Better Left Unknown
Vancouver Island is harbouring a pair of dangerous criminals, but each horrid crime is disguised as an accident. Disguised so well that no one suspects a thing. The sadistic pair must be stopped. In a small town on the outskirts a curious girl and her best friend become just a little bit too involved in a game of spying. A new family moves into town and Callie Hennesy is determined to find out just what the elusive family is hiding. But some things… some things are Better Left Unknown. Post-Breaking Dawn, from Callie's and Bella's POV.
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2. Chapter 1--Sight and Scent
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“Oh! Oh! I think I see someone,” I exclaimed.
Shayla didn’t move, and I didn’t look at her, but it sounded like she was smiling when she said, “Where?”
“Third window on the second floor. I think I can see something moving.” I slowly spun one of the buttons on my binoculars, holding them as still as I could manage. The window I’d indicated to my friend became suddenly clearer and closer.
The house across the street stood three stories high and took up so much room at that no other houses were near it. The monster house probably contained more rooms than I could count. Even if I were lucky enough to go inside. I had tried to convince my aunt and uncle to go see it, while it was still for sale, but they wouldn’t. They said it was out of our price range, so what was the point of wasting all that time? Besides, there was nothing wrong with our current residence.
The stately house had been painted a boring white colour, until someone had finally bought it. From our perfect vantage point in the tree house behind my house, Shayla and I had watched the renovations. We decided, after watching all the activity in the house, spying through the large windows, that a complete remodeling must have been done. But we couldn’t decide why the whole house hadn’t been destroyed and rebuilt. The construction crews had done a lot of demolition and construction, but it’d all been on the inside of the regal building. Somehow I was glad that the landmark remained.
But it was pink now. I’d never really been a fan of pink. It was too… girly. Girly was Shayla’s thing, never mine. I had always been, and always would be, the tomboy. Sure the pink wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t like the house had been painted magenta or hot pink… It was some light, very gentle, inconspicuous shade of pink. But it was still pink.
When I’d written that down, however, to file away as a piece of information on whoever had bought the house Shayla had thought it unworthy of mention.
“Callie,” she’d chided me. “It shouldn’t matter what colour they chose to paint their house.”
“Why not? We want to gather all the information we can, don’t we?”
“Without being obtrusive, yes.”
“Then of course it matters that the house is pink.”
“Why?” Shayla asked. Apparently she hadn’t seen anything wrong with living in a pink house.
“There is something wrong with people who want to live in a pink house,” I stated confidently.
“I like the pink…”
Of course you do, I thought. “That doesn’t count. We’re girls. Last I heard there were just as many males moving in as females.”
She flashed a smile. “Which just proves the superiority of the female mind. We always get our way.”
I couldn’t argue with that, after all, I’d always thought of boys in general as very lacking in intelligence. Besides, it wasn’t like I’d ever forget the incriminating detail—not while the first thing I saw out my window every morning was the very large, and very proud, pink house.
“Yes!” Shayla cried, startling me. “Someone’s carrying a box… Woah—are they that young? I thought you said the kids were all teenagers!”
“That’s what I heard. The doctor and his wife have six adopted teenagers. But can you tone it down just a little? We have to make sure no one knows that we are spying on them…”
“Right. I’ll grab some paper. I’ll write—you watch, okay?”
“Okay.” Her handwriting was infinitely better than mine; she wrote faster as well.
After retrieving a clean sheet of paper and a pencil from the wooden floorboards behind us, she poised the pencil above the paper and asked, “What can you see?”
“I see,” I began ominously, “a pink house. With white trim. Three stories high. A bay window beside the front door which is-“ She groaned. “Okay, okay. I’m still just watching someone carrying boxes into that room you saw.”
“Describe the person.”
I could only see her back, but I began to relate what I could see. She was extremely short, which had made us assume she was young. Her hair was pitch black and cut very short, it was sticking out in little spikes on her head. If her hair had been blonde I would have called the cut ‘pixie’, but as it was I couldn’t decide if it was supposed to be that or gothic. I zoomed a little more, but just as I did she turned. I stopped talking. I stopped breathing. She was beautiful. Every feature of hers was defined, yet gentle. She had a small nose and a delicate curving mouth. Something about her expression made me think she’d seen me. But that was impossible.
