Ted Duval was Sophie's next to oldest brother. He had always been the one itching to leave home, The restless one. He came home at Christmas and Thanksgiving but that was about it. After high school he attended college somewhere up north, then following that he took a job in advertising in Delaware.
Sophie hadn't seen him since last Christmas. Even then he wasn't truly there. It seemed that he had some urgent phone every five minutes. And when Sophie and her brothers were leaving to go get ice cream Christmas night like they always did, he declined, saying "sorry, I need to hit the hay, I have to get up early to head back".
After she saw him at The Morning Roast he joined her, Carson, and Meredith, and they all chatted for a while. Sophie could tell he was different. The biggest difference was his appearence. She was very much startled by her usually clean-shaven brother's image. His hair had grown longer and he looked like he hadn't shaven in a few days.
The other change in him was almost as evident. It was the fact that he hadn't checked his phone, talked about work, or informed them of the influence advertising had on America, since he got there. It was as if he was a completely new person. If she didn't know better she would have sworn it wasn't him.
Once the conversation had lulled and the last sip of coffee vanished they all went their separate ways, except for Sophie who went home with Ted. The whole way home all Sophie could think about was why was he here? She thought back to the coffee shop, playing it over and over in her head. "I missed y'all, I don't come home enough, and I want to change that" he explained. But why now, she thought. Her brother had never been the nostalgic type.
Soon they were home. When they walked in their mom popped out from the kitchen. When Carol saw her son her face lit up and she rushed to meet him. "Teddy! My boy!" she exclaimed, hugging him close. "Hi Ma! It's good to see you" he said. She released him, beaming. "Well, turn around let me look at you" she directed. He spun around extravagantly, with his best model expression. Sophie giggled lightly. "Aside from the hair and the beard you look just the same" Carol assured him. "Thanks he replied.
There was a pause in conversation between the two of them. "Hello?" Sophie chimed in. "Oh sorry, Sophie" Carol said. "I've just been waiting for Teddy's arrival since he called last Thursday". Sophie knitted her eyebrows together in confusion. "Last Thursday?" she repeated, eyes shifting from her mom to her brother. "Now wonder you looked so stunned to see me" Ted exclaimed, smacking his forehead. "I completely forgot! Teddy called last Thursday to tell us he was coming home, he told me to make sure I told you it clearly slipped my mind" she explained. "I would have called you myself, I've just been so busy tying up some loose ends in Delaware" he added. Sophie nodded, taking it all in, piecing everything together like a child strings beads on yarn.
"Hey is dad home?" he asked. "Uh yeah, he's upstairs" she told him. "Great!" he said, rushing to the bottom of the steps. "Dad! Come here" he screamed. "Someone's excited" Sophie observed. "Well there's something I want to share with y'all, I wish I could have Damon and Elliot here, so I could tell the whole family at once, but I'll take what I can get" he replied.
Mr.Duval came down the stairs finally. Once he was half way down he eyed his son and grinned brilliantly. He reached towards him pulling him tight. "Sit! I have something to tell you all" Teddy said, pulling away from his father. They all did as Teddy had instructed, no questions on their lips.
He took a steady, deep breath. "Well I'm sure y'all have been wondering why I'm back in town. And I guess I should just go ahead and put it out there. I'm starting my own advertising business" he told them, overflowing with excitement. "Here?" Sophie inquired. "Yep! Good old Windsor Falls" he answered. "Congratulations!" Carol practically shouted, clapping her hand together. "I'm proud of you son" Mr.Duval said. "Thanks mom and dad! Sophie, what do you think?" Teddy questioned.
Sophie wasn't quite sure what she thought. At first she was overwhelmed with joy to have her brother close to home, and she still was happy. She just couldn't figure out why he would want to come back now. And she knew it wasn't some mistake her mom forgetting to tell her he was coming home. Her mom was never this distracted.
"This is great!" she proclaimed. "Where are you planning on opening up?" Mr.Duval inquired, stroking his chin. "I found some office space for rent over on Bennett street" he informed them. "Oh those are nice" Carol encouraged. Teddy nodded. "I know! How could you afford the them?" Mr.Duval asked. "Oh well, I have some savings until things pick up" Teddy addressed. "Good for you" Mr.Duval said, a proud grin creeping across his face. "Why don't we all go out to dinner later in celebration of Teddy's new business?" Carol suggested. "I would love that Ma" Teddy replied.
Carol rose from the sofa eagerly. "I need to go call grandma and grandpa! I can't wait to tell them" she announced. "Pretty soon mom will have told all of Windsor Falls" Sophie remarked, watching her mother leave. Mr.Duval and Teddy chuckled at her quip. "Let her! It will be good for business" Teddy replied, winking. "I guess that's where you get your advertising skills" Mr.Duval mused. Ted grinned slightly, raising his eyebrows as if to say "maybe". I have to finish reading tomorrow's Sunday school lesson. You will be joining us, won't you?" Mr.Duval said to Ted. "Of course! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again" Ted answered. "Good" was all he uttered in response, and then he was gone. He certainly wasn't a man of many words. It always puzzled Sophie how a man who didn't seem to have much to say became a professor of theology. She chose to assume he simply never found anything as important as theology to even discuss the matter.
