The Secret of the Stone

In the sequel to "The Secret in the Woods", the four girls, Serena, Lily, Jay, and Amber, are back! But, will they have to courage to persevere when they're pushed to their limits physically, mentally, and emotionally? How will they get along when five mysterious boys arrive at the door of their safe haven? Traitors, heart break, deaths, and friendship.

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11. Planning the Defenses

Jay and Ash had decided to work in the lounge to talk escape routes. After grabbing a blanket, clipboard and pencil, the couple plopped down on the couch together. 

          "So, should we talk alarms or escaping first." Jay offered, snuggling close.

          Ash smiled. "Escaping. That's gonna be what we need to work on most."

          "Okay. What would we do if... er... the base of the tree was swarmed with whatever Blaze plans to attach us with?" Jay asked, curious.

          "Hopefully not clones. But only you and Lily can fly so we'll need an alternate escape."

         "Well, Serena and Amber do have their own methods."

         "True, true."

          Jay looked at Ash, remembering the close call they both had fighting with the clones. Ash still had a thick white scar across his cheek. She liked it though. It made Ash seem tougher and stronger. Distracted, she ran her finger lightly along the white line that ran from the top of his ear to the corner of his mouth. Jay continued talking. "Exactly. I was thinking something along the lines of zip lines from the deck to the surrounding trees."

          "Okay, I can already tell we aren't going to get much work done." Ash said, defeated, and fully conscious of her lingering hand. 

          "Eh, whatever. I'm not a big fan of work, anyway." Jay rested her head on Ash's chest, and they sat in silence for a little while, simply enjoying each other's presence.

          Jay sat up suddenly. "You wanna do something fun?"

         Ash looked at Jay skeptically. "Okay, I'm listening..."

~

         Amber and Luke had made their way down the winding staircase and to the weaponry. There hadn't been anything said, and Amber could feel the tension. She was really confused about Luke. She didn't know if he had planned to work with her, or if he just didn't want to work with Serena (She didn't blame him), or what. Finally, they had reached the weaponry. Amber slouched in defeat as she saw the messy piles of swords, the arrows scattered everywhere and the knives still in the bull's-eyes. Luke mirrored her actions, feeling the same.

         "So," Amber spoke up finally, "Do you want to get the knives while I pick up the arrows?"

         "Sure," Luke agreed.

         And the two set to their tasks. But after having to bend down to pick up twenty arrows already, she straightened up and focused on heating the air underneath the arrow until it dropped lightly in her hand. This she found to be much easier, and without her noticing it, the room had begun to heat up. Luke turned from pulling a dagger out of a hay bale and wiped his brow.

         "That's where all of the heat it coming from!" He said, breaking the silence and startling Amber. Ten arrows went clattering to the floor. "Oh, sorry!" he apologized, then asked, "Hey do you want to see something? I'm done and it looks like the swords are fine."

         The fiery girl finished dumping several arrows into a quiver and stood up. "Sure, but I can guarantee you won't be able to show me anything that I haven't seen before." She challenged.

         "Okay," Luke said, "But if I win - "

         "I'll give you one of my golden arrows from my very own quiver," she betted.

         "Sounds good."

         "And if I win, you owe me…" here Amber paused, not sure what to ask for. An idea popped into her head and she finished, "You owe me one of your knives!"

         "What? No." Luke said hastily.

         "Ooh, I think that you're just afraid you're gonna lose to me!" Amber taunted.

         "Fine," Luke agreed sullenly. "Well, come on." He led the way out of the room and into the forest. They two teenagers jogged for a few minutes, until Amber broke the steady rhythm of their breathing.

         "So what were you going to show me?"

         Luke didn't reply but ran a few strides more until they reached a small pack of dense trees.

​         "Wow," Amber said sarcastically, "It's amazing."

         The tall boy said nothing but walked over to the clump of trees and motioned for her to follow him.

         "What?" Amber asked impatiently, "I can see the trees from here!"

         Luke responded by urgently waving his hands for her to join him. She finally did, and he said, "Okay, so I've only done this with Ash before, but I've done it a lot."

