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Authors: Breeana Puttroff

Tags: #Romance, #fantasy, #young adult, #adventure, #Mystery

Seeds of Discovery

BOOK: Seeds of Discovery
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Seeds of Discovery

Book One of

The Dusk Gate Chronicles

 

by

Breeana Puttroff

 

 

 

 

Original Text Copyright © 2011 Breeana Dacia Puttroff

Musefish
Independent Press

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or

transmitted
, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing

of
the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other

than
that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this

condition
being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

Second Edition Copyright © 2012

 

Editing by Tonya Christensen

 

 

For inquiries, please visit the author at
www.breeanaputtroff.net

or
the publisher at http://press.musefish.net

 

 

1. The Almost-Accident

 

“Crap!” Quinn Robbins shouted, and she slammed on her brakes. As the car skidded to a stop, she whipped her head
around,
grateful to discover that there were no other cars behind her.

Now, where was the boy? She hadn’t felt an impact, but where had he gone? She craned her neck forward the best she could, trying to make sure there was no teenage boy lying in the street in front of her bumper.

As she looked around, something else caught her attention. Blinking lights a few hundred feet ahead of her, just past the intersection at River Road. Not an emergency vehicle, but not right, either. The windshield wipers made another pass, and in the cleared glass, she could see that the lights were slightly to the side of the road. The hazard lights of a car.

“Is that a naughty word?” Her little sister’s small voice piped up from the backseat.

“What?” Quinn was distracted, her heart racing.

“Crap. You said crap. Is that a naughty word?”

“Um, no, it isn’t.” She could barely concentrate on what Annie was asking. Checking around the car once more, just to make sure the boy wasn’t there, she eased down on the gas pedal, wanting to get up to the intersection.

“Quinn! It’s not nice to say naughty words!” Annie’s voice rose, as it generally did when she was feeling ignored.

“I know, Annie.  Crap isn’t a naughty word.”

“Oh.  What kind of word is it, then?”

“Um,” she struggled to focus on her little sister, attempting to calm her shaking hands, “It’s a surprised word.”

“What are you surprised about?” Annie always had to understand everything.

Deep breath

She’s only three
, she silently reminded herself.
Don’t freak her out, too.

“There’s something going on up here, Annie. Can you be quiet for a minute?”

“Why?”

Quinn sighed. Asking Annie to be quiet was like asking the river down below them to stop flowing for a minute.

“I want to see what’s going on, okay?” Her little sister’s insistent questions were starting to pull her out of her reverie, and her racing heart was beginning to slow.

“What’s going on?” Annie struggled to look as far around as the car seat straps would allow. “Why did you stop the car?”

“There was a boy who ran in the middle of the road. I was afraid I hit him.”

“You
hit
him? With the car?”

“No, I didn’t.” She was
almost
sure of that now. She pulled slowly through the intersection. On the other side, there was a little red hatchback, its hazard lights flashing. Somehow, it had gone into the guardrail. The front of the car was crumpled like an accordion, steam pouring out from under the hood. Glass littered the side of the road from the shattered windshield. The driver’s side door was open, and as she pulled past the car, she could see the outline of the driver inside, and someone else kneeling just outside the door.

Heart pounding again, she pulled carefully to the shoulder. “Stay here, Annie,” she said as she unbuckled her seat belt.

“I want to come!” Annie’s fingers were already fumbling with the chest clip on her car seat.

“I’m not kidding. Stay here. Here,” she said, digging quickly through the glove box and pulling out a small handheld video game, “play with Owen’s game.”

It wouldn’t keep her sister occupied for long, but it was better than nothing. She closed the door and pulled up the hood of her jacket.

As she walked toward the car, she assessed the situation. Out-of-state plates – not unusual during ski season. There was a resort about twenty miles farther up the highway. The rack on top of the car held skis and a snowboard, and another rack on the back carried – oddly – a mountain bike. What the driver planned to do with that in the middle of winter in the Colorado
mountains
, she wasn’t sure.

