“Sean? Who’s Sean?” Chantarell asked them to explain the knowledge the two obviously shared, while she had thought of the stranger as nothing more than that, a stranger.
“Ana, go and see if he’s still out there.” Haven told the older of his lovely mistresses, still speaking in the same somber tone, while Chantarell’s eyes continued to search both of their faces for the answers they hadn’t yet shared.
“And if he is?” Ana asked hoarsely, seeming to be forcing back the urge for tears, which only puzzled her daughter further.
“Tell him the truth: That Ezekial died, years ago.” Haven himself swallowed a bit as he slowly buttoned his shirt as he added, “He doesn’t need to get involved in this life, too.” he added in his own soft, sad tone.
Ana nodded while forcing another lump down her throat as she rose from her seat, everything about her expression and her body language making it obvious that speaking to this young man was not a task she wanted.
“Who is Sean?” Chantarell asked Haven more urgently as her mother forced her feet to carry her from the bedroom, closing the door once more behind her.
“My former servant, Ezekial, he was that boy’s father.” Haven told her quietly as he also took a seat on the edge of his bed, now fully dressed as he ran pale fingers through his long locks, seeming almost as obviously troubled by the situation as Ana, almost.
“What? I thought I was the only child any of your servants ever had.” Chantarell returned with surprise.
“There was another. His mother died though. It’s difficult for a woman to give birth to the child of a ghoul.” he attempted to begin a more than complicated explanation, his voice dropping a bit on using the final word of the sentence, it obviously being a more offensive term than ‘servant’ was. “Ezekial tried to still attempt having a relationship with a girl from town, even whilst staying loyal to me. It was hard for him, of course, but it became even harder once she became pregnant, and she then had to finally find out what her lover really was. What I had made him into.” Haven added the last bit in a whisper.
“The baby lived though?” Chantarell swallowed hard, not trying to transfer the visions of that pregnant girl’s pain onto her own mother, though her limited knowledge of her own coming into the world did let her know that her mother must have endured that as well. After all, the only thing that Chantarell did actually know about her own father, was that he had been one of Haven’s servants as well, seventeen years earlier.
“Yes, after his mother died, he stayed here with us, Ezekial trying to take care of the child, through his own guilt about Sean’s mother’s death. I think the bond to me was the only thing that gave him the strength to be there for his son, despite what it had cost him.” Haven paused a moment before allowing himself to add, “But even that bond wasn’t strong enough to save Ezekial from his own guilt, once his second lover became pregnant as well…two years later.”
Ana took another ragged breath as the tiny window near the door told her that Sean was indeed still sitting out there, near the edge of the dirt road that passed by the large home, using that worn bag as a seat as he wrapped his arms around his thin frame, staring off into the nighttime woods across the road from Haven’s home.
Looking back toward the bedroom once more and remembering Haven’s request that she speak to the child she had not seen in nearly seventeen long years, when her own was first conceived , she took another breath and forced back her own pain at once more having to look into eyes that were so identical to Ezekial’s, and moved toward the front door.
Sean immediately turned at the sound of the door opening behind him, the moonlight that caught those blue eyes, causing Ana’s breath to catch once more as she forced back another wave of sad memories and moved towards the side of the road where Sean quickly stood upon her arrival.
“You were looking for Ezekial Beringer?” was her greeting, which came out as more of a croak as she was still forcing back those long held tears over her former lover’s death.
“Yes, I was told this was once his home, ma’am.” he told her, his own voice a bit hoarse in the cooling fall evening.
“He died, several years ago.” she swallowed again, “So you won’t find him here, I’m afraid.” she answered him, every word seeming to cause her pain.
Sean paused to allow himself a moment to manage the words to state the true need he had had to find the man, “But I think…I think he was my father.” he finally got out. The words caused Ana to quickly look down and away, almost as though she was losing the war against the tears fighting to escape her hazel eyes, which matched her own daughter’s perfectly.
“Well I’m sorry, but he’s gone.” she finally breathed back to him, wanting nothing more than to run back into the house, Haven’s request of her technically having been fulfilled, after all.
