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.”