This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
A moonlit night, a beautiful lake in a forest, the moon was full and yellow in beauty within the dark green forest. Then in the middle of the forest appeared a woman wearing all white- dress, shoes, but her back length hair was a blond white that glinted in the moonlight, even her dark blue eyes shone.
The woman continued to walk towards the lake, then she stopped asking, “Why am I alone?”
The next day back in United States in the sweltering weather, I was wearing a lime short sleeve shirt that matched my eye color, blue jean shorts that revealed my chocolate skin, white sneakers and socks. I had my coal shoulder length hair pulled in a ponytail. My name is Ann Johnson, and I am jogging to meet my police partner Ednus Blombard. Oh, my mistake Detective Ednus Blombard.
Ednus met me an officer while I was chasing after some hoodlum kids that stole my phone. He caught them, but later became my police partner for three years. The worst part is he is trying to make me fall in love with him because he says he is madly in love with me, which I don’t believe. I have my standards in men, so I am keeping them.
And it gets worst, thanks to Mr. Good-Looking Blombard, who is tall, muscular, blue-green eyes, shoulder length blond hair that is the same length as mine, a small blond beard, and pale skin, I’m not in love with him. But what is worse about it is he had sex with me without my permission, and under the circumstance I was drugged by force. But he did he have to do it? I don’t know what to think, but I let him off.
I should have never let him off the hook because now I have to deal with him pursuing me for two years, and if I say I love him, I will have to marry him, but if not he will disappear from my life permanently I hope.
All of a sudden, when I got to the park where I was supposed to meet Ednus, someone placed their hands over my eyes. They felt strong, so I jabbed them in the stomach, and I stomped on their foot. I turned around it was Ednus.
“What are you doing?”
He yelled, “DANG! You are strong when I’m not looking.”
“Ednus why did you do that?” I nudged my head to the left a bit.
“Well I wanted to surprise you.”
“For what? Weren’t we supposed to be discussing our next case?”
“Well there is time for that after lunch.” He brought me over to a beautiful picnic lunch set up on a metallic white table that had metallic chairs that went with the table. The table was in a private part of the park, so we sat down and started to eat.
After we ate for about an hour I got down to business, “So what is our latest case?”
“You just can’t wait can you?”
“Success waits for no one, now what is the case?”
“Alright, alright, alright. First off, the reason why Chief Collins and Captain Bobby Miller, your uncle is not telling you about this case is because it is not an official case.”
“Yes, this case is a direct case that is not filed to the department because it was requested from my friend, and he is paying us.”
“Did you get permission to do this case?”
“What permission? I have my own private practice.”
Great now he has a detective agency. What else should I know about this guy? “Unless my boss or uncle agrees, I’m not working with you.”
“Too late, I already have their permission too, but the final decision is up to you.”
“Alright, I’ll hear the case out. If I don’t like it, I’m out.”
“Great, where should I start?” he wondered as he looked into the sky then at me.
A little ticked I said, “How about you tell me who you friend is, and what he wants us to do?”
“Fair enough. Well my friend’s name is Doubal Rongulee.”
“You mean the famous Rongulee Oil Company?” I was shocked.
I knew there was more to this guy. He knows people, “So what is Mr. Rongulee’s request?”
“Well let’s start with his family, and that will show what his request is.”
“Alright,” I really didn’t get it but, “Okay.”
So he started explaining, “Doubal has four daughters.”
“Wow, congratulations to him and his wife.”
“Well actually all four daughters are competing for the inheritance of successor.”
“What why? Shouldn’t he have chosen the successor in his will? And shouldn’t he have written a will saying who inherits what?”
“Okay, okay. One question at a time. First about the will, he did make one stating all of his instructions of who receives what in the event of death, but he did not state who would be the successor.”
“Because he loves all of his daughters, so now that they know this the daughters have been competing with each other.”
“Okay, but what does this have to do with us and the case?” I was still confused.
“Well one of the daughters, the second actually brought home a man that she loves, and Doubal said truthfully he would make a great son-in-law, so now the other sisters….”
“Did the same thing and now there is trouble at the house.” I finished his sentence, “Let me guess the men are what this case is about.”
“Yes, the case is: we have to find out which of the four young men are using the daughters and/or are being honest with their feelings and dating them honestly.”
“What! That’s it? Mr. Rongulee could do that himself by interrogating the men.”
“It gets worse.”
“What?” How could it get any worse?
“We have to find out which of the men is using the daughters because things have started to go missing in the Rongulee house.”
“And let me guess, it started happening after all four men arrived?”
“You guessed it.”
“I don’t know if I should go. You can handle a thief case on your own.” I started to stand up.
But then he held my left hand and kissed the back of it. I blushed as I tried to take it back, but he still held my hand in his gently, “Did I also forget to tell you in a month, they will hold a birthday party for Doubal, and it will be a beautiful banquet.”
“I will not be bribed in going.” I snapped at him.
Then he surprisingly pulled me close and kissed me on the lips. It was another one of his deep French kisses which he wouldn’t stop. Once he stopped, “If you don’t agree to go, I will continue to kiss you like this.”
“So?” Then he kissed me again on the lips, and as he kissed me deeply, we got looks from people in the park that started to walk by. They started whispering.
He pulled back once more staring deeply into my eyes as I was breathless.
I took a big breath, “Alright, I’ll go. Just stop.”
Then he snapped his fingers, and Paulin his butler from Italy appeared. Paulin had peach cream skin, average, black short hair, purple eyes, and was as tall as Ednus. Paulin cleaned up the picnic.
“Paulin, what are you doing here in America? I thought you look after the estate in Italy?” I asked.
“Well another one of my jobs is to be caretaker to Master Ednus, so I am here to assist him in anything he needs. Plus, I locked up the estate grounds before I left, and the police are guarding them 24/7.” He answered sophisticatedly.
“Now shall we be off my girlfriend?”
“I’m not your girlfriend Ednus. I haven’t said…those words yet.” I became flustered at the mention of them.
“And what words are those?” He asked as Paulin drove us back to Ednus’ place.
“You know, and I’m not saying them and that’s final.”
He mumbled, “We’ll see.”
Once we returned to his place, I found that Ednus’ place was an apartment, okay so maybe he doesn’t know that many people. But I was wrong.
