Secrets of Ravenstone: Keeper of La Tecla (The Key) Book One

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Chapter 4

Arriving to her room, I noticed her door was left open slightly so I gave a soft knock.My mom stood unpacking her clothes, hanging her dresses in her wardrobe.

“Come in!” she called out from behind the large wardrobe doors and peeking her head around, she continued, “Hi, sweetheart. Unpacked already? And there’s more room in these wardrobes than I thought.”

“I know and yes…all unpacked.” I replied, “And by the looks of things here, I’ll say you’re not yet?”

“Well, I couldn’t help myself but I fell asleep. These beds are so comfortable. After that long ride, they feel like clouds.”

“Tell me about it. I napped too.” I walked over, sitting on her bed next to Freya. I picked her up, holding her affectionately. She started purring loudly, letting out a few meows as if she were hungry. I kissed her head and cheek then put her down, watching her approach her food and water bowls. Studying my moms room I continued curiously, “So, what do you think of this place?”

“I don’t know, really.” she replied taking a break, sitting in one of the large chairs, “But it gives off extremely positive energy and magic. It’s beautiful.”

“I know. The vibes are incredible and for some strange reason I feel safe, you know?”

“My thoughts exactly.” my mom commented.

“And the color schemes are ironic.” I observed, “I mean, you get shades of purple and I get red and black. Who knew?”

Before my mom could reply, we heard a male’s voice speak from her open doorway,

“Settled in already, I see. Do you ladies find everything to your liking so far?”

We turned our heads noticing MC standing there; hands clasped behind his back.

“Yes, thank you.” my mom nodded.

“Yes.” I added.

“Excellent, I’m glad to hear it. Now, I’m sure you ladies must be hungry. They’ll be serving early dinner in…” he paused, removing his pocket watch displaying the time 4:06pm, “an hour and a half.. We would love to have you for dinner in the manor’s dining hall.” he smiled eagerly then politely excused himself.

My mom and I stared at the empty doorway; thinking all sorts of ways that could have meant. I glanced at my mom who remained sitting, biting her lower lip. I walked over and sat across from her; both of us still silent. What do you expect? Here, we are...on an island that’s nowhere to be known on the maps, claiming to be a place where they don’t eat people but yet, having the proprietor say something unsettling such as that last remark?

“He didn’t mean it the way it sounded...right?” my mom glanced at me.

“No. He couldn’t have.” I pondered. “Could he?”

“Good. Now, who is he?” my mom continued as she stood, “Rather, WHAT is he? He just appears out of nowhere then disappears. A warlock, maybe?”

“I don’t know what he is, but according to him, he’s MC which still doesn’t tell us much.” I replied, “But anyway, I’ll go and let you finish unpacking. When you’re done, I’ll meet you outside in the lounge. First, do you need help unpacking?”

“No, I’ll be fine. I’m still figuring out where everything goes.” she chuckled, “Thank you though, sweetheart. Close the door behind you on the way out. I don’t want anymore unexpected guests.”

“Then lock it behind me.” I teased, closing the door.

“Smartass!” she hollered lovingly.

I smiled as I heard her voice, climbing the stairs returning to my room.

The time of 5:30pm rapidly approached and making sure Zanz had enough food, water and piddle pads by the bath tub until I could walk him later, I ventured downstairs where my mom waited in the lounge.

Exiting the dwelling, residents of mixed ethnic backgrounds rushed from behind us, all heading toward the manor. Taking a slow walk that would averagely take eight-to-ten minutes, took us fifteen-to-twenty due to the weather affecting my moms’ Arthritic knees. However, my mom and I got separated in the rush.

With everyone talking and laughing loudly creating a chorus, my mom couldn’t hear my voice calling out for her. I pushed my way through until I broke free of the cluster of individuals. Scanning the crowd, there she was trying to keep her balance as people rudely pushed past her. Brushing her shoulder forward, she almost lost her footing. Typical…rude…inconsiderate assholes. I ran over gently pulling her aside out of the way, hollering out after the dumbasses who turned their heads, looking back at us. Sneering in their direction, I cursed them under my breath.

“Easy, sweetheart.” my mom urged. “Remember. We’re newcomers!”

