I watched Zoe sleep next to me under the duvet. She was so beautiful. I brushed her hair behind her ear. I rolled onto my back and sighed. I looked around the room and saw my rucksack in the corner. I got out of bed carefully, not wanting to wake Zoe. I tip-toed over to my bag and pulled out a new set of clothes.
After I was dressed, I slowly opened the door and closed it again behind me. I heard Darran and Riley talking in the kitchen. I went downstairs and sat down at the table with the others. Darran raised an eyebrow at me and smirked.
"Oh, fuck off," I said to him. He laughed. "So is there a specific reason you guys left earlier?"
"Maybe," Riley said slowly. "Then again, maybe not."
I rolled my eyes.
"So, did you guys find something to do while we were gone?" asked Darran, obviously trying not to laugh.
"Seriously, why is this so funny to you?" I asked them. Then they just started laughing, tears and everything.
"Sorry," Riley said between fits. "I thought we'd had our giggle."
"Obviously not," I commented.
Eventually they stopped giggling like 3 year olds and managed to calm down enough to have a conversation that didn't involve gasping for breath.
"So you were teaching Zoe telepathy?" asked Riley calmly.
I nodded. "She's very good."
That was when Darran made his stupid comment: "I know something else she's good at." That started them off again.
I got up. "Come and find me when you've grown up."
I left the room and went into the living room. I shut the door and tried to ignore the sounds of their incessant giggling. They could be so childish sometimes. I sat down on the couch and sighed. I looked at the unlit candle on the table. I picked it up and blew the dust off it.
I pulled a lighter out of my pocket. I always carried a lighter with me in case I ever needed it. I lit the candle and set it back on the table. Putting the lighter back in my pocket, I focused on the flame. I blocked out all the noise - which was really only the laughter coming from the other room - and felt myself being sucked in.
I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, I wasn't in a living room in Indiana. The place I was in was so familiar to me, I didn't need to look around to see the perfection of it. All the angles were perfect. The trees, the flowers, the clouds, it was all far too perfect.
"It's been a while, my Child," said a voice.
I looked ahead and a woman appeared. Her dress seemed to be made of living shadows and her eyes gleamed black. Her black lips stood out from her pale skin as they curved into a smile.
"Not that long," I said to her.
"Debatable. How are you?" she asked.
"I'm okay. Are you ready for Council tomorrow night?" I asked her, raising an eyebrow teasingly.
"Oh dear, I forgot about that... I would put a stop to it but it's the second most interesting thing that happens around here, after your visits."
"I feel special."
"You are special."
"Well, yes, but... Oh never mind," I sighed.
She laughed. "How is your Zoe?"
"You don't need to ask that; you already know."
"Oh, I do, indeed. The contents of her mind aren't a secret to me, and what interesting secrets they are... I could tell you her darkest desires, her deepest secrets, but then what would be the fun in that? Even my little Pawn cannot know everything about those around him."
"Of course not, Mistress."
"Ace, be-" Then I was being dragged out of that place.
I jumped as I opened my real eyes. Darran and Riley had sneaked up on me and shouted boo. I turned to glare at them. They seemed to understand the reality of the situation as they stopped laughing. They hadn't seen the candle.
"Oh, shit," murmured Riley.