Authors: Kelly Carrero
“What the hell—”
“Someone had murdered her and was waiting there for me.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “How were her articles still printed even though she was no longer alive?”
“No, it didn’t make any sense. And here is where it gets worse. After we disappeared for those few weeks—”
“Oh,” she said, realising why we had left.
“I went back to my house to get a few things, and someone left me this disc showing my mum’s brains being blown apart.”
I quickly continued before she could give me her condolences, “Later, I received another disc saying my mother was still alive, and she would stay that way so long as I won his games. That was when I saved you and your mum before your house exploded and when I realised I’d brought your mum to me without going to her side first. As soon as I realised what that meant, I brought my mum to me. Then Nathan, Lucas’s dad, removed the bullet from her brain, and she came back to life.” I decided to leave out the part about how I lost the first game and Ben died because of me.
Her eyes bulged. “What?”
“Apparently, she is one of us.”
“Yes way. And it turns out she’s been keeping some huge things from me.”
“Like, the guy who put the bullet in her brain is my father.”
“No friggin’ way!”
“I see you’ve told her about your mum,” Aiden said, surprising the crap out of Chelsea.
She lifted her legs back onto the pier and quickly got up. “Give a girl some warning next time, won’t you?”
“Sorry,” Aiden said. He sat down beside me with his back leaning against the pole of the gazebo and his legs bent at the knee.
“So, what did you tell her?”
“Everything except the parts about Ben and how we can hear her thoughts.”
“And how’s she handling it?”
I swung myself around and sat cross-legged, watching Chelsea gawk at the house.
“So whose place is this, anyway?” she asked.
“I guess you didn’t tell her that part yet,” Aiden said. He then turned to Chelsea. “It’s my family’s home.”
Her mouth dropped open. “What about Paradise Waters?”
I interrupted Aiden, “That was just somewhere to stay while they’re in Australia. Their real home is this one.” I cocked my head towards the castle. “And Aiden has pretty much been living on the Coast by himself for the last year while his parents stayed here.”
Chelsea leaned against the table in the middle of the gazebo. “I can’t believe they’re your parents!” Her thoughts trailed off as she tried to remember any clues she’d missed that would have given any of us away as different.
“So, is Mum with the others?”
I asked Aiden.
He hesitated, making me think I wasn’t going to like what he was about to say.
“Promise you won’t flip.”
I glared at him.
“Your mum said she had to go somewhere, but she would see you later this afternoon.”
“What?” I spat the words from my mouth, bringing Chelsea out of her thoughts.
“What’s wrong?” she asked with a concerned look on her face.
I stood up. “I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I’ve only just got my mother back from that asshole, and once again, she disappears without any explanations. Well, I’ll be damned if she thinks she’s going to get away from me that easily now.”
Without saying anything more, I thought about my mother, and I phased out as I heard both Aiden and Chelsea call my name.
“What the hell is with you?” I shouted at my mother the second I appeared by her side. She was leaning over a desk, with a guy I’d never seen before sitting in a chair to her right.
“Ahh… Jade…” She adjusted herself so she was blocking my view of whatever was on the desk that the two of them had been discussing.
“I’ll leave you to it,” the guy said. He gathered up something from the desk, then disappeared into thin air before I could get a good look at him.
“Why can’t you ever tell me before you leave?”
“What is so important about this place that you had to disappear hours after I got you back?” I asked Mum, ignoring Aiden’s question. I looked around at my surroundings. We were in a stark-white room with no windows. Two stainless steel benches sat one in front of the other in the middle of the room, and white benches lined all four walls. The line of benches was broken up by two desks and some sort of equipment I’d never seen before. The room had a clinical feel to it, and I wondered why my mother would want to go back to somewhere so similar to where she’d been held captive.
She grabbed me by the arm. “Can we talk about this back at the Scotts’?”
“Can you at least tell me you’re okay?”
“I’m fine. I’m with my mum, and I’m kinda in the middle of something,”
I told him as I shook my arm loose from her grip. “What is it you’re hiding here that you don’t want me to see?”
