Chapter 1 - The Beginning

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“She’s coming. Kendra’s coming”

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Chapter 1- The Beginning

With a strong wind blowing maple leaves onto the road with a steady pace, it became apparent that change was coming. Joseph Williams, a lanky 17-year-old with greasy light brown hair stood by the bay window of his home as he watched a moving truck pass his house and park in the driveway next door. “Who was that?” Joseph’s mother, Adriana asked as she ironed her son’s pants for the upcoming school week.

“I think it’s the new neighbors,” Joseph replied. Turning, he noticed a peculiar look on her face. It was a combination of disdain and fear, one that he had never seen before.

“Mum? What’s wrong?” he asked. Adriana didn’t respond, yelling out to her husband who was in the garage. “Rowan! Come here!” she shouted, without taking her eyes off her son. A strange clinking noise echoed from the garage as Joseph’s father appeared in the lounge room.

“The new neighbors have finally arrived,” Adriana whispered towards her husband as she finally tore her eyes away from her son.

Rowan shook his head. “Well, what’re you waiting for? Go greet them,” he snapped, disappearing back into the garage to continue his tinkering. Joseph looked to his mother, wondering why his father had suddenly become so angry, but was met with nothing more than a shrug of her shoulders.

“Come on, you heard your father,” she said, stopping what she had been working on and briskly heading towards the front door. Joseph sighed and reluctantly followed his mother outside to greet the new neighbours.

Adriana and Joseph soon stood in front of the small fence that separated the two houses, unsure of when the newcomers would appear. Eventually, they saw a young woman whose parents stood behind her, talking with the burly men who were moving their furniture.

The young woman gave Joseph and Adriana a quick smile as she turned to her mother and father.

“Mum!” she yelled out before turning back around to face Adriana and Joseph. The woman stepped forward and extended her hand to them.

“Hello. You must be our neighbours...” she said, stopping mid-sentence she saw Adriana and a look of distant recognition crossed her face. “Yes we are. I’m Adriana Williams and this is my son, Joseph,” Adriana replied. Joseph looked over at the young girl and back to his mother, nodding to confirm that what his mother had just said was the truth. The other woman nodded and gently pushed her daughter forward.

“I’m Audrey Parker and this is my daughter Kat.” She said, stealing a glance at Joseph who, in turn quickly moved his head to avoid her glance as his cheeks had started burning.

“And the anti-social man unloading the boxes over there is my husband, Matthew. He’s usually much friendlier than I am, but there’s so much for us to do.”

Adriana faked a smile and a nod. She had important things to discuss with Rowan and she needed her son to be out of the house while she did it, so she thought fast and came up with a plan.

“Joseph will help you unpack. It does seem like there’s a lot you need to do.” Adriana announced as she used her hands to push her son towards the new neighbors.

Joseph glared at his mother and shook his head. He hated how she always seemed to volunteer him for things without even consulting him first. Audrey seemed grateful for the offer though, so he nodded and did his best to smile.

“I can come over later and give you a hand if you’d like.” he said.

Audrey smiled at Adriana, giving her one of those motherly grins that said far more than any words would. “Actually, now would be great,” she told Joseph. He nodded again, but groaned on the inside.

Joseph sighed and hopped over the fence to help the new neighbors. His mother’s voice called out to him as he headed to pick up a large box. “Joseph, don’t stay out too late. There’s something your father and I need to discuss with you tonight.” “Okay.” he replied before being led into the Parker’s new house by Kat and her mother.

Once her son was out of sight, Adriana sighed and walked home. Her husband was waiting nearby wiping his hands on his already stained blue overalls as he looked at her. “Adriana, have you told him yet?” Rowan asked. Adriana shook her head. “No. I haven’t found the right time yet. But I want to tell him tonight… I mean, we should tell him. Maybe we should mention something to him about the neighbors too.” she said. Rowan shook his head though and placed his hands back into the pockets of his overalls.

“Don’t. TheParkerswill handle that. It’s what Joseph’s parents wanted. Besides, they know more than we do.” he replied. Both trudged into the house without saying anything further. They didn’t know how they would approach the subject of the adoption with Joseph, but they knew it had to be done tonight, since the Parker family had made their appearance.

Meanwhile, inside the Parker’s new home, Joseph was instantly shocked at what he saw. The house’s exterior appeared normal, but the inside of the house was covered in gold.

It was overwhelming as Joseph stood in the hallway, taking everything in. He lost track of Kat and her mother, and his heart rate increased until he had fleeting thought of just yelling out Kat’s name and trying to find her in this unfamiliar, golden house.

As he raised his voice to do so, he heard strange voices coming from behind a huge wooden door that was positioned at the end of the hallway. It was difficult to understand what the voices were saying, so he started walking towards the door. His curiosity had gotten the better of him and he was determined to find out who was behind the door and what they were saying. He stretched his hand cautiously towards the doorknob, but Kat appeared from out of nowhere and stopped him in his tracks.

“You shouldn’t do that. My father’s very secretive about the people he has over. He says it’s for him to know and us to never to find out,” she told Joseph as she placed a hand on her hip for emphasis. She waited for a moment but when Joseph didn’t respond, she walked around him and up the nearby staircase. Joseph remained in the hallway for a while, trying to hear what was being said behind the door. He couldn’t make anything out and had nearly given up trying to figure out what the mystery voices were saying until a clearer voice spoke up.

