This side of Aidan scared me. The side who I know is the predator which never let its prey get away, the one so different to his usual charm that it is frightening. I don’t know what to say, but all I can think to do is put my hand on his as it clutched at the gear stick. He unclenches his jaw, and his sombre face changes back to the Aidan I know more familiarly as we pull up to a drive way.
My jaw drops open unattractively as I stare unabashed at the grand exterior of what I assume to be his house. The gate itself is wrought iron, which spirals up in elegant patterns and the grey walls bordering it are blanketed in green ivy leaves. Aidan leans out the window, pressing in numbers on a keypad which causes the gate to swing open.
The house only seems grander as we drive underneath arches of large oak trees growing all along his circular driveway.
The houses façade is of grey bricks topped with white frames, flower boxes and a grand front door consisting of mahogany double doors inset with small blue stained glass windows. The whole place is set up in a French manor kind of style, but yet seemed so far-fetched from looking old in any way.
“THIS is your house? I would swear you lived in a renovated museum if I didn’t know better.”
“My whole family has an affliction for things steeped in history, so you’ll be fairly taken aback by the amount of oddities in the house. We have a large amount of heirlooms collected over time, but they all manage to blend in together somehow.” I’m at a loss for words and all I seem to be able to do is strain my head to allow for my eyes to follow the view all the way up to the roof of the house, which is at least three stories up.
The car has stopped and Aidan has already unbuckled himself and strode over to my side and opened my door. I take off my own seatbelt and am about to climb out when Aidan picks me up again and carries me through the front door.
“You know, I get that you don’t like getting a hand up from people, but there’s nothing wrong with receiving help when you need it.”
I blow a piece of hair out of my face, unwilling to let go of the hold I have around Aidan’s neck to make carrying me easier.
“It’s not that I don’t want the help, it’s just that I’m not used to being offered it. That's the issue. My parents do what they can, but I’ve pretty much been on my own when it comes to schoolwork and problems I come across in my life. They worry too much already for me to offload extra stress onto them and I’m the one helping Anna most of the time, it’s rarely the other way around.”
We walk into a kitchen, all cherry wood cupboards and granite tops gleaming spotlessly as he gingerly seats me on a countertop. He stops in front of me, bending to my eye level so that I’m able to define each of the colours and the goldish tinge around his pupils. “I’m not your parents or Anna, Lena. Being Clepsydra means that I am now involved in your business and I don’t intend to leave you to fight for yourself.”
He steps back grinning, switching on the kettle before smirking and doing away with the serious tone by saying “Besides, it would just be sad watching you get your ass handed to you on a plate every time you have to go up against an Alterate. You’re gonna get whooped if we don’t do something about that soon.”
He walks to a cupboard, taking out two mugs and placing them near the kettle as well as two teabags which he drops into the cups. “Sorry, but my family doesn’t drink coffee and after the day you’ve had you need to raise your blood sugar levels. You may not have realised it but the distance you jumped off my truck and onto the guy was not exactly reachable by most people. You’re evolving which means your muscles are working over-board to make up for the lost time they’ve had from getting a shorter period to develop in, seeing as you were supposed to start experiencing your Crossovers from a lot earlier on. Healing is also going to take a lot of energy out of you.”
I glance at the clock, noticing that its 2:00 PM and little alarm bells go off in my head “Yeah about that...um, is there any way to speed up this little healing process, because my dad is going to be at my school in about 30 minutes and will be firstly so mad and then worried before he has a total meltdown when I don’t show up.” Aidan pours the hot water into the cups, adding in sugar and milk before leaving the tea bags to steep for a while.
“I’ve already thought that out. Tell Anna that you fell on some rocks at the beach so I’m taking you to get it checked out but it’s nothing serious, and to tell your dad not to worry if he phones her after you tell him you’re staying at her house to study for a test or do a project for the night.”
Sounds like a pretty good plan to me, and considering that my dad would never even phone Anna in the first place makes it pretty fool-proof.
“Fine, I’ll text her now. Be right back.”
I steady myself on the countertops sides to ease myself off since my ankle was feeling a lot better, but Aidan simply takes me by the shoulders and pushes me back on, placing the cup of steaming tea in my hands.
“Nice try Lena. You may heal faster than the average person but you’re not indestructible so just hang ten while I fetch your phone. You left your jacket in the car right?”
I submit to his ruling, and nod my head which leads to him striding out of the kitchen in the direction of the entrance hall. My eyes rove around the kitchen, looking at the variety of cookbooks stacked on the shelves next to me and the family pictures lining the walls. I see a large framed photo of a man and women, holding a young child whilst standing outside this house. The next picture is of a little boy playing with a baby on the beach, both covered in sand and looking rather pleased with themselves.
I take another sip of my tea, feeling the milky liquid slide down my throat soothingly and I grasp both hands around the mug to warm my fingers. The wind outside has grown stronger and colder, causing me to rub my arms against the slight chill in the house. Its moaning can be heard through the windows lining the opposite ends of the kitchen, but all I hear is the sound of the front door being thrown open and car doors being unlocked.