The Protectors

Nia's world as she knows it is about to crumble down around her, everything she knows is a lie and she doesn't know who she can trust anymore. Can Nia and her friends stop before humanity itself is wiped out, or will the secrets push Nia too far?

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3. Chapter Two

       I was right, by the end of the day my motivation, my strength and my patience had died and I couldn’t be happier to finally be leaving school. When I got out of the school doors I hitched my bag over my shoulder rolling my eyes when I felt how heavy it was with all the textbooks I needed to take home with me.

       Max wasn’t walking home with us today because he has football practice but he knew he had to be home before half 5 because that was when I left for work and someone needed to be home to watch after the children. Outside the main doors of the school, I could see Max standing there; George, Harriet, and Ashley standing with him as they waited for me to come out. George ran to me as soon as he saw me walking down the steps, grinning happily I jogged towards him also, my arms wrapping around him quickly as I pulled him in for a massive hug.

       Next to join in was Harriet who hugged me from around George and I couldn’t help but smile bigger as I pulled away from him and brought her in for a hug also, she may be the loud and energetic one but she was also a big softy when it came to the people she considered as family.

       Pulling away from her I pushed myself so I was standing up straight once again and grinned at both of them as they reached forward and grabbed my hand, pulling me towards Max and Ashley. When we got closer Ashley gave me a nod and we did our secret handshake before I pulled him in for a quick hug.

       Looking over at Max I gave him a quick hug before I pushed him away “You better go to practice” I instructed before grabbing George and Harriet’s hand and pulling them out of the school gates.

       On the way home I had three children all spelling out how their day went, what they did in each class, how the teachers were, if they liked them or not. I didn’t even say much the whole walk home; in fact, I don’t think I managed to get a word in with each of them talking at once or straight after another.

       By the time we walked through the door I dropped my bag to the floor thankful for the load to be off my shoulders, George and Harriet immediately shrugged off their bags and ran into the living-room, each fighting over what they wanted to watch on telly but neither being able to agree on anything.

       “You got any homework, Ash?” I asked hanging up my jackets and kicking off my shoes, I saw him doing the same before he grabbed his bag “I’ll go and do it in my room, I can help with George’s tonight if you want” he offered and I couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved, I placed my hand on his shoulder and squeezed slightly “Thank you Ash” I whispered kissing his forehead before walking past him and into the kitchen.

       Sitting on the counter I flicked the kettle on letting my feet hang in the air above the tiled floor of the kitchen. I could hear the telly playing in the front room and I smiled when I heard the two of them singing along to a theme song I didn’t know. Running my hands through my hair, I hopped off the counter when I heard the kettle boil and rushed to make a nice cup of tea.

       When my cup of tea was made I walked into the living room and saw George and Lucy both sitting on the floor in front of the telly, each fixated on the screen as they watched their program. I sat down on the sofa, bringing my knee’s close to my chest and rested my head back against the sofa feeling the stress of the day melt away as I relaxed before work.

       The evenings after school were always the same, I watched the kids until my work shift and then Max would look after them for me while I worked. Helena and Robbie were often out drinking or at the bingo until late which meant they were never home to look after the children. I had been working ever since I was sixteen trying to save as much money as I could to be able to leave here, to be able to finally get out of the foster care system but I knew, looking at George and Harriet that I’d never be able to just walk away from, from any of them without it killing me inside.

       The calm silence was disrupted by a knock on the door, it was a sharp knock. Groaning slightly, I placed my mug of tea down on the coffee table and climbed off the sofa without much effort, I ruffled Harriet’s hair on the way past her, grinning cheekily when I heard her mumble under her breath while trying to fix it.

       Pulling the door open I saw Ben Jeffery standing there, a wide smile on his face as he looked at me. I was confused as to why he was here, Ben Jeffery was Lexis’ Dad but he was also social services and I had dealt with him for years. He was always there for me since I was younger he was always a Dad figure to me, he would come over and see if I was settling in, he would let me stay over at his if I was having a bad day. Opening the door wider I gave him a confused smile “Hey Ben, what are you doing here?” I asked letting him pull me in for a hug, he always hugged me when he saw me.

       Ben wasn’t an old man, he was in his early 30’s with dark brown hair that was slightly curly towards the end, he had chocolate brown eyes that were always welcoming and a cheeky smile that would brighten up any day.

       “Well It’s your 18th birthday and I figured I would stop by and give you your present and card from the family. You know you’re always welcome with us, all of you are welcome” he smiled at me and I felt relief wash through me knowing I had someone who cared about me.

