Copyright 2014 © Rosesareforever

Crossing Paths

Chapter 7

Lost in the Storm

Last night hadn't gone as planned, that's for sure. Sedric woke the next morning with a major hangover, his head pounding as he tried to sit up. He could barely remember anything after the moment his mother had left the room, furious and beyond disappointed in him. The empty look in her eyes… he would never get that image out of his mind. He honestly couldn't say his mother had ever regarded him with such distaste. It was as if she couldn't believe he was the son she raised.

He could barely recall telling her the real reason behind his breakup with Jade after keeping quiet for six long years. It simply had gotten too much to watch her terrorize Jade for all the wrong reasons. Sedric could proudly say he'd never bullied a single person in his entire life, but he'd felt like his mother had been getting too close to doing exactly that.

No person deserved so much venom, not even his worst enemy. He was a strong believer that revenge wasn't the solution to healing your heart after someone broke it. Even when he blackmailed Jade into acting as his girlfriend he hadn't thought of getting back at her. He simply saw her as his final solution. The single person that could make his plan work. Such a capital mistake if he looked back at it.

Sighing deeply, he stood up and walked towards the bathroom to take a refreshing shower. He frowned slightly when he noticed Jade's side of the bed was untouched, the sheets smooth. Did they get into a fight? He desperately tried to recollect what had happened the day before, but he only ended up worsening his headache.

As he stepped under the spray, scorching hot water cascaded down his body, soothing his aching muscles. He groaned as he ran his fingers through his dark locks. He should have never touched that bottle of Jack. It was a bad habit. Old habits die hard they say. He wished he could say the statement was false, but that would have been a lie.

A few images of David flashed through his mind. They were too vague to constitute whether they were memories or not, but he was pretty sure his buddy had saved his ass once again. At least there was one person in his life that he could always rely on. David had never failed him before and probably never would. The guy was a damned good friend, one of the few loyal people these days.

After a few minutes of standing under the streaming water, Sedric turned the shower off and toweled himself dry before draping the piece of fabric around his hips. He had just smeared some shaving cream across his chin when a knock on the door startled him. Thinking it was Jade forgetting her keycard, he quickly walked across the room and opened the door widely.

"I see you've finally awakened from the dead," David grinned as he stepped inside the room and closed the door. Sedric rolled his eyes and nodded as he walked back to the bathroom. He took his razor from the cabinet and started to shave his growing beard.

"What happened last night?" he questioned as he concentrated on his task in the mirror. He would have to be careful not to cut himself. Having a hangover always made the simple things in life ten times more difficult. Last time he felt this bad, he'd ended up tumbling down the stairs and scratching his leg.

David smirked. "You don't remember, do you?" he grinned as he leaned back against the wooden door and watched his face in the reflection of the mirror. Sedric stayed silent. "I had to cut you off and get your drunk ass to sober up. You were in a pretty bad state. I even asked you to sleep it off in my room, but you were dead set on returning to that little pain in the ass of yours." Yeah, that sounded just like him.

"I wanted to go back to Jade?" Sedric asked, frowning. He hated not remembering what he'd done. The blank spots in his memory only caused him to stress. He tried his best to place the new information his friend had given him, but he couldn't seem to put the pieces together. The night before was one big black hole in his memory.

"You went back to your room," David confirmed. "I didn't go with you, so I'm not sure if Jade was there or not." It had been late at night, so Sedric was pretty sure she must have already gone to bed. He only hoped they hadn't gotten into a fight. It still didn't explain why her side of the bed had been untouched.

"From the look on your face you feel like you're missing something big," David stated, bringing him back from his thoughts. Sedric nodded in agreement. Things didn't add up. If Jade had been asleep, her side of the bed would be wrinkled in the morning. That meant she probably wasn't sleeping and he'd done something to run her off. Whatever it was, he sincerely hoped it wasn't too bad. He could only imagine the vile things he would say in a state of stupor. He always said stuff he didn't mean.

"Jade. I think I did something to make her mad. She obviously didn't sleep here last night," he said as he finished shaving and cleaned the razor.

"Maybe she couldn't stand the stank and decided to sleep in another suite? You honestly smelled like shit," Dave contrived. It was a possibility, yet Sedric couldn't help but feel like something major had happened. He could only hope he was wrong. Because if something bad happened, he didn't even want to know how Jade would react. She was known to have a short temper, just the same as him. They were each other's match in every way.

