Parallel

Jade Elthering woke up alone and tortured. At the age of 6, she was at the mercy of a killer. Some how she escapes and manages resume a normal life for eleven years thanks to her loving foster family. But when her kidnapper returns for her, life gets turned upside down. Transported back to her previous life, Jade must resume her true identity if she is to save her friends and family. But will she have the courage to face down her stalker?

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11. Aunt Lucy

 

AUNT LUCY

We rode through the forest meeting only a few more Girds and other forest dwellers. Renee was getting anxious that we’d meet some more Animen, but we didn’t. She moaned and whinged through the whole journey and was really starting to get on mine and Blazes nerves. When she whinged about why she even came on this stupid trip anyway Blaze lost control, whipped around and stared at her hard. Fuming, he snapped at her.

 ‘It’s not a stupid trip. It’s very important. Not that you’d know what important is. You think you are important. Well maybe in your world you are, but here you’re just a silly girl. You don’t understand what kind of danger we are in here; all you do and care about is yourself. You’re a terrible sister.’ He spat at her.

I stared at him in shock; I’d never seen this angry side of him before. My mouth, open, gaped at him. His angry eyes caught sight of me, then suddenly he jumped, and seemed to realise how he was acting, and what he was saying. He also looked shocked at himself. ‘Excuse me for a moment please.’ He said, and then trotted forward on the horse a few meters. Renee and I stared at each other unable to understand what to make of the situation. I decided to leave him be for a few minutes before I trotted up next to him and put my hand on his shoulder.

                ‘Blaze, what’s wrong? I know it can’t just be Renee annoying you.’ I probed lightly. He raised his eyes to meet mine. For a moment he just gazed back at me, the glowing green colour slightly unnerving. But I held my stare. He glanced down, biting his lip. God it was sexy.
                ‘I just hate this. I hate the whole situation. I hate knowing that right now if Greyan came running through the forest and attacked us, you’d be vulnerable. I hate knowing that if anything happened, I wouldn’t be able to protect you properly because Renee would be there to think about too. I hate that we are in so much danger right now and she thinks this is just some hiking trip that she’ll be able to tick off her bucket list.’

I rode alongside him silently while he vented. Renee was a few paces behind us and probably could hear but I didn’t care because what he was saying was right. She was endangering us, if only with her presence. We both needed to learn how to defend ourselves.

                ‘I know.’ I agreed quietly. ‘But she’s here, and we both need to learn how to deal with that.’

Blaze nodded back at me.

                ‘There’s somewhere we can go, somewhere where you can learn how to fight.’ he promised.

                ‘Oh yeah? Where’s that?’ I asked

                ‘Well, Aunt Lucy works there. She’s a defence teacher at the Hollow Academy. We’re already on our way there, but we weren’t going to stay. After seeing how testy the Animen were I’m thinking it might be a good idea to train you both up a little. I don’t like the feeling in these woods. Something’s not right.’

His words frightened me a little but I agreed. If something else was going down, I needed to be prepared for it and Renee needed to be able to slap a cannibal away if he got too close. I may not get on so well with her, but she is my responsibility. I got her into this mess, I have to make sure she survives it. Where better to keep her safe then some training school?

                ‘How far away are we?’ I asked Blaze

                ‘Only a few hours from Aunt Lucy’s, but the Academy is a little further away then that. Maybe another day or so ride.’ he replied. Blaze reached his hand out and stroked my cheek gently. ‘I know it’ll delay our plans but I honestly could not stand if anything happened to you. I need to make sure that I wont lose you again.’ he spoke softly, before cantering off ahead leaving me to explain our new plan to Renee. She scowled at the idea that she’d be stuck in this universe for even longer, but she was smart enough to agree that she did need to know how to kick a demon’s ass if required.
 

We rode in general chit chat with Blaze for the next few hours. Blaze found some berries in the forest that he knew were safe to eat and we made a good meal out of those and the bread that Rosita had prepared for us when we left. Before we knew it we were clear of the forest and riding quickly through the dirt roads in a small snow covered town that was perched precariously close to the lake. The lake here seemed colder somehow, more sinister and threatening. Usually, it’s hard to keep me away from the water but there was no way I’d put a toe in this part of the lake. Eventually we made it to a small cottage just out of the town. The cottage was gorgeous, set in the midst of a wild garden overrun by strawberry plants and honeysuckle vines climbing the outside of the house. Its white bricks were rather vintage looking, and their whimsical placements gave the place a sort of soft charm. It was beautiful. As soon as we dismounted our horses and tied them up, a thin chirpy looking bird of a woman came running through the front door. She charged right at Blaze, sweeping him up in an enormous hug. He laughed and picked her up, swinging her around in a circle before planting her back on the ground. Blaze kissed her cheek, and smiled.

                ‘Aunt Lucy, it’s been too long.’ Blaze started. She grinned at him, her sharp intelligent eyes assessing him quickly.

                ‘You’re right boy. Where have you been? Can’t you see I’m being swamped in strawberries? And you! Jade! Where have you been is probably a more appropriate question? Collect some strawberries girl’ she pointed at Renee, ‘let’s take this inside. You never know who’s watching now.’ her tone darkened as she glanced at the crow that flew above us. Renee stared and gawked until I nudged her in the ribs with my elbow. She snapped out of it and huffed, plucking delicately at the strawberries all around us. Lucy pulled me and Blaze inside, where a fire was burning and casting a flickering glow around the cosy tiny room.

                ‘I know why you’re here. Yes, I’ve already enrolled you.’ she cut to the chase. I had to suppress a grin at this woman. She was intelligent and knowledgeable, I liked her instantly.

                ‘Thank you, Aunt.’ Blaze smiled at her warmly. She returned the smile quickly before turning to me. She gave me a calculating look, taking in my 21st century watch and coming to her own conclusions about my whereabouts for the last eleven years.

                ‘The Gap.’ she stated simply. I nodded.

                ‘Greyan forced me into hiding. I didn’t even know who I was until a few weeks ago when he came back for me. I still don’t know who I am.’ I confided, embarrassedly. Renee entered just then, her arms full of ripe red strawberries. She plopped them into a bowl and flung herself onto an empty sofa, arms crossed, scowl on her face. Lucy raised an eyebrow at her and said nothing.

                ‘I have prepared packs for you two, I did not know there was another.’ she stated simply.

                ‘We can share, I don’t mind. It’s my fault she’s here, I need to make sure she’s okay.’ I defended.

                ‘That won’t be necessary, the Academy will take care of it.’ Lucy replied, a twisted grin on her face. Blaze laughed and then tried to disguise it with a cough at Lucy’s use of the term ‘it’.

                ‘When should we go?’ Blaze asked, all business again.

                ‘Tonight of course, Greyan will surely suspect your presence at my house. After all, I am the one they turn to when they know he’s coming.’ Lucy grimaced as if the words tasted sour in her mouth. I turned to Blaze confused, how did Lucy have any connection with the murderer?  Blaze shook his head, Later, his eyes said. It was already four in the afternoon, we only had a few hours before riding again. We decided to take the time to rest and refresh, and after my honey and milk bath I fell asleep quickly on the sofa with Renee.

 

I felt like I must have only just closed my eyes when I woke up to Blaze’s sweet breath on my cheek.

                ‘Jade, wake up. We must leave now.’ he whispered. I sat up quickly, accidentally throwing Renee off the sofa. I stretched and got ready to leave, tomorrow was going to be a big day.

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