“Come on in.” he dialed in a code which opened up the doors, then Paulin who went in before us held the elevator open, and I went in with the both of them. Paulin pressed P, and we went to the top floor of the building.
“Wait don’t tell me?” I was shocked.
“Yup, I own the penthouse.” Ednus answered.
I knew it, this guy knows more than I thought. I have to be careful around Ednus.
Ednus’ penthouse was very casual but extravagant. It had a pretty furnished kitchen, living room, bedroom, a guest room, two bathrooms, and every room was gorgeous.
“So what are we doing here?” I asked as I sat on a couch in the living room.
“Oh, we’re here to pack and prepare.” Answered Ednus.
“If you guys are here to do that then why am I here?”
“Oh, because there are things we must tell you before we go.” Said Paulin as he got out their suitcases.
“Well can’t we talk on the plane?”
“No, since there will be other people around.” Ednus sat down next to me, “This needs to be a private conversation.”
“Which consists of?”
“This just got interesting.” I turned to him, folded my arms, “I’m listening.”
“When we get there, you have to be my girlfriend.”
“Why should I? We are not even dating.”
Then he smirked, “Okay, if you want everyone to ask you questions about who you are.”
“They might get the wrong impression about you.”
“Alright, I’ll do it. I will PRETEND to be your girlfriend, but JUST while we’re there, GOT IT?” I said sternly.
“Got it.” He kissed me on the lips quickly which surprised me, “But that doesn’t mean I will stop trying to make your heart mine.”
I jumped back, “I knew I couldn’t trust you. I’m out of here.” I got up, and slammed the door as I left.
“Did I go too overboard?” asked Ednus.
“I think you did Master Ednus. Just a bit much.”
“Do you think she will find out my truth when she gets there?”
“Let’s hope not, for her sake. Your truth is already complicated, sir.”
“And so is yours.”
Paulin smiled as he continued to pack for them both.
I breathed heavily after running to the elevator. Then I touched my lips with my left two forefingers. Why does that guy make my heart beat so badly when I touch him, or when he even kisses me? I guess it can happen to anyone if they are in love or have a crush. Luckily, I have neither thank goodness. I wiped my sweaty brow as I left the building.
The next day, I left my apartment to the airport, and there I met Ednus and Paulin. Once we got on the plane I found that we, or shall I say Ednus got the three of us first class seats. This guy is too much.
“Ednus are you sure we can be here?” I looked around.
“Of course, I paid for it.”
“Great, now I owe you for something else.”
“No, but you can say three little words to repay me.”
Ednus took my chin in his right hand and turned it towards him, but I replied, “No way.”
And I shook his hand off by pulling my face away, “Let’s focus on the mission, Ednus.”
“Sure, but I won’t give up.” He kissed me on the nose and pulled away.
Ooooooooo, this guy. I blushed again.
We took off and traveled for a few hours again, eight to be exact, and we landed in the state of Montana near Yellowstone National Park. I could tell because there were great forest and luscious scenery around, and we were somewhere near the edge of Montana. We all took a taxi and drove for two hours since we made a pit stop in the middle of the drive.
At the end of the drive, we arrived at this castle like mansion, which was surrounded by forest all around. The nearest town was a half hour away. The mansion was made of grey marble and wooden planks.
The taxi pulled up to the mansion, and we all got out. As Paulin and the taxi driver took our luggage, a man who had cut short brown-blond hair, green eyes, tall, average, tan skin, and he wore a black tailored uniform.
The man came towards us, “Welcome to the Rongulee estate Mr. Blombard, and Paulin it is nice to see you again too.”
Paulin came around the taxi, shook the man’s hand, “It is great to see you again too Archride.”
“And who might your guest be?” Archride asked.
“Oh, I’m Ann Johnson, Ednus’ police partner.” I shook Archride’s hand.
“Police partner?” he looked confused.
Ednus pulled by my hand and held me, “Oh, she is a secretary, that works part time for the local police, but she is my girlfriend.”
“Oh, it is nice to meet you.” Said Archride, who shook my hand again, “Please come this way, Master Rongulee is waiting for you.”
As we went in I whispered as Ednus continued to hold me, “What is going on?”
“Actually, no one but Doubal knows that I am a detective, so don’t reveal yourself just yet.” He whispered back.
“Too late for that.”
“Don’t worry to them you are just a secretary.”
“Let’s hope so.” I looked intensely at him.
We went inside to the living room to sit down. I sat down next to Ednus on the couch. Paulin stood behind Ednus. Archride told us, “Master Rongulee will be with you in a moment, and your luggage will be in your rooms.”
“Thank you Archride.” Said Ednus nodding.
“This is a beautiful place.” I said to him.
“I know. The location is breathtaking and relaxing since there are forest all around.” Ednus replied.
Then a man with white hair, a short beard, brown eyes, short and average, came in walking with a cane. He was elderly and assisted by Archride, who helped him into the chair across from the coffee table.
Ednus stood up, shook the man’s hand, “Doubal my old friend, it is good to see you again.”
“You too Ednus. My how you have changed since you were younger.”
“Yes, we both sure have changed. You’re wiser, and I am swifter.”
They both laughed. “And who might this young lady be?”
“Oh, Doubal this is my girlfriend, Ann Johnson.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you.” I bowed and then sat back down.
“It is nice to meet you too, Ann the officer.” He shook my hand.
Ednus looked at me a little pissed off, but I replied, “Sorry, I blew our cover.”
“Don’t worry Ann. I am not mad after all Doubal knows and so does Archride.”
“That’s what I forgot to tell you.”
“Please Miss Johnson, don’t be mad at Master Ednus.” Said Paulin pleading.
“Alright, I won’t be mad at the idiot.” I replied.
“Your girlfriend has a lovely way of communicating with you my friend.” Said Doubal winking.
“She is really not my girlfriend as you guessed.”
“I thought so.”
“But where is the rest of your family?”
“Luckily, they are all out right now.”
“Well can you tell us your story, and what is the problem?” I asked as I moved slightly towards Doubal to listen.
“Didn’t Ednus tell you?” asked Doubal.
“Yeah, he did sir, but I rather hear it again from the source.”
