The next morning, I was woken by an unusual ringing of the telephone in the living room. I got out of my bed in a hurry, to answer the call. It didn’t want to be seen as a lazy sleepyhead again. This would only confirm his wrong impression of me, which he got yesterday.
A kind, male voice replied: “Good Morning Ms. Romanov! This is Andre. Sire Stuart wants me to tell you, that he is expecting you for breakfast on the terrace, which is attached to the small salon, at 9 o’clock. Can I tell him, that you will comply with his request?”
Without hesitating, I answered: “Yes, of course! I will be there.”
“Shall I send you someone, to fetch you?” he responded dutifully.
“No, that will not be necessary. Thank you, Andre.”
Then I ended the call. I went into the bathroom euphorically, to take a quick shower and make myself pretty. I was curious with whom I would eat breakfast: James or Malachy.
After I was fully dressed, I looked for the umpteenth times at my reflection in the tall mirror, which had been placed in my bedroom. I had decided to wear a yellow summer dress, combined with a big, white waist belt and white sandals.
I also took a light, white wool jacket with me, in case it was chilly outside on the terrace. I let my hair fall down my back in long, soft waves.
Being pleased with my look, I nodded towards my reflection in the mirror. Then I set off to the small salon.
I arrived at the terrace, too early. Malachy wasn’t there, yet. But Andre was, prepared to greet me and to attend to my needs.
“Ms. Romanov. Sire James had to take an important call. He will join you as soon as possible. Do you want to sit down?”
Friendly I replied: “No, thank you Andre. I would prefer to take a few steps and enjoy the view, if that is okay with you?”
“Of course, Ms. Romanov.”
I walked past the breakfast table, towards the end of the terrace. Then I put my hands on the railing, leaning a bit over it to let my eyes wander over the beautiful garden. I could see beautiful flowerbeds of diverse kinds. They were planted on plateaus of different heights and fenced in by neatly trimmed hedges. Lost in thoughts, I gazed at the many flowers, asking myself, whether it was allowed to pick some of them for my room.
I also noticed a small staircase at the other end of the terrace. Attached to it was a little gravel path, that led towards a hedge maze. I decided to explore that path at the next opportunity. But right now, I just wanted to enjoy the warm sun rays on my skin.
James had just entered the terrace, noticing Maggie standing at the veranda, who seemed to be deeply lost in thoughts. The wind gently played with her long, loose hair.
When the butler noticed him and wanted to announce his arrival, James shook his head and signed him to leave the two alone, by making a swift movement with his hand. Then he moved closer to Maggie, placing himself next to her and greeted her.
He smiled at me friendly, greeting me with a “Good Morning.”
Torn from my daydream, I flinched when I heard his voice. I was startled, because I hadn’t heard him coming.
“Mal…” I cleared my throat and corrected myself. “James, you startled me.”
I noticed his amused smile. What I also noticed, were his beautiful eyes. Their golden colour seemed to burn into me with such intensity, that it was easy for me to get lost in them. I had to force myself not to stare at him. The closeness to him made me feel like butterflies were flying in my stomach and my heart started to beat faster.
I asked myself, whether I had gone completely crazy. This game of cat and mouse, that we were playing, should anger me, not draw me towards him even more.
Calmly he replied: “Actually, I prefer you calling me Malachy – in a private setting. Malachy is my second name and the one my mother gave to me.”
I nodded, while blushing a little.
Now he chuckled: “Did you think, that I gave you a false name at the Collosseum?”
I looked him bravely in the eyes and nodded.
Then he chuckled even more. “Okay. I can’t blame you, considering the circumstances at that time.”
I had no idea what I should answer to that.
“Let us eat, I am hungry.” He had already started walking towards the breakfast table, while saying these words, then sat himself down.
As soon as we both had taken our seats at the table, Andre came and served us coffee. He asked whether everything was prepared to our satisfaction and if something was missing. When he was certain, that we were fully set up with everything we could possibly want, he withdrew from the table, leaving us some privacy.