She held my eyes for several seconds and Shayla frowned, waiting to hear what had changed, and then the girl blinked. It was as though a magical spell had worn off and she turned back around and gently set the box she’d been carrying on the ground. Almost instantly she was out of my line of sight, twisting lithely out of the room.
I waited a fraction of a second, and then lowered my binoculars.
“What happened? Did she leave?”
“Yeah. But first she looked directly at me. Like she saw me watching.”
Shayla caught the look on my face. “Weird,” she said.
“Yeah. Weird,” I agreed. Then I smiled. There was nothing I liked better than a mystery. “Maybe there’s something to it.”
“Maybe there isn’t. Coincidence. You never know Callie, maybe she just thinking about some random thing.”
“Yeah right. Thought of something, turned around, stared at the neighbor’s tree house, blinked and ran away.”
“It doesn’t sound that bad—there’s nothing wrong with looking out the window while you’re thinking. I do it all the time and so do you.”
“I know, but—but I guess it just seemed like, like she was staring at me, like she saw me,” I said, unsettled. “Whatever. Doesn’t matter, it just scared me.”
“Do you want me to sketch her?” Shayla asked slowly, attempting to shake off the mood that had crept over me.
“Naw… We’ll see her in school on Monday.”
“Are you sure? She looked really young… like eight or nine.”
“She’s older than us I think, but she’s super short. And she’s really pretty.”
She stared at me like I’d lost my mind. I’d never been one to compliment anyone, boy or girl. I usually couldn’t care less if someone was pretty or not. But this time was different. Because pretty was a drastic understatement when I was referring to my new neighbor.
We continued to watch through the binoculars, and were not disappointed. A few minutes later the girl came skipping back into the room, carrying yet another box. She bent down out of sight, and when she straightened she had a pair of scissors in one tiny hand. She proceeded to unpack several boxes, and she seemed to deliberately avoid the window.
I filed my binoculars through the rest of the windows, but to my surprise almost all of the curtains had been drawn shut. I frowned. Did the girl really see me? Then why didn’t she close her blinds? Did she know I was spying but didn’t want to raise suspicion?
When I voiced these concerns to Shayla, she told me to stop reading so much into it. Again.
“CARISSA! SHAYLA!” A loud voice called. It was my Auntie Chriss, my mother’s sister, who had been my guardian for the last six years. She always called too loudly. We would hear her if she just spoke normally like Uncle Damian, but she seemed not to fathom that. If she could not see us then in order for us to hear her she must yell at the top of her voice. I wanted to snarl at her; we were trying to be discrete. But I kept my voice even when I replied.
“Coming,” I said. Then I added under my breath, “My name’s Carissa-lani…”
Shayla smiled, knowing how much I hated it when Auntie cut off part of my name. If she refused to call me Callie, why couldn’t she get my actual name right? Was it really that hard?
We climbed quickly down the swaying rope ladder; the instant our feet hit the ground we ran up the hill, across the lawn and into my house. Ours was the last one on the street, the road in front of our house ended in the ocean just past our secret treetop fort.
It was lunchtime on a Saturday, which meant that there was most likely canned soup and some sandwiches on the table. I was right. Auntie was predictable. But I didn’t mind. We scooped up our plates, said thank you to my aunt, and were out the door again. This time we couldn’t run, unless we wanted to spill hot soup all over our clean clothes, that is. When we reached the tree I passed Shayla my bowl and plate, and climbed up.
I snuck a quick glance through my binoculars, and gasped. The girl was still unpacking her room, still nowhere near the window, but now the room was full of furniture. There were two dressers, a nightstand, a mattress on the floor and all the parts for a bed leaning against one wall. Had it all gotten there while we ran inside to grab our lunches? I asked myself. No, it couldn’t have.