"So how do you feel about your big brother being under the same roof as you?" he teased, folding his arms confidently. "Hmmm, let me think about it, and I'll get back to you" she quipped. "In all seriousness I am glad to have you back. Maybe now we can do all those things we said we would do". "Sorry to disappoint you you but someone already invented a blanket with arms" he said dryly. Sophie rolled her amber lighted eyes. 'Yeah, it's a little too late for that idea, but that doesn't mean we can't try some of our other wacky plans" she reminded him. "You're right, why don't we try out one of those wacky plans tomorrow after church". "It's a plan".
Later that night around seven Sophie was in her room laying her clothes out for church. She picked up her remote and turned the t.v. on. A high of fifty-one they said. She sauntered over to her closet, and began to search for her apple green button up sweater. "The search for missing teenager, Olivia Webb is still on going" she heard the anchor woman frankly informed. She turned towards her t.v. to see a picture of Olivia. It looked like it had been taken some time during the summer. She was wearing a red polka-dot sundress, which made her almost black hair even more striking than usual. Sophie couldn't stand to see her image and hear their cold, detached, apathetic words. She abruptly flipped the channel.
Knock! Knock! She started to go answer the door but she heard some answer it before she was even out of her bedroom. "Hello Mrs.Duval! Is Sophie home?" she heard Ian greet her mother. "Yes, she's home. And please, call me Carol" Carol said, like she had told him hundreds of times. "Okay. Carol" Sophie could practically hear his boyish smirk as he spoke. "Sophie! Ian's here" her mom called up the stairs.
Sophie briskly cascaded the steps. She was delighted to see the spark in Ian's eyes as he saw her coming toward him. "Hi" she said when her feet hit the floor. "Hi. I was wondering if you would want to go get some ice cream" he explained. "I understand if it's too last minute" he quickly added. "No. I want to. Let me go get my coat" she said as she rushed back up the stairs. She came back down, buttoning her buttons as she went. "I won't be out long" she said, hugging her mom goodbye. Ian waved goodbye to her mom. Soon they were backing out of the drive-way. "I do plan on treating you to some ice cream, but first I need to take you somewhere".
Ian brought her to York Park, The same place where they had been looking for Olivia. Ian turned the engine off. They sat there in an awkward silence for a minute. "Would you mind telling me why we're here?" she asked. "I meant to tell you last night, but I got distracted" he told her, his face brimming with embarrassment. "Do you remember me telling you about the cult?" he questioned. "Yes. Does this have anything to do with what you didn't tell the police?" she inquired. "Yes" he said. "What I didn't tell the police was I think I might know who else was in the cult" he came clean. "How?" she exclaimed, her eyes bolting out of her head. "I found this in Liv's room. She hid it under her mattress" he said, unfolding a crumbled paper and handing it to her.
The paper had three large symbols on it, along with initials scattered around the page. "What is this?" she asked, not trying to conceal her bewilderment. "I think it's somewhat of a roster for the cult". "Well what do these symbols mean?". He took the paper back in his hands. "This one is the Celtic symbol for nine" he said, pointing to the symbol on the right. "This one is the Celtic symbol for youth" he pointed to the left one. "And this Celtic symbol represents immortality. I looked them up on the internet" he referred to the center one. "I think all these initials are the members of the cult" he further filled her in. "Do you have any idea who any of these people are?" she asked. "This one I'm sure is Olivia's" he replied. She glanced at the letter O.W. "I feel like I'm in some made for t.v. movie" she said, her gaze fixated on the paper. "You and me both" he added, taking a shallow breath. "What does this have to do with these woods?". "There's a map of the woods on the back" he answered, flipping the page over. "And you want to see what we might find where the trail leads" she assumed. "You read my mind"
They got out of the car. Ian got two flashlights from the backseat and handed one to Sophie. They ventured dauntlessly into the woods. Their flashlights shining like the light from a lighthouse guiding the boats home. In some respects it wasn't much different.
"So if we're here that means we need to go left" Ian instructed. They walked in that direction for a while until they heard a rustling sound. They halted, frozen. The sound came again. Sophie could feel her heart pounding. Ian took his phone out of his pocket, just in case nine-one-one was necessary. "Hello?" he called. Ian advanced a few steps. Then a strange expression came across his face, as if he had seen something. He ran. "Soph!" he yelled. She ran after him and was shocked with what she came face to face with. It was Olivia. She was just standing there, her gawky figure before them. Her usually long hair was cut short. Her dress had a tear at the hem and her sash was loose. It was purple.