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Author's note: I love my idea of the Forbidden! My best friend even used it in one of her stories. I'd reccommend her story, too! (It's called Forbidden).
I run through the trees, running to a destination I know I will not reach. I can't hear the rustling of trees behind me anymore. No one is chasing me any longer...or so I think. I stop and rub my arms from the cold. I don't feel right. Nothing feels right anymore. Something's wrong. I feel that, at least. But I'd rather feel nothing at all.
"Kennedy Holbrook," someone says. "We know you're here…somewhere." I know that voice. It's my caretaker. I hate her. She has cold hands and almost never smiles. She never reassures me on anything. I'm pretty sure she hates me too. “Kennedy, I’m begging you to please come out,” she says sweetly, a little too sweetly. If she hadn’t said that with too much sweetness that it sounded like bitterness, I might’ve given in.
I continue my run through the forest, trying to be as quiet as I possibly can. But…apparently I’ve made too much of a ruckus because I hear Marylyn, my caretaker, yell, “Over here!” I don’t know who else she has with her.
I run faster at the sound of more and more feet coming. My heart is pounding. Pounding fast. So. Fast. But I don’t stop. I keep going.
“Kennedy Mariah Holbrook!”
He’s with her.
I glance behind me but see no one. I keep my eyes on the trees behind me, still running forward. Someone grabs my upper arms, spinning me so that my back isn’t to the trees anymore. It’s a boy- about my age, so, seventeen or eighteen by the looks of it. I don’t know who he is or where he came from. But I can tell that he isn’t from the search party. I know I can trust him.
“Help me,” I whisper hoarsely. I didn’t actually think he would but he leads me to the left, back into the trees, but the other way of the search party. He takes me to a small cottage with smoke billowing out of the chimney up on the roof.
The boy opens the front door and I gesture for him to go inside first, even though it’s his house. I think.
“Thank you,” I say. “So much.” He just nods. I take a seat on the couch after he offers me a blanket and walks over to the kitchen. It seems he’s making tea. I can tell because of the ingredients and the smell. Mint tea. Not my favorite. But still. Mm.
He hands me a mug and I take a sip from the steaming cup.
“So. I never introduced myself. I’m Kennedy Holbrook.” He just nods. Again. His long blond hair falls into his eyes. He swiftly moves it away from his face. I smile at this gesture. It reminds me of Zavier. He coughs and there’s a knock at the door. I turn my head toward it. I hop up and race over. I quickly peek out a small window and see my father, my caretaker, and Zavier. “You need to hide. Cover up any evidence-“ I don’t even have to finish, but Zavier starts to talk outside anyway.
“Please open up this door! Official royal business!”
That makes Quiet Dude freeze. He looks up at me. That’s right. He doesn’t know. No one does. No one knows that I am the forbidden princess. It’s obviously because I’m forbidden from the outside world. I haven’t been introduced to the Society of Cities. Then it pops into my mind. He might be a Forbidder. Forbidden from talking. The rest of his life. I take a step back and fall back onto the couch. I ignore the consistent knocking. I let Quiet Forbidder Dude clean the rest up.
“Hide. In the hallway,” I say. He does as I bid. Then, I walk over to the door and open it. “Daddy!” I race into my father’s burly arms.
“Kennedy. I never want you to do this to me again,” he says sternly. “Now, whose house is this?” I look back and see that I left the door open with the fire still going. I wince and swallow hard.
“No one’s?” I announce.
He sighs, seeing it’s useless to argue with me. “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Walk with Zavier. I have to talk to Marylyn,” he says in his strong, bold voice.
“Dad.” I grab his arm before he goes. “Don’t fire her. It’s my fault.” I may hate her, but I’ve grown up with her. She’s like my mother. Maybe that’s why I don’t want her gone. She reminds me of Mama. I don’t care though. I don’t want her to be gone. Daddy sets his hand over mine. He gives me a warm smile.
