Are you ready for Chapter Three?
I am currently publishing a serialised, young adult fantasy story called “Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five”. Part One and Part Two have been released already on Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple Books. The story is also available on paperback via Amazon.
As a treat for you, I have been publishing the first “Sapphire Smyth” instalment a chapter at a time – right here on my blog! This started last week, and you can read the story here for FREE. If you need to catch up, here are the previous chapters…
Today, the story continues, and you will find ‘Chapter Three’ from Part One of “Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five” below. I do hope you enjoy the story, and I’d love it if we could chat more in the comments.
Sapphire didn’t stop running until she reached Ben’s house. Though she was drained, she lifted her hand to bang on the front door, but something was holding her back. How could she explain what had happened? Ben was her closest friend, but he couldn’t possibly understand. Then again, Sapphire couldn’t comprehend what she had seen either.
‘C’mon, Sapphire,’ she mumbled. ‘It’s Ben. It will be fine. Come on. You can do this.’
As she paced around in the entranceway, Sapphire considered what she might say. Her thoughts were jumbled. She had no idea what would be the best thing to do. Ben could help, she was certain of it. Still, Sapphire couldn’t find the courage to get his attention.
‘Do it,’ she said, turning to face the bright crimson door. ‘You can… do it!’
The house that Ben lived in was enormous, and it always intimidated Sapphire a little. Actually, it was Ben’s uncle’s house, but Ben had spent most of his time there since leaving school. In any case, it was a much bigger home than the one Sapphire had been raised in. The building was three floors high, and several stone steps led up to the entrance from the driveway. What Sapphire loved the most were the two windows bulging from the walls on the ground floor—one on either side of the front doorway. Sapphire had always wondered how rich Ben’s uncle was. She was certain he was one of the wealthiest people living in Toyn.
Sucking in some courage, Sapphire clenched her shaky hand and stepped closer to the house. But before she could strike the door, it swung open. Ben was there to greet her. Sapphire’s legs weakened with relief.
‘Saffy!’ Ben extended both arms to grab Sapphire, but she shoved past him without accepting his compassion.
After marching into the entrance hall, Sapphire stopped and circled back to Ben. Tears were seeping from her eyes, and it was impossible for her to hold in her anguish. Ben slammed the door closed and hurried across the wooden floor.
‘What happened? Saff. Your clothes. What happened?’
Sapphire’s arms went limp and hung by her sides. She hadn’t noticed how mucky her clothes were. With her auburn fringe drooping over her face, she could barely focus on Ben. As soon as he wrapped his arms around her, Sapphire squirmed out of his hold.
‘No! I shouldn’t have come.’
When Sapphire attempted to leave, Ben stood in her way. ‘You should. You should have come here. What happened to you?’
‘I need to go!’ Agitated, Sapphire thrust her hands into Ben, but he didn’t budge. ‘Let me go! I shouldn’t be here.’
Ben rubbed his beard with one hand, and he stared straight at Sapphire. ‘Please, Saffy. Stay. You can talk to—.’
‘Can’t. Don’t know what to…’ Sapphire clutched at Ben’s arm. She kept thinking about the man in Greyflower Gardens, and how he had called her a freak. Was she a freak? Would Ben think she was?
With his hand clasped over Sapphire’s, Ben offered a gentle smile. ‘At least stay for a coffee. Think we could both do with coffee.’
Unsure what else to do, Sapphire shrugged her shoulders. Ben extended an arm to invite her into the house, but she was still wary. With a single nod, Ben turned and sauntered through the hall. Sapphire hesitated, trying to focus on something else to calm herself down.
The various trinkets that adorned the walls in Ben’s uncle’s house had always intrigued Sapphire. Objects hung from every wall in the hallway, and she was sure the collection grew every time she visited. There were paintings, ornate pieces of china, and even coloured bottles that dangled off string. Most of the decorations gave Sapphire the shivers, but there was one piece that she’d always found captivating.
Suspended on one wall, all alone, was a single lump of wood. The artefact was about twice the size of a dinner plate, but it was square in shape. Etched into the surface of the wood, were nine similar-sized designs. One of the images appeared to represent a mermaid, whilst another looked like the head of a dragon. There were some other carvings that Sapphire found impossible to recognise, too. Nonetheless, the wooden wall-hanging made a beautiful feature. After studying the art piece—for at least the hundredth time—Sapphire trailed after Ben.
The kitchen was at the rear of the house, and a timber dining table with six matching chairs sat proudly in the middle of the gleaming marble floor. Sapphire knew the room well. Whenever she visited Ben, they always wound up in the kitchen. In fact, they always drank coffee there too. Coffee seemed to help them get through anything. Well, most things. Sapphire wasn’t sure coffee could help this time.
Ben fumbled with the coffee-maker and kept his eyes fixed on Sapphire. ‘So?’
‘So.’ Sapphire echoed, as she removed her mud-covered jacket and hung it on the back of a chair. One word was about all she could muster at first.
