- Leah, Clearwater
“What do you hope to find?”
Julian had been silent most of the way towards the coroner’s office. The tight purse of his lips made me think he was keeping something from me, something other than his caring feelings towards me. I brushed it off.
“Just to see if I can find a file.” I was singing the lie that was half-way mine. I did want to find my father’s file, but I also wanted to find out if his death was the truth. If something as final as a death was so falsely faked. Was there even a possibility he was still alive? Yet that thought seemed like mere child’s play, of course he wouldn’t be alive.
I could see Julian going to ask the next question, but in the distance I could see the dark, looming structure of the coroner’s office. It is only a small building, yet the way the shadows clung to the brick-work like paint was eerily frightening. Quickening my pace to distance myself from Julian – and the way his eyes never left me – I ran towards the porch, but that didn’t stop me from looking back.
The moon was full; wisps of pale light cast across Julian’s face from a distance. He looked angelic, almost ethereal if it weren’t for that tinge of red beyond those counterfeit green eyes. He sped toward me as if gliding on wheels and stopped before my face, every crease and line of his skin visible in this defining light.
For a moment, the way he looked at me sent shiver’s rippling down my spine. Was this new and raw forthcoming presence a mockery of what I had briefly seen in Daniel? His long, slim fingers slipped from his torn pockets, reached out and grasped my wrists until it felt like he was gripping the bone underneath: the pain did not occur, just the pulsing of my heart beating between the space of our skin, like the open beat of the ocean against the shoreline in an everlasting embrace.
I felt a breath escape his lips and it brushed my face lightly, like caressing silk. As we stood in complete silence, not even the trees shivering in the bitter breeze, I came to understand that this prophecy of his wasn’t going to relinquish its grasp on me: I was forever to be bound to two boys, one of a varied kind of my own, another my cold-blooded enemy, yet there was something about them both that made my heart leap into my throat.
I was doing a Bella Swan!
At that thought I went to tear myself away, but Julian held on. His grasp did not become tighter however, he just held me. Was this caring sensation I felt for him like an embodiment of a leech? Julian just clung on and fed from my heart, were I went on without notice? And when I did, would he be satiated enough that he would never have to return?
I shook my head wildly, trying to rid myself of these obtuse thoughts. I was here for my father, not to internally debate over feelings I’m not sure I even hold. Just gratitude. Julian lifts a hand and grips me by the elbow, his eyes never leaving my face.
“We will find out what happened to your father.” He strokes the exposed skin of my arm, the blood rushing to the surface. He didn’t seem to care. “I promise, Leah.”
His grip releases and he stepped back, as if I were a walking hazard: but then again I am, aren’t I? A walking bag of blood he would want to snatch up and consume into the depths of his hell-bound soul. He releases his hold, gesturing to the decrypt building that was the coroner’s office. “Shall we?”
I walk closer, every empty sound seeming to ricochet off the trees and the empty building. Every sound vibrating underneath my feet and back up through my being.
Julian was as lithe as a feline behind me.
Not a sound.
This unnerved me, but I continued, grasping my fists at my sides. As we advanced, I found the building did not look as old as it did from a distance: the wooden frame of the porch had been recently painted, a swinging chair rocking back and forth in a brittle breeze – the rusty hinges screeching – and a few potted plants.
It still confuses me as to why the coroner’s office was apart from the hospital – the examinations of the bodies having taken place there – but the information was stored in the open, so easily cracked open by a passer-by: in this case, myself and Julian.
I looked towards Julian through a hooded gaze. “It looks like an abandoned forest shack more than anything else?”
“I’m sure it does, but surprises are held within, Leah.”
I reel back lightly at the surprise of his words as he shrugs and continues up the steps. There were two things that he could be therefore relating to: his heart holding precious secrets, or the office not being as it seems. I feel like knocking some sense into myself as I followed him to the door.
“Pretty sure it will only open from the inside without a key,” I point out casually, but then I wish I could take it back. It sounded impractical to indicate something he already knew, or did I sound flirtatious. I blushed heavily.
“Just wait and see,” he chuckles. With his head bowed, his facial expressions are darkened and I cannot make them out. Drawing a set of lock-picks from his pocket he slots them into the lock and get’s to work. Finally the lock clicks and the door swings open. He holds out a hand for me to go first, “Ladies first.”
I walk inside, holding back a light laugh. “Anything else you have in them pockets I should know about? Perhaps a crowbar?”
“You underestimate the size of my pockets,” he muses. “But no, Leah, I do not carry a crowbar around with me.”
“I was hoping otherwise, but now I’m worried about what you do with those locks-picks of yours?”
Julian slots them back into his pockets, keeping his hands there, then walks ahead. “Just to unlock hospital windows so I can slip into rooms unnoticed,” he winks.
I stop, shocked and yet not shocked by this statement. I playfully punch him in the shoulder once more. “As long as you’re not thinking of cracking open my bedroom window once in a while.”
But there is no room for a response as the room we’d walked into had taken my breath away. Never did I imagine something so scientific and methodical would be found in the middle of no-where. At that moment, I decided it must be some sort of secondary storage unit.
The walls, instead of being wood panelled, were white tiles – there was so much white that it blinded me once we turned on the light, bringing tears to my eyes. The mahogany desk was standing in the middle of the room, a disarray of papers scattered across its table-top. Behind it was row after row of filing cabinets, and then in the corner one massive cupboard. Julian moved in that direction.
