You will be pleased to hear, however, that book two is well and truly on the way with nearly 47,000 words under my belt and only three chapters to go. So fingers-crossed that all goes to plan, and book two is published within the month.
But just to make it up to you guys, though, I thought I would give you a snippet from book two: Crystal Waters And on to North America. Here's the first chapter, hope you enjoy :)
- Chapter One -
The Untold Truth
Emma and Grace stared blankly between Mum, who was now looking guiltily out of the lounge window, and Gran, who had a worried look upon her face. Emma’s eyes welled up with hot tears, and she felt angry and utterly betrayed. She stood up to say something, but the words got lost somewhere deep within. Instead she ran from the room in a flood of tears and sprinted up the carved wooden staircase to the first floor, with Grace in hot pursuit.
Gran’s house, Fowesby Hall, where they stayed for the summer holidays was rather large and it took a few minutes to reach the bedroom where she and Grace slept. She threw herself upon her huge four-poster bed, burying her face deep into the feather pillows, where she quietly sobbed. Grace came over and sat down beside her. Emma turned over and looked at her little sister through her puffed-up, wet eyes.
‘I . . . just can’t . . . believe it . . . can you?’ she sniffed loudly.
Grace, who looked just as upset but wasn’t crying, tried to cheer up her sister with a weak smile. ‘I know it’s a real shock, but it’s still kind of cool isn’t it?’ she said quietly.
‘Cool . . . how is it cool that we find out our family and friends have been lying to us all along? And how is it cool we thought we were just a normal family but now we know we’re not and we’re totally different from anyone else?’ said Emma, now sitting up.
‘But I already knew about my gift, my photographic memory, and I think your gift is so wonderful. Think of what you can really do with it. It’s really a blessing that we are different, because it means we are also special.’
Emma didn’t answer at first. She flopped back down on her pillow, stared at her thumb nail, and then proceeded to scrape off the black nail varnish from it. She took a sharp intake of breath, as if something had just come to mind.
‘I know you’re right, it is cool we have these gifts, it’s just the fact that they have kept it from us all these years. Like they didn’t trust us or something,’ said Emma, now looking back at Grace.
‘Why couldn’t they just tell us?’
‘Well, Mum for years was against the whole idea of travelling to these ancient worlds and wanted nothing to do with them, remember? But I guess seeing Gran so ill last summer made her realise that life was too short to hold grudges and maybe it really was a bad thing to keep it all from us. She was just trying to protect us I guess,’ said Grace.
‘I suppose so,’ said Emma sulkily.
‘Shall we go down and talk to them? I want to hear the whole story, don’t you?’ said Grace eagerly.
Emma swung her legs over the side of the bed rather lazily, as if she couldn’t be bothered, and sighed deeply. ‘Anyway, I’m five years older than you are. How did you get so grown up all of a sudden?’
‘I guess it’s my photographic memory, seeing things in a more logical manner. Plus I’m so much more brainier than you,’ she said chuckling.
‘Ha ha, I suppose you think you’re funny do you?’ Emma said, giving Grace a playful swipe on her arm.
They slowly made their way back to the lounge where Mum, Dad, Gran and Bill were. Grace paused just outside. ‘An animal whisperer eh? I just think it’s brilliant.’ She then opened the door and they both went in.
Inside, the adults were all chatting quietly to each other but stopped as soon as they saw the girls. Dad and Bill let the girls sit down in their places. It was Emma who spoke first:
‘Gran, I’d like you to tell us more if you can, and this time don’t leave anything out please,’ she said firmly, but with more warmth in her eyes.
‘Of course my dear, I want to tell you everything,’ Gran said kindly. ‘As I said earlier; it is well overdue for you to hear the truth. Your Mum thought she was doing the right thing by keeping it from you girls and we all went along with her wishes, but believe me when I say there have been many debates and disagreements over the years to say the least.’ Gran sighed deeply. ‘But please don’t blame Mum for her decision, she thought it was the right thing to do.
‘But if I’m an animal whisperer like you say, how come I haven’t heard animals talk to me before?’ asked Emma.
‘It was certainly very hard to try and keep animals away from you. It was one thing making you believe Mum was allergic to them so you couldn’t have any pets, but it was far trickier outside of the home. It was much easier when your Dad was around of course,’ said Gran.
‘Easier, in what way?’ asked Emma.
‘Well, your Dad also has a gift. In fact we all have. But I will tell you more about that later. Your Dad’s gift is; he can protect people around him. He can divert things away and that’s what he’s been doing for years, not only for you girls but all of us,’ Gran paused for a moment. ‘The only time in your lives he hasn’t been able to protect you was when he was lost in the other world for four years.’
‘But how did you stop the animals talking to me?’ Emma asked Dad.
