I threw the award away when I got home, as I really didn’t need it. I only did the shows for the money, when I needed money. Which was often. Three horses sucked the money out me but luckily I had Night At The Opera. He was a great jumper so it made pullin’ off the look of winning a show much easier. Since it wasn’t exactly my horsemanship that won us the money, it was the fact I tipped the judges in our favor. Not that they knew it. Manipulating emotions had really just become second nature to me now.
I was twenty when I started actually using the manipulation part of my powers. Duncan had come home, graduated but brokenhearted since his fiancee dumped him. Apparently she wanted him to go into politics and never believed he meant it when he said he wanted to become a policeman. She wanted him to go into politics. After much fightin’, she dumped him. Broke his heart. Not something that sat well with me. Not in the state of mind I was in at the time.
I wound up drivin’ the two hours to her house and sat outside in my car, starin’ at her house and figurin’ out which person inside she was. It didn’t take long and I started workin’ at her emotions. I made her feel regret. I made that stupid bimbo regret hurting my brother so much that she wound up phoning him. I was scared he’d take her back but thankfully he wasn’t that much of an idiot, and turned her down. I released her emotions and was pleased that she was feelin’ so confused and upset. I later found out she called him up a SECOND time, and tried to convince him that it was she who dumped him. He called her a nutcase and hung up on her.
“Good,” I said when Duncan told me what had happened. “You deserve better.”
“I just don’t understand it… the first time she called me she sounded so…” He trailed off and shrugged. “I dunno. Like she really felt bad about breaking things off. And then she did a complete flip–again!” He ran his fingers through his hair and frowned. “I don’t know.”
“What does it matter?” I asked and he stared. “She’s not worth you worrying about her.”
Duncan grew a bit suspicious when I said that and he just kinda looked at me. I stared back. “Are you feeling okay?” he finally asked.
“You’re the one who just had something terrible happen and you’re worried about me?” I asked, foldin’ my arms and givin’ him a look. “I appreciate it and all but…”
He felt even more suspicious about that. “How are you doing with your, um, powers?” he asked in a low voice.
“Why would you ask about that?” Did he really suspect me that much? Exactly how much did he know about my abilities…?
“I was thinking, maybe you should join the force too,” he said which took me by complete surprise. Totally not was I expectin’. “With your powers, your ability to read emotion… you’d be a great policewoman. You could ferret out perps.”
“I highly doubt anything I do would stand up in court,” I pointed out. He shrugged and I rolled my eyes. “I am not going to take a job because of my abilities. And I am not going to work with the police. I just can’t deal with something like that. The death, the druggies–I can’t do it. I won’t.”
Duncan gave me a sad look. “You could find so many bad guys. Catch lies. Even if something like that wouldn’t hold up in court, you could know…” He rubbed his neck and shrugged. “You could know so much about someone that maybe it’d get them to confess–“
“No,” I said flatly. “No. I can’t.”
He was disappointed in me but dropped the subject. At least he wasn’t going on about Madison anymore. I could deal with him bein’ disappointed in me not joinin’ up with the police. How could he expect me to do that? It was too scary and too rigid. I could never chase down criminals or anything, and I couldn’t just say ‘this person is lying’ and expect it to hold up in courts. Maybe I could provoke someone into confessin’ but… I was not gonna put up with all the other aspects of being a policeman just for that. I liked the idea of putting away bad guys, but I didn’t have Duncan’s passion.
His passion, I knew, stemmed from our father and also his other parent. He had been so obsessed as a teen to find him and it really threw him into a lot of surly moods. He often felt like he wasn’t part of the family. I was spendin’ a lot of time with Henri at the time so I wasn’t around as much as I probably should have been, but as he got older he realized what I knew. Life was just plain unfair. He accepted his parentage, to an extent. I had the feeling he still wanted to discover who his other parent is. Was. If his other parent was even still alive.
In any case, that was when I first started usin’ my abilities… for ‘bad’, if that’s really what it was. I didn’t think it was. Madison deserved it. But soon I was usin’ my abilities for more. I convinced a cafe to buy two of my paintings. The owner was kinda iffy about buyin’ them and I really needed the money to pay bills and buy food for the horses since at that point, Ducky was pregnant. That’s what I got for not findin’ out if Night was a gelding or a stallion. It didn’t bug me too much, really. I was lookin’ forward to seeing their baby but I needed money. So I just sorta… made the owner of the cafe really like my paintings and voila! Five hundred simoleons!