Rain was trickling down the window pane, drops of water rolling down and touching the framework, awaking Jade from her groggy state of slumber. As she opened her heavy eyelids, she was confused for a moment and didn't recognize her surroundings. It was then the events of last night came flashing back in her memory. A heavy weight settled upon her heart as she remembered what had happened, the vile and hurtful words Sedric had thrown at her.

After listening to the awful speech Sedric gave her, she had fled the house and ran as fast as her feet could carry her. Furious as she had been, she had walked for miles, until her entire outfit had been soaked through and her feet were aching in her squishy shoes. She had been lucky to survive the hideous weather, the constant flickering of lightening and heavy wind. It didn't take her long to realize she was lost and had no idea how to find her way back to the mansion.

Fortunately, she'd come across a small shack in the middle of the woods that kept her from freezing to death when the temperature dropped after dark. It was a little wooden cabin that used to be a timber repository. Once inside she'd immediately shed her wet clothes to keep her body temperature from spinning down even further. It had taken a while before her teeth stopped chattering and her blue lips returned to their usual pink color, but she had gotten her body back under control.

The trees were flexing up and down outside the shack, but none of them had snapped so far. It was a miracle she'd survived the night. She probably should try to find her way back now the sky was lightening with the dawn. It didn't feel safe. She wasn't comfortable leaving her hiding place. What if something bad happened when she was out there? She should have never left the house in the first place. Her sister had warned her and she'd been stupid enough to run outside.

Jade wasn't known to listen though. Her short temper and fervent nature often caused her to be in uncomfortable situations. She would lash out and act without thinking twice. It usually led to broken hearts and heated discussions. Jade admitted she didn't always make the best choices in life. She was far from perfect, yet she knew she didn't deserves Sedric' prejudicial words.

He had taken it a step too far when he told her she was a heartless bitch. She hadn't returned any of his calls after she left him stranded at their apartment and successfully banned him from her life, but what did he expect? Had he honestly believed she would take him back after he screwed a girl behind her back? Jade didn't forgive easily, certainly not when someone hurt her that badly.

Having Sedric cheat on her after being together for two years, it had hurt so damned much. He had been her first kiss, first love and first lover. They shared so many beautiful memories. Her life had been absolutely perfect with Sedric by her side, the good-looking guy who chose her as his girlfriend. She hadn't been able to comprehend her luck.

Many judgmental people had warned her of his 'kind'. They told her she was too innocent and sweet for a guy like him. Sedric had been four years older than her, already in college while she was still a senior in high school. He'd been a rebel, yet she believed she could keep him on a leash.

Maybe it had been wrong of her to try to tame his bad boy behavior. At the time, she had been too blinded by love. She knew Sedric used to sleep around all the time and hung out with skanks. Silly old Jade had believed she could be enough for him, believed that he didn't need another woman but her. How wrong she had been.

Walking in on him – doing the deed with another girl – it hadn't just broken her heart. The sight had shattered every remaining piece until there was nothing left. Her chest had felt empty, void of the usual feeling of love and warmth. She hadn't been able to pick up the pieces, eventually the wounds just healed, leaving deep and irremovable scars in their wake.

Sedric had broken every bit of trust she had left in mankind. Jade had seen many bad things happen in life, most of them caused by men. The pattern started and ended with Peter Henderson*, her father who hadn't just ruined her family, he'd actually tried to rub them out. The man was locked away in prison nowadays, waiting to face death. He deserved every ounce of pain brought upon him.

As Jade opened the door of the shack, a gust of wind hit her in the face. The storm was still raging through the forest, making the trees squeak and bend. Fear gripped her heart in a tight knot, making her stomach churn. Maybe she should stay inside the small cabin. It didn't look safe to leave the sole hiding place she found in the vicinity.

"Have you found Jade yet?" Sedric asked for the millionth time that day. He had searched every inch of the entire mansion, yet no one seemed to have seen Jade running around. It was as if she had disappeared from the face of earth. Not even Kate had known where she was hiding.

"Nope, man, and I've looked everywhere," David replied, sounding bored out of his mind. He clearly wasn't worried they couldn't seem to find the woman.

