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24. Making Plans

Crazy as it was, she had decided to accept his proposal, eventually.

She was a bit thoughtful after their conversation at the beach. That was, until he showed her a photo of the house just to give her a taste of what splendor would she miss if she declined his offer. She was done for.

The house was magnificent and did not seemed haunted at all. On the contrary, it appeared to be very warm and welcoming, much like its charming owner.

It was silly of her to expect that it would actually look haunted like Manderlay. The movie was to blame for such an assumption. They had seen it together in his suite when she had finished the book. As he informed her, they were many adaptations available but he liked better the one in black and white. Frankly, she was so ridiculously frightened after it that she had no desire of seeing another adaptation ever again.

In that film, now considered a classic, the very sight of the house gave a sense of foreboding and that housekeeper was blood chilling to say the least. She was as jumpy as the second Mrs. De Winter for the duration of the movie, making Theo laugh at her in any given chance. She could not understand how he could remain unaffected by the movie’s eerie atmosphere and she told him as much.

“I have seen it too many times already” he reminded her. “And apart from that, I find there is a strange beauty in this kind of terror, don’t you think my little dove?”

She didn’t think there was beauty in being scared. Fear was something negative by definition and she couldn’t imagine how a sane person could find it intriguing or even pleasurable. Thinking that Theo was teasing her, as per habit, she didn’t comment any further and pushed the thought entirely in her subconscious.

However, regarding the house or rather mansion, seeing it in that picture he provided, dispelled any reluctance she felt for deciding to follow a man she knew so little. After all, the house seemed to be lived in, so there would be surely other people there too. He had not mentioned anyone beyond the mysterious older half-brother, but she suspected there were servants as well. She could understand, that maintaining a mansion such as that required hours of cleaning and keeping everything in order.

Although, she didn’t find it odd that he would not consider mentioning his staff. Rich people rarely paid attention to those who served them. She couldn’t spare much thought to them either at the moment, truth be told, and she wasn’t by any means born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Planning their common departure was far more urgent that occupying her mind with how many servants Theo had.

They needed a good plan for her “escape”. Theodore, of course, had no trouble leaving. He had traveled there alone and he reported to no one. She, on the other hand, had to deal mostly with her aunt and then with her parents. Yet her aunt was the one who had to be convinced first.

As free spirited as the woman was, she still had a sense of responsibility over Emilia, which was both admirable and frustrating at the moment. Moreover, the same excuse she would use on her aunt should be given to her parents as well. She couldn’t start telling different stories for she was sure to get caught on her lies. She needed a solid excuse that she could use to anyone who asked.

Theodore was the one to find the solution in the end.

“Your aunt had no idea where you were going all these days, right?” he had asked thoughtfully.

They were having a picnic on one of fhe secluded spots of a beautiful garden, away from prying eyes. She was munching on a cupcake but he wasn’t eating anything.

“Yes, I had told her once or twice that I went to the library and for swimming but that was it” she had confirmed like the little fool that she was.

“Then you can say that you met an acquaintance from your university here and that she invited you to spend the rest of your vacation with her”

She found the idea brilliant and hugged him excited. He laughed and kissed her forehead.

“You are an excitable little creature, aren’t you?” he teased her but didn’t let go.

“I admit that’s what I am when I am with you” she blushed.

“No need for rosy cheeks, my little dove. That’s exactly how I like you. Sweet and cheerful”

She smiled timidly at him and buried her head in the crook of his neck. He let her rest there for a while, before he gently reminded her that they should go back to plotting hoe to get her out of here. He said that he had already bought her ticket. His eagerness to have her with him, made her heart melt but he was right.

Therefore, she reigned on her emotions and started explaining why his plan was excellent.

“I know who I say I’ve met. Her name is Anna Jones and she is one of my university friends. She has a place in a nearby island and she invited me to spend the rest of the summer with her because she has no decent company and she is bored out of her mind”

She expected Theo to be thrilled but he looked doubtful.

“What is wrong?” she asked feeling a little deflated. “You didn’t like it?”

“No, it’s not that” he gave her a rushed smile. “I was just thinking that you shouldn’t use someone they could get ahold of easily, because they will be worried about you and we may both get in trouble. You know I would hate to have to deal with a scandal”

“I do. That’s why you should know, that I’ve never hang around with a girl of that name” she announced triumphantly. “Anna Jones was studying in my university but she had graduated when I was accepted. She just happened to be there the first day and showed me around a bit and she told me that she would leave that very afternoon to live permanently in Italy because she had landed her dream job”

Theo’s demeanor changed as he gave her a wide, charming smile.

“Are you sure they won’t be able to find her?” he asked for confirmation.

“Absolutely. I will embellish the story a little and they will all believe it in no time”

“That’s my girl” he praised and she just beamed at him full of love and trust.

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