“You cannot leave.” Hyde stands in front of the door, crossing his arms looking like a human barrier.
“Listen, Hyde, we have to go to the police station.” I cross my arms.
“Then when? And why not now?”
“Tomorrow, I cannot let you leave. It is dangerous.”
“No more dangerous than it is on a normal night,” I grumble. “And it would be stupid to refuse us at the station.”
“It is far more dangerous for both of you than you seem to understand. Besides, it is far too late to be roaming about.”
“If you’ve been ‘observing’ me, you should know I’ve been in plenty of tight spots before. I can handle myself.”
“And what of your sister? Would you leave her with me?”
“Of course not. You know I can move when I need to if you have been stalking me like you said.”
“I still cannot allow it.”
“Marcy,” Trina touches my shoulder before I can argue further. Her expression, much like cracked glass, looks as though it’ll break with any more pressure. “We can wait. It’s not like… it’s not like they’re going anywhere.”
“Yeah, sure.” I glare at Hyde and he leaves. Trina collapses on the bed and curls up in a ball. I want to join her, but I’m not sure how. Trina and I have maintained something of our previous relationship but in the end, our bond has deteriorated.
I sigh. There’s another bed in the room, perpendicular to Trina’s. Something just as plush as the one Trina is laying on, but I decline its comfort. It’s been months, maybe even a year, since I’d last slept in a bed. Since I’d fallen in line with Sebastian, I’d distanced myself from family and friends, and, therefore, any ease I felt being around them. Home had become the den of strangers; any comfort I had once felt for my room, my home, had disappeared.
I think about taking a pillow or even the small throw blanket folded at the end of the bed, but still I decline. I sit at the end of the bed, between it and the wall, hug my knees to my chest, and cry myself to sleep.
“Marcy. Marcy, wake up.”
“Do I have to?” I wonder. Maybe she’ll let me stay unaware of my more than probable unfortunate surroundings for a little longer.
“Yes, we have to go to the police station.”
I lift my head in confusion. “Police… Oh.” There was a fire at your house. They did not make it out. I put my head down and take a deep breath. I can’t cry again. Not again.
Trina holds out her hand. Her face is streaked with tears, her mascara is running, and her lipstick is smudged. I’m sure I don’t look much better.
Hyde knocks on the door as I stand. “If you wish, there is a shower to use.”
“I don’t think I’d mind a shower,” Trina says in a soft voice. After a long night like we had, I don’t blame her for wanting to relax a little. “Only thing is, we don’t have any clothes.”
“Clothes are something I can provide. You need not worry.” He looks to me, his face a question.
“No offense but your place kinda freaks me out.”
Trina elbows me and glares. “Be polite.”
“It’s not a bad thing.” I clarify. “I’m just not used to nice places.” And why should I be polite to our kidnapper and stalker? He’s not the typical kidnapper, sure, but he still took us against our own will.
Hyde looks at me in an awkward way as if he can read my thoughts. “I will be back soon. There are towels in the bathroom.” Trina walks into the bathroom and closes the door. I reclaim my spot between the bed and wall.
“Yesterday, you put me under the assumption that you dislike confined areas and yet you put yourself in a small space such as that.”
“I don’t lie,” I grumble. “I don’t like confined or small places, but I stay in small places in a bigger room to make it feel larger. Call me weird.”
“I do not believe it is strange. In its own way, that is shrewd.” He holds clothes. “There are two sets, in case you want to change.”
I stand up and take the shirt and skirts. “Hey, why do you talk like that?”
“Well, you don’t use contractions. And you don’t use any shortened phrases. It’s kinda weird. You’re like, what, Trina’s age? Twenty something?”
“Twenty one. We are the same age. The use of a contraction is just lazy English as well as shortened phrases.”
“Letty,” Trina calls from the shower. “Are you coming?”
“Just a second,” I call back.
“And thus, I take my leave.” He nods and leaves the room. I open the door to the bathroom, identical to the one I raided earlier. Same marble double sink counter top, sparkling floors, toilets, mirror, and walls. Way too clean for my taste.
“You gonna change?” Trina asks.
“No, I told you I don’t wear skirts.”
“He only brought skirts? I suppose that’s fine.” She picks up one of the outfits and frowns. I supposed the grey turtle neck and floor length skirt is not what she wants, but I doubt she will complain. “Still, Marcy, you should change out of that. At least rinse off.”
