Read The Forest of Adventures (#1 of The Knight Trilogy) Online

Authors: Katie M John

Tags: #romance, #vampires, #urban fantasy, #adventure, #paranormal romance, #young adult, #college, #mythology, #forbidden love, #fairytale, #knights, #immortals, #mermaids, #arthurian legend

The Forest of Adventures (#1 of The Knight Trilogy) (3 page)

BOOK: The Forest of Adventures (#1 of The Knight Trilogy)
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I flushed hot and wondered if
he could see me blushing.

“No really, No it’s fine.
I’ve…I’ve…” I stammered, trying to think of a reason that might
sound slightly believable. I changed track and rather overly
enthusiastically blurted out, “It’s snowing. That’s great! I LOVE
snow! All that…white flaky stuff. Brilliant!”

He raised an amused eyebrow and
smiled, “As you wish my lady, see you tomorrow.”

As he left I could hear him
amusedly muttering to himself, “
White flaky stuff.
Brilliant!”

I sat there no longer cold. The
fire of total humiliation had warmed me up a treat.

3. HYACINTHS

 

I arrived home just after the
dark had settled in for the night. Mum had switched on the
fairy-lights in the trees, giving the narrow garden an otherworldly
feel but, unlike the usual feeling of magic, tonight it exaggerated
the concern I had about my rapidly sliding sanity. The snow had
given the garden the look of a wild and dangerous wood and I found
myself huddling down the garden path as if to avoid the wicked
witch. It was only when I heard the deadlock of the red front door
click behind me that I took the chance to stop and breathe.

Home, as always, was warmly
lit. Dusty, our ancient and cantankerous cat came into the small
hallway, swirling his way around my ankles and purring a welcome
that was really a poorly disguised demand for supper. I slipped out
of Blake’s coat and folded it up into as small a ball as it would
go, trying to force the bright red lining out of sight. All the way
home the coat had almost sent me half demented with the warm spiced
smell of his body and I was strangely grateful that the house was
filled with the rich smell of roast chicken in the hope that I
could now be free of it.

Mum was sat huddled between her
desk and the wood burning stove and Sam was sat at the dining
table, several science textbooks sprawled out. He had his
headphones in and hadn’t noticed me come in. Standing outside of
the half open door and looking in at the peace and warmth of the
room, I felt a sudden wave of guilt which felt like a distressing
blend of love and claustrophobia all rolled into one.

Mum stretched, removed her
glasses and stood up before making her way to the kitchen. As she
passed Sam, she placed a hand on his shoulder. It was the action of
a mother who loved her son dearly.
One big happy family!
Something about it all suddenly freaked me and I took a step back
knocking over Martha’s umbrella, sending it skittering to the floor
in a noisy commotion.

“Mina, is that you? Run up and
wash your hands. I’m about to serve supper and don’t forget to feed
Dusty before we eat.”

As if my guilt couldn’t get any
worse, I pushed my bedroom door open to find a small bunch of white
hyacinths lying on top of my pillow. A small card had been slotted
into the top of them on which Sam had written the simple, yet most
important of all words -
I love you-
in his spider like
handwriting
.
I lifted the flowers up to my nose, taking in
their pretty sweetness and immediately the events at the bookshop
came back to me.

Sam was not usually so showy in
his feelings. He wasn’t given to corny clichés and often took the
piss out of the sort of grand gestures Matt made to Sara on an
almost daily basis. However, the simplicity of the flowers and the
inscription showed that Sam was aware that something was wrong and
he cared about it enough to put it right. I knew he deserved to be
loved and not hurt and I promised myself to put things right. But
even as I made the promise, I knew that it wasn’t one that I’d be
able to keep. Something had changed and it wasn’t going to change
back.

I pulled on my deep emerald
jumper which was Sam’s favourite and looped my string of green
glass beads around my neck. Sam had bought them for me on my last
birthday. He said they matched the colour of my eyes and I loved
them, yet tonight when I looked at myself in the mirror they
reminded me of a beautiful noose.