“Malachy, I want to inform you about my brother Adrian’s visit today for lunch. He called me yesterday, informing me about his visit on short notice. I have already called the staff, letting them know about the additional person for lunch.”
Malachy replied: “I was already informed about your brother’s visit.”
“I hope it was okay, to take your consent as given?” I replied questioning.
“Yes, it was. You are my guest, not my prisoner.”
Then he took his mobile and dialled my number. “Now you have my number. You don’t need to take a detour through Andre, to ask for such simple things in the future. Just contact me directly.”
He changed the subject. “Daina will be here for lunch, as well. I think it is a good idea to eat lunch together and get to know each other in a casual setting. Or are there any objections from your side?”
I thought about his question for a short while, then I replied: “No, not at all. I think Adrian has no problem with that either. But if I may have one request: Within the short time, that I spent at your castle, I got to like this terrace we are sitting on right now, very much. I would love to have lunch here as well, as long as the weather cooperates.
Malachy nodded. “With pleasure. If that’s what it takes, to make you happy. I insisted on your stay at this place until the results of your blood serum have arrived. It don’t see why you shouldn’t enjoy your time, during your stay here.”
He put down his knife and croissant on the table. “Speaking of, before I forget about it: I hope you brought swim wear. This property has a huge pool with water slides and a nice spa area.”
My eyes started to glow. I loved water and everything that had to do with it dearly.
“Unfortunately not.” I answered dejected. But then I had an idea: “Amie, my roommate will visit me this afternoon. She can bring me a bikini and then we girls can get some treatments at the SPA and swim some laps in the pool.”
My eyes sparkled with euphoria. Spontaneously, I took my mobile from my purse and went away from the table, so Malachy wouldn’t be able to listen to my talk with Amie. Then I dialled her number.
She took her time to pick up the call. She answered sleepily: “Maggie? Is everything okay?”
“Amie! Yes, everything is fine! Listen, when you come by later, please bring swim wear for both of us. We are allowed to spend a few hours in the castle’s SPA area and then we can do a few laps in the pool.”
I was sure, that my eye’s irises would be heart shaped by now.
Amie just said tiredly: “And that’s why you are calling me so early? Maggie, there are people who actually just came home from work at 5 a.m.!”
“Sorry!” I replied. “I was so euphoric. When did we have our last girl-wellness-day? I am so excited!”
I could hear some sounds, coming from the background and could have sworn, that it was a deep, rough growl. “Amie? You aren’t alone?” I whispered shocked into the phone. “I am gone for one night and you already bring someone into our apartment? I am shocked!” I replied, trying to sound outraged.
I heard her giggle, before she got back on the line: “Okay, sweety! I am going to bring you swim wear, but I will bring clothes from my wardrobe. Look at it as revenge for waking me so early. Your grandma style is not going to happen. Let’s get James the chance to take a good look at your sexy curves. I assume the light at the Collosseum’s private room was too weak to get a good, close look.”
“Amie!” I replied horrified while blushing deeply.
I sincerely hoped that Malachy wasn’t able to listen in on our conversation. Maybe it would have been better to wait with my call, until I was in my private rooms…
“Please, don’t bring the neon pink, okay? Then I might as well wear a G-string with nipple stickers, or wear nothing at all… There is no room left for the imagination…”
Amie led out a loud laugh. “Maggie, don’t lead me into temptation. You do know that I relish such moments and that they are the spice in my life. Trust me. It won’t get worse than the black leather bikini.”
I sucked the air between my teeth in horror. “Okay! Please bring something that you would call modest. And please take my car. Now Amie, when I think about it, you can have the MINI, if you refrain from bringing a slutty bikini.”
Amie burst into loud laughter and I heard the deep voice from the background, again. But this time I was able to hear, what the male voice said: “Hey! That MINI was a gift from me!”
Now my jaw dropped. After I had pulled myself together, I replied indignantly: “Amie! The man in the background is Darius. There is no need to deny it. Didn’t I warn you enough about him? I think we will have a lot to talk about, later.”
By that she meekly replied: “3 p.m., okay? Please send me the address. I need to go now.” With that, she ended the call.