Jace had never been to a smaller-sized church like Adele’s before. He had felt more used to the bigger and more hard-to-navigate environment of his megachurch back in Paris, so stepping into a youth ministry with about 50 teens caused the young boy to feel slightly like a fish out of water.
As the newcomer teen stepped into the unfamiliar walls of the church’s junior high youth group named Thrive, Jace begun to experience a feeling that felt all too familiar when he stepped onto the Kadic campus... nervousness to the highest extent.
But before he could became overcome by his unending shyness, the boy’s new blonde-haired Princess came over to meet him along with Kevin and Maya walking hand in hand.
“Hey there handsome,” said Adele, starting to grow more comfortable with Jace now being her boyfriend.
“Hey yourself Princess,” he replied placing a small peck on her soft lips. “How’d you sleep last night?”
Bliss on her face, the young girl said, “Pretty peaceful, though I still kept thinking about mom and dad and that secret of theirs.”
“I know what you mean,” replied Jace still slightly curious as to what her parents could potentially be hiding.
Unknowing of what the two were talking about, Maya interjected saying, “Wait, what secret are you two talking about?”
Before Jace or Adele could say anything about the conversation heard the other night, the youth pastor called everybody in to have a seat and get comfortable for a great day of rejoicing the Name of Jesus.
“I gotta say,” Jace whispered as the pastor spoke. “I’ve never been a youth group this small. It’s pretty interesting.”
“Aww, don’t worry,” replied Adele holding his hand on the table in front of them. “You’re gonna love it. You’ll definitely enjoy the worship.”
And with her comforting words, the service began, and all including Jace himself, became surrounded with the love of the Holy Spirit as they sang two of the boy’s favorite worship songs, “Hosanna” and “Grace Like Rain.”
At that moment, Jace’s nerves began to fade away quicker, and the boy began to feel more comfortable as the pastor spoke about how followers of Christ should learn to keep themselves accountable for the things they say and do (both to others and Christ Himself), and in doing so, only then can their hearts become more stronger to resist temptation and embrace God’s call for their lives.
Unknown to both of them, Jace and Adele both felt that this was something in their hearts they both wanted to live out, and hoped that soon enough, Maya and Adele’s parents wouldn’t be so afraid to live out themselves.
As the pastor finished his sermon, and everyone partook in singing “Blessed Be Your Name,” everyone was wished a good week ahead, and dispersed from the youth building. But before leaving the building as a group, Kevin broke away to meet up with another friend of his.
The boy meeting up with Kevin appeared to be just slightly taller then him, and had a lean physique wearing a green collared shirt over a white under shirt, and dark green cargo pants. Both the teens seemed to get along pretty well, and appeared to enjoy conversations with each other.
Walking over together, the boy greeted Maya and Adele and then introduced himself to Jace saying, “Nice to meet you dude. Luke’s the name.”
“Nice to meet you too,” he replied shaking his hand. “The name’s Jace, Jace Stevens.”
As they hung out together, Luke asked Jace if he enjoyed the Thrive service, to which Jace replied, “It’s definitely a lot different than what I used to go to when I lived in Paris. But I definitely enjoyed it a lot, especially the message.”
“Good to hear,” said Luke, happy to hear Jace enjoyed the service. Looking back to everyone in the group, the lean teen asked, “Oh, by the way, have you guys heard about that story being passed around Kadic?”
“What story?” asked Maya inquisitively.
Luke then gave the floor to Kevin to speak, and after about a couple seconds the oldest of the Stern family said, “Get this... apparently a legend exists that there’s an old abandoned factory not too far from Kadic, that’s said to be haunted with ghosts, and apparently some kids are daring to make the trip there later this week, seeing as how Halloween’s coming soon.”
“Really? Haunted?” asked Jace slightly unconvinced.
“That’s what the legend says,” replied Luke having heard the legend himself. “Word is most of them are gone now, but there’s supposed to be one ghost there that still haunts the factory. Some say he’s dark in appearance, but some have said he almost looks like a person. One kid even said he looks like a giant eye watching you.”
Hearing the very description of this “ghost” scared both Maya and Adele so much they clinged onto their boyfriends for dear life. However, upon hearing the last thought of the “ghost’s” appearance, Jace then asked, “Wait, did you say, a giant eye watching you?”
“Yep,” said Luke. “I guess from what that kid said though, it didn’t look like a normal eye. Apparently it looked different, like it had three pupils instead of just one.”
