Secrets: The Hero Chronicles (Volume 1) (22 page)

BOOK: Secrets: The Hero Chronicles (Volume 1)

The movie didn’t hold my attention, but still, it was the fastest two hours of my life. I didn’t want it to end. I had just managed to get my hand close to hers right when it ended.

“Thanks for coming over, Nicholas,” she said as we walked to the door. I had already put on my jacket.

“It was my pleasure, Elle. Can we do this again?” I asked, hoping she would say “Yes, how about tomorrow?”

“Well, of course!” She unlocked the door. I walked out and turned around.

“Goodnight, Elle.”

“Goodnight, Nicholas.”

My feet didn’t want to move; they demanded I stay longer. I couldn’t turn away. She smiled and started to shut the door. I reluctantly walked to the truck. The bitterly cold air was a shock to my body, allowing me to fully regain all of my senses for my drive home. After I got in the truck, I sat in the driveway for a moment. The light post flickered off and on. I flashed my headlights to say goodbye back.

Cora was waiting for me in the family room, wrapped up in one of her large down comforters.

“So how was your night?”

“It was fine. We ate dinner and watched a movie.”

“Did they ask you a bunch of questions?”

“Well, of course they did. They were trying to get to know me.” Anger flared into my voice.

“I told you this would happen. You need to avoid those types of situations, Nicholas.”

“What are you talking about? They just asked me a couple of questions; they didn’t fingerprint me.”

“Nicholas, you don’t understand.”

“No, obviously I don’t. You need to make me understand. One moment you are okay with breaking the rules, and now you are upset with me for breaking the same rules. I’m tired of all this lying. I love her and I don’t want to move again.”

“If you love her, it’s even more important not to be around her anymore, because it will only break her heart!” Cora started to tear up. I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I didn’t want to argue with her. I had just had a great night.

“Cora, I am sorry. I know you are trying to protect me.”

Cora took a deep breath, collecting herself. She got up and walked over and hugged me.

“Sorry, honey, let’s talk about this later.” The conversation was over. She walked upstairs to her room, leaving me standing alone.

The phone rang and I answered it so quickly that I almost knocked over the lamp on the coffee table.

“Hello, Nicholas. It’s me, Elle.”

The nervousness from earlier welled up inside me once again. “Hey! Is everything okay?” I asked.

“Yes, I just wanted to thank you for coming over. And I wanted to know if you would like to come over,” she whispered.

“That sounds great!”

“Well, how about now?” she said.

“Are you kidding?”

“No, seriously, can you come over? I would like to spend more time with you.”

“Of course. I’ll be right over.” What was I saying? Cora would kill me, and I am pretty sure Elle’s parents would not want me to visit so late. It was already 11:00 p.m.

“Okay, Nicholas. Make sure you park on the street a couple houses down. Then come around to the back of the house. You will have to come down through my window. See you soon!”

The dial tone rang in my ear. How was I going to ask Cora about going over to Elle’s house again when she was so upset with me about everything that had to do with Elle?

I walked up the stairs to Cora’s room. The door was shut. The TV was on.

“Cora, I have to go out for a bit.” I waited for a minute for a response.

Cora opened the door and said, “Please don’t be late.” Her face was red and damp with tears. Before I could tell her that I was sorry again, she put her hand on my cheek and said, “Have fun,” and closed the door.

I got back into the truck. I couldn’t think about Cora anymore; I was on my way to see Elle.

I parked five houses down from Elle’s and made my way to the back of her house. I looked at the two window wells and saw one with the light on. I crept over to the window and looked down in it. Staring up at me was Elle, which nearly gave me a heart attack.

“You scared me to death,” I whispered. My breath was sending out a cloud of smoke from the cold air.

“Come on,” she said, stepping away from the window. I maneuvered down through the tiny window into her room.

“Wouldn’t it be easier if I came in the front door or even the back door?”

“It would be if you were allowed to be here. This is too late for a visit in my parents’ eyes. Also boys aren’t allowed in my room.”

“Aren’t you afraid we might get caught?”

“Well, I have locked my door and there are plenty of places to hide.” She smiled mischievously. “Nicholas,” she walked up to me, “I want to spend more time with you. You make me feel wonderful and the way you treat me . . . I love it. Is it okay with you if we spend a lot more time together?”

“Of course.”

“I want to get to know you better. Without any time limit and nobody listening in.”

“So you want to know where I used to live? Things like that?”

“No silly, I know you don’t like those questions. My questions will be easy, more about you. I want to know what makes you tick—like what’s your favorite color, your favorite flower, and stuff like that. I want to get to know you.” She placed her hand on my chest. “And if you want, you can ask me questions too.” I nodded.

“Come, sit over here.” She sat down in a chair that looked like a huge round disk that at least four people could sit in. I took my seat next to her. The curve of the chair forced us together. I had taken off my jacket and laid it next to the window just in case I had to make a quick escape.

“So what is your favorite color, Nicholas? We will start with an easy one.”

“It’s greyish-blue. Orange used to be my favorite color, but now it’s changed.” That was the color of her eyes, which were holding me captive, allowing her to get what she wants from me helplessly for eternity.

“So what’s your favorite color, Elle?” I asked quickly, hoping that she wouldn’t make the connection.

“Well, I like red.” Her room was decorated with red stuff everywhere. Her furniture was covered in red quilts and pillows. Her bed was covered with red stuffed animals. It fit her.

She then started asking me more questions. Starting with my favorite flower, then favorite food. Question after question. My fear of being asked questions had subsided because these were all questions that I did not have to lie about. These were all about me. I asked a couple of the same questions back, but I could tell she was on a mission to find out everything she could about me.