*

Dinner was already on the table
by the time I arrived downstairs and Sam was lighting the candle
with a firelighter lit from the wood burner. With his spare hand he
made to reach out and take mine but stopped as if thinking better
of it. Instead he cracked an awkward smile before speaking,

“Hello stranger. I’d started to
think about sending out a search party.” His voice was trying to
put on a comic edge but it was tense. I smiled and shrugged, unable
to give him either an unhurtful or rational explanation as to where
I’d been and he deserved better than a lie. “Thought maybe you had
been kidnapped by aliens or that you’d finally made good your
promise to run away with the circus.”

I could barely meet his eyes,
thinking that there was nothing more genuinely painful then when
somebody you loved tried to hide their hurt and confusion with a
joke.

I hoped a half truth would
satisfy him, “I went to the bookshop.” He nodded. I panicked,
“Thank you for the flowers Sam, they’re really lovely. Look I…” but
before I could finish, Mum busied into the room carrying the gravy
and interrupting my apology.

Dinner was chatty, a result
maybe of all of us trying to hide the weird atmosphere. Mum fired
questions at Sam and me in quick succession and Sam, seemingly
satisfied that things were hopefully on their way back to normal,
was happy to indulge her.

By nine o’clock, Mum had
already gone up to bed, book in one hand and a cup of hot chocolate
in the other and Sam was snuggled up on the sofa under the throw
flicking through the T.V channels. I snuggled in beside him,
feeling the warm certainty of his body. Out of habit my hand traced
the muscles of his forearm causing him to turn towards me. He
smiled and leant over, kissing my cheek before putting his arm
around me and pulling me in. His lips found mine with the ease of
familiarity. Sam was a good kisser, firm and soft all at once.
Being together for almost two years, he’d perfected his skills and
when he kissed me it was easy to believe that the world was a
silent place and that we were the only two people in it.

This evening was no different
and as he kissed me I could feel all the doubt and uncertainty heal
over with a warm acceptance and love. I felt the warm contact of
skin on skin as his hand moved under my clothing, his kiss becoming
more urgent as we headed towards a place I wasn’t ready for. I
pulled away but Sam moved himself so that I was pinned to the sofa
with nowhere to go. Panic hit me as his kisses became increasingly
aggressive. All at once
everything
was wrong. I pulled my
face away as best I could, putting my hands out in defence.

“What the hell are you doing?”
I shout-whispered.

He looked at me, almost as
shocked as me and pulled himself away to the far end of the
sofa.

“I’m so sorry Mina – that was
really out of order. I don’t know what came over me.”

I stood up and looked at him,
crumpled at the edge of the sofa, his eyes filmed with water as he
fought back tears.

“What the hell was that all
about Sam?” I said pulling down the bottom of my top.

“I’m sorry, I got carried away.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to – shit I’ve really messed this up. I
just wanted to check that everything was okay.”

“What? You thought that the
best way to check was by forcing the situation?”

“I didn’t mean to…force….God
Mina, don’t use that word it’s not as if I was going to ….as if I
was going to do that to you. I love you. I just thought maybe you
wanted me to…Shit, I don’t know what I thought!”

The situation was spiralling
quickly out of control and I knew that whatever Sam had been
thinking, it wasn’t that he’d meant to hurt me. The whole day had
been weird and it was no real surprise we’d ended up here.

“It was a mistake Sam; I’m not
happy about it but I know you wouldn’t hurt me. I’m going to bed.
We need to sleep on this and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.” I
pressed a tight smile, “Night Sam.”

As I went through the door I
heard Sam whisper, “I’m sorry. I love you.”

From upstairs in my room, I
could hear the sound of the television travelling through the white
painted floorboards and in order to drown out the ghost, I stuck in
the earphones of my iPod and turned the volume up to the borderline
of pain. The deep rhythmic drums of
Florence and the Machine
drowned out Sam’s presence but didn’t make me feel any better, for
as I lay there, I realised with startling clarity, that falling out
of love with someone was like pulling a plaster – shockingly
painful but surprisingly quick.

The deep, rich scent of the
hyacinth blooms filled my room and it was so overpowering that it
made it almost painful to breathe. Opening my window to let in the
cold air seemed to have little effect and seeing no alternative, I
took hold of them roughly by their slender green necks and threw
them out into the night sky where they fell into the garden below
and scattered across the navy green grass like grounded stars.

