I felt as if Google maps was purposively leading me astray. Glancing at the clock on the dashboard, I gnawed on my lower lip as I drove along. Over three hours had passed and I was now easing my car up a narrow dirt road as the map suggested.
"Where the hell am I going?" I grumbled, peering out my windows. I could barely see past the barrier of trees that lined each side of the road. I never realised how dense the forestry out here had become. It had been years since I'd ventured out here on a camping trip.
My phone buzzed awake just then and Clari's name was displayed on the screen of my dashboard as the car was connected to my phone by Bluetooth. Hands-free, the safest way she said.
"Where are you going?" She wondered the moment I answered. "You've gone past the point where I found the phone."
"Hello to you too," I replied, slowing the car down as I came to a bend. "I just want to check a little further is all."
"Lyss." Her sigh echoed down the line before I heard her tapping at the keys. "There is nothing down there. You should come back."
"I need to check Clari, you understand?"
"I do but isn't it better you get back to the boys? There's nothing to find here. It's a dead end. You won't find him," she paused letting the weight of her words set in before she murmured, "I'm sorry."
My fingers tightened on the wheel of the car, I watched them whiten from the effort as I continued to push forward. It couldn't be, I needed to find him. Damon, Ryan, they needed...
Lowering my head, I swallowed thickly and pressed on the break. The car rumbled to a stop and I placed my hands on my cheeks. Eyes slipping shut, I inhaled deeply. My shoulders trembled.
"What do I do?" The question was a whisper, a broken plea to no one. There was nothing I could do. Those doctors said my blood wouldn't help, that their fathers could. But if I couldn't find him then how was I supposed to help my sons? "How am I to save them now? Clari, how?"
"Come home," She urged, her voice softening over the static of the loud speaker. "Come back to them and be by their side, ok?"
"OK," I relented, straightening my shoulders as I pushed my hands into my hair and pulled it from my face. "But um...how?"
All I could see before me was a narrow road, one too small to make a U-turn or even attempt a three-point turn. Twisting my body, I glanced out the back window to be greeted to the image of imposing trees that hid the bend I'd turned. Would I have to reverse all the way back?
"I'll continue on, there has to be a way to turn around up ahead," I muttered over Clari's voice. "There has to be some dip in the tree line."
"Take it easy, ok? Keep talking to me," She advised and I paused, glancing at her name. Did she think I would do something crazy? I didn't think I sounded crazy at the moment. Shaking my head, I forced the car back into the gear and drove forward.
"It will be ok, Lyss, you know that right? Your boys are strong, they will-."
Clari continued to rattle to me through the phone and a part of me was thankful for her words. Yet my mind was wandering around the forest I was currently surrounded by. Why would the phone be left here of all places? Why was it so close?
"Your father, albeit an asshole, he is good at what he does. If anyone can save them, he can. I-."
As she continued to speak, the treeline began to branch out up ahead. Frowning slightly, I increased the speed as the trees dispersed into an opening. With it, the dirt road gradually transformed into gravel. Swiping my tongue across my lips, I drove into the open and found myself muttering, "What the fuck?"
"Alyssa? What is it? Are you ok?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine," I mumbled back to her as my eyes drank in the sight before me. "I have to go, Clari."
"Wait-," her protest died as I hung up and parked the car.
Before me was a single building. In the middle of fucking nowhere was something I would only imagine seeing in a city. About three stories from what I could tell, it was a mixture of a house and an industrial building. The front consisted of white walls, each corner splashed with green as some moss or ivy attempted to scale its height. The main entrance was shrouded by a porch, two large columns holding up the shading while six steps spilled down to the ground.
Stepping from the car, I continued to gawk at the building before me. How the-? My eyes drifted up towards the sky where smoke billowed from one of the three chimneys there. Someone was home.
Shutting the door behind me, I clenched my fingers at my side before making my way to the door. I had to do this. For my sons. Think of them, I thought, my stride increasing as I pictured their faces, smiles, then them lying in those hospital beds. Wincing, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and scanned over the last message my mother had sent me. It was over an hour ago and just read that nothing had changed.
Skipping up the steps, I glanced back when something rustled nearby and frowned. This was an eerie place. I couldn't understand why this building was here or more importantly, how it had escaped Clari's research? How had she missed it?
After I stuffed my phone back into my pocket, I squared my shoulders and promptly banged my fist against the door. The sound echoed around the silence that clung to me and then I waited. Nothing could be heard from inside, no signs of movement of even a voice. Biting down on my lip, I smashed my fist against the door again. Until the light pitter patter of heels drifted towards me from inside. Easing back a step, I pushed my hands into my pockets at the sound of locks opening.
The door was dragged open and in its place stood a woman. I blinked down at her just as she blinked up at me. Mousey brown hair had been pulled back into a tidy bun on the top of her hair while some strands fell down to frame her freckled face. Where my face was more on the roundish side, hers was heart shaped with lips a little plumper than I think looked natural.
"May I help you?" her voice was sweet and professional. Polite yet also somewhat stand offish. She didn't want me here.
"This is the company number not his own personal slut connection."
"What did you just say? I am not asl-."
"I do not care what you are. You have no business calling this number for personal reasons."
The memory slammed into my mind and almost sent me stumbling away from her. It was her voice. This is the woman from the phone? I eyed her up more closely. My earlier assumptions of her seemed to be off. She was plumper than I expected, her figure wider at the hips than the super model I was imagining. No golden hair and sun-kissed skin. But dark hair and skin that appeared to be more accustomed to a tan bottle than the sun.
