Author's Note: How on earth did I get to deserve such sweet reviewers? Wow, thank you! Just when I start to think my writing is losing its 'touch' and no one will like it, you guys prove me wrong. I've never been so happy to be proven wrong. Thank you to the guest who complimented my author's note on chapter 14 in my previous book. You're right, I think that no one should bully, despite how dire their situation, but at the same time we need to recognize they have different, and possibly more difficult, issues to deal with than we do and it's not our place to judge them. And thank you, for the review, Saludos. And KayJay, I'm glad you've enjoyed the story so far. Some people have been asking why Elsa doesn't trust Jack. Alright, pretend you've been treated inhumanely for three years, captured by a spooky government organization then BOOM your high school crush shows up! Naturally, after ALL Elsa's been through, she'd be wary of his motives. It'd be foolish and unrealistic to instantly go back to trusting him. Idk, just my personal opinion. Omgoodness, you guys are just so sweet to me! I'm practically glowing with warmth :) Please leave me some reviews! I really appreciate the time and energy, not matter how small, you spend writing those.
Elsa jerked awake as the car hummed to life. She groaned and sat up before collapsing back into the seats and hiding her face.
"Sorry, I tried not to wake you," Jack apologized as he shifted the car into reverse, pulling back onto the highway.
Elsa didn't reply. She groaned again and resigned herself to look out the window. There was a stout cement wall in between the two main lanes of the highway. Planted on the cement walls were tall metal poles, splitting into two bright yellow lights, one per lane. Elsa watched as the asphalt below went from a yellow and faded to black then back to yellow with each light whizzing by. Elsa stared up at the inky black sky above her, pierced with pinpoints of starlight. The sky never failed to amaze her, filled with mysteries and endless amounts of space. Over flowing with wonders, yet so much space, so void. The sky was ever-changing, its various colors of navy blue, black, lavender, robin's egg blue, turquoise, and a fiery tangerine painting the dome above her. Sometimes the clouds were puffy and tall, other times they were no more than mere wisps, dashed across the sky by some divine paintbrush. Sometimes twinkling stars dangled from the heavens, sometimes the luminescent, white moon, and other times the blindingly radiant sun. Elsa observed the stars, wondering just how far away each one was. Sometimes, she caught a brief flash of starlight from a shooting star or the red pulsing lights from a plane or a constant pinpoint of light, sliding across the sky, presumably a satellite. Eventually, the sky lightened before it was illuminated by a brilliant gold. Elsa's breath hitched and her façade temporarily vanished in her awe.
Jack pulled to the side of the road, getting out. He had a screw driver and a rectangle of metal in his hand before disappearing around the back of the car. Elsa twisted in her seat, curiously observing him. He unscrewed the license plate, replacing it with the one he held in his hand before sliding back into the car seat.
"What was that for?" Elsa asked.
"Makes us harder to track."
"Is it a copy of someone else's license plate?"
"So the license serial number doesn't exist?"
"It does. I just, uh, created different profiles. Basically."
Elsa glanced out the window again, watching the rising sun. It was low enough that it wasn't too bright. It looked like a juicy, glowing tangerine. Elsa touched her fingertips to the cool glass, wondering how it could look so close and small, yet be so far and gargantuan. Jack let out a long yawn before restarting the car and pulling back onto the highway. Jack stopped by a gas station and they shared a packet of peanut M&Ms for breakfast. Elsa was able to drift off to sleep for a good hour. The blaring of a car horn startled her awake. She glanced out of the window. A red car whizzed by them, cutting into their lane.
"What's his problem?" Jack muttered.
Elsa glanced up at the sky, as was her new habit. It was a cornflower blue, not a cloud to be seen, the sun rising higher. Blue was such a lovely color. She watched a wooden Cracker Barrel fly by, its parking lot crammed with cars, glistening in the sunlight. She looked at the gentle rolling hills whizzing by, coated in a green forest of trees. The grass covering the ground was a blur of brown, with an occasional patch of green. A black and yellow billboard passed by, advertising the Conrade Insurance Group, Inc. With a fancy medieval 'C.' Elsa played the alphabet game by herself. They passed under a bridge, but not before Elsa saw a sign reading, "El Dorado." She went all the way to 'Z.' She played it twice more before she got bored. They passed a lake and the roads branched off into more roads. Elsa was glad Jack knew where they were going. The highways began to twist into each other. They passed a small, charming town, filled with tiny houses. Then the highways turned to bridges, twenty feet off of the ground. Green, leafy trees tops passed them as they coasted along the highway. They passed underneath another set of green signs, held up by a large metal contraption. The numbers of buildings increased exponentially, the roads were suddenly smoother than silk. Jack suddenly turned onto a different highway. After a few long minutes, he turned off of that highway onto a road. The road turned into a mere two lanes as they drove through the vacant brown planes, passing clusters of trees and a few sparse buildings. Elsa's curiosity and excitement grew, despite the bland surroundings. The grass turned a tint greener. Long stretches of telephone wire replaced the highway's lamp posts. A few flat clouds speckled the sky as they passed another lake. Elsa was thankful the grass was green now. She hoped the place they'd live in would have green grass. Green was one of her new favorite colors. There were shallow, dipping trenches on the right side of the road, though they were currently empty and covered in grass. They passed a few walled neighborhoods, her hopes rising and falling as they passed them. She wasn't sure what to expect.
