SEVEN CROWNS | The Black Stone

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Chapter IV

Ruby and her mother can’t take their eyes of the young chef, the young girl is tapping her finger on the table while watching him thank the clients for their compliments.

Ashley and Nate are watching them and both are getting more curious about what they’re hiding. Lydia and Charles seem to be the only ones not to be aware of what’s going on around. They’re eating peacefully while commenting about how delicious the meals are.

The chef was about to head back to the kitchen when he noticed the neighbouring table watching him. The green eyed smiles to them and approaches, making Mary clear he throat and hurry to sip her water.

“Good evening, I hope you like your food.” he says with a gentle voice.

“Oh, it’s delicious!” exclaims Lydia. “You’re very talented, what’s your name?”

“I’m Elliott Pears.” says the young chef. “I’m glad you like it.” he looks around the table and notices the number balloons behind Ashley. “Happy 23rd birthday.” he smiles to her.

She smiles back, “Thank you Elliott. I’m truly enjoying the meal, you’re talented.”

The green eyed thanks her then his eyes rest on the black haired young man sitting next to her. Elliott surprisingly keeps staring at Nate for a long moment. He raises an eyebrow, he looks familiar to him but he can’t remember where he’d seen him before. There is a strong feeling that keeps his eyes on the handsome blue eyed but he looks away when he realized everyone is looking at him strangely.

“Well, I… I wish you a good night.” he clears his throat and disappears behind the doors.

Nate looks at his best friend and whispers, “What the hell is wrong with him?”

Ashley shrugs and looks at Mary and her daughter, but the two of them look as confused as them.

“It’s time to open the gifts!” exclaims Lydia, interrupting everyone’s thoughts. She hands her daughter an envelope and says, “It’s from me and your father.”

Ashley smiles and opens it, she widens her eyes when she sees the plane ticket. “You’ve always wanted to go overseas to know more about the world. We wish we could send you everywhere but for the moment we can just afford one ticket.” Lydia squeezes her shoulder. “I hope you like it.”

“Of course I do.” Ashley stands up to hug her parents and whisper them thank you.

Ruby and Sara help her open the other gifts, she gets new dresses, a bag and a makeup palette. Her girlfriends knew exactly what she needed. She thanks them then her eyes rest on Alex who’s scoffing at her. She clenches her fists remembering how he used to nag at her because she spends a lot of time getting prepared and he told her that no one will ever look at her no matter how much makeup she puts on.

Nate senses her anger and holds her wrist, “You still haven’t opened mine.” he places a blue box on her palm and rests his back on his seat while staring at Alex with deadly eyes.

Everyone around the table exclaims when they see the beautiful silver ring. Ashley widens her eyes and looks at her friend with a wide smile, “Whoa Nate!” she hits his chest teasingly, “I had no idea you had such good taste.”

He chuckles and rolls his eyes, “You underestimated me. I’m disappointed.”

“Is that an arrow?” asks Mary with a calm voice. Nate nods and notices the surprised look on her face. She looks at him for a moment before breaking the eye contact. Then she watches Ashley put the jewel around the ring finger of her right hand. The young girl seems amazed by it, she keeps looking at it with a smile and then with her finger, she traces the arrow gently, growing a strange feeling in her heart. She forgets her surrounding for a minute because the arrow made her feel like she’s forgetting something very important about her. Ashley grabs Nate’s arm and asks, “Why did you pick an arrow?”

“I don’t know, I thought you’ll like it.” he rubs his neck nervously. “Don’t you?”

“I do.” she nods. “I just thought… nevermind.” she smiles to him and whispers, “Thank you, it’s so beautiful.”

After dinner, Lydia and Charles head home and leave Ashley with her friends. She doesn’t forget to tell them how grateful she is for the surprise they organized for her then she thought it’s a good excuse to hug Ruby and whisper, “We need to talk.”

The red haired presses her lips and looks at her mother worryingly. Mary nods to her and clears her throat, “There’s something we need to talk about. I think it’s finally time for you to know.” she says while looking at Ashley and Nate.

“Know what?” asks the blue eyed, “Do you happen to know something about us?” he looks at Mary, “I mean, the stones and everything.” he adds with a quieter voice for fear that Sara hears him.

“Sara knows.” Ruby holds her girlfriend’s hand. “We don’t need to hide this from her.”

“So, Sara knows more than us.” Nate chuckles and shakes his head. “What’s the truth then?”

Mary looks around and places her arm around his back, “It’s better if we meet tomorrow in a discreet place. I’m afraid we’re surrounded.”

Ashley raises an eyebrow, “By who?”

“I’m not sure, but I know we can’t trust anything around.” Mary sighs. “Let’s meet tomorrow in Bright Street, in front of the jewellery. There’s only one there.”

Ashley and Nate decide not to argue more, they simply agree even though the curiosity is devouring their minds.

