SIGNORA

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Chapter 1

Brownhill, Canada.

His thoughts were laced by shock and disappointment.

Shock at how things had turned. Once the town was a ‘happy town’. Happiness was flowing abundantly in the air while people were always in a festive mood. Serenity was in their veins. Everything had changed. Serenity flowing in the veins suddenly seems to dry out. Festivity turned into mourning with the change.

Life would be boring if there would be no change. A good life equates to unexpected changes. Changes should be welcomed by wide open hands. But not all changes deserved warm welcome.

The change that came in the town was something that he never expected. It was not a good change, rather it destroyed the lives of parents, of many adolescent girls. His own daughter luckily was past that age and safe according to the authorities of the town.

They didn’t know that a few years back her daughter had faced more brutality than dead girls of the town. That she was the only victim who had survived.

He was disappointed that how dare the authorities said to parents of the adolescent girls, to not to allow them outside of the home except school hours. That they were unable to sabotage the danger lurking outside, that was prying on the young innocent girls. He himself being a father, knew how difficult and heart wrenching the thought could be, that anything could happen to their little girls and they hadn’t any power to stop that.

He was watching TV. A news channel. The news-anchor was also a girl. She was not a teenager, a lucky woman she was. But if she had a daughter and that too in an adolescent age, she would not be lucky anymore. The news she was reading made his heart throb in fury. He wanted to smash the head of that killer who was mercilessly taking the lives of the young girls of his town.

‘Another dead body of a young girl is found near the lake. The girl was named Cara, fourteen years old. Sources told our news agency that the girl left home in the morning in her usual time for school. But she didn’t reach home back in the evening. Her parents are blaming the school staff, that, due to their negligence Cara died. On the other hand, school staff denied the accusation and clarified on their behalf that Cara never attended the school classes in the entire past week and this week also.’

‘Parents had contacted the cops in the evening and a search team was also released. Then they found the body in the early morning.’

The news reader read the news expressionlessly. She further continued and also showed the blur image of the body to its viewers.

‘The body was mutilated like every time. All the organs were gouged out from the body. But this time authorities did not find only a hollow dead body. The gouged-out organs were not missing; rather they were found at a distance from the lake, aligned in a specific fashion and with closer inspection, it resembled the English alphabet M. Cops …’

Sebastian felt the presence of her daughter just behind him. He switched off the TV by remote control and swiftly turned back, “Fayre dear, Is lunch ready? Let me help you in setting the table,” he said in an indifferent tone, so that her daughter wouldn’t care about the outside world’s atrocities. She had experienced far more barbarisms than that poor girl, Cara.

He knew how difficult it was for a person to move forward in life. Many weren’t able to move and even lost their minds, but her daughter had shown tremendous courage and pushed those vile memories into the back of her mind.

He was not restricting her freedom. She was allowed to do anything but being a father, he understood that the things which were happening in the town could easily trigger her memories. He would never allow her to submit in front of her past demons. Her daughter would be a better woman.

Earlier, he was a little reluctant when Zack asked him to leave the town. Fayre’s all childhood memories are here. He never wanted Fayre to forget about her roots. But now, it seems that it would be the best thing if she would forget about everything. Those memories he wanted her to treasure were fading in comparison to the past brutalities.

Sebastian when asked her about lunch preparation, he wanted her to momentarily distract from the news as he knew she would be going to ask later on and also would want to meet Cara’s parents. She would be very distressed like usual. He didn’t like that emotion on her face.

But what he saw shocked him. Fayre, this time was not in distress. She had one hand on the armrest, upper body leaned towards the direction of the television. It seemed that she was listening to that reporter with rapt attention. Her whole stance was showing off confidence, power and vigilance.

Before Fayre was a confident girl. She had a bubbly personality. After that incident she didn’t lose her confidence. But the difference was visible in her persona. She had started giving some off vibes. Staring at everyone with a calculative gaze. Lost in her own world. Her personality took a huge turn, from warm sunshine to cold frosty winter.

Fayre once a girl next door turned into an exquisite ice queen. She had become unapproachable and was gaining more attention from the masses. People say, eyes are the window to the soul. He was a father and he knew that her old kind soul was shattered. Something evil had touched the soul and new Fayre was slowly growing.

Sebastian ignored it. He didn’t consider these changes as red flags, thought it was her coping mechanism. He was right but partially.

She furrowed her brows, “Dad, why did you turn off the tv? Do I look like a frail young girl to you?”

He gently smiled and patted her hand that was resting on the armrest, “Come, sit with me. I thought you were in the kitchen. I didn’t realise that you have learnt to sneak behind me also.”

Fayre naturally understood that her father didn’t want to talk anything related to the news and the killer, so she also didn’t pry on the topic anymore and thought to let it go but, only at the front of her dad.

She hopped on the sofa beside her dad and gave him a side hug. She wriggled her beautifully arched eyebrows in a comical manner, “Well dear daddy…,” she paused to watch her father’s reaction. When she saw the serious look on his face, she left the comical expression and smirked, “you will later realise sneaking is not the only thing that I have learnt.”

Sebastian was at the loss of words. He didn’t know why, but he didn’t like her reply. It felt that her words had some different meaning. Or maybe he was overthinking. Fayre laughed out and said, “Why are you ruining the mood by suddenly turning serious? Stop frowning and help me in the kitchen. Zack is also coming to have lunch with us.”

On hearing Zack’s name, he begrudgingly replied, “Sure.” Zack was very close to Fayre. After that incident Fayre left everyone’s company except him. Zack was the only whom her daughter trusted. After that incident she started trusting him blindly. He didn’t like that blind trust of his daughter on him.

***

“Can you for an hour behave like a civilized guy?” asked Sebastian while pointing out his fork towards him, sitting across to him on the dining table.

Zack who was intentionally munching the food noisily to annoy him rejected him, “Not in front of you.”

Sebastian then glared at her daughter and Fayre in return glared at Zack, “Behave yourself!” she chastised Zack.

Fayre then continued, “Dad, I don’t want to reside here anymore,” she said pitifully, “I want to be a normal person, want to live a normal life. I am an adult now and I would like to make my own decisions. I love you; you are my father. Trust me, I would be fine.”

Sebastian in a thoughtful tone said, “I know you have decided to move out,” he then signaled Zack. Zack understood that they needed their privacy so he left the table. Sebastian then inquired, “but why with him?”

It was not that Sebastian disliked him. Whenever he saw him, he always thought that Zack had some hidden motives. He never dared to speak his mind in front of Fayre about him because Fayre was normal in front of him. He didn’t want to hurt her daughter.

“Dad, it is not what you are thinking. Zack is my friend, only. I don’t want him as my guy though he is my childhood friend. And I understand your concerns as well,” she held his hand, “be assured I will take care of myself and also, you my support pillar will also be there,” she smiled and held his hand more tightly.

Her smile comforted his heart, “But, why Athens? Why do you want to leave the country?”

She was smiling but if a person would observe her keenly, he could say that there was nothing good about her smile. She ambiguously replied, “You should know dad, nothing is forever in this world. Replacement is the driving force of this world. Same is in the Athens,”

Sebastian cut her off in the middle, “What!? I didn’t get you?”

“Just remember dad, the flame of revenge inside me, could burn me in anytime. Before, it burned me, I have to burn those who are responsible for our plight.” She said with maintaining a strong eye contact with him. She wanted to let him know how serious she was. She didn’t care about the danger. She was fearless and now would be boundless also.

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