"Where the fuck is she?" Sedric exclaimed, nervously running a hand through his messy hair. He absolutely despised the way he was currently feeling. His heart was hammering in his chest, clenching every time he wondered whether she was in danger or not. He hated himself for still caring so deeply about her. After what she had done to avenge him, he should probably hate her guts. The fact that he couldn't only fueled his anger.

"She couldn't have just disappeared into thin air," he stated, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart by taking deep breaths. There must be a logical explanation. Maybe she had simply gone for a walk and lost track of time. Not that it sounded very alluring in weather like what was going on outside.

"She clearly left the house. I can't come up with any other explanation, Sed," David said quietly as he checked his appearance in the mirror like the true beauty queen he was. He could be so shallow and selfish at times. To any other person, David Thompson looked like a real jerk that only cared about wealth. Fortunately, Sedric could see past the masks David put on to look tough and untouchable.

"Why would she leave the house? She isn't stupid. Jade knows how dangerous it is outside in this weather," Sedric reasoned. He couldn't imagine Jade actually leaving the mansion when she knew how perilous it was outdoors. She might not exactly be a scaredy cat, but Jade knew when to be careful.

"Look. How should I put this mildly, you weren't exactly in the greatest of moods last night. Maybe you did – or said – something to get her angry enough to leave the building? If I remember correctly, you told me Jade doesn't think clearly when she's angry and simply acts on autopilot," Dave clarified. Sedric didn't even know he'd told his friend that much about his ex-girlfriend.

The explanation sounded quite reasonable, so accurate in fact it actually scared Sedric a little. What if David was right? What if she really did leave the house after he did something to freak her out? Besides that it was hazardous to go outdoors, Jade didn't even know her way around the island. She probably would get lost within the first mile. The island wasn't that big, but it wasn't easy to navigate.

"I sincerely hope you're wrong," Sedric told his friend, shaking his head. It wouldn't end well if David was right. There was no way they were going to find Jade in time before she froze to death or got hurt in weather like that. He could only imagine the many ways the storm could cause her pain. What if a tree broke and fell on top of her? What if she was walking down the beach and got caught by a steep wave?

"Sedric, what is wrong?" someone suddenly asked, bringing him back from his deep thoughts. When he blinked his eyes open he noticed his mother standing in front of him, a stern look across her features. She didn't look happy. In fact, if looks could kill he'd probably be six feet under by now.

"I overheard a few guests talking about how Jade is nowhere to be found. What on earth did you do to the poor girl this time? Did you shag one of the invitees of the wedding? Perhaps one of those young bridesmaids?" she snorted distastefully. It still surprised Sedric to no end how many crude words his dear mother seemed to know.

He heard David awkwardly cough beside him, unsuccessfully trying to refrain himself from bursting into laughter. "No, mother, I didn't do such a thing," he replied monotonously. Sedric understood he'd made a terrible mistake by keeping his mother in the dark, but she didn't have to rub it in every chance she got.

"Then what is happening?" Alison asked stoically, raising an eyebrow. The tone his mother just used on him had always been saved solely for when she got mad at his father. He'd never heard so much venom in her voice directed his way.

"We can't seem to find Jade anywhere. I'm afraid she might have left the mansion," he explained calmly, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. If there was one thing he hated more than the spiteful tone of his mother, it was looking weak in front of anybody. He wasn't about to show just how scared he was on the inside that something might have gone wrong.

"What on earth are you still doing here if that's the case? You should have gone after her all along!" Alison spit out, shaking her head. Sedric swallowed the lump in his throat at the disappointed look in her eyes. "And you want me to believe the two of you have gotten back together? I'm not blind, Sedric. Back in college you wouldn't leave the poor girl out of your sight for even a minute. Everyone constantly had to fight for your attention because it was solely focused on her," she added as an afterthought.

"I grew up. I know there's more in life than spending time with your girlfriend," Sedric fired back defensively. He didn't like it one bit how his mother kept seeing straight through his lies. It used to be much easier to feed her crap. In college he lied to her on daily base about his whereabouts. Somehow he started to wonder whether he'd been that obvious back then as well or if his mother truly had learned to read his facial expressions better.