“You are a very logical woman.”
“Alright, I will start from the beginning. Actually this problem is my fault, but I love all of my daughters.”
We all started listening as he explained, “Ever since my wife died, everything has been depressing around here.”
“Mr. Rongulee, can you tell us how long you were married, and when your wife died?” I asked.
“ANN!” yelled Ednus getting slightly mad at my question.
“I’m just trying to get more information.”
“Doubal you don’t have to answer.” Said Ednus motioning mostly towards me.
“No, my friend it’s okay. It just proves your friend is an observant officer.”
“Thanks, and sorry for pressuring you.” I said.
“It’s no problem. My wife and I were married for twenty beautiful years, and then she died ten years ago. This year would have been our thirtieth wedding anniversary.”
“That is so beautiful.” I teared up, but wiped them away, “Have you ever gotten remarried?”
“No, it’s just me and my four daughters.”
“Speaking of your daughters Doubal, it’s just Stena, Kathleen, Cernena, and Zenya correct?” asked Ednus.
“Mr. Rongulee can you name them from oldest too youngest and their ages?” I asked.
“Oh, I can do that.” Answered Ednus.
“Well you didn’t before.”
“Do you want to be told or not?” he snapped.
“Zenya is twenty-five, Kathleen is twenty, Cernena is eighteen, and the youngest Stena is sixteen.”
“Thanks, Mr. Know-It-All.”
“You’re welcome. Is there anything else that you would like to know?”
“If there is, I will ask Mr. Rongulee.”
“You can just ask me.”
“Well since you are my partner, you should automatically tell me.” I got pissed.
“Now, now there is no need to argue.” Doubal tried to calm the both of us down, “I will answer any questions either one of you have.”
“Thank you.” I said appreciating the thought.
“I am guessing you want to know more about my family and the will.”
“Yes, why didn’t you place anyone as the successor of your business?”
“Because I love my daughters, and I don’t want them to argue over something like money.”
“Well that is understandable.”
“But then I made that mistake when Kathleen brought her boyfriend over to meet us.”
“What mistake?” I was still curious, even though I knew what was coming.
“I just commented that he was a great guy, and he would make a great son-in-law.”
Doubal looked down as he continued, “I guess my other daughters took it to heart because a week later they too had boyfriends.”
“I guess anyone would.” I said.
“But why? I was just complimenting the boy.”
“Because they felt like you were not complimenting them at all. They felt like they were being compared to their sister, and they felt left out. So they resolved the issue but in a bad way.”
“I see. Next time I will tell them what my true intentions are.”
“Exactly, that will solve the issue quickly. Now when did things start to go missing?”
“A week later,” he answered, “After the girls invited the guys to come over every now and then.”
“Yes, so that does sum it up to one of the male suitors is the culprit.” Said Ednus stroking his beard, “What time are the girls due back, and are they bringing any company with them?”
“Yes, they will be back before dinner.” Said Archride, “And you will also be able to meet all four of the young men according to the young ladies.”
“Well we better get ready Archride before they get back in two hours.” Said Mr. Rongulee.
“Right sir. Let me show you all to your rooms.” Archride said as he led the three of us, upstairs.
Doubal came right behind us, “I will join you all downstairs later.” Then he went into his room.
“Paulin you will be sleeping in this room.” Archride pointed to a room next to a beautiful white and blue vase. The room was on the right of the vase.
Paulin went into the room where his luggage was waiting. Then Archride opened the door of another room that was on the left of the vase, “And this is where you both will be sleeping.”
“Say what?” I asked, “Do you have any other room available?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“Because…...” Ednus placed his hand over my mouth to stop me.
“We’ll take it. She’s just nervous.”
I grumbled, “I am not.”
We both went into the room after Archride opened the door. It was a pretty room, it had lacy curtains that were white everything was made of wood, the bed, chair, desk, dressers. Even though the bedroom was small it was comfy. It even had a small bathroom that was attached to it, and the bathroom was also attached the room Paulin was staying in.
“Hi neighbor.” Said Ednus to Paulin as he opened the door to the bathroom.
“Very funny.” I told them.
Paulin closed the door after he said, “I’ll let you two be alone.”
“So will I.” said Archride as he headed out towards the downstairs, “If you need anything just call.”
“We will.” Answered Ednus as he closed our door.
I took my luggage and put it near one of the dressers, “So how long are we going to be here? Because I only packed for two weeks.”
“For however it takes to help Doubal.”
“That may take a while.”
“Of course that’s what I meant.”
I sat down in the chair that was with the desk and away from the bed, “Well I guess I will have to make due.”
I turned away from Ednus and started pulling out clothes to put in the dressers. Then he put his arms around me in an embrace as I stood up.
“What is it this time Ednus?”
“You really do look and smell pretty.”
“I thought I told you last time, I am not a piece of meat.” A thought just came to me, “And speaking of last time since this is what you are hinting at.”
“What is it?”
“When we had sex last time when you forced me, did you wear a condom?”
He stroked his beard again, “I don’t remember. Let me think.”
“I’ll kill you right now if you don’t remember right now!” I had his neck in a grip hold as I was enraged, “Did you or did you not?”
“Well.” He grumbled, “Yes, I did. Sorry for forgetting.”
I heaved a heavy sigh. That’s a relief.
“Would you let me go now?” I let him go after he said that.
“Good you live to see another day.” I joked.
“But that doesn’t mean I will stop.”
“Oh, great.” Now what does he want to do to me? “Well slow down tiger not now because we have two hours before the whole family will be home, and we have to meet and observe the girls’ gentlemen friends. So we have no time for fun.”
“Oh, there is always time for fun.”
“Want to bet?”
“You want to do another bet after the first two?”
I thought about it, grim thoughts came to mind, “No thanks. Never mind about that idea.”
“Good you would have lost anyway.”
“Now he is trying to intimidate me but, “It won’t work Ednus. I’m not doing anything. I’m smarter now thanks to you. So thank you.”
“You’re welcome and just note, we will have sex before this trip is done.”
“Yeah, we will see, and maybe we will have it many times over.”
As I opened the door to our room to leave, “You just lost brownie points on making me fall in love with you. Tootle loo.” I slammed the door as I went out.
