I wish to ask your help. As this is my first ever work and I do not have a betareader, I ask that you kindly point out where my spelling and grammar errors are. I am far from a perfect writer, but I wanted to share this with you. Also, as you can see, this story has 50+ chapters. As I am still in school and also working, I don't have time to reread each chapter and fix each mistake. Your help in this area will be greatly appreciated.
I do not appreciate mean reviews. This being said, I don't mind constructive criticism, as it makes me a better writer. If you are thinking of posting a mean comment, read it and ask yourself "Would I like it if someone said this to me?"
Lastly, I want to let you know that I appreciate you. Yes, you! People like you encourage me to keep writing and that is an amazing gift.
Thank you and enjoy!
John Watson was sitting at a desk typing up his latest entry into his blog. He and Sherlock Holmes had just solved another case and this was the first chance John had to write about their recent excitement.
As he finished the entry, hitting the "submit" button, his phone rang. Picking it up, he saw that he had a new text message, although he didn't recognize the number. It simply read,
"Hello John. Long time no see. Wanna do dinner? -AH"
John thought about the initials at the end. Whose were they? The initials looked so familiar... Ah! That's it. He thought. They're Andrew's. Andrew Hunt was one of the men from John's core. He was a daredevil type; always getting himself hurt in one stupid stunt or another. John had fixed him up more then a dozen times, and wrote those initials down just as often on the medical records.
"You're right, long time no see. When? -JW"
"Hampshire 6? -AH"
"Sounds good. -JW"
"See you there. -AH"
John put his phone down. Andrew wasn't exactly a friend of his, but he was another solider. And John hadn't seen him since he had left the core. Maybe he's finally grown up. John thought to himself laughingly, for he knew Andrew never would.
John arrived at Hampshire at about half six o'clock. Unfortunately, traffic had not been the best and it had been almost impossible for him to get a cab. Still, he had made it there before he was too terribly late.
When he entered the restaurant, the waitress asked if he needed a table.
"No thanks," he replied pleasantly, "I'm supposed to be meeting a friend."
"Oh, are you here to see Hunt?" John nodded. "Right this way."
The waitress lead John to a table near the back of the restaurant, where a woman sat all by herself. Before John could tell the waitress that she had made a mistake, the woman stood up and welcomed him.
"Dr. Watson, how wonderful it is to see you." She said sweetly. The waitress turned and retreated to another customer.
"Excuse me, but do I know you?" He asked, cautiously.
"Oh yes, pardon me." She said, "I'm Andrew's sister, Ariel."
"Well in that case, please to meet you, Ariel." John said, extending his hand.
Ariel shook it and then gestured for him to sit down. As they sat, she laughed.
"I would have thought you'd have a better memory, Dr. Watson." Ariel said smiling.
"Pardon me?" He asked.
"I meet you 4 years ago, when Andrew's core came home for Christmas, remember?" She said.
It took John a moment to remember, but suddenly it all came back to him. His core had been sent home for 5 days over Christmas and as soon as they had landed they had been overrun by loved ones. John had seen his sister, Harry, but that was all the family he had. Andrew, who always said he owed his life to John, came over and introduced his sister to him. They had even spent a couple of days together, just the four of them.
"I'm sorry, it must have slipped my mind." John said, apologizing.
"Don't worry." She smiled. The waitress came back and asked what they would like to drink. She quickly took their orders and was gone in a blink of an eye.
"5." John said, breaking the silence.
"What?" Ariel asked.
"It was 5 years ago that we met." John said. Ariel's face went rather blank.
"Really? My, how time flies." She exclaimed. A rather uncomfortable silence followed her words.
John was getting restless, desperate to make any kind of conversation. Then something clicked in. Just as John was about to open his mouth, the waitress came back with their drinks and wanted to take their orders. As soon as she had gotten them, she rushed off. John tried to remember what he had wanted to say before she had interrupted. What was missing? He thought.
"Where's Andrew?" John asked.
"Why do you think Andrew would be here?" Ariel replied.
"Because he texted me..." John began, but then slowly trailed off.
He realized his mistake now. When he had gotten the texts signed "AH", he assumed they were from Andrew. But now that he had reacquainted himself with Ariel, he realized it had been her that texted him. Not Andrew. They were siblings with the same initials. Ariel was watching him as he made this connection. A look of sadness crept over her face, although John didn't know why.
