Authors: Kelly Carrero
Not wanting to leave her alone for another minute, I transported her to us, but then realised I hadn’t even asked her if she was decent. Luckily she was, but I reminded myself to ask a person before I just assumed, especially after what had happened the last time I was in the US and I ended up in the bathroom.
“Seriously, some warning might be nice,” she said, getting her bearings. She looked at all the food Aiden had put on the bench. “What are you making me?”
Aiden opened a drawer next to him and pulled out a fork. “Knock yourself out,” he said, handing it to her.
“Won’t mind if I do,” she replied, snatching the fork out of his hand. She peeled the cling wrap off the plates and stabbed her fork into some lasagne, then put it into her mouth. “Oh, my God, this is so good,” she drooled.
Lucas appeared in the kitchen. “Hey, ease up on the lasagne. You’ll have no room left to try anything when we get there.”
She reluctantly put down her fork, then turned to Aiden and me. “This better be here when I get back,” she said, trying to make a joke. But we all knew she was serious. Chelsea loved Italian food, and apparently, that lasagne was one of the best she’d ever tried.
“You two have fun,” I said with a smile, which I dropped when I turned to Lucas. “Look after her for me, won’t you?”
“Of course I will,” he said out loud, then added,
“I promise I won’t let anything happen like what happened on the Gold Coast to her boyfriend. My eyes will be on her all the time.”
Chelsea gave me a hug. “Call me if you need me at all.” What she really meant was call if Aiden isn’t all “Team Jade” like he said he would be.
“I’ll be fine,” I said breaking our embrace. “Bring me back something?”
“You got it,” she said, then turned to Lucas. “You ready?”
“Yep,” he said to her. “See you guys later.” He put one arm around Chelsea’s shoulders and gave a quick wave before they disappeared.
“She’ll be fine,” Aiden said before I had a chance to say what I was thinking. He rested his hand on my hip. “You ready to go see your mum?”
I shook my head. “Nope.”
“Let’s go, then?”
I gulped. “Yep.”
I thought for a moment about finding out where she was before I transported to her, but I decided I wanted to take my mother by surprise. After all, she was the queen of surprises, and I wanted to get one on her whenever I could.
I slowly phased in, preparing myself to transport back out if she was in a compromising situation. Seriously, who knew when it came to my mum? I sure didn’t. I didn’t seem to know her at all.
She gasped, placing a hand over her mouth, when she saw the two of us before her. When she got over the initial shock, she said. “I didn’t think I would be seeing you again so soon.”
I put my hands on my hips. “Geez, nice to see you, too, Mum.”
Her brown eyes softened. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just, after how things went down the last time you popped in, I didn’t think you would be back so soon.”
I turned around, looking for somewhere to sit. We had ended up back in the windowless, doorless room, and nothing looked comfortable enough to sit on to have this conversation. “Can we go someplace else?”
She bit her bottom lip while she thought about my oh-so-difficult question. “It depends on what you want to talk about.”
Aiden didn’t give her a chance to explain. “Jade’s, umm… father…” He almost choked on the word while getting it out. “Paid us a little visit while we were asleep. We want to know everything you know about him.”
She nodded slowly, but didn’t say anything.
I narrowed my eyes at her. “Why aren’t you shocked about what Aiden just told you?”
Throwing her head back, she let out a strained laugh. “Because that’s the type of thing he does. He likes to mess with your head. He likes to get in there and see how far he can push you. How much he can screw with your mind. Screw with your life. Screw with the lives around you. It’s all a game to him. He is a sick fuck who gets off on manipulating the lives of those he can.”
“Wow,” I mouthed. I’d never heard my mother speak with so much hostility. I’d never even heard her use the
word before, either.
Aiden and I just stood there, shocked into silence while Mum placed her head in her hands and breathed deeply. A moment later, she dropped her hands and looked at Aiden and me. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said it like that.”
“It’s okay. We get he’s an arse. I just never expected
Mum sucked in a deep breath, then slowly released it. “I’m sorry. It’s just… Your father has that effect on me. He is a manipulative son of a—” She took another deep breath. “I was hoping I’d never have to have this conversation with you, but it’s obvious I need to.” She perched on the desk behind her.