‘Where’s your stuff? Your bag?’
Sapphire sat down, rested her elbows on the table, and hid her head with her hands. ‘There was someone else,’ she said. ‘Someone was there. In the park. I… I…’
Ben’s tone softened. ‘Take your time.’
‘I… I think I hurt him!’ said Sapphire, in a sort of squeaky voice. Lifting her head, she struggled to make eye contact with Ben.
‘Hurt who? How?’
Sapphire examined her grazed palms, then wiped her damp cheeks. ‘Don’t know who. He… I…’
Ben stopped what he was doing and drifted to the table. He was still wearing the same wet clothes that he’d had on in the park. As always, he had his yoyo too, which was tucked into his shirt pocket. When he sat opposite Sapphire, she lowered her head to avoid looking at him. Without saying anything, Ben placed a hand on the table in case she needed it.
After calming her breathing, Sapphire clutched at her hair. ‘There was a man. Don’t know who. But… something… I don’t know. I just don’t!’
‘You hurt this man?’
‘Yes! Well… I think.’
‘I don’t know. No. Sure he’s fine.’
With his free hand, Ben brushed his dark fringe back. ‘Then, hurt in what way?’
There was no way that Sapphire could answer. She didn’t know much about what happened in the park. One minute, she had conjured up magical creatures in her mind; the next, there was a man lying at her feet. Somehow, Sapphire had put him there. Somehow. Sapphire knew the man wasn’t seriously injured, but that was about all she knew. Besides, that wasn’t the point. She’d never hurt anyone in her life.
Sapphire felt icy cold. Her fingers trembled and her wet clothing irritated her skin. For a moment, she glimpsed her bangle. The item of jewellery—which had belonged to her mum—had a lot of explaining to do. If only it could.
‘Ben,’ whispered Sapphire. ‘I don’t remember what happened.’
The edge of Ben’s mouth lifted. ‘How did you get here, Saff?’
‘Ran. I ran here! When I got away from him, I ran. Don’t know how I wound up here though.’
‘There’s a reason you came here,’ said Ben.
‘Maybe. I don’t know.’ Sapphire’s eyes wandered. On one of the kitchen walls, there were several wooden-framed glass cabinets. Sapphire didn’t remember seeing any unusual relics in the kitchen before. Each cabinet contained at least a dozen decorative tankards—too many of the unusual curios to count. Regardless, the designs on the tankards fascinated Sapphire. She was drawn to them in some way.
‘Where did they come from?’ Sapphire probed, pointing at the tankards. ‘They haven’t always been here, have they? Thought all the weird stuff was kept in the hall.’
Ben frowned and pulled his hand back. ‘You want to talk about something else?’
‘No. But there’s not much more I can say.’
When Ben rubbed his head, Sapphire lunged forwards and snatched his hand. ‘What’s that?’ she asked, twisting Ben’s fingers for a better view. Something had been printed on Ben’s palm. Confused, Sapphire yanked him closer. She could see a dark silhouette-style motif resting in the centre of Ben’s hand. The image was a perfect match for the cog design on his yoyo. Sapphire wasn’t sure if it was a tattoo, but it looked like one.
‘When did you get that? I don’t remember you having it.’
‘You want to talk about my hand now?’ Ben’s tone was stern when he tugged his fingers from Sapphire’s grip. ‘Saff, we need to talk about what happened to you. Why you were so upset when you got here.’
‘You,’ said Sapphire, ‘need to be making coffee.’
Ben’s chair squeaked when he stood. ‘Don’t forget who your friends are, Saff. You know I’ll help you if I can.’
Before Sapphire could reply she heard a noise, and it was coming from the hall. ‘Someone’s here. Ben. Who? Why didn’t you say someone else was in the house?’
‘What?’ Ben spun back. ‘Oh. Don’t worry. It’s only—’
When someone wandered through the kitchen doorway, Sapphire squirmed. The young woman, who couldn’t have been any older than Sapphire, floated into the room. She was quite a bit taller than Sapphire, and she had a long chestnut-brown ponytail which ran down her back. There was something sophisticated about the woman’s simple stone-grey sweater too.
‘Hello,’ said the newcomer, with a puzzled expression. ‘And you are?’
Sapphire scowled. ‘Nobody. I’m nobody.’ Wasting no time, Sapphire got out of her chair and collected her jacket. She felt betrayed in some way.
‘Saff. Don’t,’ said Ben. ‘Please, let me explain.’
‘No need!’ Sapphire glowered at the woman she hadn’t expected to be there. ‘Great to meet you! I think.’
Feeling flustered, Sapphire slid out of the kitchen and headed for the front door.
That’s all for today, but I will be back very soon with Chapter Four. Are you enjoying the story so far? Please feel free to get in touch below.
If you want to grab a copy of this book, it is available on Kindle & Paperback via Amazon. The eBook is also available on Kobo, Nook and Apple Books.
P.S. Here are the links to find the book on Amazon and KOBO…