What’s The Next Step? – chapter 3
Chapter 3: Alaska, The Last Frontier
Caleb asked me to wear the padded jacket. He said it will be very cold in Alaska. After putting on the jacket, I buried my face on his cool shoulder. I was running a fever, thanks to the arm I broke and that I’m flu-prone. He asked me to sleep but I can’t. I can’t miss the wonderful view outside.
All of us have been sailing for four hours already. “We are reaching Alaska soon if the weather stays good,” announced Captain Jordan. I could tell it was chilly outside because Captain Jordan wore a snow cap and gloves. We were in the kitchen. It was warmer in the kitchen. “Milk?” he asked and waved a bottle about. I shook my head. He smiled and unscrewed the bottle cap. “She should take paracetamol and sleep, Caleb,” he scolded.
“She’s stubborn,” Caleb said while stroking my hair. “Just like you. Where are your friends?” Captain Jordan asked while he walked around. I closed my eyes and did not move from Caleb’s shoulder. My head felt like it was pounded over and over. Time to surrender. I could hear the tap running. “I’m not a two-timer,” I mumbled.
Suddenly, I was lifted up. “I’m going to make sure she sleeps this time,” Caleb replied when Captain Jordan said that it was the fever that was making me go mumbo jumbo. “I wasn’t crapping. I mean it when I say I’m not a two-timer, never was,” I said while fighting the pain in my head. “If that’s the case, it means I’m very attracting,” Caleb said and chuckled. I groaned in frustration when he gave me a light peck on the cheek.
He kicked the door open. He lowered me onto the bed and switched off all the lights. He tucked a hot water bottle under the blankets. I was shivering all over. “It’s the fever,” he said and pulled out a drawer underneath the bunk and took out a pair of gloves and socks. He asked me to put on the socks and gloves.
“Don’t do this to the both of us you know. This is not my world and I don’t think we can be together forever. Sooner or later one of us had to leave,” I said when he leaned forwards to kiss me. He kissed me anyway.
“Good night,” he said while I curled up into a ball underneath the blankets. The sound of the waves splashing against the wall of the ship lulled me to sleep.
I woke up and the first face I saw was Carlisle’s. He told me my fever was gone but my friends caught the fever this time. Although I’m no longer shivering, I felt strange and cold but alive as well.
We reached Alaska. I saw a group of people waving at us. Caleb waved back happily. Must be his family members. They were all pale and they took my breath away. I felt so nervous. It was bad enough being around with the Cullens. Caleb grabbed my hand when it was time for us to unboard the ship.
Caleb introduced us to his family. His dad hugged me and so did his mum. They have firm grips. His siblings stayed away. So far, only his parents welcomed all of us with hugs and kisses. “Do we smell bad?” I whispered to Caleb. Although the ship was big and glamourous, the soap and shampoo available were cheap and odourless. “No, why?” he asked as he slung our bags onto his back. “Your brothers are keeping their distance,” I told him. “They are just taking precautions. Like what Edward’s siblings did when they first met Bella,” he explained while walking. I couldn’t make sense of his words. “I’ll explain later. Right now, we got to head home. Your friends are tired out,” he added.
We piled our bags into Caleb’s dad’s car. It was a Ford Everest. “I was hoping you guys to be riding in it, not the bags,” Caleb’s dad said while loading the bags in. “Sorry, dad. We brought our own cars,” Caleb said when Rosalie honked at us before driving pass us.
The Cullens drove out of the ship. I don’t remember them driving into the ship. Only one car was left behind and it was a black sports car. It was clearly an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. My male friends had been going on and on about that car.
“Sadly, I didn’t bring mine,” Edward said. He stopped his Volvo next to the Ford. “Whose is it?” I asked when I realized Caleb wasn’t around. I panicked and wondered whose car I’m supposed to ride in. Right then, I could hear a hum of the engine and the black car went forwards towards us. The window rolled down and I saw it was Caleb who was driving. “Are you going to get in or yu’re going to walk home?” he asked.
“I don’t think he would let you walk anyway,” Bella said as I trudged over to the passenger side. Edward rolled up his window and drove off, tailing the Ford. I got in gingerly and shut the door carefully. “So what do you think?” Caleb asked while driving. “Why didn’t you drive this in Forks?” I asked as I marveled the interior. Usually I don’t care about cars, whether they are sporty or not. I prefer four wheel drives like the Jeep.
“Esme said it’s rude to show off and that they have a lot of new unused cars in their garage. Edward has one and Edmund modified his slightly,” Caleb said, trying to sound humble. “We ordered the cars together.”