“DAMN!!” Ednus yelled.
I chuckled as I started exploring. I looked around nearby first in the other rooms. Each room was decorated differently. One room was decorated in white and ice blue background with snowflakes. If I didn’t know any better, I could have sworn it was winter in there. I checked the second room, it was decorated in red and brown background with yellow, red, brown, and orange leaves. It looks like autumn in there. I closed the door to that room and went to the next. It had green, blue, and yellow background with trees and yellow daffodils. Wow that room is like a summer heatwave went off in it.
The last room I checked on this level had pink, ice blue and purple background with white daisies, red tulips, and light pink roses. It must be springtime in this room. I guess each daughter loves a season that their rooms are decorated like it. Then I went up to the third level. There were more rooms. Some more guest rooms, another room that looked like another study that was on the first level, but this one was a little dusty like it wasn’t used in a while or used very often. I looked around in the room while I dusted off the objects I touched.
I looked through books, papers and other files, but I didn’t find a thing on any of the guys Mr. Rongulee was asking about. I feel like it was hopeless. I sat down on a chair inside the room next to the desk, and then I pulled up a picture that was lying down on the desk. The picture had Mr. Rongulee in it since I recognized his brown grey hair and short brown grey beard. He looked a little younger in this picture. But there was also a middle aged woman in this picture that was the same age as Mr. Rongulee. He was holding the strawberry blond in an embrace, and the woman had green eyes. She was also carrying a lily and daisy bouquets.
This must be Mrs. Rongulee with Mr. Rongulee at their wedding. She looks so pretty in her wedding gown. I put the picture down, and I headed back to our room. Once inside again I saw Ednus half-naked. His sexy muscular chest and abs glistering from the water. I guess he took a shower.
“Hey the shower is free.”
I was right. I kept busy by brushing my hair.
“Aren’t you going to use it?”
“No, Ednus. Why should I?” The only reason I didn’t want to use it was to prevent another sexual encounter.
“Because everyone will be formally dressed.”
“Just to eat dinner? Do rich people do that every night for dinner?”
“No, but just for tonight since we all are greeting each other, it is a formality.”
“Awwww, come on Ann, please can you give it a try?” he begged.
“Sure, but you get out.” I spoke casually.
“Why? We’re sharing the room.”
“Because if you try to touch me while I am trying to get ready, I’ll hurt you. And majorly this time.” I said trying to make a point.
“I shouldn’t have to leave. It’s my room too.”
“Leave or else it’s going to get really violent in here.” I started to distance myself and put up my fist.
“Alright, alright, fine. I’ll go.”
“No, problem.” He took off the jean pants, and put on uniform black pants, a white uniform button up shirt, brown shoes, and then he left the room.
Good he’s gone. Now I can relax for a minute, and then get washed and dressed for dinner since he suggested it. So that is exactly what I did. For about five minutes I rested my body and mind on the bed. Then I went to take a shower.
In the shower, I was relaxing while washing, and I was even whistling to myself that I didn’t hear the room door open and close. After about ten minutes in the shower, I turned it off, and I heard the bathroom door CREAK.
“Ednus is that you?!” I shouted, “I thought I told you to get out, so no perverted stuff will happen between us.”
But there was no answer. I rapped the towel that was on the shower curtain around myself and tied it. I pulled back the curtain of the shower, and looked at the bathroom door, which was cracked open.
The person I saw looking in here was not Ednus, so I yelled, “EDNUS!! PAULIN!! HELP!!!!” The person ran away from the bathroom door, and I couldn’t see where they went. I was still wet from the shower as I left the bathroom when Ednus and Paulin bursted in our room.
“Ann, what’s wrong!?” asked Ednus huffing as he came in.
“There was a person looking at me while I was in the shower, and I thought it was you at first Ednus. But you didn’t answer.”
“Of course I didn’t because I was downstairs.”
“Then did you see the person when you got here?”
“No, they got away.” Ednus looked regrettable and upset, “Paulin, did you see anyone?”
“No, sir. I was in the next room putting away clothes.”
“That means the person escaped to the third level of the house and then made their escape.” I concluded.
“That’s right there are three levels to this house.” Said Ednus looking up and down the floor that we were on and then up at the celling. He stopped, “But what I want to know is why anyone would want to see Ann naked beside me.”
At that comment I smacked Ednus with my right hand which hit his left cheek, “I knew it. You are still a pervert. GET OUT!!!”
I threw Ednus out, and Paulin went along with him, “Don’t come back until I am dressed.”
“But…” pleaded Ednus.
“Wait a while!” I slammed the door. If someone wanted to spy on me, then that means someone is here in this house that is not supposed to be here, and that person might be the thief. We better be on our guard, then I got dressed in a beautiful purple floral dress I brought from home, and I also placed on brown shoes. I still wondered who peaked on me, and why as I left the room.
When I went downstairs, Ednus and Paulin saw my outfit.
“You look nice Miss Johnson. Doesn’t she Master Ednus?”
Ednus turned red, “Yeah, um yeah. She looks gorgeous.”
“Thank you both of you.”
Archride came into the foyer, “The young ladies are outside. They will be inside in a minute. Please wait in the living room with Mr. Rongulee.”
“No problem.” I said as we left into the living room.
Once in the living room, Ednus and I sat next to each other. Paulin sat on the left of Ednus, and Mr. Rongulee sat in a single sofa/chair across from us.
Then the girls came in one at a time. The first was a woman with long white blond back length hair, green eyes, tall, slim. She came in and hugged Mr. Rongulee while glaring at us.
I whispered to Ednus, “What did we do to her?”
“What’s wrong?” he whispered back.
“She is glaring at us?”
“Let’s hear her out first shall we Ann.”
“Sure.” But I still have my suspicions.
“Ednus, Paulin everyone this is my eldest daughter Zenya.”
Zenya turned to us and shook our hands, “It’s nice to meet you all.” In an icy tone. It gave me the shivers.
“Nice to meet you too.” I smiled trying to be perky.
Then a young man around Zenya’s age came in. He had short cut black hair, yellow brown eyes, peach skin, tall, average, “This is my boyfriend Carlye Pinturst.” She said as Carlye shook Mr. Rongulee’s hand and our hands as well.
