Chapter two - the leap
Two hours later the three men left the house, only Hunter shot Arabella a longing look before he dematerialized into thin air. She opened the double doors to reveal Helena sitting in the high-backed leather chair biting her nails anxiously.
"Stop that it's a terrible habit!" Arabella snapped her voice daggers.
"Sorry. That was a bit longwinded." Helena apologized. She smiled wryly her emerald green eyes sad.
"Yes, I know. I was making arrangements."
"You're leaving again!"
"You won't be as long! It's not the same without you here!"
"Would you not interrupt me mid-sentence, please. I was saying: however, Dartemis has agreed to let you come with me. After all, I can't leave you without your father here. But, don't panic, we'll let him know where you are so that he doesn't worry."
Helena's eyes popped wide open.
"You know where he is?" Helena probed. Her voice was so high it could have been used as a dog whistle.
"If I knew, then I would tell you. I have no idea where he is. What I was going to do was keep the maids here so that if he does return he will be treated if necessary and will be informed of your status." Arabella paused as Helena's face dropped. "We will find your father, Helena" Alive or dead Arabella added silently.
Helena smiled. She was satisfied, if Arabella said that they'd find him then she was confident that they would.
"When are we leaving?"
"Well since you've finished school for the summer then tomorrow if that's okay with you."
"Tomorrow! Yeah that's cool."
"Let's get packing then, we're going to be a long time so I suggest that you bring most of your wardrobe. Well, whatever is manageable to carry." Arabella corrected herself remembering the everlasting expanse of Helena's clothes. Helena giggled grasping the meaning of Arabella's words.
The two girls headed up the stairs to their rooms to pack. It was going to be a long night.
* * *
"Come on, Helena!" Arabella shouted from at the top of the wide marble stairs. Arabella had never quite seen the point in those stairs, crystal white marble covered in an even whiter carpet that was cleaned almost every day. Most things in the house were white: the living room; most of the bedrooms; and the stairs. The dining room and ballroom were not white, they both had white marble floors however, but the walls were painted in light colours with large exotic art on them. Arabella's bedroom was the only bedroom in the house that wasn't white: it was painted in a deep violet; the carpet a deep red, the colour of blood.
Arabella had never enjoyed the lightness and purity of white, it was just too full of colour (scientifically speaking she was correct). She loved surrounding herself in dark colours, all her clothes were dark.
"I'm coming!" Helena shouted back even though she was about three feet away. She'd packed two suitcases, a large backpack and another smaller bag full of clothes, underwear, make-up and other useless utensils. It was quite hilarious the sight of Helena dragging her items along behind her.
In front of where Arabella stood was a door. The door was smallish and made of dark Indian oak. Arabella swung the door open but had to shield her eyes from the thick coat of dust that blew out. Helena coughed next to her.
"Why the dust?" Helena asked.
"This door hasn't been opened for thirty-two years. It's bound to be a little on the dusty side." Arabella replied matter-of-factly. Helena blushed, Arabella made it sound like it was beyond obvious and that she should have known.
"Ready?" Arabella asked. Helena hesitated. Arabella gave her a warm encouraging smile. It worked. Helena grinned at her mischievously.
"Good girl." Arabella said not waiting for Helena's answer, she knew was a yes. Arabella took a deep breath and then literally leaped through the door.
"Throw your things through first!" Arabella ordered. Her instruction came to Helena in an echoic and muffled voice. Like in poltergeist when the girl's stuck in the television. Helena did as she was asked and tossed her luggage through the door, she hoped that none of it had hurt Arabella.
And then, copying Arabella, she leaped unaware of what she was to see on the other side. Her feet hit the ground on the other side hard and her body seemed to be drawn to the ground only instead of stopping it kept on going. Helena rolled in every way possible down a steep hill, until the hill ran out of hilliness and she stopped abruptly.
