“What the hell are you doing here?” Carla uttered her voice returning to her in a low whisper. Her eyes were wide and void of any emotion but shock.
“Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to like that?” Her mother snapped harshly. Carla flinched at her tone and ducked her head not meeting her cold eyes or Danny’s surprised ones. She’d forgotten he didn’t know about their mother and her...habits.
“That’s your brother now show some respect. Fetch us some refreshments and make yourself useful,“. This was the nicest her mother was going to get with Danny around and Carla knew it so she scurried off to carry out her mothers orders before she got mad. She heard Danny start to say something but his voice quickly faded out as she got further away towards the back of the house.
Bursting into the kitchen she placed her bag on the counter before collapsing atop it herself. Her head was pounding and her heart was racing. This was too much. After what she’d heard she never imagined he’d show his face here, to their mother. He probably thought he was helping.
Stupid fool, Carla thought tiredly.
Quickly she lifted her head and set to work preparing chamomile tea. Maybe it would have the same calming effect on mother that it had on me. That’d be nice, Carla thought.
As soon as the kettle began to whistle she brought down two white ceramic mugs with floral patterning down from the overhead cabinet. Then she remembered Ridian and shakily pulled down a third as she wondered what he was thinking now. Filling them both with hot water she put in the tea bags and let them sit while she went and got the sugar. Two spoonfuls each and a stir later and Carla was re entering the parlor with a tray that held three steaming mugs of deliciousness.
“About time,” her mother snapped before delicately taking up a mug and sipping quietly.
“Sorry,” Carla said as she ducked her head and retreated to the far side of the room after giving first Danny, then Ridian their mugs. She didn’t dare sit or make eye contact with either of them. It was killing her inside letting not only Danny but Ridian see this side of her but there was nothing she could do in the presence of her mother. Danny cleared his throat to speak making Carla’s eyes flit upwards momentarily before darting back to the mahogany carpet once more.
“So as I was saying earlier, I’ve realized my past mistakes. I was wrong to leave you both. I was young, foolish and immature and I would like a second chance in your lives to make it up to you,“. Carla’s jaw tightened in anger at his words but she could almost hear the sweet smile crawling against her mother’s thin lips.
“But of course sweetie!” Her mother exclaimed. “We’ve always missed you haven’t we Carla?” Her voice hardened on Carla’s name and Carla felt her sharp gaze upon her. She quickly nodded in agreement and let out a breath of relief as she felt her gaze slide away back to Danny. Her mother crossed her legs, her cream pants sliding smoothly against each other.
“Whatever did you have in mind?” Her voice was smoother than the underbelly of a snake. Danny smiled at her his blue eyes sparking.
“Well I was thinking, if the two of you weren’t opposed to it,“. He glanced over at Carla before continuing. “Moving in with you two!” He exclaimed. Carla’s eyes widened in shock and then in disbelief and her head snapped up ready to deliver a sharp retort but her mother’s glare silenced her before she could speak.
“I already have a job at the local insurance company so I could pay monthly expenses and such and I have my own car so I’ll never have to hinder you for transportation. What do you think?” He turned earnestly towards their mother. She grinned widely at him her perfect rows of white teeth glinting in the light.
“I think it’s a splendid idea! Your room is still untouched upstairs next to Carla’s so you can just stay there and we can go shopping tomorrow for some new furniture,“. A cheek splitting Cheshire like grin split Danny’s face and made his eyes sparkle as he spontaneously hugged their mother.
“Thank you so much! I promise to make it up to both of you. I won’t fail you twice,“. Their mother hugged him back awkwardly not used to friendly physical contact before excusing herself to the kitchen. Before she left the room she signaled Carla to follow her but she hesitated looking at Danny. She wanted to tell him how preposterous his idea was and figure out his real motive, Yes she was happy to have him back but this was a disastrous plan.
Then she thought about Ridian who was still sitting on the opposing couch, tea clutched in both hands completely untouched. He looked wide eyed and shocked and Carla’s heart saddened a little. He’d never signed up for this when he got involved with her.
Her mother’s eyes narrowed at her hesitations and she turned smiling to Danny.
“Why don’t you go upstairs now and start planning out your new room design darling,“. She smiled sickeningly sweetly while fluttering her eyelashes. Danny stood up nodding in agreement.
“Sounds like a plan,“. He then sprinted lightly up the stairs and the sound of a door opening then shutting was soon heard. Carla’s mother turned to Ridian then, the smile still plastered on her face and he visibly turned a pale lighter.
“Hello dear. Carla and I will just be a moment and then you can join us in the dining hall for dinner. I am ever so interested in getting to know you.” Ridian responded with a curt nod, not daring to look away from her mother’s eye contact.
Carla slowly turned back to her mother who gestured for her to follow before stalking away, not even bothering to see if Carla was doing as she’d asked. Carla bowed her head and shuffled after her, keeping her distance. When she entered the room the glint of a knife caught her eyes and she sharply in took her breath, moving quickly against the wall.
Her mother was standing on the opposite side of their large island table holding a scalpel lightly in her hand. Stroking the sharp edge with bony fingers she glanced up at Carla smirking at her scared expression before beginning to speak.
“What’s my job?” Confused by the simple and obvious Carla stared blankly at her but quickly answered when she saw her grip tighten on the handle of the knife.
“Y-you’re a d-doc-doctor,“. She stuttered a little out of fear and tried to swallow her nerves, her eyes never leaving the shine of the blade.
“And what do doctors do to sick patients?” Carla tilted her head to the side slightly curious as to where this was going but eyes still wide in fear.
