Fire and Ice Young Adult and New Adult Books

 

The Wolf Mirror

by Caroline Healy



"The Wolf Mirror by Caroline HealyChanging places doesn’t always help you see things differently.

Cassie Miller, a 21st century teenager and Lady Cassandra, a young heiress from 1714 mysteriously switch lives. Until they can solve the conundrum surrounding the Miller family, they are stuck in the wrong century. Cassie must navigate a society of etiquette, exclusion and intrigue while Cassandra has to learn to tough it out as an unchaperoned female in the year 2014.


 

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Fantasy
Time Slip
Historical

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Teens


Chapter One

~ Cassie ~

Cassie lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Smoking on school property was strictly forbidden.

Who cares!

A black Mercedes waited for her by the gates. News of Cassie’s suspension had travelled fast. She walked down the stone steps and across the green, her satchel swinging from her slim shoulders.

The Principal must have phoned Cassie's mother straight after the Incident.

She narrowed her eyes at the dark car. Justice Miller of the Queen’s Bench had sent a driver. Irritated, Cassie flicked the half-smoked cigarette onto the manicured lawn.

At Winchester Abbey Girls School, no student had ever been caught fighting. It was unheard of. The principal had spent a good twenty minutes lecturing both Cassie and Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers.

“My ladies should never lower themselves to that of brawling delinquents.” Mrs. Pritchford’s glasses slid down her nose as she gesticulated in annoyance. “You have a reputation to uphold for the junior girls. Your behaviour is inexcusable,” she sniffed. “Now, would one of you care to tell me what is going on?”

Cassie had remained tight lipped. To confess that they had been fighting over a boy, a flaker like Dwane Rubens, was not an option. It didn’t matter anyway. Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers was the Vice-Principal’s niece. Cassie was as good as done for as soon as she threw the first punch.

Frustrated, she yanked open the door of the car and slid into the back seat. She buckled her seat belt and turned to stare out the tinted window, ignoring the driver. They changed all the time anyway, so what was the point in making conversation?

The trip across London passed in silence. Cassie daydreamed about having a full-time job, her own car, independence. All she wanted was to finish her exams. Then she would be free. Maybe she would go to France, visit her Dad. That would really piss her mother off.

The car turned a corner and pulled into a tailback of lunchtime traffic. The chauffeur muttered something under his breath.

“A few minutes more Miss,” he said, trying to catch her eye in the rearview mirror.

Cassie grunted, resenting every second spent in the confines of the Mercedes’s plush leather upholstery. A chauffeur was the sole perk of Judge Miller’s job that she allowed her children to partake of.

A normal upbringing is important, that was her mother’s philosophy.

Bullshit!

How can you have a normal upbringing when your father lives in another country and your mother is a workaholic?

“I’m in the middle of a case, Cassie, I can’t take holidays now.” That was the excuse, every time.

Sixty hour working week, constant meetings, never-ending phone calls with clients, a nasty habit of forgetting important details, like the birth dates of her own children; Justice Miller was a perfect role model.

The whole thing made Cassie shake with anger.

No wonder her father had married a French tart. She felt the prickle of tears to the back of her eyeballs but she ignored it. She hadn’t cried in over two years.

Cassie picked at the black varnish on her nails, trying not to think, concentrating instead on the sharp pain to her lower back.

The car wound its way along the embankment, parallel to the brown waters of the Thames, before taking a turn to the left.

The driver pulled the car smoothly to a stop in front of the Royal Court of Justice.

“Here we are, Miss.”

Cassie glanced up at the building before unfolding herself from the confines of the car. “Have a lovely day, Miss Miller.” The chauffeur called after her, his voice eager.

Newbie, thought Cassie, as she banged the door closed. She didn’t bother to say thanks.

Tugging her blazer into place, she hitched the strap of the satchel over her shoulder. It was too hot for this crap. The collar and tie around her neck were strangling her.

“Screw this,” she said out loud as she stomped up the limestone steps to the main entrance.

The building was old and built of squared, grey stone. To the casual observer, it could be mistaken for a church, complete with turrets, spires and a rose window. The only hint as to its real purpose was the milling of people in and out of the bowels of the building.

Cassie hated coming to ‘The Office’. She stood out like a sore thumb in her bottle green uniform and formal grey blazer. The security guard eyed her lazily as she crossed the marble tiled foyer towards the lift.

She pushed the button and waited, her foot tap-tapping with impatience. Eventually the doors opened. In the privacy of the lift she adjusted her skirt, rolling the material up at the waistband. She opened the top button on her shirt and pulled her tie askew. If she was going to get in trouble she may as well make the most of it.

As the elevator ascended to its final destination, Cassie brushed her long mahogany hair away from her shoulders. She fingered the piercings at the top of her ear, a habit she unknowingly performed. The base of her back burned fiery red so she shifted the satchel to her other shoulder, trying to ignore the discomfort.

Keith Dobson, her mother’s aid, was standing at the reception desk talking quietly to a receptionist. Dobson glanced up when the lift doors opened.

