Editor’s Note: This is the eighth chapter of The Lost Prentice, an online serial novel exclusively on the Baltimore Post-Examiner. If you missed the previous chapter, please read it before starting this latest installment. Every week we will be posting a new chapter.
It was Gwen who led him up the stone white steps because he seemed to just freeze as he looked up at the house. She rang the doorbell once, gave it a moment, and then rang it ten times after as fast as she could. The housemaid opened the door in her night-gown and robe, her cheeks still flushed from sleep.
“We need to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Hunter,” said Gwen. “It’s about Miles.”
The housemaid nodded and let the two of them in just as his parents rushed down the grand staircase.
“Miles? Gwen?” asked Mr. Hunter worried. “Is everything alright? Why are you two so wet?”
Mrs. Hunter stopped halfway down the stairs. “How dare you bring this woman back into my home,” she hissed coldly.
Gwen ignored the insult and felt Miles bubbling with rage. She squeezed his hand and spoke before he could. “Miles has a couple of questions for you.”
“I don’t have to answer any of your questions!” yelled Mrs. Hunter. “Get out of my house!”
“She’s not going anywhere!” shouted Miles, finally finding his voice. “And they’re not her questions! They’re mine!”
“I don’t care whose questions they are! She should not be in my home!”
“I’m not leaving!” screamed Gwen. “There are things happening that are bigger than anything you could understand! It’s important you tell Miles the truth! And I’m here for him whether you like it or not! I’m here to stay and Miles won’t have it any other way!”
The room fell silent for a couple of beats and Miles couldn’t help but notice her last statement rhymed. He leaned into her ear. “Was that a spell?”
She shook her head but then asked, “Would you like me to make it into one?”
“That’s okay. Father? Can we sit in the dining room? I have a few things I want to ask,” Miles said.
“Sure but you should change first before the two of you catch an awful cold,” he said, his blue eyes still bright with worry.
Miles looked at Gwen and saw that she was indeed shivering. He hardly noticed how cold he was but he wasn’t going to allow Gwen to suffer. “Ah, sure. We’ll just be a moment then. Meet us at the dining room then.”
He took her up the stairs by her hand and didn’t notice the glower between the two women which instantly had the room freezing to below zero. Even his father had noticed the tension, and with his back turned, called out to his wife.
The familiar light wood groaned under their weight and would have normally calmed Miles. But they just made him feel more anxious. His room was the first door to the right and was left just the way it had been when he moved out.
His walls were black and his bed spread a deep maroon. The bed was king sized and pushed up against the North East corner of the room. Covering the black walls were charts of numbers and science which instantly brought a smile of pride on Gwen’s lips. On the dressers were stacks and stacks of multiple volumes of encyclopedias.
“You were a total nerd!” declared Gwen.
“Was not,” snapped Miles. He let go of her hand and moved to his closet. “I just didn’t spend a lot of time outside these walls till I was seventeen. That doesn’t make me a nerd.” He threw her a white t-shirt, knowing her preference to the color.
Gwen giggled which instantly warmed his cold heart. “That’s the exact definition of a nerd.”
“Well at least I didn’t sit and talk with flowers with extra special powers when I was feeling lonely in a world of my own.”
“An Alice in Wonderland reference. That’s my favorite book and movie you know.”
“Not surprising. It’s as strange as you.”
She grinned and began to peel the dress off of her. Miles watched her intently, his eyes skimming over the entire length of her. Gwen knew he was watching and was thrilled he could be so attracted to her body. That his eyes could smolder the way they were just by looking at her. She teased him by making her movements slow and deliberate. He ran his tongue over his teeth and felt his stomach tighten. Finally, she was able to step out of her dress which was when she realized her underwear was just as soaked and transparent.
He rushed over to her and yanked her into a rough embrace which had her bones vibrating from the impact. He quickly unbuckled her bra and peeled her panties over her hips. He ran his hands all over her, possessively clutching her closer to him. Her skin was ice cold and he could do nothing but warm her. He realized that he was trying to warm his own heart just by feeling her melt into him. He couldn’t lose her.