“C-cure them?” Her mother nodded in agreement her eyes now resting back on the scalpel.
“How?” she asked. Carla thought for a moment.
“Surgery?” Her mother’s lips twitched slightly.
“What do we use in surgery?” Carla’s eyes widened, finally seeing where this was going. Gulping her throat dry and heart beating fast she answered in a hoarse whisper.
“Knives,“. Her mother broke out into a full blown grin.
“Scalpels to be exact. Which is what I have here,“. She took a step forward towards Carla with her hand outstretched, blade pointed outward. Carla’s legs began to tremble and her heart rate increased. She was certain her mother could hear it.
“I would hate to have to use such a prime tool on someone who’s not sick,” She paused a yard away from Carla. “But simply stupid,“. Carla nodded furiously in agreement her eyes nearly bulging out of her head and her lips trembling as her whole body shook with fright. Her mother closed the gap in two quick steps driving the knife flesh with Carla’s neck. Her tone cold as ice she hissed into her ear.
“Don’t anger your brother. He’s worth more than you ever were or ever will be,“. Carla clenched her fists in a momentary spike of anger at her brother before smoothing out her hands and attempting to nod without cutting herself. “I can’t hear you,” her mother sang.
“Y-yes,“. Her mother slowly stepped away. Tucking the knife back into her pocket.
“Good. Now get out of my sight trash. Fetch that pathetic excuse for a man you brought into my house so we can start dinner.” Carla scampered away as fast as her feet would carry her grabbing her things off the floor and ran up the stairs into her room dropping them off on the floor before running back down to the sitting room where a bewildered looking Ridian still sat.
When she entered he put down his still untouched cup of chamomile tea and turned worried eyes on her.
“Are you okay?” he asked standing up. She nodded once clutching one arm to her side. “Why is your brother here?”
“You heard him. He wants to start over,” Carla muttered more to the ground than to Ridian. She was embarrassed at what he’d seen. She felt one of his hands on her arm and she automatically flinched back, not used to friendly physical contact inside her house. When she looked up his eyes were filled with hurt. “Sorry. I’m just a little on edge,” she bit her lip before taking a step back towards the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready,” she whispered with a small smile before heading towards the kitchen.
Ridian hesitated for a minute before shaking his head clear of worries involving Danny and headed after Carla to the kitchen. He decided to just focus on his original goal for coming here; impressing her mother.
Carla entered the dining room adjacent to the kitchen which had a table with a decadent feast laid out on it. Definitely catered, she thought. She took a seat as far from her mother as she could get which put her on the opposite end of the table. Ridian entered shortly after and sat between them smiling at her mother in what he hoped was humble and earnest.
“So Ridian,” Carla’s mother began cutting into her steak that was cooked so rare a bit of blood still oozed from the center. He gulped at the sight and Carla avoided her mother’s direction all together looking down at her own well done steak.
“Yes ma’am?” Ridian said in response hesitating with the piece of meat that was halfway to his mouth.
“Ms. Broche will do just fine,” Ridian nodded. “What do you see in Carla?” Ridian had put the piece of meat in his mouth and almost choked at her bluntness. Carla would have snickered if she wasn’t so tense and instead only watched him with wide slightly worried eyes. Ridian cleared his throat after forcefully swallowing the half chewed bite of meat and wiping his mouth with a napkin.
“Well Ms. Broche,” he began. Then he turned and made eye contact with Carla before continuing. “I think your daughter is beautiful from the curve of her lips when she’s trying to hide her smile, the blush that reveals her emotions and makes me want to tease her time and time again just to see that rosy glow, the apparent love she has for her friends even if she lacks it for herself, the snarky attitude that never fails to surprise me when it makes an appearance to the brilliant green of eyes that hold the honesty of her heart.”
Carla gasped slightly at Ridian’s words. He’d never concisely said what he liked about her and although it was odd to hear him say it aloud it warmed her heart. She smiled softly at her but the sound of silverware scraping slightly across a plate brought her attention back to her mother.
“Well,” she said coldly as she scraped together the last of her food in a pile on her plate. She’d been eating while Ridian was talking and didn’t have that much on her plate to begin with. “That was,” she sought for the word to describe Ridian’s speech. “Well articulated,” she said after a moment, her voice void of pretty much any emotion to let them know her thoughts. Ridian’s face fell at what he saw as disapproval and anger spiked up in Carla.
Before she could do something she’d probably have regretted later her mother stood up.
“I know enough for now. I’ll be keeping in touch...Ridian was it?” he nodded dimly to his half finished plate. “Yes well, I’m sure you know the way out. Carla go upstairs and help your brother.” Her mother briskly walked out leaving Carla stunned and Ridian depressed. After a moment, she came to her senses and slowly stood up. Ridian seemed to snap out of his slump although there was still sadness in his eyes as he followed her to the front door.
“I’m sorry-” Carla began but Ridian cut her off with a kiss. It was quick, nothing more than a peck really but it was sweet. She found herself smiling slightly as she pulled away. “What was that for?” she asked softly. He gave her a small smile.
“Just something for me. Goodnight, Ms. Broche” he said with a slight teasing sneer on the last word. They laughed a little and then he was gone, the door closing tightly behind him. Carla breathed a sigh, her mind racing trying to understand what had happened that night. That was why she was so distracted going to her room she forgot her mother’s orders to help her brother.
So distracted she didn’t notice her bedroom door was already open when she got to it. Too wrapped up in her thoughts to notice the shadow near the door. Going to her sit on her bed she didn’t snap back to reality until she heard the click of a door lock.