Helena could hear Arabella's heavy footsteps pounding carelessly down the hill behind her but she was laughing too much to even check if she was hurt.
"Helena, are you hurt?" Arabella asked not even breathless.
"No. I'm … fine." Helena gasped between spurts of uncontrollable laughter. Arabella rolled her golden eyes and then helped Helena to her feet.
Helena wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, tears of joy were streaming down her cheek.
"You jumped too hard." Arabella accused. Her voice was stern but you could tell that all she wanted to do was burst out laughing. Helena was now taking long, deep breaths in an attempt to try and calm herself, strangely it was working. Arabella made her way back to the top of the hill with Helena trailing close behind her.
When they reached the top, Helena gasped. She was too busy rolling to notice this before. The sky was beautiful! It was streaked with subtle violets, deep reds, indigos, emerald and teals. No wonder Arabella likes dark colours, she's grown up with them filling her world! Helena thought in amazement. She noticed three circles in the sky above her. They looked like the moon, a harvest moon. They were a yellowy-orange colour and cast eerie beams to the ground below. Helena breathed a sigh of relief when she realised that the ground was fresh green grass.
"I presume it's night here then, you know with the moons and stuff." Helena said her emerald green eyes never once leaving the sky of many colours and three yellow moons.
"No. It's always like this here. Those moons up there are always there, only there are actually twenty-three so some rise and others set. But it's always like this here, we don't have any suns however the moons emanate their own light so they are almost suns. The sky is always those colours when those three moons are up, I suppose it's almost like the aurora borealis." Arabella answered. She said it as if it were the most normal thing in all the worlds.
"That makes no sense. So where are we staying?" Helena asked in a reluctant tone.
"There." Arabella replied. She pointed to a range of mountains that were smothered in snow on every summit.
"In a mountain?" Helena retorted. Everything about her said, I am not staying in a cave.
"No, on the highest peak. There is a building carved into the side. That's where we are staying." Arabella sighed exasperatedly.
"Oh. Now that makes sense."
"Here's our ride." Arabella announced as a coach appeared to the right of them on a path that had only just appeared.
The coach was being pulled by two jet black horses and had a young boy about the age of sixteen leading them from a perch on the front. Another horse trotted to greet them from behind, it was fully saddled and was a shining dun.
"Miss Beaumont. Pleasure to see you again. You must be Miss Facini." The boy greeted them as he hopped down off his perch. He bowed his head and tapped his flat-cap. It was very London in the late Victorian ages, even his cockney accent.
The dun horse nuzzled at Arabella's neck, they were old companions.
"Hello Peter. Thank you for bringing Capricorn, you know me far too well." Arabella answered with a grin as she rubbed the horse in-between it's almond shaped, brown eyes. It began to open and close its mouth and stick out its tongue as if it were eating glorious food. Arabella giggled. The driver, Peter, began to load the luggage into a compartment under the coach.
"Are you going to ride inside?" Peter asked Helena who had just stood there mesmerized by him.
"She's wondering if you'll let her sit next to you?" Arabella answered for her friend. She'd tightened the girth on the horse and was preparing to mount.
"That's fine with me ma'am. I rarely get company up there so it will be nice to have someone to speak to. Here." Peter replied offering Helena his hand. She took it eagerly and then locked with his gaze. He smiled, it was a nice smile, soft, gentle and sincere. Peter helped her up onto the perch and then joined her. Helena shot Arabella a look that had "oh my god" written all over it. Arabella was grinning at her and giving her a knowing look, she was already astride the horse that she called Capricorn.
Arabella turned him around sharply and then urged him on in a speedy gallop. The two black horses started trotting after them in perfect unison, their hooves eating away the ground beneath them eagerly and rhythmically. Peter turned his head to look at Helena assessing her with a burning gaze. Helena was wearing a knee length, pink skirt and a pink blouse that was loose and cool. Only, Helena doubted that people wore that kind of thing here.