This went on for an hour. She started to slow down, only asking a question every couple of minutes. She started to close her eyes between them. She asked if I minded if she rested. I didn’t care. I was in heaven there with her. Her legs had gradually moved on top of mine, which made it very difficult for me to concentrate during some of the questions. I wanted to reach out my hands and put them on top of her legs, but I didn’t.

After a question about my favorite candle scent, she fell asleep. She lay curled up, motionless. I sat there for a while just staring at her, wondering how I was this lucky to be here with her.

After a while, I reached down, scooped her up off me, and put her in bed. I covered her up and turned out the light next to her bed. In the darkness, small stars and planets illuminated the ceiling. She was full of these little surprises. I smiled as I climbed back out of the window.



fter that night with Elle, we began to spend all of our time together. I was still not sure how she felt toward me, if she wanted more, but I didn’t care. I was happy. For the first time in a long time, happy. My sickness and those horrible dreams had almost disappeared completely.

We spent all of winter break together. Cora and I went with Elle and her family to Christmas Eve service. I also spent Christmas with her. Cora and I celebrated the way we always did that morning. We exchanged presents while we watched
It’s a Wonderful Life
. Cora got me a bunch of new clothing. All of it, of course, matched the latest trends but still fit with my more conservative style. She also bought me the most incredible watch. It was engraved with a saying on the back: “Time is what you make of it. Love, Cora.”

I gave Cora her presents. I had bought her a silver platter that she had been eyeing for some time and a patchwork blanket that was like one we had a couple years ago that had been left behind in one of our many moves. The blanket had been given to her by someone close to her, but I never knew who. When she opened the blanket, she nearly cried.

“Thank you, Nicholas. This was so thoughtful.”

We ate a light brunch that Cora had been preparing for hours. Then I got ready to go to Elle’s. If Cora had any reservations about me going, she didn’t voice them.

The small Christmas that I was used to was exactly the opposite of Elle’s Christmas. Her entire extended family was all there. They were dressed in Christmas clothing. Elle and I didn’t get to spend much time together alone, but it was fine because this family Christmas was something I would cherish for the rest of my life.

Winter, like Christmas, went by fast; spring was on the doorstep. Right when Winsor seemed ready to thaw out, it was covered by ten inches of wet, heavy snow. The whole town was shut down and put on a Level 3 Snow Emergency. Only emergency personnel were allowed in the street. School was cancelled that very night.

“Nicholas, pick up the phone. It’s for you,” Cora yelled from the kitchen.


“Hey, what’s up?”

“Eric, I figured you would be on your way to Livi’s by now for some quality time.”

“Nah, she wants me to stay home because ‘it’s too dangerous,’” he said just like he thought Livi would have sounded. “She threatened that if I came over, we would be done. So I wanted to see if you were up for doing something.”

“Eric, you know that it’s 9:00 and the snow is still coming down. I think we are going to get another couple of inches before morning.”

“You sound like a weather man. Of course I know we are getting more snow, which makes it even better for extreme tubing.”

I wanted to keep my options open because I hadn’t talked to Elle since school had been cancelled.

“Eric, I’m not sure if I can go out.”

“Give me a break, Keller. Just call Elle and get permission to hang out with your buddies, and call me back.” He was right. I wanted to spend as much time with Elle as possible.

Like Livi, Elle thought it was too dangerous for me to come over, but she told me to come over tomorrow morning after the plows had a chance to catch up. Then we would spend the day together. I really wanted to see her, but the promise of spending the whole day with her tomorrow would have to do. I called Eric and told him I was in for sledding. I got dressed in the thermal snow gear that Cora had bought me from one of the online ski shops. She always made sure we had appropriate clothing for any climate.

“Cora, I’m going out with Eric.”

She was putting some elaborate decorations on a cake that she had been working on most of the day. “Okay, but I don’t want you out too late.”

I walked outside and wandered over to the tree line to wait for Eric. I stared up at the snow-filled sky. The large trees around the yard were covered by snow. I began to drift off, thinking about Elle and our future together. The trees creaked as they swayed in the wind, but then there was a cracking sound that interrupted my daydream. One of the large trees was falling at me from out of the darkness. Time slowed and I moved easily out of the way of the trunk, but one of the larger limbs caught me and pinned me to the ground momentarily. I broke the branch with ease and popped up.

Two familiar silhouettes were standing up by the road. My heart stopped because beyond them was the sea green truck. A large SUV barreled down the road from the other direction. I moved toward them, but they were already in the truck, leaving. I examined the base of the tree; it had clearly been cut. They were trying to kill me.

Eric pulled into my driveway, but he wasn’t driving his Beetle. “Where’s your car?” I asked, still in shock of nearly being killed.

“It’s at home. Mom made my older brother let me borrow his truck. He’s home from the Marines, so I got to take out his baby,” he said with a big smile. On cue he revved the thunderous engine.

The truck was in between a monster truck and the truck Cora and I had. It was painted pumpkin orange, and it had so much polished chrome on it that headlights weren’t necessary.

“So what kind of truck is this?”

“It’s a Hummer—one they actually used in the military. Not like the ones that you can now buy. This came straight from the base. My brother spent a couple of years restoring it.”

“So where are we sledding, Eric?”

“You mean extreme tubing? Sledding is for kids. We are going over to Matt’s house. His backyard is perfect. He has an insane backyard for tubing.” In the back of the Hummer were three large inflatable tubes like the ones you use for water.

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