Cataline Mercier Wintour had spent her whole life training to be an Olympic athlete, but when a tragic accident lands her and her party-oriented sister, Carson, across the country back in their old childhood home in Cape May, New Jersey. Cat can't help but give up on her dreams, but when she unexpectedly runs into striking, young, Frenchman Archer Corbett Henri Demonte and his group of strange friends her entire world is flipped upside down. Old secrets from the past start to unravel and when Cat becomes entrusted with the secrets of Archer and his friends things start to become a little complicated...


4. Chapter 4


    I stared at him for a moment, blinking, to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me from the salt water. They weren’t. Cafe boy, was actually standing in  my backyard, at the edge of my pool, staring right back at me. I swam over to the edge where he was and looked up at him.

    “What are you doing here? Came to make fun of my literature choices some more? And how’d you even find out where I live? Are you some kind of stalker or something, cause I will call the police.” I asked quickly, I didn’t even realize how many words were coming out of my mouth before he cut me off.

    “Cat…” He sighed, not getting very far before I interrupted him.

    “And how do you know my name? Who let you in or did you jump the fence? Oh my god, you jumped the fence didn’t you?! Did you say you were a friend of mine? No, that’s ridiculous I don’t have any friends. Did my sister let you in?” I continued to ramble and interrogate him.

    “Cat.” He said, his voice slightly raised. He sighed, chuckling slightly, “My friend gave this to me. He said you dropped it at the cafe, he thought I should return it after being so rude to you a few days ago. That’s how I know your name and address, you wrote it in the front of your book.” He said calmly as he showed me my copy of Romeo and Juliet.

    “Oh.” I suddenly became very aware of the fact I was blushing and wearing a swimsuit.

    “And yes, your sister let me in.”

    This made me even more self-conscious. I groaned as I sunk under the water. He laughed softly as he extended his hand towards me. I resurfaced and took it pulling myself out of the water and wrapping a towel around my body, pulling my hair back into a ponytail.

    “I also wanted to apologize for insulting you the other day, I don’t know what came over me, I’m not usually like that. I’m sorry.” He sighed, looking down. I couldn’t help but smile to myself a little bit. He had come all this way just to return my book and apologize for being a jerk.

    “Apology accepted. So cafe boy, you got a name?” I asked raising an eyebrow as I sat down on the lounge chair across from him.

    “Cafe boy? Is that what you’ve been calling me?” He laughed.

    “What else am I supposed to call you when I tell people about you? Saying ‘this boy from Cafe Atlantic is simply too long.” I joked, smiling.

    “Archer. My name is Archer.” He said returning the smile. Archer. I played the name over and over again, finally glad to have a name to go with the face.

    “I hate to cut this conversation short, but I have to go, but I would love to see you soon Cat.” He said kissing my hand, lightly.

    “How are you going to reach me? You don’t have my number.” I smirked, crossing your arms.

    “I know where you live.” He quipped, wiggling his eyebrows, making me laugh, “goodbye, Cat.”

    “Goodbye, Archer.” I said softly, watching as he hopped over the back fence.



    “What’s got you in such a good mood, last time I saw you, you were sulking.” My sister asked raising a quizzical eyebrow as she crossed her arms and walked into my room.

    “Nothing. Swimming just helped me clear my head.” I lied, turning to my closet to avoid eye contact with my sister.

    “So, it has nothing to do with that smokin’ hot  French guy that was here earlier, looking for you?”

    I turned around and couldn’t help but smile and blush to myself at the thought of Archer. That was when I knew I had given myself away.

    “Oh my god, it is! Alright, Kitty Cat, who is he?” She grinned hopping onto my bed like a child on Christmas.

    “His name is Archer and he’s just some guy I met at a cafe. He just came to return my book, I dropped it when I almost got hit by that car.” I sighed in amazement.

    “Was he there when it happened?”

    I shook my head no.

    “His friend was there when it happened and gave him the book. I wrote my name and address in the front cover in case I ever lost it, that’s how he found me.” I explained. Carson flopped back on the bed, squealing like a little girl.

    “Oh Cat that is so romantic! He obviously has a thing for you.”

    I rolled my eyes, smiling to myself a little bit, hoping she was right.

    “Whatever, I have to get some sleep. Out, Carson.” I sighed, shoving her through the threshold and shutting the door. I fell back onto my bed, sighing happily as I smiled to myself and clutched my book tightly to my chest.




    The next days were absolute torture. Archer had said he’d see me soon; it had been five days and there was no sign of him. I eventually gave up looking, thinking maybe I’d imagined the whole scenario and went to a new art gallery that had opened up recently across the street from Gran’s restaurant. The scent of oil paint filled my lungs as I walked through the door and the little bell jingled. I smiled as I browsed the artwork, seeing the beauty other people were capable of always made me happy; it gave me hope for the world and for myself.

    I sat down on a bench, admiring one painting in particular. It was of a young girl, with her long brown hair braided back and tied with a red ribbon. She was standing on the bridge over the Atlantic Ocean and looking down at her reflection in the water. Her stature made her appear to have a childlike curiosity, but her facial expression conveyed sadness and heartbreak. I looked farther into the painting, past the girl, and saw the silhouette of what appeared to be an angel, his face was shrouded by darkness, but you could tell he was watching over the girl from afar. It was as if the angel wanted to make sure, she didn’t fall in.

    “She looks a lot like you, the girl in the painting.” A passerby said to me, before turning the corner. I looked over at him and then back at the painting, she did look a little like me, I suppose. I glanced down at the row of paintings that were all painted by the same artist and my breath caught in my throat at the next painting. It was of the same girl, now in black lace and jeans and her hair was down over shoulder, but her face remained the same. She was propped up against the stone wall of the bridge. At first glance she appeared to be sleeping, but the closer you got, you realized she was crying as she clutched her arm. I winced as pain shot through my shoulder from the memory of the night. The series of paintings all involved the girl who looked similar to me in situations similar to the ones I had experienced since my move back to Cape May. What the hell was going on? I grabbed my bag off of the bench and bolted out the door, running down the street and turning the corner. I didn’t even notice when I ran into someone and was knocked flat on my back.

