by Julia Barkey
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (August 16, 2013)
Amazon Paperback Link
File Size: 380 KB
Print Length: 194 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link
About the book:
Carrie Kent leaves her home in California to help at her Aunt Crystal's institute. There, she meets an interesting group of people with very interesting abilities. What starts off as a side job soon turns Carrie's life into chaos as she, and her new friends, face a secret criminal organization called E.Y.E who are willing to sacrifice everything in order to keep the group quiet.
“Carrie! Did you grab your purse?”
“Yes, mom, it’s already in the car.” Carrie answered, pulling her brown, curly hair into a ponytail.
“What about your books? Did you bring those?”
“Yes.” Carrie replied.
“Okay,” Her mother fiddled with the keys in the doorknob, “Wait! What about your toothbrush?”
“Mom, everything is in the car.” Carrie laughed. Her mother was always like this. What her mom didn’t understand was that she was the forgetful one, not Carrie.
“Are you guys ready to go?” Her dad asked, looking out the open driver’s door. He had been waiting in the car for the past half hour. His seat was leaned back so much that he was nearly lying down. Carrie imagined that he had been napping, but his dark sunglasses made it impossible to tell for sure.
“Well…” Her mom said, her eyebrows drawn together as if thinking hard.
“Yes, we are.” Carrie smiled, as she hopped in the backseat and waited for her mom to get in.
“Did Aunt Crystal tell you why she wanted you to come so early?” Her mom asked slipping a pair of sunglasses onto her face.
Crystal had told her but Carrie couldn’t say the reason, she couldn’t tell anyone, “Something to do with work, I think.”
I’m not lying, She told herself, it does have to do with work. Apparently she wasn’t convincing enough. Whenever she fibbed, like she did just now, her stomach felt queasy and her hands became hot.
Soon enough, they were at the airport. Only a few minutes after they checked the baggage in, Carrie’s plane had opened for boarding.
“I love you,” Her mom said, wrapping her arms tight around Carrie, “Remember to call us everyday.”
“I will mom,” She turned to her dad and gave him a hug.
“And remember, anytime you want to come back home just call.” Her father pulled out a wad of cash from his wallet, “Here, takes this.”
Carrie thought about refusing the money, but she knew her dad. He would feel much better if she had it on her. “Okay, thanks dad. I’ll see you guys later!”
She blew them a kiss and hurried on board. Most of the seats were already taken. Carrie sat down next to a redheaded teenager wearing headphones; she didn’t seem like the chatty type. Carrie positioned herself as comfortably as she could in the tan leather seat and tilted the mini TV so that she could see it easily without kinking her neck. She checked her pouch for barf bags, there was a good chance she’d need those. Nearly everything that moved made her sick, especially airplanes. Even with her hate for flying she’d had a lot of experience with it. Her flight from California to Maine was about five hours and she’d been on longer trips than that. Maybe she wouldn’t need the barf bag after all.
Carrie was right about the girl that she sat next to, three hours and not a single peep. Carrie knew that she couldn’t fall asleep, so instead, she sat and watched television until the plane landed.
When she stepped off the plane Carrie was immediately hit by a gust of ice-cold wind, she seldom traveled in the winter but she came prepared. She zipped her coat up all the way and tightened the scarf around her neck. Carrie found virtually everyone’s luggage before hers; apparently she was very hip with her recent suitcase selection. Just like her dad had said, her Aunt Crystal was waiting for her outside the airport.
“Hey baby girl,” She greeted with a huge smile on her face. Her blonde hair was much shorter than it had been last time Carrie had seen her.
“Hey, Aunt Crystal,” She said, stepping into her hug.
“It looks like you brought some of California’s sun with you.” Crystal laughed, patting Carrie’s cheek, “You might need some of that with this weather.”
“I know, it’s freezing out here.” Carrie said folding her arms across her chest.
“Oh, get in the car. Dale finally fixed the heat.”
“Wow, really?” Carrie laughed, “Took him long enough.”
She hurried over to her aunt’s gray Sedan and slid into the passenger’s seat. The car smelled like French fries and vanilla, it wasn’t a good combination.
“So, how have you been?” Crystal asked after she turned the heat on high.
“I’ve been alright, what about you?”
“I’m great; I’ve been keeping busy lately, with work and everything…” Crystal said as she pulled out of the parking lot, “Do you want to go get a coffee at Mae’s?”
Carrie and Aunt Crystal went to the Mae’s Café and Bakery every time Carrie came to town. It wasn’t anything fancy; it was just a house that someone decided to turn into a bakery. Red, white and blue flags decorated its exterior.
“The usual?” Crystal asked once they had gotten there.
“Yep, I’ll go get us a seat.”
The inside of the building wasn’t extravagant either; there were wooden tables and chairs that matched the color of the flooring perfectly. The walls were painted white and a small vase was set on every table, each containing a single blue flower. Carrie sat down at a table next to a window and waited for Crystal to come with the coffee.