Miles pulled back. “Don’t leave me,” he begged breathlessly as he placed his brow on hers. “Ever.”
“No. I can’t. I won’t.”
“Good. Now, put this on before somebody bursts in here.”
She laughed despite the intensity of the moment and pulled the t-shirt over her bare body. Because she was naked under the flimsy large t-shirt, he covered her with his blue night robe and tied it shut himself. And once he was in a dry pair of pajamas, the two of them headed down the stairs to the living room.
Mr. Hunter was sitting at the head, his wife to his left. Miles took his right and Gwen sat beside him.
“Dad,” he said, not wasting any time. “Something has been brought to my attention. I’m not exactly sure where to begin so I’ll be blunt. Are either of you my biological parents?”
“What?!” shrieked Mrs. Hunter. “You want to know if you’re my child at eleven in the evening after you stormed out earlier?”
“Of course you’re our son Miles,” said his father quietly. “Why wouldn’t you be?”
“Who put that ridiculous thought into your head?” demanded Mrs. Hunter, glaring at Gwen.
“Don’t sit here and lie to him,” snapped Gwen. Almost as if she was scolding her.
“This is important!” yelled Gwen. “This is about life and death and about good and evil and about the fate of the world! I knew something was off the first time I met you! You may have raised him but you didn’t feel like his roots! He didn’t belong to you! And for God’s sake, he doesn’t have either of your eyes! So tell him what happened to his birth parents!”
Mrs. Hunter broke. She dove across the table, her hands curled into claws and tackled Gwen back off her seat and onto the ground. The vase on the table tipped and shattered, spraying water all over Miles and his father. The two women rolled around scratching and pulling like two high school girls. They knocked into another piece of furniture which felled a model ship and turned it into nothing but splinters.
Miles and Mr. Hunter finally regained their senses and pulled the spitting woman off of each other. Both of them had to hold their woman back. They were still struggling to harm each other.
“GET THAT WOMAN OUT OF HERE!” screamed Mrs. Hunter. “HOW DARE YOU SPEAK SUCH LIES!”
“They aren’t lies!” shouted Mr. Hunter over her. “Just tell him already!”
The room grew quiet except for the heavy breathing of Mrs. Hunter and Gwen. Miles looked between his parents. His father looked tired and exhausted. His mother looked furious and betrayed. Then he looked at his Gwen who was looking strangely satisfied as she swiped a bead of blood from the corner of her lip. Even the housemaid had poked her head around the corner, her eyes as wide as moons.
“Richard. How could you?” asked Mrs. Hunter quietly.
“He’s twenty one years old Patricia. He was bound to find out sooner or later. We can’t keep it from him forever.”
“What are you talking about?” demanded Miles, close to tears although he would never have admitted it later.
“Well son,” said Mr. Hunter. Running a hand through his hair. “You’re adopted.”
Miles couldn’t believe it. Had the sisters been right? Could he be the offspring of the incredibly evil Ivor Daine? “Who are my parents?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“We are!” shrieked Mrs. Hunter. “I’m your mother! Not some drug addicted floozie who overdosed in a bathtub!”
“Cordelia Gardner was not a drug addict and she most certainly wasn’t a whore,” snarled Gwen. “She died a war hero.”
“What did you just say?” asked Mrs. Hunter in a hushed tone.
“My sisters and I had a feeling Miles was adopted and we have a strong inkling about who his birth parents are. And Cordelia Gardner was neither of those ugly lies you spat off earlier.”
Mrs. Hunter stared at Gwen like she was seeing her for the first time. “It was you. This is all your fault.”
“My fault?!” asked Gwen.
“Your fault! If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be having this conversation! If it weren’t for you, my son wouldn’t be altering his life for some low life degenerate who is no where near his league!”
Although it shouldn’t have, the insult hit its mark. She should have accepted the statement as the untruthful words of a woman desperate and on edge. But she didn’t. Gwen’s face flushed with hurt and her eyes swelled with tears. Miles felt his blood boil. He wasn’t going to allow anybody to talk to her in that way. Not even his own mother.
