“Come on, we could’ve brought Nico back with us,” I whined as Gideon and I returned to the castle.
“No, your punishment isn’t over yet, so Nico is going to stay with Kieran for another two weeks,” Gideon responded, taking the stairs with me following behind him.
“I can take care of my brother much better than Kieran can,” I argued.
“Yes, but Kieran is taking care of Nico just fine, you’ve seen it with your own eyes,” Gideon said.
It was true, Kieran was taking better care of Nico than I thought he would. Kieran made sure that my brother had everything he wanted or needed. Nico had everything there, from toys to games to medicines and food.
When Gideon and I arrived at Kieran’s loft, Nico had rushed over to me and threw himself at me. I was more than happy to catch my little brother. We had some food, and Gideon wasted no time in breaking the news about me being pregnant to Kieran; even when I told Gideon and Kieran that it was too early to tell, it didn’t stop Kieran from shouting to the whole world how he was going to be an uncle.
After two hours Gideon and I took our leave from Kieran. Nico asked me when I was going to come and visit him next, but I did not have an answer for that, so I was more than happy when Gideon told Nico that he would come live with us after two weeks, which had Nico beaming.
I begged Gideon to let Nico come with us now, but he was adamant and said that my punishment was not yet over and that we needed to spend time to get to know each other. I did not see the point of getting to know each other, since Gideon called me a whore and all, but arguing with him was pointless.
So here we were, back in our castle, without my brother, with me sulking and Gideon being the same as he was. We made it to our bedroom and my eyes zeroed in on the bag sitting on the bed which Gideon had brought earlier. I wondered what was in it.
“What’s in the bag, Gideon?” I asked him.
“Oh, I forgot, I bought a dress for you,” Gideon answered, handing me the bag which looked as if it belonged to some expensive clothing store.
A smile flitted across my face before it died as I gazed at the bag in my hands. The word whore kept resonating in my mind as I stared at the bag.
“I can’t accept this, Gideon, but thank you anyway,” I told him, putting the bag back on the bed.
Gideon frowned as he discarded his jacket. Coming over to me, he gripped my shoulders gently. “Why? Do you not like it? I can always exchange it and buy a dress that you like,” he said to me.
My anger reared its ugly head as I looked at Gideon. “Do you buy clothes for all your whores?” I spitted out.
“What?” Gideon asked flabbergasted. “No, why are talking like this?” Why was he acting so clueless?
“Did you forget that you called me a whore?” Did he suffer from a memory dysfunction?
“Little dove, stop saying that word. In fact, you are not allowed to swear or say any sort of a bad word for the rest of your life,” Gideon stated.
“What, why?!” I shrieked.
“Because you’re pregnant with my baby, and if you swear then the baby is going to learn how to swear, so I forbid you to swear from now on,” Gideon explained.
“That’s absurd, and you called me who—” Gideon cut me off by placing his hand over my mouth, effectively silencing me. I thrashed and struggled to get out of his grip, but he was too strong as compared to me and my small frame.
“You say that awful word one more time and you’ll know what’ll happen,” Gideon warned. My eyes widened when the real meaning of his words sank in. Gideon was going to extend Nico’s stay with Kieran if I didn’t do as he said.
Removing his hand from my mouth, Gideon enveloped me in a hug. His actions took me by surprise, and when he begun kissing my forehead, my cheeks and then finally my lips I was frozen in shock. What was wrong with this man? One moment he was calling me a whore and the next he was shutting me up whenever I said that word. If he kept up with this kind of behavior, I had a feeling that the next eleven and a half months were going to be no less than a roller coaster ride.
“Never say that word again, or any bad word, okay? You’re not...that,” Gideon told me.
“I’m not what?” I questioned, teasing him. I knew what he meant but it was fun irritating him.
“You know what. That word you said...the thing that I called you, you’re not that,” he answered.
My heart bloomed with happiness at hearing Gideon say that. He did not think I was a whore. I smiled as I inhaled his scent, my husband did not believe I was a whore.