He turned on the radio. It surprised me when the latest songs were played. I looked out of the window. I saw trees, cars and buildings covered with snow. I thought Alaska was a deserted place. Maybe their Alaska was different. We pulled over in front of a brightly lit old mansion. I saw Emmett’s Jeep Wrangler parked next to Rosalie’s M3.
“Welcome to my home,” Caleb said as we got out of the car. Caleb’s house was huge. It reminded me of the Haunted Mansion. Caleb opened the door of the house for me. Everyone sat in the large living room. I didn’t see my friends except Amalina. She’s one tough cookie. “Where are the others?” I asked when I sat between Amalina and Caleb.
“Their temperatures went down to a critical level except Amalina. Carlisle and Esme are preparing a hot bath for them,” Alice explained. “Don’t worry, tyng. Carlisle is trying to find out what is wrong with them,” Mr. Baile said and poured everyone a cup of tea. I didn’t know how to react. “I think I need a hot bath too,” Amalina said. Arwen took her upstairs.
“So it’s only me now. What time is it?” I asked. I lost my watch when I was attacked that day. Pogue, Caleb’s older brother, looked out of the window. “Twilight,” he answered. “That means it’s dinner time,” Rosalie translated. “This might sound rude but what do you have for dinner?” Legolas asked.
Everyone laughed except Legolas, Mr. Baile, Arwen and I. “Shepherd’s Pie is tonight’s menu. We can eat like humans too you know,” Caleb’s mum, Melissa, said. “I’m starving, so is she. She hadn;t eaten at all on the ship,” Caleb said. I glared at him when Melissa gave me a double scoop. “I can’t finish this,” I hissed at him as I dug into my food. Caleb just shrugged.
The dining room was filled with mirrors on the wall. Chandeliers, which looks antique, hung on the ceilings. I concluded that the Blacklins love the Victorian era. I sat in between Caleb and Arwen. The pie was delicious and I managed to finish it all. I heard Melissa telling Esme that she put a special concoction to enable vampires to taste human food. “How’s dinner?” Damien, Caleb’s father, asked.
I only knew his name when Arwen addressed him. “It’s simply delicious my friend. Who is the cook?” Legolas asked. “My wife, Pogue and our youngest son, Timothy,” Damien said proudly. Timothy is the youngest Blacklin. Caleb’s the second in the family.
“It’s Tim, dad,” Tim said. I was about to gather the plates to wash when Melissa took my plate. “Rest,” she said. “I’ll do the washing,” she said before waltzing off into the kitchen. “Caleb, show her around the house will you?” Damien suggested. Caleb shot out from his seat immediately. “My pleasure,” he said and his eyes brightened.
We went around the house. He explained about his history, pointed out different rooms. He patiently answered my questions. I felt like an archaeologist. I kept firing questions, digging into their past. I was still asking questions when we walked into a room. I laughed at myself when my jaws hurt. I must have talked a lot.
“What is so funny?” Caleb asked while browsing through his music collection. “My jaw hurts,” I said absentmindedly. I walked around his room and admired the paintings that were hung on the walls. Some of the paintings were placed on floor and some were on the easel.
He finally chose a CD to play. I was drawn to a painting of a girl with golden brown eyes. “You painted these?” I asked him when he rearranged some of his paintings on the floor. “I thought your jaw ached,” he said and chuckled. He stood up after feeling satisfied with the arrangement. “Yes, I painted them,” he answered while looking at the paintings.
He has an amazing talent. I spent years learning how to paint a good picture and I was no where near his skill. His paintings looked so real that it kind of jumps out at you, grabbing your attention without you knowing really why. Upon further inspection, I realized his paintings were like a story. I picked up one painting and placed it next to another painting and another. I was about halfway through piecing the story when he grabbed hold of the painting I was holding. He looked spooked.
“Uh, I think it’s time for you to rest. You didn’t get much sleep, you know,” he said. “Sorry, I don’t know what came to me,” I said and blinked. I stared at the paintings I arranged on the floor.
“You can see things can’t you?” I asked after he placed back his paintings. “Not things, visions,” he replied and smiled a little. “Do your visions come true?” I asked and looked at the picture of the girl again. The girl looked so familiar.
Caleb was about to answer when Pogue knocked on the door. “Mum said it’s not nice to keep others from sleeping,” Pogue said. “I was about to take her to her room,” Caleb said. Pogue gave one look and wished us good night. Before leading me to my room, Caleb picked up a cup of brushes that was strewn all over the floor. I must have knocked it down while I was rearranging the paintings.