After that… it started getting easier. I sold another painting to the bookstore, and three paintings to someone from out of town who happened to be in the cafe and was lookin’ at the paintings of mine that were up. I felt that they were interested and after a little manipulating… I had enough money for bills, food, and horses. And then I used it as revenge for the guy who hurt River, and then again for the girl who hurt Mal. It was just easy. And I started really just not caring. So what if I screwed over other people’s emotions when life screwed me over?
I kept Ducky and Night’s first foal–Riding the Storm–and sold their second one. And it was about then I started jumping. I knew Night had been prepared as a show horse so once I learned more about jumping, well, we just kinda took to it. I went in a show and lost. I wasn’t too upset until I realized I could get money for high-end shows. So I started using my abilities to get us to those shows, and get us winning. I was also training Riding The Storm for jumping and he was getting to the age where I could show him. Night was startin’ to get old so I was glad Storm was seven, about the right age to start.
Has it really been that long? I wondered, staring at the jumping award in the trash. I was twenty-nine. It had been just over ten years since Henri died. Ten years of livin’ alone with my horses and avoidin’ as much human contact as possible. Even avoidin’ my family when possible. Not always, of course, just sometimes when I didn’t feel up to it. Which was a bit more than I probably should’ve… but it’s not like they needed me all the time. And I was always there for the important times. Like Duncan gettin’ married, the birth of his first kid, and then I was there for him during his divorce. I wanted so bad to mess with her emotions but Duncan insisted it was partially his fault. He was too focused on his work and it just drove a wedge between them.
And you want me to join the force? I thought, but didn’t say it. He still wanted me to join and sometimes I did think about it. Once or twice. When Duncan was goin’ to dangerous situations, like a raid where another police officer was shot–I wondered, if I had been there and pinpointed the locations of the criminals… But it was too late, for that case, and I just wasn’t able to get enough guts to deal with all the other scary stuff police got into. Nope, I was fine with my life jumpin’ Night even if it wasn’t a hundred percent legal (another reason I shouldn’t go into the force). I had enough money for my needs. Which were simple.
My family, naturally, worried about me over the years. Everyone tried settin’ me up with people but those dates didn’t exactly go well. When I was twenty-two, Kaylee introduced me to a masseuse from the spa. He seemed nice enough but I just didn’t want to date, I wasn’t interested. I still went out with him, to dinner and dancin’ which was all his idea. It didn’t exactly go well as shortly after we started our dinner, I got the clear feelin’ from him that he was expecting to get some. Not just hope, but flat out expectations. I dumped my glass of ice water in his lap and left the restaurant, enraged and offended. I refused blind dates for a while after that and my family didn’t try to set me up.
For a year, at least, and then Simon offered up one of his college classmates who was studyin’ to be a vet who specialized in horses. Sounded like a decent match so I reluctantly agreed. We were in the car when I got the feelin’ from him he wanted to do very, very, very naughty things that I most certainly did not appreciate. I asked him to stop the car, slapped him, and then walked home. He called me a couple times and was very confused about why I acted the way I did but I didn’t care. Thoughts may not be actions, but I was not gonna put up with someone who felt that way, that strongly, on a first date. Kaylee tried suggestin’ I still wasn’t quite over Henri which may have been the case, but how could any non-pervy girl put up with that? Date number three was gay. In the closet. I put up with the full date since he wasn’t feelin’ any creepy thoughts about me but when he asked me on a second date, I declined.
I avoided blind dates again for a while and then when I was about 25 I met Jack River. A friend of Kaylee’s. He had a few pervy feelin’s but nothing too bad (just general hormones which I felt too sometimes so I couldn’t blame him). But… he just wasn’t my type. I tried to enjoy myself but I couldn’t do it. He was nice, the date was nice, but all I could think of was Henri. Seven years and still I wasn’t ready to give him up. I cried hard that night and not for the first time wished that I could just crawl into a hole and disappear from the world. Seven years. Surely I should be ready to move on after seven years? But when Jack asked me out again, I broke into tears and hung up on him, which turned out to be the best thing. Because he became worried about me.
It was a while before I heard the whole story but it went a little like this: after I cried and hung up, he called Kaylee because he was worried about me. Kaylee wanted to come see me since I had turned my phone off, so Jack offered to drive her. He showed up at her house but she had been called into work for an emergency so she couldn’t check up on me. She and Jack were both still very concerned so she called up River who agreed. So off Jack went to pick up River and by the time they got to my house, they were fast friends. Five months later they were engaged, and six months after that they were married. I was mostly happy for River except a bit concerned since she took his name. What kind of name was River River? It kinda freaked me out but at least she was happy. And Jack treated her with all the love I could want for my sister to have.