‘I’m not sure really, I just picture in my mind’s eye what I would like to happen, like an animal change direction away from you, and then it just happens,’ said Dad. ‘Mind you, when I wasn’t there, I believe there were a few close calls. I’m not sure if you will remember though.’
Emma thought for a few moments. Her memory reverted back to a scene where she, Grace and Mum were in the park. She was only six years old and Grace was a baby in her stroller. There they were, sitting on the park bench, eating their lunch when all of a sudden she heard a voice coming from behind her:
‘Grr I will get you,’ said the gruff voice. Emma had turned around to see a woman holding back her dog and trying to stop it going after a little grey squirrel, who was now panicking and darting all over the place.
Suddenly, the squirrel squeaked; ‘leave me alone’ and jumped up, biting the lady’s finger by mistake instead of the dog, before darting off into the trees.
‘Mummy, that squirrel has just shouted at the dog and bitten that lady’s finger,’ Emma had said. She remembered the horrified look on Mum’s face before she quickly blurted out that it was probably the lady that shouted and not the squirrel. Mum insisted that squirrels don’t talk to people. They had soon packed up their picnic and rushed off, leaving the lady nursing her sore finger and the dog still barking up the tree the squirrel had disappeared into: ‘Come back you, come back.’ They never did return to the park after that. Emma turned towards her Dad.
‘But if I can hear animals talk why didn’t Ceber talk to me all of the time?’ said Emma. Ceber, was the strange, purple coloured dog who belonged to Herman the gardener and Olga the housekeeper.
‘Ceber is what we call, of the magic world, and he is much more tuned into things than most animals. He was asked not to speak to you, as it was against your Mum’s wishes. But like I said, over this last year she has softened to the whole idea of the crystal waters and travelling to the other worlds, so now it’s her choice to tell you everything,’ said Gran. ‘I said to your Mum last year when you both discovered about the magic crystals and the ancient lands, and taken it all so well, it was time to tell you all the rest. I guess she was just trying to find the courage to tell you properly.’
‘So that’s why you’ve been on edge most of this year,’ said Grace to Mum. ‘You’ve been building up to tell us, haven’t you?’
‘Yes,’ said Mum sheepishly. ‘I knew I had to make that decision. But even now, when I wanted to tell you myself I couldn’t find the right words to say. Gran here is obviously a braver woman than I am and, in the end, has now told you the untold truth that I never could.’ Mum hung her head in shame and looked down at her fluffy white slippers. Dad, who stood behind her, put his hand on her shoulder.
‘I admit, when Gran told us, I was shocked and really quite hurt, but Grace seems to have taken it in her stride, better than I have, and maybe I should take a leaf from her book and be a bit more mature about things. Besides, Grace said being different makes us special,’ said Emma as she reached out and put her hand over Mum’s and gave it a little squeeze.
Mum looked up, put her arms around her daughter and kissed her on her cheek. ‘Thank you,’ she said gently in Emma’s ear.
‘So tell us Gran, you said earlier that you had given us all our gifts. How on earth did you do that?’ asked Grace. Gran took a sip of her now lukewarm tea and looked at them all.
‘I suppose I should start at the very beginning,’ she began. ‘As you know the crystals and the secret doorway to the ancient worlds has been used by my family for centuries. The story goes, that long ago these magic crystals were given to my family by a wizard who lived in a nearby village. The wizard chose my great, great, great grandmother and singled her out because she was very special you see, and he felt before he went into the hills, never to be seen again, he would pass on to her his bag of magic crystals. ’
‘Why was she so special Gran?’ asked Emma.
‘Well, my great, great, great grandmother’s mother was a Faerie. She fell in love with a mortal man and against her family’s wishes she had turned herself into a fully-sized human and the couple were married and had a baby within the year. Of course because of this the magic, that lies deep within us, is still there, and I am capable of small magic tasks, with the aid of the magic crystals. As you now know, Grace has a photographic memory, Emma is an animal whisperer and Dad was given the gift of the protector,’ said Gran.
‘But what about everyone else?’ asked Grace quickly.
Gran smiled at her. ‘Your Mum can jump up very high and extremely far, a very good trick to get away from danger.’ Gran looked over to Mum. ‘But I don’t think that it’s been used much really. I do remember telling you to tone it down quite a bit though when you were winning loads of gold medals at school for the long and high jump,’ chuckled Gran and was relieved to see even Mum had a smile on her face now.
‘So what can you do Gran?’ joined in Emma.
‘I thought you’d never ask,’ smiled Gran. And with that, she started to rise slowly off the floor. She then whooshed off above their heads and circled around the large crystal chandelier before landing back near her armchair beside the fireplace.
‘Wow! You can fly,’ both the girls gasped at once.