When she got to the driver’s side of the car, her pounding heart nearly stopped. The person kneeling outside the car was him. The boy she’d almost run over. And now she knew who he was. William Rose.

He was a senior at Bristlecone High School, a year older than she was. He must have been really running to get here before her. He was bent over the car’s driver, doing something. He’d pushed the seat back, getting the driver away from the deployed airbag.

“Did you call 911?” she asked.

William stood up so quickly that he bumped his head on the door frame. When he looked up at her, she got the distinct impression that he wasn’t pleased to see her. “No I didn’t. I don’t have a phone.”

He didn’t have a phone? What senior in high school didn’t have a phone with him at all times?

“Doesn’t
he
? Somewhere in the car?”

“I don’t know, Quinn. I was too busy trying to keep him from bleeding out to look yet.”

As he spoke, he had already knelt back down in front of the driver, and now she could see that he was pressing a large piece of gauze just above the driver’s barely open eye. It was already soaked with blood. If the man was conscious, it wasn’t by much. A huge gash ran the length of his left arm, too, blood dripped in little rivulets down the sides of his arm.

A little queasy, she pulled her own phone out of her pocket, and quickly dialed 911.
Quinn. He’d called her Quinn
. She was standing here on the side of the road with an almost-unconscious tourist, and the thing that shocked
her the
most was that William Rose knew her name.

“The police and an ambulance are on their way,” she said, a minute later.

He nodded, reaching into a large backpack that was sitting next to him on the road, and pulling out a thick roll of clean, white gauze.
What in the …

“What happened here?” she asked.

William didn’t look up at her as he wound a long piece of the gauze around the driver’s head, securing the pressure bandage in place before he turned his attention to the gash on the man’s arm. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just saw the car here and came. There’s black ice just on the edge of the intersection there. I think that probably had something to do with this.”

The driver gave a low moan as William touched his injury, but otherwise didn’t respond.

“What are you …” she didn’t know how to form the question she wanted to ask – what he’d been doing out here in the first place.

“They’re sending an ambulance?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Good.” He glanced up at the sky, looking over the mountains where the sun had now almost disappeared. “Here, hold this for me,” he said, pointing to the pad he had pressed against the worst part of the driver’s cut.

Too far in shock to think about what she was doing, Quinn followed his instructions and replaced his hand with hers, being extremely careful to keep her hand only on the clean gauze, and away from the blood that seemed to be everywhere.

Once she had pressure on the cut, William opened the back door of the car, and dug under the back seat. “Here,” he said, setting something down on the road beside her. She glanced down to see an open first-aid kit, the fancy wilderness kind. She carried one similar to it in her saddlebag on the ranch where she led horseback riding groups in the summer.

William pulled open a little pouch that held latex gloves. Wordlessly, he took her free hand and slipped a glove on it. Keeping the gauze in place with the gloved hand now, she held out her other hand for the second glove.

Although she was trained in first aid, and had some idea of what she was doing, she’d never been around this much blood before, and she was beginning to feel nauseous. Keeping her hands firmly pressed against the gauze, she looked down at the ground, taking deep breaths, and studying the shards of glass under her feet.

A moment or so later, she caught sight of red and blue flashing lights out of the corner of her eye. “They’re coming,” she said, looking up for William, but he wasn’t standing next to her anymore.

“William!” she called, but he didn’t answer.

The first police cruiser to reach them was marked with the familiar county logo. Even more familiar was the officer who rushed to her side. “Quinn? Is that you?”

“Yeah, it’s me, Louis.” She was never going to get used to the fact that Louis Chavez – her best friend’s older brother – was now a cop. Although it did explain the fascination he’d had with handcuffing her and Abigail together with plastic handcuffs when they were all little.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. I just saw the car when I was driving by.”

