Read The Faerie Path Online

Authors: Frewin Jones

The Faerie Path

The Faerie Path
Frewin Jones

For Rod

Faeries tread the faerie path
Amber-trapped though moth-wing light they be
Mortals stay in mortal world
Iron-clad with half-blind eyes they see

One alone will walk both worlds
Daughter last of daughters seven
With her true love by her side
Honest hand in true love given

Contents

Part One
: Anita

I

Anita Palmer stepped out of the shower and reached for…

II

At first there was just the voice.

III

“Anita? Come on, dear—up you get.”

IV

For a few moments, Anita gazed down in sheer astonishment.

V

“This room is known as the Queen’s State Bedchamber,” the…

VI

Anita spotted her new ball-gown the moment that she and…

VII

Anita and Zara were sitting on the bed in Anita’s…

VIII

Anita felt the bus hit her. It was like a…

Part Two
: Tania

IX

Tania awoke with a start. She remembered returning to her…

X

For a few moments, Tania just stood in the corridor,…

XI

She was crouched on the ground with her arms folded…

XII

Tania opened a window and leaned out into the warm,…

XIII

Tania scrambled to her feet. Even though the woman’s features…

XIV

Tania wrenched her sister’s hand away from the smouldering book…

XV

It was late afternoon of the same day; Tania and…

XVI

“What treachery is this?” Gabriel hissed, and all the kindness…

XVII

Tania looked around the unlit room, trying to work out…

XVIII

Tania backed away from her sister, gripping the sword tightly…

XIX

Tania managed to squirm out of the way just as…

XX

With a cry of dismay, Tania tore her hand free…

Anita Palmer stepped out of the shower and reached for the bath towel. Wrapping it around herself, she padded over to the mirror. She lifted her hand and swept a clear path across the misted glass before leaning forward to look at her reflection.

Her long red hair clung to her head like seaweed to a rock, framing her heart-shaped face with its wide mouth and high cheekbones. She leaned closer, staring into her mirrored eyes. The irises were a smoky green. Nothing particularly remarkable about them.

Or was there?

She leaned even closer.

Gold flecks deep in the green irises—that was what she was looking for.

Evan had said that if he looked into her eyes for long enough, he could see gold dust in them.

Anita grinned.

Gold dust in her eyes.

Sometimes when she was with Evan she could almost believe she had gold dust in her eyes.

She frowned.

It was quite scary—the feelings that Evan Thomas was stirring up in her.

Were they real? They felt real enough. Over the past few weeks thinking about Evan had somehow become the default setting of her brain. And she kept seeing his face—in the swirls of a freshly stirred cup of coffee. In shadows and light. In clouds. In the darkness behind her closed eyelids.

She recalled lines from the play they had been rehearsing for the end-of-term performance. Shakespeare.
Romeo and Juliet
.

She could hear Evan’s voice in her head.

“But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is my sun!”

She’d said to him, “That’s not right, Evan. Romeo says, ‘
and Juliet is
the
sun
’ not ‘
my
sun.’”

He’d smiled and said, “No—you’re Juliet, and you’re definitely
my
sun.”

And the way he had looked into her eyes right then had made her feel like the whole world was turning upside down and inside out all around her.

She laughed into the mirror, shaking her head to dislodge the memory. Still grinning, she threw the towel up over her head and rubbed vigorously at her wet hair. She didn’t want to be late meeting Evan today—
especially
not today.

She winced as the towel scraped against the two itchy points on her back. She lowered the towel and angled her bare back to the mirror, craning to see over her shoulder. Something had bitten her. Twice. There was an angry red point on each shoulder blade. They had been there for a few days now. Very irritating, and in such an awkward place to scratch. She’d have to wear something that covered her back—the last thing she wanted was for Evan to think she was crawling with fleas.

She looked into the mirror again.

Did she really love Evan, or was she just getting tangled up in the fact that she had to
act
as if she loved him in the play? No, she was sure that it was much more than that. She had felt a strange, thrilling flutter in her stomach when she had been chosen to play Juliet opposite his Romeo, and over the weeks of rehearsals, as she had gotten to know him better, that thrill had just kept getting more and more intense.

She thought back to the auditions. Everyone had been surprised that Evan had shown up at all. He had only been at the school for six months, and he had always seemed so reserved and self-contained, not the type of person who’d want a major part in the school production. He was amiable enough in class, but he hadn’t made any close friends and the other students mostly thought of him as something of a loner. No one had ever been invited to his home, and he didn’t hang out with them on weekends or go to any parties.

