What. A. Day. Perhaps I needed things to go completely wonky in order to appreciate the good days. Or maybe it had to be like this to teach me that yet again, things aren’t all about me.
Either way, it was certainly not how I thought it would got. Not at all.
Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible to feel all of the emotions that I felt in one twenty-four hour period. But I guess you’ll never know what I’m talking about if I don’t just get down to it and start at the beginning.
True to his word, just as I knew he would be, Elliott was ready to take me to the main land as soon as the first ferry arrived. He was really quiet as we crossed and I wondered at first if he just wasn’t a morning person. But that didn’t make sense because he was usually the first person to rise every day.
Then it crossed my mind that perhaps my nervous disposition had rubbed off on him and he just didn’t want to converse about it all. But, silly me, I eventually realized by studying him closer that he was just enjoying the ride.
He spent the trip peering across the water, just watching things that I found commonplace. At one point, he smiled when a fish jumped out of the water. Seeing his smile made me smile, too, despite my frayed nerves.
When we were finally on land again, Elliott, who seemed to know exactly where he was going, took my hand and led me to a nearby hotel. I looked up at the big sign above the door before we entered. It was called Triple River Hotel and Spa.
At the front desk, Elliott casually glanced through a tourist brochure while I drummed my fingertips on the counter.
“Triple River Hotel,” I sounded out the words.
Putting the brochure down, Elliott nodded, saying, “We’re in Triple River.”
Crinkling my nose as I thought, I said, “But I only saw one river.”
Smirking, he said, “Two dried up a long time ago.”
Just then, a woman strolled behind the counter. “Why Elliott St. Cyr! What brings you here?”
“Well, Audrey-Ann,” he said with a smooth voice I’d never heard him use before, “we’re in need of your phone. Blue here needs to make a call.”
“Blue, huh?” she said, looking me over. “I swear, and you wouldn’t know this, Ell, but there’s this rock star that named his kid ‘Blue.’ Now, everyone and their sister names their kids ‘Blue.’ Anyway, the rock star’s daughter used to be in magazines and stuff every time I turned around but no one has seen her in a long time now.”
“You don’t say,” he murmured, also looking at me. I could see the question in his eyes, but I would have to answer that another time.
I narrowed my eyes at Audrey-Ann and firmly said, “I’d like to use your phone, please.”
Rolling her eyes and sighing loudly, she slapped the phone on the counter. “Here, you can use this one.” Turning to Elliott, she added, “Don’t be a stranger, hear?”
He tipped his hat at her as she sauntered off, wagging her hips just a little too much. I couldn’t believe Elliott would give that woman the time of day.
But, I had other things to worry about. For a moment, I held the phone in my hand, staring at it. A huge lump formed in my throat and my hands began to shake as I thought about what I would say to my father.
“It isn’t going to dial itself,” Elliott said softly.
Letting out a deep breath, I quickly dialed my dad’s number, then chewed on my bottom lip until he finally answered.
At the same time, I heard his voice say, “Hello?” and Leela’s voice say in the background, “If it’s another reporter, hang up.”
I paused so long, he repeated his hello. Elliott, who was watching, nodded encouragingly at me.
“Daddy? It’s Blue.”
My greeting was followed by a loud gasp and I could hear Leela telling him to give her the phone. What was going on?
“Blue? Is it really you?” he said. His voice sounded… funny. I wanted to say ‘tired,’ but that didn’t seem a strong enough word to describe how it sounded.
“Daddy? Are you alright? You sound strange.”
This time, he paused for what seemed like ages, then, with tears in his voice, he said, “I’m fine, honey. I just woke up. I’m so glad to hear your voice. Where are you? Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine – I’m safe. Daddy, I’m so glad to hear your voice, too, and I’m so, so sorry! I can’t tell you how sorry I am!”
“Shh shhh,” he murmured. “I’ve been praying you’d call. I’m mad as hell, Blue, but I’m glad you called and I’m so thankful you’re okay.”
Gulping back sobs, I managed to say, “I’m on my way home. I want to apologize to everyone and make things right.”
Again, a pause. In the pit of my stomach, I felt like something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Where are you?”
“I’m in Triple River at the moment, but I’ve been staying on St. Cyr Island. The St. Cyr family has been so nice to me – nicer to me than I deserve.”
“Do you like it there?” His voice was so soft, I was having trouble hearing him.
“Yes, I do, but I’m really looking forward to coming home.”
“Ummm…. you should hold off on coming home.” In the background, I heard Leela exclaim, “Leo!”
“What? I can’t come home? Why?”
“It’s just that we’re not there, that’s all. Leela and I are going to be gone for a while. Little Leo is staying with Rachel and Josh, and Ruby is at University.”
“Well, where are you? Can I join you where you’re at?” My heart was beginning to hurt worse than it ever had. Was this the same kind of pain I’d made him feel when I’d run away?