“It’s nice to see Zenya’s father again, and to meet his friends. This should be a joyous gathering.” Said Carlye as he stood next to Zenya.
Then things got tense once the next daughter came in. She had short neck length curly brown red hair, forest green eyes, peach skin unlike Zenya’s pale white skin, and she was short and average. She too hugged Mr. Rongulee and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Then a young man with long shoulder length brown hair in a ponytail, brown eyes, tan skin, muscular, tall came in right behind her.
“Everyone this is my daughter Katleen and her boyfriend Bengal Winzor.”
“It is nice to meet you all.” They both said together as they both bowed then stood back up straight. We shook their hands as Ednus said, “It is nice to meet you as well.”
“Likewise.” I agreed.
Then a young, very young lady who looked like a teen that had pink cut short wavy hair, blue eyes, slim, peach skin, and short bursted in before we finished talking, “Hi pops.” She kissed Mr. Rongulee on the forehead.
Then a young man with bleach blond hair, light blue eyes, muscular, tan skin, and short as well came in right behind her, “Stena would you wait up.”
“Oh, Uliyss you are so slow.”
“Sorry for that.” He responded.
“Everyone this is my youngest daughter Stena and her boyfriend Uliyss Senard.”
“Nice to meet you.” Ednus and I said together as we stood up to shake their hands. But Stena did not put her either of her hands forward to us instead she looked at Ednus up and down, “So you’re the old time friend pops was talking about. Even though you look young, you don’t seem old from what pops says.”
“Stena that was very rude.” Said Mr. Rongulee, “Apologize now.”
“Sorry, and pops we’ll meet you in the dining room,” she said with no sympathy, “Come on Uliyss.”
“Coming wait up.” The both of them left into the dining room.
“I’m sorry about that my friend.”
“It’s alright Doubal, kids will be kids.”
Zenya mumbled, “She was very rude anyway the stupid child.”
“What was that Zenya?” asked Doubal since he heard her voice but not clearly.
“Nothing father.” She smoothed it over.
From what I observed so far, I don’t think the daughters like each other since they are keeping their distance from each other.
Then the last daughter approached and came in. She had shoulder length sun blond hair that was in two braids that were down the sides of her hair, light blue eyes, tall, average, with peach skin. There was also a young man that was holding her hand as they came in. He was handsome, muscular, tall, back length black hair in a ponytail, lime green eyes, and tan skin.
“Hello, father.” She said as she let go of the young man to give Mr. Rongulee a hug. The young man did the same, he hugged Mr. Rongulee.
“This is my daughter Cernena and her boyfriend Fremont Neveeil everyone.”
“Hello,” Ednus, Paulin, and I said together, “It’s nice to meet you.”
We all shook hands with Cernena and Fremont, and then Archride came in, “Dinner is ready.”
“Why don’t we all head to the dining room to continue this discussion.” Said Mr. Rongulee.
We all got up and headed straight there. At the dining room table, all the couples sat next to each other. At the head of the table Mr. Rongulee sat, Ednus sat to the right of him, and Zenya sat to the left of him. On the right side of the table, I sat next to Ednus, and on the right of me was Paulin. Katleen was next to Paulin, and Bengal next to her. Cernena was on Bengal’s right, and to the right of her was Fremont.
On the left of Zenya was Carlye, then after him was Stena, and next to her was Uliyss. The three remaining chairs at the left were empty, and the chair on the other side of the table was empty too. I think the left center chair was where their mother sat. I mainly think it is for the lady of the house.
I was broken out of my thoughts when Mr. Rongulee spoke, “My daughters this is Ednus Blombard, Paulin his butler, and Ann Johnson his girlfriend.”
“Nice to meet you.” We all formally greeted properly this time.
“They will be staying with us until after my birthday party.” He continued.
“But father isn’t that a month away?” said Zenya, “The guests should be coming a week in advance, not now.”
“I know my daughter, but I would like Ednus and Archride to make the preparations.” Mr. Rongulee said looking at his daughters, “No one interfere is that clear?”
“Yes father.” All the daughters said in unison.
“It’s no problem, I enjoy creating parties,” said Ednus, “It will be great to work with you Archride.”
“You as well Mr. Blombard.” Archride brought the dinner in the area as he spoke, “It will be a spectacular party.”
“Thank you Archride.” Said Mr. Rongulee.
“You’re welcome, sir.”
Dinner was macaroni and cheese, chicken basted in marina sauce, and mixed vegetable of lima beans, carrots, peas, corn and string beans. I ate my food normally but gracefully this time since Ednus asked me to get dressed for dinner.
But things were not as pretty as they seemed. Everything looked beautiful in this dining room, and the people as well. But no one was talking about their day at the dinner table, that alone told me that this family isn’t very close to each other.
I wanted to speak up, but Ednus stopped me. He nodded no, so I kept quiet and continued to eat. But once dinner was over everyone spoke.
“So father are you going to announce anything special at your party?” asked Zenya.
“Why Zenya, whatever do you mean?”
“She’s talking about the inheritance father,” said Stena getting angry, “And I also want to know too while we’re at it.”
“My daughters calm down. I will come to a decision soon.”
“Calm down, calm down, father it is none of their business what the inheritance is.” Said Katleen all riled up.
“Honey calm down.” Pleaded Bengal.
“I won’t calm down either. It’s like they are writing father off as dead when talking about the inheritance.” Katleen continued, “Father will be around for a long time even for our children.”
“Oh, good fortune for the girl that will have the inheritance.” Cernena piped in.
“THAT’S NOT TRUE!!!” yelled Katleen.
“SAYS YOU!!!” shouted Stena.
Then all four ladies got into an argument.
“Girls, girls please calm down we have guests.” Said Mr. Rongulee.
But the ladies would not stop, so I got irritated, and my right eyebrow twitched as I yelled, “ENOUGH!!!”
Everyone stopped talking and stared at me but I continued, “You all should stop arguing over some stupid object that is one day going to disappear, and instead be spending time with each other and your father. At least you have him around unlike some people.”
I was so irritated that I got up from the table and left without another word. I went up to our room, and as I went I heard nothing but silence as I slammed the door.
Downstairs Ednus spoke up, “My girlfriend Ann is right. You all should spend time with each other especially during this joyous occasion.”
