Eyes Cold Like Winter

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Getting to Know Him

“Nothing!” shouted Lucius, “Forget what I said!”

“But-” began Elise.

“I can’t hear a thing you’re saying because of the complaining of your stomach!” Lucius deliberately interrupted.

Elise froze when she heard her stomach growling quite loudly. Her hands flew onto her stomach as she flushed with embarrassment. Surely she had plenty to eat at breakfast.

“Let’s go back to the other side of the town,” said Lucius as he began walking ahead. “I know a really nice café with a really nice scenic view.”

Elise followed after Lucius as he lead her back to Whitby Bridge. He took her to the Whitby Pavilion, another tourist attraction. The pavilion was known for their mix of entertainment, venue hires and cinema. There was a café at the pavilion and Elise was stunned by the glass structure and panoramic view of the sea.

“Oh! Welcome Lucius!” exclaimed a café worker when she saw the pair waiting to be seated, “Would you like your usual seat?”

“Of course,” replied Lucius politely. “thank you for remembering.”

“It’s no biggie,” she replied. “Your father, his father, and your great-grandfather were the pavilion’s long-time customers. They always loved to sit over there. My family has worked in this café for generations and grandma always told me about the Courbets.”

“Have you always been here?” whispered Elise as they were led to Lucius’s usual table.

“Yes,” said Lucius. “many times. I love coming here because of the view of the sea. The café’s atmosphere is a place for relaxation and relief.”

“It’s actually my first time seeing the actual sea itself,” Elise told Lucius. “I’ve only ever seen lakes and rivers, but never the sea.”

“Not surprised,” shrugged Lucius. “Considering you’ve been in County Durham for most of your life until now.”

The café worker led the pair to a table close to the glass windows, overlooking the sea. Lucius suddenly pulled out one of the chairs and gestured Elise to sit down, tucking it back under the table once she was seated.

“Thank you?” said Elise who was a bit surprised by Lucius’s gentlemanly gesture.

“It’s nothing special!” scoffed Lucius as he took the seat opposite her, “Father’s orders to treat you kindly.”

After looking at the menus, Lucius summoned the same café worker who guided them to their tables.

“I’ll have the same as always,” Lucius told her. “The posh prawn sandwiches with ciabatta bread please, and black coffee with no milk or sugar.”

“Of course Lucius,” replied the café worker and she quickly made note of it in her writing pad. “And what would your girlfriend like?”

Elise flushed in surprise and embarrassment to be referred to as Lucius’s girlfriend. I’ve never dated anyone before! She thought to herself, Is this what it feels like to be mistaken for a couple? We don’t even look like one!

“She’s not my girlfriend,” said Lucius bluntly. “She’s just an acquaintance of mine. Just because a man and a woman are together doesn’t always mean they’re dating each other.”

“My apologies,” said the café worker. “what would the young Miss like?”

“I’ll have-” began Elise, but she was so alarmed by what just happened a few seconds ago that she had forgotten what she had wanted.

“Why don’t you try the same dish as me?” suggested Lucius, “And choose a drink that best suits you.”

“I’ll have what Lucius is having then,” Elise told the café worker. “but I’ll have a chocolate milkshake as a drink.”

“Very well then,” replied the café worker as she updated her list. “It won’t be long.”

After she left, Elise sighed with relief.

“Thank you for saving me there,” she told Lucius. “I was really shocked that the café worker just now mistook me as your girlfriend.”

“It’s nothing,” said Lucius. “I do not intend to fall in-love, so don’t get your hopes up.”

“Were you ever in-love before?” asked Elise.

Lucius froze when he heard this. A woman’s face, similar to Elise’s flashed before him in his mind. Genevieve. He thought to himself. Reaching into his jacket pocket, Lucius gripped a silver locket.

“Lucius,” Elise asked again, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing!” said Lucius quickly, “I’ve never been in-love before. Women are of less interest to me.”

Before Elise could say anything else, the café worker brought out the food and drinks they had ordered. Elise found the prawn sandwiches pleasantly delicious. She never had any seafood other than the fish fingers served at the orphanage’s cafeteria. As she nibbled on her sandwich, Elise could not help but wonder if Lucius was telling the truth about his love life or not.

Lunch went on without a hitch. Lucius even paid the bill, refusing to let Elise use her savings. When Elise protested, he just told her to save her money until she received her bus pass. He really is a gentleman, she thought, despite his aloofness.

They spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through Pannett Park before returning to Wintervale Manor. Entering the manor, they were greeted by Mr. Courbet who had seemingly sensed their return.

“Welcome back, Elise,” he said. “How was your day out in Whitby?”

“It was amazing!” exclaimed Elise excitedly, “There’s a lot of attractions and things to do in town compared to County Durham! Lucius also showed me the way to the school and even treated me for lunch. We’re going rural tomorrow he says!”

“Excellent!” said Mr. Courbet, “Further away places from the town are always the most exciting.”

From the corner of her eyes, Elise noticed Lucius taking out his pill box. He handpicked a tablet and swallowed it with his saliva as he headed upstairs, supposedly to his room.

“Lucius!” she called out, “Meet in the entrance hall same time like this morning?”

Lucius paused and turned around. He gave a quick nod before turning his head back facing forward to continue upstairs. Elise requested a light dinner, still a bit full from her lunch. Over dinner, Mr. Courbet informed Elise that her school uniform had arrived while she was out.

Going to bed, she could hardly keep her excitement for tomorrow. Elise could not wait to see where Lucius had planned to take her.

Sunlight woke her up the next morning and Elise felt a large hand stroking her cheek. As if by impulse, she grabbed the hand, only to loosen her fingers as the large hand moved down her neck, past her chest and gripped her hand. Elise fluttered open her eyelids and saw a topless Lucius.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered, “I thought I locked the door.”

There was a brief silence which was broken by Lucius who asked her, “What are you dreaming about?”

Elise sat up in bed abruptly when she heard this, realising that it was all just one dream. What is wrong with you Elise? She thought, Why did I have such a ludicrous dream. How could she have known that her womanhood was just around the corner? Was she already this attracted to Lucius? Glancing out of the windows, she noticed that dawn was breaking. She could not sleep again after that dream.

Meanwhile, in his room, Lucius lay on his bed with the silver locket in his hands. He opened it, revealing an eighteenth-century portrait miniature of a young woman who looked exactly like Elise.

“Why am I lying?” he quietly questioned himself, “I swore to never fall in-love again, but she…”

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