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  • Writer's pictureGina A. Jones

The Colors of Ash-Chapter Twenty-four





He hasn’t said a word since I tended to his hand. We are now in his car, a silver Aston Martin, heading up a coastal highway. I’m waiting for him to give me orders, but he seems to be lost in thought. I consider maybe he’s taking me back, and we are heading to the airport. But from what I remember, this isn’t the way.


I cautiously look at the side of his face as he peers out the window. His jaw is tight, and he appears to be focused on something only he can see. Music is playing, some light classical piano. It’s beautiful and relaxing. Maybe he needs this to de-stress.


I want to talk to him, ask if he’s okay. He’s been so different, ever since I used the safe word. He did say there was a limit as to how many times I could use it.


“Sir,” I caution.


He glances over at me, but his eyes are behind dark sunglasses, so I can’t see the color of his eyes to determine his mood. He turns his face back and focuses out the front window. “Call me Ash,” he says, and it sounds so subdued.


Am I still in safe word mode? “Is there a reason you want me to call you by your name?”


“Yes. Because I said so.” This time, there is firmness in his voice.


“Okay, sorry, Ash. I need to ask if you are alright. Something happened back there that I’m not sure of.”


“I’m fine. It’s not your place to question how I feel. That is my job, to know what you are feeling.”


“Well, that’s how I’m feeling. I need to know what is going on with you. I need to know that you are okay if I’m to trust you.”


Suddenly, he hits the brakes, and the car goes screeching to the side of the road. My hands brace the dashboard, and my seatbelt tightens, securing me in place. He slams the gear shift in park, rips off his sunglasses, and glares at me. It’s silent. I watch the ticking of his jaw and his nostrils flair with each heavy breath he takes.


“Don’t. Don’t twist the game. You. Will. Lose. You have no idea how I feel, nor will I ever let you in. My demons are mine, and mine alone. Trust me, little girl. You don’t want to play with them. What I do to you in my punishment room…is to control the demons.”


My heart is slamming out of my chest. My eyes are wide, looking into his cold, black ones. What has happened to him? What are his demons?


“I’m…sorry. I didn’t know…I wasn’t supposed to care about you.”


“And why would you? It’s not required.”


“No, it’s not,” I say quietly. “I just do.”


He’s still glaring at me; his eyes soften just a bit. He shakes his head in disbelief. “Don’t,” he says, placing on his sunglasses. He then puts the car in drive and pulls back onto the road. I remain quiet the rest of the drive, not knowing where we are going.


By the time we get to our destination, my stomach is in knots and I’m quivering all over. His moods are too much. I’m not sure I can handle it. I decide when we get back to call Sasha. Maybe she can give me some insight into his demons. Because I’m this close to breaking the contract.


He pulls into a parking lot of a building that reads Lincoln School for Girls. So, this must be where I will be completing my senior year. He puts the car in park and then stares straight ahead. “I’m…sorry. You can trust me. And…I have considered your feelings.” I’m waiting for more, more explanation of what is haunting him. But he doesn’t say it. “This is where you will be attending school. I thought you should introduce yourself to the staff.”


“Oh. Thank you, sir.”


“Here, you call me by my name or Mr. Sinclair.”


“Yes, Mr. Sinclair.”


He gets out of the car, and I follow his lead. We walk up to a brick building that looks to be Ivy League. I’m sure only smart students go here. I will have to step up my game. I wonder how much he is paying for me to attend.


He opens the door. The place is quiet, and most of the lights are off. And this could be because it’s Saturday. But then he comes to an office where I see some women behind desks.


“Good afternoon, ladies. This is the young lady I was telling you about. Miss Cinder McIntire. I wanted to introduce her and prepare her for what she is to expect come Monday morning.”


Monday? I know I signed the contract, but has he called my school at home?


“Hello, Miss McIntire. Welcome.”


“Ah, hello. It’s nice to meet all of you, too,” I say, trying not to look surprised.


“Miss McIntire, we have all your books ready for pick up, here is your schedule, which also has your locker number with the combination. She then pulls out an iPad that’s still in the box and hands it over. “It’s already been activated and logged into your school account.”


“Oh, well…thank you.”


“Thank you, Mrs. Brown,” Ash tells her. “I’m going to show Miss McIntire around, so she can feel a bit more comfortable for her first day.”


Who the hell is this man? He has morphed into this pleasant gentleman. So many colors to this man. Will I ever see this color…when we’re alone?


He places his hand on the small of my back, escorting me out of the office. “Let’s find your locker, and then show you around the place.” I like this Ash, this gentle sky blue, with white puffy clouds, color. There’s even a smile on his face and a gentleness in his voice…and the way he’s touching me. If only I could have this man all the time.


We find my locker, and I run through the combination. It clicks open, and I place my books inside. I decide to use this time to ask a question. “Is there an art room?”


“Art? You like to draw, don’t you?”


It’s a simple question. But to me, it feels like the heavens have opened up, showing interest in me. “Yes, I love to create. I love drawing things that only I can see in my mind. It’s a way to communicate when I don’t know how to explain how I feel.”


There’s that look again on his face. It’s soft and curious. I suddenly feel shy and look down at my shoes. But they’re hidden underneath the flowing skirt.


“Why are you looking away from me, Cinder,” he says softly. Not in his usual command. “Are you envisioning something you want to draw?”


“Maybe, sir,” I whisper.


“Please, call me Ash, and tell me what you are seeing in your mind.”


Do I tell him the colors I just saw him in? “It was nothing. Just…the sky…and how close and soft it looked, like you could touch it.” Like I wanted to touch him just minutes ago. He felt close and connected. Not hiding behind a wall of demons that possess him.


“The sky?”


“Yes, The sky.”


Several seconds go by, and then he takes me by the hand. “Come, let me take you to the art room.” I feel warm and safe in his hand. But the dim, dark halls remind me of his punishment room. He walks slowly, and casually like, and I wonder if there are other things on his mind besides showing me the art room.


We turn a corner, and I see a door with the words ART. He glances down at me, a tight smile on his lips. It’s one I have seen before. “Would you like to see inside?”


“Please,” I say.


“Go ahead. I told them we’d be visiting it.”


“Why?”


“Because I know you are an artist.”


He does?


I walk towards the door, giving the handle a turn. It opens the smell of creation greets me. Clay, charcoal, paints, paper, they’re all here. There’s an easel set with a canvas in front of the classroom, and a tray of colored chalk beside it.


“What’s this?” I ask, looking back at him.


“It’s for you. Draw me something. I want to see…what’s in your mind.”


***


The Colors of Ash © 2024 Gina A. Jones rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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angie jones
Jan 25
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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shannon Cheripka
Jan 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I wonder if cinder will draw ash now at this moment? His feelings are all over the place. Maybe cinder can hep him with his demons through art.

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Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
Jan 24
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