Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chapter 3 - The Phone Call

Sometimes there are moments in a person's life where they know that not only will things will never be the same again. . . but that everything they ever knew about their life has changed as well. Jade realized she was having one of those moments as she looked at Miguel and considered his comment. Miguel stretched his hand out, keeping eye contact as he tried to reassure her that it was okay.

“That's right.” he stated as she took a tentative step toward him. “It's okay. Don't worry. It will all be okay.” Jade slowly approached him and stood about two feet away from him. She was wide-eyed and breathing quick, shallow breaths. She felt confused and afraid. Miguel reached out and touched her shoulder and softly said, “Ms. Jade, I have the answers to your questions. Come inside where we can talk.”

Jade hesitated and said, “But Marisol and the rest of the staff. . .”

Miguel smiled, “They already know everything I am about to tell you. Trust me mi pequeña princesa.”

Jade felt calmer when Miguel used the familiar term of endearment. . . “my little princess.” Miguel and all the staff had used the Spanish term when they were alone with Jade, which was quite often. Her parents did not even know that their daughter was regarded with such love and respect. She trailed behind Miguel as he led her through the gardens to the back entrance of the large gray stone mansion. The back entrance was not nearly as formal as the grand front entrance. It was most often used by the staff to come and go to the residence. Miguel most frequently used the back entrance coming to and from the gardens. There was a carriage house located close to the back entrance which housed the tractors and landscaping equipment, and a fleet of cars—including a Bentley Continental GT, a Mercedes Stretch Limousine, Rolls Royce Phantom, and of course a Porsche. Miguel slept in the loft upstairs. It was considered a small servant's living quarters but, in reality, it was spacious and quite capable of holding an entire family in luxury. He shared the space with the chauffeurs—3 pleasant young men all related to Miguel.

Jade was familiar with the back entrance and carriage house area because she had a crush on Raul, who was Miguel's youngest nephew. Raul was busy working most of the time. But Jade would often make excuses to be outside when he was waxing the cars or ask for rides downtown to go shopping in an effort to be around him. Of course that plan backfired sometimes when Miguel insisted he drive her instead. Today, Raul was no where to be seen, but Jade was far too distracted to care. She numbly followed Miguel down the corridor and into a quiet basement room. He shut the door behind them and pulled out a chair for her to sit in. Jade sat down and looked up at him expectantly.

“Miguel what is going on?” she began. He held his hand up and shook his head as he pulled a phone out of his pocket. He dialed a number and said, “I need you to come here. Its time.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chapter 2 - The Garden

The sight of a girl running down the street is not uncommon in the city. Folks there are accustomed to seeing unusual things and never thinking twice about it. A running teenager is hardly noticed by the crowds of pedestrians too busy to wonder about why she looks so frightened. And the fact that she was crying had no impact on their lives. Jade dashed across the streets, snarled with traffic and brushed her way past the crowds. Her lungs were burning and she gasped for air, but she pressed on toward home. She saw the out reaches of her neighborhood as the traffic began to thin and the tree became more plentiful. As she approached the tree-lined, cobblestone street that her home dwelled on, she slowed her pace to a walk and tried to compose her self. It was unlikely any of the neighbors would even care, but there was no sense in taking any chances they might notice her.

Jade slipped through the front gate and began to wind her way alongside the large wrought iron fence that bordered the estate. She kept to the shadows and made her way to the large gardens that stretched behind the home. She knew that the gardener Miguel would not be working outside for a few more hours because she knew when her parents were away he always stole time away to spend with Rosalia in the house. Her parents did not have a clue about the romance, but Jade—given the amount of time she spent home—could not help but notice. She didn’t care, but it came in handy at times like these.

Jade made her way toward a large fir tree that would provide her with concealment from the house. When she was little she used to hide underneath its comforting branches--so thick only the heaviest of rain could break through. She slumped against the trunk of the tree, smelling the fragrant aroma of sap, and closed her eyes. She felt her heart pounding through her chest and tears running down her face. After a while she calmed down enough to dry her face and look at her hands. She inspected her palms and found nothing out of the ordinary. Her skin appeared perfectly normal. She turned her hands over but saw nothing unusual about the tops of them either. She was absolutely puzzled by the events that took place earlier. Had she imagined it?