“I won’t.” He pats my hand one last time before walking over to Marylyn, AKA, Mary, by the edge of the trees. I return the smile a second too late. I walk over to Zavier.
“Hey, Runaway. Why don’t you go get your things?” Zavier says, teasing me. I punch him in the arm and go inside. I slightly close the door behind me and I find Dude in the hallway. I crouch down next to him, out of sight from everyone else, but I still whisper; just because they can’t see me, doesn’t mean they can’t hear me.
“Hey, Quiet Dude- Oops. Sorry. I really need to learn your name. Can I borrow that blanket, so it looks like I brought something?” He nods. I search his dark blue eyes as he searches my bright ones. “By the way, I think I know what you are. You could’ve talked to me. I wouldn’t have said anything. You can trust me.”
Ending with that, I scramble back out the front door, shutting it firmly behind me.
“Come on, Kenny. I need to take care of you more don’t I?” asks Mary. She laughs. I manage to stifle a small smile. She pushes back a strand of my straight, long blond hair over my shoulder. We begin to walk back through the trees, and then out; to the cars.
We reach the house quickly and as soon as we do, I remember that we have the endangered animal banquet to attend for my sister. Marylyn pushes me up the winding stairs of the mansion and into my master bedroom. Mary sits me down in a chair, while I put Dude’s blanket on my bed, and as I pick out the splinters in my feet, and cover them in lotion to cure the rawness, she picks out burrs from my hair that I didn’t even know were there. Next, she orders me into the shower and I obey.
When I’m done, Mary already has a dress picked out and I slip it on. It’s a sea-blue/sea-green dress that billows out in layers until it piles onto the floor with sleeves that flow out from the elbow. It’s a little much for a banquet but my sister picked it out and you don’t want to argue with Miss Kate Holbrook.
Mary does my hair in a bun atop my head with two strands, curled, loose around my face, brushing against my jawline. I go into my closet, pretending to put on some heels but I slip on some old hand-me-down black and white low-tops. I walk back out and I know that Mary notices that I haven’t gotten any taller with the “heels.” She knows me. And she knows that I ain’t wearing no stupid heels.
“Oh, Kennedy. You look great! Now, hurry. We have to be at the banquet, then to dine with our guests,” says Mary. She sees the dread in my eyes. “Don’t worry. It won’t be long. And I have a feeling that something exciting is going to happen tonight,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.
“You always have that feeling, Marylyn. Even when something the exact opposite happens,” I tease. She laughs and we walk down the cascading steps into the main room.
Kate hobbles over in a dress like mine but in red, which matches her eyes in a way. They aren’t red or anything. They’re just the right shade of green to remind me of Christmas with her dress.
“Kenny!” She hugs me.
“Hey, Kate.” I have to pry her off of me. “How’s it going? I-“
“Save it, Kennedy. Are you alright? Are you hurt?” she asks. I shake my head.
“No,” I say.
“Good. Now, Kennedy Mariah Holbrook, what were you thinking?” she says angrily. “Why in the world would you run away?”
“I found something about Mom, Kate. I found a place where we can look for her. It’s not that far! Well, I couldn’t make it on foot…But, still. Oh, Kate! Aren’t you excited?” I blurt out, whispering excitedly.
“No. I’m not. I will never be excited. No one will. What ‘s Dad gonna think?” she begins sternly. “For Pete’s sake, Kennedy. When are you going to stop searching for her? Dad already told us what happened. She died. That’s the end of it. Nothing more.” Kate pushes past me, bumping into my shoulder. I stand still.
But there is more.
“Good morning, Kennedy,” greets Dad as I come downstairs, into the kitchen as he eats eggs, bacon, and waffles.
“Morning, Dad.” I take a seat next to him. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry for yesterday. About running away,” I apologize. He nods.
“It’s alright, sweetheart. It’s done. Over with. Forgotten.” I smile.
“Great. So…what are we doing today? Any people coming over? Any banquets I need to know about? Anything?” I ask.
“Nope. You’re all good.” He takes a bite of crunchy bacon.
