This is the beginning of the second book in the Bigelow Hollow Series.
Kelly Black knew better than anyone what kind of secrets could lie unseen, just beneath the surface. Her mother and father lived the lie of a loveless marriage. Morgan Black went off to work, every day, like some big corporate executive, to do what?
Her mother - the typical suburban housewife, or something much, much more?
And what about herself? Who was Kelly Black? What was she hiding, as she cruised the halls of Bigelow Hollow Community College, as though she had not just changed the world.
It had been almost a week since she woke up in the park, a new person. A whole week, and she still wasn’t sure if it was all real, or just the by-product of a bad breakfast burrito. In fact, it made her a little nauseous just thinking about it.
She had a pretty clear recollection of everything; Fagan, Morgrath, the Black Mountain, Sargon, Bellmia, her field of flowers, the Daggers and Garth. It was always Garth. Kelly’s mind returned to thoughts of Garth with such frequency, that it was impossible to concentrate on anything else. Her memories were so vivid. She could taste the fairie brew on her tongue, feel the Grulag spears prodding her forward, see that look in Garth’s eyes.
That was then, there, wherever then and there was. Now, Kelly was here, back in the real world, and it was just as she’d left it; parental wars, late shifts at the bakery and too much homework. The time she had spent in the Black Mountain seemed to have lasted a lifetime, yet here at home, her life had not even skipped a beat. So, they all went back to living their secret lives, guarding their secret selves, hiding the truth.
Kelly couldn’t keep doing it though. She’d seen too much. Too many truths had been revealed to return to her blind naivete.
So how does one confront the truth? Kelly had no idea, but she knew where she had to start.
Fagan had shown her truths about her father that she could not have concocted in her wildest imaginings. But, were they the truth? Was her father really capable of such atrocities? She had to know for sure, and if it was true, she had to stop it. No matter what it took. No matter what the cost.
“Hey, where did you go?”
Kelly snapped out of her reverie. “Sorry Seth. I have something on my mind.”
“Care to share?”
“Not really, it’s pretty personal.” Kelly glanced over at him from the corner of her eye. She hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings, but she had nonetheless.
It was just too early and too weird to trust him. Ever since that first night, a week ago, when she had found herself catapulted back to the park after her battle with Morgrath, she and Seth had been a constant. He made sure that she got home safely that night, and since then, had designated himself her personal park escort. Kelly knew that he was attracted to her, which freaked her out even more. Sure, he was gorgeous. Broad shoulders, dark complexion, that fabulous blue/black wavy hair and those incredible hazel eyes. But he was Sargon. She didn’t know how it could be, but he was Sargon in every way that counted. He just didn’t know it, and that made it just too bizarre.
The way Seth smiled, his cocksure attitude, even his love of magic, it was all Sargon. That was the problem. Sargon was a friend, the closest of friends, but he was not her heart. Garth owned that place, and Garth wasn’t here. And that was the other problem. Kelly had no idea where Garth was, or even when for that matter.
“You’re doing it again. A guy could get a real complex hanging out with you.”
“You sure you don’t want to tell me what’s on your mind? Maybe I could help.”
Maybe he could. Really, it couldn’t hurt to tell him some of it at least. The worst that could happen would be that he might conclude that she was nuts. And he might not be wrong.
“Seth, what would you do if you suspected something really terrible about someone, someone really close to you?”
Seth considered the question for a moment. “I hope you’re not talking about me. There are only cobwebs in my skeleton’s closet.”
Kelly laughed. “No you bonehead.” She got serious. “It’s my father; I suspect that he might be doing something unethical, immoral; something horrible.”
“Wow! You wouldn’t happen to have a smaller problem I could help you with would you? Maybe something easy, like getting you into Veterinary College?”
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry. Forget I said anything. It’s my problem. I’ll figure it out.”
“Hold up there Super Woman. I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you. What kind of friend would I be if I bailed on you for something this important?”
That was a good question, but maybe a better one was what kind of friend was he, or rather, what kind of friend did he want to be?”
Kelly started outlining the situation with her father, leaving out her little transcendental trip with Fagan through the looking glass - or rather the painting.
“So, what’s your dilemma? If you know that he runs Black Institute, and you know that they are murdering animals to test cosmetics, what is the big question? You said you saw it for yourself?”
“I did, kind of. That part is hard to explain. I just have to be sure. This is my father after all, the man who raised me. He was always gentle and kind to me. It’s really hard for me to believe that he would be capable of doing something like this.”
“I understand, but we both agree on the fact that this is wrong?”
“No matter who’s responsible?”
“Yes - no matter who’s responsible. But what can I do?”
“Not just you...we,” Seth said.
Kelly stopped and turned to him. “You mean you would help me with this? I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“You know what? I don’t remember you asking. I just remember me offering. Besides, I’d like to see you try to stop me. You don’t have a monopoly on taking a moral stand. If what you say is true, I’m as outraged as you are, and I want to see it stopped as much as you do. Animals have been a big part of my life, and the thought that they’re dying, just so that people can have a better holding hair spray, makes me want to puke.”
“Well, we obviously feel the same way about it, so what next?”
“My suggestion is that we start by doing some research. The college has a great library. Why don’t we see what we can find out about Black Institute?”
“That sounds like a great idea. How about meeting me there tonight, after my shift at the bakery?”
“You’re on, see you then,” Seth said as he dropped Kelly off at the front of the bakery. “Just so you recognize me, I’ll be the one wearing the Sherlock Holmes hat and smoking the pipe.”
Kelly laughed. “That’s okay. Everyone knows that Watson was the real brains of that operation.”
“In what alternate universe?” Seth shot back.
That was an excellent question Kelly thought. What alternate universe indeed?