Chapter two – Getting sidetracked
‘Understood. I’ll file your request. It should be put through in a month or so…’
I locked eyes with the man sitting behind the desk. He was barely an adult and looked at me with a bored expression on his face.
‘A month?!’ I said. ‘I can’t wait that long! I have to get in there. Can’t you just give me the key to the file storage? It won’t take long, I promise!’
‘You wanna get me fired, lady?’ he replied, dropping the polite tone. ‘I can’t just give everybody access like that. There’s some sensitive files in there. It’ll take at least two months and I’ll need your name for the request.’
Oh, plumbob. My protests added another month to the queue. And how was I going to prove to this guy who I was?
‘Please,’ I tried again, ‘I really need to look at the missing sim files-‘
‘… Ka… Catherine… Adams. My name is Catherine Adams.’ Gotta come up with a name at some point anyway, I thought, so why not now? I just hope the real Catherine Adams isn’t some kind of famous celebrity.
It took the red-haired boy forever to grab a file from inside his desk, open it and write the name down.
‘Filed,’ he said eventually. ‘We’ll call you once your request is granted.’
‘Can I just come back in a month instead?’ I asked.
‘Fine, do what you want. Goodbye now.’
I reluctantly left the Town Hall. That didn’t really go as I imagined. One to two months was a very long time to wait, especially because I suspected my request would not be put through at all. Was there any way for me to speed up the process?
…probably not. The guy behind the desk just seemed to get lazier the more you tried to get him to do something. I needed to clear my head, and think of other options.
There was a large fountain at the park across the street, and it seemed perfect to cool down and think. I walked through the gates and felt a cool breeze against my face. This place wasn’t so bad.
I sat down on the edge of the fountain and took a deep breath. All right, time to think. This wasn’t the end of the world. At least I had a place to stay until my request was put through. Lara did say I was always welcome. It felt bad taking advantage of her like that, though. Maybe I could do something for her to pay for my stay there.
But back to finding out who I was. I could go back to where Lara found me, and search the place to see if there was anything she overlooked. Where did she say she found me again? At the back of a building?
I was so lost in thought that I didn’t hear the sound of hooves galloping- and coming closer rapidly.
‘AAAH! Stop, stop!’
There was a giant horse storming my way. I jumped out of fright and tried to get out of the way, but the fountain blocked my path. That thing was going to trample me, I was going to die…!
Or maybe not. At about five inches from my face, the beast stopped. I stood perfectly still while it looked at me for a second and then began to sniff my hair.
‘N-nice horsey… go back to your owner…’
‘You there! With the blonde hair!’ I suddenly heard from behind me. ‘Don’t let her escape!’
There was a tanned man with black hair standing near the gate, with a desperate expression on his face. He looked about the same age as me. The horse didn’t seem to be very happy to see him.
As soon as the guy was done shouting, he took off towards us like an arrow from a bow. In a matter of moments he was standing next to me.
‘Gotcha, you stubborn piece of fur,’ he said, while taking out a rope from his jacket with a click on the edge. He then grabbed the horse’s reigns and clicked the rope to it.
‘Thanks for the help. She took off while we were preparing to load her on a trailer. I’ve been trying to catch her all morning.’
He did look a bit sweaty, as if he’d run a marathon. His face was quite attractive, though.
‘No problem. I didn’t really do anything, anyway. What are you going to do with her?’
‘A friend of mine is participating in a race this weekend, but he can’t drive so I offered to take his horse to Riverview for him. It appears Becky doesn’t like me, though.’
At that moment, the horse named Becky decided it was time to break loose and pushed herself up with her front legs, yanking the rope from the guy’s hand.
‘Easy, Becky, easy…’
The beast turned around and took off. My new acquaintance immediately ran after it, yelling:
‘Get back here, you stupid piece of-‘
Her hooves bashed against his chest at full power, sending him flying –right towards me. He slammed into me and the next moment we were both pressed against the ground.
‘I am so sorry!’ he yelled. ‘I didn’t mean for that to happen!’
‘It’s fine! GET OFF!’
He sprang up, looking terribly guilty as I slowly picked myself up from the ground.
‘Are you all right? I didn’t hurt you, did I?’
‘I’m fine,’ I said. ‘You’re the one that got kicked by a horse.’
‘Yeah, I’ll admit that hurt, but the dent I my pride is bigger than the one in my chest,’ he responded. ‘My name’s Julian Marquet, by the way. Are you sure you’re fine?’
‘I’m Catherine… call me Cathy.’
‘Pleasure to meet you, Cathy,’ he smiled. And oh, dear, his smiling face was contagious.
‘Listen, I want to make this up to you. What do you say about letting me take you to dinner? I know a restaurant where they sell the greatest food!’
‘Maybe some other time,’ I smiled back. ‘I’ll take you up on that offer next time we meet, okay?’
‘Deal! I’ll remember you, miss Catherine.’
‘Yeah, yeah. Now go catch your horse.’
Julian frowned. He took a step towards Becky, who was still running around in triumph, but she was too fast for him.
‘How am I going to catch her like this?’ he thought aloud.
‘Just tempt her with something she likes,’ I said. Lara had allowed me to take a sandwich for lunch in the morning. I took the cabbage leaves from it and slowly walked towards Becky, waving the vegetable in front of her.
She took the bait.
‘That’s a good girl,’ I smiled, petting her forehead while Julian quickly grabbed hold of his rope again.
‘Tempt the horse with food,’ he said with a serious frown. ‘I gotta remember that one.’
‘Not calling it names will help, too,’ I said with a laugh. He ignored that last sentence and led the horse away, out of the gates.
‘Until next time, lady Catherine! Then we’ll go out to dinner!’