Previous installments of Entanglement can be found by clicking Home on the header menu and scrolling down. If you haven’t begun the series and would like to, here’s a shortcut to Part One.
Aliss slammed the door and stood on the porch, heart beating heavy in her chest, loud in her ears. Footsteps on pavement caught her attention before her flight response had begun to wane. Two dark-clothed figures, faceless in the shadows between lights, walked toward her from across the wide street. The sight of them told her something quicker and clearer than anything she had come to know that evening.
They were much bigger than she, seemingly men, so she threw her bag’s strap over her head and across her body, ran down the steps and rounded left over the lawn as they followed. Her hands worked as she ran, years of practice focused into a reflexive search, leading to an opening in the dark that she slowed down just enough to get into and search for a path. She felt such relief when she found one …
Aliss remembered the things she and Carlene said to each other, needing to get away, being chased by men she was sure her mother had known were waiting for her — and instead of shutting her down, the memories aroused a desire to unfold out into open spaces. She put shoes on, got her keys and went downstairs to walk around the block and watch the sun begin to set.
She stopped at the east wall of the building as she passed, drawn to the tiny patch of grass meeting its corner and the walk, just before the shadows began. Standing there, she tilted her head to examine the area, but without using her eyes. She listened instead for something that wasn’t a sound — tuning, she thought. Then, as her words turned down low like a dial had been adjusted, she felt for what she knew was there.
She slipped a hand in close to the shadows. Smiling, she drew herself farther in and felt for the path she wanted, her favorite place since childhood any time she needed to rest or explore something quiet — when she wanted the freshest air, the softest places to nap, and the richest, truest colors.
With little effort, she sensed the junctions between paths and kept on course toward the world she wanted, as if that place wasn’t a strange maze or the most foreign place on earth, as if traveling there was the same as turning down familiar city streets. She moved along the pliant, curved walls that seemed barely there, close yet free, their reflective brightness all around, and just enough air somehow — so many properties she’d never understood or worried about. All that had ever mattered to her about it was what mattered then, that she got to her chosen destination, or discovered new ones.
Aliss exited fast and sure onto a green carpet of fragrant, thick grass her feet disappeared into as she walked toward fat, gnarled trees about thirty yards in the distance. The air almost made her dizzy with the crisp, intoxicating undersmell she and Hugh had supposed signaled its pristine nature. Mixing in, like top notes of subtle perfumes, were scents of flowers neither of them had seen before or been able to find in books. She’d taken bouquets of them to Carlene, twice, before realizing her mother’s curiosity about their rarity made that a bad idea.
On her way to the trees to make a meal of her favorite fruit, Aliss realized Miller could be back soon. Her hands were up without a second’s thought, guiding her back along the paths, sensing directional differences that compensated for having walked away from the place where she had come out.
Emerging on the building’s lawn at home, she spun and saw Miller standing on the bottom step, staring in her direction.