“Sorry.” I answered, “You okay? They didn’t pay much attention to you hollering out!”

“Ask me that later when the weather has its hold on me.” she muttered. ” But if I get pushed one more time...”

I shook my head, knowing she meant that humorously.

We continued our walk toward the manor in slow strides, avoiding the crowd ahead.

Although it was early evening, the manors’ outer structure was brightly lit with additional building light fixtures, and continuous Victorian street lamps along the walkways.

Everyone strolled through the manors’ side gate when residents pointed toward a group of six loud, boisterous men heading toward the manors’ front doors. From their point of direction, they seemed to have come from the dwelling near the garage. Walking ahead leading this group, was that tall red haired man, Lancaster we met upon our arrival.

It didn’t take much to see they were intoxicated from heavy liquor, as one daringly carried a Jack Daniel’s bottle; half empty. My mom and I studied their appearances which at first, you’d think they belonged to a motorcycle gang but far more grunge-punk. They pushed others out of the way as they entered the manor, leaving us thinking words we didn’t want to say aloud.

My mom and I exchanged expressions, then continued on inside when a small group of fellow seniors, mentioned there was another entrance leading inside with a ramp. They dominantly utilize that entrance for it makes the walk around the manor shorter and it’s more accessible. I decided to continue the walk around, wanting to explore.

“I’ll meet you inside.” my mom said.

“Okay.” I answered with a quick smile, “Be careful.”

“I know. You too...” she turned, walking among fellow seniors of various ages, introducing themselves.

Approaching from behind me suddenly, were two young girls; Margaret and Belle. Quickly engaging in conversation, they watched as their mother Katrina, introduced herself to my mom.

Entering the manors’ entrance hall, it was breathtaking! Stone-tiled floors were gracefully covered with Spanish and Persian rugs. Highly polished dark Onyx Oak wood walls displayed paintings of various scenes. Spanish suits of armor stood guard like sentinels by the doors and I just waited for them to come alive. A large circular highly polished Marble table sat in the center with an elaborate vase filled with beautiful multicolored Roses. Even rare black ones.

To the left of the entrance; a spacious lounge with leather furnishings, grand fireplace and windows overlooking the grounds. The Oak walls continued throughout the manor. Hanging from the halls’ arched ceiling was a grand crystal Chandelier with crystal droplets and antique fixtures.

Along the walls, the continuous wall lamps illuminated the interior.

Glancing to my right; the dining hall, where the aroma of delicious scented food greeted you. Up ahead along the wall past the dining hall’s entrance, was a grand staircase with intricate iron railing. The stairs curved upward toward the left, leading to the second floor upstairs. Ground level beneath the stairs adjacent from the entrances’ foyer, were large double glass doors leading out into an enclosed atrium.

Focusing ahead, my mom exited an entrance near the atrium, leading to private restrooms.

“There you are!” I stated, “I wondered where you were.”

“You know me…constant pit stops.” my mom replied humorously as she too, glanced around the entrance hall, where she noticed hanging in specially prepared places, were paintings of various people, “Ancestors, maybe? Or even the people that built this place?”

“Maybe.” I observed as we examined them closer.

They were so life-like and beautifully etched in colored oils. And hanging in two antique frames near the front doors, were maps of the estate…and island.

Abruptly, we heard a loud boisterous voice of a drunken man, arguing with MC in the lounge behind us. Curiously, we stood on the first two steps of the staircase, gazing into a large mirror reflecting the scene taking place. We quietly and carefully leaned against the iron railing, hiding ourselves from view. We listened.

“I told you you’re not allowed to bring your God damn drunken stupors and friends here, when all are peacefully gathered!” MC shouted, “You’ll not step one foot into that dining hall. You’ve…” he paused as remaining stragglers passed through, heading toward the dining hall. Afterwards, the man retaliated in slurred words leaving MC fuming with anger, “You’ve done this several times, Leonus but you never listen!” MC continued firmly, “The gates are closing in an hour, so you have your choice! Either you can spend the night in your designated dwelling, go home or rent a room at the Inn, but I suggest you make your choice quickly! You’ll not disturb all the human, supernatural and paranormal individuals with all of your rants and your…” then he mumbled the word bullshit in his Spanish tongue as he frustratingly waved toward Leonus, “porquería!”

