Chapter Two

People often reacted to being called "Princess" in one of two ways. One is to giggle, and wave hello back. Another is to kick him in his no-no spot and run like hell away from there. But Taegan found she couldn't bring herself to react in either of the two ways listed above, so instead, she stood there looking at him like an idiot.

Something about his face had struck her. Hard. It was something in the glint of his dark blue-green eyes, the high cheek bones, and the soft smile that remained on his lips as she remained speechless. All of it seemed…

Familiar. It seemed as if it was from somewhere in a dream that she couldn't think of, a memory she hadn't experienced. Something untouchably, unreachably close, as if the tips of her fingers were grazing it, but couldn't yet grasp it. It was that odd feeling of trying to remember someone you had never met before.

And then he spoke again. "Ah, so you don't remember me yet. I see. Well, I suppose we will have to fix that."

He then turned and gestured over his shoulder for her to follow. She frowned. Wait, what?

"Uh… excuse me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. Who did this guy think he was?

He then paused, turning back to look at her. He let out a sigh. Somehow, he knew she wasn't going to come easily. "Please, Taegan, don't make me do this the hard way," he warned her.

Her eyes widened the slightest bit. "But, but why would I go with you? Who are you? I don't even know you, and then you just waltz on up to me, expecting me to bend to your every whim?" she demanded, her voice growing louder with each word. Why had she felt like she was… expecting this?

His brow creased in mild irritation for a split second, but he recovered as quickly as he could. "Listen, I don't want to do this any more than you do. If I could leave you here, trust me I would. But I can't. There are some very important people who need our help. Your help."

She frowned, then shook her head. Suddenly, the sky above seemed to become filled with clouds, blocking out the sun. There was a low grumble of thunder, and in the distance, a crack of lightning rang through the air.

"I… I'm sorry, I think you're mistaken. You… You have the wrong girl. I'm sorry," she said limply, but even as the words formed on her lips, they withered and died.

He walked up to her slowly, his face a few inches from hers now. "No, Taegan Elizabeth Wynters, I am absolutely positive I have the right girl."

She swallowed, rather loudly. Usually, on most days, if a random, strange, rather attractive boy had walked up to her and told her to go somewhere with him, she would've screamed loudly and ran away. But today was not most days. Another crack of thunder came, but it was much closer this time. She jumped.

Something in this boy's eyes wasn't random or unfamiliar. In fact it was so familiar, she felt like screaming in frustration at not being able to understand why. Where had she seen him before?

She racked her brain for minutes on end trying to decipher his eyes. But apparently, it wasn't going to work like that.

He turned abruptly and began to walk away. "Follow, and you will get all the answers you need. Including what happened in your life before you were eight. You do want to know… don't you?"

She gaped. "How did you know…" she trailed off. His eyes seemed to glow in the dark of the afternoon, and they seemed to taunt her. We know something you don't.

It was tempting, she had to admit. But as she watched his retreating back, she saw her chance. She turned and was about to run home, when he stopped her once again.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you. They won't recognize you. They will shun you and push you away," he told her coldly, not a single note of sympathy in his voice.

Her eyes widened and she began to shake her head. "No. No, you're wrong. You're lying! Who are you?" she cried, loud enough for a few people inside to hear, but she didn't care at the moment.

He shrugged, his back still to her. "An old friend, I suppose you could say."

She frowned, turning and running the rest of the way home. She didn't stop, not to breath, not to look back, not for anything. She reached the front door, shoving it open and stepping inside.

"Hello?" her mother's voice called as it got closer from the kitchen, "Who's there?"

Her mother came around the corner, wearing exactly what she had been wearing before. But something about her mother's face was different; there were deep bags under her eyes, and wrinkles starting to form on her forehead and the corners of her eyes. She looked twenty years older than just seven hours ago.

"Mom? Mother, what's happened to you?" she asked, attempting to step towards her mother. But the woman frowned, taking a step backwards.

"What? I have no daughter. Who are you?" the woman asked, her brown eyes cold and narrowed.

"But… but mom, it's me, Taegan Elizabeth? You have to remember me. You… you dropped me off at school… this morning… Please, mother, tell me you remember."

The woman frowned in pity for a moment, but her expression quickly hardened. "I'm afraid you're mistaken child, now get out of my house before I call the police."