         "What is it?!" Amber almost yelled, her temper threatening to flare up.

         "Have you ever shadow-traveled before?" the boy asked.

         "Uhhhh, nope."

         "Okay, when we get back, you can decide whether you want to give me that arrow or not."

         "Okaaay."

         "So, there's going to be a few seconds of complete black before we get there, okay?"

         Amber agreed hesitantly. She definitely did not like black or cold, and those two things often tended to go together. She preferred light and warmth. Oh well, she thought dismissively.

         "Kay, ready?" Luke asked, and suddenly brought Amber in for a hug.

         What is he doing? Amber asked herself.

         "Sorry, but if we aren't together, then we would probably either end up on opposite sides of the world, or dead."

          Amber's grip on Luke's shirt tightened. And then there was black.

~

          Amber slowly released her death grip on Luke’s shirt and opened her eyes. Blinking a couple of times, she looked around. Before them was an entrance to an underground tunnel. A line of pine trees were behind the couple, though the haze made it hard to make them out. The sun was shining, but it was bitter cold, and there was a slight covering of snow on the uneven ground.

          “Where are we?” Amber asked uncertainly.

          Luke replied with a grin, “Welcome to New York City, Amber.”

          Amber frowned slightly then realization dawned as she saw the familiar skyline beyond the tunnel door. “Why are we here?” she asked.

          “C’mon, I still need to show you something, remember?” he said slightly. Seeing her shiver in the freezing weather, he gently draped his dark jacket over her cold shoulders. 

          Amber smiled at him gratefully, then said, “Hey, so what did you want me to see?”

          “This way,” Luke gestured, and he walked over to the tunnel entrance. The tall boy placed his outstretched hand in an indent on the stone door that Amber hadn’t noticed before. With a groan, the heavy door swept open, revealing a dark corridor that Amber couldn't see the end of. Luke walked right in, apparently non-affected by the dark hallway. He also seemed to be seeing fine, even when Amber followed him, and door swung shut, leaving the two in pitch black.             

          Luke continued on without hesitation, and Amber groped along the wall, moving slowly and feeling miserable. She finally gave up and lit a small flame in her hand to light her path.

          “Oh, sorry,” Luke said apologetically. “I almost forgot you were there.”

          Amber said nothing but continued to trudge on the seemingly never-ending tunnel. Finally, she broke the silence by asking quietly, “How did you see without the light?”

          “Oh, that,” Luke said, and scratched the back of his neck uncomfortably. “Well, y’know that I have control over night, right? Well, that includes being able to, uh, see in the dark.” He finished, obviously shy about the topic.

          “Really?” Amber asked incredulously. “That’s amazing! I never knew!”

          “Thanks,” Luke said gratefully, “It’s just that everyone has always thought that I was - I dunno - kinda odd because of that.”

          “Well I think that it’s cool, and hey, we all have weird and wacky powers, I mean, I can light my body on fire, as you have witnessed before,” Amber said with a rueful grin.

          “Thanks,” Luke said. Upon reaching another door, this one wooden, he said, “Okay, here we are.” Again the muscular boy placed his palm on the indent and the door swung open silently.

          Amber caught herself staring at him. His black hair looked almost exactly like his brother’s, but his eyes were icy blue and twinkled whenever he smiled with his cute grin. Suddenly, she realized that he was looking at her, after having waited for her to go through the door. She quickly scrambled though the entrance, her cheeks blazing. Luke said nothing, but Amber could hear his quiet chuckle as he closed the door behind them.

          They were standing in an open room, with stainless steel walls and a very sleek look to it. The ceiling was very high and there were hug windows that overlooked the city. The furniture was very modern, and several high winding staircases led to doors above them.

          “Where - what - “ Amber said breathlessly, craning her neck upwards to see the tallest staircases.

          “This is our, well, my, Nick, Ash, and Matt’s “treehouse”. A little different from yours, isn’t it?” Luke asked as he led the way to the window.

          “So, this is your home?” Amber asked incredulously.

          “Yup. Wanna see the best part?” Luke asked.

          “Are you kidding? Of course!”