Jade was deep in thought when she was startled by a snapping twig behind her. She spun around and saw blue-green bolts of lightening burst upward into the branches and a man dive to the ground. Jade began to scramble away on her hands and knees, screaming in terror. She did not know how he had found her but she was convinced her attacker had returned. She struggled to run away but stopped when she heard, “Jade!” Jade stopped at the sound of her name—how did he know her name? She turned slowly and saw Miguel cringe and duck. He looked at her hands then her face with a wild-eyed look. He looked as confused as Jade felt. Jade stood there helplessly searching for words to explain something she couldn’t. Miguel spoke first. “Ms. Jade, we need to talk.”

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chapter 1 - Lightning

It was a fall day—the kind of day where the leaves glide down from the trees, spinning and swirling in their final moments before coming to rest on Earth. A tall, slender young teenage girl strode through the park, taking her usual short cut along the lake. Even though her feet shuffled through the leaves, she was oblivious to her surroundings. She did not notice the blowing leaves, or the geese teaching their younglings how to take flight on the cool morning waters. She was so deep in thought that she never noticed that she was being watched, and followed.

A desperate man who lived in the surrounding woods had been watching her all week. He noticed things that she did not--she always walked alone, she always carried an expensive purse, her clothes had designer labels, she wore top-of-the-line jewelry, and her arms carried a heavy load of books. The aimless man had hungrily eyed her belongings but had patiently waited for the right moment to take them. He did not want to be caught. He could not risk that an early morning jogger or someone walking their dog might notice anything. The timing had not been right all week long, until that morning. It had rained the night before, fog was still lifting off the water, and the ground was still sodden and damp. No one was strolling in the park that day, except Jade.

Jade was always lost in thought. She was an only child, raised by nannies and butlers while her parents traveled the world on business and pleasure. They were not unkind people or cruel. They gave her everything a young girl could ever want, except their time. When Jade was little their inattention made her sad. Jade sang to her herself to relieve that sadness. Everywhere she went she hummed a tune in her head. She wrote lyrics and beautiful melodies in her mind, humming them into creation. Jade had given up being driven to school by the chauffeur so that she could have the quiet time to practice her songs in the privacy of nature.

She was singing her latest song, “The moment I laid my eyes on you...the moment I saw your smile...” when her stalker attacked. He rushed up behind her and knocked her to the ground. Her books scattered across the wet grass and the geese began to honk and flap their wings in alarm. Jade was dazed and struggled to get to her feet. The slippery leaves on top of the wet grassy turf put her at a disadvantage. She was so frightened she could not even scream. In her terror everything felt as if it were in slow motion and she noticed that she could sense the smallest details--the individual raindrops on the leaves, the sound of leaves separating from the branches overhead, the movement of small animals peering out from the woods, and the pounding of her own heart. Jade clawed the ground in an attempt to get away. The man grabbed at her and his hands caught onto her necklace. It momentarily strangled her, and then broke away, causing her to fall once more. Jade stumbled forward and began to pull away but he grabbed the back of her shirt, catching her long brown hair in his grip.

Jade screamed and twisted around and threw her left hand up to defend herself. To her astonishment a bolt of bluish-green sparks burst out of her palm and struck her attacker in the chest. His eyes widened and his mouth gaped open in shock as he slumped to the ground. Jade fell back and watched in confusion as her attacker gasped for air and writhed in agony. He struggled for a few seconds then fell silent. Jade was not sure if he was faking or if she had hurt him somehow. It had all happened too fast! What was that lightening-like bolt? How had it come out of her hand? She looked at her hand and saw nothing out of the ordinary. She looked back at her fallen attacker and then decided to run. She grabbed her books, and began to sob as she ran back the way she had come. She knew she was not going to school today.