Following my mother’s lead, Aiden sat down on the edge of a desk nearest to us and pulled me back so I was standing between his legs. He wrapped his arms around my waist and hung his head in the crook of my neck.
“As good as I can be, considering…”
Thankful he was there to ease my nerves, I rested against his body.
Mum crossed her legs. “I know this is going to be hard for you to hear, but then again, after everything that’s happened, you probably have a good idea of what he is capable of.”
I snorted out a laugh. “Yeah, I think we have a pretty good idea.”
Aiden lifted his head off my shoulder. “But what does he want from Jade? I mean, he’s her father, and the type of things he’s been doing is… Well, no father should ever be capable of doing such things.”
“Do you know he killed Ben?” I asked Mum.
She looked down at her hands, which were clenched together tightly. “Yeah, I heard. And I’m—”
“And he did it in a way that it was my fault. I had a chance to save him, but I didn’t.”
“Jade, honey,” she said hopping off the desk. She strode over to us and put her hand on my shoulder. “I’m so sorry for what he has done. I honestly didn’t think he would go this far. I thought we had him under control.”
“Under control?” I said with a strained laugh. “He put a bullet in your skull and played Russian roulette with your life!”
Mum ran her hands through her hair. “I know. I know.”
“So what does all this have to do with Jade?” Aiden asked, getting back on track. “I don’t know,” she said, obviously getting a little exasperated. “Who knows why he does the things he does? All I know is we have to find a way to stop him before anything else happens.”
“He said he was going to take something from me ’cause he’s pissed I took you from him.”
“I wish I could tell you that you don’t need to worry, but we all know that would be a lie.”
“Then, what do we do?” I asked.
“What I need you to do is try to keep safe. It’s unlikely he will come after me while I’m here, and I think the chances of him turning up at your house again are pretty low.” She nodded towards Aiden. “With everyone now being aware he’s been there before, it would be highly unlikely he would try it again.”
“I’m not so sure,” Aiden said. “He’s already been in my room twice.” When Mum narrowed her eyes at him, he continued. “After Ben died, we think he decided to leave us a little memento of Ben in my bathroom.”
Mum screwed up her face.
“It was blood, Mum. We think he splattered Ben’s blood all over the bathroom, and left us a nice little message once again blaming me for his death.”
“Look at me,” Mum said, getting up in my face. “Don’t you ever think this is your fault. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine. I was the one who got involved with him. I’m the one who inevitably put you in this situation. And I’m the one who hasn’t been able to protect you,” she said with a catch in her voice.
“Mum…” I suddenly felt guilty for her guilt. When she met my dad, she couldn’t have known he would be so horrible.
She shook her head as if to clear her thoughts. “Look, don’t worry about me. I will be fine here. We’ll keep working on trying to find out where he is and finding a way to stop him.”
I looked around the room and once again noticed how strange it was. “What’s up with the lack of windows and doors?”
“Jack built this place as a sort of safe room,” Mum said, her eyes lighting up when she said his name. “Only someone who has been in here is able to get in again. No one—well, except for you—is able to transport their way into this room, because they don’t know what it looks like. And the only reason why you can is because you’ve got this freaky thing going on where you can transport yourself to whoever you want without knowing their location.”
“Freaky?” I said, a little surprised by her wording. “After everything the next gens can do that completely tip the freaky scale to a normal human, I wouldn’t have thought what I could do would be so unbelievable.”
“Okay, so ‘freaky’ maybe isn’t the right word,” she conceded. “Unexpected?”
“I like freaky better,” Aiden whispered in my ear. Mum must have heard, because she swatted his arm at the same time as I pinched him on his leg for his lack of discreetness. “Ouch,” he said, rubbing at his leg, pretending as if it really had hurt. “On second thought, ‘unexpected’ definitely explains what you can do much better.”
Mum put her hands on her hips. “Yeah, you better—”
“Mum?” I asked, trying to move quickly past what he’d just said.