Anita could remember exactly when Evan had
first turned up. It had been on the same day as the school trip to Hampton Court.

It had been a weird day. She knew it was called déjà vu when you have vivid memories of a place you’ve never been to, and that’s how she had felt from the moment the bus had driven up to the parking lot and she had first set eyes on the sixteenth-century palace at Hampton Court—the feeling that she’d been there before. The sturdy red-brick Tudor towers and buildings with their cream-colored stone battlements and ornamentations, and the cobbled courtyards and wide, formal gardens—they had all seemed strangely familiar. But when she mentioned this later to her parents, assuming she’d visited the palace when she was much younger, they said they’d never taken her there.

The strangest thing of all had been the world-famous maze. It was a large triangular block of tall hedges, grown close together to create a warren of narrow winding corridors. Pretty much every visitor to the palace wanted to put their sense of direction to the test and find their way to the center. Everyone from the school bus had bundled in there, the boys boasting that they’d get to the middle first. It had been total chaos—most of them got hopelessly lost and had to be guided through by the people shouting from the wooden viewing platforms.

At first Anita had hung back. The green tunnels of the hedges had given her a creepy feeling that she couldn’t explain. But then her best friend, Jade, had
grabbed her arm and dragged her in—and once she was in the maze, the oddest thing had happened. Somehow she had known the path, and made her way to the little statue in the center without taking a single wrong turn. “How about that?” she’d said to Jade, laughing. “Am I a genius, or what?” But Jade had said it was just luck.

That same afternoon, she had seen him for the first time. The most gorgeous boy she had ever set eyes on in her entire life, standing outside the school gates when the bus pulled up. Evan Thomas—a new student who had just moved into the area.

And here she was, six months later, not only playing Juliet to his Romeo, but—more stunning yet—with Evan as her first-ever boyfriend.

At the early rehearsals, Anita had been nervous about getting the complicated words wrong or falling over her feet, but Evan had been friendly and helpful to her. And he turned out to have a great sense of humor. In the death scene at the end, she had to throw herself across him as he lay on the floor, but he kept giggling, which would start her off, and often the rehearsals would end up with the pair of them laughing hopelessly.

That was really when they had started to bond—that, and lunches together in the school cafeteria to discuss the play. Except that the more they met, the less they talked about
Romeo and Juliet
. After a couple of weeks, it had seemed perfectly natural for them to go to a café together after school. She could still
vividly remember sitting across the table from him that first time—just sitting there gazing into his eyes and not hearing a single word he was saying.

She had found it so easy to tell him about all her secret wishes and desires—things she had never told anyone else. Like the fact that, if she did well in her exams, she planned to fill a backpack and tour Europe or America. Then go to college, and maybe have a career as an investigative journalist. And afterward—well, the rest of her life. Traveling the world. Having adventures. Always with a home to come back to, of course—a white house perched on high cliffs overlooking the sea. A husband. Children.

And she had wanted to know every detail of his life. But he would just shrug and say it was too boring to talk about. He had relatives in Wales, but he didn’t really get on with them. He had come to London to escape—and he’d found her! And that’s when his life had really started, or so he had said.

“That’s just silly!” she’d told him, but it had made her feel special to believe he really thought that way.

He always wore a broad leather strap around his wrist, tied with two thin leather cords. Set into the leather band was a small, flat black stone. He told her it was a family heirloom, the only part of his family that he would never part with. “Why’s that?” she had asked, intrigued. “What’s the significance?”

But he had just smiled. “I’ll tell you one day,” he’d said. “Not now, but soon. I promise.” Very mysterious! Anita liked that—the feeling that there was
so much more to find out about him.

Of course, Jade and the others wanted all the details of her private time with Evan—what had happened? Did he walk her home? Had he kissed her? Were they an item?
We talked, that’s all, and he bought me a coffee. Yes, he walked me home. No, we didn’t kiss. Not then, anyway. Are we an item? I don’t know…yet.

Anita looked into the mirror. Their first kiss had been pretty amazing. That was when he had told her about the gold dust in her eyes—and at that moment she had believed him.

A couple of days ago he had revealed that he had arranged something for her birthday. She was going to be sixteen tomorrow. A lunchtime barbecue with all her friends had been organized at her house for tomorrow, but Evan said he wanted to do something really special the day before, just for the two of them. When Anita asked him what he had planned, he told her she’d have to wait and see.

