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   Chapter 2 Jade

Lullaby (Fable Saga Book 2) By Saskia Snow Characters: 12649

Updated: 2021-04-12 11:31


By the time we get into town, it’s well past 9am. The walk from the cabin to the car park took longer than usual – Kitty insisted on wearing kitten heels for our little excursion. Even though they’re pretty low compared to her usual footwear, she still fell flat on her butt right at the start of the hike, and moved at a snail’s pace after that.It could be worse though. At least she’s not wearing stilettos.Still, her feet are covered in blisters after their ordeal, so it’s a blessing that we were able to get into the jeep at the car park and drive into town, rather than Kitty hobbling all the way.By now, the boys should have woken up and found the note I left for them on the fridge. Hopefully they’ll just carry on without me, and they’re in the recording studio working on melodies and lyrics for the new songs.As we drive along NW 32nd Avenue, Kitty points out posh designer boutiques and artisan bakeries, working up a mental shopping list before we even set foot out of the car. By the time we’ve found a shady parking in a nearby lot, Kitty’s already decided on two handbags, a pair of shoes and a dress, all spotted in shop windows as we drove past them.Shopping with Kitty is an experience.As soon as she sees a store she likes, she swoops in, like a sartorial bird of prey, drops between five hundred to five thousand dollars, and is out in less than five minutes. Within an hour we’ve visited about twenty stores, are carrying at least ten bags in each hand, and have spent enough to send me through college several times over.“I wish you’d let me buy you something,” Kitty says, holding up a red mini dress and wiggling it in front of me. The boutique we’re in is called Sable & Sabine, and I’ve never set foot in it before, on account of the sky-high prices. In fact, it’s pretty much the most expensive dress shop in Portland, maybe even Oregon. Jamie’s gone in a few times (in the name of fashion) but she’s never actually bought anything, because she says that the snooty shop assistants always give her insane bitch face.We’re certainly not having that problem right now. The moment Kitty waltzed in with her multitude of designer boutique shopping bags and the confidence of a queen, the assistants practically groveled before her. I'm tempted to ask Kitty how her parents made so much money. I think I remember reading somewhere that the Lockhart's have old family money, which Felix's granddad squandered – but Felix's dad made it all back and more through some business he started. I never imagined that they were so super rich though. Based on the rate at which Kitty is plundering the high street, her dad must be a multi-millionaire. A billionaire, even.“Do you think this dress is more sexy vamp or 80s prom?” she asks, holding up a ruffled black velvet dress. “I like it, but I also sort of hate it. Think I should get it?”“How much does it cost?” I ask, already dreading the answer.“Who cares?” she says, handing the dress to a shop assistant. “I’ll take it. And that gold one in the window too. Ash, are you sure you don’t want anything?”“I’m ok,” I say. It is sort of tempting to take up the offer, and most girls would. But somehow I don’t feel right letting Kitty spend money on me. And all these clothes are so sophisticated and showy. I couldn’t pull it off. I’d just look silly, like a little girl playing dress up in her mother’s closet.“All this hard work is really getting to me,” Kitty says as she swipes her American Express Black Card. “I need some shopping fuel, stat. Let’s get something to eat.”My stomach growls loudly at the thought of food, which sends Kitty into a fit of giggles.“Sounds like you’re also hungry,” she says.“Starving,” I say. “Voodoo Doughnut is just up the road, or we could try-”“No,” Kitty interrupts me. “I want to see your restaurant.”“My parents’ restaurant,” I say.“Whatever. Let’s go there for lunch.”“Biblio only opens in the evening,” I say, checking the time on my phone. “But the Night Owl should be opening up right about now.”I almost ask her if it would be ok for me to call my friends and invite them too. I haven’t seen them in over a week, after all. But some small part of me says it’s a better idea not to.On the night with the snake, Kitty said something about Felix changing when he was a kid. He wasn’t always so dark-hearted and sarcastic. It sounded like she was saying that something specific happened. Like a traumatic event of some sort. This could be my chance to find out more about Felix’s past.“The chocolate cake’s legendary,” I say. “Seriously, to die for.”“Perfect,” says Kitty. “Lead the way.”

*****

The Night Owl is just waking up as we arrive. Out on the sidewalk, the new girl is setting up the chalkboard with today’s specials as the coffee machines stir to life within. She looks up as we walk by and yawns a halfhearted greeting to me, probably out of obligation because I’m the boss’s daughter.The tables inside are already filling up. The Night Owl doesn’t do a proper lunch menu – it’s more like a deli or café vibe, with sandwiches and scones and cookies – but it’s still a lunchtime favorite in the area. We find a table at the back of the café, tucked away in a cozy nook under the stairs. Then it dawns on me.This is where I first saw Felix. He was sitting right here, at this table. This exact spot. Probably on this very chair, watching me play. On the night it all began.I squirm uncomfortably in my seat and skim through the menu, even though I already know the whole selection off by heart.Don’t think about Felix. Don’t think about how he pinned me to my bed, don’t think about how close his face was, inches from my own. Think of anything else, but not Felix. “So, what’s going on with you and my brother?” Kitty says.WTF she’s a goddam mind reader. Dammit.“Nothing,” I say. “Really?” Kitty says, narrowing her eyes at me. “I know he’s… complicated. If you want to talk about anything, I’m all ears.”“Seriously, there’s nothing going on between us,” I say, raising my menu to cover my now violently red cheeks. Just the fact that anyone, especially Felix’s own sister, could even suggest something like that – it’s too much. I’m not just a virgin – I’m an ultra-virgin. As inexperienced as it’s possible to be. I’m the girl who’s never dated a guy. I haven’t ev