The young man accompanies his friend to her studio, it’s late and he doesn’t want her to end her birthday fighting with a stalker.

“I’ll see you tomorrow then. Sleep well.” he ruffled her hair.

“I don’t if I can even sleep.” she sighs.

“I know.” he gives her a small smile, “I’ve wanted to know the truth since I found the book, but now I’m scared to hear it.”

Back to her studio, Ashley places the gift on the couch and faints on her bed. She doesn’t even bother changing her clothes, the night has been more tiring than she thought. From her birthday surprise to seeing Alex after a long time to Elliott and then Mary confirming that something is really going on.

She throws her heels on the floor and covers herself from the cold. After turning off the light she closes her eyes and that’s when she sees it. Two piercing blue orbs appear, they don’t blink and she can’t read any emotion on them. It doesn’t last long, they disappear instantly leaving her with a heart beating fast. She turns on the light and tries to catch her breath. It wasn’t Nate because his eyes are bigger and they weren’t the same she’d seen in her previous visions. The blue of these eyes is darker, looking like the sea waters under the moonlight. They’re shining bright like stars on a spring night. She can’t take them off her mind, they’re too beautiful to be forgotten easily.

Things are becoming more and more confusing and she needs to know all the truth as soon as possible.

The next day she finds her friends waiting for her in front of the library. She greets them with a simple hand movement and starts walking. “You look horrible.” says Nate. “You haven’t slept, right?”

“You don’t look fine either.” she chuckles then she looks at Ruby, “Were you going to keep hiding it if your mother didn’t mention it?”

The red haired stays silent. She presses her lips and keeps walking, making her friend angrier. Nate places his arms around both girls’ shoulders and says, “I’m sure there’s an explanation to whatever is going on, so please let’s not be mad at each other right now. I’m sure it’s not the good time.”

“Did you see something too yesterday when you went back home?” asks Ashley, ignoring her friend’s words.

“Like what?”

“I saw someone.” Ashley starts, making her friends look at her curiously. “I saw blue eyes.”

“Dreaming about me already?” Nate smirks and only gets a death glare from her. He clears his throat and asks, “Who do you think it is?”

She shrugs, “I have no idea, but I’m sure we’ll find out very soon.” she says when they reach Bright Street.

Mary is already waiting for them in front of the jewellery. She keeps looking around as if to make sure no one is watching them. She makes them enter the shop hurryingly and checks once again before she follows them inside. They get greeted by a short woman wearing a black suit, she must be in her sixties judging by the wrinkles starting to show on her forehead and elbows. An old man appears and widens his eyes when he sees us, “My, my! Lenna!” he exclaims.

Mary smiles widely and hugs him tight, “It’s been a long time, Eamon.”

“Did someone follow you?” the man asks, looking around.

The brown haired shakes her head, “I don’t think so.” she says. “I brought them, Eamon. I guess you know why.”

The old man nods sadly, “It’s weakening, we cannot stop them anymore.” he looks at the clock and asks Alexandra, the woman working with him to close the shop. “Follow me dearies.” he asks them before opening a door hidden behind a blue velvet curtain.

They enter a large room whose walls are covered with purple velvet decorated with golden embroidery. Many paintings of unknown landscapes are hung, giving a fantastic touch around the space. A red sofa is placed comfortably in the middle of the room and was soon occupied by the old man.

“It is an honour to have you all here.” he gives them a large smile. His eyes rest on Ashley for a moment, he sighs and tells her, “You grew up so fast.”

The young woman raises an eyebrow, “Have we met before?” she asks.

“I’ve known your parents very well, they were good friends of mine. I’ve seen you too, you were still a child.” he smiles. “But I know you do not remember me.” he nods and extends his arms, “Come here my child.” Ashley looks at her friends then at Mary who encourages her to approach Eamon.

The old man takes her hands, he looks at her confused eyes and bows his head to her making her look at him with surprise. He lowers his head and sighs then his eyes rest on the silver ring she’s wearing. “Where did you get this?” he asks.

“It’s a birthday gift, he offered it to me.” she points at Nate who smiles proudly.

Eamon looks at the arrow shaped jewel and smiles sadly. He searches for Mary who’s standing behind the young friends and tells her, “It’s really weakening, Lenna.”

He squeezed Ashley’s hands and this time he looks at her seriously, “Diamond needs you.” he speaks with a quiet voice.

She raises an eyebrow and chuckles, “I don’t know what you mean sir, but one thing I’m sure about is that I really do need the diamond.”

Nate starts laughing but Eamon’s serious look makes him stop.

“What is Diamond?” Ashley asks.

Eamon pats her hand and says, “You still have a lot of things to know, dear Ashryn.” he smiles and looks at one of the paintings whose frame is made of pure diamond. “Diamond is your kingdom.” he adds, making both Ashley and Nate widen their eyes.

“My what?!”

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