          “Okay, right this way.” He opened the big glass sliding door and sat on a bench overlooking the city skyline. Luke patted the space next to him, and Amber took a seat. She wrapped his warm jacket around her slight frame in an attempt to keep out the snowy weather.

          "This is... amazing," Amber breathed. "But why would you show this to me, are the boys going to be okay with it?"

          "Of course, I had a feeling that Ash was going to show it to his girlfriend sometime soon enough, so I just beat him to it."

          Wait. Amber thought. Does that me that he just called me his…no. Forget it

          "Amber." Luke said, waving his hand in front of the girl's face. She stared and turned to look at him. "I really, really like you. And I'm not sure if you feel the same way, so I'm just gonna come right out and say it." Amber's eyes widened. "Will you be my girlfriend?"

          "Yes! Yes! Of course!" Amber was so elated that she smashed her lips against the dark haired boy's. Luke's eyes widened.

          Once they broke apart, Luke stood up and screamed to the whole city, "SHE SAID YES! WOOOO!"

~

          "What have we got here?" Aaron asked, more to himself than to Lily as he walked into the kitchen. "Ok, so we need to get rid of that, move that over there…and a kitten bowl really? Are you even listening Lily?"

         Lily started. "Why do we have to change everything? It all works perfectly fine!" she said, her temper rising.  

         "We have already been through this. I'm sure it has worked in the past, but what if something in the oven catches fire? Wood floors aren't the most practical thing at a time like this. Blaze is a ruthless enemy and he will take any opportunity to bring you down."

         "Fine," Lily responded, defiantly crossing her arms. Under her breath, she added, "But I never burn anything."

         "What about everyone else? I'm sure you're not the only cook." Aaron asked, apparently heard Lily's quiet remark.

         "As a matter of fact I am and unless you would like to start cooking, we aren't changing a thing in this kitchen. And you might as well leave now, considering it's almost dinner time and I still have a meal to make." Lily angrily brushed past Aaron and threw open a cabinet.  

         Aaron gently put his hand on her shoulder, only to be shrugged off. "Listen to me," he said, turning Lily toward him. "I know you probably don't think that I know a thing about kitchens or my brother, but I do. And you probably don't enjoy me barging in and telling you that you have to change everything, but it's for the best. I know Blaze, and I know the power that he possesses. I'm just trying to do everything I can to guarantee that you guys win." Aaron said, his eyes pleading. His voice softened as he said, "And I just so happen to be a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself. I was wondering if you would let me take over for dinner, so that you could take a load off."

         "Ok," Lily answered, her resolve fading away. "But can we keep the kitten bowl? It's for Fluffy."

         "Who's Fluffy?"

         "Our cat." Lily replied.

         "I've never seen a cat here, ever."

         "Eh. He comes and goes. Sometimes he lives in Canada, sometimes he lives in Australia, it really depends on the mood he is in."

         "So you're telling me, you have a cat that has some weird power to fly or transport himself all around the world?" Aaron asked in disbelief.

          "Yeah. What's wrong with that?" Lily laughed as he shook his head. "We're keeping the bowl." She said matter-of-factly.

         "Ugh, fine. But just know that I won't be taking care of it." Aaron said over his shoulder as he turned on the oven. Turning to face Lily, he said, "Now just let me help you."

         "You better be a good cook," Lily said, placing wooden spoon in his hand, "Because tonight I'm watching TV." She spun on her heel and marched off to the living room.

         Aaron laughed as he took out a frying pan. "Ok, you do that."

~

          Serena walked brusquely through the underground tunnel that led to the security room. Matt trudged behind her. An awkward silence hung in the air, the only sound was the teen's footsteps on the cool ground.

           “So,” Serena started. “Guess we have a lot of work to do. I’m not very good with cameras, unless they are taking pictures of me,” She laughed at her own joke, Matt said nothing. Continuing on, the fighting couple reached the security compound. Serena placed her hand on the scanner, then spoke something that sounded like a foreign language. The door opened with a beep. "I have to add in your guys' handprints and voice commands. There's a password in Greek, too."

