• Grace A. Johnson

BTIS--Chapter 14

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

I think you can tell I was starting to get bored. I was grasping for straws at this point because it was so short. However, I ended up utilizing the eh moments for a basis in Kerri's book.



Chapter 14

Cade had slept late, again.

Arielle had turned off the light, cooked breakfast, and washed the past week’s laundry, and all the while Cade snoozed. Yes, she understood the last nights and such, but was he really that exhausted? It was―what, ten o’clock or something?

Now, she sat outside enjoying the bright sun, falling leaves, and autumn breeze. She swung back and forth on her swing set hanging from an apple tree as Blessing chased a squirrel up a nearby tree. Life was good.

She released a sigh as she hopped off the wooden swing. Perhaps Cade had awaken by now. Once she made it to the house, Arielle opened the door to the cabin and peeked inside. Not a sound. Cade was still resting. Arielle turned and was about to shut the door when she heard a crash.

“Oh toll,” she muttered, running back into the house. He had to have been sleepwalking, again. Every morning or late at night for the past week Cade had walked through the house banging things together and slamming door. What had started as a seldom occurrence became a repeated incidence. Arielle had even considered tying him to his bed so that she could get some sleep. She now knew what it was like to be up all night with a baby, except Cade was a grown man.

She searched the house looking for her sleepwalking friend to no avail. She was about to return to the outdoors, but was stopped by an arm around her waist and a hand covering her mouth.

Arielle giggled. Looks like I found Cade, she thought. “Cade, you’re sleeping. Now let go of me,” she said, trying to pry his hand off her mouth so that her voice would no longer be muffled.

“The last time I had checked, I was fully awake,” he replied, but his voice was much deeper and his breath smelled of garlic and beer. Not to mention his strong British accent. Certainly not Cade. But then where would he be, and who was holding her captive?

“Let go of me!” Arielle screamed, struggling against the man’s grip. He held her fast, and she couldn’t help but wonder if she could remove herself from his grasp. Arielle stomped on his foot, hoping that would cause his hold to lessen, but it did no good.

“Cade!?” she yelled. Where was he?

Then suddenly his hand fell from her mouth and the man’s arm slid away from her waist. The man dropped to the ground, blood dripping from a gash on the back of his head. Arielle turned to find Cade standing behind her captor, a frying pan in his hand.

She placed a hand over her rapidly beating heart. She released a sigh as Cade jumped over the man to her.

He jammed a hand through his hair. “Are you alright?” he asked, pulling her into his arms. His voice was laced with worry.

She laid her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Yes, thanks to you. Do you know who he is?” she questioned, her gaze falling to the man. Not a single inch of him did she recognize.

“No. He’s probably a burglar or something. I’m just glad I woke up when I did,” Cade told her, running his hands through her hair as if to sooth her, though she knew the motion was to calm himself.

“Since when do people rob others in the middle of the morning?” Arielle inquired, puzzled by the situation. If he really was a burglar, then what was he doing there?

“I don’t know, but I don’t really care what or who he is. He could’ve been the president, but if anyone laid a hand on you, I’d kill him,” Cade remarked, his voice taking on a steel edge.

She smiled against his chest. She loved how protective of her he was. It made her feel safer, though now she knew she had to be much more careful. And that surprised her. Of all the years Arielle had lived at the lighthouse, she’d never had any problems with people showing up out of nowhere. Speaking of nowhere, Arielle was just right outside; how in the world did the man sneak in the house without her knowing?

“You sound like you’re my husband,” she teased, looking up at Cade with a soft smile.

“Sign a contract and I will be,” he played, but something in his eyes made his banter seem like he genuinely meant it.

Arielle’s heart stopped beating for a moment, but she quickly jumped back into their teasing. “You have to be present, silly.” She nudged him in the shoulder, though she was a little uneasy over his remark.

“Too bad, I’ll be too busy dealing with our friend here,” Cade said, pulling away and motioning towards the man sprawled out on the kitchen floor. “Our extremely mysterious friend,” he muttered as he bent over the man, checked his pulse, then rummaged through his pockets.

A moment later he pulled a slip of paper from the man’s coat pocket. “This sounds interesting. ‘Get papers at lighthouse from book’,” he read off the note. “Awfully descriptive.”

“Well, whoever-he-is found the lighthouse, but I don’t have a clue what papers he would need or the book. Do you?” she asked.

This is certainly a mystery. Too bad Forrest isn’t still here, he’d probably know what the note meant, even the man’s middle name. Okay, so he wouldn’t know all that information, but detectives are smart, and deal with men sneaking into houses looking for hidden papers all the time. Right? she thought to herself.

“Not at all. I’ll take whoever-he-is to the authorities. Maybe they know something. But for now, let’s just not worry about it, alright?” he suggested, pushing himself off the floor and standing.

“Yes, sir.”

***

“Sorry, Big Al, Carl didn’t find the papers. Said he couldn’t even ‘member where he was; barely knew what he was doin’,” Smith reported, closing the door to the old, small cabin Al had used for his hideout for the past three years.

Of course Smith would bring bad news, and naturally Carl had been outsmarted by a kid and a little girl. Next time he’d go himself.

Al slammed his fist down on the table in front of him with a sneer. The table shook, sending his whiskey bottle to the rotting wood floor.

Smith shrunk back at the sound. “I guess he got bonked in the head,” he whispered, shaking ever-so-slightly.