As he spoke, his special ‘dad’ voice caressed my hurt feelings just like it had when I was a child. “I want to see you, too, more than anything. It’s just not possible right now. Is there a way I can get a hold of you when I get home?”
Unable to hide my disappointment, I noticed a pile of business cards on the counter and recited the hotel’s number to him.
“Are you sure you’re safe where you’re at?” he asked again.
The old me would have lied to get what I wanted and although I’ll admit I toyed with the idea, however briefly, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There was something really wrong here and he wasn’t ready to tell me what it was.
Before hanging up, we said how much we loved and missed each other, then he reassured me we’d see each other soon. Then it was over.
With a heavy heart, I placed the phone back onto the counter and tried to hide my tearful eyes from Elliott. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to go home. It hadn’t even crossed my mind.
Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling very well. Putting a hand to my head, I stumbled forward, my breath coming in gasps. That’s when I felt Elliott’s strong hands quickly grabbing my sides to steady me.
“Hey now,” he murmured, his eyes full of concern.
It was so reassuring to feel his hands on my hips, holding me firmly upright. Placing my hand on his tightly muscled forearm, I held back sobs as I said, “I’m sorry, I just felt a little dizzy.”
Elliott stayed where he was and just waited until I was more composed. When I finally looked up at him, his eyes looked so sorry for what had happened that I almost started crying again.
“Okay now?” he asked, obviously unsure that I would remain standing if he let go.
And in a way, I didn’t want him to. Does that sound horrible? It was just that right then, I needed his strength and reassurance. He made me feel safe; like I could trust him completely. I understood in that moment, he would never let me fall.
Wiping my eyes, but feeling like they could easily overflow again, I told him how I thought for sure something was very wrong. He comforted me as best he could and even praised me for calling in the first place.
Slowly, we walked back to wait for the ferry.
“I’d go home anyway, but no one is even there.”
He gently took my hand as he walked with me onto the boat and stood with me near a railing. “Well, we’re happy to have you with us,” he finally said.
The Delattre house was the cutest little place I’d ever seen. There wasn’t much of a front yard, but there were plenty of flowers which did a lot to lift my spirits. I was still very worried about my father and what could be going on, but after talking with Agathe, she told me that since I didn’t know what the issue was, there was no sense in dwelling on it. She said my father must have a reason for his decision and I could ask him about it when he was ready to have me home.
And it was as simple as that, in her mind. She said to keep worrying about what I didn’t know was ‘borrowing trouble’ and that I shouldn’t do that. I suppose she was right. But since her pep talk hadn’t exactly worked its magic, she said the next best thing was to keep busy.
And that’s why we were at the Delattre residence.
I hadn’t been around babies much, other than my cousins Thea and Phyllis, but to my absolute delight, little Wilda Delattre took to me immediately. She had the sweetest smelling hair and she snuggled right into me as if she belonged there.
Mrs. Sylvie Delattre was strikingly beautiful, I thought. Her face held a kind of quiet dignity and she never appeared anything but kind to me.
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Blue,” she said warmly. “I see Wilda has a new friend!”
“Yes, indeed!” I enthused. “She’s just about the cutest thing.”
Sylvie laughed, then squinted at me briefly as if she was noticing something for the first time. “My, but you have lovely eyebrows! Excuse me for saying, but I’ve just never seen such perfect brows in all my life!”
I’ll admit that I was pleased, but I was also kind of embarrassed.
“You should see what she’s done with Alice’s eyebrows,” Agathe said. “They are obsessed, these girls.”
“Are they? Well, how did you get that shape?”
“Uh… tweezers,” I replied. This was getting weird. But then, I guess the women here didn’t exactly get exposed to much primping.
“Would you do mine?”
“Of course,” I said, laughing a little.
“You have the prettiest, smoothest skin,” I said.
“Why thank you,” Sylvie said with a wide smile.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Agathe giving me that, ‘You’re going overboard now,’ look.
Since Agathe so obviously wanted to get down to business, I politely excused myself and joined Young Treves who was standing nearby.
As I chatted with Young Treves, who struck me as a very intelligent child, and played ‘the claw’ with Wilda, I partially listened in on Sylvie and Agathe’s important business.
“Well, as you know,” I heard Sylvie say, “I just love Mr. Lemaire next door, but he needs to fix that fence once and for all. How am I supposed to keep a garden to feed my family if his cows are constantly in it?”
“Have you spoken to Mr. Lemaire about this?”
“Yes, of course, but it’s no use! He just nods at me and then doesn’t do a thing about it!”
“Did you hear about my daddy’s accident?”
“Why, yes, I did Young Treves. How is he doing now?”
“He will be better in no time,” the boy assured me, obviously repeating what he’d been told by his parents. “He uses crutches but he won’t need them much longer.”
“Well, that’s very good.”
As Young Treves and I chatted, it amazed me that I should get on so well with children. I’d never really thought of myself as a ‘kid’ person, but the truth was, I’d never given it much thought at all.
While holding Wilda close to me and listening to her older brother, something really important dawned on me.