She would have to borrow some of Arabella's clothes. Helena grinned at the thought. Arabella had the most amazing clothes, some were from years ago and others were very modern and designer. But, she would be okay for a while, she loved her clothes more and nobody told her what to wear.
Helena looked at Peter, it was her turn to judge him. He wore brown, cotton trousers that fell to his ankles and a brown t-shirt that clung to his skin, highlighting his toned torso. His hair was mousy-brown, it made him look young and innocent. He had light brown eyes that were warm and sensitive. His jaw was strong and chiselled like his nose and he had a very kissable mouth, in Helena's opinion anyway. And he had perfectly tanned skin that looked smooth.
"You should learn to conceal your thoughts, Miss Facini." Peter advised in a soft, caring voice that suited its accent strangely.
"What do you mean?" Helena asked, pretending that she didn't know what he was talking about. Arabella had warned her about how most people here could read thoughts if they really tried and if she were projecting them.
"Well, it can be dangerous sometimes. But, thank you. I'm just a helper around here so it's very rare that someone really looks at me. You see Arabella rescued me a few years ago, she brought me back here and taught me how to use powers. I liked it here and didn't want to leave but I wanted to stay loyal to Miss Beaumont, so I work in the palace for her when she's here and when she's not I just make sure that her horses are cared for and help look after Hunter."
"Hunter, is that the guy Arabella's got a crush on?" Helena asked grinning at the memory.
"It's a bit more than a crush. When Miss Beaumont arrived she was only six, Hunter arrived one year later and he was eight. There was only one years difference so they got along well from the start. They began to train together and learned to cope with each other. When Hunter reached eighteen he decided to stop aging, this pleased Miss Beaumont because that was when she'd decided to stop also and Hunter knew this. By this point they were extremely good friends, if you understand my meaning."
"Miss Beaumont was given an assignment as soon as she stopped aging. She was to protect a pharaoh during a fierce battle, this was at the beginning of Egyptian times. Miss Beaumont did not return for fifty years, however, when she did come back Hunter was not here. He had been sent on a mission to watch over this royal family in another realm.
"Many decades passed, in which Hunter and Miss Beaumont were separated and were not able to see each other. Fortunately, on one mission they were both in the same country, Spain. Hunter had been assigned the Spanish royal family until the line died out or was rebelled against. Miss Beaumont was on a mission which involved her being near the royals. Well, one day Miss Beaumont accompanied the person she was protecting to visit the royal family and she saw Hunter. She didn't know he was there so it was a true shock for her.
"They met most evenings in secret and talked about what they had been up to, the people they had met, the lives they had saved. That was how Hunter got his accent, from spending so much time around Spaniards. It suited him, and Miss Beaumont said that she liked it, so he made sure he kept it."
"Yeah, Arabella's always had a thing for the Spanish, especially their accent. That explains it then." Helena informed Peter. They sat in silence for a moment caught up in their memories of Arabella.
Helena was the first to break the silence.
"So are you from earth… or some other realm?" She asked unsure of even why she'd asked it.
"You know about the other realms?" Peter asked shocked. He turned his attention back to Helena again.
"Yeah … well, most of them. Arabella explained some to me but she said that I wouldn't want to know about the others."
"That's probably for the best, some of them are pretty gruesome. But to answer your earlier question, I am from earth. London to be specific. Although, you could probably tell that. What about you?"
"Earth. I'm from Hampshire, the New Forest."
"Oh. Miss Beaumont says that it's nice up there."
"She does? I didn't think she liked it, or maybe it's just our house. Well, our house is painted in mainly white, the only place that isn't is her room. I can tell why she likes dark colours." Helena informed Peter gesturing to the abstract sky above their heads.
"We're nearly there now, Miss Facini. Just around this corner." Peter reported as he manoeuvred the coach up the track that had been carved into the mountainside.
"Could you please not call me that, call me Helena. That went quick, it looked years away back there." Helena ordered.
