Not so according to plan
The clock hit 5:00 marking the end of Ava’s shift and the beginning of her 2-week vacation. Her boss gladly rewarded her with the time off since she had been working hard since she started 3 years ago. She said goodbye to all of her colleagues and started down the sidewalk. Ava’s job was only 10 minutes from her house, so she didn’t bother driving to and from work. She stared at the ground while she walked, deep in thought. She hadn’t wanted to get out of bed at all today, but bills needed to be paid so her day-long depression nap would have to wait another day. She accidentally bumped into someone as she walked.
She met the man’s eyes as she apologized before continuing on her way. She wasn’t going to get mad at the dude; she was the one who wasn’t paying attention to where she was going after all. She never did when she was in thought, she was honestly surprised she hadn’t walked into oncoming traffic yet. As she walked towards her destination, she began to feel weary and tired. Confused, she tried to keep going, but to her disappointment, she wasn’t able to keep her eyes open for long and passed out on the sidewalk.
“Do you think we should try to wake her up??”
“I could smack her awake!”
“No, Jo. Daddy told us to leave her alone until she woke up.”
Hearing the children’s voices, Ava stirred in her sleep.
“I think she’s waking up!” the first voice from earlier exclaimed.
“Give her some space, children.” A man’s monotone voice spoke up.
Ava slowly sat up, rubbing her eyes. Once they were opened, she was met with 3 children and one young boy in his early teens. She jolted away from them and inspected her surroundings. She was no longer outside on the sidewalk, but in a large elegant living room on a very expensive looking couch. Behind the children stood a tall, slender man with pitch black hair and the most nonchalant look on his face, wearing a fancy suit that looked to be way above Ava’s pay grade.
“Where the,” she glanced at the children and then back at the man, “Where am I?”
“You’re in my home. I brought you here after you passed out on the sidewalk.” He said in the same monotone voice.
“You didn’t think to bring me to a hospital?”
“This was the first place I thought to bring you, my apologies.”
“Well, I appreciate it, bud, but I should probably get going.” Ava said getting up and walking to what she presumed was the front door. Before she could get passed the man, he placed his hand out in front of her, stopped her from leaving.
“I assure you; it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave at this time of night. You can stay here for the night and if you wish, you can leave tomorrow morning.”
“So, you won’t let me-wait, night?”
“It’s about 10 pm. You’ve been out for close to 5 hours.” The older boy told her. The boy was relatively tall compared to Ava. His light brown hair curled around his thick, round frames. The amount of sass in his dark green eyes clashed with the kind tone in his voice. He held out his hand. “Danny”
“Ava” she told him as she shook his hand. She turned back to the man. “I’ve been out for that long?” The man gave a graceful nod before turning to the kids.
“Alright children, I let you stay up this long, but now, it’s time for bed.”
“Come on, Dad. Can’t we stay up for a little longer?” The oldest girl whined; her voice was the same one that offered to smack Ava awake earlier. She had a band-aid on her nose and several on her hands. She styled her blonde hair into a messy pixie cut and Ava couldn’t blame her, it was a good look on her.
“Jo, as I told you earlier, you could stay up until our guest woke up. Now that she’s awake, I expect you all to get some sleep.” He said strictly, well as strictly as you can get with a monotone voice like his.
“Fine” she groaned, crossing her arms, and walking upstairs. Danny followed as well as the other kids that looked much younger than the other 2.
The little boy couldn’t have been older than 4 or 5. He was one of the only gingers that Ava had seen around these parts; most people were either blonde or brunette, even black hair, like Ava’s was uncommon. His pale little face with covered in freckles. If Ava had no self-control, she may have pinched his cheeks.
The youngest girl was what many people in this town wanted their babies to look like. Golden blonde hair, baby blue eyes and wearing a cute little dress with a pink bow. Not that she wasn’t cute, she was adorable, Ava would not deny that. In her arms, she held a brown bunny speckled in pink and blue hearts. It looked like she had given him a little suit to wear and Ava had to stop herself from awing at the fact.
“I’ll be in to read your stories after I finish with our guest.” the man told them. Were all of these kids his?? They called him “Dad”, but they didn’t seem to be his biologically, not to mention, he didn’t have a partner around to help him with the kid. Of course, he could’ve been a single father but with 4 kids? How he stays calm and collected is a mystery on its own.
“Would you like me to show you to your room?” the man’s voice broke her out of thought.
“My…. room??” Ava asked, confused.
“Well, I’m not going to make you sleep on the couch, you’re a guest. That would insolent of me.” He said, clearly offended, or Ava thought he sounded offended; it was hard to tell.
“I don’t remember agreeing to stay here.” Ava said crossing her arms.
“Well, I’m certainly not going to let you go out this late. All I ask of you, ma’am, is to stay for tonight and you can leave first thing tomorrow if you wish.” He asked. Ava glanced outside; she never was a fan of the dark, she got a day job for that very reason.
“Fine, I’ll stay for the night, but if you kill me or chain me up in your basement, I will not hesitate to fuck you up.” Ava threatened.
“I assure you; I will be doing nothing of the sort, you are a guest in my home.” He said with a courteous nod. He held out his hand. “You said your name was Ava, correct?”