“Cassie,” he said warmly, as he moved forward to greet her, his hands outstretched. “Oh my! Your mother mentioned something about your hair, but she didn’t say it was so,” he paused, “bright!”

Cassie smiled at him. The ends of her long hair had been dyed pink these last two months. Her follicle antics had lost their ability to irritate her mother so Cassie was considering a trip to the hairdressers for an undercut.

“Hi Dobson. How are you?” She unceremoniously dropped her satchel to the floor.

“I’m fine, thank you, Cassie. How are you, more to the point?” Somehow, he managed to waggle his eyebrows, a trick Cassie had tried many times but failed to master.

“I’m great. I’ve just been suspended from school and summoned to my mother’s place of work. I’m just perfectly peachy.” Cassie’s shoulders slumped.

The door at the other end of the reception area opened and a meek looking secretary exited, scurrying down the hallway, past the reception desk. She glanced over her shoulder, her gaze lingering on Cassie for a moment.

Cassie felt a stab of pity for the secretary. Justice Miller was a hard lady to work for. She turned her attention back to Dobson, “What should I hope for? Sunny temperament? Happy disposition?”

Dobson lifted his shoulders in a slow, lazy gesture. “Your guess is as good as mine, sugar plum. But when the phone call came through this morning,” he leaned in, so only Cassie could hear him, “I think I heard her use a bad word.”

Cassie fumbled the retrieval of her satchel from the floor. She swallowed loudly; her mother must be mad, really mad.

Straightening up, Cassie spied the receptionist looking at her, a fleeting look of distaste crossing her otherwise marble features. It was enough to rally Cassie’s fighting spirit. She gave a quick toss of her head, the motion causing her pink-tipped hair to flick back over her shoulders. She walked briskly down the hallway, her heart rate accelerating. Best get this over with, she thought, as she pushed open the heavy door. Cassie didn’t bother to knock.

Justice Eve Miller sat in a burgundy, leather-backed chair, behind an impressive mahogany desk. Along the walls were a number of bookshelves, crammed with files and folders of various shapes and sizes. A tall, green lamp stood in the corner of the room, next to a large sash window. Cassie could make out the grey limestone facade of an office block across the courtyard.

The rest of her mother’s office was relatively ordinary, a sparsely populated coat rack stood sentinel at the door. There was a seat, positioned just in front of the desk. Cassie made her way to it and sat down heavily, dropping her satchel at her feet as she stretched out her legs in front of her. She hated this chair, it was low and creaky and to keep her mother’s gaze she had to strain her neck upwards. Cassie concluded that her mother liked it that way, towering over her underlings.

Justice Miller was scribbling on a notepad, seemingly unaware of Cassie’s presence. Eve Miller was good looking, Cassie supposed, for a woman her age. She was forty-five years old, sharp grey eyes, an auburn bob to just below her jaw line. Cassie stared at her, willing her to speak. The sound of the pen scratching over pale cream paper filled the space around them.

Chipping week-old polish from her finger nails, Cassie began to tap her right foot, conveying her impatience, hoping it would annoy her mother.

“Are you deliberately trying to irritate me, Cassie?” Sometimes Judge Miller had a freaky habit of reading Cassie’s mind.

“No.”

Her mother stopped what she was doing, put the lid on her fountain pen and laid it gracefully on the sheet of paper in front of her. She looked up at Cassie, her steely eyes cold and still as water.

Oh no, thought Cassie, she is really mad. “Mum, I...”

“Forget it Cassie, I don’t want to hear it.” Her mother held up her hand, magically cutting off Cassie’s ability to speak. “The principal phoned me this morning in the middle of a chamber session telling me that it was urgent. I thought there had been some kind of an accident, only to find out that you had been caught fighting with another student.”

Cassie snorted. She wasn’t sure if her mother was put out by the fact that her daughter had been suspended or that her own chamber meeting had been interrupted. Either way, Cassie resigned herself to the fact that there was no point in trying to explain. Her mother would believe the principal, whose version of events had been tainted by Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers’ lies. She slumped back in the seat and gazed over her mother’s shoulder, out into the autumnal day.

“Do you have anything to say about your behaviour?” her mother asked.

“No.” Cassie continued to stare blankly out the window.

“Nothing to put forward in defence of your actions?”

Cassie bristled, hating the fact that her mother was using legal jargon on her. “It’s not like you would even listen to me anyway.” She picked at her hair, examining it for split ends.

“So much for justice being blind,” Cassie continued petulantly, “It looks like you have made up your mind, so there is no point giving my side of the story. You’re as bad as that lot at Winchester.” Cassie looked at her mother, challenging her to disagree.

“The facts are pretty conclusive, Cassie. You were caught by your biology teacher in the hallway of your school...scrapping!”

Cassie said nothing, just shrugged her shoulders.

“Do you know how this will look on your record? Do you know how much that school costs me? How many strings I had to pull to get you in there after your last episode?”

Cassie bit back a smile. She found it amusing when her mother referred to her expulsion from the Greystone Girls Grammar as an episode. Shortly after the divorce, things had gotten a bit messy.