Pondering on the new bit of information Luke mentioned, Jace suddenly had a moment of inspiration hit him, and asked Luke, “Just curious, when are all the kids wanting to go down to this factory?”
“What? Jace are you crazy?” asked Adele with heavy concern. “You heard him, it’s supposed to be haunted. You could probably get hurt if you went.”
Reassuring her with a firm hold of her hands, Jace said, “Don’t worry Princess, I’m just curious when everyone’s going.” Looking over Luke’s way, he then asked, “Well, any idea?”
“From what I hear, some are planning for this Wednesday night,” replied Luke affirming that he would likely go then.
“Hmm, maybe if we got the whole group together to go...” he said. “... it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Heck, it might even be fun.”
Seeing fright develop on their faces, Maya and Adele asked their boyfriends, “But... aren’t you both scared of what could happen?”
Looking at each other trying to exhibit confidence for their girlfriends, both shook their heads and affirmed their manliness with Kevin saying, “As long as we stick together as a group, we’ll be okay.”
Adding to the macho-ness of the situation, Jace said in affirmation, “Have no fear fair maidens, we shall protect thee.”
“Sounds good,” said Luke slightly laughing as he prepared to head on his way. “Will likely see you guys then.”
Finally, the group of four began to make their way back for the Belpois’s SUV to head home. But as they walked back, Jace took hold of Adele’s slightly shaking hand and asked, “You okay?”
Still with a slightly frightened look on her face, Adele asked, “Why do you want to go there? Is this some kind of test you’re trying to pull to make me nervous?”
Shaking his head, Jace said something that partially changed Adele’s sense of fear, to a slightly greater sense of intrigue, “Don’t worry. That whole “ghost” thing is probably just a legend and nothing more. But something about that description Luke gave about how that “ghost” looked to one kid caught my attention. In fact, it kinda reminded me of that symbol on your dad’s laptop, and the one on Mrs. Ishiyama’s necklace.”
Sort of realizing where he was coming from, Adele asked, “You mean when he said the ‘eye’ had three pupils on it?’”
“Yep,” he replied.
Still slightly confused and scared, the girl then asked, “But what could that ghost have to do with Kevin’s parents and my parents, and that symbol we saw?”
“To be honest, I don’t know,” said Jace being frank. “But one thing’s for sure, that description sounded pretty close to that symbol in that picture, and I’m kinda curious to see if it could match up. Who knows... if it does, maybe it can explain more about this secret your parents mentioned the other night.”
“Maybe,” replied Adele nervously. “I don’t know though Jace, it still sounds pretty scary. I don’t know if I can do it.”
Taking hold of her shaking hands, Jace gave them a gentle kiss and said, “It’ll be okay. If anything goes wrong, I’ll protect you.”
Looking up at him, Adele asked, “Really? You’ll protect me?”
“I promise,” he said holding her close now. “You’re my girlfriend. And that’s what boyfriends do for their girlfriends. I’m not gonna let anything, or anyone hurt you.”
Wrapping her arms around him, Adele pulled her guardian Prince close to her and kissed him saying, “Okay. If you think this may help with the secret, I’ll go with you.”
Giving her a gentle kiss back, Jace said, “Sounds good. But if we do go, we’d better fill in Kevin and Maya about the conversation from last night and make sure they come along too.”
“Especially them both,” replied Adele, knowing the fact this secret involved Maya, and even Kevin too. “What about the others too? Yumiko, Tristan, Oliver and Carine?”
Having thought about the other Stern siblings and even the Della Robbias, Jace figured it would be best to wait until they had definitive proof to let them know about the secret conversation and if there was any reason to believe they would need to be concerned.
Agreeing with his logic, the two continued to walk hand in hand, and made their way into the Belpois family SUV to head home. As they drove along the three-mile stretch of road, Mr. and Mrs. Belpois asked the kids what they had learned from their message, to which Maya said, “It was about keeping accountable with others, just as we keep ourselves accountable with Christ.”
“Definitely something we can all take to heart,” said Mrs. Belpois looking at Jeremie with a look of distress, to which he nodded his head and continued to drive home.
It was at that moment Jace and Adele realized, if in fact they were trying to keep something from her and Maya that they themselves were not being accountable with them in their own right. What could possibly be so bad about this secret that they would choose to keep the truth hidden from them?
In the end, all that mattered now, was that the two new young lovebirds, were now preparing to embark on a journey that, while filled with fright, could prove to be a great revelation to this hidden truth.