“I’m fine. I don’t smell at all.” I tell her. She frowns again. “It’ll be fine, promise.”
“Fine. Right.” She sighs again. Trina looks so depressed at the thought, I cave and change into the shirt and skirt and with her. This seems to ease her worry a bit. We walk out of the bathroom but have no idea where to go. Wandering through the halls would be a good idea, but we’d get lost. I don’t know the size of this place, but I had looked out a window earlier. From what I saw, the house is settled on a large estate overlooking the Atlantic. Trees dot the yard and spread out to the left with a smaller house, maybe a shed. To the right a winding gravel road leads out to the rest of the world.
Trina grabs my hand as Hyde steps in. “Ready?” he asks. I hold her hand in a tight grip.
He’s so nice, I find myself thinking as we sail towards the police station. I’ve been kidnapped a few time—twice when I was fifteen, once at sixteen, and three times this year at seventeen—and none of them were cordial. Not that I expected them to be. They were all trying to get at Sebastian. I hate to think of what happened to them; if he loses himself with me, I don’t even want know what happened to them.
Hyde, on the other hand, speaks in a kind voice to both of us. I suppose that since I’m not yelling or insulting him, he’s bound to at least be polite. It’s kinda strange though since most people are put off by me. It’s because of all of this that I find it hard to be scared. As Trina said last night, I don’t feel kidnapped.
The police station is a place I tend to avoid. I’m not recognized, Sebastian made sure of that, but it’s not somewhere I would like to be. But these circumstances aren’t normal.
The blue and brown building looms above us. The interior is like any other, with offices, a beige linoleum floor, and a multitude of loud voices and angry civilians. Through the chaos of adults, a woman in a business suit, hair in a tight bun, and high black heels makes a beeline towards us. Her shoes click angrily on the linoleum and Trina steps in front of me as if trying to shield me from her wrath. I know from one look that Aunt Tressa hasn’t changed in the five years we haven’t seen her. “What are you doing here?” is her first question to us. Not, ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘What are you going to do?’ or even ‘Why didn’t you come yesterday?’
“Sorry, Aunt Tressa, that we’re here,” Trina says. I always admire her for this, that she can stand up to anyone despite her fear. If I am afraid, my fear turns to anger and in a technical sense, that’s running away.
“I don’t want your apology.” She mutters. “I want you gone.”
“Aunt Tressa, I know you don’t like us, but they’re our parents. Yesterday they-they died. We have to be here.” She backs down and I give her hand a reassuring squeeze.
Aunt Tress sneers and looks to me. I narrow my eyes. There’s never been a person as cold hearted as the woman standing in front of me; crazy’s like Sebastian I can handle, but a woman who would throw her friend in harm’s way and not care that her sister has died, I cannot. “Still hiding like a child I see. I hope you’re not still a cry baby.”
“No,” I say. “Not anymore, but I can tell you that if you don’t stop being such an old shrew, I’ll—” Behind us, Hyde clears his throat. I bite my tongue and don’t finish my sentence. Aunt Tressa already hates us and with my already sour mood I’ll say something regrettable. Aunt Tressa analyzes Hyde for a moment.
“Who is this?” she asks.
“A friend.” I say. There’s no point in saying the truth since he had done nothing to arouse my suspicions, which is something not many can manage. “Don’t worry about him.”
“There’s the matter of their last will and testimony.” Trina says. Her voice is a whisper and her eyes are cast down. She’s close to crying now.
“Yes, I know. Their lawyer is here now. It’s family only, so this… friend has to wait.” She looks at Hyde with disgust as if there are a million other words she would have rather used to describe him.
“I will wait.” Hyde says. He turns and leaves the station. I wonder where he’s going and wish that, wherever it is, I can go to. I don’t want to sit in a room with this hateful woman or my fractured sister. I don’t want to deal with the reality that I killed my parents. I don’t want to watch as everything gets ripped away piece by piece. But I have no choice. I must sit in a room with Aunt Tressa and Trina. I must deal with the reality that my parents’ death is on my hands and I must watch as everything is torn from me.
Aunt Tressa leads us down the hall and into a room with a long wooden table that two men were milling around. One of them, he looks about forty and super serious. I know I’ll tick him off by the end of this.