Looking at each other, my mom and I wondered. Curiously, we mouthed the words HUMANS, PARANORMALS and SUPERNATURALS.

“If you’re human and I’m half human...then what the hell are the supernaturals and paranormals?” I asked.

“I’m telling you…they’re probably creatures from the Black Lagoon or, they’re going to feed us to the Crawling Eye.” my mom answered sarcastically, yet humorously.

I squinted my eyes as I said nothing more, shaking my head with a smile.

“B.L.S.” I mumbled over my shoulder.

“K.K.B.” she muttered.

Leonus glared at MC as he replied stepping forward,

“We’re hungry and we’re going to eat, so you tell me what’s on the menu!? Maybe, uh…” he eyed MC up and down, “you? How about that, you miserable old man.” he released a guttural laugh that brought forth his stale breath.

Pointing his finger intimidatingly in Leonus’ face, MC firmly replied,

“Don’t you dare threaten me, Leonus Lancaster. You listen to me here and now, because I won’t say it again! You are NOT allowed in that dining hall where your pack of mutts can make fools of yourselves, or worse! Do you remember the last event and the havoc you caused!? So, this is what will happen. I’ll have the cooks bring you food, then you can leave and go back to your…den or whatever the hell you call it! You know how I feel about you bringing THIS drunken stupor onto the premises and yet, you do it anyway! Now, you have your options. One, you can leave with the food I give to you, or…you can be thrown into one of the cells for the night. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Yeah, yeah…blah-blah! Just get the food so we can get the f*** out of here!”


“What!?” Leonus raged then slurred a sentence in his Scottish tongue, that filled MC with anger for he understood the meaning.

Abruptly, the front doors swung open, briefly attracting our attention. No one stepped through and my mom and I knew it must have been a magical force pushing them open. Obviously something grew angry of Leonus’ disrespectful actions. A loud crash emanated from the lounge and turning our heads toward that direction, Leonus’ large bulk was pushed across the lounge, against the wall. An unsettling thud was heard. We watched as Leonus slowly pulled himself to his feet, grabbing onto the leather furniture for support. He groaned as he shook his head.

Knowing it wasn’t our place to no longer observe the situation, we quietly stepped away entering the dining hall.

MC turned hearing the faint sound of heels walking across the stone-tile flooring. He veered his head around, watching as shadows belonging to two women stretched across the entrance halls’ floor. Frowning momentarily, he refocused his attention onto Leonus who stood there, leering in MC’s direction. Removing an object from his pocket, MC made a call.

Entering the grand dining hall, two long tables were set with plates and silverware, platters of food, fruits, snacks and desserts. Vegetables were set aside with pitchers of fruit punch, water, wine and ale to drink. The tables were separated by age groups; one seating all the single parents or older individuals (30s-50s) while the other sat all the teens and young adults. Strangely, families with children weren’t present and we figured since they had their own homes, they didn’t need to attend.

Large windows shone in beams of the evening light emitting faint rays of colors. Small tables sat beneath the windows with miscellaneous items displayed. Two more elaborate crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings where wooden beams supported the manors’ structure. The wood paneled walls reflected the lights and highlighted other artwork. My mom and I knew right away this was once a grand ballroom, converted to what it is now.

“Wow…” my mom whispered, “I could see it all, vividly.”

“See what?” I answered curiously.

“Handsome men in their tuxedos and women elaborately dressed in their gorgeous gowns, twirling around. Wow.”

I nodded in agreement for that was a nice scene to imagine.

“Yza!” someone shouted my name and glancing across the hall; Jonathan and Sarah sat together at the young adult table, waving in my direction.

“Go. I’ll sit with the parents, since I think that’s where I’m supposed to sit.” my mom smiled.

“Right.” I glanced around.

Before parting ways, MC came from behind us, startling us. Nothing was said at first, as he adjusted his black vest; nodding. We caught the expression in his eyes, knowing we knew what had just occurred. He appeared flushed; filled with rage.