“You didn’t see the accident?” Louis pulled his own pair of latex gloves out of a pouch on his belt, and a few seconds later, he took over applying pressure on the man’s arm.

“No,” she said. “It had already happened when I got there.” She pulled off her own gloves, and took a couple of deep breaths of fresh air, relieved to be away from the smell of the car.

“You were the one who called 911?”

“Yeah, I called.” She was suddenly distracted by another movement on the road. “Annie!” she shouted, running over to the little girl. “I told you to stay in the car.”

“But I didn’t want to be there all alone,” her sister said, tears streaming down her face. “I couldn’t see you. I don’t like it when you leave me.” The choking sounds in Annie’s voice told Quinn that she’d probably been crying the whole time, and she felt guilty. It probably
had
frightened Annie to be alone over there. She scooped her sister into her arms.

The trickling sleet was turning into a torrent now, and Annie had left her coat in the car. Quinn pulled her own coat around Annie as best she could. More flashing lights were approaching in the distance.

“You don’t have to stay if you didn’t see anything,” Louis was telling her. “You’d better get Annie in the car and get home before your mom starts worrying. I know where to find you if I need you. There’s black ice everywhere. Probably just someone not used to driving up here. Thanks for stopping.”

She was buckling Annie back into her car seat when she realized that she hadn’t mentioned anything about William. Two state patrol cars were pulling up now, though, and an ambulance was just a little way up the road, and she wasn’t going back into that mess. Besides, she had no idea where he had gone.
Where had he gone?

Instead of heading straight home, Quinn turned the car around, heading back to the spot where she’d nearly run William over a little while ago. She believed him that he’d just seen the accident and gone running – but what had he been doing out here in the first place? And where had he gone now?

 The problem was, there was nowhere for him to have gone. The stretch of highway they were on was pretty isolated. If he had come back this way, she should be able to see him. Really, he would have to be either walking along the narrow shoulder, or down by the riverbank, which was a ridiculous possibility. Nobody would be down by the river in this weather. The freezing rain was beginning to turn to snow.

“Why were there police?” Annie asked.

“Because that guy had a car crash,” Quinn answered, giving up and turning the car around, scanning the area once again for William, just in case. The whole thing was starting to freak her out a little bit, and she was starting to crash from the adrenaline rush of nearly hitting William earlier. What had he been doing in the middle of the road like that? She hadn’t seen a car. And in any case, if he’d stopped because of the accident, why would he have been in the road all the way over here?

 “Did he die?”

“No, he didn’t die. I think he’s going to be okay.”

“But why did he crash?”

“I don’t know. He just did.”

“But why?” The insistence in her little sister’s voice told her that there was no way Annie was going to just let it go.

“Hey, Annie, want to sing Jingle Bells?” Quinn asked, turning on the CD player. Annie had been obsessed with the song since Christmas a few weeks before.

By the time she pulled into the two-car garage, both girls were singing loudly and giggling; she was hopeful that Annie had forgotten all about the incident. Her mom wasn’t home yet, fortunately.

 Inside the house, she turned on Annie’s current favorite DVD - this week it was “Fireman Sam” - and retreated into the bathroom.

The whole incident – almost hitting William, and then seeing that accident – had scared her more than she wanted to admit. Her hands still felt shaky as she turned on the faucet, sending a flow of warm water into the sink. She reached into the linen closet and removed a clean washcloth and a small, brown bottle with a purple lid. After thoroughly soaking the washcloth in the steaming water, she carefully placed two drops of the lavender-and-vanilla scented oil in the middle of the cloth.  Folding it into a smaller square, she buried her face deep inside, breathing the calming scent in deeply, the way her mother had taught her to do when she was little.

She stayed in the bathroom for a long time, wanting to be completely calm before facing her mother. Her mom didn’t need to know about this; she had enough on her plate right now as it was. Besides, nothing had actually happened.

BOOK: Seeds of Discovery
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