For the second time today I found myself thinking the word, impossible. Impossible that they knew we were spying. Impossible that she had gotten that much furniture into her room in the mere minutes we had been gone. I shook it off.
Calling down I asked Shayla if she was ready. She was, so I lifted the ice cream bucket off the floor, straightened the rope and threw it down. She caught it, steadied it, and placed the two sandwiches inside. While I drew the bucket up by the rope, which was tied to a thick limb above my head, I told her about the mysterious furniture in the girl’s bedroom. I thought she’d finally believe me that there was something strange going on.
“I’ll check again,” I said when I’d received nothing more than a roll of her eyes, pulling the two grilled cheese sandwiches out of the bucket and throwing it down to Shayla. I ascertained that nothing else had changed and turned back to lean over the edge and watch her try to balance one of the bowls of soup.
“Don’t lean over the edge like that,” she grunted. “you’ll fall.”
“No I won’t. Don’t you care about what’s happening over there?”
“Sure I do, but I’d forget about it pretty fast if you fell out of the fort and broke your neck.”
“I’m not going to break my neck by falling ten feet to the ground. I might break my leg though.”
“If you fall headfirst you could easily break your neck.”
“Don’t you want to hear about what that girl is doing?”
“Callie, right now I need to get this stupid ice cream bucket steady, make sure you don’t kill yourself, and be thinking about someone unloading boxes all at the same time… Kind of hard.”
“Stupid ice cream bucket? Would you rather carry the bowls of hot soup up the rope ladder in your teeth?” I shot back quickly.
“I didn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea. I just meant that… well, it wasn’t designed to carry soup!” Every time Shayla released the bucket it would swing out quickly and slosh the soup around, threatening to spill it on the ground.
“The sandwiches are up here, we could just forget about the soup…” I said, turning around to pick up the binoculars. The spiky-haired girl was loading her dresser with clothes covered in frills and sequins, which she was pulling out of the boxes. She was definitely not gothic. There were too many pinks and reds in the bucket.
“And then what? Let Tide eat it? I don’t think so,” Shayla retorted.
“Sure, Tide deserves a treat once in a while, doesn’t he?”
“He doesn’t need to eat our mushroom soup. It’s pretty still now, want to try lifting it?”
“Okay. You’d better move over though Shay, because if I drop it I don’t want to burn you.”
“Callie! You’d better raise that bucket slowly and carefully. If you drop it you are in so much trouble!”
“From you? Yeah right!” I laughed. What’s the point of having a best friend if you don’t treat them like a sister?
“I’ll just sic your brother on you!”
“Whatever—even he can’t beat me up.”
“Yes he can,” she said, unimpressed. It was probably true, although he’d never tried to before. Jared was two years older than me, and was the star player on the high school football team, even though he was only in grade eleven.
“But only if he can catch me. I’m too fast,” I said. Another statement that was probably true; I excelled in all things Track and Field.
The soup eventually made it into the tree house, thanks to Shayla’s extreme patience. Within seconds she was scrambling up the ladder and through the trapdoor. Just as she disappeared from his sight, my dog whined.
“Poor boy,” Shayla said.
“Yeah—we should figure out a way to get him up here. He’d love it!”
She gave me an odd look. “How are you planning on doing that? Even if you could find a basket big enough the twine would snap. He’s too heavy.”
“That’s it!” I said. “I don’t need a basket, we have his kennel—the handle on that’s metal it wouldn’t break! All I have to find is rope strong enough.”
“You think that you can lift him this high? Even if I helped you it wouldn’t work. He’s huge!”
“Leverage. As long as this branch above me here can hold his weight—then I can easily devise a way for us to pull him up without too much trouble.”
“Forget about it Callie,” She said, swallowing a bite of her sandwich. “It’s bad enough that you’re going to get yourself killed by flailing around up here you want to bring Tide up? No way.”
“I’ll figure it out. Just you wait,” I said quietly. I took a bite before proceeding to scowl at the bowl in front of me. “I’m really contemplating taking this soup in to the microwave… It’s really cold.”
