I didn't see my popping over to my high school as odd given the past twenty-four or so hours, but I did worry about what I should wear. Such a girl thing, but after walking in sweats and a tank top on a beach in the middle of the night, because unconsciously I had popped over from my bed to some unknown shore, I figured I better do a bit more planning. I tugged on my lower lip while gnawing on my thumb. Finding myself doing one of my worse childhood habits made me sigh, and I consciously pulled my thumb away to stop. I had to be an adult now. My childhood was definitely over. Sadly, I had to come to terms with it a lot faster than most full-grown adults would. Add in my twisted new -- I guess I could call it 'talent' or something -- 'gift,' alongside finding out that vampires existed, not to mention whatever else went bump in the night, I'd had a rather busy day.
My bed was covered with various clothing choices while I tried to figure out what to wear to the meeting with Master Harry's friend Penny. He'd given me code words and a description of Penny so I wouldn't bother some stranger. But she was still a stranger to me, and I wanted to make a good impression. So I decided to skip the purse and simply stuff my backpack with whatever I thought would help me get through the next few days. I wasn't sure I'd be coming home anytime soon. I went for the typical teenager attire, well-worn blue jeans, a ribbed blue tank top, a light blue long-sleeved shirt and black Nike sneakers strung whimsically with blue and white shoelaces. I was into blue this year, thankfully my purple phase had passed once I hit around thirteen or so. My black and gray backpack had my toothbrush and overnight necessities inside along with a change of clothes and underwear. I shrugged and put some money in my pocket in case the backpack didn't 'pop' with me. I didn't have a clue how it worked. At least I knew I wasn't going to be naked when I arrived, but beyond that it was all a mystery.
Not having to walk through the house and possibly risk an encounter with any other disturbing calls or people lurking outside trying to gain entrance was a relief. I'd had enough of that to last me a lifetime already. I flipped the television on so anyone who lurked near my room in any manner would think I was beneath the covers. Artfully placing a few king sized pillows beneath the bedding gave the illusion that I was in bed -- I hoped.
Focusing and closing my eyes I simply thought about the patio outside the main music room at my high school where kids sucked in a few butts between practice and group rehearsals. I felt a breeze brush my face and opened my eyes to discover I was exactly where I wanted to be. And to my relief the backpack I'd strapped on was still on my spine. That was good; I hadn't looked forward to not having my toothbrush.
There was nobody around -- which was exactly what I'd expected. After making sure I was alone, I sat at the table closest to the back brick wall of the small patio with a bench that pressed up against the bricks because I didn't know how Penny was going to arrive. That hadn't been something Harry had mentioned when he'd been giving me information.
My backpack had more than just clothes -- I mean, come on, I didn't know how long I'd be gone -- so I pulled out my thick copy of the classic hardcover Grimm's Fairy Tales I'd found on my bookshelf. I considered it research. Relaxing against the wall, I leafed through the book without much focus. I was still worried.
I slowly picked through the thick faux-leather-bound book until I found a story that caught my eye and I began to read it while waiting for Penny. I wasn't any more than two pages or so into one of the classics when I heard a thump. I looked over to see a stunning redhead standing in the opposite corner of the patio with her back to me.
The woman, who I assumed was Penny, was clothed in a brightly-colored broomstick skirt and a light green shell t-shirt. She had flip-flops on her feet so I hoped that meant I wasn't going to have to walk for miles before I got somewhere safe. A soft breeze whipped her skirt around with a sensuous motion -- like her clothing was alive and a part of her.
Slowly the lady turned around and her eyes met mine and I felt my heart stop. They were silver. Not gray or light blue but silver! It was uncanny. She was very pale like most redheads and slender. Then I noticed her smile. No fangs graced her smile so I gathered she wasn't of the vampire persuasion. I resisted flipping through the book on my lap for tips to her species. That would be wrong, I figured, not to mention rude.
Nodding at me, she uttered the words Harry had told me and I answered with mine. The description given by Harry wasn't as precise as reality but enough to let me know it was his envoy. She smiled brightly and said, "You are so cute!"
I swear she sparkled. Whatever sort of human or creature she was it was a happy one. I took that as a good thing.
"Thanks, I think," I gave a half-ass grin back. I wasn't still sure why the vampire Master Harry had sent her, but I wasn't going to push her away.
Since I'd passed the test, as she had, I stood up and offered my hand while placing the Grimm's Fairytales book on the table in front of me. She glanced down at the book and smiled even wider. She grasped my hand with both of hers and said, "You are so enchanting! I love that book. Don't you?"