“Thank you, Gideon, that means a lot to me,” I told him, feeling happy.
“You’re welcome, little peach,” Gideon murmured, kissing the top of my head.
Releasing me from his embrace, Gideon took a step back. Grabbing the bag from the bed, he handed it to me once again. Hesitantly, I removed the box from the bag, then proceeded to open it. Inside the box was a gorgeous, royal blue dress. It was a halter neck with a brooch in the shape of a flower right below the breast. I put the dress against me and saw that it fell just half an inch below me knees. It was beautiful, and expensive.
“Gideon, this dress must be so expensive, why did you buy it?” I ran my hands over the soft material, feeling privileged that Gideon bought such an expensive dress for me.
“It was not expensive at all...at least now that I think about it, this dress was not expensive at all.” Gideon muttered the last part to himself.
“What do you mean?” I gazed at him with a smile on my face.
“Nothing, go try it on,” Gideon urged.
“Um, maybe later, I want to talk to you about something.” The only reason I didn’t want to try the dress on was because I was afraid I might ruin the dress; I never had anything this expensive.
“Of course, what is it, little fairy?” Gideon sat down on the edge of the bed next to me.
“Have you found a cardiologist for my brother?” I questioned.
“Yes, I have found two cardiologists that are known to be the best in the United Kingdom, we can go and talk to them about your brother, and whoever you think is better we’ll ask him to operate on Nico,” Gideon told me, instantly easing my worries.
“Thank you so much, Gideon, you are so kind,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Sure, anything else?” Gideon was being so sweet, I wished that once this contract was over and Gideon and I were finished, I would find a man exactly like Gideon, except for the part where he was filthy rich. I wanted my boyfriend or husband to be well off but not filthy rich like Gideon, I wanted someone of my standards.
“Yes, when can we go meet the doctors?” I wanted to get Nico’s surgery done as soon as possible.
“Whenever you want,” he answered.
“How about day after tomorrow,” I suggested.
“Okay, I’ll get an appointment with both of the doctors and then we’ll go meet them,” Gideon told me.
“Okay, thank you,” I said.
“Okay, now I’m going to go to my study, I’ve got some work to do, while you can go see the library or go out in the garden, whatever you feel like doing,” Gideon stated, standing up.
“There’s a library, where? I want to see it.” The fact that there was a library here filled me with excitement. I loved libraries and books, and it was a good thing for Nico, too.
“Yes, the library is on the sixth floor, I can have one of the maids take you there,” Gideon answered.
“No, don’t bother the maids, I’ll find the library myself,” I told him.
“Okay, but only read the good books in the library, and make sure you are in a comfortable position, don’t even think about using the ladder to reach the higher shelves, use the staircase, understand?” Gideon instructed.
“Why read only the good books? And what was wrong with taking a ladder?” This man gave some strange instructions at times.
“Because you are pregnant now, so using a ladder is dangerous is for you, you might fall and hurt yourself and the baby. And you must read only the good books because if you read the bad books then it will have a negative impact on the baby.” He was talking as if the baby was already here, or the baby had supernatural powers where he or she would know what I was reading.
But I did not want to argue with Gideon, especially when he was being so sweet to me. So even though his instructions seemed a little ridiculous to me, I nodded with a smile.
“Okay, sure, as you say, by the way, which books are categorized as good?” I had to know which books were good because if Gideon caught me reading a book which was not good I would be in trouble.
“Encyclopedias, dictionaries, history books, basically any sort of educational books...other than that, fairytales with happy endings and nursery rhymes, stuff like that,” he answered.
I was not going to spend my time reading nursery rhymes. “How many books do you have in the library?” It would be absolutely amazing if Gideon had a huge library.
“The library takes up three floors of the castle, you’ll know once you go there,” he informed me.
“Which floors does the library occupy?” I enquired.
“Fifth, sixth and seventh,” Gideon replied, striding to the door.
“Are the books divided into aisles or something?” I queried.