Taegan felt the tears threatening at the corners of her eyes. "But mother, it's me, it's Taegan, your only child! How can you not remember? Last year… you got me a cell phone for Christmas, see?" she said, pulling out her cell phone. "And Cooper, our German Shepherd? Where is he, Mother, where's the dog? And… and this necklace, Papa gave it to me for my birthday yesterday, 'cause he wouldn't be home for dinner tonight. Just call Daddy, mother, he'll recognize me, I swear!"

The woman frowned thoughtfully, looking confused for a second, and Taegan thought maybe, for a second, she had stirred something inside of her mother.

"Get out now, girl. I don't know who you are, and I'm not married, now get out. Get out!" the woman ordered, louder this time.

Taegan felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned to find Briar attempting to pull her outside. She broke away from him, grabbing her mother's hands. "Mother please, please remember me! Please, it's me, your daughter! Your daughter?" The tears were now streaming their way down her face.

By now, Briar had entered the house, and was now dragging Taegan out by her waist, while Taegan was crying hysterically.

"Mother! Mother, what did they do to you? What did he do?" she cried, struggling against Briar. She wasn't sane enough at the moment to realize it was a lost cause.

The woman's face was bewildered and slightly disgusted as she watched the girl be dragged from her foyer.

Briar continued, dragging her out of the house and into the front yard. Eventually, fed up with her struggling, he picked her up and slung her over his shoulder, fireman-style. When he put her down, she found herself in the middle of the woods.

She attempted to glare at him, but could only manage to crumple her face in pain. The tears continued to flood down her cheeks, and she pushed him away from where he had been standing in front of her.

He didn't move very far.

"What did you do?" she demanded, gasping in between her words, attempting to stop the tears. "What did you do to my family? Why doesn't she know me?"

He stood looking at her quietly for a moment. "They were never your family," he said soberly. His turquoise eyes were sad, but truthful and serious. There was almost an "I told you so" look about them. Or maybe it was more of a "You should've listened" look.

She felt her heart drop to her toes. It wasn't what he said that had caught her off guard; it was that this information didn't surprise her. She felt like she had known this for a while. "Then who is?" she asked. Her voice was thick and pathetic sounding. She hated it.

"Well, I would like to show you, but I don't think you would like to meet them," he informed her, scratching the back of his head, rather nervously.

She sniffled loudly, blinking the tears away. Where else could she go now? Her family didn't know her. Suddenly, an idea popped into her mind. She pulled out her cell phone, dialing quickly. It rang a few times before someone picked up the phone.

"Hello? Who is this?"

"Connor? Connor, it's me, Taegan! Where are you? My parents don't recognize me; I think something's gone wrong. There's this boy here who-"

"I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong Connor," he said shortly.

"What? Connor, no I don't. It's me, Taegan, your girlfriend?" she asked, somewhat desperately.

"No, I'm sorry, but you have the wrong number." And then he hung up.

"I do not have the wrong number!" she cried in despair into the phone, although she knew he couldn't hear her. She then sighed, letting the phone droop into her hand. She couldn't cry anymore; the tear were all gone.

"Taegan," Briar said softly, pulling her attention. She looked up at him. His face was serious and pleading. "Come with me."

She knew she should feel uncomfortable around this stranger, but nothing about him felt threatening at all. Where else could she turn anyway? If she went to the police saying her family didn't recognize her, what would they be able to do about it? She sighed, then nodded. "Where was it you were taking me?"

He seemed to relax, times one thousand, before letting a small smile inch onto his face. "That's more like it."

They had been walking in silence for the past half an hour, and Taegan felt like maybe she should be wondering where they were going. But how could she? She felt like she had just lost everything; and really, she had. Her parents, her home, her dog. She had nothing left to cling to, except this strange, cold boy. He had dark, spiky hair, and sharp, angular features. His body looked lean and muscular, and he walked with a silent, sullen air about him. In truth, she felt like maybe, she should be afraid of him. But she just couldn't find it in her to be. He seemed so… familiar. Something inside her told her he would never hurt her.

But the question finally made its way out of her mouth when she looked at where she actually was. They were now at the fishing docks, heading up a large, rather conspicuous cliff.

"Uh… why are we here?" she asked once they had reached the top. She was now as close as she possibly could get without falling off. The ocean seemed a couple hundred yards below her, crashing wildly against the rough surface of the cliff.

He scoffed from behind her. "Don't be stupid, Taegan. It's the only way to Atlantis."

Before she had time to ask, she felt a pair of hands shove at her back, and before she knew it, she was hurtling towards the surface of the ocean.