Awakening in an unfamiliar bed frightened me. I moved towards the small window but all I could see were strange cloud formations. Strange because they were beneath me, as were the tiny buildings with row upon row of pretty blue lights.
An aeroplane, I thought, but why am I onboard an aeroplane?
Slowly, my memories returned.
I spent Christmas Eve with Michelle and her mother. When the weather deteriorated Mrs Boulton prepared to escort me home, but knowing she was unwell, I promised I would not use the nagger lines, a promise I failed to keep. Reluctantly, she agreed.
I raced up Ferry Lane and paused ― if only briefly ― when I noticed three strangers seated on the pub terrace. Without a second thought, I dashed through a narrow entrance to the nagger lines.
“Nearly home,” I muttered as the lights twinkled, casting light on the muddy track.
That’s when he caught me.
I heard my father’s voice, “Emily,” he yelled, “where are you?”
“Too late,” I whispered as the black helicopter rose high into the air.
Lightning flashed across the night sky revealing a valley surrounded by towering mountains, their peaks touching the clouds. All I could see from the tiny window as the jet banked was row upon row of pretty blue lights casting an eerie glow around the tiny village. My abductor carried me to a limousine waiting beside the runway for a short journey to the clinic where I lived for six months before joining Aiden in his palatial home.
School was a shock!
Thirty girls, all around the age of eleven, were seated in the large classroom. Anger surfaced as the tutor chatted amicably about the curriculum. Boredom set in as I listened to the lecture. Albeit briefly, I glanced at the book. My mind wandered while watching pretty white clouds dancing across the sky.
“Emily, pay attention.”
He was silenced when I yelled, “You can’t force me to listen to your boring lecture, or keep me here against my will.”
I shot out of the classroom, raced towards the headland and leapt into the ocean. Minutes later Aiden held me in his arms as we were winched onboard a helicopter. When I jumped into the sea from the headland for the third time, Aiden allowed me to swim through shark infested waters to a familiar island. I was shivering when his helicopter landed. That was my last attempt. I accepted that the beautiful island in the distance was not my homeland. I kept the hope alive that one day I would return home, at least in my dreams.
Finally, Aiden explained why I was chosen.
“For over twenty years, when a female child was born, both mother and daughter died within hours. No cause was found. The community decided to return to the village of their ancestor’s birth. The originals were pirates who stole a man-o’war. When the days of piracy ended, the crew settled on a small island near the Bermuda Triangle.”
“Surely it would have been kinder to bring mature women to the island?”
“We are an old-fashioned race who believes purity is essential. Young women in your world are promiscuous.”
“It is called equality of the sexes,” I snapped. “You are a sexist bastard.”
“To keep our people free from illness, purity is considered essential for both males and females. Your people are suffering from excesses. Emily, we won’t follow them into darkness.”
“Patronising pig,” I muttered.
My mind wandered, returning to the past as I recalled precious memories of family holidays in the nearby coastal town of Whitby. I sighed, albeit briefly, and glanced at the Dean. My eyes downcast, I listened to his summation of my character. I discovered that Aiden is the Elder who owns the island and rules with the support of family elders and matriarchs.
“Emily is a born leader who uses her powers over others to create problems. The child is disruptive. She will not accept discipline and refuses to co-operate with her tutor. Emily is intelligent and that’s the problem. Everything is easy hence boredom setting in during the first lesson.”
From Monday to Friday each week I was taken to the school and left in a small room near the principal’s study. I glanced at the bookcase and brand-new computer, desk and chair then clambered through the window onto a terrace overlooking the ocean. Weeks passed, and boredom set in. Finally, I booted up my computer. The search for my parents took little time. Tears trickled down my cheeks when I found their Facebook page. I loved my brother at first sight, but would we ever meet? A few minutes only, and the choice was made. I set up a page and immediately befriended my family. Barely seconds passed before Mom excitedly responded; she loved the photographs. Finally, we chatted on Skype.
My grades were excellent, top in all but one subject.
When Aiden asked why I refused to study their history, I sighed, feigning boredom. “What is the point in studying the past when it can’t be changed.”
The others settled down and eventually married young men chosen for them. Many offers of marriage were made by parents seeking an accomplished woman for their sons. Aiden declined. Finally, he asked me to marry him.
My dress was beautiful. It clung in all the right places. I was a tiny child when taken, but the woman I am today is tall and slender with long black hair reaching to the waist. Almond shaped green eyes, high cheekbones and an oval face.
“Beautiful,” Aiden murmured when I arrived at the Palace of Justice, fashionably late. It was early evening by the time we returned to his home.
As I watched Aiden, I whispered, “I hate you even more now than on the day I was taken.” Did I hate Aiden? The answer is an emphatic no: quite the opposite. Aiden is aware of my love. Patience is just one of his strong points. Masculine beauty at its best: my husband is tall with a powerful muscular physique, dark hair and large brown eyes fringed with long black lashes.
He opened the door to my bedroom and glanced back at me. “Over the years, I returned many times to deliver photographs, letters and presents hidden in your wardrobe.” Briefly, Aiden’s eyes closed. He sighed, then resignedly said, “It is time for you to pay a visit to your parents. I’m aware that you opened a Facebook page and have been in touch for many years. Emily, visit them, soon rather than late.”
“Why have you changed your mind?”
“I haven’t changed my mind I’m giving you the opportunity to return to your family.”
I accepted, when the door closed, that he wouldn’t approach me again. As the aircraft banked, I glanced back at the island. Aiden watched from the roof terrace. We are close so I sensed his heartbreak.
Tears welled up in my eyes; my thoughts in turmoil, I whispered, “This island is my home and has been for many years, but I’m torn.”
It cannot be denied that I’m stubborn and irascible and that won’t change. It is my twenty-third birthday, and our second wedding anniversary. Twelve years have passed since the night I was taken.
“Emily, we are aware of your love for Aiden. You ought to return to him.”
“But it’s a no win situation, isn’t it?”
“It doesn’t have to be. When your father was offered early retirement, we discussed William’s future. He’s a bright child, and the schools in this area can’t give him the education he deserves. The decision to move to Aiden’s island was unanimous. Your father accepted early retirement. Two days ago the sale of our home was completed. We can take Jericho, Petra and all our treasured possessions. All we need is a home. William is excited by our decision to move to the island. Emily, return to your husband.”
Without a second thought, I emailed Aiden.
“Wow,” my brother whispered as we boarded Aiden’s jet. “Awesome!” William slid through the partially open door into the cockpit and didn’t emerge until the jet landed.
Although it was mid winter, my parents home ― a newly built stone cottage overlooking the ocean ― was warm and inviting. The islanders welcomed my family and were delighted by my unexpected return.
Tears trickled down Aiden’s cheeks as he embraced me, “Welcome home, Emily.”
I glanced at my daughter, sleeping peacefully in Aiden’s arms. “Jacqueline,” I whispered when her eyes opened. “You resemble your grandma.”
Gently, I touched my husband’s cheek and murmured, “Aiden, I love you.”
“I loved you at first sight, Emily. The final milestone has now been reached, and a new chapter in our lives has begun.”