“I’d like to thank you for not reporting what you witnessed back there.” MC cleared his throat.

“Witnessing what?” my mom said with a smile.

“We don’t know what you’re talking about.” I too, smiled.

MC nodded once more, returning the smile then stepped away feeling confident that he could trust us. He approached the beverage table, pouring himself a much needed cup of wine.

Before heading toward my table, I turned examining the lounge but Leonus was nowhere to be seen. Where he went after the argument, was unknown. The front doors, were now shut. Shaking the thought from my mind, I joined my new friends while my mom walked over, sitting next to Katrina. She was in her early-to-late 30s with dark blonde hair and blue eyes.

“I see your daughter has made friends with my two daughters.” she said in a soft Irish accent as she turned, looking toward the young adult table.

“Yes, it seems she has.” my mom replied, “Jonathan and Sarah too.”

“They’re, um..pleasant young ones, I suppose. I completely forgot to ask what your daughter’s name was?”


“That’s…very unique. Lovely.”

“You have no idea, but thank you.” my mom answered, “She’s unique as well.”

Seeing all the delicious food laid out before me, I was now hungry. Piling my plate, Sarah’s brother Nathan, walked over straddling the seat next to me. The news had gone around now about our arrival.

Nathan, upon closer interest, studied the young woman before him; taking in her appearance. Unlike before, when he had stood near the windows watching as she arrived. Leaning his right elbow on the table he asked in a smooth, charming tone,

“So, you’re the new bird around here causing a lot of chatter, huh? Mm, lovely…lovely indeed.” his eyes scanned my petite form; gaze trying to peek their way down my cleavage, but it was hidden beneath my blouse and steampunk bustier.

I looked up.

He was handsome with cold blue eyes. Nice features with light blonde hair nicely styled. Five-foot ten in height with a medium build that fitted his brown leather buckled vest and matching leather pants; stitching down the front in an awkward place.

“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” I flashed a quick smile, “But yes…that’s me. The new girl.”

“Ooo, feisty and what a lovely smile from such luscious lips. No matter, really. But you know, if you want, I could give you a private tour of the manor later tonight. Spread your lovely wings a bit. That is, if you’re not too tired from your long travel. We can…meet wherever you want.” he pestered smugly, continuing to eye me up and down in a demeaning manner, “My, my you are a pretty little bird. Very delicate, I’m sure and just like…petals of a flower.” and he released a low growl.

Immediately knowing what he meant and how he said it, I snapped as I faced him,

“Did you just gr…if you growled, that’s weird and two…who are you!?”

“Nathan. My name is Nathan.” he leaned in closer, reeking like cigarette smoke which made me move away.

“Right, okay...Nathan.” I waved my hand trying to blow away the scent of nicotine, “Let me tell you something right off the bat. If you think…I’m the type of bird that falls for lines like that…think again. And secondly, that’s the oldest line in the book of pickup lines, and not the first time I’ve heard it. Didn’t accept it then, and I won’t accept it now. So, Nathan…goodbye.” then I turned away, leaving him sitting there; shocked and perplexed.

Sarah and Jonathan rolled their eyes, knowing this routine and waited to see how this interaction played out. But so far, it’s not looking good for Nathan.

He scoffed as he stood, posing in place as he tried getting me to notice him…in his tight fitting leather,

“Okay, then. Your loss. You don’t know what you’re missing, so I’ll be around if you change your mind…little bird. Guaranteed, I’ll make you chirp loudly!”

“Yeah, well…that’ll be when Hell freezes over and besides, Nathan…I can’t lose something I never had.” I snapped as I looked up at him, trying to move my body away from him, “Besides, your stuffing is bunching so if you don’t walk away…I’ll burn it off.” I stared into his cold blue eyes.

“My what is what!?” he questioned as he glanced down at himself, “And you’ll what!?”

I turned away, ignoring him.

Frustrated, he briskly walked away sitting at the end of the table with his friends. I thought to myself watching him stroll away, that what a shame it was. He was so cute, but was such a total asshole; a complete turnoff for me.