"Okay, sorry. Yes, these horses can travel quickly when they want to, and they want to say hello to Miss Beaumont."
"Animals seem to really like her."
"It's because they sense her wisdom and purity."
"Purity, Arabella. That's quite funny, actually."
"What do you mean?"
Helena looked at Peter. He was looking confused, and very cute. Helena added for her own satisfaction. Peter blushed slightly and she realised that he had heard her.
"Well, Arabella practically invented sexiness. You don't expect me to believe that she …" Helena cut off as she assessed the look on Peter's chiselled face. He was telling the truth.
"No way, are you telling me that I'm more experienced than Arabella?" Helena laughed at the concept. No wonder Arabella never liked to talk about that kind of thing. Peter's eyebrows shot halfway up his forehead and he grinned wickedly.
"That's interesting." Peter grinned. Helena turned tomato red and her teeth automatically clenched together.
"Does Miss Beaumont know about your little antics?" Peter asked as the coach turned around the corner and left Helena awestruck as she saw the magnificent palace up close.
"No, she'd kill him if she did. And my father would go ballistic if he found. Especially the fact that I was underage when I did it." Helena replied. Every moment of this conversation was becoming easier, which was incredibly peculiar. "Well, what about you? You can't let me be the only one to spill my deepest secrets. Your turn"
"Fine. Twice." Peter admitted reluctantly.
"Twice! Is that it?"
"You've done it more than twice?"
"No. Well, kind of."
"You mean, you have but it was with the same person."
"I don't want to talk about this anymore." Helena answered, she'd only just realised how intimate this was getting.
The conversation ended just as Peter stopped the coach. They had arrived at their destination. Peter dismounted and then jogged around the front of the horses to help Helena down. Helena stood as Peter grinned at her, the conversation had brought them closer. He placed his hands on either side of her waist and then supported her weight as she jumped down. Helena landed in front of him, her eyes staring straight at his lips. Not on purpose, he was just taller than her. She craned her neck so that she was looking into his warm brown eyes.
Peter dropped his hands from her waist, then turned to get the luggage out of the compartment under the coach. Helena breathed out a sigh of in a way relief. She tugged her dark hair out of the cream bobble and then shook it so it fell to shoulders in a straight veil. He will be mine! Helena thought to herself. Then regretted it as Peter looked up at her.
"I'm looking forward to it." He said in an arrogant tone that made Helena's heart flutter in her chest. Peter grinned a grin of pure mischief and bliss.
"What are you two laughing about?" Arabella asked as she rode up behind Peter and made them both jump.
"Nothing." They answered in unison. The two black horses nickered to their owner. Arabella dismounted Capricorn and then smacked him on the hindquarters. The dun galloped off toward a barn which was obviously his home.
"I'll sort him out in a moment. Now, we all know that that wasn't nothing. You two like each other don't you?" Arabella taunted as she pulled off a pair of black leather gloves.
"Yeah, so?" Helena replied, her voice seeping with attitude.
"No problem here. It's nice, you'll compliment each other. Anyway, must go." Arabella trilled. She skipped off to the barn following her horse.
"She's happy. That's good. I didn't really want an argument because she doesn't approve of us being friends. I'll go after her. Thanks for the chat." Helena said gleefully. She ran after Arabella, leaving Peter alone and very hurt. He knew what Arabella had meant but Helena didn't. He also knew that Helena meant what she thought before Arabella had turned, and he'd meant what he'd said. Arabella approved but Helena didn't understand. Then why did he feel like he'd just been trampled on?
Peter left it and carried on unpacking the luggage from the compartment. When he had finished he moved to the horses and undid all the tack before it got too heavy for them. Side-by-side they trotted off to the barn and to nuzzle Arabella. He walked after them slowly, it was rather difficult carrying two saddles and bridles. The tack room was just to the left of the entrance to the barn so he put the tack away before going inside to check on Arabella and Helena.