“Carrie,” Crystal sighed, placing the cup of coffee in front of her, “There’s something I have to tell you.”
Crystal very rarely spoke with such seriousness in her voice, and Carrie was beginning to feel nervous, “Yes?”
“I wasn’t completely honest with you on the phone; I need your help with something.”
“You told me you found a way to… help me.” Carrie replied.
“And this will help you, just not in the way you’re thinking it will. There are people at the institute that could really use you.”
“So you lied so I would come?”
“I’m sorry but I don’t think you quite understand how important this is, let me explain.”
“I already told you I’m not going to use my-” Carrie paused once she realized that the people next to them could probably hear, “I can’t help you.”
“Please, Carrie.” Crystal pleaded.
Carrie slipped her fingers into the handle of her cup and took a deep breath, “You should have told me this on the phone.”
“I was afraid you wouldn’t come. At least let me show you the institute, and then if you still don’t want to help you don’t have to.”
“Fine,” Carrie said as she lifted her cup and took a sip, the coffee instantly warmed her to the bone. She was contemplating giving her aunt the silent treatment for the next few hours but decided against it. After all, it seemed a bit childish.
Once Carrie had accepted her proposition, Crystal was quick to change the subject. They talked about movies and books and shared some of their recent stories.
They stayed at the café for an hour or two. By the time they got to Crystal’s place, it was dark. Carrie was used to Crystal’s house, she knew it like her own home and she loved both Crystal and Dale very much. Dale was fun when you could catch him on a day off. He wasn’t the type of guy who enjoyed work, he just worked a lot so he could pay the bills and give Crystal whatever she needed, or more like what she wanted.
As Carrie made her way to the spare room she saw something moving in the shadows. She squinted through the darkness trying to see what was there.
“Is something wrong?”
Crystal’s voice made her jump, “You scared me,” Carrie said placing her hand on her racing heart, “I thought I saw something moving.”
“Oh, that’s just our cat, Gina. We just got her a few days ago; she’s a shy little thing.”
“Oh, okay,” Carrie said, feeling a bit embarrassed, “Goodnight.”
Carrie’s room was nearly the same as it was when she was last there, there were a few new pictures on the wall and crisp white sheets replaced the old ones. It was clear that Crystal was trying to make the room more neutral; anything that was the least bit girly was replaced with something much plainer. Maybe Cousin Ricky is finally coming, she thought.
Carrie slept soundly all through the night. Aunt Crystal’s neighborhood was nice, there were no loud airplanes or barking dogs, it was quiet. She checked the clock and it read 6:22. Carrie pulled a beige sweater out of her suitcase along with a pair of light blue jeans. The sweater was slightly wrinkled from her terrible folding job but it was nothing to worry about. She ran a brush through her brown hair then went to see if Crystal was awake yet.
“Morning, sleepy head.” Crystal said as she poured two glasses of orange juice.
Carrie rubbed her eyes and took another glance at the clock. It’s 6:27 in the morning and she’s calling me sleepy head? “Good morning,”
“After you eat, we can go.”
“Okay.” Carrie pulled the box of Captain Crunch out of the cupboard, poured some into her hand and tossed the handful into her mouth. She drank the glass of juice that Crystal had poured and then she was ready to go. As she was searching for her shoes, Crystal’s new cat brushed against her leg. At first glance she thought the cat was all black but was relieved when she saw a small white diamond on its forehead. Carrie wasn’t really into superstitions but the whole “black cat crossing your path” thing always bothered her.
It was freezing cold outside, Carrie felt as though she got frostbite the instant she stepped out. She couldn’t understand how people lived all winter in these conditions. She hurried into the car and turned on the heat as soon as Crystal started the ignition. They pulled out of the garage and began driving down the street. The speed at which Crystal drove made Carrie nervous, she wasn’t used to icy roads.
Crystal talked about the institute often, the old one she worked at closed unexpectedly and she had to find a new job. This institute accepted her gladly and because of her previous job she was able to start out in a high position. From the way she talked, Carrie thought that she might have had part ownership. Carrie never had a desire to visit it though; the thought of it freaked her out.
The institute was in the middle of nowhere; it had been nearly twenty minutes since they saw a store. To Carrie’s surprise the building was rather small and it didn’t have a parking lot or any cars parked near it. It was shaped like a horseshoe and the walls were made of overly tinted glass framed by shiny silver metal.
“We have to walk the rest of the way.” Crystal informed.
Carrie carefully got out of the car gripping her seat belt tightly as her feet slid on the patch of ice that had formed on the ground.
“Careful there, kiddo.” Crystal chuckled.
Once Carrie had regained her footing she followed Crystal to what looked to be a tollbooth. When they were close enough Carrie could see the man inside. He was tall and lanky and had an overly large nose. Crystal showed the man her ID then pressed her thumb into a white inkpad and stamped it on a piece of paper.
“This is my niece.” Crystal told him.
