Here we are again at another Wednesday. It's cold and miserable here but I'm sure to cheer up when I dive into the wonderful work we have on offer today. The prompt I have chosen today is an inspiration for the story rather than this chapter specifically. You'll understand in a little while so bear with me
Footsteps echoed weirdly in the empty hall raising tiny swirls of dust. There was a smell of damp and age, a coldness in the air that seemed to come from more than just the temperature outside and the fact the house had been shut up for so long.
Emma Benson pulled her coat more tightly around her and thrust her hands deeply into the pockets of her jeans.
“Bloody hell. I swear it’s colder in here that it was outside.”
“Tell me I’m wrong. Hell Em this place feels like a crypt. I hate it.”
“Ssh. Dad’ll hear you.”
“I don’t care. I’m not staying here.”
“Where else do you think you’re going to go?”
“I don’t care. I have friends.”
“Not within a hundred miles. How do you think you are going to get there?”
“I’ll steal the car.”
“It’s alright for you. You’ll just lose yourself in your writing as soon as Dad lets you, and he’ll be shut up in his studio painting. What am I supposed to do in this godforsaken place?”
“Get a hobby.”
Ash curled his lip and sneered. “Like what? Shooting rats?”
Emma sighed. There was no talking to him when he was like this. “For heaven’s sake… work with me on this one.”
He was slouched against the newel post, hands in pockets, flicking long fair hair out of his eyes. Emma couldn’t help but smile. He looked about fourteen, sulking like a child. He wasn’t of course. He was exactly the same age as she was, in fact born only three minutes earlier.
“Stop sulking, it doesn’t become you.”
Suddenly, the sulky expression slipped from his face and his head went up, a different expression in his wide blue eyes.
“Did you hear that?”
“Hear what? I didn’t hear anything.”
“Music. I heard music. It was clear, really clear, coming from….” He turned slowly then pointed to a door at the back of the hall. “There. Come on.”
But it was too late. Impulsive as always, Ash was already disappearing through the door. Emma, as always, followed.
The door led into a corridor and Ash paused, his head raised as though listening, then set off again. “This way.”
The corridor led into a kitchen which was large and well fitted but very old fashioned and covered with layers of dust. Emma would have liked to stop and explore, looking into the myriad small cupboards and drawers but Ash didn’t pause; he walked straight through to the door which was locked.
“Bugger. Look for a key, Em.”
“You want to go outside? But it’s freezing. Can’t we stay in here and build a fire somewhere?”
“No. Find the key.” There was a sharpness in his voice that stung her and she would have dug in her heels and stubbornly refused to help if he hadn’t, at that very moment, found the key hanging on a hook beside the door.
Outside, it was bitingly cold and Emma hung back, reluctant to venture into the evening frost. Ash was already out of sight, swallowed by the overgrown tangle of bushes and shrubs in the long neglected kitchen garden.
A breeze ruffled the bushes, filling the air with the scent of lavender, sage and thyme. It was such a lonely place, she though; overgrown and forgotten. Out of the blue, a flash of absolute panic hit from nowhere. Emma had the irrational thought that the garden didn’t want her to be here. It didn’t want to be remembered and there was something else….
“Ash!? Ashley Benson you get back here and wait for me.”
She ran after him along the path through the garden. The faster she ran the more afraid she became and the less she could have explained what she was afraid of. All she could think was that she had to find Ash, knowing instinctively that he was somehow running into danger.
At the end of the garden, the path led through a gate which was twisted and hanging off its hinges, and then into a paddock bordered by a wood. She saw a flash of blue disappear into the trees and followed.
“Ash! Ash, wait for me.”
There was no answer and the figure had disappeared. Emma followed as fast as she could, stumbling over rough ground, slowing even further as she reached the trees.
There was a path, of sorts, but it was overgrown and choked with undergrowth although there were clear signs that someone had passed this way very recently. Ash.
Pressing through the undergrowth she saw again the flash of someone on the path in front of her.
“Ashley! Wait! Will you please wait!” She increased her speed and was so busy fighting with the scrub that she didn’t notice the figure had stopped, until she careered into them almost kicking them both off their feet.
Strong arms encircled her, steadying her against a broad chest.
“Ash! What the hell do you…? Oh!”
Looking up into the pale oval face, framed by long curling black hair, at the laughing blue eyes, she felt a sudden shock. First, that it was a stranger and not, as she’d expected, her brother, and secondly because he was, without doubt, the most beautiful man she had ever seen.
Okay, so now go check out our other flashers this week.