*

All that night, I was attacked
by dreams that made no sense. Dreams full of blood and mud, of cold
grey glinting steel and a winter sky cut through with a flock of
cawing black birds. And even though I couldn’t see her, I knew she
was there; standing at the side of my bed, her one crone hand
pressing the air from my lungs, the other injecting my heart with a
terrifying love poison When I woke, breathless and half terrified
at the breaking of the dawn I felt I’d been through the ravages of
battle.

4. INTO TEMPTATION

 

Overnight the snow had draped
the garden in a soft sheet of whiteness, well and truly burying the
evidence of the hyacinth crime. I didn’t hear Sam leave for college
and I wondered if he’d headed home last night instead of
staying.

When at last I set off, Blake’s
coat bundled up in my arms, I saw the ghostly remains of Sam’s
footsteps pressed into the snow late last night. Using them as my
guide, I let my own feet press heavily into them imagining them
pressing into the surface of my heart. But amongst the weighty
sadness, there was a flutter as if a fledgling bird was fluttering
its wings; it was the knowledge that today I’d see Blake.

I walked to college slowly,
enjoying the sensation of the whole world being asleep. By the time
I arrived, I was late even by my standards; time keeping not being
one of my strengths. The whole school was in class and now I had
the dilemma of missing lesson or making an embarrassingly dramatic
entrance into English;
and with Blake’s coat!

Swearing, I glanced at my watch
but before I could register the time, my eyes were distracted by
something laying on the surface of the snow. Crouching down on my
hind quarters with the morbid curiosity of a child, I inspected the
fragile corpse of a butterfly; its rich orange and red wings like a
blood stain against the snow. I looked down in horrified
fascination at the wretched creature, which having been completely
out of time with the rest of the world, had perished as a result. I
reached out my hand to touch it but as soon as my finger made
contact with it, it disintegrated into a coloured dust spreading
out across the snow like a smear of paint on a blank canvas.

A pair of navy converse alerted
me to the fact that my bizarre behaviour was being closely
witnessed. The embarrassment held me in suspension and I took a
long blink hoping that whoever it was might just vanish. A hand
came down into view, offering me a hand up - the exact opposite of
what I wanted. My desired direction was down into the ground
because I knew without looking that the hand belonged to Blake.

Rejecting his help, I struggled
to my feet, hot blood rushing to my cheeks. I could barely think
how I would be able to look at him and when I finally managed to
brave it out, all I could see was an amused and curious smile
dancing over his lips.

Snow began to fall and, whether
it was the blood rushing to my head, or the effect Blake had on me,
I had the sudden feeling of being turned slowly upside down inside
of a snow-globe. Time slid; the snow fell in slow motion and Blake
looked deep into my eyes. I was transfixed on a single snowflake
that was balanced on one of his long dark eyelashes. His brown eyes
were the only promise of warmth in the whole landscape.

The spell was suddenly broken
by Blake’s warm and amused voice, “Ah! It would seem that we’re
both faced with the same dilemma.’ His eyes flashed with
promise.

I smiled back in response, not
trusting myself to speak without making a further idiot of
myself.

“So…are you going to tell me
what is quite so fascinating about that particular patch of floor?”
he said, laughing.

I shrugged, “Nothing - it was
nothing. I was tying my shoe lace.”

Blake looked down at my zip up
boots and looked away, letting it go.

“So to be or not to be?” he
said nodding in the direction of the English block.

“I don’t know. Dwell’s a real
time beast.”

He smiled, “Some people just
find time more important than others.” He looked at me and I
couldn’t help but sense he was trying to say something more, that
he was urging me to understand a hidden message but before I could
fathom, he went on, “Look, I don’t know about you but I am freezing
and the thought of Dwell’s frosty reception doesn’t fill me with a
warm glow. However…” he cracked a flirtatious smile, “…hot
chocolate at the bookshop seems tempting. How about it? Can I tempt
you?”

This was the moment. This
choice, at this point would set the whole future in motion. I
hesitated and Blake seemed slightly surprised which I found to my
surprise a little irritating. Sensing my indecision he shuffled
slightly, not quite so sure of himself as he had been.

BOOK: The Forest of Adventures (#1 of The Knight Trilogy)
6.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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