I don't own it, I just barrow it not and then.
Ten years ago on a stormy night, Sarah Williams foolishly said some words that caused the course of her life to be altered forever. She'd spent thirteen hours in a magical Labyrinth searching for her brother. Once she'd brought the boy home, she thought she'd closed the book on that part of her life….She was wrong.
Chapter 1. Good fortune.
He stood in an archway, a shadowy figure with sad features. Sarah felt the breeze that soon whipped her hair wildly about her face. She faced him as he approached her, and once more she said the words that would end his hold over her. "You have no power over me." Once more he transformed into owl shape and form and winged off.
Sarah sat up, panting and covered in a thick sweat. "What the hell." She whispered to herself. "Why am I dreaming of that?" She looked at the alarm clock; she had more than an hour before she needed to get up. Closing her eyes she tried to make herself go back to sleep. It wasn't working. Sarah swung her legs out of the bed and padded on bear feet to her little kitchen.
Sarah had inherited a nice little sum of money when her grandmother had passed away when she was in collage. He father had helped her invest it and now she had a nice little nest egg. She had used part of the money to buy this little cottage. Her father had not really understood why she needed to have a place of her own. He could see no reason why the young woman should want to live away from the house she'd grown up in. Still he had helped her with the legal papers and getting a good deal on the house. When collage ended she moved into the house and prepared to go to work at the private academy that had hired her even before her diploma had dried.
Sarah knew she was fortunate; few others had received such good offers. Rockwell Academy was not a large or prestigious school, but it was a well run school with a fine reputation. That she would be hired to join the staff so quickly had been fortuitous. It seemed there was a teacher retiring in the English department just as Sarah was graduating and she was given an interview. The headmaster of the school seemed to have taken a liking to her and offered her the position. It was a good position at that; she was the newest member of the English department. That meant double duty really, as the English Department also staffed the Drama department. That had been two years ago, and now the end of her second year at Rockwell was coming to an end. The spring play had been played, and received well. The graduates were just weeks away from freedom, and prom had been held.
Sarah sipped her morning coffee, looking out her kitchen to her garden. Her father had misgivings about buying the little cottage in this old section of town. But Sarah had over ruled him; she loved the winding hillside with its nooks and crannies, high hedges and natural look of the linden trees that separated some of the properties. At one time these were fashionable little houses, and they still had a lot of charm. Now as dawn approached she watched little shadows form and seem to scurry. She laughed to herself, "Sarah, next thing you know you'll be seeing Goblins."
Teaching was a rewarding occupation, Sarah told herself, much better than trying to be an actress like her mother. Linda had made quite the name for herself, but it had come at a cost. Part of the cost had been what had become a strained relationship between mother and daughter. When Sarah had made English and Literature her majors in College, her mother had been visibly relived. It had gone unnoticed by Linda that Sarah had put distance between herself and the world of playacting. When Sarah's drama class had put on her first play last year, Linda was notably missing from the performance. Robert however was there in the front row with Karen and Toby.
Sarah smiled at the family portrait that sat on top her spinet. It was actually the only picture of the four of them ever taken. Robert and Karen standing and Sarah seated with Toby on her lap. All of them had happy smiles on their faces. Sarah fingered the frame and made a note to call Karen later that day and make sure everything was alright. Sarah laughed lightly as she passed though the living room on her way back to her bedroom to take her morning shower.
Sarah looked at her reflection in the mirror; the changes in ten years had been subtle. She still had the same wide innocent eyes, still the same shade of emerald green. Still the same full sweet mouth. She had kept her hair long, but was wearing it in a different style now, and didn't look so young. Gone were the blue jeans, having been replaced by stylish slack suits and more often skirts. She looked very professional when she was at the school, and when she wasn't she dressed in long flowing skirts and caftans.
Sarah smiled at her reflection in the vanity mirror and thought of the fuss Karen had made when Sarah had insisted on keeping the old bedroom set. Karen had tried to get her to buy something new, something modern. Sarah however loved the creamy white and gilded edges of her old set. Even the fact that the bed was a single didn't move Sarah. Her argument had been that if a man ever came into her life she could put the old set in the guest room, she just could not bear to part with the set. It was something she could not explain. It wasn't just the obvious history she had with the set; it was also the hidden history. The fact that she'd seen her friends from time to time reflected in the mirror those first months after that fateful night. With time the images stopped coming. Now they were a memory, one she was not willing to give up.
Sarah locked the house and went out to the garage to her little car. She drove the short distance to Rockwell, and parked in the teacher's lot. Pulling a shawl over her shoulders she walked briskly toward the entrance closest to her classroom. There was still half an hour before the first bell, but she wanted to have the tests she'd corrected the night before on the desks of her students.
Her class room faced the south side of the building, and was always light and airy. She kept the clutter in the room down to a minimum so there was little to distract her students from their work. In two years she'd become a popular teacher, and tutor. The head of the drama department had come to depend on her for support and had turned over some of his work load over to her. Sarah looked at the notice on the cork board again with envy. Mr. Davis was going to be chaperoning a special six week trip to England with side trips to Scotland and Ireland as part of the summer curriculum. A few of the highlights included an evening at the New Old World Theater, a trip to Stonehenge and the Glasgow Poets Festival. Sarah sighed, not really thinking about it as she said aloud. "I wish I were going in your place." The first of her students began to arrive and she put the excursion out of her mind.