“Is her visit authorized?” The man asked.
Crystal pulled out a small piece of paper and handed it to him. He scanned it then sighed, “Stamp your thumb.”
As they walked through, Carrie could hear the man mumbling something about security.
The inside of the building was just as bizarre as the exterior, strange exotic plants were scattered carelessly about and there was something strange about the pictures on the walls that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. The carpet was tan and the windows, which appeared black on the outside, showed scenes of tropical places.
“Good morning, Mrs. Sharp.” A lady with long black hair said, her voice was high pitched, and sounded like a bird. Carrie wasn’t sure if she had that thought before or after she noticed the peacock symbol pinned to the lady’s white blouse, either way it was an accurate observation. The lady’s brown, beady eyes peered at her through dark rimmed glasses, “You must be Carrie.”
“Yes,” Carrie responded glancing up at Crystal who was smiling warmly at the woman.
“Welcome to Waybrooke, my name is Penny.”
“Nice to meet you,” Carrie said shaking the hand Penny had extended towards her.
“This is where people sign out when they want to leave.” Crystal said.
“Why do they have to sign out?” Carrie asked.
“Safety reasons.” Crystal responded.
As they walked down the hall Carrie examined the portraits more closely. That’s what it is, she thought, they’re way too simple. The frames were gorgeous and elegant, but the paintings inside were simple and childish.
“This is where we do our testing,” Crystal said, peeking her head through the doorway. “Anyone in there? The doors aren’t supposed to be left open.” It sounded more like she was talking out loud rather than to Carrie. Crystal pulled the door closed and continued down the hall.
“Upstairs is where all the students are staying,” Crystal turned to face her, “So what do you think?”
What do I think of what? I haven’t seen anything, she thought, “What are those machines used for?”
“It will be much easier to show you, just give the students a little while to wake up.” Carrie followed Crystal back to the front desk.
“Do you mind waiting here for a bit while I go file some papers?”
Carrie glanced up at Penny who had been eyeing her since she entered the room, “No, go ahead.”
“Okay, see you in a minute.”
Crystal practically kidnapped me to bring me here and now she’s having me sit in a strange lounge all by myself? Carrie thought. Well almost by myself. She looked over at Penny again; she was typing something on her computer. At least her attention was being absorbed, making it a little less awkward. Maybe Crystal didn’t consider the fact that Carrie would probably rather be checking out the rest of the building than be babysat by a strange bird lady. Why am I getting all riled up? She wondered. The institute isn’t that bad and Penny is actually pretty nice. She blamed her strange behavior on her jet lag.
A little while later Carrie heard a noise coming from the stairway. She looked over and saw a girl coming down the steps. Her brown hair was so dark that it might have been black but Carrie couldn’t tell for sure. She looked to be about Carrie’s age, maybe a little younger. She held a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other; she froze in the hallway then turned to face Carrie.
“Hello.” Carrie greeted from her chair, she wasn’t sure if she should’ve gotten up and introduced herself.
The girl stood still for a moment then began coming towards her. As she neared, Carrie noticed that her eyes were a very light gray.
“I’m Nichole,” She said.
“Carrie,” Carrie replied.
“Are you Crystal’s niece?” Nichole asked.
“Yes I am.” Carrie answered.
“And you think that you can help us?” She was slowly gaining confidence in her voice.
Carrie hesitated a moment. Seeing the girl made her feel different about the whole situation. Nichole actually wanted her help, “I’m going to do my best.”
“Thank you,” She said.
Nichole stayed for a moment then turned and quietly made her way down the hall.
A little while later Crystal was back, “My boss just called and I have to go meet him at his office. Do you think maybe you could come back here with me tomorrow to see if you’d like to stay?”
“I’ll do it.”
“What?” Crystal asked.
“I’ll try to help.” Carrie answered, she didn’t really know what she was signing up for but she felt good about it.
“Really? That’s great. Maybe you could share a room with one of the girls...” Crystal’s eyes were twinkling with excitement, “This is wonderful, Carrie. Thank you.”
“How long are you going to need me?” Carrie asked.
“I don’t know… a few days maybe,” She answered grabbing her briefcase that had been sitting in the corner of the room, “It all depends on the tests, it might work perfect the first time. Did you want me to drop you off at my house or did you want to come?”
“I’ll come,” Carrie spoke much more cheerfully than she felt. She knew that Crystal’s boss would probably make her wait outside the office during the entire meeting. She’d most likely be bored. She’d have to remember to bring a book or something next time she went somewhere with Crystal.
They barely spoke a word the entire ride, the country station helped to make the situation less awkward. Carrie was thinking about the girl back at the institute, suddenly her thoughts turned into words, “What gift does Nichole have?” she asked.
“Oh, you met Nichole? She’s a sweet girl…she reads minds.”
“It is very hard for her to control it though, that’s why she wants it gone.” Crystal said.
“And you really think I can help her with that?”