine. Apparently they had to visit Sadie’s grandparents earlier in the day and couldn’t make it to my birthday until later. Sadie insisted on coming though. Insisted…

She was always good at getting her way without even throwing a fit. She seemed so adult for her young age. And I almost think that she understood more, like she had lived several lifetimes while we all were still on our first. One step ahead. That was Sadie. Blonde hair the color of wheat and eyes the color of the sky she never talked about. Pallid, but not too pale skinned, pure as spring water that turned almost golden during summer days. That was Sadie. A heart of gold, but a mind that could make you understand the logical in the most illogical thinkings.

“Who’s ready to go?” Jason asks, grabbing a towel beside me and bringing me back to the present. Now Georgia is gone and Oregon is in the now. I hurry to grab the other end and catch it by its corner. I tug and Jason tugs harder. I laugh.

“Ian! Why?” he asks calmly.

“Because you hate it,” I confess.

It’s true. I do things on purpose to get on his nerves. He still loves me. I’m his brother and his only consistent family member left in this world. He can’t get rid of me and wouldn’t, even if it was possible. We’ve been through everything together and know more about each other than we would even like the other to know. It’s almost uncomfortable. Some things we swore to just never bring up. It’s the unspoken pact.

I release the corner and he jolts back a little, but quickly regains his balance.

“Ass,” he mumbles.

“Do you know my real name? Cause that’s all you ever call me,” I say with a smirk that I can’t seem to push away.

“I’m sorry. Ass… hole Stone. Right?” he toys.

I laugh and smack his back as hard as I can. “That’s right. Brother of Jack… ass Stone.”

I start my way to the car. “We’re both some sort of ass, Jason! It’s inevitable! Look at how Dad could be on occasions. But remember the brighter side of the situation. Its better being an ass than being a bitch like Mom!” I holler.

“Language around Danny, Ian,” Iris groans.

“I call shotgun! Now get me the hell out of here,” I respond, ignoring Iris’ comment and opening the passenger side door.

The radio is turned up all the way with the windows down and for a moment I can see the point in this little town. I can feel the tingle that originates from the pit of my stomach and rises to my chest, telling me that I’m alive and well and my heart beats in unison to the drumbeat busting through the speakers. Looking in the back seat, Danny smiles from behind Jason’s seat and is talking, but all I can see is his mouth moving because the music is so loud. I shake my head and start to bang it a little, watching him to see if he catches on to my movement. It takes a minute of just staring and trying to engage Iris beside him. Finally Iris catches on and starts moving her head more to the beat and right afterward Danny follows.

We stop at one of the only stop signs in this town and I notice Rick’s little coffee shop on my left. Without telling anyone, I open the car door just as Jason starts going again and hop out. I lose balance for just a second as my foot catches on the pavement and Jason stomps the brakes right before the back tire meets my foot. I take a moment to sigh in relief. Not my best move. Iris and Danny snap forward in the seat and Iris’ arm instinctively darts in front of Danny.

“What the hell are you doing, Ian?!” Jason yells while turning the radio down in unison. I recognize one of my favorite songs on the radio and the words echo in my head. Cars are honking behind us.

“I’m getting some coffee. Want some?” I ask innocently.

“Yes, Ian. Let me just turn in the parking lot while I’m in the middle of the freakin’ road! Couldn’t you just say, ‘Hey Jason, I think I want some coffee’ like a normal person for once?”

“It was an impulse.” The person behind us lays on his horn. I squint to see a younger guy, maybe twenty, throwing his hands up in anger. I smile and wave. “I’ll catch a ride home and be on time for the cake and stuff. Okay?”

“Are you sure?” Jason asks, a little calmer now. He could care less about the cars behind him. I just close the car door, wave him along and he accelerates. I move to the side of the road and watch as the car disappears in the distance. After the few cars that were waiting passes, the younger guy flipping me off as I return his gesture right back, I start walking casually to the other side of the road. A car appears out of nowhere and screeches as it brakes hard. How did I not see that coming? I must have been too concentrated on flipping that guy off. I rarely do that. I don’t want to, but just can’t help it sometimes. I tap on the hood of the car, give the driver a lopsided grin, and side step backwards into the coffeehouse parking lot.

Several cars are parked outside and I take notice as a young dark-haired girl gets out of a nice silver car parked right by the entrance. She opens up the back and pulls out a black duffel bag and medium-sized brown violin case. I jog up to her and offer my help. She accepts with a small smile and I follow her inside with the black bag in my hands. Rick is taking care of a few people standing in line. He half waves as he looks towards the sound of the bell that lets him know someone has entered and I nod his way. I place the bag on stage and walk away as she starts to unpack. After a moment, she stands straight and shoulders back as soft violin classics sound through the air. I shrug and take a place in line that is now down to just two people in front of me.

I move to my left a little, eyeing some of pastries for the day, and my eyes land solid on a cinnamon roll that’s dripping with icing. My teeth ache looking at it and because of that, I know I have to get it. The problem is, is there’s only one left.

The woman at the counter orders only a cappuccino and nothing else, probably on one of those starving diets. Or maybe the one where you eat a bunch of food that is supposed to be good and low fat but really tastes like cardboard. I grew up with fried chicken, fried fish, fried potatoes, fried vegetables… hell you could pretty much find anything and fry it and it would improve the taste by one hundred and fifty percent. I’m not overweight and am healthy… for the most part.

Alright, one down, one to go and the cinnamon roll is mine. The competition is on now. I cross my arms and rock back on my heels.

“How can I help you, Tom?” Rick, the owner of the coffeehouse, asks the man in front of me. He has short cropped dark blonde hair and is tall and lanky.

