Eyes Cold Like Winter

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Another Day Out

Elise sat in the taxi next to Lucius. They were on their way to Ruswarp, another area near Whitby. Rather than sailing down the River Esk on the replicated HMS Endeavor ship, Lucius told her that she’d feel more freer to have her own boat trip at the Ruswarp Pleasure Boats.

“Thank you for taking me out again,” said Elise nervously. “I really enjoyed yesterday’s outing.”

“You don’t have to thank me every time,” sighed Lucius. “I’m only doing this as per father’s orders. Anyway, are you having trouble with eye contact? Cause you’re not looking at me when I’m talking to you.”

How can I look at him after that dream? Thought Elise to herself, If he finds out about that, he’ll probably be disgusted. He also made it clear that he has no intentions of falling in-love.

From the corner of her eyes, she noticed Lucius was wearing a black wool and leather bomber jacket over a white asymmetrical shirt decorated with zippers. He wore the same ripped jeans and the Dr. Martin boots from yesterday’s outfit. He definitely has a great sense of fashion though, thought Elise, I wish I could be more expressive when it comes to clothing.

They eventually arrived at the Ruswarp Pleasure Boats. There were not a lot of tourists in the morning. Lucius paid for the tickets, requesting two hours for two people.

“I find it therapeutic to do rowing in the morning,” he told Elise. “when there aren’t a lot of tourists. Most of the tourists like to come early or late afternoon.”

The staff passed them both a pair of lifejackets before leading them to their designated rowing boat. Lucius jumped in and then extended both his arms towards Elise.

“May I?” he asked her.

Elise flushed and nodded as she allowed Lucius to take hold of her waist and gently lift her down into the boat. He really is a gentleman. Thought Elise, Is this who Lucius really is? It was too early to finalise her impression of him. There were still a lot of things she wanted to know about him.

Taking the oars, Lucius began rowing in the direction of the Ruswarp Riverside Café. The sky was clear and the sun shone brightly, making the river sparkle like diamonds. Assessing the scenic landscapes, an idea for an illustration came into Elise’s mind. Taking out her sketchbook and her HB pencils from her handbag, she began a rough sketch.

“You really love drawing, don’t you?” said Lucius, “Do you want to do art as a career?”

“I haven’t really thought about it,” replied Elise. “Maybe I’ll decide once I start my A-Levels. What about you?”

“Father probably wants me to take over his pharmaceutical company,” said Lucius. “Makes sense since I’m his only son, thus his only successor. It’d be nice to choose what I really want to do.”

Lucius continued rowing until they reached the Riverside Café. Right next to the café was Ruswarp Miniature Railway. Elise was told that the miniature railway was a family activity where you could travel around the surrounding areas in small train carriages. Despite his paleness, beads of sweat rolled down Lucius’s forehead most likely due to the rowing and the warmth of the sun.

“Can you teach me how to row?” asked Elise out of interest, “In case I want to go on a boat trip myself.”

“Sure,” replied Lucius awkwardly. “Climb over to my side?”

Elise crawled over to Lucius’s side. He gestured her to sit in between his legs so he could show her. She flushed again when she felt Lucius’s body press into her back.

“Hold the oars like this,” he told her as he guided her hands. “Then you lean forward when you move the oars to the back, then lean ba-”

Before he could finish, Lucius’s heart suddenly pounded and he convulsed. Elise squealed when she felt her body being captured by his embrace. What’s going on? Was her first thought.

“Suppress it…” whispered Lucius. His breathing was laboured. “Suppress it!”

“Suppress what?” asked Elise.

Lucius seemed to have come back to his senses when he heard her voice. He quickly released Elise, pushing her back to the other side. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out his pill box. Handpicking one of the tablets, he popped it into his mouth and swallowed it with his saliva.

“Forget what happened!” he snapped at Elise, “I just forgot to take my medication this morning.”

That certainly is strange for someone who has anaemia. Thought Elise suspiciously. They would not be able to hug someone with this much strength. Instead, they’d feel fatigued and on the verge of passing out. But what did Lucius mean when he said ‘Suppress it’?

Her thoughts were interrupted when Lucius told her that they will be stopping by the Riverside Café for a light breakfast. After what had happened on the boat, Lucius remained quiet as he ate his breakfast. Elise was tempted to ask about his condition, but the thought of him hugging her so suddenly prevented her. He’ll probably just say it’s nothing. She thought as she sipped her warm tea.

He did not say anything at all when he rowed back to the Ruswarp Pleasure Boats dock. By the time they got back, tourists were already gathering.

It was then Lucius finally spoke, “That’s why mornings are the best time to do rowing. It’s less crowded.”

The same taxi was already waiting on the roadside, ready to escort them to their next destination. Lucius had handsomely paid the taxi driver to wait for them. Made sense since it would be time consuming to call for another taxi. Their next destination was Robin Hood’s Bay.

Lucius told her that the town was known as a smuggling and fishing village back in the past. The penalty at that time would be hanging. No one was scared because they were able to commit their crimes undetected due to the steep cliffs lining both sides of the bay.

Elise requested to visit the Old St. Stephens Church for a brief prayer. It was Sunday anyway. Lucius chose to wait for Elise outside. She knelt in one of the painted box pews, briefly admiring the three-decker pulpit designed for preaching. As she prayed, she also noticed a display of flower garlands adorning the church.

Rejoining Lucius outside, she saw him wandering through the tightly packed graveyard. As she approached him, Elise noticed a depressed expression on his face.

“The people buried here are strangers who drowned on this coast,” he told her. “Some of the locals back then even lost their lives at sea. The North Sea is indeed a cruel thing.”

“You should’ve gone inside the church,” said Elise. “the inside is decorated with flower garlands!”

“Those garlands would have been used for the funeral processions of young and chaste women,” replied Lucius. “It was part of tradition in the mid-nineteenth century.”

He sure knows a lot, thought Elise to herself, it’s as if he’s seen things come and go. The thought caused her to suddenly recall Lucius muttering the exact same words when he showed her the way to Our Lady of Sorrows Secondary School. Lucius interrupted her thoughts once again, when he told her that they were going to the Falling Foss Tea Rooms for lunch.

Falling Foss Tea Rooms was an outdoor area, a suitable place to enjoy the scenery and to explore. Elise nibbled at her mature cheddar and pickle sandwiches as she admired the waterfall. She briefly glanced back at Lucius who remained quiet as he sipped today’s homemade soup.

“May I see your drawings?” asked Lucius suddenly.

Elise looked up in surprise and quietly nodded. She timidly took her sketchbook out of her handbag and handed it to Lucius who began to flip through.

“They’re really good,” he said. “Perhaps it’ll be more livelier if you tried drawing in colours?”

“I haven’t really thought about that,” replied Elise. “I normally associate myself with monotonous colours.”

“If you want to be an artist,” said Lucius. “you should experiment more! Just like-”

He froze in shock when he found himself staring at Elise’s vampire illustration. Since when did she? He thought in horror.

“What is this?” he asked coldly as he showed her the vampire drawing.

“That’s, um-” began Elise, but she broke off. How was she supposed to explain her suspicions on the existence of vampires? The thought of it caused her chest to tighten and her breathing to become irregular, leading to a series of coughing fits.

“Elise!” exclaimed Lucius as he rushed over, “What’s wrong?!”

Elise couldn’t respond, she was too overwhelmed with stress. While in agony, she fumbled in her handbag for her inhaler and took a few puffs to relieve her shortness of breath. That was close, she thought, but I feel a bit dizzy

“Elise!” shouted Lucius when Elise suddenly passed out, “Pull yourself together! Elise!”

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