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21. Conversing With Strangers

She had stayed and talked some more with the handsome man she had met in that library, before she left with the book that was the reason they met and spoke in the first place. He had told her more about the book and was even kind enough to make some more reading suggestions when she told him that she would spend all summer at the resort.

His name was Theodore, but he preferred to be called Theo, and he had come on vacation alone because as he said, he wanted to get away of the city crowd. Emilia had commented that coming to a luxurious resort that was bound to be full this time of year defeated his initial purpose. He had laughed throwing his head back and had admitted she had a point.

His laugh was the loveliest sound she had heard in her life. It was only natural, as he as the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes upon. She found it very hard to keep her cheeks color in check all the while she had stayed with him in the library but thankfully had not commented on it. In fact, he appeared not to notice the effect of his beauty on her.

He was older than her, over twenty-five and under thirty years old according to her estimation. She had wanted to ask but could not bring herself to do it even if he had asked her. On second thought, age didn’t matter all that much to her. So, few years of difference meant nothing. But he was so beautiful and she had already caught herself smiling brightly at thinking about him after their meeting.

She had started reading the book the same night and was surprised to find that Theodore had a striking resemblance to the male character described in it, only much younger. She even told him so, in one of their meetings the days that followed, not without blushing profusely this time.

“Thank you” he had said smiling. “Although I must say I’m no widower, thank God”

“But you said you said your house is as glorious as Manderley” she reminded him playfully.

“No, darling” he pinched her nose and she blushed a deeper red “I said my house is more glorious than Manderley”

“And you have a creepy housekeeper as well?” she had asked in curiosity.

“Nah, those tend to come as a pair with dead wives” he replied making his voice sound dark and scary and she giggled.

“So, you have a normal one?” she had insisted after her giggle died down.

“I’m afraid the only person I have to display is a grumpy older brother. Or rather half-brother” he said but his tone was a bit strange.

It was difficult to understand if he cared about this brother or not.

This information about him had got her interested, though, as he never seemed too keen to talk about his family. However, he did not elaborate further and she did not want to push the matter, fearing that she might cross a line.

Perhaps, he had a strained relationship with that brother of his. The way he described him, not the actual words but the aura they emitted, although seemingly playful lacked a certain affection which was not weird as many people had bad relationship with their siblings but she was not sure she liked it. He didn’t even mention him by name.

Maybe, her felling was because he was quick to make clear he was his half-brother as if he wanted to separate himself from him. The thought of that particular part of their conversation had played on her mind that night before she fell asleep. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to pursue this any further by asking him directly. If she was right in her assumptions, it would turn awkward and she wouldn’t want that.

After all, they only knew each other for a couple of days and she was not talking about her family either. Not that he had asked much about them. It was as if he was only interested in her. He asked about the things she liked to do, about her dreams, her views in life. He would listen to very word she said without seeming bored in the least.

His attention was fixed on her and she had only eyes for him. So, it was fair to say that they were even.

Or so she thought.

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