“Nothing.” She put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I wanted to talk to you about all this before, but you disappeared.”
“You’re trying to blame me for you not telling me about this?” I waved my hands around the room.
“That’s not what I’m saying, Jade.” She buried her face in her hands, then took a few breaths, probably trying to calm down before she dropped her hands to her side and raised her head to look at me. She opened her mouth, but shut it again without saying a word.
“Is this where you’ve been coming when you were supposed to be at ‘work’?” I asked, doing air quotes with my fingers.
“Can we please discuss this later?” she pleaded. “Go back to England, and I promise, I’ll be back over there soon.”
“I don’t think so,” I said, turning around in the direction I thought the door would’ve been. But there was none. I did a double take, looking around the room. “Why the hell aren’t there any doors or windows in this room?”
A wave of relief washed over her face, but she was forgetting that I didn’t need a door or to be able to picture what was on the other side of the walls. All I needed to get outside the room had been with us only moments ago. A smirk spread across my face.
Mum’s eyebrows drew together. Then a second later, her eyes widened with what I could only assume was realisation that my key to getting to the other side of the walls was already on the other side.
“No more secrets,” I said, then disappeared.
“Whoa.” The guy who had been sitting at the desk with my mum jumped back from the bathroom sink in surprise.
“Oh, my God, I’m so sorry.” I quickly turned my back to him as my whole face turned red. I was pretty sure he had only been washing his hands, but I was way too embarrassed to turn around and see if I was right. But I was not embarrassed enough to leave. Maybe I was, but I wasn’t going to let a small thing like popping into a bathroom while a complete stranger was using it stop me from finding out what my mum was hiding.
“You can turn around, Jade,” a calm voice said from behind me.
“Are you sure?” I asked, still feeling embarrassed as hell.
“Hang on. Let’s see.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “Yep, my zipper’s up.”
“Oh, God.” I cringed, thinking just how close I must have come to seeing way more than I ever should have. I had never transported myself to someone while they were in the bathroom, and I hoped I never would again.
“Jade?” Mum called from the other side of the bathroom door.
“Crap.” I wasn’t going to let this opportunity get away from me, and I knew it would if Mum joined us. I quickly turned around and found myself face-to-face with a guy in his mid-twenties, which didn’t mean much. I should have just referred to every next gen as an “adult,” because for all I knew, the person could be over a hundred years old. He was about six inches taller than me, with short blond hair, blue eyes, and a devilish smile. At least he didn’t seem to be pissed at me for invading his privacy, which was something.
“Hi, I’m Jade… but you already knew that, didn’t you?”
He picked up a towel and wiped his hands on it. “I was wondering when I’d finally get to meet you.” He put down the towel, took a step towards me, and held out his right hand. “I’m Harry.”
“I’m sorry, what did you just say your name was?” I asked, thinking there was no way I’d heard him right.
“My name is Harry,” he repeated, his hand still outstretched, waiting for me to shake it.
A knock sounded on the bathroom door. “Jade,” Mum called out. A second later, she appeared inside the bathroom. She looked back and forth at the two of us. “I see you’ve met Harry.”
“Yeah, we were just doing our introductions.” I narrowed my eyes at her. “So tell me, is this the same Harry you told me was your boss?”
She shifted from one foot to the other. “Jade, there’s a lot of things I have to tell you about, and I don’t think the bathroom is the best place to do it.”
“You didn’t answer my question. Is this the same Harry who used to call your phone all day and night?” I yelled.
She sighed. “Yes, it is.”
A man suddenly appeared beside my mother. “What’s going—” He stopped short the moment he laid eyes on me. “Oh…” He ran his hands through his short, wavy, dark-brown hair.
“And you are?” I asked. I knew I probably sounded like a rude bitch, but I didn’t care. My mum seemed to have a whole other life I wasn’t privy to, and I was sick to death of the deceit. And as far as I was concerned, every person in that bathroom was guilty of hiding the truth from me, especially since they all knew who I was.
