Mystery Girl (1)

We Have to Go Back

13. We Have to go Back

"Today you're going to learn how to warp. It's an essential skill for a time god or goddess to know." Nicole looked at Sydney expectantly. "Are you feeling better than you were yesterday, because this requires complete focus, especially for beginners?"

Sydney lifted her shoulders and shrugged. "I guess. What do I have to do?"

Joe tried to glance at Sydney, but the moment he saw her face, his cheeks flamed up and he had to look away. Neither of them had talked much since the near-kiss at the lake. They hadn't even made eye contact since it had happened. There was an awkward tension between them now and Joe didn't know how to get rid of it. The kiss didn't even mean anything, right? I mean, he liked Sydney, but he didn't like Sydney.

"It's quite simple," Nicole explained with a wave of her hand. "Think of where you want to go, pull time to you, and it will do the rest. However, if you don't fully concentrate on where you want to go, who knows where you'll end up."

Sydney nodded in understanding. "Okay. Any particular place I should try to go?"

"Why would I have a preference? Take your friend to lunch in Morocco for all I care. I just want you to master this ability. Pick any place to go. I'll be waiting for you right here when you get back."

"Will it be like we never left?" Sydney tilted her head inquisitively. "We'll warp out and then flash back in a second later, but for us it will have been an hour or something?"

"If this were anywhere but Draylon, yes. However, Draylon only exists in the present. It is impossible to go to Draylon in the past or future. If you are gone for an hour, you will come back here an hour later from when you left." Apparently that was the end of the conversation. Nicole made a book appear in her hands and she sat down to read it.

"So where do you want to go to lunch?" Sydney asked. "I'm thinking England. Maybe I warp us into the palace and we can have tea with the queen."

It took Joe a minute to realize Sydney was talking to him. That was the most she had said to him all morning and he had almost forgotten what a normal conversation with her was like. He still couldn't meet her eyes, and when he responded he found himself looking at a spot just over her head instead. "Uh, sure. Tea with the queen it is."

He stood by her side and waited for her to warp them away. He hoped this was good sign that things were smoothing out between them. He didn't want things to stay this way forever. Maybe everything would be back to normal after lunch.

Before Joe knew it, green mist was wrapping its way around the two of them. He felt the familiar tug of time pull him away and was lost in tunnel of green.

The first thing Sydney realized when she opened her eyes as she felt the time energy recede, was that they were definitely not in a palace. She wasn't even sure if this was England. They had landed outside behind a cobblestone building. Like the last time they had warped together, The Book had placed itself in Sydney's hands. The sounds of horses and creaky carriage wheels rolling along the ground echoed in the small space. What time had she taken them too?

"I may have messed up," she admitted sheepishly. "Sorry Joe, looks like tea with the queen is cancelled." She waited a second, but Joe didn't respond. She spun around, assuming he was behind her, and was surprised to find that she was alone. "Joe? Joe!"

There was no sign of him anywhere that she could see. Had he warped with her or was he still back at Draylon? But then why was The Book with her when Joe was the one to hold it last? She frowned. Maybe he had just wandered off or landed somewhere else.

She shrugged, hoping that he was nearby, and left their landing site in search of him. The street was busy with people walking about almost everywhere the eye could see. They seemed to be congregating around a large market down the street.

Sydney knew she wasn't in England now. The people walking down the street spoke with accents, but they weren't British accents. She couldn't tell what accent it was, but it did sound familiar.

She noted the market with interest. "Maybe Joe's down there," she mumbled to herself and shuffled through crowds of people, making her way to the outdoor market. She scanned the faces of everyone she passed, checking to see if any of them were Joe or worse, his uncle Jack.

This was the first time Sydney had been out of Draylon since the attack. Was she ready to be out in the open again? Her self-defense lessons hadn't gone well yesterday, but that was only because of her nightmare that she couldn't shake off. Sydney shivered as the memory resurfaced and she forced it down. She didn't want to think about that now. She needed to find Joe and get back to Draylon.

Yesterday had been hectic. After her nightmare and botched training session, she just wanted to spend the day relaxing in her room. But she just had to show Joe the time energy in the sky. One thing led to another, and then they kissed. Well, almost kissed. Sydney felt her face heat up just thinking about it. Why had she done that? Joe obviously wanted them to stay as just friends and she didn't want to ruin the one friendship she had right now. Still, the thought of kissing Joe made her stomach flutter.