“I want a soy latte with just a little over two pumps of caramel and one pump of white chocolate and that cinnamon roll,” this guy named Tom says, pointing at my icing-covered beauty.

I feel my brows instantly furrow at the mention of my cinnamon roll. “Hey!” I tap on his shoulder and demand, “What is that? What are you doing?”

Rick snorts and pulls a smile to his face behind the counter as he makes the concoction that Tom ordered. “It’s soy with…”

“Not that,” I interrupt. “That’s just weird. What’s with the cinnamon roll? There’s one left. I wanted it. Can’t you order something else? Complicate it like you did your drink. It’ll be fun!”

“I… I always get the cinnamon roll,” he almost pouts.

“So try something new man! It’s a new day! Enjoy it, break out of that routine, dude!”

“No. You just want the cinnamon roll!” he retorts.

“Damn right I do! I don’t give a crap about your daily routines or venturing out,” I half laugh. God, isn’t it obvious?

“This is the strangest conversation…” he almost says to himself.

“Tell me about it man, and you’re in the middle of it… right now. This is happening.”

“How about this?” Rick interjects. “How about Tom takes this cinnamon roll…”

“Yeah Rick! Take his side. I thought we were on the same level here!” I tease. I know he has a plan.

Rick huffs a laugh and ignores me, “… and then I’ll fix a new batch for you Ian, fresh from the oven if you have a few minutes.”

I rock back on my heels one last time, pretend to contemplate, and then plant my feet firm. A wooden board beneath my right foot creaks under pressure.

“Fresh, Ian…” Rick reminds me.

“Yeah fresh, Ian,” Tom repeats.

“Yeah, okay. That sounds good, Rick.” Man, this is even better! I get a hot one. My stomach rumbles deep with anticipation.

Tom pays and walks away, giving me an awkward look as I watch him with his roll.

“What else do you want, Ian?” Rick asks, tapping the counter with his fingers.

“Coffee… BLACK!” I holler as the bell rings and Tom or whatever exits with his strange caramel chocolate drink that I won’t admit actually sounds pretty good.

Rick chuckles lowly and pours the coffee, handing it to me. The foam cup feels hotter than it should, but I just clutch it and let the heat seep into my hand. The doorbell rings again and both Rick and I look towards the door. Dane walks in dragging his feet, hair stuck up in the air, carrying a half-empty Mountain Dew bottle.

I met Dane when I got my job recently this last spring at Melodies Music Store. It’s the only music store in Falls City and I think even the next town, so we stay pretty busy, mostly between the ages of fifteen and forty. You do get the cool retro parents in that are just as tattooed and pierced up as their kids. Nothing wrong with it. In fact, all of our personalities seem to mesh and I feel like I actually belong, whereas in other places, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I would think that at my age of twenty-four that would have passed, but it hasn’t. So I just go with it.

Dane is an old friend of Iris’. They used to live across from each other in an apartment complex and that’s how they had met. After she moved out, they lost touch. But since she had discovered my new friendship with him they got reacquainted, she introduced him to Jason, and now we all hang out often, mostly here. It’s the only hang out spot we have. That is besides the music store, where sometimes we break into new albums and try them out.

Dane gives off a grunge type of feel with dirty blonde shaggy hair that hangs halfway between his ears and shoulders and his constant flannels and black pants that always seem to be two sizes too big. He keeps them up with an old Metallica belt that he wears every day. If he was ever killed and was unidentifiable that would be an easy way to identify the body. Just saying…

His black combat boots are always coming untied to the point where I think he retaught himself how to walk according to not tripping on his shoelaces. He can be one crazy dude though and is a solid companion in not caring much, though I’ve noticed he has a much too sensitive side, especially when it comes to his obviously cheating girlfriend. But who wouldn’t be sensitive about that?

I look down at my own carpenter pants with tears in the knees and some paint stains and my dark shirt that I got from a garage sale that says something moronic but fitting. I forgot what it says for a minute before I forget what it was I was trying to remember. My black Converse shoes are dirty and duck taped on the tip and one of the sides.

“Hey Dane. You look damaged today. Can I have a ride home?” I ask.

“I fell asleep during a marathon of this show and woke up to The Twilight Zone marathon. It’s so surreal man when you wake up and hear that music they have at the intro of the show, you know that ‘do, do, do, do’ crap. It almost makes you feel like you’re in it, you know?”

“No. No I don’t know, Dane, but I’ll take your word for it.”

A couple of high school looking girls with their pastel pink shirts and fingernails to match, hair that’s too blonde pulled up into a straightened and fried ponytail, walk by chattering over each other so much with their high pitched squeals they sound like squirrels fighting over the last nut. They narrow their eyes at Dane, cease talking (thank God), and appear to hold their breath as they go out of their way to walk a circle around him. Dane looks at them disgruntled, holds up his Mountain Dew bottle, and nods their way.

“Here’s your cinnamon roll, Ian, on the house,” Rick voices behind us.

I whip around and notice the soft bundle of gooey goodness placed on a napkin. “Why on the house?” I ask. He gives us free things a lot and I noticed that we’re the only ones he seems to do that to.

“Just because,” he simply replies, wiping some icing off of the counter that had dripped. “And here’s a coffee, Dane. It looks like you need it… and a shower…”

Dane makes a grab for it, then tosses his bottle, aiming for the trash can behind the counter by Rick and misses.

“No, no. Please allow me to get that,” Rick says robotically and definitely sarcastic.

“Well, thanks Rick. I appreciate that,” I nod while grabbing up my desert.

I gulp down a drink of coffee, slip a few bucks into the musicians tip jar, music still filtering through the old wooden walls, and turn to Dane.

“Fireworks tonight. I want to blow something up. So how about that ride?”

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