“Yeah, you got a name or is it just “creepy monotone man in a mansion”?” Ava asked taking it, cautiously.
“Please, Creepy Monotone Man in a Mansion is my father, call me Edmund” he said kissing her hand. Ava was shocked, there weren’t many chivalrous people around anymore; the only chivalrous people she’s met in her 22 years on this Earth were either lesbians or her dad and stepdad. Other than being slightly shocked at his chivalrous act, she was confused. She knew he was making a joke, but his face remained as stoic as it has since she woke up.
“That was a joke, right? I couldn’t tell.”
“Yes, that was a joke. Come, I’ll show to you to your room.” He said walking up the stairs. Ava glanced outside before following him, hoping that she wouldn’t regret this later.
He led her down the hallway to a room she assumed was the guest room. He opened the door for her and showed her inside. It was much nicer and more spacious than her own bedroom. When she sat on the bed, she nearly melted into it. She hadn’t had a bed this comfortable since she went on vacation to Rome with her mom and stepdad.
“I hope everything is to your liking. If you need anything, my bedroom is just down the hall; Please, do not hesitate to ask me anything.” Edmund said before giving a courteous bow before shutting the door and leaving Ava to her own devices.
Before Ava thought to get comfortable, she inspected the room thoroughly for anything suspicious like cameras, possible peep holes, secret doors, two-way mirrors, etc. Nothing. She double checked to make sure, but when she again found nothing, she relaxed and sat back down. The bed was extremely comfortable so she couldn’t resist laying down and melting into the bed. If she hadn’t just woken up from a forced 5-hour nap, she probably would’ve fallen asleep immediately. Instead she stood up and began to wander around the house. She passed by rooms that she assumed were the kids’ rooms, before peeking into a room and seeing Edmund sitting at a desk, extremely focused on whatever he was typing on the computer. She quietly closed the door and continued her exploration of the house.
Most of the rooms she found were the basics for a home, except 100 times more fancy considering this guy was loaded. Ava wondered how he ended up as rich as he was, but she knew better than to ask a random stranger about his money. There were 4 rooms, however, that she found peculiar. Each door was designed much differently than any of the doors she’d seen so far.
The first door had no doorknob but had a keyhole in the shape of an eye. Ava tried to find a way to open it, but she couldn’t find a single clue as to how the door opened.
The second door wasn’t a wooden door, but instead a very large stone door with no doorknob or keyhole. Ava tried to push it, but found the door was very heavy. She couldn’t see how Edmund got in and out of the room, considering his frail, slim figure.
The third door seemed to be a normal door, but like the second door, there was no doorknob or keyhole in sight. Despite the missing components that requires a door to actually be a door, it seemed as normal as all the others.
The last door had a doorknob along with several locks and puzzles below it. Ava tried to figure some of the puzzles out, but it gave her a headache as she tried. She figured that Edmund had no problem unlocking the door, but as to why the puzzles were so low when Edmund was a towering string bean confused her. Though curious as to why the doors were there and what the meant, she continued on.
The final room that she peeked into was covered wall to wall with books. It was the most beautiful thing Ava had ever laid her eyes on. She stepped inside the room and closed the door behind her. She was mesmerized by the number of books that he had, all sorted into different genres. The thing that impressed her the most was the shelf of children’s books and as she inspected further, she noticed that most of them were all written by the same author.
“Estelle Luzzatto, huh? The kids’ must be a fan.” she thought to herself. She continued looking around for any books that piqued her interest. She wandered to the mystery section and soon found a murder-mystery book that she found interesting.
Illusions of Yesterday, even the title sounded mysterious. The cover of the book was black with a silhouette of what seemed to be a raven. Ava glanced at the author’s name to see that it was written by the same author as the majority of children’s books. She thought for a moment before leaving the room.
“I’m sure he won’t mind if I borrow this for the night” she said to herself as she walked to back to her room. She quietly shut the door behind her and sat the book down on the nightstand. She needed to find something to wear to bed, these clothes were dirty, not to mention they reeked of coffee beans and sweat. She walked over to the closet, hoping there would be something for her to wear. Inside she only found an array of dress shirts and slacks, all seemingly brand new; she shrugged and grabbed one of the dress shirts before going into the ensuite bathroom and taking a quick shower.
After she changed into the dress shirt and put her dirty clothes on the dresser, she curled up in the bed and began to read the book.
Edmund closed his laptop and stretched, causing several joints to pop. He stood up and went to check on the children and his guest. He opened each of their doors quietly to see each of them sleeping soundly; he smiled with each child he checked on, glad they were getting the proper rest they deserved. Lastly, he knocked softly on Ava’s door before peering in to see her asleep, wearing one of his dress shirts. He cursed at himself for not giving her anything to sleep in. He would have to apologize to her tomorrow for his rude action, he took the clothes off of the dresser so he could go wash them for her. Before he left the room, he noticed she was holding something. Curious, he walked to the side of the bed and saw that it was a book. Upon further inspection he found that it was Illusions of Yesterday. He sighed and took the book from her sleeping hands before leaving to get ready for bed.