“Great.” I race over to the window and peer outside. Sunny. The window’s warm. “You know what? It’s so warm out today, but it was so cold out yesterday.”
“Sweetheart, it was sixty-five degrees out yesterday. It was just raining. Maybe that’s why it seemed so cold.”
I frown. “Probably right.” I walk back over to Dad. “So…I can go outside today? In the woods?” I ask hopefully.
“You sure can.” I jump once and turn to go get dressed. “Ah, ah, ah. But don’t go too far. Bring…your cell phone.” I haven’t used that thing in years. I nod and scramble back up the stairs and into my room.
I go into my closet and go to my secret clothes stash in a bag in the back. I unzip it and search through. I pull out some denim shorts, a blue tank top with a printed green flower to the right on my waist, a green cardigan, and I grab my hand-me-downs. I slip it all on it that order and I brush my hair out, pulling strands away from my face and tying them in the back.
Finally, I grab Dude’s blanket and I stumble downstairs, eager to be in the sun. I race out the front door and jump/spin. I race into the woods, surprised that Dad trusts me to go into the woods by myself again, trusting me that I won’t run away. Which I won’t!
I run through the trees again, but this time with shoes, better clothing, and I’m being careful not to run in to things…Yeah, I was looking behind me.
Not too soon, I reach Dude’s house. I really need to learn his name. I knock on his door and step back, being polite, and wait. The door opens long moments later.
“Hi,” I say. He staggers back, as if it’s a surprise to see me. What if it is? I’m the most predictable one in the family. He lifts up his hand and does a little wave. I gesture inside and he moves out of the way. I walk in. “I brought back your blanket. Where can I set it?” He gestures to the couch and goes into his quaint kitchen to make tea, I suppose. I set down the blanket neatly. “Makin’ tea?” I ask. He nods. While he’s busy at work, making the tea, I admire his small, wooden cottage. It’s cute. Quaint. Small. My type of place. Although, it’s nothing like where I live. “How long have you lived here?” I ask curiously.
“About-“ I whirl around and face him in surprise, my hair flinging to one shoulder. I see him clamp his lips shut.
“No, it’s okay. Keep talking. Finish your thoughts,” I say eagerly.
He quickly grabs a notepad and pen and starts scribbling something down. He slides the pad to me. I can’t. Also using the notepad and pen, I write: What’s your name? Tell me, please. I keep calling you Dude. And, tell me with your voice. I slide the notepad back over to him and I see his dark blue eyes scan the page. He hesitates.
“Trust me,” I say simply.
“Mark Collins,” he says. I smile from ear to ear.
“Thank you, thank you, and thank you!” I yell. I calm myself down. “Mark.” I smile for knowing his name. “I want to let you know that you can talk to me. You can trust me.”
“You keep saying that but how do I know I can trust you? All I know is your name,” he says. I understand. I think I know more about him than he does about me and he’s forbidden to talk.
“Wanna know more about me?” He nods. “Fine. My full name is Kennedy Mariah Holbrook. But people call me Kenny. I love the woods. I have an older sister; Kate. And I’m seventeen years old. You turn,” I say.
“I think you’re leaving out the most important detail of all,” Mark says. I wince.
“Alright! I live in a mansion!” I say jokingly.
“What about that guy saying ‘royal business’?” he asks.
“Ohh! That was Zavier. He likes to say that. He thinks it makes the family sound cool. But, he’s technically lying since my father and I aren’t blood related. My dad adopted me when I was little. He told me that on my sixteenth birthday.”
It was horrible. I had walked downstairs and while we ate French toast—my choice—he blurted it out and continued eating. Kate was surprised also. We had thought we were related. Well, obviously we didn’t—and still don’t—look alike, but we have the same face structure. But I’d always known I was different with my blond hair and blue eyes; when everyone else had brown hair and any other color eyes except blue.
“Now it’s your turn,” I say, pushing my thoughts to the back of my mind.