       Ben, his wife Wendy, his Son Kye and Lexis had always been there to support me, to help and care for me when I needed them. He reached into the bag he was carrying and pulled out a big box wrapped in balloon wrapping paper, a big red bow on top. Smiling happily; I reached forward and took the book of him, placing it on the foot stand and gave him another big hug to show how grateful I was for his present.

       “Thank you so much Ben” I whispered softly before I pulled away, he smiled cheekily “Oh before I forget, I brought some little presents for the children” he rolled his eyes jokingly before he pulled out a carrier bag that I could tell was full of books, colouring pads, crayons.

       Laughing in understanding I took the bag off him and gestured into the house “Do you want to come in for a minute or do you need to be at the office?” I asked leaning against the door slightly, he checked his watch and gave me a guilty look that I understood completely “I have a meeting in 10 minutes, I’ll come by tomorrow and have a cuppa with you” he promised, leaning forward to kiss my cheek softly before he waved and walked back towards his car which was probably parked up the street.

       Shutting the door behind me I grabbed the carrier bag and the present before walking back into the living room. George and Harriet still hadn’t moved from their spot in front of the telly and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw their eyes wide and glued to the telly as if it was the most important thing in the world.

       Falling back into my spot on the sofa I dropped the carrier bag onto the floor, I’d give them their presents later when they were all home. Looking at the wrapped present on my lap I ripped the paper off quickly, not sparing a second to admire it.

       Inside the wrapping paper was a book, it was an old book with a black leather cover. It was heavy I have to say, there was a piece of string tied around it to keep it closed, pulling open the string I was beyond confused as to why he would give me this as a present but when I pulled the book open to the first page to see what it was about I was surprised when an envelope fell out.

       Gently picking it up I turned it over and saw my name ‘Nia’ written in cursive writing on the back of the envelope. I was even more confused as to what was going on right now, why would this book be given to me and why would there be a handwritten letter in the book. Pulling out the contents of the envelope it appeared to be a letter with a photo.

       The photo was of a blonde haired woman, with hazel brown eyes that were filled with so much happiness as she looked at the young child sitting on her lap. The woman in the photo was beyond beautiful, with a soft and welcoming face that just seemed to always smile at you. There was a child sitting on her lap, a little girl with bright blonde hair to her shoulders, in her hands she was holding a red rose gently as she lifted it up to show the women.

       I don’t know where the photo was taken, it seemed to be taken at a park seeing as the women and child were sitting on a bench with a picnic basket by their feet. They seemed like the perfect family and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss when I think back to how my childhood differed from this one.

       Turning over the photo I could see the same cursive writing on the back, written were the words; ‘Mummy Isabella with 6-year-old Nia’ and I felt my heart drop in shock, the picture fell out of my hands and fell onto my lap.

       This was a picture of my Mother? I had no memory of that day or even that women, this had to be some sort of a joke, there was no way this woman could possibly be my Mother, we looked so happy I couldn’t think of a reason why she would leave me. Letting out a deep breath I put the photo back in the envelope and put it to one side not wanting to look at the picture anymore. It was too much to wrap my head around, seeing that picture, her smiling face, the love in her eyes as she looked down at me and then only to be placed into foster care.

       The heavy book still rested on my lap and I slowly turned over the pages only to find out that every page was blank, no writing on it at all. There wasn’t even a title on the book, just the leather cover, and string used to lock it. Leaning my head back on the sofa I ran my fingers over the leather cover trying to think of anything but that picture that I knew would never leave my mind for the near future.

       Checking the time on my phone I knew I would have to start getting ready for work soon and even though I couldn’t take my mind of that photo I knew I needed to earn money to be able to support myself when I left here once and for all. Max would be here in about fifteen minutes with the other children which left me half an hour to get ready and walk to work for my shift.

       Sighing lazily, I grabbed my present, the carrier bag before I walked towards the door. Bending down slightly I placed a kiss on both of their heads before walking out of the room with a heavy heart my mind reeling over the fact that I had a Mother, a Mother who seemed to love me at one point and I couldn’t understand what had changed for her to give me up, for her to leave me in the foster care system and never look back.

       When I got into my room I dumped my bags on my bed not bothering to put all my things away, I was too confused and drained to clean up right now. Leaving the leather book and envelope on the bedside table I quickly changed into my work uniform. It wasn’t anything grand, a pair of black skinny jeans, my white trainers that I got from Select, a long sleeved black t-shirt and a red badge with my name on it just so people could see that I worked there. Pulling the top part of my hair up, I tied it up in a small ponytail to keep my hair out of my eyes and rolled my eyes when I saw my appearance. My make-up needed to be re-done after the long day, my brown/green eyes were dull and wide.