He walks with a purpose to Aunt Tressa and shakes her hand. “Very nice to see you again. These are your nieces, I’m guessing.”
“Yes,” she says with distaste. “Katrina and Marcelletta.”
“Trina, please.” Trina says.
“John Smith.” He shakes her hand and turns to me.
“Marcy,” I say, shaking his hand. “I don’t use my full name.”
“Your full name sounds like a prison sentence.” Another man said. This one seems more laid back and jokey. Laugh lines surrounded his eyes and an easy smile plays on his lips. “Michael Morne. Nice to meet you.” He stands and holds out his hand. Trina gives him a feeble shake. I refuse. Aunt Tressa starts to say something, but John cuts her off.
“It would be best to start reading the will as soon as possible. You have a funeral to plan after all.”
“Of course, proceed.”
“Now, for the reading.” Michael says. He clears his throat dramatically. “Since the three of you are being read this, we’re assuming you know that we’re are no longer with you, and we’re sorry. If Marcelletta and Katrina are both young, then much of what we have will come as a surprise.” Michael raises his eyebrow as he continues to read. “Overlooking the Atlantic is a three story Victorian house named Westmoor, paid off in full. This goes to Katrina as the eldest, but we implore them both to share. There are many amenities that come along with it, but they are too long to list initially. This will be separate. In short, everything we have there will go to our daughters, Katrina Pavil Winters and Marcelletta Windred Winters.” At this Aunt Tressa stands and storms out. I don’t know why she’s upset. She was horrible to mom and dad the last time she saw them and all the times before. “Should I stop? This part pertains to her. It’s short though.”
“She’ll get over it.” Trina said. “Keep going; we can tell her.”
“For Tressa Willa Lee, we give you our vault. Take care of everything in there. It is more important than you might think. We update this every six months or so, so we know that there is talk of another civil war. If one does break out, Katrina and Marcelletta must open the letter addressed to them. If it does not, then there is no reason for them to read them. Aside from the letters, there are two boxes that we would like to give each of them. For Katrina, the box has a crescent moon painted in purple. For Marcelletta, the box has a full moon painted in blue.” He sets down the papers and sets the boxes on the table. “The letters are in the boxes, at least that’s what it says here. If I am not mistaken, that is all there is to it. Here is the address, I hope you both find peace.”
“Thank you, sir.” Trina says. She shakes his hand and takes her box. I pick up the address and my own box. I nod to both men and walk out with Trina.
“Are you guttersnipes happy?” Aunt Tress asks. She glares dagger at our boxes.
“Not in the slightest.” I say. “But mom and dad gave you something. Their vault. They said that whatever is in there is more important than you would think, whatever that means. You should talk it out with the lawyer, we don’t have time for you.”
“Listen here, child.” She closes the distance and looms over me. “I may not like you and I surely don’t like my usurper sister, but you will treat me with respect. You’re not even eighteen, I could make your life a living hell until then.”
“Not unless she lives with me.” Trina says. “I’m twenty one, not a child, Aunt Tressa. If you threaten my sister, or even look at her the wrong way, it won’t take much convincing to make the police believe you’re as abusive physically as you are verbally.”
“I’m not worried about you, it’s her.” She nods to me. I have no idea why her worry is directed to me. I haven’t done anything to make her angry. In the past few years maybe. “It doesn’t matter right now.” Aunt Tressa flips her hair over her shoulder and stalks away.
“What was that about?” Trina asks me.
“I don’t know.” I shrug. “Like with you I’ve kept my distance. I haven’t even seen her in four years.”
“Same, I wonder what she meant.” She looks down at the box in her hands. “Forget it, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just find Ryner.” As we walk out, I see Aunt Tressa peel out of the parking lot and Hyde pull to a stop in front of us. We scoot in the car and drive off.
“Ryner, do you know where this address is?” I lean forward holding out the paper.
He glances at it. “Yes. We are going there.”
“Thanks,” I stare out of the window tapping the box resting on my lap. I wonder what could be in it. I doubt that there’s something important except for those letters. Perhaps there are some memorabilia from them. I think of mom’s favorite painting.
“What is it?” I asked. Mom held up the painting with pride as if it was the most important object to ever come to rest in her hands.
“I have no idea.” She said. Her brown eyes sparkled mischievously. “I think it’s a dragon.”