"You were expecting him, weren't you?" Ariel sighed. "I'm sorry to disappoint you."
"You are not disappointing." John quickly tried to apologize.
And Ariel wasn't disappointing. She was a beautiful woman, just a bit taller then John, with delicate features and pale skin. Her golden hair stood in contrast with her playful sapphire blue eyes. And the smile that always seemed to be hiding behind her lips contained perfect white teeth.
"You are not disappointing, Miss Hunt." John repeated.
"Please, call me Ariel." She said, flashing her white teeth. But as quickly as the smile came, it faded away and the sad look crept onto her face again.
"John," she paused, waiting to see if he'd scold her for using his first name. When he didn't, she continued.
"John, I didn't ask you here to recount old stories or to enjoy the wine. I have some news to bring you." At this she stopped and bit her lip, but she forced herself to continue. "Andrew's dead."
This news hit John like a brick wall. Images of the young solider raced through his head as he tried to make sense of this. Memories of having to set his broken bones, or removed a bullet from him, flashed past his eyes.
"Dead?" John croaked out. Ariel simply nodded.
"What? How? Why?" John's questions poured out.
"Shot. Died on the battlefield." Ariel said, short and concise. John was trying to wrap his head around it, then all of a sudden he realized something.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry for your loss." He said, with genuine sympathy. Ariel breathed in sharply.
"Thank you." She replied, "But I knew that one day it would happen. I always knew he wouldn't come back." She smiled. It was a pitiful smile. The kind that said that even though she believed what she had said, she had hoped it wouldn't come true.
"He was a daredevil. He told me himself he never planned on coming home. It was just his way." She said with a sigh. John noticed something. Her brother was dead and they were talking about him, yet, she wasn't crying. Tears weren't even threatening to come into her eyes. Was she cold and heartless? Did she hate her brother? Then another question crossed John Watson's mind. Why had she called him here? It wasn't as if they had been close. In fact, he hardly knew the man, not much more then acquaintances. Why would it matter to him that Andrew had died? A sly smile crept across Ariel's face as if she had read his mind.
"John, I need your help." She said, leaning in. John leaned in to hear her as she lowered her voice.
"My life is being threatened." She whispered. "But by whom or why, I don't know. I've never done anything wrong, not against the law or the Queen and I'm barely rich enough to afford my own flat. So what this person could wish to gain from killing me, I don't know." The genuine tone of her voice convinced John that what she was saying was true, but just incase...
"How do you know someone's trying to kill you?" He asked.
"Because of this." Ariel said and pulled her cellphone out of her pocket. She took a second to scroll through her voicemail before selecting one and hitting play.
A raspy, threatening voice came on.
"You've got five days. If you don't solve my puzzle by then, I will kill you." The phone beeped to signal the end of the message.
"That's it?" John asked
"There was a riddle that was mailed to me." Ariel said, scrolling through her phone. "I got it the day before the phone call. Here it is." She handed the phone over to John so he could see the picture she had brought up. On the screen was a picture of a letter and typed onto the letter was a riddle:
Two by Two
With hands of blue
Wherever you hide
They come after you
Solve it my lovely and you'll be free to go.
John looked up at Ariel, about to ask if she had any idea what this meant.
"If I did, do you think I would have asked you?" She replied, reading his mind again.
"What do you want me to do?" John asked, baffled by the riddle. "I don't know what this means."
"I want you and your detective friend to help me figure it out." She replied. "I heard you're the best and I need the best at the moment."
John thought about this. It was true that Sherlock was the best, even if he was a bit arrogant about it. He probably could solve this riddle in under a minute.
"Why didn't you come to our flat? You obviously knew where we are from the website." John asked.
"Because, I needed to tell you about Andrew." She said, almost impatiently. "And I know the type of man your friend is; arrogant, rude and not one concerned for... Feelings."
The accuracy with which Ariel had just described Sherlock Holmes was astonishing, which lead John to wondering about how she knew about him so well.
"I've had... dealing with men like him before." Ariel said, reading his thoughts like a book. John thought it best to leave it at that.
"Come back to the flat then? We'll want to inform Sherlock of his latest case." John said, preparing to leave. A little laugh escaped Ariel.
"We can finish our dinner first." She said, smiling. "We've still got 3 days to figure this out."