The response wasn’t what Jade expected, and only served to pique her curiosity. There was something about him, and after what he’d done to help her, she couldn’t let him just walk away. “Will you let me help you?”
He sighed, then turned to retreat back down the stairs. He moved slowly, with one arm still cradling his stomach. “No, thanks. I’ll be okay.”
Feeling a little annoyed at being rebuffed, Jade asked, “Will you at least tell me your name?”
He paused on the stairs, about two thirds of the way down. She could see his grimace of pain as it shot across his face when he stooped to pick up his book bag.
Upon standing again, he looked back at her and said, “Arthur. Arthur Dracon,” then he turned and walked away…”
Jade smiled when she realized her memories of yesterday’s events were playing out alongside Arthur’s. In her mind, she both perspectives at the same time
It surprised her to learn there was a good reason why Arthur stood up for her, and one which had nothing to do with Jade herself. The fight only served to intensify agonizing pain Arthur carried. Helping her had been an attempt to alleviate this pain, not make it worse which is what he’d done.
While his face and stomach hurt, it was nothing compared to the devastating loss he felt. It was the pain of losing someone he loved, and something for which Arthur blamed himself.
She’d noticed how thick his file was at school, when she broke in to get his address. However, in her rush, Jade didn’t stop to read the information it contained. She simply got what she needed and left. Now, she was curious about this human whose thoughts and feelings she explored. Despite herself, and the aversion she had to them, this particular human had aroused her curiosity. She wanted to know more about him, who he was, and why she thought about him as much as she did.
The wind died down as the sun rose. Jade’s presence in the yard, hidden behind the thick bush went unnoticed. She sat there, secluded, while quietly thinking about what she learned long after Arthur woke up.
When Jade got home later that day, she knew immediately her mother wasn’t happy. One look at her face, and the deep lines set into her forehead, as well as the tightened jaw said it all. While she felt bad for being out all night, and she knew her mother hated it, she still thought it had been worth it to go.
“Where were you?” Her mom asked.
Jade felt her mom scan her mind, and buried all thoughts and feelings about Arthur, and his fight down deep. While all immortals shared a degree of telepathic ability, her mother was adept at it. She could pluck stuff out of the air, seemingly at random. One had to work to hide things from her.
“I was out,” Jade replied evasively as she took a seat at the counter.
The kitchen was huge, just like the house. Long counters surrounded an island in the middle of it, which is where the stove was. Currently, her mother was in the process of dumping sliced vegetables into a steaming pot. While her eyes were on her task, Jade knew her mother’s attention was entirely focused on her.
“I know you were out. Your bed was empty this morning. Was it because of what happened yesterday?”
“How did you know about that?” Jade asked, then she remembered her phone. Of course, they’d have known. If anyone tried to call or text, there’d be no answer.
“Your brother mentioned you stopped talking to him,” Mrs. Keeler said, now turning back to the sink to wash the cutting board, “and he didn’t know why. When he asked around, he found out you were involved in some kind of human altercation?”
Jade’s mother turned to face her now, dish towel gripped in the hand now resting on her hip. As their eyes met, Jade felt a gentle touch in her mind.
It’s not safe out there, honey. You know that. The concern in her mother’s eyes awoke Jade’s guilty conscience, but she stood her ground. While she might look seventeen, she was older than that, at least in human years.
What do you mean, ‘not safe’? Not safe for whom? None of the humans saw me. Jade’s eyes looked out of the kitchen window, just over her mother’s shoulder. She could see her cousins playing in the yard. They were just now beginning to display their immortal traits.
That you know of.
Jade let this slide, continuing to watch her younger cousins playing, refusing to let any thoughts of Arthur allow any purchase in her mind.
You know there’s more than just humans out there, Jade.
Mom, we haven’t seen or heard from the Stanger Clan in what, thirty years? Maybe forty? Why should they be out there now?
The sigh of exasperation Jade’s mother gave was almost comical, and she would have smiled, but for the seriousness in her eyes. Her mother knew full well Jade was hiding something, and was trying to get her daughter to come out with it; something Jade had no intention of doing. The hatred all immortals carried towards humans was just too intense to even risk it.
The two women stared each other in the eyes, each hoping the other would see the error of their ways, and back down. The impasse ended when Jade’s brother entered the room.
© 2016, Tim Hillebrant. All rights reserved.
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