“I thought it was a bear.”
“You’ve just proved my point.”
“We have conflicting opinions on what it is. If I don’t have more than one perspective on something, I know I’m looking at it wrong.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Not to worry, Atlantis, not to worry. You’ll get it one day.”
“You act like I’m six.” I pouted. “I’m twelve.”
“And yet you still don’t understand. It’s all about perspective, Letty.”
I don’t think that mom has given me something like that. Even now I don’t quite understand what she was talking about. Perspective. I’ve never been very good at it. I tend to have a black and white opinion on most things, and not without reason. I think that there is happy and sad, to put it in simple terms. Anything more complex just falls under those categories. Dad once told me I would fall into a whole I wouldn’t be able to climb out of if I kept thinking this way. In a way I have, I think, fallen into a whole. But it feels like I was digging the whole myself and managed to lower myself in, and without realizing it, I am stuck at the bottom. I can’t climb out so I dig deeper, shoveling out all the happiness and leaving just the heartache.
I sigh. Mom and dad’s philosophical thoughts have overtaken mine. Typical. I can’t think of them without my thought process changing to think like them. Both a blessing and a curse.
“Why are we back here?” Trina asks. I look out her window and stare at the mammoth house we had left earlier.
“This is the address that lawyer gave us. The house mom and dad left to us. 3422 Moon Island Road.” I look to Hyde as he slows to a stop. “How did you know our parents?”
“I didn’t know them so much as I worked for them.”
“So… did you know who we are before… before now?” Trina asks. We shift the boxes off of out laps and get out before picking them up again.
“Don’t you ask questions?”
“I follow orders,” he says. “There is no need to ask questions.”
“So why were you here?” I ask. “This is their estate.”
“Yes, but I look after while they are gone. I live here.”
“Why? I saw, like, twenty maids and seven gardeners when we left.” And I’m positive there are more workers that I haven’t seen.
“I make sure they do their jobs. And I’m not the only one who seeks residence here.”
“Is this like a safe house or something?” I wonder.
“Of sorts.” We follow him into Westmoor and I almost fall, tripping over the skirt.
“Don’t you have any pants for me to wear?”
“There are not many clothes here that I can provide you with. That is all I have.” I sigh and shift the box. It’s not heavy, just big and awkward. I carry the box with one hand and lift my skirt with the other. Trina follows suit. The door to the room Trina and I were in is ajar. I pause. I know for a fact that before we left I close the door. Trina looks confused at my hesitation, but I hold out my arm for her to stop. I nudge the door open with my foot to find a man leaning over, stirring a steaming mug of something. I clear my throat.
He jumps up and turns towards us, almost knocking over the cups. “Oh! Jeez, you scared the cheese outta me.”
“Sorry,” Trina says. “But what are you doing?”
“I, uh, I worked with your parents.” He explains in an awkward manner. He looks to Trina and to me, then looks to the floor. He fidgets with his jeans under my gaze. “I live here. At their estate. I suppose it’s yours now. I thought it’d be nice to send my condolences, but I’m not very good with people so I made you hot chocolate. Summer is coming, but it’s still pretty cold out.”
“Jayson, uh, Jayson Hyde.”
“Your Hyde’s brother?” I ask. “Is your family full of socially awkward people or what?” Now that he says it, I can see the resemblance. He has the same tower-like tallness, dark skin, and golden eyes, but without the irritated expression.
“Ryner is not very awkward around most people.”
“I wouldn’t think so.” Trina says. “He’s intimidating to the common observer.” She sets her box the bed and looks back to Jayson. “Thank you for the hot chocolate. It means more than you would think.” She shakes his hand and Jayson leaves the room in a hurry without attempting to shake mine. I don’t blame him.
“It’s weird,” I tell her. “One day I’m sleeping in alleys and the next I’m here. It’s such an unfair trade.”
“Mom would say that we should use whatever cards we’ve been dealt to our advantage.”
“I’m not sure mom planned for us to be dealt this hand before we were ready.”
“Marcy, I don’t think we ever would have been ready.” We rip the seals from the packages and pick up the letter. “We’re not supposed to open these unless the war starts. With the state of everything, it won’t take long.”
“Yeah,” I flip over the card looking at my name printed in dad’s handwriting. “It won’t take long at all.”