“Mother,” snarled Miles. “She’s the greatest person in the world and the best thing to ever happen to me. This isn’t her fault. It’s your fault for keeping this from me.”
He curled Gwen into him, knowing she would want to hide in the comfort of his body. “So Mother, do you know by any chance who my birth parents are? They’re names are very relevant to my situation.”
Before Mrs. Hunter could snap some quick retort, her husband spoke over her. “There were no names on the birth certificate,” said his father. “Only your birth name. But a man spoke to us saying that it could be changed. In fact, it was encouraged so it would make it all the more difficult for your birth parents to find you.”
“Okay,” Miles said, his heart leaping faster by the second. “My birth name?”
“Prentice. Prentice Daine.”
Miles sucked in a breath and could feel Gwen tensing against him. “That’s why he’s back,” she said, into his chest. “He’s looking for his lost son. He’s looking for you.”
“Who?” asked Mr. Hunter. “Who’s looking for you? What are you talking about?”
Gwen lifted her head. “Miles’ father is looking for him. His birth father that is. He’s a very dangerous man. And there are things that I can’t explain to you. Not now. But we will. And we must leave. Right now.”
Gwen turned from Miles and the dining room, took his hand, and began to lead him through the dining hall.
“Where are you going?” asked Mr. Hunter.
“To my house. To safety. I need a paper and pen,” she added suddenly.
“Ah, Beth?” asked Mr. Hunter, meaning his housemaid. Luckily, she was following closely behind the family trying to hear every word they were saying. “Could you find us a pad and pen?”
It only took a couple of moments for the maid to leave and reappear with the yellow legal pad and a blue ball point pen. She handed them to Gwen.
“I’m giving you my address and the number to our house. If Miles doesn’t check up on you every couple of hours, feel free to call his cell or my house. Don’t let anybody into your house you don’t recognize. In fact, I’ll have my sister come over here before midnight and carve a phrase into your door. Her name is Zelda and she’ll be in all white. I don’t know how long we’ll be but if you must go out and you hear rumbling about the man Ivor Daine, call us immediately. Don’t ask questions because I won’t be able to give you any answers. This is all for your safety. If you don’t trust me, trust Miles.”
When Miles could see both of his parents were preparing to argue, he held up a hand. “Mom. Dad. Please. I’ll tell all that I can, when I can.”
“Promise?” asked Mr. Hunter.
“Of course.” Miles walked forward to bring his parents into a hug. But his mother shook her head angrily, spun around and stormed back up the stairs. Both men watched her in disbelief. Instead, only father and son said their goodbye. And then Miles walked out of the door with his hand back in Gwen’s. She led him out the house and back to his car.
When they were buckled in, Gwen squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry.”
“Do you have to call me Prentice?”
“Why would I?”
“Because that’s who I am!” shouted Miles in rage. “I’m the spawn of the worst evil! I am Ivor Daine’s apprentice!”
“Tell me this!” snapped Gwen, turning around in her seat to face him. “Could you do what Ivor did to Cordelia if you thought she betrayed you?”
Miles’ jaw dropped with shock. “No! I-”
“Would you do that to me if I told you I never loved you!”
“A man could feel desperate and angry but I love you far too much! I could never take your life and leave you nothing!”
“Could you kill or destroy a life just because you felt like it?”
“No! Even if I had the power, I would never! I would feel terrible! I wouldn’t even think about it!”
“Then you sir, are a Sorcerer at heart. Then you sir, are Miles Hunter and you will never be Prentice Daine! Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” he told her relieved.
“Now tell yourself you’re white of heart and will do good no matter what power you hold.”
“Why do I have to say-”
“I am white of heart and I will do good no matter what power I hold.”
“One more time.”
He did. And Miles told himself twice more. He felt his body warm and felt better just by admitting to himself. When he looked up, he saw Gwen smiling. “What?”
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’ve chosen to be a Sorcerer. Welcome to the Subtles Mr. Hunter.”
to be continued…