I wanted this.
I wanted this.
I kept repeating it to myself as if I couldn’t believe it but also because the realization was so strong within me.
I wanted my own family. And to live in this place with them!
“You mean that old goat couldn’t hear me all this time?” Sylvie’s voice, which had gone up at least an octave, crashed in on my personal epiphany.
“Really, Sylvie, what a thing to say!” Agathe tsked at her.
“Well, why didn’t he just tell me he didn’t know what I was saying?”
“Perhaps he can’t admit that he’s getting hard of hearing just yet. I had an uncle once – Uncle Octave – that could never admit he was losing his eyesight,” Agathe reasoned. “Not until the day he rode his horse right into the mercantile, that is.”
Sylvie snorted slightly when she laughed, then put a hand over her mouth in embarrassment. “I was just a child, but I remember that!”
“Listen, I’ll send one of the boys over to mend Mr. Lemaire’s fence.”
And that was it; cows in the garden problem solved.
As exhausted as I was, I found myself wide awake while everyone else snoozed the night away. Tired of staring at the ceiling, I tiptoed downstairs. There were embers in the fireplace, so I stirred them up and added a small log.
The fire picked up almost instantly and the warmth felt good against my skin.
It wasn’t a particularly chilly night, but I felt tingles on the back of my neck. The kind you get when you think someone is watching you.
Turning around, I saw, to my surprise that it was Dax.
“What are you doing here?”
His dark eyes darted around a little nervously, then finally rested on mine. “I wanted to tell you that I’m glad you’re still here.”
A small smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. “I wish I could have seen my father and the rest of my family, but I’m glad I’m still here, too.” When he didn’t say anything, I said, “Was there something else?”
“Yes, ummm, I wanted to apologize for letting you down on your birthday.”
Taking his hands in mine, I said, “You didn’t let me down. You’re here now, anyway.”
“Will you come with me? I have somewhere to take you.”
He nodded. “It’s really important.”
“I’ll go get changed, it will only take a minute.”
“No, you might wake someone up.”
“But I’m in a nightgown! And I’m barefoot!”
“It’s okay, you just have to trust me. It’s important.”
So, that’s how I found myself out in the middle of the night in my nightclothes and without shoes. To say I felt self-conscious was an understatement, but it was almost as if Dax didn’t even notice my state of undress.
He hurried along dark paths through woods, urging me along the entire time, until we came out at a clearing I’d never seen. To my astonishment, there were two trees with money on the branches instead of leaves! No, I’m not kidding!
“Dax… where have you brought me? Are these trees real?”
As I stared at the strange trees, Dax stared at me.
“Yes, they’re real,” he finally said, his voice as soft as ever. “They’re enchanted. I don’t understand it myself, yet there they are.”
“Enchanted? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Not for real. Where are we?”
“We’re at the creepy cave. That’s what everyone around here calls it. They never come here because they’re all scared.”
“And you’re not scared?” I breathlessly asked as goose bumps rose on my arms. Glancing around, I saw bell pepper and watermelon plants. There were other plants, too, but not organized in a typical garden. They were just kind of growing willy-nilly. Someone lived here.
“No,” he breathed.
Following his gaze, I saw the mouth of a cave. It was pitch black in the opening, but in the distance, I could see that there were burning torches set into the ground, the light of the flames licking the cavern walls like a dangerous tongue.
“I’m scared,” I admitted as he took a few steps toward the black gaping hole. “Are you going in there?”
He beckoned for me to join him. When I hesitated, he said, “Don’t be afraid, but do as I say – exactly as I say.” He beckoned for me again.
Taking a deep breath, my heart thumping against my ribs, I felt my feet moving forward, following him inside.
The air was dank and chilly, making me shiver in my flimsy nightgown. Dax walked a few steps ahead of me, his bare feet almost soundless over the dirt and stone floor. A few feet inside, the fire from the torches provided enough light that I could see a trickling waterfall, dribbling down the rocky surface into the crystal clear water of the pool below. It was beautiful but did nothing to settle my nerves.
“Dax – ”
” – Shhh,” he said suddenly.
We were statue still, listening to the strange sounds of the cave. Then I heard it… the sound of feet lightly coming toward us from the darkness ahead.
“Dax, please, I’m really terrified!”
Taking my hand in his, he turned toward me and urgently said, “Stay right by my side and do not look into his eyes. There is nothing to fear, but you have to do as I said. Do you understand?”
“But – ”
“Please, Blue, I would never put you in danger. Just trust me and do as I say!”
There was no time to answer him as the source of the footsteps made his presence known and I immediately let out a startled scream.
For all I saw were frightening, glowing eyes!
Author’s Note: Hello! If you’ve been around this week at all, you may have noticed my theme changed a few times. lol I think I’m settled for now, if I can leave well enough alone. In other news, I would like to thank Bee for making the “I’m Dizzy” pose for me! (FYI: The link I put in her name takes you to her new site where she is showcasing her poses!)