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   Chapter 20 Training the Walker Cassie Wilson Book 2

Training the Walker: Cassie Wilson Book 2 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 24442

Updated: 2018-03-14 11:09


Chapter 20

Cassie felt hollow and weightless as she crossed the plaza. The wind blew her towards her destination rather than any conscious decision of her own choosing the direction. The spark of anger she felt at being left alone in the clearing fizzled away. She was certain that when she saw her grandfather or Jacob, or any of them really, the anger would come bubbling back, but in their absence the flickering anger was hard to sustain. Her insides felt raw as though she was ill and repeatedly vomited up everything in her belly, her body still wracked with dry heaves.

'Maybe I am coming down with something, ' she thought as she kept moving. 'Who knows, this could all be some sort of fever dream.'

Unconvinced, Cassie left the plaza behind. 'And to think, normal was making me twitchy.' She shook her head. The sun was coming up, but the world didn't feel much brighter. 'It must be later than I thought though, ' Cassie thought frowning to herself.

The sun didn't really get this bright before she reached the bakery on her usual Saturday mornings. 'Perhaps the sun didn't agree with the time freeze.'

She looked around and blinked, swallowing hard as she came to a complete stop. It wasn't the sun causing the golden glow.

On one side of the street was Imports Unlimited, her grandfather's store. On the other side of the street was Intelligent Fitness, Oliver's studio. Cassie's eyes darted between them. Each building looked as though it was covered by a large golden net. The glow she thought came from the rising sun was in fact coming from the two nets. While they put out no heat, the light was intense and Cassie's eyes watered if she looked at them too long. Even though the two looked identical, she could tell they were put in place by different people.

Cassie shook her head and forced herself to keep moving, as she did whenever she saw something strange, the instinct to pretend she didn't see it too ingrained to be displaced by her strange morning. 'Maybe I just think they were put up by different people because I know grandfather probably put up his own net while Oliver put up his. But why would they put a net over the buildings in the first place?'

Cassie continued moving and found her steps taking her past Aite's gift shop. It too was covered with a golden net. Somehow it felt different to Cassie even though to her eyes it looked exactly like the other two.

The Gray Cat was likewise netted, but that net looked different to the eyes as well as feeling different. The holes were bigger and less regular and the knots in the netting looked looser somehow, like a sweater that was unravelling. Cassie shook her head as though trying to dispel the image and turned towards the bakery. Unsurprisingly, the bakery was covered in a golden netting as well. Cassie dipped into the alley as usual and walked towards the employee entrance in the back. The net covered this side of the building as well.

Curious as to what would happen and not wanting to be observed, Cassie stopped and looked in both directions. No one was near either end of the alley way, she was alone and reasonably certain she was not observed. She reached out to touch one of the strands making up the golden net. The strands looked like thick cable as big around as her pinkie finger. Yet, when she reached out to touch them, her hand passed straight through with no resistance. The strands remained in place, and still looked solid, but Cassie could see her hand on the other side of the net.

Cassie pulled her hand back and continued on to the employee entrance. The glowing golden net covered the door.

'Great, ' Cassie thought as she stared at the closed door through the net. 'Maybe it's like Mr. Babbin's tusks.' She took a deep breath. 'The net is not there, ' she told herself. 'The net is not there.' Cassie reached for the doorknob. Again, her hand passed through the net allowing her to grip and turn the knob, opening the door. Before she could talk herself out of it, Cassie stepped forward, closing her eyes just before coming into contact with the net. She felt warm threads of gossamer stroke her face as she moved. The sensation faded and Cassie opened her eyes, finding herself standing on the threshold of the bakery, the golden net behind her.

'Well that settles that, ' Cassie thought. The net didn't prevent her from entering the building. She closed the door behind her, feeling slightly relieved when the golden net was no longer in sight.

Inside the bakery, Cassie tugged off her hat and gloves tucking them into her coat pocket as she walked towards the cloak room. Cassie slid her arms out of the straps of the survival pack. She frowned at its weight as she put it in her small locker. It filled up the small space provided for her things.

'And yet was in no way useful this morning, ' she thought.

In fact, Cassie forgot she had the pack with her. 'Not that my extra jar of peanut butter would have helped any.'

Cassie closed the locker door. She unbuttoned her coat and slipped it from her shoulders, hanging it on the provided hook next to the small section of stacked lockers. Despite there being many other employees, most of whom worked in the bakery full time, at least as far as she could tell, Cassie was the only one who used the lockers. She loosened her scarf and pulled it off also looping it over the hook. Before reaching for the apron and cap she would need to wear in the bakery workroom, Cassie checked her shirt for sweat stains, certain that after the tropical heat there would be some on the cloth of her long sleeved cotton t-shirt.

The collar of her shirt was damp, but did not appear too noticeable unless she touched it. She doubted anyone would be running their fingers along her shirt collar while she was at work. Likewise there was a damp patch at the small of her back where she was not only covered by her coat, but where the weight of her rucksack rested. She slipped the apron over her head and tied the strings. Luckily the overly large apron covered her back once it was in place.