“Thank you my friend. You have been a big help.” Mr. Rongulee shook Ednus’ hand, “Girls, I will tell you my decision on the inheritance after the party. Until then there will be no discussion about it. IS THAT CLEAR?!”
“Yes, father.” All the daughters said in unison.
Ednus came up to our room when dinner was over, he closed the door, “You really made a good first impression downstairs.”
“I was just irritated and annoyed.”
“I think it was more than that.” He sat down on the bed next to me, “Mind telling me about it?”
“About what? There’s nothing wrong.”
“Oh, I think there is.”
“Even if there is something wrong, it’s none of your business.” I turned away from him.
He got up and sat on the other side of me to face me, “Yes, it is my business. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t care, and that means I wouldn’t be a caring boyfriend for my girlfriend.”
“You mean fake girlfriend.”
“You are my girlfriend for now, so what is wrong?”
I stared down at the floor then up at the ceiling, I looked at him as I confessed, “It’s the way they were fighting. They should treasure the time they have together.”
“Why do you say that? Are you in some type of trouble with your family?”
“Well all I can tell you is that I am not near my immediate family right now. I have no problems with my aunt and uncle, and my sister, but there are problems.”
“With your immediate family?”
“Yes, and it’s not the ones that I have named.”
“What are the problems?”
“I can’t tell you. Don’t worry I can handle it.”
“Why can’t you tell me? I am your boyfriend.”
“You mean you are just for now in this situation.” I scooted away from him slightly.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you know I won’t give up.”
“That I know.” I said as he kissed me on the lips using a deep French kiss.
I pushed him away softly, “Not now Ednus. We should put our effort into locating the thief, who is stealing from Mr. Rongulee.”
“Yeah, I know, but since it is night time we should relax.”
“And how would you relax right now?”
“By having…uh…. having sex.”
“I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT!!” I yelled, “YOU ARE SO HORNY, YOU PERVERTED DOG!”
“But Ann…” he tried to touch me with his right hand.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!” I pulled away from him, “THAT’S IT, I AM GOING TO SLEEP IN PAULIN’S ROOM!!”
“But Ann don’t you think Doubal’s family will become suspicious of us if you and I are not in the same room during our stay? That will ruin the whole girlfriend lie.”
I thought about it then said, “You have a point. Alright I will sleep here on the bed alone, and we will have a pull out bed brought up here secretly that way we both can have a place to sleep.”
“But nothing that decision is final.”
Ednus pouted for a bit because of the decision that I made, but I remained firm and placed his suitcase near the couch that was also in the room, “I’m not changing my mind. If you want, you can sleep on the couch, so that no one finds out our little secret.”
“Come on Ann.”
“No, don’t touch me. I still don’t trust you yet.”
“You know why because you are horny in addition to being gentle.”
“See I am gentle.”
“But you still have that major flaw.”
“Which is?” he was feigning ignorance.
“YOU KNOW; YOU ARE HORNY YOU IDIOT!!!” I was so pissed off that I lost it on him, “I am going to take a long walk until you cool off.”
“But Ann that is not wise. It just became night, so it’s not safe.”
“Oh, are you saying that I shouldn’t go out? You don’t control me.”
“That’s not what I am saying,” he paused, “I am saying it’s too dangerous for a lady to be out at night alone.”
Now he is a gentleman. I wish he was that way when we met, maybe I would have a different opinion of him at this moment if that happened, “Well sorry detective this lady is tough. I’m an officer, and I can take care of myself.”
I opened the door, “Good bye Ednus.” I will be back.” Then I closed the door behind me, and I left. But I should have never done so. I should have heeded Ednus’ advice.
I walked down the staircase, then I headed through the hall to the kitchen. It was there that I left through the backdoor. I guess most old mansions like this one and the one in Italy have a backdoor that is attached to the kitchen. Go figure.
But the scenery I found outside was all woodland and breathtaking. I needed this small break from Ednus to figure this out. So I started walking through the woods trailing a way back to the house using a stick. That way I wouldn’t get lost. Luckily, I could see the trail since it was dry outside.
But little did Ann know, she was being followed. A person a black mask and black clothing followed behind her but kept quiet by staying in the bushes and behind the trees.
I kept walking until I found a beautiful lake that shone with the half-moon hitting it. It was a beautiful sight, the water swaying when the wind blows, and the trees with it. It made me so relaxed. I sat down, and I started thinking about Ednus again.
What is he really? Is he a pervert or a gentleman? And what is with his family? Even though I don’t know anything about them except that they adopted his best friend, Emily who he wanted to marry but he didn’t. I just couldn’t put all of this together. I was frustrated, so I decided to look up at the moon and relax.
But before I closed my eyes, I saw a person in black and a black mask behind me. I tried to run to the left, but they leaped on me and after they grabbed me with their legs. Then the person held my neck in a choke hold. I struggled and moved around. I even tried to throw them off of me, but to no avail, it didn’t work. As their grip became tighter, I started gasping for air. My vision started to go black. As I started to black out and stop moving, I heard a THUD! And I was able to breathe again.
Ednus too, who followed behind Ann after she left the room, also saw the person in black and the black mask. Once the person attacked Ann after he found them at the lake, Ednus looked around for anything heavy. Then he found a large stone. Ednus took the stone, and he slammed it on the person’s head, once he snuck up behind them. The person went THUD as they fell to the ground.
Ann fell to the ground as well, but she was still breathing. But as soon as Ednus approached Ann, another attacker came and carried the first one off.
Ednus thought, “Damn, should I go after them or help Ann?” And instead of chasing after the assailants, Ednus picked up Ann, and he carried Ann back to the mansion in his arms like a princess.
I woke up in the bedroom that Ednus and I were sharing to find Ednus was indeed sleeping on the couch. I guess a whole night has passed. Then I remembered being attacked at a lake near the mansion, but the attacker stopped. I wonder who saved me? Was it Ednus, Paulin, or one of the other people staying in this house? When I find out, I have to thank them. But other than that, I have to find out who attacked me and why?
Then Ednus woke up, “Hey, Ann how are you feeling?”
“Hey, I’m feeling okay. What happened, and how did I get back here?”