           "Cool," He replied icily. Serena sighed heavily. 

          "Well, here's the security room. Pretty complicated, Jay set it up. She's good with all these electronics." She gestured to the walls of thousands of multicolored buttons, levers, and switches. On the far side, there was a huge monitor that covered the whole wall. It was divided into 16 squares, each one showing a different room. 

          "Wow," Matt walked along the room, tracing his fingers over all of the mechanics. "Now this is the best room in the entire treehouse!"

          "So, we're supposed to upgrade the cameras and add more traps when the alarm is activated. I have no idea how to do any of that." Serena touched the huge monitor, and the settings popped up. She glanced at the touch screen and started flicking through the sections until she got to camera. From there, Serena would push a button, then go back, each one being the wrong one.

          "Here. Let me help," Matt's hand brushed over hers as he typed a few commands then clicked enter. Immediately, a loading bar appeared with the camera icon on top. "Now we just connect the power adaptor to the red wire and cross the black wire into the spark plug.... then the alarm is activated and you just type in the password....." He said to himself, working diligently. Matt heard a sniffle. He glanced back at Serena who had tears streaming down her face. "What's wrong?" Matt touched her shoulder affectionately.

          "I've been so terrible to you!" She said in between sobs. "I can't believe I was flirting with Aaron! I was such a jerk. I'm sorry! I didn't see what was right in front of me. You." The mermaid slumped against the wall, looking at Matt with her mascara stained face. "Will you forgive me?"

          "Of course," Matt set next to her and slung his arm around her shoulder. "All I wanted is for you to care about me," He said quietly.

         "I did! I mean, I do care about you!" Serena looked into Matt's crystal blue eyes. She slowly leaned in, unsure if she should stop. Before she chickened out, Serena pressed her lips against his. Caught off guard, Matt sat frozen as Serena pulled away. "I'm sorry. I had to do that, once." She stood up and brushed off her jeans. "We should probably get back to work."

          "Don't be sorry." Matt said, then pulled her into a deeper kiss.

          "For the record," the boy whispered, "You've never looked more beautiful."

          Serena laughed as the last tear ran down her cheek. "We should get to work."

~

​          "Okay, so now that easy room has a trigger for the alarm, we can have fun with it." Jay rubbed her hands together, and admired her work. Jay and Ash had worked in every room installing a button that would trigger the whole-house alarm.

         "What exactly are you planning on doing?" Ash asked.

​          "Just watch." Jay stepped foreword and pressed the faintly glowing button. The alarm was the most horrendous sound anyone could imagine. It sounded like a thousand frogs were being slowly tortured. Voices shouted from the downstairs area.  Jay screamed as loud as she could, making Ash flinch.

          "What are you doing?!" Lily demanded as she climbed down a stairwell to the center floor. The others trampled in close behind.

          "This was the first drill." 

          "Wait, where's Luke and Amber?" Matt asked.

          Nick looked around. "They didn't come up from the training room."

          Jay wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. "Lily, it looks like you're the only single lady left."

          "Whatever." Serena said, leaning into Matt's chest. "I'm sure they'll be back soon."

~

          It was 11:00 pm when Amber and Luke snuck through the door. The two had barely squeezed the door shut when the light was flicked on. There in front of them, the whole household had been waiting in their pajamas.

          "You've been out late, brother." Ash said, stepping foreword.

          "Yes, now that you mention it, they have been out late." Matt followed Ash's lead.

          "My, my. I wonder what on earth they could've been doing?" Jay said, crossing her arms.

          "Excellent point, Jay. I wonder." Lily was barely keeping a straight face.

          "Hmmm... Let's think." Serena pondered.

          "Well they certainly weren't in the weapon room where they were supposed to be working." Ash continued. "Pray tell. Where has my little brother been at this whole time?"

          "We want an answer from you too, Amber." Jay said, still poker-faced.

          "Okay," Luke sighed. "I took her to our house in New York."

          Matt looked at the younger boy, his eyes knowing. "I expected as much."

          "Okay, I'm tired of this." Serena said. "So was he a good kisser or not, Amber?" Everyone burst out laughing.

 

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