The Man in The Mansion

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Temporary Home Sweet Home

“Ava, breakfast ready” Edmund said, knocking on the door. It took Ava a moment to wake up. She looked around the room. She had no clue how long she was going to stay but she didn’t have work for the next two weeks so it’s not like she had anywhere to be. She stood up and stretched before walking into the bathroom to take a quick shower.

When she got out, there were clothes on the bed that weren’t hers along with a little note.

Ava,

I hope you find these clothes suitable to your taste.

I hope you forgive me for taking this long to get you

something to wear. After breakfast, we can go to your apartment so you can get

the necessities for your stay.

~Edmund

He bought her clothes? She picked them up and put them on. It was a simple red sweater and jeans along with a bra and boy shorts. I guess he noticed her size when he washed her clothes. She probably should’ve been creeped out that this stranger bought her underwear and a bra in her size, but she knew he probably brought Danny with him to pick it out. She could tell he was more socially awkward than a Tumblr user at social event. She had to ask Danny how he acted at Pride. She chuckled at the thought and she went downstairs.

The kids were already at the table as Edmund was at the counter making coffee for everyone.

“Good morning, Ava. I hope you slept well. How do the clothes fit?” Edmund asked as he set everyone’s coffee in front of their plates.

“I slept fine and the clothes felt great. The bra fits great by the way so thanks for that, Danny.”

“Wait, how did you know I picked out?” Danny asked, shocked.

“Your dad looks uncomfortable at the slightest mention of it. Sorry, Edmund.” She said nodding towards Edmund as she sat down. Danny chuckled at his dad’s stoic but uncomfortable expression.

“It’s quite alright. I trust your coffee is the way you like it; I apologize if you didn’t want me to make it.” He said clearing his throat and sitting down. Though she didn’t have full trust in him yet, she trusted him enough to not poison her coffee. She took a sip.

“It’s perfect, how’d you know the way I liked my coffee?”

“I took note yesterday. I figured if you left, you may want to visit us, considering it didn’t take too long for the children to grow an attachment to you” He said taking a sip of his coffee.

“How exactly do you know that?” she asked.

“You have a strong motherly aura to you. I’m surprised you don’t have any kids.” Danny said sipping his coffee.

“Well, I’d actually have to have a boyfriend or the financial stability to have a kid. I also live in a one-bedroom apartment, so there’s that too.” She said cutting into her eggs benedict.

“What’s fine-anshul stable-ity?” Ben asked sounding it out.

“Financial stability is when an adult has enough money in order to do things without worrying about drowning in debt.” Katie explained. If this child wasn’t drinking her chocolate milk out of sippy cup, Ava would’ve thought she was just an extremely tiny college professor.

“Oh, well. Daddy has enough money. He could help you have a baby.” Ben said. Jo and Danny both snickered. Edmund cleared his throat in warning to them.

“That’s okay, buddy. I’m sure your Daddy has enough on his plate already.” Ava said trying to keep a straight face.

“Oh, okay.” he said as he continued to eat his food. Ava sighed in relief. She did not want a repeat of dinner.

After breakfast, the kids went off to their “training rooms” as Edmund called them, leaving the two alone.

“Are you ready, Ava?” Edmund asked as he finished with the dishes.

“Ready for what?”

“I said I would take you to your apartment after breakfast. Do you still wish to get your things from your apartment?” he asked as he hung the hand towel on the stove handle.

“Oh, yeah. You sure the kids will fine?”

“Yes. We will be back before their sessions end.” He said walking to the front door.

“Alright” she said walking out to the car. She went to open her car door for herself, but he immediately grabbed the handle and opened it before she had the chance.

“I’m a big girl you know. I can open doors for myself, so you don’t always have to do it.”

“It would be highly discourteous of me if I didn’t.”

She playfully rolled her eyes as she got it. He shut the door before getting it the car, himself. She told him the directions before they started towards her apartment building.

“So, what exactly are the training rooms for?” she asked after a few minutes of silence.

“As I said yesterday, they are simply to strengthen the children’s skills and abilities.”

“Abilities?”

“Things the children are more proficient in, that’s all.”

“And the doors?”

“Simply an analogy for each child’s proficiency. Danny has incredible people skills, hence the eye. The stone door represents Jo’s proficiency in strength. Ben has an emotional proficiency hence the blank door representing a blank expression. Lastly, Katie’s door is filled with puzzles which represent her intelligence.”

“If they’re “just analogies”, then why couldn’t I open them?”

“Each door represents one of the children, so it only opens to the child it represents. Not to worry, I am capable of getting into the rooms were something go wrong during their training. Each room has a sensor to tell me if they are safe. If they aren’t, an alarm will sound, and all their doors will open.”

“Wow, that’s a really interesting mechanic. Did you design that yourself?”

“Indeed. Although, my brother did assist me with the construction of the rooms.”

“Your brother?” she asked, intrigued. Edmund sighed.

“Yes. He and I are twins and although he is older by a few seconds; I am the more mature one.” He said. Even though he sounded annoyed when he talked about his brother, he could tell that he loved him more than anything.

“It’s still a cool mechanic, I’m surprised that you’re an author and not an engineer.”

“Writing has always been my passion, but I appreciate the compliment regardless.” he said as he pulled into the driveway. “We’re here.”

She walked up the stairs and unlocked her door with the spare key. She’d forgotten her key at home when she went to work but luckily her landlady, Mrs. Simmons, always hid a spare just in case.

Her apartment was the same as when she’d left for work on Tuesday. As she looked around for one of her book bags, she realized that her house screamed “The person who lives here is super depressed!!” and Edmund could probably tell. His expression was blank, as usual, so she couldn’t tell what he thought about the place.