"If you've nothing to say," She drawled, already closing the door on me.
I found the words forming in my mouth before I had time to process them through my head as I stepped forward, blocking the door. "I told you I'd find you."
Her golden speckled brown eyes widened briefly as I forced myself into the room. "How dare you? This is private property, you will leave."
"Not until I see Dean."
"You listen here-."
Her rant ended the moment my fist collided with that nose of hers. Pain shot up from my knuckles as she fell back, tripping over heels that were not seven inches like I'd thought, more like three, and they still made her smaller than me. I was only 5'7" in flats. Just how small was she?
I cringed, pulling my fist back to my chest as I stared down at her. There was no blood on her like I'd hoped, only an angry red blooming across her nose. However, my knuckle had split from the impact and some of my own blood dribbled to the floor.
Stepping over her sprawled form, I strode further into the building. Glancing around the place, I internally linked the layout of this entrance to that of a hotel. Just what was this place?
I heard her scrambling to her feet behind me as her voice snapped, "Get back here! You can't walk in!"
"Uh-oh," I breathed as I glanced back. She was not one bit pleased with me, that was clear. More hair fell around her face from the hit. Lines appeared on her forehead as she glowered at me.
I took off at that moment. I had no idea where I was going but I just ran down a random hall with a woman shouting after me. The whole place was silent and I saw no one else, save for the woman behind me. We winded down multiple hallways and I even charged up a flight of stairs until sound reached me.
I paused where I was and stared down the hallway, just after going up the stairs. There was a single door before me and it sounded like people were behind it. Peering behind me, I watched as she spotted me and her teeth were bared as she began her march up the stairs.
Backing away from her approach, I jogged down the hallway towards that door and snatched the handle.
"No-!" she cried from behind me as I flung the door inward and quickly stepped inside, slamming it shut behind me on her slack-jawed face.
Twisting around, I found myself mirroring her shock as I gawked at the room I was in. What the fuck is this place really?
It had to have been the biggest room I'd ever wandered into that was not declared a hall or some other extravagant place people would use for balls and formals. It couldn't be just a normal room. Large, floor length windows lined the left side letting the sun spill in with a breeze that lifted the sheer curtains.
Full bookshelves were against the right side and even a chandelier fell from the roof. Is Sia around too?
The sound of a forced cough drew my attention to what was directly in front of me. A large table, fit for over ten people. Though only five occupied it. Two on the left, two on the right with one sitting at the head of the table facing me. I pursed my lips slightly as I took in the five men that stood behind the five sitting. Did I just interrupt the mafia?
"Who are you?" One of the two sitting on the left spoke and it lured my eyes towards him. Each of them were dressed in some form of formal wear. This man had a black tie loose around his neck with the first two buttons of his white shirt undone. He reclined back in his chair, dark green eyes lazily watching me beneath a mop of curling black hair, though in the light some strands gleamed blue like a raven's.
"I need to speak with Dean," I answered in a tone that was more seeking permission than demanding. Internally, I cringed at myself as I continued to peer at this man.
"Oh? What's this? A jealous lover?" the man opposite green eyes taunted. I flicked my gaze to him and noted how he still had his suit vest on over his deep blue shirt. His hair glistened red in the sunlight and his eyes were as green as the uniform worn by a traditional Irish leprechaun. Little freckles dotted across his nose and I was half tempted to join them together and see what they created.
The door creaked behind me just then. I could feel a hand suddenly clench on my shoulder, those same manicured nails digging in once more. I knew she had her nails done, that's one thing I got right at least.
"Let go of me or I'll break that nose," I spat, shrugging her off of me.
"What is a human doing here?" came the gruff growl of the man sitting next to Leprauchan eyes. Unlike the other two that watched me with growing amusement, this man glared. His obsidian eyes made me want to run and hide. His dark skin contrasted against his white shirt in such a pleasing way. Unlike the others, the hair on his head was shaved short to the scalp. And while they appeared in their mid-twenties, he gave off an air that made me think he was older.
Human? I frowned, my brows pushing together before I shook the thought away and jutted out my chin. "None of that matters, I want to speak with Dean."
"You are," the last of the four sitting opposite each other chimed in. His eyes reminded me of a grey sky that thundered warningly before the story. Though his lips pulled up into a side smile when he caught my eyes. He seemed younger than the others, less official in his plain white t-shirt. As one, the men looked to the fifth man occupying the head of the table. "There he is, speak."
The one they acknowledged as Dean, was reclining back in his chair. Dark hair was cropped close to his head as his brows furrowed together unwelcomingly. He too was in a white shirt, top few buttons undone revealing a stretch of tattoo that rested against his collarbone. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up off his forearms as he rested his hand on his jaw, idly scratching some stubble as he watched me.
His eyes were intense, and like the rest of him, they weren't at all expressive. They were cold, like ice. Light ice found kissing the water, such a bright blue they were almost white. Most blue eyes were so captivating you'd think that you could sink into them with the peak of awe nipping at your facial features, but when I peered into his frozen irises I felt an electrical chill run down my spine, making my features numb, like ice. Multiple shades of incandescent striking white-blue clashed together to make his eyes seem like they were a wild sea. As if there was a storm eternally raging within his gaze.
I had been right to think time would have changed him. He didn't seem like the carefree flirty guy I'd met five years ago. A part of me was curious as to what had happened to turn him into this man before me.
"Well, human? Speak," one of the other four gestured impatiently.
Why are they calling me human again?
(Chapter to be continued)