“I brought you back here after I saw someone following you. But the reason I started following you originally was because I started to get worried about you when you left.”
“So you basically followed me because you wanted to spy on me.”
“Yup, that’s about it.”
“Thank you for shadowing me anyway Ednus, and next time leave me alone when I say I want to be alone.” I was still mad at him for following me, but I am thankful that he did.
“You’re welcome, but how are you going to thank me?”
He wanted a thank you present, alright. I got up, went over to him, and shook his hands, “Thank you very much for saving me, Ednus.”
I stopped shaking his hands, went back over to the bed, and pulled the covers over myself.
“Yes.” I replied.
“Oh, no it’s not. I want more of a reward.”
“What? How about just the thought that you did a good thing for someone?”
“No, not if the someone is a person that I am in love with, like you.”
I blushed. I was lucky he couldn’t see me, “I’m not giving you anymore of a reward. That’s all you’re going to get, and if you touch me in that area, I will consider it as rape, and this time I will definitely get you arrested this time since there are no drugs involved.”
“Are you done?”
He stood up, and I saw him approach me since I could see his shadow, “You got me there, so I will wait.”
After that, he suddenly pulled the covers off of me which exposed me, and he suddenly at the same time gave me a French kiss on the lips. It was so shocking and passionate that I didn’t let go as he used his tongue to make it deeper. Then he let go of my lips first. As I was out of breath he said, “You did not say that I can’t kiss your lips. I will wait until you want to be with me as well, and I promise that we will have sex before this trip is over.” The he went back over to the couch to sleep.
That idiot, I was red all over after that deep kiss. Plus, I felt like something was wrong with me, not only did I feel hot, but my heart kept going: THUMP, THU, THUMP, THUMP, THU, THUMP. This has never happened to me before. I have kissed guys, but my heart didn’t feel this way at the time.
“Ednus, Ednus are you awake?” I called over to him softly.
There was no response. Lucky me, I ran to the bathroom, and I closed the door. Nothing was wrong with me, but I still felt hot, so I came out and went right back into bed. Maybe it will go away. But I wasn’t alone. Ednus, who snuck into the bed before leaned up near me. I could feel his heat against me.
“Didn’t I tell you not to touch me?”
“I’m not, see.” He rose his hands in the air, and he was right only his body heat touched me not his hands, or his feet, or anything else for that matter, “I’m going to sleep how about you?”
He turned away from me, laid back down and started to rest. As for me on the other hand I still felt hot. What is this feeling?
“Please leave the bed. Scratch that please just leave the room.” I pleaded hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“Why, you were fine with me sleeping on the couch a moment ago. What could be the problem?”
“Alright then I will bunk with Paulin for the mean time.” He got up to head to Paulin’s room through the attached bathroom, “But lock the room door so no one can come in, got it?”
“Good.” He reached the bathroom.
“Yes.” He turned around.
I wanted to ask him, but I shrugged it off, “It’s nothing.”
“Okay. Good night.”
“Night.” After I turned over in bed, he left.
Ednus entered into Paulin’s room, Paulin heard so he spoke, “Master Ednus what’s wrong?” He sat up as Ednus closed the bathroom door.
“I kissed Ann.”
“You did, so why are you here?”
Ednus laid on the couch, “Because I made Ann too hot through that kiss, and now she is trying to sort things out.”
Paulin got up, got another blanket from the closet handed it to Ednus, “Master, you need to help her.”
“Not yet. I will wait until she says yes since I cannot touch her.”
“Oh, Master you are being unreasonable.”
“You want to talk about unreasonable then tell that to her.” Ednus spread out the blanket, “I am in love with her, but she won’t accept it.”
“But now we know what she is running from. She is running from love.”
“But aren’t you running from something as well.”
“Not in the least bit.”
“Really is that true?”
“Now Master, you can lie to others, but you can’t lie to me.”
“Thanks Paulin, but let’s go over my background on another day.”
“The problem is Doubal’s family, and now Ann and I are mixed up in their problem.” Ednus at that moment told Paulin about the attack on Ann.
“Shouldn’t we get Miss Johnson to a hospital?”
“No, I checked. Her neck is fine, and so is the rest of her body.”
“And do not tell her I did that.”
“Checked her body. She might take it the wrong way.”
“Oh. Your secret is safe with me Master Ednus.”
“Thank you Paulin, I know you are loyal.”
“Thank you, Master Ednus.”
“You’re welcome, now let’s get some sleep.”
“Good night Master Ednus.”
“Good night, Paulin.”
They both turned over and went to sleep.
The next day, I woke up, and I felt much better. I wonder what that feeling I had last night was. It was a weird feeling, but never mind it’s all okay now. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, came from my door, “Miss Johnson, Mr. Blombard, are you up?” It was Archride.
I responded, “Yes.” Then I heard water coming from the bathroom, “Ednus is washing up now.”
“Okay, breakfast is almost ready.” Then Archride left.
After fifteen minutes, the bathroom door opened, and Ednus stepped out wearing a long towel, but revealed his sexy muscular body, “Hey the bathroom is all yours.”
I didn’t hear him, I just kept staring at his body, and then I became hot and red again.
“Hey Ann. The bathroom is all yours.” Ednus leaned over near me, and I snapped out of my trance.
“Uh, yeah what is it Ednus?”
“You didn’t hear me. I said the bathroom is all yours.”
“Oh, sure.” I got up, and I went right into the bathroom, “I’ll be right out before breakfast.”
I slammed the door quickly and sighed. It almost happened again. What was wrong with me? I never felt this way before. After this trip, I am going to see my doctor because enough is enough.
“GEEZE!!!” I shouted.
Ednus heard Ann shout, and the shower water start to run. He just smiled. “Everything is going according to the plan.” He thought.
As we were both headed downstairs to breakfast after washing and dressing, I noticed Ednus wearing a sleeveless white shirt with black long pants, sneakers, and white socks. I was wearing a purple dress with wavy short sleeves that had a pink, peach, and light blue floral pattern. I also wore brown shoes, and the dress went down slightly past my knees.
We came down to breakfast, and the tension was still in the air because no one spoke at the table. Everyone sat in the same spots that they were in during dinner last night. Paulin, who came to join us later greeted everyone and then sat down to breakfast as well.