“What happened to me back there?” I asked him while walking. He didn’t answer immediately. “For once, I have to admit that I don’t know. You scared me for a moment when you wouldn’t stop,” Caleb said uneasily. “Well, this is your room,” he said and opened the door. “Thanks and sorry, again,” I said. “It’s not personal but just don’t do that again alright?” he said and gave me a hug.
I woke up real early. After going through the ritual of cleaning and dressing, I decided to visit my friends. Carlise and Damien were already in Amalina’s room. Amalina was up and cheery.
“Hey, you’re well already,” I said. “She’s a strong one,” Carlisle said like a proud parent. “Luckily, we brought her temperature up on time,” Damien added and stood up. “How are the rest?” Amalina and I asked at the same time. “They are coming along,” Carlisle assured us.
Trisha, Teva, Ling and Daphne entered the room together. “Rise and shine people!” Trisha said loudly. Trisha was up and ready to face the world. “You guys healed fast,” I commented. “Yeah, Carlisle was good,” Ling said happily. “I don’t understand one thing,” I said and looked at Carlisle. “What?” all of them demanded to know at once.
“Fever don’t go off in a day. How did we recover that fast?” I said. Everyone went silent and pondered. “I didn’t really think of that. Good question. Why? How? What?” Carlisle murmured to himself. “As long as we are still living, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know about you guys but I feel great and I want to go out and do something fun,” Trisha said confidently.
Somehow, I studied their eyes to see any changes. I found none and blamed it on paranoia. I looked at my eyes in the mirror on the wall. No changes. My friends’ faces were rosy from the cold.
“Then no one is going to turn down the offer to ski for breakfast then?” Melissa piped up. She stood at the door with her skiing gear on and ready. She could have passed as a sports magazine model. “Grab your skiing gears downstairs and get moving,” Alice said and skipped passed the room, behind Melissa.
Trisha and Daphne were the first ones who dashed downstairs to get ready. The Cullens and Blacklins were already suited up and waited for us in the living room while we rushed to change. Our gears and clothes were all brand new. Alice and Rosalie must have gone out last night to purchase these stuff.
My guess was confirmed when I asked Caleb on the way out. I was about to put on my skiis but was blocked my Caleb’s extended arm. “We’ll use the snow mobile. Skiing is dangerous, especially for a girl that can go into a trance,” he said and winked. He still remembered last night.
“I don’t go into a trance all the time. It was my first,” I retorted. “Hurry up, you two. Pogue and Tim are already skiing!” Damien called out. I heard a roar behind us. It was Edmund on a snow mobile with Trisha. Both of them zoomed pass without stopping followed by my friends, also in snow mobiles. Daphne rode with Ling while Amalina rode with Teva. The elves were just about to ski.
“You don’t know how to ski,” Caleb added. He sat on the bench beside me. I caught a whiff of his cologne. I stopped trying to put on my skis and sighed when I realized what he said was true: I don’t know how to ski. “Right, you’re the boss,” I said in defeat. He gave a victorious “Hah!” before motioning me to follow him into the garage. “A snow mobile is also known as a snow machine here,” Caleb said.
Caleb started the snow mobile or machine. Before I can tell him to wait for a minute, we already sped off into the snow. We criss-crossed Amalina and Ling on the way downhill. The wind stung my face and I felt my grip on Caleb loosening.
“I thought you said it was safer!” I shouted. “I did! And it is!” he yelled back. He was having fun. I closed my eyes when we nearly rammed into a tree. It seemed like we were speeding on forever when it was only for a few minutes. I opened my eyes again when I felt the snow mobile slowing down.
“Edmund!” I heard Trisha yell from the back. They were just arriving. I turned around to look and Caleb did the same after pulling out the key. He placed his hand over mine. I realized I was still clinging to him. Edmund swerved just in time to stop a few metres away from us.
“Whoa!” Caleb shouted and tried to fend his cousin off. “You could have injured us!” “Sorry,” Edmund said meekly and got up. He helped Trisha to get off from the snow mobile. “Show off,” I heard Caleb mumble. “You’re also a show off,” I said and removed my arms from his waist. “So we have another masochistic vampire,” Bella said when Edward stopped his snow mobile right beside us.