Biology class, her one-time favorite subject; she had been etching graffiti on her desk with a black pen when her lab partner dared her to mix the chemicals in the test beakers. On a whim Cassie had added salt to see what would happen. The fire had been an accident. She hadn’t meant the solution to ignite. No one believed her when she tried to explain.

Judge Miller was glaring at her across the desk, her face stony.

Cassie nodded her head, if only to move things along and get the lecture over with.

“Your actions reflect badly not only on yourself but on others too. Did you ever consider that?”

Subtext, Cassie wanted to add, my actions will reflect badly on your standing as a representative of the law.

Experience told her to keep her mouth shut. This would be over sooner if she just kept quiet.

“Do you have anything to say?” asked her mother.

“No.” Cassie just wanted to go home. This whole day had been a disaster from start to finish.

Her mother threw her hands up and sat back in her chair, sighing heavily. “Fine then.”

Cassie waited. Fine then what? She had expected the usual sentence. No phone for a week, no internet, no going out, having to babysit her brother. But her mother hadn’t mentioned any of these things. A finger of dread brushed along Cassie’s spine. The silence was making her twitchy. What was her mother playing at? If Cassie was to get out of here she was going to have to capitulate.

“Fine what?” she asked sullenly.

“You leave me no choice. We are going to Ludlow Park.”

Cassie almost jumped out of the chair, “NO! Mum, come on. I hate it there. It’s ages away. There is nothing to do, no WIFI, no way of contacting my friends…” Cassie was panicking, gibbering on like an idiot. She stopped listing off the disadvantages of going to Ludlow Park, aware that these were the exact conditions, in her mother’s mind, to constitute an appropriate punishment.

“We leave first thing in the morning. Until then, you are duly grounded. Your phone will be confiscated, no internet, no television.”

Cassie started to complain, to fight her corner but her mother held up her hand, the action bringing instant silence. “You will go home, pack your things and make dinner. Your brother will be in from school shortly, and I have given Mrs. Jenkins the afternoon off. I will be home from work early. I want you to take this time to think on your actions. When we get back from Ludlow you will go into school and apologize to your principal, your teacher and that poor girl who you attacked.”

Cassie’s teeth clamped together. She felt the burning of dry tears behind her eyes. She could practically taste her anger. She was duly dismissed, as Judge Miller had returned her attention to the paper work on the table in front of her.

“Oh, and Cassie,” her mother said as she looked up, “Leave your mobile with Dobson.”

Cassie wasn’t able to say anything. She knew if she opened her mouth she would probably start to scream. She turned with as much composure as she could muster and walked steadily from the room, her fists clenched by her sides.

Dobson was waiting at the reception area. He held his hand in her direction and wrinkled his nose in distaste. “Sorry Cassie honey. Boss’s orders. I’m going to have to take your phone.”

Cassie felt a sudden kind of pressure, like a golf ball stuck in her throat. It pushed against her esophagus and larynx making it both hard to breath and hard to speak at the same time. A flash of Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers’ face after Cassie punched her came into her mind and for a moment she thought the whole thing had been worth it. She slipped her phone from the front pocket of her blazer. “Dobson,” she asked, her voice raspy, “one text. Just one?”

He glanced at the solid door to her mother’s office and hesitated.

Time to drive it home, thought Cassie. “Please,” she begged, looking as dejected as possible.

“One text,” he conceded. “Quick now. You have five seconds.”

Cassie fumbled with the key lock, her fingers feeling large and clumsy in her haste. She scrolled through the menu, frantic in her hurry. Who should she text? Dwane wasn’t exactly top of her list at the moment and Tallulah was probably still fuming after the bust up in the hallway. Cassie bit her lip, knowing she did not have the luxury of time to overanalyse. She typed the words quickly, her thumbs flying across the buttons.

Being sent 2 Ludlow—Hell :( Will try 2 contact u soon. Cx

She pressed send and waited for the delivery before dragging the key lock button and slowly, ever so slowly, handing her phone to Dobson. “Thanks D.”

“No problem, C. Now I have been given instructions to get you home and to do a pit stop at the shops. You are on galley duty this evening, cooking for your brother. What’s your poison?”

Cassie shrugged. She may have to cook for the little rug rat but it didn’t mean that it would have to be nice. “Macaroni and cheese.”

Dobson looked disgusted. “If you say so sweet pea, rather him than me. I’ll have a car brought around. Say hi to Jonah.”

Cassie moved slowly through the reception area towards the lift, her shoulders sagging under the weight of her punishment.

Dobson followed her and pushed the button. “Hey, don’t worry.” He tried to sound cheery. “It might not be that bad. It’s always nice to go on a holiday.”

Cassie nodded and smiled a tight smile as the doors of the lift opened. She stepped in and waved half-heartedly. A holiday was not how she would describe her punishment. Dobson had obviously never been to Ludlow Park, never had to spend time in the depths of a communication black spot and more importantly, he had never met Mrs. Rivers.