“Mmm?” she asked, turning her attention to me.
“Do you know why I can do things that no one else can?” I was hoping she might actually be able to explain the thing that had rendered the rest of us clueless.
She shook her head. “Not a clue. Sorry.”
“Never mind. It was worth a try.”
“What are you two doing for the rest of the day?” Mum asked.
“Not sure. Chelsea went to Disneyland with Lucas, so it’s just us two.”
“He’s an old friend of mine from England. His dad’s been friends with my parents since before we were all born,” Aiden explained.
“Oh, and what’s Chelsea doing with him?”
“Chelsea’s staying with us for a while. After I got that lovely little message from… What’s his real name?” I asked, hating that I only knew him as my father or DD. Neither of those two names sounded fitting. He didn’t deserve to be called Dad or Father, and I certainly didn’t want to keep calling him by his mysterious calling-card name—DD.
“Whose?” she asked.
I rolled my eyes. As if she didn’t know whose name I was talking about. “DD, my father?”
Mum chewed her bottom lip. “I can’t say for sure what his real name actually is because I don’t know if he ever told me the truth, but the name he did give me was Adam.”
“Adam.” The word sounded bitter on my tongue. Suddenly, every Adam I had known since I was little was cast into darkness. I didn’t think I could ever be okay with using that name again without anger and hostility accompanying it.
“What were you saying about Chelsea?” Mum asked, bringing me back to our conversation before I got sidetracked.
“Ahh, yeah. Chelsea is staying with us so I can keep any eye on her. Marie’s in hospital, recovering from the burns she got in the explosion, so it’s probably best Chelsea’s around us, anyway.”
“And you’ve told her about us?” Mum didn’t sound too happy with the idea.
“I’m sick of all the lies, and I think after all she’s been through because of me, she deserves the truth.” I glared at her, hoping she got my between-the-lines message. “But she doesn’t know we can hear her thoughts or that Ben’s death was all part of
game.” His name still felt weird to say, but I felt better knowing I had a name to call him.
“It’s just a trial at this stage. If she shows any sign of not being able to handle knowing about us or if she is going to put us all at risk of discovery, we will wipe her memories,” Aiden said.
“Hopefully, for your sake, Jade, Chelsea is okay with it all,” she said with a smile.
“Surprisingly, she’s totally okay. She handled the whole thing better than I did when I first found out.”
“That’s great, sweetie. I’m really glad you didn’t have to cut her from your life once you found out.” The look in her eyes told me she may have had to let go of someone very dear to her. I thought back to her mother. I wondered just how hard it had been for her to leave her own mother because she wasn’t able to tell her the truth about what she really was. I considered telling her I had visited my grandmother, but I decided not to. We already had so much to deal with, and I really didn’t want to have to bring up that her father had died from cancer. She may have already known about his death, but I didn’t want to discuss it at that moment. Who was I kidding? I never wanted to discuss anything that could get me stuck in some horribly emotional situation I couldn’t get out of.
Mum glanced at her watch. “I’m really sorry, but I’m going to have to cut this short. I’ve got to go down to the grocery store to get a few things for dinner.”
“I’m surprised how long you actually stuck around to have a conversation with me,” I said with a smirk.
“Hardy har har,” she said sarcastically.
“Anyway…” I stood up. “Thanks for the chat. We’ll do it again soon?”
Mum pulled me into a hug. “Of course, sweetie. How about we do lunch sometime?” She pulled back to look me in the eyes.
“That would be great,” I said, even though I doubted that day would ever come. Even though I knew what we really were, she still had a way of keeping me at arm’s length.
When we got back to England, I realised my mother had barely told me a thing about my father. I’d planned to go there and find out everything, but for some reason the questions never registered. “I can’t believe she did that to me!”
“Did what?” Aiden asked.
“She didn’t answer any of the questions we had gone there to ask her. Hell, we didn’t even get a chance to ask her. And I think she did
to us. I think she somehow made us forget all about asking her what she knew about Adam.”