"Ephraim..." She breathed as she struggled to her feet.Ephraim quickly turned his startled head. The candle lighted next to him helped Sadie to see his face. And his eyes. Those pure, beautiful eyes of ocean blue that Sadie longed to see again. They looked weary from lack of sleep, but elated and relieved.
"Ephraim, I..."Sadie began but could not finish, for Ephraim had swiftly made his way toward her and gently placed his hand on her lips. His hands were warm, but firm. Sadie's skin tingled at the interaction. He slowly reached into his pocket and pulled out a long damp rag, never taking his eyes off Sadie. He brought the cloth up to her brow. Sadie cringed when he made contact with her wound, but he then gave her a small reassuring smirk out of the corner of his lips. She returned it as he continued to clean her wound.
"So you're the one who found me?" She inquired.
"Have you been here the whole time?"
"I'm glad I found you. I wanted to apologize for ruining your picture the first time we met. I should have been more careful and kept my mouth shut. I had no right to come over and..."Ephraim's hand covered her lips once more. His smirk returned as well, but it was much bigger this time. Sadie couldn't help but smile back. Her eyes then left his smile and went to his. That was a mistake. Sadie couldn't look away. It also seemed he couldn't either. He immediately turned away and walked to the edge of the cliff. Sadie felt embarrassed. Ephraim raised his hand and motioned her to come over. She did as she was told and looked out over the cliff. They were at least two stories high, with nothing between them and the cave floor. Sadie felt like a hawk nested in a mountain. She could see everything. Felix was cleaning off a weapon and Dune was sitting near the fire pit, rubbing his hands together. She even saw that Bree had returned.
"Can you tell me about where you all come from? Bree seemed awfully touchy about the subject."Ephraim nodded his head and made his way over to a small corner of his hideout. He pulled out yet another huge pile of papers and searched through them until he found the three he was looking for and presented them to Sadie. She read each of the titles at the top of the pages.
"Are these the background stories of their lives?"Ephraim nodded. Sadie took a seat next to the candle to begin her reading. She started with Felix. He seemed to have a wonderful life, with a mother, father, and two younger sisters. They lived in a town that was thriving and productive, growing in size every year. Everyone knew each other and they all worked together. Felix and his sisters went to school, something Sadie always wanted to do. She could tell that Felix loved it. He someday wanted to be a doctor and be able to give back to his community. The town's physician even allowed him to observe some procedures.
One day, a terrible storm passed over the town. The tornado was fierce and violent. Felix, his sisters, and the other school children were gathered together in the cellar of the school house. Their teacher attempted to go on with the lesson, but it was no use. Children were screaming and crying, begging for their parents.
When the storm finally passed, the children emerged from the cellar and found themselves in a completely different world. Everything was gone. Every building, every tree, and even the school were nothing but piles of rock and debris. The clouds hung gray and sad over the area. It was gone, all gone. The children quickly split up and fled to where their homes used to be and began digging, searching for their families. The silence of shock soon turned into horrific cries of anguish.
Felix too found his house as a pile of rubble. He searched and searched, turning over rock after rock while his sisters watched from afar. With his hands cut, bruised and bloody, he flipped one final brick and found his mother's face gasping for air.
"Mom! Mom, hold on. I'm getting you out of here!" He cried.
"Felix..." She whispered.
"Just hold on a little longer. Please, Mom..."
"Keep them safe..." And with that, her final breath escaped her body.Felix let out a cry of agony. His tears fell from his hot cheeks and onto his mother's bloodied face. He turned to his sisters, who were kneeling in the dirt sobbing. Felix rose to his feet and let out one final scream of anger and kicked a stone, which stubbed his toe and caused his to cry out more. He then saw something that made his heart sink. Under the stone he kicked lay his mother's hand clutching his father's.
Sadie turned away, not being able to continue.
"How awful... they just...lost everything."
Ephraim lowered his eyes in remorse.
"What happened to his sisters?"Ephraim took his finger and dragged it across his neck, indicating that they were gone.
"How old were they?"Ephraim held up the numbers seven and two.
"So young," Sadie replied. " I don't know what I would do if Jill were taken from me."Sadie's eyes suddenly widened as she remembered her sister. It had been at least three days since she had run away from home. She couldn't imagine how her poor little sister was feeling, being all alone with Warren.
"I have to go back. Now!" She exclaimed.Ephraim gave her a look of confusion. She pushed him aside and headed back down the tunnel. She was almost out of sight before Ephraim grabbed her arm and tried to pull her back up.
"Let me go!" She cried. "I have to go back. Back to the house!"She shook herself out of his grip and shuffled her way out of the tunnel. Once she was out, she raced for the opening, of the cave.
"Sadie, where are you.... Sadie, stop!" She heard Bree cry.She didn't notice Felix and Dune running up behind her and before she knew it, she was back on the ground. They brought her to her feet and held her firmly. Even though Sadie was at least one foot taller than both of them, their grip was stronger than chains.
"Let me go!" She continued to scream.
"I've had just about enough of you!" Bree yelled. "Listen, the sun's almost down. Absolutely no one goes into the forest at night. That especially includes you."
"You have a sister?" Felix inquired.
"Yes, she's still at the house. I need to get her out of there before something terrible happens."
"Well, your sister's gonna have to wait until morning." Bree replied.And with that, he walked over to the cave opening and pulled a large vine hanging next to it, which brought a giant curtain of woven vines, sticks, and moss down to cover it up. Felix and Dune released their hold on Sadie and went about their business without saying a word. Sadie felt a strong hand rest on her shoulder. She turned to see Ephraim giving her a look of reassurance.
"You'll take me tomorrow, won't you?"He nodded affirmatively.
"Thank you."His little grin appeared again.