"No, honey, you have forgotten what it is like to love someone more than life itself. You've forgotten what it's like to spend time with the one person that understands you better than you do yourself," Alison replied seriously, a humorless laugh leaving her lips. "You've still got so much to learn, my son."

"You're delusional, mother," Sedric retorted stubbornly. Deep down, he knew she wasn't far from the truth. It would kill him to say those words out loud, though. Being the stubborn asshole he was and all of that.

"I think we should go look for the missing troublemaker," David interrupted, patting him on the back as he came to stand between his mother and him. He clearly understood things were turning heated quite rapidly.

"We should," he agreed, glancing at his mother one last time before heading to the door. Let's only hope they could find Jade before anything bad happened.

Her stomach was growling clamorously, the loud noises so embarrassing she was happy no one was around to hear. It had been at least 20 hours since the last time she had eaten, making her belly ache with hunger. Outside the shack the sun had started to set, the dim light streams that had peeked through the thick clouds extinguishing.

She had tried to find her way back to the mansion in the afternoon, but the stocky layer of fog combined with the severe rain had made that nearly impossible. After being drenched once again, she'd decided to return to her safe place and rest. She could only pray someone would come and find her by the next day. Her body was quickly dehydrating, even trying to catch a few raindrops didn't help to return her energy.

She felt exhausted, both mentally and physically. Her hope that someone was out there looking for her had diminished with each passing hour. Sedric clearly didn't care about her, so who would go outside in such disastrous weather to search for her? She had been so incredibly stupid to leave the house. It had been a fatal mistake she would probably pay for with her life.

Another heavy gust of wind attacked the wooden cabin, making the thin walls curve under the powerful pressure. The wooden boards could snap any moment, ruining the one place she could hide. She held her breath, her eyes fixated on the walls of the shack as she heard the wind blowing outside the cabin. Her heart was beating rapidly in her chest, fear gripping it in a tight knot.

She wasn't ready to die. There were still so many things in life she wanted to experience. One day she wanted the right guy to slip a diamond on her finger and have a big wedding that costs a fortune. She wanted to hold her baby in her arms after hours of going through a painful labor. Paris, London, Barcelona, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Rome,… She wanted to visit Europe and make a trip that lasted at least a month and gave her a lifetime of memories.

Jade still had so many dreams and goals she had yet to reach. There was no way she was going to give up on all of that right now. If anything, it only made her realize how much more she still wanted to experience. She never had been sure she was the kind of person that would get married and have a bunch of children, but in that moment she wanted it all, including the white picket fence.

All of a sudden she heard someone shouting out her name in the distance, alarmed she quickly sat up and pricked-up her ears to make sure she wasn't hearing things. Jade. The clear sound of her name made her heart jump in her chest. Faster than lightening, she sprung up and ran outside. The pouring rain made it difficult to see where she was going, but she tried to follow the sound of someone calling out for her.

"I'm here! I'm here!" she repeated over and over again. The eerie silence she was met with made her heart constrict painfully. Please don't let them be too far. She kept running like a lunatic, knowing damn well if she didn't find someone soon she would be as good as dead. There was no way she would be able to find her way back to the cabin. She'd already run too far without realizing where she was going.

She hissed in pain when her knee suddenly collided with the hard ground after she tripped over a branch, biting her lip as she looked at the gash in her kneecap. Blood was already trickling down her leg. Gritting her teeth, she tried to stand up. Ignoring the jolts of pain she started walking again, her pace slightly slower than before.

"Somebody help me," she cried out, desperation making her eyes well up with tears. Every step made her hope sink deeper. Whoever had been looking for her didn't seem to be close. She probably went in the opposite direction when she started running. Damn it. Huffing, she let herself fall down on the ground, her vision blurred with tears.

Cold wind embraced her body, making goose bumps erupt on her skin as she started to shiver lightly. She suddenly started to feel lightheaded and dizzy. Before she had time to comprehend what was happening, her eyes fell closed and she lost conscious. A loud thud echoed through the air as her head hit a boulder.

*Peter Henderson's story is included in the first book of this series 'A Fight without Remorse'. He tried to get Alexis assassinated and actually killed his wife Katharina. He was sentenced to death, but is still waiting in death row to be executed.

Exciting chapter, no? Will he find her in time? Review and find out!