       Shaking my head to rid myself o the thoughts swirling inside my head I grabbed my phone and house keys just as the front door was opened and shut behind them, the noise of children entering filling my ears as I heard them shrieking happily as they arrived home.

       Grinning happily, I made my way down the stairs following the voices of the children all shouting and cheering happily as they played in the living room. Pushing the door open I was immediately attacked with hugs from Molly and Lucy as they wrapped their small arms around my legs and squeezed me close to them. Laughing loudly, I reached down and ruffled their hair playfully before bending down to be at their level and hugging them back tightly “How are my munchkins?” I asked looking at both of their faces to try and work out if they had a good day.

       At my question their faces split into matching grins “Mrs. Jones took us to the park! We had ice cream and played on the climbing frames!” Molly squealed excitedly as she told me all about her day, Lucy joining in with ‘Yeah’ and ‘No’s’ every couple of minutes as she listened to Molly.

       Before I knew it, it was time for me to get to work “Right munchkins I’m off to work so I want you all; fed, bathed and homework done by 8 o’clock and everyone in bed by half past. Max, there’s leftover spaghetti in the fridge so have that for dinner” as I spoke I made my way to the seven children, each kissing their foreheads or cheeks, each of them wrapping their hands around my neck as they held me tightly for a few seconds before the next little one hugged me.

       As I walked out of the front door I was shocked to see how cold it had turned since I had been home from school, it was starting to get dark when I started walking towards the shop I worked in. I had been there for longer than 2 years working behind the counter trying to save as much money as I could before I left.

       The streets were empty apart from the occasional stranger standing outside their house having a fag to get away from the loud noises from their children. Pulling my jackets tighter around my cold body I walked faster through the empty streets trying to find a way to warm myself up as the cold air nipped at my hands and ears. The street lights had just started to flicker on causing an orange tint to the darker streets, giving the atmosphere an eerie sense.

       The supermarket I worked at was only 20 minutes away from the house and was normally a quiet little shop that barely had any customers coming in but I didn’t mind that, it may drag a little while you’re there but it was nice to be out of the house, away from Helena and Robbie whenever they came crawling and falling through the front door after however many drinks they have during Bingo.

       When the shop came into view I wasn’t surprised to see only one car in the small parking lot at the front of the shop, there was never more than three cars at a time. Pushing open the door I stepped into the shop, almost blinded by the bright lights shining down on me.

       The counters were just after the door, and only one was open right now which was always how the shop operated. Behind the counter was Amelia, who was in her late twenties and working part time as she put herself through college as a journalist. She was a pretty woman with brown coloured hair that was a short bob that framed her face perfectly. Her bright blue eyes were always happy which was always followed by a charming smile that would welcome anyone.

       At the sound of the door opening, I saw Amelia turned to look at the newest customer but instead her smile spread across her face as she waved excitedly at me as I waved towards her before gesturing to the locker room to hang up my jackets and my phone. She gave me a nod in understanding before turning back to the customer standing in front of her waiting for her to finish scanning all of their items down the belt.

       After I had put all my things away I walked back out onto the shop floor waiting for Amelia to finish with her customer so she could tell me what needs to be done. Leaning against one of the closed counters I watched as the customer paid Amelia and grabbed their bags before wondering out of the door, not sparing another glance to us as we watched them leave.

       As soon as the door closed behind them Amelia screamed happily as she ran around the counter and over to me, pulling me into a bone crushing hug that cut off circulation to my body. Gasping for breath I hugged her back before I pulled away and took a deep breath in “Why are you trying to kill me?” I snapped as she stood there in front of me smiling happily, her hands entwined together and her chin resting on them.

       “I got you a present!” she jumped excitedly and I couldn’t help but laugh along with her “You didn’t have to do that” I exclaimed shocked that she would do something like this for me, she gave me a pointed look “Of course I did, your 18 today!” she exclaimed leaving no room to argue with her.

       “I’ll just go and get it, I’ve finished my shift now so you’re on your own, Boss said to mop the floors, and stay behind the counter in case anyone comes in” she instructed before walking off in the direction of the locker room to collect all her things. The store was completely empty other than Amelia and I and it was slightly uncomfortable just standing there being on my own, the dark outside clawing to the window making the lights seem even brighter than what they really were.

       Time seemed to pass slowly as I collected the mop and bucket from the storage room, I figured it was better to mop the floors now rather than before I lock up just to get it out of the way. I started cleaning the aisle’s, making sure to clear all the muddy footsteps, all the dirt from the floor trying to make the floor as clean as I could.