Sarah called Karen on her lunch break just to touch base and was pleasantly surprised when her stepmother invited her to join the family for dinner. Sarah asked if there was a special occasion and was informed her father wanted to discuss something with her.
Sarah pulled up in front of the old Victorian and took a moment to just look at her father's house. She missed some things about living here, but that was life she told herself. She saw Toby, now eleven and lanky come dashing out the door to greet her. She waved as he bounded toward her. "Hey, Toby!" She called out.
The blonde boy with more life than could be contained wrapped his arms about his sister. "Sarah." He hugged her close. "I'm so glad to see you."
Sarah hugged him back and teased, "Little brother, it's only been two weeks since you last saw me."
"May as well have been two years." He lamented dramatically.
Sarah leaned back, "I'm the one related to the actress, remember." He looked at his serious face. "What's wrong?"
"They want me to go to camp for the summer." He glared back at the house.
Sarah looked at the house as well. "Why?"
Toby sniffed, "They are going on a cruise…a two month cruise."
Sarah placed an arm about his shoulder, "Well maybe I've an alterative to camp."
Toby brightened up, "I knew you would!"
Karen was on the porch, with a disapproving look on her face. "Tobias!" she was wriggling her finger at him. "I told you about slamming that door!" She looked at Sarah. "Hello, Sarah."
"Karen." Sarah greeted her stepmother with caution. She'd seen that look before; in fact she'd been the recipient of that look. "How are you?"
The blonde woman smiled, "Your father will be home in about an hour, and dinner will be ready then." Karen looked at her son. "And someone had better move his back side up to his room and finish his homework."
Toby dragged himself away and headed up the stairs to the room he'd ran out of when he heard the roar of his sisters car engine.
Karen looked at Sarah. "I don't know what to do with him sometimes." She led her stepdaughter into the house. "I don't know what gets into him."
"He's at that age." Sarah said making light of the situation. "He'll out grow it."
"If I let him live." Karen said staring up at the stairs going to the second floor. "You've no idea of what he's been like of late. One moment he's dancing on the ceiling the next he's lamenting everything we try to do for him."
Sarah laughed, "Pre teen jitters." She left her shawl over the newel post. "Come on, I'll help you set the table and we can visit."
Karen nodded and followed Sarah out to the kitchen and told her what to set out on the dining room table. When her father arrived the women were placing the meal on the table. One thing Robert appreciated about Karen was how orderly she kept his life. Dinner was on the table when he arrived home every night. It was a vast difference compared to the life he'd lead with Linda who often forgot dinner until the last moment.
Robert greeted his daughter and called Toby down to the meal. Sarah enjoyed the meal, Karen was if nothing else a wonderful cook. They talked and enjoyed the company, as if Sarah lived at home still. Finally Sarah broached the subject that seemed to have drawn them all together this night.
"Toby tells me you two are going on a cruise." She said sipping her coffee after diner.
Robert shot a look at the boy who was staring down at his dessert plate. "Yes, we are." Karen cleared her throat; Robert looked over at her and grimaced. "It's part of a symposium that I'm taking part in. Sort of a working sabbatical as it were."
"That sounds great, for you and Karen, Dad." Sarah said smoothly. "Toby tells me you are thinking of sending him off to some camp."
"I had mentioned it…" Her father looked uncomfortable. "Looked into it actually but the camp I wanted him to go to is…booked solid."
Toby drew a sigh of relief.
"I see." Sarah smiled at her father and stepmother. "Ok, let's cut to the chase. Would you like Toby to come and stay with me?"
Karen looked at Robert and winked. "Yes." Her father said nodding. "If it's not too much trouble for you."
"What trouble?" Sarah asked. "I'm only going to be teaching half day classes and he can come to the school and keep me company." She sipped her coffee. "We've got a few field trips planned, and I know Toby would enjoy going on those."
Robert looked at his daughter. "Are you sure an eleven year old is not going to…cramp your style?"
Sarah laughed. "Daddy, except for my clothes, I don't have a style. I'm not dating, or even seeing anyone…Toby will be good company for me."
Robert looked at his wife; they both had sad looks on their faces. He nodded. "I'll have guardianship papers drawn up at my office than. And Karen will have all the pertinent information you need to know printed out for you."
"Guardianship papers?" Sarah put her coffee down. "I thought this was a two month cruise?"
Robert sighed. "Placate me Sarah, I'm an old lawyer. I like to be insured and covered."
Toby looked at Sarah sensing something was not quiet right.
Sarah nodded, "Ok, when you put it that way, ok." She smiled. "So when do you leave?"
"The Monday after Toby gets out of school." Karen said. "When would you like to pick him up?"
Sarah looked at her pocket calendar, "How's that Sunday afternoon sound to you?"
"Fine." Karen said softly. "We'll have dinner."
