I stumbled off the plane feeling shaky. I hadn’t ever been on a plane before. Apparently, I had gone through some really bad turbulence, though I had nothing to compare it to. There was a black car waiting for me. I want to grab my bags, but someone already had them.
“I’ve got it ma’am.” he smiled as he carried them towards the car.
“I can take them.” I offered.
“No, no really, it’s my pleasure.” He assured me. “It’s my job.”
“I’m one of Mr. Eastgate’s servants.”
“He has servants?”
“Yes, of course he does.”
“Isn’t that kind of, I don’t know, archaic?”
The man chuckled. “Miss, it is a noble profession. Servants have been a vital part of society for hundreds of years.”
“So you like it?”
“Yes ma’am. Very much so.”
“Okay then,” I shrugged. “, whatever floats your boat.”
He gave me an amused smirk as he loaded my luggage. He ushered me into the car and I got to watch the countryside whiz by in silence. We were taken to a huge house. It was beautiful and massive and looked ancient.
“Welcome to Eastgate Estate.”
I was led up to the main house and nearly to the door when I heard a high pitched coo being me. “Who is this?”
I looked behind me to see a beautiful girl. He was tall, with impossible long legs, and full curves. Her hair was a pale blonde and I couldn’t tell if it was natural or from a bottle. Her eyes were a pretty share of blue, but narrowed into slits, and the hint of snarl took away from her beauty. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess she wasn’t exactly pleased to see me.
“A guest of your father.”
“You didn’t answer my question.” she snapped.
I felt underdressed in my ripped jeans and band t-shirt. In comparison, she was wearing a pastel blue sundress with a white wide brimmed hat and strappy white sandals. I had a funny feeling my dirty converse wouldn’t be accepted here with open arms.
“I’m Juliet,” I interrupted as I offered my hand.
“Juliet? I’ve never heard of you. And why are you dressed like that?”
“Um, because this is how I dress.”
“What kind of person dresses like that to meet someone like my father? Don’t you have any respect?” she sneered at me, her voice shrill.
“Angelica,” came a stern voice behind me.
“Daddy!” she cooed, as her entire demeanor changed. Her scowl became a cheerful smile and her eyes brightened. “I think this girl is lost.”
The man turned to me and I was taken aback. It was too weird, he looked almost familiar. He almost looked . . . like me. He was in an expensive tailored suit. His hair was almost as jet black as mine, except his was peppered with grey, especially around his temples. He was at least twenty years my senior. I was more nervous now than I was before.
“You must be Juliet.” he smiled.
I nodded. “James?” I asked more confused than ever.
“Yes.” James agreed as he offered his hand. “Thank you for coming all this way. I hope it was a good flight.”
I shrugged. “Never flown before so I don’t really know.” I admitted. My guard was up. Something about this wasn’t right. It wasn’t what it was trying to be. James had a secret.
“Well, I hope you had a good flight at least, Juliet would you please follow me. I have a small favor to ask of you, and I think we’d both be more comfortable inside.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What kind of favor?”
“Would you be willing to do a simple test?”
“What kind of test?”
“A DNA test.”
“What the fuck? Why?”
“You do not speak that way to Daddy! Don’t you know who he is?” Angelica demanded, her hands on her hips. “A man like him deserves your respect!”
“That’s quite enough, Angelica.” James scolded. She gaped at him and then glared at me. She crossed her arms and stamped a foot as she turned away from me. Clearly someone was used to getting their way. “Perhaps a private word? Come, let me show you to my study.”
“Whoa there hoss!” I took a step back. “I don’t know about all that.”
“Juliet, I understand this is strange. You don’t know me. I have already asked too much, I’m sure, but I have a question to ask you about your mother and I may have answers about your mother. I know this is strange, it’s strange for me too. Please, give me the chance to explain everything and if you don’t like what you hear, you are welcome at any point to return home and you never have to hear from me or see me again. You just flew for nine hours. I’m sure you’re tired or hungry.”
I shrugged. “I slept on the plane.”
James sighed. “This isn’t a conversation to have in public.”
Something about the way he said it caught my attention. I wanted to know what he knew about my mother. I sighed. “Okay, but I’m warning you now, if things get weird, I’m getting on that plane and getting the hell out of here.”
He smiled, the relief evident on his face. “Fair enough.” He led me through a magnificent entry way, up a flight of stairs down a few hallways and I was now lost. I was too busy gawking and marveling at the place. He opened the door to a room with two walls completely lined with books. I couldn’t help but glance over the titles and smile. “Please, take a seat.” James offered as he indicated the leather wingback chairs he had opposite his desk. James sat behind the behemoth of a desk, it was massive and looked at least two hundred years old and hand carved.
I sat stiffly in the chair. It was more comfortable than it looked, but it was hard to settle in. I still wasn’t comfortable in the room with this stranger. I must be crazy for agreeing to come.
“How old are you?”
He smiled as he nodded. “I had a feeling. I knew your mother many years ago.” He was definitely looking in my direction, but not looking at me. He was somewhere else entirely. “I loved her. Never question that.” My stomach dropped as I had a feeling where this conversation was going. “She was studying at Cambridge for a term, and while here she took full advantage, seeing everything she could. I was fortunate she chose to visit the Louvre on the same day I did. It didn’t take me but ten minutes to realize the kind of woman your mother was. We hit it off and ended up traveling back from Paris to Cambridge together. She didn’t recognize me or know who I was at first. When she did come to understand, it didn’t matter. She was unlike any woman I had ever met. Life was simpler back then. I didn’t have responsibilities, or cares, or any idea what the real world was like. I can safely say, the time I spent with your mother was the happiest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, Millie, but things were different with us. We were betrothed. I had no idea your mother was pregnant when she left.”
I felt the color drain from my face and got lightheaded. The blood running in my veins felt like ice. “James, are you saying…”
“Yes, I believe I am.”
“Who are you to me?”
“I believe you may be my daughter.”
I felt the room start spinning. My breathing was faster than it should have been. I felt the sides of my vision starting to fade to blackness. I put my head between my knees and tried to fight off the hyperventilation I was experiencing. I was about to black out if I didn’t get a handle on this.
“Juliet? What do you need?”
I was too busy focusing on breathing. In through my nose. Out through my mouth. In. Out. After several minutes I was able to get a hold of myself and I looked up.
“Juliet, what do you need?”
“A minute.” I croaked. “Water maybe?”
“Give me a moment.” James called for someone to bring me some. I looked up at James for a long moment. After twenty years of not knowing, it was surreal knowing this man might be my father. I swallowed hard against the lump in my throat. “Why now?”
There was a knock at James’s study and he was handed a tray with two glasses and a pitcher of water. James dismissed whoever had brought it at the door then poured us both a glass. James sighed. “I didn’t know.”
“But why now? How do you know now?”
James’s eyes met mine. “Your mother arranged to have something sent to me in the event of her death.”
I nodded as I took the glass of water and took a sip. I was more grateful to have something to do with my hands and mouth rather than try to figure out what to do or say next. An awkward silence hung in the air between us and I didn’t know what to say. After a while James cleared his throat. “That is why I wanted to ask you to do the DNA test. If you are mine, though I don’t doubt you are, given who your mother is, your age, and the fact that our resemblance is undeniable.” I nodded. I looked almost nothing like my mother, I only inherited her eyes. We shared the same almond shaped grey eyes, the somewhere between the color of storm clouds and winter skies. “If you are mine, I want to introduce you properly. I have a wife, and you’ve met my daughter.”
“Let’s do it then.” I agreed.