"Almost there." Jack's voice sounded tight with anxiety. He looked rather nervous. Occasionally, he'd comb his fingers through his hair.
The trees grew thick and lush, each planted a few feet apart a trimmed to perfection. The grass was neatly manicured and was just like the trees, lush and green. Jack finally turned right, onto a twisting and curving street. Elsa held her breath as they passed the lovely brick house. Some looked like quaint cottages. Jack swerved around a bend. He finally slowed down, pulling into a large driveway. Jack open his car door, slamming it behind him. Elsa opened hers. Only when she got out did she realize Jack was going to open her door for her. She wondered why he did that. Wasn't she capable of opening it by herself? A golden flash caught her eye and she saw Jack swirling the key ring around his finger.
"Ready, Mrs. Frost?"
Elsa desperately tried not to show her enthusiasm as she nodded. The baronial building was brick-built, with three separate gables. The two narrower ones on the left were brick and the broad one on the left was timbered, painted in a very pale forest green with brown accents near the gable, making it look more cottage-like. Four young trees, with trunks as thick as Elsa's wrists, stood evenly spaced in the front yard. Elsa suddenly felt adventurous as she leapt up the brick stairs. The door was a polished wood, with quaint trim and clouded glass panels. Elsa fidgeted as she waited for Jack to open the door. The door swung open, its golden hinges creaking quietly. She was practically bursting with excitement. She stepped inside, the cool air rushing to greet her. The main room was wide and cavernous, the entire area covered in wooden panels of teak. Her heart thudded in her chest. There were so many doors! Elsa continued down the long hallway, widening into a vast room, the living room on her left and the kitchen on her right. The living room was covered in leather furniture with a glass coffee table and a fireplace of wood and stone. The kitchen cabinetry was all wood, the counters gray granite, flecked with black, the appliances a gleaming silver. There was a round, wooden breakfast table, surrounded by two chairs with green cushioning. An open door way lead to the dining room, adjacent to the kitchen. The wall was covered in a wallpaper of varying shades of forest green. The crown molding and base board were both wood. A long wooden table was in the center of the room. Several chairs were on each side of the table, with a wooden frame and black leather seats. Elsa found a narrow laundry room and workout room, the floor padded and the room equipped with two pieces of workout equipment and several impressive dumbbells. She found the master bedroom, painted a magnificent blue with thick, silky blankets and pillows, each covered in a matching paisley pattern. There was a private bathroom and walk-in closet. Elsa flew up the stairs, nearly tripping in the process. The attic also had wooden paneling, its ceiling formed a long triangle running along the length of the room, becoming narrower and narrower as it reached the top. Elsa froze as she spotted a grand piano. She found a box beside the piano, filled with sheet music. The paper smelled new and fresh. Elsa's hand trembled as she pressed a key on the piano, a middle 'c' note reverberating through the house crisply. She tore herself away from the piano and found another room in the attic, as well as a bathroom. This room was set up as a study, its walls lined with bookshelves. A desk divided the room, a black rolling chair next to it. Elsa flew back down the stairs and discovered another flight of stairs, which descended into a basement. Elsa found a game room with a Ping-Pong table and foosball table, as well as a stone fireplace. Elsa ran back up the stairs, this time scrutinizing each room carefully, habitually searching for hiding places. That was always what she and Anna used to do when they were moved to a new foster family. A wave of nostalgia hit Elsa, tears springing to her eyes. She finished her observation of the house, surprised to find Jack right behind her. He looked more tired than anyone Elsa had ever seen. The purple under his eyes was darker and he moved slowly and wearily, as if the air was too thick and heavy. He trudged from one room to the next with her. He saw her staring and offered her a tired smile. He let out a yawn.
"If you don't mind, I think I'll go to bed early."
"I don't," Elsa replied. She wondered why he'd ask her permission. As if she could stop him, even in his exhausted state.
With another smile, Jack disappeared into a room. Elsa followed Jack all the way back to the master room. He collapsed onto the sky blue duvet, sinking into the bed effortlessly. Elsa watched as he settled himself, propping his head up with a cushion. "Want to join me?"
Elsa quickly shook her head. Jack hid his glimmer of disappointment behind another smile as his eyes drifted close. Elsa wasn't tired, she was still bouncing with kempt up energy. She softly played piano, exercising her fingers. When she'd played to her heart's content, she finally noticed her stomach rumbling. She ran back down the stairs, opening the fridge. Void of food, save frozen meals. Elsa opened the closet-like pantry, skimming the racks for food. She found a few cans. No snacks. Elsa sighed and picked a stout glass from the cabinets, filling it with a water from a dispenser built into the chrome fridge. She guzzled the glass, filling it again. Elsa blinked sleepily, suddenly finding herself tired. She curiously explored the cabinets. There was metal cutlery, porcelain plates, bowls, and glass cups. Elsa also found spices, her lips curving marginally into a faint smile when she saw the huge container of cinnamon. With a yawn, she closed the cabinet and collapsed into the couch, curling up comfortably on the thick cushions.