    “I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” A frantic voice asked me as they knelt next to me. I looked over at the man I had run to and realized it was Archer’s friend from the day of the car accident.

    “Yeah, fine.” I said quickly as I jumped to my feet and brushed off my jeans, while continuing to run away.

    I disappeared into an alleyway, pressing my back against the cool brick wall as I tried to catch my breath. I was seriously starting to question the people Archer was friends with and maybe even Archer himself.

    By the time I had gotten back to my house I still wasn’t able to shake the feeling someone had been watching me, stalking me. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe this wasn’t Archer and his friends at all. Maybe some other creepy french-person had been stalking me all this time. I calmed myself down as I stepped through the front door. I wasn’t surprised when Carson practically pounced on me; I was, however, surprised to see Archer standing in my kitchen.

    “Archer?” I asked, giving both him and my sister a very confused look.

    “Cat. My friend Luc said he knocked into you and then you took off down the street. Is everything okay?” He asked. The tone in his voice was filled with concern, which led me to believe he knew nothing about the paintings...then again, I had been wrong before.

    “Carson, can you give us the room please?” I asked, turning to my sister, who promptly nodded and exited swiftly, leaving Archer and I alone.

    “Cat…?” Archer began, but I was quick to cut him off.

    “Have you and your friends been stalking me?” I practically shouted, which was much louder than I intended.

    “What would make you say that?” Archer looked at me confused, but not shocked. It was as if he seemed more confused as to how I figured it out than why I was making accusations.

    “It just seems like everytime I turn around one of your people are there.”

    “My people?” He laughed slightly, a smile forming on his face, which just made me even more angry.

    “Yes, your people. Luc, that red head girl,  the other guy that was with you the day we met, it’s like I see one of them every time I turn around.” I didn’t realize I was shaking until Archer wrapped me in his arms, holding me tightly to his chest.

    “Cat, you have nothing to worry about, you only see them because they’re people you recognize. That’s it. No one is stalking you.” He spoke softly, his touch calming me down. I decided it was best if I didn’t mention the paintings to him just yet.

    I felt him pull away; I dropped my arms as I looked up at him. He cracked a wide smile as he took my hand in his.

    “I want to take you somewhere.” He said as he pulled me out the door. I laughed as we walked down the street and turned into a back alleyway. My mouth dropped in awe at the stone walls covered in murals and flowery vines, little art galleries, shops, and boutiques littered the street.

    “What is this place? My mother practically lived here all her life and she never knew about this, and if you think I’m an art fanatic you should’ve met my mother.” I was completely in shock, everything was so beautiful.

    “They’re small courtyards that go on for miles if you keep walking. It’s what I like to call Labyrinthe de l’art.” He smiled, making my body shiver and my heart melt.

    “Maze of art? This goes all throughout Cape May?” I was astonished, trying to hold in my excitement.

    “There’s one in every big city in the world: New York City, Dubai, London, Madrid, Rome, Los Angeles, Paris, they’re everywhere. But this one’s special since it’s in Cape May, which isn’t the biggest town in the world, but it has a history, a culture, it’s deserving of one of these.”

    “Where did they all come from?” I asked as I walked down the alley, tracing my fingers over the mural designs.

    “After the second world war most of the artists, poets, and writers that were drafted couldn’t handle the blood and gore of the war and so they all became deserters and hid out in the concealed courtyards behind the city’s buildings. Some left to travel Asia or Europe and established the mazes. They were passed down through generations of family, to keep the land from being found and developed, the mazes still remain a secret to the majority of the population of Cape May.” Archer explained.

    “So how did you find it?”

    “I said majority, didn’t I?” He cracked a smile as he winked at me, pulling me into a little shoppe.

    “Now for the real reason I brought you here. I need you to help me pick out a present for someone. What would a girl like you like for a gift?” He asked as he stared down at a glass counter filled with jewelry.

    My heart fell. I thought he had brought me out here because he liked me, but he only thought of me as a friend. Why should I care though? It’s not like he had asked me out or anything, it's not like this was a date. Why should I care if Archer had a girlfriend?

    “This one.” I said deadpan, picking up a black leather cord holding a small, bronze, sun charm.

    “Perfect, she’ll love it.” He smiled as he took it from me. I nodded and turned and walked out of the shoppe, hugging myself tightly. I heard the bell hanging above the door jingle and Archer’s footsteps behind me, stopping when he reached me.

    “Cat? What’s wrong?” He asked me, his hand resting on my shoulder, but I quickly shoved it away.

    “Nothing. I’m fine, I’m sure your girlfriend is going to love her present. I don’t know why I’m even upset it’s not like this was a date or anything.” I said quickly trying to hide the fact I was actually devastated. He chuckled lightly as he pulled me into a hug, against my will I might add.

    “Cat. That necklace was for a friend, who happens to be a girl, but just a friend nonetheless. I like you.” He looked down at me, his sunglasses covering his eyes, making him even more mysterious.

    “Oh, so you’re don’t...great now I feel totally stupid.” I groaned crossing my arms. I felt his chest vibrate as he laughed, kissing the top of my forehead, which felt like fireworks going off inside of me.

    “No, Cat I am not dating anyone.” He smiled as he pulled away and interlocked his fingers in mine and pulled me down the alleyway.

    “There’s much more to see.” He grinned. It was incredible, for the first time since my parents’ death I actually felt happy and okay, like things were actually going my way.

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