Jonathan’s leering gaze followed Nathan who walked with his tail between his legs. Although he didn’t make it obvious, Jonathan listened to the entire conversation between he and I, releasing a low hiss of annoyance. Blinking his eyes he broke his gaze. Facing me, he suddenly caught the scent of smoke and sulfur in the air. Thinking maybe it could have come from the kitchen, he shrugged it off, sipping from his cup.

Finally noticing Nathan’s absence, I leaned over asking softly,

“Who the hell was that!?”

“My brother.” Sarah replied with disappointment; afraid to acknowledge the gene, “I wasn’t paying much attention, but he didn’t say anything that offended you, did he?”

“Um, let’s see? He tried hitting on me. He tried shoving himself in my face and he tried putting on the suave, sexual charm. Come on, does that really work for him? And ugh, I can’t get the smell of cigarettes out of my nose. I think I’m going to be sick.” I pushed my plate away with a disgusted grimace.

“Well, to be honest…he’s flirted with every woman here. Young and old. He acts like that with all of them; sleeping with most. So, you’re nothing really new.”

“Gee, thanks.” I mumbled as I glared at her.

“Well, what I meant was…you’re one of those that…that…Jonathan, help me out here?” she pleaded, looking over at him.

“Oh, hell no. You got yourself into that one, you get yourself out of it.” he answered.

“You see, Nathan..he, um…slept with most of the single women here, and some have never been with a guy before and quite a few of those, were under age. He prefers those who haven’t been with a man before, if you know what I mean. He’s thrown himself into loads of trouble, but keeps it up. He also likes to brag that he goes commando, but he’s not that bad…once you get to know him a little more.”

“Not that bad, huh? Couldn’t get that past me. Besides, first impressions are sometimes always lasting ones and his…left a real impression on me, that he’s an asshole. Sorry, Sarah. But what makes him think I’m single?”

“You have that whole single lady vibe about you.” Jonathan added, “No offense. And he saw you with just your mom as you arrived today, so…there’s that.”

“True.” I remarked, “So, I might as well walk around with a sticker that says I’M SINGLE stuck on my forehead.” I gently tapped my forehead.

Jonathan and Sarah laughed, while Margaret and Belle excused themselves for they felt the conversation was too inappropriate. Prim and proper types, right there!

Through her laughter while trying not to choke on her food, Sarah mumbled,

“I like you!” she nudged me with her elbow, “I think you’ll do just fine here.”

“Yeah, you’re pretty cool.” Jonathan remarked waiting for a knuckle bump which I jokingly returned, “And may I say…different from all the other women around here. Secretive, straight forward and hot tempered. I like it!”

“Thanks, I guess.” I appreciated, “And if you knew my secrets…you’d think twice.

“Secrets!? Well, we all have them.” Jonathan stated as he clanked his cup against mine, before taking another sip.

Nathan sat there watching me as if I were a piece of meat dangling on a hook and in a way, I was…in his eyes. One of his friends Pete, lectured as he slapped his hand on his shoulder,

“Checking out the new bird again, are we Nate!? You better be careful though, and not wind up in the cell again, like last time with that under aged bird. Thirteen years old, that’s a bit young.”

“Oh, bugger off!” he snapped, “She was ready for it and wanted me. It was consensual. Now, get your bloody hand off my shoulder!”

“Take it easy, mate. I was just messing with you.” he held his hands up.

“She didn’t fall for your charms like all the others, huh mate?” another friend of his Adam, said, “She handled you well enough. Feisty little bird, I must say. Maybe I’ll try.” he chuckled.

“Whose side are you on!?” Nathan protested sharply as he stood, “And no one touches her, but me! She’s mine! I’ll just keep working her. She’ll give in…they always do!” then he turned, storming out of the hall.

His friends remained behind, shaking their heads.

“Why do we hang out with him again?” Pete asked, taking a sip of ale, “And are you really going to try it out with that bird?”

“No bloody idea and why not?” Adam answered, “I don’t see a guys name on her, so…free for all, right?” he proposed.

Before Pete could respond, a loud voice echoed throughout the dining hall,

“May I have your attention, everyone!? Please…”

Lifting my head there stood MC, at the head of the table among the adults.

