Part Three, Chapter One: Wandering in the Wood
Jamie sends a dying Julia (aka Faith) and distraught Claire back thru the stones before he returns to the battlefield at Culloden, but there’s a catch.
Mother and daughter are separated on the journey.
Claire believes Julia to have remained with her father, and when she finds a small grave at Lallybroch bearing Julia’s name, it further solidifies this belief. Jamie, on the other hand, was left alone atop Craigh na Dun and believes his precious daughter to be in the future with his wife.
Julia was, instead, transported sixty years into the future ahead of Claire and grows up there. She is welcomed into a warm and loving family, but tragedy strikes as her adoptive mother is killed in a car accident. Three years later she is kidnapped by a band of buffoons looking for her birth parents.
This, my friends, is where we pick up in Part Three. You can find links to read Parts One and Two here.
October 30th, 2017; Somewhere in the middle of the woods.
The sun had set long before we got to where we were going, which was apparently somewhere in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina. It was pouring down rain and the windshield wipers could barely keep up. If I hadn’t been tied to it, I think I would have bounced out of my seat with the amount of potholes we hit. I swear Cruella was purposely hitting them all.
Our progress came to a stop quite suddenly and I wondered if we had hit something. Jasper unbuckled himself and moved to untie me. “Now, no–” he began.
Rolling my eyes as far as they’d go, I interrupted him, “No funny business, I know.”
The circulation to my hands returned in a rush and I rubbed them on the skirt of my school uniform to try to stop the unpleasant sensation. It didn’t really help. I peered out the front window, wondering where we were. A dim glow shone thru the downpour, but aside from that I had no idea what lay outside.
Horace slid open the door of the van and yanked me out into the freezing rain. He pulled me along beside him, straight thru the giant puddles that filled the front walk. A door opened ahead of us, illuminating our muddy path in a strange fluorescent light.
There was a man standing in the doorway, a silhouetted figure menacingly blocking our way.
“Here she is, boss,” Horace shouted to be heard above a roll of thunder and shoved me forward. I tripped and all but fell at his feet, whoever he was.
He steadied me with a firm grip on my shoulder as he held me out at an arm’s length for inspection. The light was still coming from behind him, shining right in my eyes and making it impossible for me to see. “Damn, you look just like him,” the figure commented.
Like who, my elusive birth father? This guy knew him too?
I felt like a guest on one of those prank shows. Surprise! This has all an elaborate hoax with hidden cameras! You’ve now completed level five and won a lifetime supply of Fruit Loops! In addition to these wonderful prizes, you get to confront the people who abandoned you as a child! All without parental supervision!
His hand lay heavy on my shoulder and made it clear that he was in charge.
Was this Crawford?
I looked up at him to see what he looked like as he ushered me inside, but found a rather ordinary looking guy. He wasn’t overly tall, maybe a little above average height, and didn’t have any remarkable facial features. His nose was straight, his teeth even.
Whatever I had been expecting to see as I walked thru the door, it wasn’t this. There were bulletin boards everywhere, each one carefully organized and labeled. A small table was shoved into the corner with two rickety chairs sitting next to it. Every surface was piled high with books and stacks of papers.
“How was your trip?” the man I assumed to be Crawford asked nonchalantly, letting go of me as the door closed behind us.
“Unexpected,” I quipped, growing colder and more annoyed by the second.
“I see you’ve your mother’s tongue too.” He turned to me as he picked up an apple out of a bowl of fruit and tossed it to me, “Hungry?”
I caught it easily and studied it for a moment.
This man believed a fairy-tale to be scientific fact.
I’ve seen Snow White. I know how this goes down.
I was not about to eat an apple offered to me by the bad guy and I tossed it back. “You take a bite first.”
He cocked an eyebrow as he did so, “It’s not poisoned.”
“Please excuse me if I don’t believe you,” I muttered and took it from his outstretched hand. Crawford shrugged indifferently as I took a bite. The tart, crisp apple made my mouth water and I devoured more than half of it before speaking again. “I take it you knew my birth parents, then?”
His eyes were guarded and his jaw clenched as he answered, “In a way.”
He knew them all right.
Something had happened between them and Crawford had been on the losing side, “They left me in the rain to die, what’d they do to you?”
One corner of his mouth tugged upwards at my sarcasm, “No love lost there, hmm?”
“You didn’t answer my question,” I lowered the apple and spoke distinctly. “What did my parents do to you that you think kidnapping me will solve?”