"No, I'll take you out for dinner." Sarah offered. "You'll have enough on your hands packing these two men up. You don't need to cook as well."
The two weeks had passed quickly for Sarah. She was glad to have some time to get the quest room ready for Toby. She put away the girly stuff and pulled out the linens she used when he came to visit or spend a night when their parents were off on an excursion to New York.
The first few days he was with her were full of activities. Her classes at Rockwell had been well booked, and everyone was excited about the twice a week trips planned. The kids were a few years older than Toby, but had taken him under their wings. He was suddenly everybody's adopted kid brother, and having the time of his life.
It was on Friday evening two weeks into Toby's stay, the bus was returning to the school grounds from the trip to the local Village Playhouse. All the kids were talking about the play an updated vision of The Taming of the Shrew. Sarah checked each kid off as they got off the bus and headed to their parents cars. She was the last one off the bus, and thanked the driver. She and Toby headed into the school to drop off the ledger and some other items in the office. When Sarah entered the office she was surprised to find more than just the secretary there. Looking at the older woman, then the commotion in the headmasters' office, "What's going on?" Sarah asked.
Mrs. Beal, the secretary looked haggard and frazzled. "OH Miss Williams, it's just terrible. Poor Mr. Davis…" the older woman placed a hand to her throat. "He had a terrible accident this afternoon. He fell on the stairs in the main hall, and broke his leg in six places."
"No." Sarah said in shock. "That's awful!"
"It gets worse." Mrs. Beal said. "His doctors don't want him to travel."
"I can understand that." Sarah said, and then remembered the tour he was support to be chaperoning. "What happens to the England trip?"
"Miss Williams?" The headmaster looked out his door. "Would you mind coming in here?"
"Of course, Mr. Tanner." Sarah looked at Toby. "Sit here and wait for me."
Mr. Tanner watched her with his best headmaster face on. "I'm sure Mrs. Beal has been filling you in on our dilemma."
Sarah nodded, "Yes, she told me about the accident."
"Miss Williams, how would you like to take over the tour and act as chaperone?" Tanner asked in his no nonsense voice.
Sarah frowned, "I don't think I can afford it." She said honestly. "And I'm already taking care of my younger bother while our parents are on a cruise."
"Miss Williams, the tickets are already paid for as is the hotels and other fees. As for your brother he can go with you. Mr. Davis was planning on taking his son." Tanner said smoothly. "And you'll be paid of course."
Sarah bit her lower lip, "Mr. Tanner…" she paused. "I'd love it."
"Are your passports in order?" Tanner asked as he pulled out a leather ledger with the trip planner and the tickets for her and now Toby.
"Yes, our father took us out of the country last year… and both Toby and I have had our shots and all our papers updated." Sarah said.
"Than it's settled, Mr. Davis will be taking over your classes while you are gone." Tanner stood up. "I'll have a car at your home on Monday morning to pick you and young Mr. Williams up."
Sarah looked at the notes and the list of items to bring on the trip. "Thank you, Mr. Tanner. I'm sure I'll have no problem. How many students will be coming on this trip?"
"Six, and I believe you know all of them." He pointed to the names of the students. "They are the tops of their classes. Two seniors, two juniors one sophomore and one freshmen."
"Yes, I know these students." Sarah smiled and extended her hand. "Thank you for this opportunity."
Sarah looked at Toby when she left the office. "Hey kid, guess whose going to get to go to Jolly olde London town?" She held up the tickets.
"London?" Toby moved to where she stood. "Way cool, sis."
Sarah draped an arm over her younger brother as they headed toward the parking lot to drive home. "I hope pop feels that way."
Karen called every night at exactly the same time. "Hello dear, how is everything going?"
Sarah took a deep breath, "Well, we've had a change in our plans. I have to take over the England trip and Toby is coming with me."
Karen began to sputter. "The England trip? The trip you've been moping about? The one you said you could not afford even if you were free to go? How'd that happen?
"Mr. Davis took a fall, broke his leg and now can not travel Doctors orders." Sarah was going though her closet as she talked on the cordless phone. "So they asked me to take over, the tickets and everything is already paid for…even a ticket for Toby. I stopped at the bank and got our passports out of the lock box. He's in his room packing even now. We leave on Monday, and I'll wire you all the information tomorrow." Sarah paused. "How's daddy?"
Karen was silent for a time longer than she should have been. "He's fine." She said quietly. "He'll be so pleased when I tell him your news. Are you sure it's alright to bring Toby?"
"He'll be fine. And it's a good experience; you know he loves literature as much as I do." Sarah tossed a shoulder bag to her bed. "The kids love him; they all make him their kid brother!"
"How many students will you be in change of?" Karen asked.
"Six, three boys three girls, and all of them are great kids. I've worked with all of them." Sarah laughed. "This is a dream come true."
Karen agreed. "Well it's surely good fortune for you, Sarah. I couldn't have wished a better trip up."
Sarah nearly dropped the phone. "What did you just say?"
Karen sighed. "I said its good fortune."
Sarah leaned on the door jam of her closet and wondered, was it?