Maybe he would take her to some romantic place and tell her he loved her.

She gazed at her reflection. How would she feel about that? No one had ever said anything like that to her before. The idea of Evan saying that he loved her was huge and kind of scary—but it was pretty exciting too.

And she had the overwhelming feeling that she’d want to tell him the same thing right back.

She stared at herself in the mirror and mouthed the words silently:
I love you, Evan
. Her eyes widened.
She didn’t know whether to yell with laughter or scream in panic.

A sudden flare up of itchiness on her shoulder blades broke into her thoughts and she opened the bathroom cabinet to look for some antihistamine cream.

 

It was half an hour later that she ran down the hall, shouting good-bye to her mum and dad as she passed the open living room door.

“You’re late!” her father called. “Evan will probably have got fed up waiting. He’ll be long gone by the time you arrive.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dad!” Anita called back, grinning. “I think he’ll be a bit more patient than that.”

She bounded down the front steps, swinging on the railings and running down the pavement toward the Camden Town Underground Station. All that effort to look good for Evan, and now she was going arrive sweaty and breathless and late.

Now is the sun upon the highmost hill of this long day’s journey…it is three long hours—yet she is not come…

 

Anita let out a yell of exhilaration as the speedboat skimmed the water and the wind whipped her hair against her cheeks.

“What do you think of your birthday surprise so far?” Evan shouted over the roar of the engine and the slap and smash of the keel on the water. “Like it?”

“Like it? I
love
it!” She let out another yell as the prow dipped and rose, cutting the rippling surface of the river like a hot knife. Fine spray stung her face. “This is the best present I’ve ever had!”

He smiled at her, lifting one hand off the wheel and reaching out to stroke her hair. Trembling a little at his touch, she took his hand. She kissed it and pressed it to her cheek. She was so happy that she felt like she was about to burst right out of her skin. She looked at Evan, her heart pounding. His dark blonde hair was flying back off his face. His wide chestnut brown eyes were narrowed against the wind, his lips spread in that gorgeous smile.

Evan guided the boat under one of the curved arches of Westminster Bridge. They were in shade for a heartbeat, then they shot out into bright sunlight again. To the right, Anita could see the Gothic spires of the Houses of Parliament, backed by the office blocks and towers of London, glittering against the clear blue sky.

“This is just the start of it,” he went on. “We’re going all the way up to Richmond. We can have something to eat and hang by the river for a while. Then I’m going to bring you back to town for some heavy-duty clubbing.” He smiled at her. “Are you up for that?”

“You bet!”

Evan had not said a single word of complaint when she had turned up half an hour late at Monument Tube Station. He had simply kissed her hello, then
taken her hand and led her down to the river. They had walked along a bobbing jetty and down to the small, sleek speedboat that he had hired for the day.

A few minutes later they had been speeding along the Thames with their curved wake lifting like a swan’s wing behind them.

“Where did you learn to drive a boat?” Anita called.

Evan grinned at her. “Are you impressed?”

“Very!”

Evan laughed. “I’m multitalented—didn’t you know?” He wiggled the steering wheel from side to side and the boat did a little jig on the water.

“Don’t!” Anita gasped. She grabbed the metal rail. “Ow!” she exclaimed, snatching her hand back.

“What’s wrong?” Evan called.

Anita rubbed her fingers. “I got a shock from the metal rail.”

“It’s your electric personality,” he said, slowing down the boat as they passed a water taxi.

She frowned at him. “Don’t make fun—it stings!” She was able to speak at a more natural level now that they weren’t moving so fast. “It’s been going on for a couple of weeks now. Every time I touch something metal, I get a shock. Dad says it’s static electricity.”

Evan shrugged. “So stop touching metal things.”

“That’s easier said than done,” Anita pointed out. “How do I eat if I can’t hold a knife and fork? It’s very annoying. If it carries on, I’m going to have to start
wearing gloves all the time.” She shook her head. “It would happen to me!”

“Do weird things often happen to you, then?” Evan asked, looking at her sideways with an amused gleam in his eyes.

“Not weird, just awkward,” Anita said. “Mum says I’m accident-prone. Dad says I was probably born under an unlucky star.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” Evan said.

Ahead of them, Lambeth Bridge was getting rapidly closer.

“I certainly don’t feel unlucky right now,” Anita said. She grinned.

“Good.” He glanced at her again, suddenly looking more serious. “Anita? There’s something important I have to tell you.”

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