'At least my deodorant is as good as advertised, ' she thought as she tucked her hair under her hat and went into the workroom. With no extra shirt to change into and knowing she would need to use her arms, lifting them frequently as she worked, she knew there was no way to hide pit stains.

Cassie took her place at the table, starting the first of her morning duties by mixing the dough for a batch of doughnuts. Throughout the workroom the other ladies hummed with the pleasant air of productivity. Demi, one of the women who had hair the color of wheat in the sunshine, was working next to her. She looked at Cassie and instead of offering her usual welcoming smile, she frowned slightly.

"You've been crying, " she said. Even though her words were not loud, Cassie could tell the other women were listening and waiting for her response. Cassie rubbed a hand across her cheek to erase the evidence and tried to think fast.

"I didn't think it showed, " she said apologetically. "I broke up with my boyfriend last night, " she said unable to think of anything else. Demi nodded and the other women favored her with sympathetic looks.

"If he did not see your worth, then you are much be

thick bank of clouds. She shivered as a deep gloom settled over the city making it seem much later than it was. Wondering if they were in for a storm, Cassie turned on her radio and clicked through the stations until she found a weather report. The report from the night before predicted cold with overcast skies and the possibility of light snow.

"Apparently, they changed their minds, " Cassie said. In a voice filled with doom and despair, the weatherman predicted a combination of snow and freezing rain destined to turn the city into an icy snow globe.

"Good thing I got groceries yesterday, " Cassie said as she pulled into the driveway. She parked and turned off the radio so it wouldn't blast her with weather and news when she next started the engine. She grabbed her survival pack and let herself into the house. Once inside, she locked the door behind her and rubbed her temple.

Despite being ready for Oliver's quiz, Cassie wasn't really in the mood for lessons. Mostly she wanted to put on a pair of fluffy pajamas and crawl into bed, pulling the blankets over her head and pretending the rest of the world did not exist.

"If I don't open the door when they knock, they will just break in to see what's going on, " she told herself. Cassie glared at the garden door as though it was at fault.

"I probably better get a new lock on that, " Cassie told herself as she continued through the living room and into her bedroom. She closed and locked the door. "They said Enki will be back soon." In his last sneaky visit he promised to return to see her after his trip, promising to play a new game. The thought made her blood run cold. Even if the new lock did look suspicious, she wanted it in place before he returned.

"Maybe Ina will help me circulate rumors of a break in while he was out of town, " Cassie shrugged out of the straps of her survival pack and let the pack fall onto the bed. She peeled off all of her winter gear and kicked off her shoes. Even though the sweat marks were no longer evident on her t-shirt, Cassie tugged it off and put on a soft wool sweater instead.

"It's not pajama pants, but it is soft and fluffy, " she said, feeling marginally better for the change. Cassie tossed her t-shirt into the hamper, but left everything else sprawled across the bed. She unlocked her bedroom door and returned to the kitchen. This time instead of making cookies the night before, Cassie put together a Bakewell tart. She liked the combination of the raspberries and the frangipane. She moved the long rectangular tart to a cutting board on the center island and placed a knife next to it. She checked the time and realized her visitors' arrival was eminent.

"Might as well put on the coffee, " she decided. While Bert didn't mind milk with his cookies, thinking it appropriate, Oliver wasn't a fan. "At least it's hot, " she decided as she measured grounds and filled the pot with water. The coffee pot beeped as she pressed the button to begin the brewing. As she stepped away from the coffee pot, Cassie felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She rubbed her arms, feeling the familiar prickle of the other's arrival.

"Right on time, " She said looking at the clock. Oliver may be picky about his beverage choice, but he was always on time. Cassie leaned on the kitchen island waiting for the knock to sound at the garden door. It didn't come. She frowned. She felt the prickle against her skin and knew they were out there. Why weren't they knocking?

'Oliver is fascinated by the yew and elder trees in the yard, ' Cassie thought. 'Maybe he stopped to look at them.' He often did when lessons took them outside. 'But he'd stop in to let me know he was here first.' He wouldn't let his interest make him late. 'Or at least Bert wouldn't.' The shorter man did not have the fascination with the trees that Oliver possessed and would insist on announcing their arrival first.

Cassie looked at the door. Still no knock sounded. 'Maybe Enki returned and they are all outside.' Deciding it might look suspicious if she stepped out for rosemary again as he was lurking even if she did put it to use, Cassie walked to the garden door. 'I'll just look up as though I'm checking the weather, ' she told herself.

Cassie looked out of the window, her eyes turned to the sky. Sure enough, clouds poured in and it looked as though a storm was brewing. The tree tops were swaying back and forth, bending this way and that in the strong breeze. Cassie wondered if they would snap. She let her gaze fall downward and sure enough she saw Bert and Oliver standing in the yard. They were not alone. Standing opposite the two of them as though they were posing for a Wild West style shoot out, were Abraham and Jacob.

"Better than Enki I suppose, " Cassie told herself. "And all four know I can see them."

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