Mum placed her hand on his back. “This is Jack.”
“Nice to finally meet you, Jade,” he said with a very formal tone. He turned to Mum. “I’ll just be outside if you need me.” He gave her an affectionate look that told me he was longing to reach out and touch her. To my horror, she returned it.
“What was that?” I spat as soon as we were alone.
“Like Jack said, they thought it would be best to leave us alone to talk.”
“Don’t act like I’m stupid. I know what I saw. I wish I didn’t, but it was hard to miss
Mum held up her hands in defeat. “Okay, I’m sorry. No more lies.” She sat down on the edge of the bath. “In all the times I’d thought about how I’d tell you all of this, I never once pictured I’d be doing it in a bathroom.” She gave a nervous laugh.
I hoisted myself up on the vanity directly across from where she was sitting and waited for her to talk.
“As you already know, Harry is the same Harry who used to call me all the time.”
“And I’m guessing he’s not really your boss.” I thought back to the time when I’d turned up at where she’d told me she worked, and I’d made a complete fool of myself.
She shook her head. “No, he’s definitely not my boss,” she said with a laugh. “He’s just a friend in the US who’s—”
“We’re in America?”
“Yeah, Laguna Beach to be precise.”
“So all those times you left me at home alone, you were really here?”
“Um, yeah,” she said with a guilty tone.
That was it. My ability to restrain myself from flipping out was gone. I hopped off the vanity. “How the hell could you have left me at home all by myself when I was so goddamn young so you could pop over to the US and live your second life like I didn’t even exist?”
“What’s wrong? I can feel your emotions going off the chart,”
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong… or better yet, you can see for yourself.”
I transported Aiden to my side, then remembered about Chelsea and transported her to us, too.
“What the hell?” Chelsea said when she realised she was no longer on the pier but was in a bathroom.
“Fascinating,” Mum whispered to herself.
“So what’s going on?” Aiden asked, looking from my mum to me.
I looked at my mum. “So are you going to tell them, or should I?”
She opened her mouth to say something, but I cut her off.
“Actually it’s probably better if I fill you in, ’cause she will more than likely leave out a heap of things.” I turned to Aiden. “Guess where we are?”
“America,” I said.
“What!” Chelsea and Aiden said in unison.
“Yep, it seems my mum has been leading a double life.”
Mum gave an exaggerated sigh.
“Okay so maybe a double life is not really true, because that would have to mean she was actually leading a life with me in Australia, but we all know about the long hours she used to ‘work,’” I said, doing air quotes.
“Oh, my God, Jade.” Mum stood up. “If you’d just give me a chance to explain.”
I scoffed. “What? You think you can explain away why you were barely a mother to me?”
“Yes, Jade! That’s exactly what I’m trying to say.” Mum took a deep breath, probably trying to refrain from turning the conversation into a full-blown argument.
Aiden put his hand on the small of my back. “Maybe you should give your mum a chance to explain.”
“Explain what? How she could leave her ten-year-old daughter alone at home at night? Or how whenever I needed to talk to her about something, she was never there?”
“I’m with you on this one.” Chelsea stood beside me and put her hand on my shoulder. “Do you have any idea how much your ‘working’ all hours used to hurt your daughter?” she asked my mum.
“No, she probably doesn’t, ’cause the only way she would have known was if she was
“Come on, that’s a bit harsh,” Mum said.
“Harsh?” I took a step towards her. “No, harsh is when your mum leaves you to fend for yourself while she’s off traipsing around the world.”
Mum put her hands on her hips. “Well, you’re clearly not in the right frame of mind to have this discussion.”
“And that’s my fault?” I asked in an exasperated tone.
“That’s not what I’m—” She tipped her head back and stared at the ceiling for a few seconds before looking back at me. “Why don’t you go back to England, give yourself time to process what you’ve seen, and then when you’re feeling calmer, we can talk.”