Suddenly, Robert, the cook’s son, came bursting through the lounge door. ‘Have you told them yet?’ he said breathlessly.
‘Yes Robert, I’ve told them and I was just coming to you,’ said Gran with a smile.
‘So can I show them what I can do,’ he said excitedly.
‘I don’t think I’d be able to stop you even if I wanted to,’ chuckled Gran.
The girls, both intrigued turned towards him, but he was gone.
‘Does he turn invisible?’ whispered Emma.
‘No I don’t,’ said a small voice from the side of them. They span around to see a small monkey launching himself from the armrest and cheekily landing on Emma’s lap. He quickly snatched her black hairband from her head, put it between his teeth and leapt swiftly over to the mantelpiece.
‘Give it back Robert,’ giggled Gran.
‘Is . . . that . . . Robert?’ stammered Emma, looking quite flabbergasted. She then started to laugh.
‘Well that would explain why you smell like a baboon’s bottom all the time if you turn into a monkey,’ she laughed loudly and looked at Grace who was now sniggering too.
Robert leapt from the mantelpiece, still with Emma’s hairband between his teeth and in mid-jump he transformed into a huge tiger. ‘It’s not the only animal I can change into,’ his voice grumbled loudly, as he dropped the hairband gently into the lap of the now wide-eyed and stunned Emma.
Before anyone could blink, Sheila the cook appeared at Robert’s side as if she had popped out of the air itself, and she had hold of his furry tiger ear tightly.
‘What have I told you about scaring people hmmm? Change back now and you can say sorry to everyone for showing off,’ said Sheila firmly. Robert soon morphed back to his normal self and mumbled a quick ‘Sorry’ before he trudged out of the room.
Sheila, in a flash whizzed over to Gran’s now cold tea, picked up the cup and saucer and dashed from the room. She moved so fast that the girls only saw a brief glimpse of her as the lounge door shut behind her. Emma looked at Grace and smiled. ‘Sheila has the gift of speed,’ she said and Grace nodded back in agreement.
A voice behind them made the girls jump slightly as they had totally forgotten their Grandad was there, he had not spoken the whole time.
‘I think we should let the girls know about our guests upstairs now, don’t you think,’ he said in a rich deep voice. ‘Strike while the iron’s hot, so to speak,’ he chortled.
‘Yes, you’re right, come on girls I want you to meet a few people upstairs,’ said Gran holding out her hand to them.
Both Gran and Mum led the girls to the main staircase and the men followed behind. The girls were intrigued who they might find up there but it didn’t stop them asking on the way what Herman, Olga and Ceber’s gifts were.
‘Well, said Gran as she slowly climbed the stairs. ‘Last year I think you saw Herman had superhuman-like strength, which of course is his gift. Ceber, I granted the wish of an extra-long life as dogs don’t usually live as long as humans. And Olga, I gave to her the gift of song.’
‘Do you mean she can sing beautifully then Gran?’ asked Grace.
‘Yes, but not only that, when she sings it can have an effect on whoever she sings to. She can either entice or repel someone, depending on which song she chooses, or she can send you off to sleep,’ said Gran with a smile. ‘You never had trouble when you were young children going off to sleep when Olga took you to bed. She would always sing to you as she tucked you in at night.’
Emma looked behind her and saw Dad and Grandad coming up the stairs behind, both deep in conversation. It was strange seeing her Grandad in the flesh, so to speak, and not in a photo as she had always known; grandad had disappeared a year before she was born, fifteen years ago. She guessed it would take some time before she and Grace knew him better.
She remembered last summer when she had first met him; he came tumbling through the magic doorway down in the cellar, from the ancient world of Canada. She took another sneaky look back at him. His appearance had most certainly changed since then; the once straggly hair was now cut into a neat style, and the scruffy beard was now a cleanly shaven chin. His dirty dishevelled clothing, back then, was now clean and rather smart and the most noticeable of all in his new appearance was that he now had teeth.
On the second floor, they came to a hallway of doors. They went down past Mum and Dad’s bedroom and stopped outside the guest room door.
‘I’ll go in first,’ said Bill. ‘Wait here a minute.’ And with that, he went in and closed the door behind him.
While they waited Emma’s thoughts returned to last summer; she remembered that Grandad had not been the only one that had fallen through the open doorway that day. There had been another man who looked like a Native American Indian and he had been attacking Grandad with his dagger. If Emma hadn’t thought quickly and smashed the Indian man over the head with a nearby wine bottle, Grandad would have truly been killed.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Grandad opening the door to tell them to come in. Both girls gasped loudly and nearly fell over with fright, when they saw what was inside the room. For over on the far side, standing beside the large sashed window, was the very same Native American Indian that had tried to kill Grandad last summer.