Their wedding was very sweet, and I was the maid of honor. Of course I couldn’t help but check in on Jack when he said his “I do”s. It was a very good thing he meant it, otherwise he woulda gotten a bit of an emotional screw-over. I occasionally checked in after their wedding, just to make sure. I supposed I shoulda been checkin’ in with Duncan’s relationship since it was about this time they started havin’ problems but then happiness fell the family and it was somethin’ that even made me happy.
Amy–Duncan’s daughter that got his hair color–and Kelsey–River’s daughter that had the familiar Danevbie blonde hair–were born at about the same time. Mom and Dad were both bemoanin’ the fact they were grandparents, while Grandma was very proud of the fact she was a great-grandma. Mom and Dad were both very pleased as well, of course, but they also liked complainin’ that they felt so old. Least they were still very much in love (okay sometimes not a good thing cause yeah, not a pleasant thing knowin’ when my dads were… uuuughhhh) unlike Duncan and his wife. The divorce wasn’t completely pleasant but at least they did their best for Amy, and Duncan was a great father and spent as much time with his daughter as possible.
It was around this time when I started actually properly datin’ again. After a couple of bombed dates, I met a guy who was all right. We went on three dates and I actually kissed him, but I just didn’t really have any feelin’s for him so it never went anywhere. The kiss sealed the deal. I felt nothing when he kissed me. I didn’t just give up on datin’ though after that three-date-guy. I did try dating a couple more guys but my heart just wasn’t in it. Maybe it wasn’t my time to be datin’. Not everyone was the dating type. I wasn’t even thirty, I had tons of time to find someone–if I wanted to find someone. Even… even then maybe it wasn’t right for me. I felt so desire to marry. So why should I push myself to find someone?
Ten years, I thought as I got myself some food. It really was hard to believe. Henri still danced occasionally in my mind but more often than not I was thinkin’ about other things. I couldn’t remember his voice anymore, couldn’t remember the feel of his hand on my cheek. I was ready to move on in that aspect of things. But not in others. But children–ah, now children I wanted. And I made a decision. If I didn’t find anyone by the time I hit the big three-zero then I’d look into adopting. Or artificial insemination. Maybe. If I could ever say it without gigglin’.
I sat down at the table and looked out the door towards the barn. Everyone was in there safely, properly washed down and taken care of. I had the feeling Night was prancin’ around and showing off to Ducky. He liked showin’ off to her. It was very adorable. Storm also liked showin’ off and sometimes I could imagine Ducky just rollin’ her eyes at her two hyperactive boys. She’s gettin’ old, I reminded myself, lookin’ back down at the bowl of cereal. Almost twenty years old. I had no idea what I was going to do when it got to the end of her life. I couldn’t bring in another mare for Night cause it felt wrong, and Storm was a gelding. Maybe I’d just bring in a young mare and then after Night… I’d bring in a stallion. It was somethin’ to think about. Horses were better than people, anyway.
Shruggin’, I began eating and thinking about the latest show. Was it really that wrong of me? I rarely actually went for first place. I swayed the judges and swayed the other riders, too, makin’ them not push the horse as much as they might have. Anyone else–well, almost anyone else–would do it. I stirred my cereal and took another bite. It’s just as much as any skill, really. Training and stuff. It’s just part of our skill. Not that I could really completely justify it. One day I’d stop doing it… but not anytime soon. Cause no way was I getting a ‘regular’ job. I had tried over the years to get a regular job. I filled out applications and stuff but when it came time for the interview, I freaked out and half the time never even went. Workin’ in a store surrounded by people and their emotions? Workin’ as a secretary? Nine to five, dealin’ with emotions? NO thank you. So I kept jumping, kept swayin’ the other jumpers and the judges, and kept winning.
One of the other things that was consistent through the years was her. I wasn’t really sure who ‘her’ was though. She had shown up not long after Kaylee and I moved in the house. Kaylee got rid of her before I could find out who she was, but I didn’t like her. I didn’t like the way she felt or rather, the lack of the way she felt. It wasn’t… right. There was something there but barely. I couldn’t even compare it to weather. It was like… people had layers and bumps, like hilly land or choppy water. But her? She was like metal. Smooth. Almost nothing there. Arrogance, yes. Confidence, sometimes. Boredom? Most definitely. But hollow. Nothing–nothing else. A shell. A creepy shell that didn’t seem human. Like she didn’t have any emotions.