“You did know him though?” Sean asked, only slightly perplexed by this woman, who didn’t appear to be more than five or so years older than himself, who seemed unmistakably saddened by talking about the passing of the father he barely had a single clear memory of, as he was taken to the orphanage where he was raised, in the next town over, when he had been just barely two years old.
“I told you he was gone. What more do you want?” Ana replied desperately as a few of those tears did escape from her pretty eyes.
“Well, he was my father, and I never really knew him. So, I guess, since you seem to have known him, I was just hoping you could tell me if I had any other family.” Sean asked her, his own sadness increased by her painfully obvious sorrow.
“It was a long time ago.” was her only response, still not looking back at his father’s eyes.
“Seventeen years isn’t really that long.” he argued, though weakly.
“I don’t know what I can tell you, really.” Ana said hopelessly, “You should go though. It’s already dark out.” she told him as she finally gave into her strong urge to flee from all those memories and headed back toward the front door.
“Ma’am…I don’t really have anywhere else to go.” he told her desperately, his words stopping her as her hand reached the door, though she still didn’t look back his way again, despite her feet stopping their departure, “He was the only family I knew of, and I wasn’t allowed to come look for him until I was of age. I’m nineteen now. I’m too old to stay at the orphanage anymore. This was the only place I could think to go. Can’t you tell me anything about the rest of his family, my family, at all?” he asked her in a pleading tone.
Ana’s tender heart was easily affected by his tone as well as his striking resemblance to his father, though, and she took another deep breath as she allowed herself to look up at the stars above, knowing it was no longer a case of him possibly posing any kind of physical danger to the home’s occupants now that Haven was awake once more. Though, him knowing the whole truth about his heritage, that could be very, very dangerous, for all of them.
“You can come inside and get some food, but I can’t tell you you’ll be able to stay long. I have to check with Mr. Torrence. And he’s not fond of most company all that often. That’s the best I can do for you, I’m afraid.”
“Thank you.” was Sean’s only response as he reached for the bag which contained all his worldly possessions, and followed the clearly shaken woman into Haven’s home.
“Stay here. Don’t wander about.” she told him firmly, trying not to noticeably wipe away a remaining tear, “I have to see what Mr. Torrence wants done with you.” she told him in the same brief tone as she hurried back towards the closed bedroom door again.
“Was he still there?” Chantarell asked, obviously shaken as well, by her own conversation she had just had with the master of the house.
“Yes, and I told him about Ezekial.” Ana swallowed hard again, mostly directing her words to Haven, “He says he has nowhere else to go.” another breath, “And wants to know if he has any other family.” she added quietly, her eyes inadvertently turning back towards her own daughter.
“So, you let him in?” Haven said, not allowing Chantarell a response, though still speaking gently.
“I told him we could give him a meal, but that he shouldn’t expect to stay long.” she assured, then added, more softly, “I don’t know what to tell him about his family, though.” she finished, looking down once more.
“He should know that he has a sister.” Haven said, his eyes also moving to Chantarell as he spoke just as softly as Ana, “But I’m afraid that his father has taught us, the hard way, that there’s no way he should be involved in this life. And knowing you’re Chan’s mother, when you barely look much older than he, and me,” he added, “that would definitely get him involved.” he stated the obvious.
“So what do we do?” Ana asked as she took an exhausted seat on the sofa near the bed once more, “He really doesn’t have anywhere else to go.”
“I suppose we can offer him a job. An actual job, not like your own ‘positions.’” Haven added with only a brief smile, and then continued, “I suppose he can stay in the shed at the corner of the property, and take care of the grounds. I can pay him more than fairly, so he can eventually have his own home, and not have to live here at the house, considering, my unique sleeping habits.” Haven added, trying to put the plan together at the same moment as explaining it.
“But to have him here, during the day…you’d have to make him exactly into what we are, and what his father was, in order to guarantee your own protection, wouldn’t you?” Ana asked him worriedly.
