Destiny (Absent Shadows Trilogy Book 1)

BOOK: Destiny (Absent Shadows Trilogy Book 1)
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D
ESTINY

Absent Shadows Trilogy:
Book One

Copyright © 2014 S M Spencer

All rights are reserved. The material contained within this book is protected by copyright law, no part may be copied, reproduced, presented, stored, communicated or transmitted in any form by any means without prior written permission.

This publication is a work of fiction. All characters and places, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cover image (young man) by Dreamstime

Cover images (young girl and background) by Shutterstock

eISBN:- 978-0-9925216-8-4

Destiny:
‘The predetermined or inevitable path a person must follow.’

~ C
HAPTER
O
NE
~

As I sit here waiting to depart, memories of the last time I’d seen my Aunt Debs come flooding back. Standing next to her at my father’s grave site, I had watched unseeingly as men lowered his casket into the earth. It was raining, and there was water streaming from the edges of my umbrella, and I remember being worried about my new shoes.

My little sister was whimpering—she was only seven. But Mom and Aunt Debs didn’t cry. Like me, they stared blankly from behind dark glasses that seemed completely unnecessary on such a sunless day.

But what I remember the most was how it had felt. It was like I wasn’t really there … like I was as far away then as I am now. I don’t think I believed it was real. But it had been real: as real as life gets.

The day Aunt Debs left to go home was the day I finally got up the courage to ask Mom how he’d died. They’d been at a New Year’s Eve party. Dad had offered to make the short trip to go get more beer. He’d told Mom he’d be back shortly. But he didn’t come back. Ever.

The police said a drunk driver ran a red light … that Dad would have died instantly. They said he’d have felt no pain. But how they could know that?

The crack of a loudspeaker startled me out of my memories.

‘The Captain has put on the seatbelt sign. Please ensure your seat back is up, and your tray table is stowed for take-off.’

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ said a girl’s voice from the aisle. ‘I think we all know the drill by now, don’t you? Anyway, that’s my seat,’ she said, pointing to the seat next to mine.

I reached across, picked up my magazines and shoved them into the seat pocket in front of me. Then I looked up at the girl who I guessed was about the same age as me—nineteen, maybe twenty. Her accent was Australian. And she was beautiful. She had perfect white teeth, long blonde hair and big blue eyes. She looked the sort of girl that would have been a cheerleader in high school—quite the opposite of me. I was that other sort—the one that wouldn’t have made the cheerleader squad if my life had depended on it.

As she sat down, I looked over at her and mumbled, ‘Sorry. It’s all new to me; I’ve never been on a plane before.’

‘Never?’ she said, staring at me with a look that said it all—someone our age who had never flown. ‘Wow. Explains why you look so nervous. It’ll be fine. Trust me. I’ve done this flight, like, a million times.’

‘Wow—I’m impressed. You must be older than you look,’ I said, trying to be funny, but suspecting she’d get bored with me soon enough.

She frowned. ‘Really? Well … I’m twenty-one. And of course it hasn’t been a million times, but it’s been heaps. Dad moved to California when my parents got divorced, so I’ve been going over every year since I was eight. Anyway, I’m Claire … Claire Davis. And you are …?’

‘Oh, sorry … Lili—with an “i”… Lili McIntyre.’

‘Nice to meet you, Lili with an “i”… Australia for the summer holidays, is it?’

‘Holidays? I guess … I mean I’m going over to stay with my aunt for a couple of months.’

‘Really? Cool. So, you have relatives in Australia … but you’re American, right?’

‘Yeah …well, both actually.’

‘Awesome. So, your parents must be Australian?’

‘My father was.’

‘Was? Oh … I’m sorry … I guess that means he died?’

‘Yeah, but … it was a long time ago. My aunt lives there—in Australia. I’m going over to stay with her for the summer.’

‘Cool,’ she said, dragging out the word. ‘Any cousins?’

‘No, just my aunt and her husband.’

‘Oh. So, do you know where you’ll be staying?’

There was a loud clunk and I jumped and looked out the window. Claire just giggled. ‘Chill out—it’s just them backing away from the gate. So, do you know where they live?’

‘In Melbourne somewhere … something about docks … so it must be near water?’

‘Awesome. It’ll be easier to do things if you’re near the city. It’s way better than being stuck out in some boring old suburb.’

‘Yeah, that’s true. I mean, I won’t have a car or anything, but my aunt said the train system is pretty good.’

‘Yeah? Well, I have a car,’ she said, raising an eyebrow and giving me a half smile.

‘Cool,’ I replied. ‘So anyway, I’ll be able to work. I mean … it’s two months, so I’ll need to do something … unless I hate it, of course, and go home early.’

‘Oh, you won’t hate it. Melbourne’s great. Mind you, you’re coming over at the worst time of year.’

‘Hmmm, yeah … winter. I know,’ I replied, doing a mock shiver.

‘Correct,’ she said, dragging the word out slowly. ‘It’s definitely gonna be cold. And the days will be short—it gets dark by, like, five o’clock or so. You could have picked your timing better. But there’ll be heaps of stuff to do, especially with a tour guide like me. So, what do you like to do?’

‘Do? Well, I like to run. It seems like all my problems fade away when I run.’

‘Running … well, have fun with that,’ she said, screwing up her face. ‘So … you have problems, do you?’

I looked out the window again. Problems? Well, I guess everyone has problems, but putting mine into words wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. In fact, my problems seemed pretty trivial when I really thought about it. But typical of me—ask me a question and I feel obliged to answer it. I took a deep breath, and tried.