“I’m gonna go grab my stuff, so just sit tight for a moment.” She said as she walked into her bedroom. Her phone was sitting on her bed, where she’d left it. She picked it up. No notifications. She shrugged and stuffed it in her back pocket and began to pack her shit into her bag. She was used to not getting any notifications. Everyone was usually too busy with their own lives. Not that she minded, she usually kept to herself anyways. Staying with Edmund is the first thing she’s done outside of work since she started her job at the café.

Edmund.

Ava glanced towards the wall before she continued to pack. He didn’t have to let her stay, but he was. He helped her after she fell unconscious on the street and now he’s letting her stay in his home with his kids with no additional requests. If anything, he should be wary of her, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by her being there. She didn’t know if it was because the kids liked her or if he genuinely enjoyed her company. She doubted the latter considering anyone would get annoyed if someone they barely knew kept reading the book they specifically told them not to read.

She wondered if the book was still in the library. She also wondered if he took her advice and hid the book somewhere. Either way, she’d find it and read it again. She thought of the many places he could hide the book, just for her to find it. The thought of it turning into a game between the two made her smile. She packed the rest of her things into the bag before zipping it up and making her way into the living room again.

When she walked in, she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was so clean and organized, she barely believed that she was in her apartment. Edmund walked out of the kitchen with a dish towel in his hands and his sleeves rolled up.

“Are you ready to go?” he asked.

“Did you clean my house??”

“Yes, is there something wrong?”

“No no no no, I just… didn’t expect you to clean. You didn’t have to do that, Edmund.”

“I don’t mind, it was no trouble at all.”

“Thank you, I wish I could do something in return, but I don’t have much”

“Nonsense, Ava. Your company is enough.” he said placing the dish towel on the counter. That wasn’t an expression Ava heard often. Especially from someone who wasn’t family. She couldn’t help but smile.

“Well, I got my stuff. Let’s get out of here before Mrs. Simmons shows up.” She said grabbing her keys.

“Would that be a bad thing?” he asked opening the front door.

“If she sees us coming out of my apartment together, yes it would be.” she said as she shut the door and locked it before they went down to the car.


As they got to the house, Ben walked out of his training room and Katie was sitting at the table, coloring.

“Did you finish your training early?” Edmund asked as he walked in behind Ava. Katie nodded.

“Watcha got?” Ben asked as he walked over to join his sister.

“Some of Ava’s things. She’ll be staying her for a little while.” Edmund explained as he hung his coat up.

“Really?!?” the kids exclaimed simultaneously. Ava didn’t think the kids would be that excited about her staying.

“Yeah, I don’t have to go back to work for a bit, so I’ll be helping your dad out with you knuckleheads.” Ava said messing Ben’s hair up, making him giggle.

“I trust that you will all be on your best behavior for the duration of her stay.” Edmund said stepping up beside Ava.

“I will be the best little lady you’ve ever met in your life.” Katie said with a little curtsy. A loud bang came from Jo’s training room signaling that Jo was done with her training. Her door swung open and Jo stomped out, holding her head.

“That turn again?” Katie asked. Jo grunted in response as she walked over to the freezer. She pulled out an ice pack and held it on her head before slumping into the chair across from Katie.

“Would you like me to lessen the difficulty?” Edmund asked as made himself a cup of coffee.

“No. I can get it; I know I can.” Jo said.

“Jo, I know that you’re determined to move on from the course, but I don’t want you hurting yourself anymore. If you don’t complete it tomorrow, I’m going to change it.” he said smoothing her hair out. “Katie, are you ready for class?”

“Yup, I’ll go get my books.” Katie said as she hopped out of her chair and ran upstairs.

“The kids are home-schooled?” Ava asked.

“Yes, I teach them all separately, giving each of the children the ability to work at their own pace.” Edmund said before walking upstairs.

Ava grabbed a small sandwich bag and filled it with ice and water before wrapping a rag around it. She walked over and replaced Jo’s ice pack with the bag.

“That’s better for you than an ice pack.” Ava said as she put the ice pack back in the freezer.

“Thanks. So, what’s with the backpack? Are you staying here with us?” Jo asked pointing to Ava’s bag.

“Yeah! She’s gonna stay and help Daddy take care of us.” Ben said without looking up from his coloring book.

“Like a babysitter?” Jo asked.

“Not necessarily. I’m not getting paid to watch you guys, I’ll just be here if you guys need anything when your dad’s busy.” Ava explained as she sat down next to Jo. She pointed to Jo’s head injury. “So, I’m assuming that’s been happening for a while now?”

“Yeah, Jo runs too fast in her sessions, so she doesn’t turn in time.” Ben explained as he continued to color. Jo growled under her breath and slumped further into her chair.

“Well, could I suggest something?” Ava asked.

“Sure” Jo mumbled.

“If you want to make the turn without losing speed, you could start the turn sooner than you actually need to. That way, you can maintain speed without hurting yourself.” Ava said. Jo thought about it for a moment before her grumpy mood disappeared.

“I’ll try that. Thanks” Jo said smiling softly.

“You’re welcome, kiddo.” Ava said before grabbing her backpack off the table and heading up to her room.

After she finished unpacking, she fell back onto the bed and looked around the room. Even though the whole situation had “sketchy” written all over it and Ava could possibly wind up on an episode of Law and Order; she was happy to have some company and not be alone for once. She didn’t mind being in a nice house with a library, a better bed than her own, free meals, and the sweetest kids that she’s met in a long time. Not to mention, her host wasn’t all that bad. He’s kind, funny at times, handsome and he’s willing to deal with Ava’s bullshit for two weeks. The only downside was the mystery of the family she was staying with, and Ava could hardly call that a downside. She was going to figure out the mystery that is Edmund, whether he wanted her to or not.

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