“He won’t have a key, and we’ll set rules that he is never to come into the home uninvited, during the day anyway.” Haven replied.
“But you’d be taking a huge risk Haven. Having anyone at all here while you slept, without having their loyalty, I mean.” Ana continued though her worry over the plan more than obvious.
“I don’t use my blood just to gain loyalty; it’s also to give the two of you the strength to protect me. I can quite easily gain any mortal’s loyalty, without ever having to spill a drop of my own blood. And my blood has cost that boy, and both of you, enough already.” he finished solemnly as he headed from the room to tend to their guest, himself. “Evening, Mr. Beringer.” Haven’s voice slowly interrupted Sean’s inspection of one of Ana’s paintings which hung on the wall near the front of the home.
He quickly turned at the sound of Haven’s voice, almost immediately being floored by a feeling of awe and majesty inspired by the man who looked no older than himself, as well as yet another deeper feeling, almost that of déjà vu, which was inspired not only by the surroundings of the home, but by Haven, himself.
“Mr. Torrence?” Sean asked, not sounding convinced of the correctness of his statement, considering the very youthful appearance the man did have, not to mention how thrown he also was by Haven’s eyes, which seemed to contain so much knowledge, though somehow, were not able to hide his immediate appreciation for Sean’s appearance, almost as though stunned by the other young man’s beauty.
Haven seemed to need a moment to almost break himself out of some sort of entrancement that Sean’s very appearance brought on, before he willed himself back to the present moment, and the situation at hand.
“Ana and her…” his sentence came to a halt as the two women exited the bedroom, almost as if on cue, “Chantarell, they’ll get you a warm meal for the night. There is also a cot in the shed near the tree line behind the house. It’s not the most comforting of accommodations, but it will do if you truly have nowhere else to go.” Haven offered, having broken himself out of that beauty-inspired entrancement, despite how he still couldn’t completely hide the way his eyes continued to move over Sean appreciatively.
“Your, uh, parents, would be ok with that then?” Sean asked for assurance, as he still had trouble believing that a boy who looked to be the exact same age as himself, could possibly be the master of such a beautiful house, not to mention being the master of two beautiful servants.
Haven looked down only briefly, not wishing to lie to the boy, but knowing it was the proper thing to do, for the safety of all four of them, “Like yourself, I too am an orphan. I just had the good fortune to have been born into a family of wealth, rather than a family of servants. Fate can be cruel or kind in turns, I’m afraid.” he told Sean, though gently.
Sean simply swallowed at the ever so wisely, as well as cryptically spoken words, but did nothing more than nod in response as the two strikingly silent young women moved off toward the kitchen of the home, leaving Sean and Haven behind in the main living area of the home, together.
Finding his voice and his manners once more, Sean finally spoke again, “I have no way to repay you for your hospitality, I’m afraid.” Sean admitted sadly.
“You can work the grounds. Just make sure not to disturb us while you work.” he added the last bit firmly, and then softened his tone, “After all, I do have the two women to take care of the inside of the house, and the men’s work is outside, anyway. You needn’t be in here. And you being a stranger to us, it would be a little careless for me to let you come and go from the house as you please; at least until we know you better. That only makes sense of course.” Haven told him, forcing a carefree tone into his voice as he spoke.
“I assure you, I won’t break your trust. I’m very grateful for the offer, I promise.” Sean told him sincerely.
“And there’s one more thing.” Haven finally added after another slight pause, as he gestured for Sean to step closer to him, which he easily did. Haven then spoke in an even, almost hypnotic tone as he looked into eyes as blue as his own, “You will never cause harm to myself or any member of my household, and you will do everything in your power to protect us, and our secrets, with unfailing obedience, from this day forward.”
With those eerily spoken words Haven gracefully moved away, back towards his own bedroom, the trancelike state that his very will had placed Sean into, not ending until the door closed behind him. Sean came out of the trance with a start, not sure what had caused him to seemingly ‘go away’ for a moment, But somehow, he gave no further thought to the matter.