Al rolled his eyes with a sigh. Why couldn’t he have better henchmen? “Sure he got hit over the head. You could come in here sayin’ a unicorn shoved him out the door into a fairyland and I’d believe it,” he stated sarcastically, bending down to retrieve his bottle. He took a swig of the liquid as he peeked over the top of the bottle, waiting for Smith’s stupid reply.

“Yeah, um...,” he hesitated. “I guess the boy’s stronger than ya thought?” Smith slowly sank into a wooden chair, and Al couldn’t tell if he was scared or was trying to avoid the old seat breaking underneath him.

“Evidently he’s stronger than Carl.” Al jumped up from his chair, slammed the bottle back on the table, and leaned into Smith's face. “He. Is. A. Boy! How hard is it to take a Bible from a cabin? It’s supposed to be like taking a candy from a baby, Smith! All he had to do was sneak into the cabin, take the book, and skedaddle,” he yelled in the man’s face.

Smith scrunched his eyes shut and held his breath until Al moved away. “I’m sorry, sir. Are you really sure you remember the kid?” he breathlessly asked.

Could Smith not get it into his little, tiny brain? “Yes, I do! Now if you ask me again, I’ll make you question how much longer you have to live.” Al leaned back in his seat and waited for Smith to take his leave.

If it was the last thing he did, Al would get those papers, even if it meant killing the boy to get them.

***

Cade scratched his chin as he leaned back in his chair, propping his legs up on the dining room table. He’d taken the mystery man to the authorities the previous morning, but no one seemed to know who he was. And it wasn’t like he had any clue either.

What did the note in his pocket mean? Who had sent him? What kind of papers could he want? How had he gotten past Arielle? Why was he there? So many questions, no answers whatsoever.

Arielle sat herself in a chair beside him, placed her elbows on the table, and rested her head in her palms. Her face was tight and her eyes were closed as if she was trying to decipher the situation as well.

A moment later she came out of her mystery-solving trance and turned to face Cade. “Anything?” she questioned.

“Not a thing. Let’s just forget about it. The man probably didn’t even mean to come here to begin with, alright?” he replied, hoping what he’d said was true. Maybe the man had come by mistake? Then they would have nothing to worry about at all.

“Okay.” Arielle gave him a smile as she bent down and petted Blessing behind her ears. “Now I’m gonna have to train you to be a better guard dog, missy,” she said, planting a kiss on her dog’s nose. She sat back up and opened her mouth, then closed it, almost like she was going to say something but thought the better of it.

By the glint in her eye, he could tell her mind wasn’t on her dog anymore. It was on just what he’d been waiting for her to speak of. How was he to get her to confide in him? He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “It’s the fire, isn’t it?” he whispered, hoping she wouldn’t retreat back into her shell or jump up from the table in rage.

She remained silent, didn’t even nod in reply. Her eyes stared forward, a glassy glare not wavering. Then her eyes came alive, a blaze in the midst of the icy frost. A blink, a shudder, then she withdrew from her reverie. It was obvious she’d been reliving that fateful night.

Over time, he had gathered enough to understand her situation, almost knew the story, a story her paintings seemed to tell if one knew how to listen. But he desired to hear her tell him of her own will.

“Nein, nein, nein,” she muttered in German, the words coming out breathless.

He had seen her sad, mad, and practically crazy, but never had he seen her in a dazed state of mind like this before. “Are you okay?” he asked, noticing just how worried he was. Lord, please help her, he prayed, wiping a stray tear from her eye.

She nodded. “Ahem. Um, are you hungry?” she questioned as she hopped up from her chair and started towards the stove.

Just this once, Cade would let her have her way; he would avoid that conversation for a while. “Sure. Need any help?” he offered while walking up beside her as she drew a cutting board from the cabinet above her head.

“Hmm...With your cooking expertise, I’d say I’m fine," she replied with a smile. Arielle then grabbed several apples from the basket beside her and began chopping the fruit into bite-sized pieces.

He snatched a slice from the cutting board and popped it into his mouth. “I might not can cook, but I sure can eat,” he stated with a full mouth. He reached for another chunk, but she swatted at his hand before he could get the apple in his mouth.

Du Sau,” came her reply in German as she opened the drawer in front of her and retrieved a container of cinnamon, then reached for the canister of sugar over her head. She cast a glance over her shoulder as he hopped on the counter beside him.

“Okay, tell me what you said.” He leaned closer and awaited her response. It hadn’t taken long to realize Ari didn’t give compliments in German, so Cade had grown accustom to her insults. Though he’d begun to want to know what I love you was in her language.

A shove from the girl preceded her answer. “You pig. What else did you think?” She tossed the apples into a bowl along with several dashes of cinnamon and a spoonful of sugar.

He expelled a deep breath. “Did I ever tell you that you’re beautiful?” he whispered in her ear without any thought towards the words he spoke.

She pivoted to face him, her expression clearly showing her confusion. As always, a blush crept up her neck to her cheeks, only serving to make her all the more gorgeous. “I, uh, n-no. I don’t know. Maybe? Yes?” she hesitantly responded, stumbling over her speech.

He gave in to the desire to brush a strand of hair behind her ear, letting his fingers linger by her cheek, then trail down her jaw, causing her pink tone to deepen into a crimson red. “You’re the most stunning woman I’ve ever met, no offense to my mom.”

An uneasy, breathless laugh left her lips, drawing his attention to her mouth. So many times he’d wanted to kiss her, but he held himself back, knowing he ought not to. But perhaps one little kiss wouldn’t hurt. He leaned in at the exact same time she turned back to her cooking.

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