Chapter 1 - Pleasure to Make Your Acquaintance
Auntie Marcella had already informed me via email that she had charged someone to pick me up in the airport lounge area. She didn’t specifically tell me if that person was a he or a she, so I was confused on who to look up to when I arrived in the lounge. There were so many people inside the room, mostly tourists I suppose, either waiting for their flight to be called or waiting for whoever would fetch them just like me.
I noticed a vacant seat in one corner of the room, so I went straight there. I got only two bags with me; one had my clothes inside, while the other smaller one contained my personal necessities like my cellphone, wallet and passport. Good thing I wore simple jeans, a white blouse and a coat today; at least with this, I wouldn’t feel conscious with the way I sit together with all of these people.
It was a waiting game, but at least my time was well spent with playing the new version of Plants-Versus-Zombies game app. I never really got to play this one since I started my volunteer work in Nepal.
Now, here I am, ten minutes later, so engrossed with the tenth level of the game.
One thing to note about me was that when I am serious, I am serious, but for no apparent reason, my eyes left the screen and shot straight up to a tall, handsome - really handsome - man standing a few feet in my front, looking down at me - glaring actually - with a big white cardboard in hand. Written in it was my name in B.O.L.D. letters, obviously screaming to be noticed.
Typical thing. Exactly what I would expect in my Auntie.
Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Brooding was wearing a black tuxedo, Cavalli I guess. His grey-violet eyes inspected me from head to foot, exactly like I am a delicious wedding cake, and he seemed to be calculating the expression on my face — or I think it was mainly my face. I gulped. His more-than-necessary inspection really did make me feel conscious and flushed.
My eyes widened the moment I appraised his looks too.
Really now, a tuxedo? In an airport? What is this? Is he like a James Bond star or something?
But Gods, such a fine man. He even has a ring piercing on his oh-so-luscious bottom lip.
It was giving off a menacing aura, yes, but I found that it didn’t really scream caution for me. For starters, tuxedos and piercings don’t go well together, but I somehow find the two attractive together. Well, he is attractive so...yeah...maybe it would only be right to give him the benefit of the doubt why he has a lip piercing.
I didn’t have time to pause my game when his Christian Bale-like voice resounded in my ears. No. Not the Dark Knight Rises-deep rich voice, but the Howl’s Moving Castle-velvety voice.
“Andrea Anthoni?” he said. My name escaping his mouth was like a sleep spell cast over me. It made me feel drowsy. It was weird. But well, it’s either that or the six-hour God-forsaken flight I just had.
“Ye—yes, it’s me,” I replied, my voice faltering for a moment. I don’t really need to affirm myself that this James Bond-wannabe was who my Auntie had sent to fetch me. Basically, he had my huge nameplate in hand and the family crest of the Winner family was stitched neatly on his coat. These two were already a dead giveaway.
“Madame Winner is waiting for you. Come with me please,” he stated again and stooped low to get my bigger bag. This time I successfully pulled myself out of my near-state of drowsiness.
In a quick move, I exited the PVZ game, shoved my Iphone in my coat pocket and stood up only to find that Mr. Wannabe had already covered a long distance away from me.
What? Just like that? No introduction on his name or a simple how do you do?
Quick. Definitely quick.
He was like a floating corpse in a black suit. So, I did what had to do. I matched his pace of walking despite how taxing it was.
Gods, Aunt Marcella really knows her luxury well.
I say the car fetches billions of dollars, but this fact wasn’t the reason why I am nervous right now.
That’s the first thing I felt the moment I slid inside the sleek automobile. It had dawned on me that not only was Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Brooding here as my temporary babysitter, but he was also my personal driver and that’s for another two hours worth of travel going to my Auntie’s house.
Could I really pass this kind of awkwardness for that amount of time? He hasn’t said another word since we left the lounge area other than ‘your seat belt’ and the oracle in me prophesied that he won’t be releasing any other words anytime soon.
I could judge him as an impassive man; cold, calculating, and domineering. Not the chitty-chat kind of person. But you know what they say, ‘don’t judge the book by its cover’, so maybe it would be proper of me not to do that. Not like he is a book, but...oh well...he is still a human, I guess.
I wondered why Aunt Marcella has this kind of a man though. Is he her bodyguard or something? Maybe he is one of her late husband’s film agents or possibly her attorney?
Three of those are plausible, but the last two are unlikely. I mean, com’n! He sure looked just like my age, or maybe five years older than me. Film agents and attorneys are expected to look older. Plus, attorneys aren’t supposed to wear a piercing.
Glancing at him again as he focused driving us out of the parking lot, I say he could pass out definitely as a James Bond actor. The younger, sexier copy of him though.
I diverted my attention outside the car’s window and crossed my arms in my chest. I guess I’ll just have to wait until then to know the truth about this man.
My eyes bulged as I slowly dragged my head to face him, stunned.
Goodness me! The mute man actually spoke!
Seriously though. It has been almost two hours already. Our travel had become quite a silent war. I never really expected that he would speak now and rather sudden at that.
“Huh?” I replied, obviously confused of his not-so-clear question.
His eyes never left the road, but I did notice his mouth twitch a bit. Maybe he found my innocence irritating?
He cleared his throat and I saw him grip the steering wheel tightly. He does seem to be having trouble over something.
“What I mean is, what took you so long to visit your Aunt?” he finally said. I was relieved that this time, it was a question my IQ can process.
I bent my head and smiled to myself. “I am a busy person, my Auntie knows that. I simply can’t find the right time to visit her. Luxembourg is quite far away from where I live.”
“Where do you live?” he quickly butt in. The richness of his voice made me feel drowsy again which was more than weird.
“Wisconsin.” Although I found his question a bit uncomfortable, I answered still. “I have my own apartment there. But I consider myself a traveler. Whenever there is an outreach program from my charity groups, I volunteer. To where it will be is not important, as long as I get to help, that’s what matters.”
“I see.” I heard him say, but there was no smile, no trace of expression on his face for me to read as a good sign of approval from my thought sharing.
Feeling courageous, I shifted on my seat to face him and asked the question that had me bugging for hours. “I’m sorry. You didn’t actually introduce yourself to me awhile ago. May I ask your name please? I was wondering how you are connected with my Auntie.”
This time, I saw his lips curve into a half smile. This made my heart skip a frantic beat. Goodness. He looked criminal! I tell you, CRIMINAL!
“My name is Eriol, Milady Andrea,” he stated and gave me a once-over, his eyes were like wild fire sending me aflame, “And I am the Winner family’s head butler. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”
That’s what I became when he answered me straight in a formal fashion. In an instant, I recognized it as a butler’s Victorian way of addressing monarchs.
I never expected that he is actually a butler. That my slightly-eccentric Auntie employed a damn hot man like him!
Being a MasCom graduate, I would have answered him in a formal fashion too, but I suddenly felt the car engine stop. I soon realized that we had reached our destination.