I didn’t know where to start; the room was just too big. “The room looks tiny from outside, how come?”
“Feng Shui, obviously. It must have been used to amplify the size of the room on the inside. Typical design though,” Julian seemed lost in his explanation of the room’s size.
“How do you know this sort of stuff?” I inquired as I opened one filing cabinet and started searching for my father’s file.
Julian was wiping away the dust on the surface of the cupboard, looking at his fingers as if he were inspecting his nails. He looked deeply conflicted. Moving his head to the side, so I could see the hollow look in his eyes, I felt my heart clench into a painful fist. “I learned about architecture back in the day. I wanted to be an architect.” His voice is somber, as if missing something.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude,” I replied, shutting a filing cabinet a little more violently then intended then shuffling over to the next one.
Then there was a long and eerie silence between us, the slamming of filing cabinets and the unlocking of the cupboard Julian was inspecting were the only sounds.
From the corner of my eye I watched as he shoved open the cupboard. Lined inside was what looked like tapes and recordings, squinting in the light I even saw a few were missing. Before I could ask, my fingers finally closed around my father’s file. I pulled it out, the eager beatings of my heart vibrating in my ears.
“Got it!” Julian went to say something but I hushed him immediately, thoughts racing through my mind as I read through the words.
My leg’s felt like candle-wax. I couldn’t move, frozen to the spot. Everything stopped: breathing, the violent thump of our heartbeats, the adrenaline in my veins…and time.
The words on the page leapt out at me, smothering everything. They were the only things I could see. I didn’t even feel the rush of cool wind as I fell to the floor and Julian caught me, wrapping his strong arms around my waist.
“Leah? Are you alright?” His voice was frantic but distant, as if I am traveling through a tunnel backward. He was brushing strands of my hair away from my face, trying to coax me back.
He lifts me off my feet and I feel like I am flying – suspended in air in a temporal deferral of gravity. Then everything settles around me: Julian’s worried face, the darkness surrounding us, the chirp of the crickets and the way Julian was touched my tears with his lips, swiping them away. I was cradled to his chest outside on the swinging seat. In that moment, I didn’t care that he was a vampire, my mortal enemy. He was my comfort. I felt my head fall into the dip of his collarbone as I surfaced from his dark nightmare.
Stroking my hair, his soft voice roused me after sitting for an hour in the desperate quiet. “Leah, are you alright?”
“I don’t know; how it is possible?” My voice is cracked and dry from all of the tears.
“How is what possible?”
My throat clenches at the thought of that one word. “My father. It wasn’t a heart-attack.”
His hands tighten around me, a muscle in his jaw twitching. “What did you find?”
It was the only way I could say it. That infected word. I couldn’t combine it with the idea of my father, it polluted his image. Contaminating everything I thought I knew about him. Why didn’t he tell us? Tell me? We were so close – weren’t we?
“Leah,” Julian was still cradling me, but I turned my head so I was facing him. He looks distressed. “I found something.”
“What?” I blinked wildly, hoping it was some proof against what I had found.
His eyes gave it all away – it wasn’t. “When I searched the cupboard, your father’s autopsy recording wasn’t there, it’s missing. Just gone.”
I didn’t have time to process the vital information as the phone buzzed wildly in my pocket. I jumped up from Julian’s grasp, leaving his arms as empty as his gaze then grabbed a hold of my mobile – not taking time to look at the number – and held it to my ear. “Hello. Leah Clearwater here.”
“Hello, Miss Clearwater. It’s Dr. Snow.” My heart leapt. “I’m sorry to call you at this late hour but I have news.”
“I do not mind, Dr Snow. What is it?” My voice was fervent. I was going wild with desire to know the news, anything to clear away the misery that was welling up inside of me.
The doctor cleared his throat over the phone. “Your mother has woken. She’s asking for you.”
After that there was muttered gratitude and I snapped the phone shut and shoved it roughly into my pocket. I didn’t even look at Julian; I just stormed off the porch and was ready to change when he grabbed a hold of my wrist, pulling me back harshly.
“Get off me, Julian. I mean it!”
“Leah,” he hissed and pulled me forcefully against his chest. I pounded my fists against him relentlessly. He let me do it. “You can’t tell your mother about your father!”
I push myself away from him, tears streaming from my eyes. “And why not?” I demanded hotly.
Julian kicks a stone across the grass. “She may not know, and telling her would be silly. It would devastate her.”
“She knows,” I bellowed, pointing towards the trees trying to emphasize my point. “I know, she knows.”
“What if she doesn’t?” He looked at me with a soft expression, and for the first time ever I watch as he chews on his bottom lip. “What will it do to her then?”
My fists are bunched, my heart hammering against my rib-cage. I can’t control the tears; they just keep streaming and leaving silvery tracks down my cheeks as I try to rub them away. “My father had cancer, Julian. She has to have known.”
He reaches out for me but I flinch away. “I know you’re upset–”
“–Trust me, you don’t.” My tone is harsh and I can see him flinch at the vehemence and strain in my voice. “Don’t follow me, Julian. I’m going.”
But I’m already gone, bounding through the trees in my wolf form to get to my mother. She has to have known, I reason with myself. She had to have known about father. Then the reality of everything hits me: My father died of cancer.
1. Will Leah tell her mother about her father?
2. How come Harry’s autopsy tape was missing?
Feel free to follow me on Twitter: HERE