“I’m glad all of you are here tonight, because we have new residents to Ravenstone’s community. I did alert everyone here and elsewhere, that we will be having refugees or travelers passing through. Well, luckily…they’ve decided to stay, so please welcome them here. Lady D and Yzavela…would you stand for a moment please and introduce yourselves?” MC announced.

My mom and I awkwardly stood. At that moment, my mom felt like a fish out of water while I felt like the new kid in school, introducing herself to her new classmates. Anyone can relate, I’m sure.

“Hello, everyone. Thank you for welcoming my daughter and I. I’m sure we’ll be happy in this beautiful place.” my mom said, then took her seat.

“Yes. Thank you.” I quickly sat; shy and totally out of place.

Hoping for more to be said, MC continued bluntly,

“Alright, not very social yet. We all understand. But, now that that’s out of the way, please everyone…enjoy yourselves.”

“Oh, great…” I exaggerated; hands rested against my chin, “I’m at Hogwarts.”

“Yeah...and MC is Dumbledore.” Jonathan chimed in.

The three of us let out hardy laughs, making me feel a little more comfortable as I regained my appetite.

An hour had passed and everyone helped themselves to desserts. MC mingled with the parents, when he bumped into my mom; returning from the ladies room yet again.

“Oh, my…I’m sorry.” my mom said as she stared into his intense hazel-brown eyes.

“No, the fault is mine.” he proclaimed softly, “I have to ask, Lady D…are you and your daughter finding everything to your liking? I’d hate for you to be uncomfortable after your long and unpleasant journey.”

“Everything’s perfect, thank you. We’re very pleased and the word unpleasant, describes our journey nicely. We were terrified and…” my mom replied, “never mind. No need for me to rant on about things that are now in the past.”

“I understand, I do. And again, I have to thank you and your daughter for not speaking of what you two witnessed earlier. It was rather embarrassing and not something I want seen again.” MC fretted.

“Like we said before…we saw nothing.” my mom smiled.

MC returned the smile, as he politely nodded.

“And may I ask, Mr. MC... what did you expect when you introduced my daughter and I earlier? Our entire life’s history in one moment!?” my mom questioned.

“Well, no, doesn’t matter now. The moment has passed and is in the past.” MC answered respectfully, “And no one expects anything from you. At least...not yet.”

“Very well. Good to know then.” my mom gave a warm smile.

They stood in the dining halls’ doorway talking, while I sat listening to Sarah. For twenty minutes they spoke about who knows what, but I still kept my eyes glued to them. I didn’t know what he questioned her about but I grew worried nonetheless. After all, we’re still not out of the woods yet, so to speak. My mom shifted her weight as her knees began impacting her standing position. I watched as MC politely walked her over, sitting her at the table. Taking seat alongside her, they engaged in further conversation as their mannerisms grew calmer.

“Lisa…can I ask you something?” Sarah asked, breaking my focus.

“It’s Yza, but sure.” I replied, focusing on her knowing my mom was safe.

“Lisa…Yza…sounds the same.”

“Not really, Sarah. There’s a big difference. Would you like me to call you Sahara?” I objected, watching as she shook her head, “Good. Now, what would you like to ask?”

“Do you think Jonathan’s cute?” she blurted, completely ignoring my words.

I sighed, changing the subject,

“Yes, very cute. Gorgeous red hair. Why?” I glanced over at Jonathan, realizing he was extremely adorable although before I could say anything more, I returned my focus onto Sarah, noticing she caught my gaze. She displayed a jealous expression which I put to ease as I continued, “Yes, he is Sarah but I’m guessing you like him .”

“How can you tell?” she questioned excitedly, “And are you flirting with him?”

“Wha…oh, yeah. From way over here. Come on, Sarah. It’s obvious. You don’t ask if someone’s cute, if you don’t already like them. My advice is that if you like Jonathan, just tell him how you feel. See what his reaction is and if he returns the feelings. That’s all I can say.” I shrugged, “Besides, I just got here so thinking about boys isn’t really on my to-do list at the moment. Even though there’s Anthony...” I dazed off momentarily, remembering his strong masculine strides down the hall, “mmm... Anthony.” I finished in a whisper.