“Go ahead,” Shayla said. “As long as you know you have to bring it back up all by yourself.”
I felt like I’d drained all of my strength simply by moving one arm and slapping the snooze button. The annoying buzzer ceased immediately. I wanted to growl, but I reminded myself why I was doing this and sat up.
6:15 a.m. It was flashing at me, the only light in the small room. Until I ripped my curtains open. As the happy sunshine invaded I squinted, unable to see past the searing brightness. I closed my eyes and covered my face, wishing that my eyes would adjust faster.
As soon as I could I forced my eyes open and found the bottom left drawer of my familiar dresser. I didn’t even bother pulling off the tee-shirt I’d worn to bed, it was much simpler just to pull a sweater overtop. Still not feeling quite awake yet, I replaced my comfortable black shorts with a pair of sweat pants. Once I start running I would feel better.
This was Shayla’s idea. Obviously. I did enjoy running in the morning, but I had never, ever attempted to do one before school, because I was too lazy to get up early enough. Usually. Why I ever allowed her to talk me into this, I’ll never know.
She said it would be fun, it would be good for Tide, and, most importantly, there was a boy she had to impress. Apparently she thought he’d notice her if she was sleep-deprived.
Boys, I thought. She’s going to put in all this effort…like he’s even going to notice.
I snorted when I saw that Tide was still asleep. I was waking up my dog so I could take him for a walk. Backwards. I took him walking every day, but usually he had to convince me. Why had I agreed to do this every morning?
“Come on buddy…” I said lethargically. “We’ll run to Shay’s house and then we’ll jog back.” We had done it on Friday morning and it’d taken an hour.
Then Saturday the doctor finally moved in. We all thought they were going to move in before school started, but apparently something had come up and they’d stayed wherever they were for another four months. My aunt was a nurse at the hospital where the father would be working, and she had heard that they had stayed for a wedding. I thought that sounded strange. Why would you postpone a move for four months so you could attend a wedding? If they really were as rich as Auntie assumed they were why couldn’t they just fly back when the time came? Very suspicious.
So now it was the middle of the school year and they were just joining us.
After the first few steps out the door I was almost as excited as Tide. He leapt up and twirled sideways. I started running. He ran with me, pulling lightly on the leash with each of his gigantic strides. Just as though he was asking for a little more room to run.
I glanced up at the pink house, which was rearing higher and higher the closer we came to it. Bryan had said that there was a pool and a hot tub inside. I felt a small flare of envy.
Just as that thought crossed my mind Tide rebelled, stopping dead. A low whimper escaped through his teeth. I jerked on the leash, but he shivered and pulled me back three steps.
“What’s wrong?” I asked harshly, a little embarrassed. I gave a more gentle tug on the leash, but got no response. Tide’s nose was flaring and his jaw was clamped shut. For the first time ever I saw fear in his trusting eyes.
“Tide?” Another tug. No reaction. I groaned. “What the heck?”
His eyes flicked away from me and he focused on the large house. I nearly growled at him. I couldn’t fathom what was prompting his fear. We’d walked past this house all the time in the summer and never had he shown any qualms; even when power drills and chainsaws resounded from inside.
I leaned back, pulling with all of my weight, trying to coerce him forward. “Come…on,” I grunted roughly. Suddenly he seemed to slip into predatory mode. I’d never seen the combination of fear and aggression in a dog before. He snapped at me. His teeth flashed harmlessly through the space between us. I smacked his nose and reprimanded him, all the time trying to hide the uneasy fear that was growing in me. What was going on? Why did Tide, the biggest teddy bear of a dog, bite at me?
Only when he began running circles around me did I realize what he was trying to do. He smelt danger emanating from the pink house, and he was trying to get me away from it.
I slowly allowed him to force me back down the street. When Tide tried to escort me across the road to go back into our house, however, I stopped walking.
“This is dumb,” I told him. I knew I sounded silly talking to my dog but no one was listening I was sure. The sun was barely even up yet. “That house is no different now than it was three days ago and you know it.”
But there was something different. The doctor’s family had moved in.