Mark sighs. “Okay, fine. My full name is Mark Eugene Collins. I love tea.” He gestures to his cup. “I’m an only child. And I’m eighteen years old. There. Done,” he finishes. I smile.
“Okay. Back to the point: Can you trust me?” I ask. Mark smiles.
“Yes. I guess. I have to get to know you more. Hangout with you. See what you’re like,” he announces.
I nod understandingly. “Alright, then. Come one. Come and hangout with me.” I grab Mark’s arm and pull him out the front door. I pull him into thickness of the trees and begin to climb the highest one.
“What in the world are you doing?” he asks, looking up as I climb.
I laugh. “Climbing a tree. C’mon,” I encourage. He begins to climb and soon he’s on my tail. I know he’s taller than me, but, man, can he climb fast.
“Now, tell me exactly why we’re climbing a tree,” he huffs.
“It’s a thing I like to do. It can come in handy when you’re being chased by a search party. So are random guys in the woods.”
Mark laughs and I do too. We finally reach the top and I stand up on one branch, hugging the trunk. I look up and let the sun beam on my face. Mark reaches the top seconds later and he does the same.
“Hey. Will you tell me what you were doing when you were running from that group?” he asks curiously.
“Sure. It’s simple. I was running away because I found something. I was trying to get somewhere,” I partially lie. Then I instantly feel guilt because how will he be able to trust me if I lie to him?
“No. It’s not simple. I know there’s more to it, Kennedy,” he implies.
I sigh. “You’re right, okay? Now, you have to promise that you won’t tell anybody about what I’m about to say. Oh! Sorry,” I say, sneaking a glance at Mark enjoying the sun; his blond hair as bright as ever.
“It’s alright. I don’t mind. So, what was the reason?” He looks at me and I sigh again.
“My mom. You see, I’m adopted. My adoptive mother died when I was young. Three years old. I don’t remember anything, obviously. Anyway, so, a few days before I ran, I was in the attic looking for some old shoes I could wear other than heels and flats. While I was searching through some boxes I found some letters, poems. They described a place in the center of the woods. All orange and brown and green. An orchard for fruit. Fenced. She described it as a special place. Children. Laughing. I had to find it and see it for myself,” I explain.
“Then let’s go. Tomorrow. Bring the letters and poems. It doesn’t even have to be tomorrow; just anytime you’re free. I‘ll be waiting.”
“Really?” I ask hopefully.
“Of course. Can’t you trust me?” he chuckles.
We both laugh and climb down. We say our good-byes and I head home, running. Happy and free.
Once I get home, Zavier is standing out front, cleaning his car.
“Hey, Kenny. Where’ve ya been?” he asks.
“There.” I point to the woods.
“Who were you with?” he asks.
“Why do you assume I was with someone?” I ask accusingly.
“You’re smiling that way you smile after you’ve been with someone, having a good time; specifically me,” he teases.
“Full of yourself much?” I tease back. Zavier laughs and we walk into the house.
I continue to smile.
“Kenny,” someone whispers.
I turn away from their voice.
“Kennedy,” they say more sternly.
“Huh?” I mumble, keeping my eyes shut tight.
“Get up. I need to show you something.”
They nudge my shoulder.
“Go away.” I reach behind me and try to see who it is. I grab a hand. It’s not Kate’s. It’s not Dad’s. I quickly open my eyes and see Zavier standing there. I sit up and swing my feet to the floor as he stands back. I rub my eyes. “What is it you need to show me?” I ask.
“Come on.” He grabs my hand and I grab my sweater as he pulls me out the door, through the house, and finally outside.
“No shoes, eh?” he says, looking down at my feet.
“Like you gave me enough time?” He does a half smile and pulls me into the field of tall grass that leads to the woods. To Mark. I draw my eyes away from the trees and see what Zavier is talking about. “So, what exactly are you having me look at?” I wonder.
“Look for this star.” He hands me a map. I look through the telescope that my family owns.