“Yes, don’t bother going to the fifth floor, it’s the archives, you can roam around the sixth floor,” Gideon responded. He was so patient when answering my questions, never ones did he show any sign of annoyance or irritation.
Opening the door, Gideon exited the bedroom, leaving me pondering things about the library. Placing the dress back in the box, and carefully sliding the box back in the bag, I put the box in the closet and left the room.
Taking the stairs two at a time, I reached the sixth floor in no time. Immediately, my eyes fell upon the metal gate that barred me from going to the seventh floor and figuring out who the woman in the portrait was and the mystery of the floors above. Glaring at the electronic keypad, I vowed to myself that I was going to find out the passcode and go up to the seventh floor.
After getting my breathing back to normal, I wandered around the sixth floor until I came in front of a set of giant double doors. All the doors in this castle were huge and thick, but these ones took the cake. Made of the same dark wood as the rest of doors, the double doors had an intricate carving on them. The door knobs looked to be made of some heavy metal—maybe brass, I did not have any knowledge about metals.
Grabbing hold of a knob, I twisted it and pushed the door open. My heart leapt with excitement when my olfactory senses detected the smell of new and old books. Wasting no time standing outside, I entered the library and closed the door behind me.
It was like I had died and went to heaven as I gazed upon the library for the first time. I looked everywhere, trying to absorb every tiny detail all at once. A smile curved my lips as my eyes took in the numerous levels of the library. I tilted my head all the way back as I followed the shelves all the way to the top. There were reading nooks and alcoves, along with desks and cushioned chairs. There was not a single spot that was free of books. Shelves upon shelves were cramped with books. A chandelier hung from the ceiling. Reading lamps were placed in every corner and on every table, casting a soft glow around the room. The stairs were supported by a banister which had an intricate pattern, similar to the one on the door, on it. The library was every bookworm’s fantasy, and I got to live that fantasy.
Not heeding Gideon’s instructions, I made my way down the stairs and entered the archives. Dust ruled the air as I took my first breath in the archives and immediately started coughing. After coughing like a total maniac, I begun to walk around the archives. There were numerous shelves here as well, but as compared to the shelves above, these shelves were dusty and looked as if no one had touched them in years. I thought the archives would have boxes with useless files, but over here the archives looked like a hardly visited library.
My eyes widened when I saw an aisle with Kieran’s name on it. I was about to rush over to it but I stopped when my eyes landed on Gideon’s name. There was an aisle dedicated to my husband. Flitting my eyes over all the aisles I came to know that all the members of the Maslow family had an aisle which was dedicated to them.
I wondered if there was an aisle dedicated to the woman in the portrait. But even if there was, how would I know, I didn’t know her name. Sighing in frustration, I went over to the aisle that was dedicated to someone named Julia.
Numerous books lined the shelves from top to bottom. I wondered what was so important about this woman that she had so many books in her aisle. Placing my fingers on the first book my eyes landed on, I pulled it out. The book came out easily along with a cloud of dust that nearly sent me into another coughing fit. Sitting down on the floor with my back against the wooden shelf, I opened the book.
Diary of Julia Marie Maslow
Reading the title had me gasping. This was a diary?! Quickly flipping through the pages, I came across diary entries of three years, one for each day. This Julia woman had recorded her life in her diary. Fascinating.
Feeling like I had stumbled upon a historical treasure, I put the diary back in its place and took out another one from another shelf. Reading the first page, I got to know that it was another diary. After going through different books in Julia’s aisle I came to know that all of them were diaries; recordings of their lives. Planning to read about Julia some other time, I left her aisle and thought about which aisle to visit next.
A frown marred my face when I saw an aisle without a name. Curious, I strode over to it, and saw an aisle similar to that of Julia’s. I thought this aisle would be empty since it had no name on it but I was wrong.
Without thinking I grabbed the first book that I got my hands on off the shelf and opened it. Instead of finding an inscription on who this diary belonged to, a picture fell out. Bending down, I picked up the photograph and the face that I saw had me gasping.
It was the woman in the portrait.