Meeting her eyes I said, "Now more than ever."
She laughed and said, "I guess so! So are you doing okay?"
There was nothing that I immediately could think of to say. I mean really? How was I doing? I was able to think my way to another place and end up there without any rational reason. I'd met vampires and whatever this Penny creature was. Yeah ... okay.
"Well, I've had better days," finally I replied softly.
A tinkling light sound brushed my eyes -- her laugher was as captivating as she was. I didn't feel any sort of threat from her like I had with that creature on the phone. She didn't make me feel safe like Harry, had but she made me feel a bit less stressed.
"Let's have a look at you." She grasped my hands with both of hers while tugging me closer to her than I had expected.
"Happy Birthday, Esmeralda! I am sorry we had to meet after such a horrific week." She spun me slightly as she looked deeply into my eyes.
There was a delicate feeling pushing at the top of my head and I blinked, rather confused by the buzz along my forehead at the touching feeling.
Again the tinkling laughter then she said, "Oh, my! Harry was most assuredly right. You aren't the typical teenager in the least." Her voice had dropped and more solemn. She seemed to be anticipating something from me.
Directly I met her gaze and watched a swirl of blue reflected in her silver irises. She gripped my hands tighter and I felt a prickling sensation rip up my spine. I pushed back automatically with my thoughts and she dropped my hands with an audible little yipping sound.
Oddly I felt responsible for her pain, but I didn't know how that could be.
"Sorry?" I tentatively offered while she put her right hand to her forehead with a grimace.
"No need to apologize. It was my mistake. Harry had warned me that you aren't what was expected." Ruefully she chuckled, adding, "It's my fault for ignoring Harry. It never works out when one does that you know." She made it a statement of fact.
How I was expected to 'know' that was beyond me. But I nodded and smiled saying, "Okay." Not even sure why I'd said that. It seemed like the natural answer.
Smiling at me she commented, "Well, you obviously got here safe and sound." Penny was keeping her distance from me and there were no more attempts at casually touching me again. Her eyes were not as soft as when she'd first introduced herself, but a bit guarded.
"Yes," I didn't see what else there was to say.
"Did you?" here she wiggled her fingertips and grinned while arching an eyebrow.
I took the gesture to mean, "pop" and I smiled back and nodded a bit sheepishly. I didn't feel like using my word for it in case it was wrong or there was some other 'proper' term to be used.
"Good. That will make it easier to get you to Harry quickly if we get separated. I really wanted to skip the 6 hours plus flying time to get back to the West Coast, but that's what we need to do." She pulled out a glossy picture from somewhere. I didn't see a purse or even pockets on her outfit. She pushed it towards me being careful not to touch me as I took the photo from her.
The picture was of a large estate. I could see a glimpse of the ocean behind the home. There was a large wide curved driveway and a huge set of wooden doors that seemed at first glance to be impenetrable. That image made me feel very secure for some reason. There were many large lush bushes framing the walkway to the entrance with a few scattered palm trees.
"This is one of Harry's places. He told me if you've seen the location before you could find it." Puzzled, I wasn't sure how Harry had figured out in less than a dozen hours of meeting me that I would be able to do it; then I remembered that I'd ended up on the beach. The beach that I couldn't ever remember having visited -- that was something that still tugged at me. I still didn't have clue where it had been. Nodding, I slid the picture into my back pocket.
She smiled and said, "So first it would be best if we tried to leave in a more traditional manner. Harry indicated you might not have a valid driver's license. Here, I had this made for you."
Again seemingly out of empty air she produced a pictured license. I did have a temporary one, but that was little more than a piece of paper that was valueless for identification. She again cautiously handed me the card. Carefully I accepted the license, I looked at it and was rather shocked to see that it was actually in my name and had my picture in the proper place. The information was all current and I twisted the license to see that it had the imprinted seal that made it legitimate.
Biting back a grin, I said, "Thanks." I'd never thought I would see one anytime soon.
"We'll need it to get you through the security at the airport. Harry was adamant we have to keep you on the straight and narrow for the next few weeks to avoid attracting any of sort of attention that could get you killed." She was very intense and I saw she really meant it.
Hoisting my backpack over my shoulder, I snagged the book of fairy tales off the table and stuffed it in the front zippered pocket. At least I'd have something to read on the plane other than the in-flight sky mall magazines.
She nodded at something and turned around to the small patio and went right to the nearly hidden gate that most kids didn't even realize was there. She unlatched it and the gate made the loud squeaking noise that made it less than useful when trying to escape music lessons.