Floating with the Tide

Chapter One


Jonothon watched the taxi pull up with interest. He hadnít been informed of a visitor, so he decided to wait and see what happened.

A girl got out. She was maybe sixteen or seventeen, quite tall. She was dressed totally in black, from small-heeled boots to chic woollen hat, but her straight chin-length hair was, from this distance a dark purplish red, which her make-up matched.

She paid the cabby and started down the path towards the school, a heavy army bag over her shoulders.

When he saw she was almost at the mansion, Jonothon went to the front door, opening it just as she went to press the doorbell.

"Oh. Um. Hi." Her eyes moved up from his feet to his leather straps, which seemed to surprise her, then up to his face, which surprised her even more.

"Oh! Jonothon? Jonothon Starsmore!?!" Confusion struck. "I, uh, didnít expect to see you here."

He studied her face for a moment, trying to see who she was. Her face was quite badly bruised, which probably accounted for the make-up, but he still managed to recognise her.

//You went to St. Jennyís, right?//

She was startled by the voice in her head, but quickly took it in her stride.

"Y-yes. I was a couple of years below you, so you probably donít remember, but Iím Susanne Taylor."

He thought.

//Yeah, you used to Ďang around with the weirdo with strange hair that sang all the time, right?//

Susanne smiled faintly, "Pip, right."

There was silence for a bit as both of them looked at their feet for inspiration.

Jono spoke first. //So, whyíre you Ďere?//

Susanne looked up quickly. "I was looking for, um, Skin? Does he live here?"

It was Jonoís turn to look surprised. //Yeah. {How the Ďell do you know him?} Come in, Iíll find him for yu.//

He picked up her bag and escorted her into the hall. The big white door shut slowly behind them.

"Whoís she?" Jubilee whispered loudly to M, leaning over the banister to get a better look at the stranger.

"Jonothon certainly seems to know her, but all I can tell is that sheís very confused."

"Yeah, like I couldnít have worked that out by myself." Jubilee popped her gum disdainfully.

"Well, Iím gonna find out," she resolved, and bounded down the wide stairs to where the girl had been left standing when Jono went out of the room.

The girl smiled nervously at her, as a sort of greeting.

"Hi," Jubilee replied. Then she got fed up of beating around the bush and came straight to the point. "Who are you?"

The girl smiled properly. Jubilee wondered what was so funny.

"Iím Susy Taylor," she said. She put forward her hand. "Nice to meet you."

{British accent} Jubilee noted. Realising what the hand was for, she shook it with her own. "Jubilee."

Susanne wondered for a moment.

"My name." Jubilee filled in.

She relaxed. "Oh right. Itís a nice one."

"Thanks," she returned a smile. "Gum?"

"Uh, no thanks."

There was an awkward silence.

{Great start, Suse. Now, make conversation.}

As it turned out, she didnít need to. The next minute took her completely by surprise, as an impeccably neat black girl descended from the ceiling.

{Are they all mutants? This is getting curiouser and curiouser.}

"I think what my," she cleared her throat, "good friend Jubilee is trying to say, is ĎWhat are you doing here?í" She turned to the shorter girl and asked, "Am I right?"

Jubilee looked at her feet, then up again. "This is M." She thumbed the direction of her subject.

"Iím a friend of Skinís. I thought, since I was in the country, Iíd pay him a visit."

M raised her eyebrows, and her eyes scanned the other girlís face perhaps more intently than was wise.

Susyís expression grew colder. Their straightforwardness had been interesting to start with, but she was tired and not in the mood for explanations.

"If youíre wondering about the bruises, I donít want to go into it right now, okay?"

M was about to protest when all attention turned to two figures in the doorway.

"Floater?" A new voice penetrated the room. It was deep and accented. "Susanne?"

Angelo came forward and the two stared at each other for a moment. Then he smiled. She saw why he had taken his particular pseudonym, but, to be honest, it was the last thing on her mind.

{At last,} she thought, {Iíve found you.}

Jonothon and M were both struck by the sudden hope that entered her mind. Neither had actually been scanning her, but somehow she flooded the room with her emotion. A tinge of sadness, though, remained as she and Angelo left the hall, his arm around her shoulder.

E-mail me, Cynjen, the author, with comments!

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