The market was even busier once she stepped inside. She was never going to find Joe in this mess, but she had to try. She pushed through the crowd, occasionally calling out Joe's name and receiving angry glares from customers and vendors in response. She could care less if she was offending them or not. Her finding Joe was more important.

There were too many people present, and none of them were Joe. With a defeated sigh, Sydney emerged from the crowd in a less packed area of the market. She pursed her lips in thought. How was she going to find Joe? She glanced at The Book and held it up in front of her face. "You belong to Joe, can you help me find him?"

Sydney was abruptly shoved forward and nearly lost her grip on The Book. Out of nowhere, a blonde boy appeared in front of her and immediately tried to take The Book out of her hands forcefully.

Sydney scowled and tugged back. This impromptu tug of war was the last thing she needed. "Hey!" she shouted. "Give that back!"

The boy only pulled harder, not that Sydney expected him to yield from just yelling at him. She could not lose The Book. Joe would never forgive her if she did. How many people were after this thing anyway? Was it really that valuable?

The thief was not giving up any time soon and no matter how hard Sydney tried, she couldn't pull The Book free from his grasp. She would have to solve this another way. She thought back to the tricks Nicole had taught her yesterday. Even though the self-defense lessons had been cut short because Sydney wasn't doing well, she did manage to pick up on a few things. Most importantly, use your opponent's momentum against them, and when you hit someone it's not about how hard you do it, but where you do it.

Sydney swallowed, praying that her idea would work. She quickly let go of The Book. Just like she had hoped, the boy was not expecting her to let go. He pulled too hard and stumbled back. Swiftly taking advantage of his imbalance, Sydney struck her foot out directly in front of her and landed a kick to the center of the boy's chest. He crashed to the ground with a solid thud and dropped The Book. Sydney dove for it, making sure to grab it before he could reconfigure his senses. She jumped away and carefully held it out of his reach.

"The Book!" A new pair of voices shouted.

Sydney tensed, ready for another fight. She turned to scowl at whoever had joined them. But her scowl dropped the moment she realized who was standing just a few feet away from her. She beamed and made a beeline to her lost friend. "Joe! There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you!" She nearly laughed with joy as she came up to him.

Joe didn't appear too eager to see her though. Sydney could see his body tense up and his eyes widen with fear as she approached him. "Uh... what?"

"Very funny," Sydney said sarcastically and rolled her eyes. "Look, I know this isn't exactly where I said I was going to take us, but it was my first time. Cut me some slack." She heard a groan from behind and turned her head over her shoulder. The thief was getting up with the help of another boy with black hair. Sydney tightened her grip on The Book. "We better get out of here."

She latched onto Joe's hand and began to pull him away. They couldn't stay here, not if they didn't want to lose Joe's book. She felt Joe's hand slip out of her grasped and looked back to see Joe take several steps away from her. "I don't know you."

The corners of Sydney's lips turned down and a sharp stab of pain erupted in her heart. Why would Joe say that? Was he mad at her for not getting them to England? She didn't think he'd be upset over something like that. After all, he had told her he'd messed up with The Book plenty of times. Then it hit her. The near-kiss. That's why Joe was being so standoffish. He wanted nothing to do with her after how she acted last night. "Joe, if this is about last night..."

"I swear I've never seen you before." Joe held up his hands in front of him. "How do you know my name? And why do you have my book?" His eyes darted down to the blue book in her hands.

Sydney followed his lined of vision and glanced at his book. She could understand that he'd be uncomfortable around her after last night, but his behaviour now was rude and hurtful. "Because it stayed with me. The same thing that happened when we went to Corfu. And I know you because we've spent the last few days together. We're friends. At least I thought we were."

"You must have me confused with someone else," Sydney could hear the forced politeness in his voice. "I don't even know your name."

Sydney winced. That was taking it too far. If he didn't want anything to do with her anymore, he could have just left Draylon this morning. Her frown deepened and she had to look away from Joe. "It's Sydney," she spoke through clenched teeth. If Joe wanted to act this way, then fine. Sydney didn't need him in her life anyway. She shoved The Book into Joe's arms. "I know last night was a mistake, but you have no right to act like this. Just take your stupid book and go. I'll see you later. If you even want to see me that is."

Not giving Joe a chance to respond, Sydney turned and left him with an angry huff. She heard him call out behind her, but she didn't go back. If he suddenly felt bad about his behaviour, he could track her down at Draylon later.

Tears stung the back of her eyes and she pushed her way through the market congregation once again. She wanted to find some place hidden where she could warp back to Draylon unnoticed.

If Joe wanted her gone, she would be gone.

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