“Kendra might come back. You don’t know what she’s capable of. When do the chosen children come into play? Kendra wants to get through that portal as soon as she can, even though Isolade and Alejandro closed it before they died.” the voice said. Joseph felt his heart drop into his stomach and had the sudden feeling that the speaker knew he had been eavesdropping on the conversation. Who or what was Kendra? Who were Isolade and Alejandro? Joseph’s head was full of questions as he stood alone in the dark and empty hallway.

Since Joseph was deep in thought, he didn’t realize Kat had re-appeared at the top of the stairs and was waiting for him. “Hey! Come on! Are you going to help me or not?” she demanded. Sighing, Joseph took one last look at the door. Then, he turned and ran up the stairs help Kat unpack her things. When he reached the top floor, he felt lost again, as he was faced with a series of identical doors He looked up and down the hallway, not sure of how to find Kat who had disappeared once again.

“How could she have disappeared so quickly?” he thought to himself. However, he was relieved when he saw Kat poke her head out of the only open door in the hallway. He walked over to the door and saw Kat surrounded by files and boxes, ready to be unpacked. He entered the room determined to find out what her father was doing behind that other door, as the conversation he’d overheard had consumed his thoughts.

“What does your father do for a living?” he casually asked while he helped Kat sort out her family’s possessions. Kat looked up from the photograph she was unpacking and stared at him for a moment, but just shrugged. “I don’t really know. Something to do with investigation,” she replied. Joseph nodded but wasn’t sure if she was deliberately choosing to not tell him or if she really didn’t know anything about her father’s profession.

“What about your mother?” he asked, as he didn’t want her to think that he was just being nosy about her father. Kat shrugged again and didn’t look at him. “You know, she’s just a mum,” she quietly answered. Joseph got the impression that she didn’t want to talk about her parents and felt relieved when Audrey yelled up and told him that it was time to go home. Joseph ran back down the stairs and let himself out. He walked home, thinking about the conversation he had partly overheard. Clearly, they had been discussing something important. But who was Kendra and why did her name seem familiar to him?

Pushing his thoughts aside, he walked into his house and was surprised to find his parents sitting at the kitchen table. Something wasn’t right. Joseph stopped at the opposite end of the table, unsure of what to do next. Rowan looked up at him with a concerned expression. Joseph noticed that his father’s hands were shaking as Adriana held them between hers. “I…we have something to tell you and I’m afraid that it can’t wait,” he slowly said. Joseph gulped. The atmosphere quickly became even more serious, and Joseph sat down opposite his parents, looking at his mother.

It was the first time Joseph had actually seen her cry, and he felt sick as a tear slowly fell down her cheek. “Mum,” he said as he reached out to comfort her, but Adriana shook him off with a shake of her head. Rowan cleared his throat.

“We need you to know that we love you very much and that you have always been a good son,” Rowan said his voice thick with emotion. Joseph suddenly felt anxious and noticed that his father had really emphasized the word son. “What’s going on?” he asked, looking nervously at his parents. Adriana reached out and touched his hand in an effort to calm him down.

“We love you so much and hope that what we tell you next won’t matter,” she said, wiping the tears from her face. Joseph felt sick to his stomach. “Please, just tell me what’s going on,” he pleaded. Adriana gave Rowan a pained look. Rowan cleared his throat.

“Son…we’re not your biological parents. We adopted you from an orphanage in South America. I’m sorry that we waited so long to tell you,” Rowan told Joseph, struggling to keep his voice calm.

Joseph nodded as he tried to comprehend what his father had just told him. Numb, he slowly leaned back into his chair, unable to respond. His mind was racing, wrapping itself around the idea that he had been adopted. Where were his real parents? Why did they give him up? He wanted to ask for answers, but since was afraid of not liking the answer if he did, he chose not to.

“We know you may be angry or upset about this and if you want to talk, we’re here. But, if you want to find out about your biological parents, you should go talk to Audrey and Matthew Parker,” Rowan said, leaning back into his own chair. Joseph took a deep breath and thought for a second.

“The people who just moved in next door? What would they know about it?”

“They knew your parents quite well.” he answered with glance at his wife.

“They ‘knew them’? What happened?” Joseph asked, imagining the worst possible scenario.

Rowan didn’t answer shared another concerned glance with Adriana. “Go talk to the Parkers. They’ll point you in the right direction,” Rowan finally said, casting his eyes towards the floor.

Joseph looked to Adriana for some advice or input, but she just shrugged.

“Listen to your…Rowan. Listen to Rowan,” she whispered, correcting herself as she spoke.

Joseph felt a sharp pain of rejection from his adoptive mother, but knew she was right.

He pushed his feelings aside and knew he would have to go and find any information the mysterious Parkers had on his biological parents.

“Okay. I’ll go see them tomorrow,” he said looking back at Adriana.

Rowan shook his head. “Why wait? Go now. I get the feeling they’re expecting you,” he said.

Joseph sighed. He was too tired and emotionally drained to argue. Reluctantly, he got to his feet. Suddenly, Adriana reached out and grabbed his hand. “Don’t forget, we do love you very much,” she whispered.

Joseph forced himself to smile at her. He walked outside into the frigid air and jumped back over the fence to walk up to the Parker’s front door. Joseph hoped that Audrey or Matthew would be able to shed some light on his mysterious past.

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