       Ten minutes into cleaning the first aisle I heard a door open, dropping the mop to the floor I walked to the front of the shop to see if a customer had walked in only to stop dead in my tracks when I saw the most handsome man in the world standing in front of the shop, his grey eyes darting all over the shop as he searched for something, his chocolate brown hair styled perfectly looking slightly messy but yet it made him look so much hotter. His body was outlined by a dark gray long-sleeved t-shirt that hugged his arms showing off how muscular he was. I could see black ink stretching up his neck and I was intrigued to know what that tattoo meant, I couldn’t make out what it was but it looked amazing.

       He was honestly jaw-droppingly gorgeous and I could feel myself blushing when I caught myself staring at him with my mouth open. My eyes connect with his dark gray ones and I could see his eyes flash down my body before a confused look spread across his face, his pink lips pulling up into a frown.

       Before I could say anything I heard the locker room door open and Amelia’s voice flow out “Now it’s not a lot and I’m sorry but here you go” she cheered as she walked over to me with a gift bag in her hand. Pulling my eyes off the mysterious boy in front of me I looked to Amelia to see her stretching out the bag to me with a happy smile on her face.

       Giving her a small smile I took the bag off her and reached out to hug her quickly, she took her eyes away from my face before looking at the front of the store, I expected to her be to be shocked when she saw the man standing there watching us, his body relaxed as he crossed his arms over his chest as he watched us but instead she seemed to be completely oblivious to him “Is there a customer here?” she asked looking over to the open door which was letting a cold breeze in, gasping in shock I looked over to Amelia with wide eyes “Yeah there is, he’s right there. In front of you” I gestured in his direction, her eyes followed my finger but her eyebrows pulled together in confusion as she looked “Honey, there’s no one there are you sure you want me to leave you alone?” she asked placing a hand on my forehead.

       Rolling my eyes, I chuckled mockingly “Very funny, I’m serious he’s standing right there” I looked over to him again just to make sure I was actually seeing him and was confused to see him staring at me, his grey eyes looking into my mixed ones as I tilted my head in confusion as to why she pretended she couldn’t see him.

       “Nia I’m telling you, there’s no one there” she insisted before wrapping her scarf around her neck and doing up her coat. How could she not see him, standing there leaning on the counter like this was the most amusing thing in the world he’s ever witnessed.

       “Look, honey, take it easy for the night ok” she advised placing a hand on my shoulder and kissing my cheek softly before walking away from me and out of the open door, pulling it closed behind her as she went.

       As soon as the door closed behind her I turned my attention back to the mysterious man standing there, his eyes still staring at me “You can see me” it wasn’t a question but in fact a statement. Looking at him in confusion I titled my head “Obviously I can see you, why the hell wouldn’t I be able to see you” I exclaimed obviously, I mean there’s a seriously hot god of a man standing in front of me, why wouldn’t I be able to see him. He stared at me for a second before in the blink of an eye he was standing in front of me, I don’t know how he managed to get to me so quickly but there he was, standing in front of me without space between us. I could feel his heat radiating off him, wrapping around my body, causing my body to break out in goose bumps.

       “You shouldn’t be able to see me” he muttered as he looked down at me, his grey eyes searching my mixed ones, my breath catching in my throat with how close he was standing to me, his spray was wafting around me, causing me to feel lightheaded slightly with how good he was smelling.

       “I don’t understand, why shouldn’t I be able to see you” I whispered back softly, my eyes glued to his as I looked up at him “You have the sight, something no human has” he answered, his voice still void of emotion but his eyes were sparkling with amusement, he seemed to be distant even though he was standing so close to me right now “That makes no sense” I muttered back, what he was saying made absolutely no sense to me, what was he on about. What was the sight that he mentioned?

        It was silent between us until his posture straightened and his eyes turned cold as if something had just flipped a switch “I have to go but I’ll see you around” he smirked down at me before he was gone, only leaving a draft of cold air as the door swing closed behind him, the soft smell of his aftershave still hanging around for me to smell it.

       I was beyond confused at what had just happened, first of all, I get a present with a picture of someone whose supposedly my Mother, then I saw a random guy in the shop I work in but Amelia couldn’t see him and then he tells me I have the ‘sight’ and then he leaves randomly and way to quickly for me to even see him leave and now I’m standing in an empty shop still looking in the spot he was standing just seconds before.

       Shaking my head to rid myself of these confusing thoughts I busied myself with work; I walked back behind the counter and dropped off the birthday present from Amelia so I could keep it safe before walking to the mop that was lying on the floor and carrying on with my work, cleaning the aisle’s before the shift was over. The only problem was, every time I blinked those gray eyes were staring directly at me each time.

       

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