‘Yeah, well, it’s just … I’m not sure I want to finish college, and I haven’t told my mom yet. She’s an accountant, you see, and wants me to study business. And my dad was a scientist—a really important one. But I’m living proof that brains aren’t always inherited. And seriously, I don’t want to work in an office. I want to do something that I love, you know? Something … meaningful. I just don’t know what
it
is yet.’

‘Oh, yeah, I know exactly what you mean. My stepfather’s a solicitor and he’s always grumpy.’

‘Solicitor?’

She wrinkled her nose. ‘Lawyer, you know?’

‘Oh, yeah, lawyer. Well I want a job where I
want
to go to work. Something that makes me feel good about myself … where I can make a difference. Like my dad … not that I could ever be that important.’

She tilted her head, and looked thoughtful for a moment, then just sort of laughed. ‘Yeah, me too. That’s why I’ve postponed uni altogether.’

‘Uni?’

‘University,’ she said, giving me this look that clearly said,
just how dumb are you?

‘Oh, yeah. Well, that’s what I want to do too,’ I mumbled, feeling my face going red. Could she tell how stupid I was already?

‘Yeah, Mum wasn’t too impressed but at least I’m working. I’m a personal assistant … but if the truth be known I’d rather just marry some rich guy and skip work all together. My talents are most definitely in spending money, not making it,’ she said, laughing.

I giggled, hoping she’d keep talking so that I wouldn’t have to. But she just looked at me with a question on her face, and I could tell she was waiting for me to continue. I took a deep breath and shrugged.

‘And then there’s the … other thing.’

Claire leaned over, and dropped her voice to a whisper. ‘I knew there was something else. University isn’t really your problem, is it? Boyfriend trouble?’

‘Yeah, well, sort of. But he isn’t my boyfriend any longer.’

‘No? What he’d do, cheat on you?’

‘No, or at least I don’t think so. It was sort of the opposite of that. He was always pushing for us to get married. And … well … he’s good-looking … and nice … usually …’

‘Well, if he was so nice, what’d he do to make you break up with him?’

‘Well … we had this fight; I mean … at first, he was really happy when I told him I didn’t want to go back to college. I think he was jealous of me being there … you know, meeting new people and all. So when I told him I wanted to drop out he said that was great because we could get married sooner. But something was making me hesitate … you know, I … I just wasn’t sure it was what I wanted.’

‘Wedding plans… well, that could have been fun,’ she said, winking.

‘No … anyway … then Mom came up with the idea for me to go to Australia for the summer. She said I needed to expand my horizons—and that this was an opportunity of a lifetime. She’d made the arrangements with my aunt. She didn’t even tell me until it was mostly all organised. But when I told David he was furious and said I couldn’t go—that he wouldn’t let me. Can you believe it?’

‘Typical. Men always want to be in control,’ Claire replied.

‘Yeah, maybe that’s it. Anyway, we’d never really had a fight before but we got in this big argument about it—and because I wasn’t used to fighting with him I got all nervous and shaky. I told him to stop the car and let me out—that I would walk home. But he wouldn’t stop so I started yelling at him to let me out. Then he reached over and slammed my face down into the dash board and told me to shut up. I couldn’t believe it.’

‘What a pig. So, did you hit him back?’ Claire asked, a roguish smile changing her face.

‘No … but I didn’t talk to him the rest of the night. We went to a movie, and I just sat there, staring at the screen. I knew it was over. When he dropped me at home, he said I was being childish, and that he’d give me time to get over it. But I won’t get over it.’

‘Well, I say ditch the guy. Nobody should put up with that kinda crap.’

‘Yeah, that’s what I think too. I don’t ever want to see him again.’

‘Well … I know some awesome places to hang out in the city. We’ll go to clubs—get you introduced to some Aussie men. You’ll forget all about him. So, what’s your number? I’ll put it in my mobile.’

‘Oh … you mean like a cell phone number, right? Sorry, I didn’t bring mine.’

I turned to look out the window and was surprised to see that we were well on our way. The San Francisco Bay Area was just twinkling lights down below us.

~~***~~

As soon as I walked through the customs doors, I saw her. Nobody could miss that flame red hair, not to mention her arm waving over her head.

‘Lili! Ian, here she is. Isn’t she beautiful? She’s so much like her father. Look at her beautiful long auburn hair. And she has Alan’s chestnut eyes too,’ she said, putting her hands on my shoulders and then kissing me—first on one cheek, then the other.

I turned to the man next to her. He nodded and smiled but continued to concentrate on the phone that was pressed up against his ear.

‘Oh, Ian,’ Debs laughed, screwing up her face in a way that made her look much younger than I figured she must be. ‘For God’s sake, get off that phone and grab Lili’s bags, will you?’

She grabbed my arm and pulled me close to her side. ‘We have so much to catch up on. It’s been far too long. You were such a little girl when I last saw you, but look at you now. You’re a full grown woman. And you look gorgeous, even after all that travelling. Youth is such a wonderful thing. Look, I don’t suppose you could go for a bite to eat before we go home? We skipped breakfast so we could have brunch together before I drop Ian at his surgery. That’ll be okay won’t it?’

I nodded.

Debs finally seemed to notice Claire standing quietly at my side. She looked at me and raised an eyebrow in question.

‘Oh sorry, Aunt Deb’s, this is Claire. We met on the plane. Claire, this is my Aunt Debra.’

‘Just Debs—you can drop the ‘Aunt’ Lili, Claire, it’s lovely to meet you. You must have been good company for each other on such a long flight.’

BOOK: Destiny (Absent Shadows Trilogy Book 1)
13.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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