“It wasn’t your fault Eilee. You can’t blame yourself for what he did. That’s nonsense.” The woman’s voice was calming and soothing from the other side of the door. It was like the sound of shaking trees in autumn along with the ripples of a stream, a voice he had heard for the very first time.
“Then whose fault was it?” His mother squeaked back, demanding an answer. Unlike Cherise who was calming, she sounded like a trumpet played by a five-year-old. Even so, he had grown to love this voice as something he used to hear every night before bed, telling stories of adventure, fights, and great romance. He could tell now, she was truly hurt. Clear after days of trying to hide that something was bothering her, he finally got the chance. Heavy coats floating around him, he leaned closer, trying not to push open the cupboard door.
“Of course it was Christopher’s fault Eilee! Don’t let him beat you, he’s dead!” His uncle said in a loud angry tone. The mention of his father’s recent death brought a short pang in his heart, piercing. He imagined him standing tall just behind the sofa where his mother and Cherise were sitting. Closer, he could hear her sobs; a sharp exhalation like knives was being stabbed in her chest. He retreated, frowning. He wonders what the matter was. Besides, if there was anything they couldn’t figure out he may have a solution.
“Thomas, please…” Cherise said, shushing him with a hidden warning.
“No, Cherise!” Eilee exclaimed. “He’s right. I know I may not have been that good of a wife. You know how much trouble I’ve made over the years of our marriage.”
“Oh, Eilee…” Cherise began. But his mother went on. “I know I may not be so… interesting or exciting to be with and love dies along the way. No thrills, no wonder, nothing… but I thought he was prepared for it. Because I know I was. I could swear we’ve made that oath years ago. Now that he’s dead, all his lies come out like a stinky coffin.” She hissed.
“You have to admit, he hid it well.” Another voice joined after minutes of listening. He knew well who he was. Henry Constantine, a close friend of his father. His voice was as usual, low and heavy. “Even I couldn’t smell it, that bastard.”
“Henry!” Cherise’s exclaimed raised his heartbeat.
“Goodness woman. Don’t scream in a dead silent room.” His uncle took a deep breath. He could tell everyone was startled as well. Suddenly he didn’t want to be there. Moving unconvertible between the heavy coats his father left behind, he felt a bad feeling of a quite see before a terrible storm. He wanted to get out but he couldn’t, he wanted to close his ears, to stop listening to their words but was too curious to do it.
“I was just lighting the situation darling. What I was trying to say was that even I didn’t know of this… the affair he has been in… and you all know I’ve known him since school years. I’m sorry Eilee that he deluded you, but you can’t change the past nor confront him now. He’s dead. The question still hangs right above our heads.” He took a sip and put his glass on the table. The small clinking noise it made was like the pounding of the judge’s hammer.
“What are we going to do about it?” He asked for everyone in the room. Henry seemed to take this matter as his business, considering they were close friends for long. His question was followed by a thoughtful silence from them; a small puff came from the sofa as Uncle Thomas let his body sinks to it.
“I’m afraid Henry is right Eilee. You have to make a quick decision. The boy will turn nineteen in a matter of days. You know what that means don’t you?” Cherise said.
“She’s right. He’ll be brought along with Damian to the palace, to serve as a personal guard. They’ll search for this long-lost brother and if they don’t find him and instead, that maid…” His words hung. Inside the cupboard, he nearly could not breathe. His hands were tightly placed on his lips from making any sound that could give his position away. They were talking about him. He was the problem.
“It would be hard to look for this woman and his long-lost brother. They’ll give up and let it slide.” Eilee tried. Her sentences were between a question and a statement. His uncle made a chuckling sound of irony and pity.
“Sweets, this long lost brother we’ve been talking about is a lie Christopher made to cover his affair. There won’t be any brother to find or a dead mother. But a resigned woman that worked in the palace years ago. If we let this happen, let the world know that Christopher did such things, no matter where he did it; it would be the greatest scandal in history. The Erehal’s and Simion’s clan would never let this go. I say, he has to go.”
“And how do you suppose we do that?” Eilee asked with venom enough to let everyone know her adopted son was her target for hatred. He pushed himself farther away on the corner, a trauma kicking in like a snake around his neck. He didn’t know any of this… he wanted to go out and tell his mother… tell Eilee that he didn’t want to go, that it wasn’t his fault, that he could stay hidden, or anything…
“Kill him?” Henry suggested.
“Henry, is this really the time?”
“Why not? We can have someone else do it or ask Damian to end the poor things suffering.” Henry took another sip of his whiskey, and thought maybe Henry was a bit drunk, he still wanted to cry thinking they would send his brother to do it. His hands and legs felt limp as if he had been running for a mile none stop. Sweat running from his forehead even though he felt ice cold.
“Come come now Henry, put that glass down and think straight. Even if we would get rid of him like that, I hardly think Damian is the right man to do it. He and Ezra are as close as butter on a toast. He would never manage to do it.” Uncle Thomas said. There was a short silence afterward. He could hear his own heartbeat, beating against his ribcage.
“I hardly think you want to put that on your conscience, both of you. Doing it yourself or not, causing someone else’s death no matter how troublesome that person is, is a crime high enough to be hanged.” For the first time, Cherise spoke in a scolding manner. “Yes, this is a person we are talking about gentlemen, not an animal.” She said suddenly. “We shall take care of it as humanely as possible, without involving death. I, for one, have a rather good idea. He surely won’t be happy not going to the palace with Damian, but it’s better than sending him off to God knows where this world would take him. I, we, will take him in.”
At that Henry spouts out his drink as if it was poison, letting out protests from both Eilee and Thomas. Cherise stayed quite, perhaps from years letting her husband dirty her dress with drinks. Thomas scoffed.
“You do know what you’re putting yourself into Cherise. With due all respect, I’m sure it will work perfectly not being sarcastic, I’m surprised you didn’t think of this Henry. But you’ll be taking in a boy, probably going to have tons of questions, not to mention his rebellious behavior…”
“Hmm, yes, what he said,” Henry said. “What are you planning to do with him, darling? Making him a butler? He’s a fighter, not the type to be holding trays of drinks I’m sure.” He stood up; the sound of the sofa’s protest was a familiar sound to Ezra. He’s asking the same question himself. What are they planning on doing with him? The image of him in a butler suit, holding a tray of drinks and small treats made his stomach turn. He had trained to fight for years. Throwing daggers, swinging swords, shooting arrows, riding horses, hand to hand combat, and breaking bones. The work of a butler would never fit him.
“I never said I would. Thief activities have been growing greatly in the neighborhood, the police couldn’t handle the problem and so we need a guard. If Ezra is good enough to work in the palace for the king and queen personally, then he is good enough to work for us. What do you think Eilee?” Now all the attention was on his mother. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but half of him was hoping that she would hold on to him. That she would jump and say that they were all crazy. That he could just stay there and work somewhere else with a different name. Not Pavo but Cherrokee or Smithy or whatever they could come up with. He prayed. For if Eilee Pavo was not his blood mother, he never knew any other mother or would ever wish for another.
“Kill him, make him a butler, make him a house guard, whatever I don’t care. As long as he’s out of my life. Besides, I only have one son and that’s Damian.”