en kissed a guy. I’m pretty sure that the incident with Felix on my bed the other night and Alastaire’s repeated flirting don’t count. How could she ever suggest that something might actually be going on? It’s just embarrassing.“Hey Ashling,” a familiar voice says right behind me. “Long time no see.”I get such a fright I almost jump out of my chair. Turning around, it takes me a moment to recognize Jade. There’s something different about him today. His normally loose dark blonde hair is tied up in a man bun, and instead of his usual paint-smudged vests or t-shirts, he’s wearing a grey v-neck sweater. But that’s not what’s so different about him today. It’s the look on his face.Jade’s usual super-chilled-cloud-nine-dreamer-artist expression is replaced by huge, corny grin, his grey eyes sparkling in a way I’ve never noticed before. That’s when I realize that his eyes are fixed firmly on Kitty.“You’re not from Portland, are you?” he asks Kitty.Kitty shuffles in her chair slightly, visibly stiffening under his gaze. She narrows her eyes ever so slightly, giving me a quick, questioning glance.“No, I’m not,” she tells Jade carefully, a little coldly even.“I didn’t think so,” Jade says. “I would have recognized you. What are you up to tomorrow night?”Wow. Just like that.Kitty’s ice queen mask drops, as she stares at Jade with a horrified expression on her face.“Excuse me?” She says.“Are you free tomorrow night?” Jade repeats confidently. “I thought we could-““Absolutely not,” Kitty says, looking down at her menu.I look from Kitty to Jade wondering if there’s anything I can do to defuse the awkward situation, but Jade doesn’t seem rattled at all.“Let me change your mind,” he says.“I’ll have a cappuccino,” Kitty says, blatantly ignoring him. “What are you having Ash?”“Oh um… I’ll have the same,” I say, glancing at Jade apologetically as I say it. But it’s like I’m barely here. Jade’s looking at Kitty in a way I’ve never actually seen him look at a girl before. It’s the special look he reserves for his artwork, when he’s staring at one of his swirling paint-splattered canvases. A look of pure captivation. Enthrallment. Rapture.I shouldn't be surprised, really. Kitty's undeniably stunning. A ten out of ten. And she basically oozes mystery."Two cappuccinos, got it," Jade says. "Anything to eat?"Kitty doesn't look up from her menu, and I can see by the way she's running her fingers through her black hair that she's actually nervous. “No, we’re not hungry,” she lies. “Just the cappuccinos. Thanks.”“You will be hungry after you have a bite of the beetroot and chocolate cake we just took out the oven,” he says. “I’ll bring a slice over. You’ll love it. Trust me.”He scoops up the menus and walks away before Kitty can disagree. She’s watching him open mouthed, her eyes blazing with anger.“Who in the name of god was that, and just who does he think he is?” she says.“That’s Jade,” I say. “He’s a barista. And an amazing painter too actually. He was in the art class my gran taught at-““Is he always like that?” she asks, her eyes following him across the room as he whips up our cappuccinos behind the counter."I guess," I say. "He's always trying out new recipes for the cake stand and forcing me to taste test them. They're always super delicious though." “That’s not what I meant,” Kitty says. “Is he always like that with girls? Like, asking random strangers on dates the second he meets them?”“I don’t know,” I say.Jade’s gone through his fair share of girls over the past few years, but he’s not some sort of creep who’ll just hit on anything female. Jamie’s been throwing herself at him for ages now and he’s always brushed her off like a total gentleman.“How old is he?” Kitty asks abruptly.“Twenty-one,” I answer. “Why?”Kitty’s cheeks flush ever so slightly. “No reason,” she says airily.OMG. She likes him.“Why don’t you take him up on his offer?” I blurt out. “On the date, I mean.”“What?” Kitty asks, her eyes still fixed firmly on Jade on the other side of the room. “Why would I want to do that?”“Well, because the attraction’s clearly mutual,” I say.I probably shouldn’t be making suggestions and giving advice on stuff I have absolutely no idea about, but c’mon. It’s obvious.“You’re imagining things,” Kitty says. “Besides, he’s not my type.”“What is your type?” I ask, picturing Damon from The Vampire Diaries or some exquisitely chiseled fashion model in a men’s fragrance advert.“Clean cut,” Kitty says. “Polo shirts. Suits. Country club. Not artsy grunge. And not so… so… annoying.”Right on cue, Jade brings a tray to the table with our cappuccinos and a plate with two forks on either side of a gooey slice of chocolate beetroot cake.“Who ruins a perfectly good cake with vegetables anyway?” Kitty mutters. “It’s savagery.”“Don’t bash it till you try it,” Jade says with a wink, before heading back to the coffee station. Kitty pokes the cake with her fork suspiciously, but she takes a bite and almost immediately goes back for more.“It would be pointless, anyway,” she says between forkfuls. “I mean, we’ll probably be leaving in less than a week anyway. Felix says the album’s coming together perfectly.”As she says his name, I get that same old familiar stinging in my heart. All the activity today took my mind off the painful purple bruise that appeared over my scar that night, when the silver serpent thing flew at me in the woods.I reach up reflexively, touching it through the thin material of my shirt.“Does it hurt?” Kitty asks, her eyes creasing with worry.“A little bit,” I reply. Kitty nods slowly, a faraway look in her eyes.“That thing… it wasn’t a hologram, was it?” She says.“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I don’t think it was.”Maybe I should tell her about the strange shadows I’ve been seeing in the woods. The dreams. The way I found my bike decayed almost beyond recognition after spending no more than a day on the forest floor. The Irish fairy tale. “Ash, is there something you’re not telling me?” Kitty asks.I can’t do it. I can’t say anything to her. Not until I know more. She’ll think I’m crazy as hell if I try explain to her. Not that I even know what I’d say anyway. One thing I do know however is I need some answers. And I have a pretty good idea where I’m going to get them.

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