Or maybe she was just super good at hidin’ them but why would she be hidin’ her feelings like that? And all the time? Because she was there a lot. Several times a year, in fact. And each time she felt like that. Maybe… maybe she knew what I could do and was somehow able to build up a barrier. I didn’t know. Because I never met her.
Every time I felt her, I hid. I locked the doors and windows and I hid. I didn’t want to deal with her, I didn’t want anythin’ to do with that hollow thing. She’d hang around outside the house for a while before givin’ up and leaving. A couple times she actually came into the house even though the door was locked.
Thankfully I was hiding out under my bed so when she opened my bedroom door, she didn’t see me. Only once did I ever hear her speak which was that time. “Guess she is not here.” That was all she said. And her voice kinda creeped me out, so I always hid. One time I was stuck in the barn all night. I was takin’ care of the horses and felt her, so I locked up the barn from the inside and stayed there for hours, eventually falling asleep.
When I was about twenty-seven, I realized it was just a facade because once when I was at a show I felt her. I never saw her, though. But she felt like a regular person (boredom, annoyance, a lil’ bit of curiosity) and then suddenly snapped into the hollowness. Like she had seen me. Which proved she could put up a barrier, which made me want to avoid her all the more.
I woke up with a start and peered down at the soggy mess in front of me. I had drifted off while eatin’ and now it was after dark. I grabbed the bowl and dumped whatever was left of the cereal down the toilet and then put the bowl in the sink. I checked my phone (2 missed calls, 4 missed texts) and saw with annoyance it was almost ten. I had been asleep for several hours. Now I wouldn’t be gettin’ any sleep that night but at least there wasn’t a show anytime soon.
Sighing, I went to check on the horses. All three of them were asleep and had plenty of food and water, so I shut up the barn and went back to my home. I felt someone on the fringe of my radar but didn’t think much of it since it wasn’t her. Whoever it was felt a bit nervous, kinda excited, and a tad frightened. But they were outside my radar when I went into my home and I figured it was just someone wandering around after dark for who-knows-what reason. People did weird things.
Wide awake now, I checked to make sure I didn’t miss anything important from the texts (nope) and then went into my bedroom. It had been a couple weeks since I did any painting so it was a bit nice to be workin’ on the painting again. But no sooner did I put a bit of paint on, I felt that person again. I ignored them for the most part but then I realized they were comin’ closer to my house. Straight to my house. And then I pieced together a bit of their emotions, and realized they were wantin’ to talk to me. That’s what they were so frightened about. That they wouldn’t be believed.
I put down my paints and went towards the door. They were right outside, kinda havin’ a little bit of a mini-freak out. Sheesh. Surely whatever they had to tell me wasn’t that crazy. So I opened the door and found myself looking at a handsome, pale man who was staring wide-eyed back at me. He lowered his hands and smiled a bit.
“Uh, hi,” he said, tryin’ to collect himself.
I folded my arms, leanin’ in the door frame. “Yes?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “You needed to speak with me?”
Now he raised his eyebrows and then straightened up, fixin’ his hat which had been slightly askew. Oh jeez, he looked like some sort of private eye. Oh Watcher, he was some sort of private eye. What, did one of my siblings send him to look up on me? But no, that wasn’t it. So I waited for him to talk. “I do need to speak with you. Uh, and just so I can be positive, you are Serenity Danevbie. Correct?”
“Yes, that’s me,” I answered, narrowin’ my eyes a bit. Oh jeez, did that creepy, hollow woman send him?
“May I come in?” he asked, looking past me. He felt honest. But I still didn’t trust him.
“It depends. Who are you? And what do you want?”
“Well, it’s a bit complicated and rather unbelievable, Miss Danevbie,” he said, lookin’ into my eyes and still feelin’ completely honest.
“Believe you me,” I said, somethin’ I had been kinda wantin’ to say for years, “I have heard some pretty unbelievable things in my life so why don’t you try me? I’m not going to let some strange man into my house at ten at night.”
The man let out a small sigh and tipped his hat up a bit. “All right. My name is Ashe Amour. And, well, I’m from the future.”
If you now know what’s going on, PLEASE DO NOT REVEAL ANYTHING!!!!! I will be monitoring comments and adjusting them if they get too revealing. Now onto links 😀
Annnd of course… many thanks to TheUsernameFound for Ashe Amour and the linking of our stories again. -grins- Ashe Amour is the tenth generation of “Colors of Amour” and if you have not read it, I high recommend it. Also here is the chapter that sort of links to this one, but if you have not read Amours and don’t want to know what might happen in chapter twenty then don’t read it yet. 😀