The Alpha's Search (The Craven Trilogy, #1)(6)

By: Natalie Shaw



“How can I help you?” I asked. “Are you still interested in visiting the States?”

Ignoring my question, he said, “Where are you holidaying this year?” Craven shuffled forward on the seat. His hands were on the table—only inches from mine.

“Me?”

He nodded.

“I haven't booked anything yet.”

“Where did you go last year?”

Dexter Travel employees received generous discounts on their package holidays. Even so, my finances were always stretched to the limit. I'd only managed a short break last year.

“I went to France.”

“Did you enjoy it?” He put his hand on mine.

“What?” I gasped as what felt like an electric shock passed through my body. My instinct was to pull away, but my hand wouldn't respond. I looked to my left. Sarah was at her desk attending to a customer, but something wasn't right. It took a few seconds for me to realise what it was. No one was moving. I glanced to my right. The scene was the same. Everyone in the shop appeared to be frozen in time. This couldn't be happening. I closed and re-opened my eyes, but nothing had changed. Sarah's mouth was open as though caught mid-sentence. It had to be some kind of crazy dream. I must have fainted again.

“Are you okay?” Craven said.

He wasn't frozen like the others.

“What's happening?” I asked.

“It’s okay. There's nothing to worry about.”

“Look!” I nodded to the other people in the shop. “Look at them. What's happened to them?”

“Nothing. They'll be perfectly fine.”

“What did you do?”

“Look at me.” He moved his face closer to mine. “Do you remember yet?”

“Remember what? I don't know what you're talking about. Who are you?”

“Look into my eyes.” His face was now only inches from mine.

“What?”

“Just do as I say. Allow your mind to see.”

This man was bat-shit crazy. Either that or I was. I pushed back in my chair and managed to pull my hand from under his.

The volume level in the room had been restored. I turned to my left. Sarah was now talking to her customer. To my right, Candice was laughing. Everything was back to normal.

“What the hell was that all about?” I said to an empty chair. Craven had disappeared.

*********

Somehow I made it through the day. I hadn't mentioned what had happened to Candice or Sarah. They'd have thought I'd lost the plot. Perhaps I had—the mind could play games—couldn't it?

I had two days holiday owing to me, so I booked the next couple of days off. If Craven came back to the shop he'd have to make do with Candice or Sarah.

On the way home after work, I stopped off at the corner shop, and treated myself to chocolate and crisps. When I got back to the flat, I didn't mention anything about the day's events to Alison. She'd have quizzed me about it all night. I just wanted to shut myself away in my bedroom with Coke, chocolate, crisps and a good book. I was almost half way through 'Fated', and loving every minute of it, even though Alison had done her best to spoil it for me. She mocked me at every opportunity: 'What on earth do you see in werewolves?'

Good as the book was—it wasn't long before I began to nod off. A couple of times, I woke myself up when the book slipped out of my hand. Eventually, I must have drifted off to sleep.

I lifted the flaming torch from its cradle, and held it out in front of me. The light from the flames lit up the tunnel. There was a fork ahead. Which way? Left? Right? I listened, but there were no sounds. I took the left fork. A breeze blew along the tunnel—I was terrified the flame might be extinguished. A sound—a voice? I stood still and listened. The voice came again—it sounded distant—the words barely audible. I edged forward towards a bend in the tunnel. The voice again. This time I caught a word: 'Lewis' or was it 'Louise'? I couldn't be sure. The voice was getting louder now. Someone was coming towards me. Frozen to the spot, I waited. I heard the word again: 'Louise'. Whoever it was, was only a few metres away now. I still had time to turn and run away. A strong gust of wind rushed through the tunnel. The flame was extinguished, and I was plunged into darkness. My heart was racing. 'Louise'. The voice was almost upon me. I stared into the darkness. Waiting—what else could I do?

Two spots of light moving towards me. Eyes.

The torch re-ignited. In front of me was a figure? A man? It was a face I recognised.

“Jeez!” I sat up in bed. My heart felt as though it was about to burst out of my chest. Another damn nightmare! This one had been a little different. It had been the first time I'd seen the occupant of the cave. Until now, I'd only ever seen his eyes. What's more, I'd recognised him—it was Craven.

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