“Okay, just wanted to know. Because up to this point, we’ve only been good friends, but if you say so. He’s not like everyone else here, you know. He’s…well, you’ll find out. But thank you. I can tell you’ll be a good friend. You’re easy to talk to. But are you sure you’re not into Jonathan?”

“Oh, my god Sarah…what did I just say?” I argued, “If you’ll excuse me…I have to go. Knock yourself out.” I stood, walking away shaking my head in disbelief.

Sarah jumped from her seat, strolling toward Jonathan who stood with two other young men. She politely excused them as they stepped aside, talking privately. The two young men walked away glancing back, shaking their heads as they over heard Jonathan’s voice.

“You know, that was rude.” he complained, “We were talking about something important. What is it, Sarah that just couldn’t wait?”

“I…I…” she stuttered, “I, um…bugger. Yza said this would be easy.”

“Yza said what…would be easy?” he waited for her answer.

“I like you, Jonathan!?” she blurted, then expressed her feelings were more than friendship which surprised Jonathan greatly. He didn’t know what to really say at that moment other than wanting to process everything.

I searched for my mom among the crowd leaving the hall. Unable to find her, I grew worried. As my eyes continued scanning through all those present, I heard someone speak from behind me,

“Hello, again.”

“Nathan, I told you the first time. I’m not…” I argued as I turned, expecting to see Nathan but there stood MC, “Oh, hi. Sorry, I thought you were…” I continued.

“Nathan? Yes, I heard.” he recalled, “Hope he said nothing inappropriate?”

“Nothing I haven’t heard before, but I’m fine.”

MC nodded but his expressive eyes gave it away; filled with distaste. I studied his features up close, and he is an incredibly handsome man of his age. An elegant Spaniard indeed!

“How are you otherwise?” he changed the subject.

“Fine, like I said. The food was delicious and you were right, we did wind up eating a little more, but uh…I saw you talking with my mom. Was everything alright there?”

Yes, everything was fine there.” MC stuttered, studying my wide-eyed expression, “I meant, well…not there, but everything was fine with the situation and conversation.” he sighed deeply, continuing to study me strangely; eyebrow raised, “Just friendly greetings. I’m sure she’ll fill you in. Now, may I speak with you in my study, if you have a moment?”

“Uh-huh and uh…” I looked around, searching for my mom but she still wasn’t anywhere in sight, “why there?”

“Is the word THERE the only word in your vocabulary?” he asked; head tilting slightly in confusion.

“No. I have many, thank you. But right now, it seems to be the popular word of the day.” I mocked, “But really…why there…in your study?”

“Before I answer that, I have your mothers permission to ask that of you. She too, was a bit hesitant but after explaining quite a lot to her, she reluctantly understood. She’s out in the hall examining the artwork, if you’d like to confirm that with her? She’s over THERE...” he gestured his left hand toward the entrance hall to his left.

“Yeah, you bet I’ll do that. Thank you.” I said suspiciously, “Just in case you’re not some…creepy old man, wanting time alone with a young woman and all.”

“I highly resent that comment!” MC protested, “I would never! You are paranoid aren’t you, Little One? But, if you decide to meet with me…my study is up THERE…” he pointed toward the stairs, “on the right at the top of the stairs. Door open, of course.”

“Of course.” I squinted cautiously.

He gave a slight bow then turned away, making his way up the grand staircase; head shaking in disbelief.

Nodding, I found my mom exactly where he said she was; studying the paintings in the entrance hall. I walked over, standing alongside her asking if what he said held truth. After confirming he had spoken with her and that he wanted to talk with me about our journey, my past, why we left the Great City, as well as the real reason pertaining to our access to the island, I excused myself, heading toward the stairs up to MC’s study. Climbing the curved staircase, I paused on the wide-landing-like step, glancing out a window along the wall on my right. It overlooked the atrium. Pushing the distraction from my mind, I ascended upward approaching a smaller lounge but for private uses. Sure enough on the right at the top of the stairs, was MC’s study with a plaque on the door.

MC…is all it said.

“Because, you know…that’s not…obvious at all.” I mocked sarcastically.