“You said it was safe,” I accused. “I heard you,” Caleb replied. “I almost fell when you accelerated suddenly. We almost hit a tree too,” I added while walking to the cafe. Edward held the door open for us. He gave us a confused look when he saw my angry expression. “We didn’t. If you skiied, you would have broken bones and maybe lose one of your vital organs,” Caleb replied in a calm manner.
“First fight?” Edward asked before closing the door. “No, just trying to see each other’s point of view,” Caleb answered back. Edward looked more confused than ever and we left him that way. “What is with you humans when someone is trying to protect you?” Edward asked and frowned. I think not satisfied when you don’t know something runs in their family.
“What is with vampires when we humans are vulnerable and we are meant to be that way?” I snapped. Caleb gave my hand a squeeze. “I apologize. Headache,” I said and made my way outside.
I squeezed my eyes shut for a minute once I was outside.
I heard the bell ring, indicating someone either entered or exited the cafe. I heard a few crunches. “You alright?” Trisha asked. I opened my eyes and turned to look at her. She flipped her scarf over her neck.
“Mild headache,” I said. “Must be from the wind.”
“Maybe,” Trisha said. Both of us stood in silence and watched the waterfall ahead of us. I witnessed a family of eight piling out from the car. The tallest son pushed the wheelchair their grandmother was sitting on into the cafe. They greeted us before entering.
“How long have you kept Amalina and Daphne’s gifts from my knowledge?” Trisha asked. I raised an eyebrow. “I kind of figured it out when we reached Alaska.”
“We didn’t want you to be upset,” I said slowly. “I know my gifts are unknown and I always thought there’s something wrong with me anyway,” Trisha said quickly. “We knew it ever since after the ball,” I said gamely. I won’t be able to escape from her so I might as well tell the truth.
“Owh. That’s long,” she murmured. “It’s getting cold,” I mumbled and stuffed my hands into the jacket pockets. “Caleb is upset. Daphne said he couldn’t understand why you got pissed all of the sudden,” Trisha said before standing up.
“I think I’m going crazy. I got lots of things going in my mind,” I confessed when she kept looking at me. “I think I’m going mad. Not you,” she said and rolled her eyes. “It’s about Ryan and Caleb right?” she added.
“Funny, I don’t know how my relationship with Ryan is anymore actually,” I said immediately. “Yeah, that’s right. I don’t know where it’s heading,” I added when reality hit me like a lightning bolt.
“That’s fast,” I heard Trisha said in a surprised tone. “But it still feels like cheating,” I wailed. “I understand your dilemma,” Trisha said. “What did you do?” I asked as we walked back towards the cafe. I could see Caleb and Edmund standing outside the cafe waiting for us.
“You have to choose by the end of the day. That’s the best I can come up with. You can’t keep both,” she whispered. “Let’s get you a warm drink,” Edmund told her and both of them disappeared into the cafe, leaving Caleb and I outside facing each other.
He thrust a warm bottle into my hands. “I know your fingers turn real cold faster than anyone’s,” he said. “Thanks,” I said while placing the warm bottle against my cheek. We entered the cafe without a word until we sat down with the rest. He ordered a plate of fish and chips for the both of us. The rest had already eaten and planned to play with the snow outside while both of us ate. Caleb sprinkled a few droplets of unknown clear liquid onto his food before digging in.
“What’s that?” I asked. “This?” he said while holding up the small vial. I nodded in response as I was chewing my food. “It’s the formula my mum got from a friend that enable us to eat and taste human food,” he whispered before putting the vial into his pocket.
I could hear Rosalie screaming when she was attacked with snowballs. “Do you think my friends and I could get back to the real world?” I asked when I finished my food. Caleb put down his knife and fork and wiped his mouth slowly.
“About that, I should have told you earlier,” he said.
“The way back to your world..”
I held my breath. This is not good news.
“It’s gone,” he said in a deflated tone. “What do you mean it’s gone?” I stuttered. I couldn’t believe it.
“I know how much you really want to go back to your boyfriend but I swear I didn’t hold back this information because…”
“No, no. I want to go back not because of my boyfriend but because I want to meet my family. They’ll be worried and I already missed the dance that I’m supposed to be overseeing and and and…” I trailed off. “Shit. The dance is over,” I said and threw my head up against the sofa.
“The president is going to be so angry,” I carried on talking. Caleb did not interrupt me until I finished listing down all the promises I broke because I got stuck in Inkspell. I let out a long, long sigh.
“Maybe that is what bothering me,” I said finally. “I’m sorry,” Caleb said. His eyes were downcast. “There hasn’t been a portal for years already,” he said.