I spoke up first after breakfast was over thirty minutes later, “I went exploring outside last night, and I found a beautiful lake in the back. It was really gorgeous and…”
Stena, who became irritated yelled, “YOU MUST NOT GO BACK THERE AGAIN!!”
“Stena that is very rude.” Said Mr. Rongulee, “Apologize at once.”
“I’m not apologizing. Father, why don’t you tell them about the rumor of that lake.”
“Oh, there is a rumor about the lake, please tell.” Said Ednus.
“Well my friend, I was going to tell you later if my daughter didn’t say anything. There is a rumor, but it’s more like a myth.” Said Mr. Rongulee.
“Oh mythology, I love ancient stories.” My eyes were glowing with interest.
“Well the myth is that there was a young lady who also lived near this lake, she was in love with a young man. They spent years together since childhood, but when the man turned eighteen, he was betrothed to another woman, actually the other woman was a woman who lived in this very mansion with her family at the time. Just like the boy’s family, the fiancée’s family was very rich, so they thought the marriage would make their families wealthier. But the boy would not hear of it because he was not in love with the woman of this mansion.
“So he was in love with his childhood friend, how romantic.” I said.
“Shhhhh, let Doubal finish the story.” Ednus told me.
“Yes, as you said Miss Johnson the young man was in love with his childhood friend, the woman that lived near the lake, or so everyone thought.”
“What do you mean?” I was confused.
“The young man always thought the young woman who lived near the lake was a princess, but it actually was a fantasy game the woman continued to play throughout their lives. The woman knew it wasn’t real, but the young man believed it. So the day came where he wanted to be introduced to the young woman’s family, and when he was, he was in shock. The young man took some time to understand that the woman wasn’t even a princess, she wasn’t even rich at all. But the most horrible part was what the young man said:
I never wanted to marry you because I was in love with you. I just wanted to become a prince, so I can leave my family behind. But thanks to you I have to go back and marry this stupid fiancée.
Then he left.”
“That’s horrible.” I said.
“It becomes worse. The young woman saw the young man and his fiancée that he was arranged to marry get married at the lake, and the young man was not too happy either. Later that night, the young man signed a marriage contract and a business deal with his wife’s family, and later on their honeymoon night, he killed his wife. The young woman saw him since she wanted to know if he was happy, but she did not find that. She found horror. Then the young man killed the young woman as well to silence all witnesses, and then threw her body in the lake.”
“So basically, he was only after money from these women. What a player.” I was disgusted.
“Ann shhhh let Doubal finish the story.”
“It’s okay my friend. It’s not much longer. Years later when the man was so-called happily married to another rich woman, the ghost of his childhood friend came back. The woman who was his wife at the time was scared away, but as for the young man she told him:
So you just use women, but you do not think someone should have your heart. Well I will have your heart forever.
The man told her:
You will never have me.
Those were the last words he spoke since she froze him in ice for having a cold heart. Since then people have seen sightings of a female ghost at the lake, and they ran away scared. So please be careful while you are at the lake.” Mr. Rongulee finished.
“Be careful,” said Stena, “They might get hurt.”
“We will be fine,” Ednus spoke to stop the impending argument, “We are a lot more capable than you think.”
“Well said my friend. Does that satisfy you Stena?”
“Yes, father.” She answered.
There might be a rumor that goes with this lake, but someone did attack me last night. After breakfast Ednus, Paulin, and I went back to our room- the one Ednus and I were in- to discuss last night’s events, and the turn of events so far.
“Okay so the family or shall I say the daughters don’t seem to get along with each other.” I started off.
“Yes, and there is this myth about a ghost woman scaring people at the lake that you found last night Miss Johnson.” Paulin spoke next.
“And the other thing that concerns me is the person who attacked you last night Ann.”
“Yeah, that concerns me too Ednus.”
“Plus they had a helper rescue them after I knocked them out.” Ednus added in.
“What?!” I was shocked, so there were two problems we had to deal with now- a thief and two attackers.
“So we have to find the thief that is hiding among the men in this house and an attacker Master Ednus.” Paulin said just what I thought.
“Exactly Paulin, and you Ann please either be with Paulin or myself for the rest of this trip.”
“What?! Why?! I can take care of myself.”
“Apparently not since an attacker could have killed you last night.”
“Ednus, you are going overboard.”
“No, I am not. You need to be protected by someone.”
“And you are acting like you are my father, and you are not.”
“I’m not trying to be your father.”
“Good then you understand since I am not a little girl, I can take care of myself. I don’t need your protection.”
Ednus was apple red and irritated, “LOOK YOU NEED SOMEONE BY YOUR SIDE JUST IN CASE THE ATTACKER COMES BACK!!! ALRIGHT!!!” He was furious.
“Oh, that helps. YELLING REALLY HELPS!!!” I shouted back.
“Okay, you two that is enough.” Said Paulin calmly, “Let’s take some time to cool off, and then come back to think of the next move.”
“Thank you, Paulin.” Ednus spoke.
“You’re welcome Master Ednus. Miss Johnson are you okay?”
I stood up, “We can cool off all we want Paulin, but I don’t need any protection.” Then I slammed the door as I left the room.
Tiffany Thomson: This story is not something I would normally pick up and read but I'm so glad I did, I wasn't able to put it down and my husband was yelling at me at 3am to put it down and go to bed (just waited for him to doze back off before picking it back up) I really hope Natalie brings out another book eit...
Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
Talon Richey: The answer to that question is NO! I absolutely loved the book, it has a way of lifting the magic right of the page and into the imagination. The story is well thought out and connects so easily with its self that as a reader i felt like it could actually be real. defiantly in my top five favori...
GeorgeS: The author has a VERY refreshingly direct writing style. Sometimes being punched in the gut (or nose, as the case may be) can be an excellent thing, indeed. Whatever may be lacking in subtlety is more than made up for in the diamond clarity of character development. I look forward to MORE. I c...
Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...
RodRaglin: Sounds like an interesting story, LesAnne.Here are some things you might want to consider when you revise this draft."Show don't tell." You've probably hear this before and wondered what's the difference? Well, the difference is as a writer you're telling your reader what's happening rather than ...
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."