“Found it. Why-“ I start before he cuts me off.
“I named it. After you.” That makes me step back and look at him. “Here’s the official certificate. I know you love the sun and the stars so, obviously, I couldn’t name the sun after you officially so I chose a star instead.”
I grin. “Zavier?”
“Yes?” he says.
“You’re the best.” I race over and throw my arms around his neck and hug him. I pull back slightly. “So, why did you have to show me in the middle of the night?”
“Stars are easier to find in pitch-black,” he explains.
“And how did you get into the house?” I ask.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asks. I nod, confused. “Magic,” he whispers.
“Shut up!” I slap his arm playfully. “I’m serious. If you don’t tell me, I’m going to be seriously creeped out, Mr. Zavier Michael Zinnicker. Seriously creeped,” I tease.
“How do you think I got in?” he asks me. I shrug. “Your sister! She said, ‘Oh, Zavier. That’s so sweet! Kennedy will love it!’” he says, trying to mimic Kate’s voice.
I laugh. “Of course. Because that sounds exactly like something Kate would say,” I say to him sarcastically.
“Okay. You caught me. I may be paraphrasing a little,” he admits teasingly.
When I wake up the next morning, I take a nice long shower. I may be wasting water…But, hey, my dad doesn’t care.
Once I’m clean, I throw on jeans and a purple tank top, with my hand-me-downs. Outside it’s foggy but warm. I leave my hair down—no clips or anything—and grab a sweater before running out my bedroom door.
“Hey, Kennedy,” says Zavier as I pass by him going down the stairs.
I smile at him.
Oh, crap. Today is the day when his parents are coming. I smack my forehead with my palm.
“Hey,” I groan.
I bound down the stairs and plop down into a chair.
“Oh my God. Kenny, you are going to be in so much trouble,” says Kate.
I cautiously look around the room and don’t see Dad anywhere, so I pull on my sweatshirt and place the gray hood on my head.
The doorbell rings. And rings. And rings again. Constantly.
I stare at Kate in her pajamas. “I’ll get it. You go upstairs and get ready,” I say. I race to the door and open it up. I gasp.
I grab his sweatshirt sleeve and pull him inside.
“Ken—” he starts.
I place a finger to his mouth. I point upstairs and grab his hand. I, quietly, tug him up the stairs. I burst the door, almost pushing him in when I see Marylyn folding clothes and placing them on my bed. I push Mark back and he sits on the step of the staircase.
“Hello, Kennedy. Come to finally get dressed to meet your boyfriend’s parents?” she asks.
I stare at her hard. “Zavier? Marylyn, he’s not my boyfriend. Oh! I was supposed to tell you….Um, Kate needs help doing her hair. Could you please go and fix it?” I say.
“Oh, of course. I’ll be back in a moment to get you ready.” Marylyn starts to walk towards the door and I push Mark into a section of the wall where a bookshelf is supposed to be.
Marylyn walks the other way and I pull Mark into my room by his hood. I close my door behind me.
“Okay, seriously? What are you doing here?” I say, hands on hips.
“They’re after me.”
“Who’s after you? Mark, tell me,” I demand.
“The Rulers. They now that I talked to you.”
“Me, specifically?” I ask, worried.
“I think so. Why, is that a problem?” he asks, curiousness in his big brown eyes.
“Holy crap, crappity, crappy, crap!” I yell.
“Is everything alright—”
I whirl around at Marylyn’s voice.
“Oh, my. Kennedy, what’s going on here?” she asks.
“Uh….Well, you see….I….uh….You….” I can’t even start a sentence.
“Who is he Kennedy?” she demands sternly.
I’m too frozen to answer. Instead, Mark stands up and walks up to me and stares Mary in the eye.
“I’m—” he starts.
The doorbell rings downstairs.
“They’re here. Kenny, deal with him.”
With that, Marylyn walks out.
“Mark, I’m not going down there. Like Mary said, I need to deal with you," I say.
"Well, for now, you're kinda stuck with me."