Before I knocked on the OPEN door, I turned glancing down a hall to my left, leading to another room. Where that led, I had no clue but I wasn’t about to find out just yet. Taking a quick breath I gently knocked then heard his voice call out from inside,

“Come in, Little One.”

Gently pushing it open to the right, I was amazed. Lining the wood paneled walls were bookshelves stacked with books; color coordinated. Large balcony doors greeted you straight ahead where an elegantly carved Spanish desk sat in front of them with MC sitting behind it. To the right, was a small fireplace with candles on the mantle; one on either side of a single sword stand displaying a beautiful Medieval short sword. A grand glass case displayed various weapons hanging above. Set before the fireplace, was a red Velvet settee. Spanish-style furniture with the arched carved backings and red fabric cushions sat to the left with a table set in the center, creating a comfortable atmosphere. Spanish rugs covered the wooden floors.

“Wow! Now this is what I call a Spanish study!” I praised in amazement stepping toward him momentarily forgetting the reason why I was here, then glanced down noticing paperwork sprawled out across his desk. Our pictures were among them. Gesturing toward the files I continued curiously focusing on my visit, “Doing background checks on us already, are we? And where did you get our pictures? I mean…you already have them?”

He smiled as he stacked the paperwork, placing them inside two resident folders.

“I’m creating your resident files and perhaps, I was…looking into your backgrounds.” he answered, “And noticing this little detail, tells me you’re very perceptive. Now, please…” he gestured toward the furniture. I walked over sitting in one of the chairs as he stood, approaching the other chair taking his seat. Reaching over to pour two cups of tea, he offered, “Tea?”

“Yes, please. So…find anything out of the ordinary in our backgrounds?” I asked.

“Out of the ordinary, definitely. Cream…sugar?”

“Extra cream and three sugars.” I muttered, “And when you say out of the ordinary?”

He poured cream and three tablespoons of sugar into my cup, then handed it to me on its tea plate with the spoon swirling around.

“Your file claims there was an incident at your high school back in the States, involving another student that was left with four degree burns. Tell me about that, would you please?” MC asked.

“Why?” I objected, laying the tea plate on the table, then hid my hands beneath my thighs nervously, “Why do you want to know that!?”

“Because I want to know what happened and why? I don’t allow individuals with dangerous pasts to live here. Especially if that past follows them.” MC answered bluntly, “Now, please?”

I paused, choosing my next words rather carefully.

“Self-defense.” I revealed, “There was a bully at school that tormented me and pinned me down in the bathroom so I…defended myself. She had a pocket knife. It’s that simple. Anything else you want to know?”

“There was something else about a trash can?”

“Oh, come on…it was just a trash can!” I argued, “But fine. I voiced my opinion on a topic I didn’t like and the asshole of a teacher threw me out. I got mad…the trash caught fire and the rest is ashes. Or excuse me, history. I wasn’t a troubled student so that wasn’t the case and I’m not a troublemaker so, is there anything else because my tea’s getting cold.” I reached for my tea.

“Mm, interesting.” MC mumbled, “You’re a firestarter then?”

“What!? No! I’m half…” I paused, catching my words, “I’m a woman whose had some bad luck in her time and a woman that’s getting tired of all these questions.” I snapped, “Now, if we’re done with this little…Q and A session or interrogation!?” I stirred the cream and sugar then turned my gaze toward the bookshelves hoping to change the subject as I asked curiously, “Where did you get all the books and stuff? Are you a collector?”

I attempted taking a sip of tea but it was still far too hot, so I blew on its surface.

Seeing I grew agitated he replied casually,

“A collector, yes. Of sorts. The books and…stuff, I’ve gathered over the centuries.”

“Did you just say centuries!?” I blurted.

“What I meant by that, was that most of these books I’ve found over the years while others were passed down to me from my family…over the centuries.” he clarified with expressive hands.

“Mm, makes sense.” I attempted taking another sip of my tea which had cooled off enough to enjoy, “May I look at them?”

“Be my guest, Little One.” he sat back in his chair; legs crossed in a manly manner with forearms rested on the arms of his chair.

Watching as I stood, he studied my mannerisms as he rested his chin against his left hand, trying to grasp a glimpse of my aura but all he saw, was fire which caused him to swallow deeply.

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