Chapter Twenty-Four: Ask Her
(1928 12 years ago)
“Mrs. Hart, what are you doing here?” an older man claims, as I stood next to my older sister, while I hold hold Lilly in my arms.
“I came to ask for my money. I worked here for half a year and I still haven’t been paid.” My sister Vanessa demands. Lilly starts to get fuzzy in my arms. The short bald man, with a round belly and thick white mustache sighs.
“Just wait for me in my office,” he said, turning around to head inside the factory. My sister a young woman, with a radiance that over shows everything. She has long red hair, but lighter than mine and smooth white skin and taller about five inches. She’s six years older than me.
“I can’t believe he still didn’t pay you,” I grumble, making Lilly huff in my shoulders.
“You’re telling me, he’s being unfair because I’m a woman,” Vanessa grumbles, while we went down the hallway of the factory. The smell of ink reaches my nose. I scrunch my face. I look around to see that the walls and the floor are made out of wood.
“I can’t believe you use at work here, is so dangerous, it’s ink factory. I’m still shocked they hired you.” I mumbled, while we stop in front of a brown door. Upon entering, a woman, maybe a year younger than my sister sat on the chair in front of the small brown desk. A very beautiful woman, with long dark hair and dark eyes. Slim and a little tan on her cheeks.
“Oh, Joan,” Vanessa smiled, going up to her. Joan stood up and hugged her.
“You here to claim your debt?” she asks. Vanessa nods, as I stood in the background, playing with Lilly.
“If I wasn’t in need to pay off the land of my late husband, I wouldn’t even care. I need the money so both of my children have a home. He was paying little by little the land so it can be ours in a few years.” Vanessa said in a heavy tone. Joan nods, turning to face me.
“You will, I have faith, and who’s this? Is this your daughter?” she comes up to me. I smiled awkwardly while Joan takes a hold of Lilly small hands. Lilly giggles at her.
“Yes, she’s only one, forgot you haven’t met her yet since my husband passed away when I was only three months pregnant with Lilly. Issac is getting big, though, he didn’t come, so Mr.s Morris is watching him. Oh, this is my younger sister, Zara, that I told you about.” she introduced. I wave at her, as Joan’s eyes sparkled, and she smiled.
“I remember sad really. Tell your son I send him my greeting and lot of kisses. I can’t wait to see him again,” she tells Vanessa. She nods at Joan and looks back at me.
“How rude of me, nice to meet you. Every time I see a child, I go crazy for them. They just so innocent. Reminds me of my younger brother,” sadness passes through her eyes, but then shakes her head.
“Oh.. You have a brother? How old is he?” I asked.
“Um... He should be eighteen by now,” she tells me. I smiled at her.
“Oh, he’s a year older than me. I’m seventeen,” I told her. She smiles gently at me and nods.
“I know Vanessa for a couple of years and she talks about you all the time. I wouldn’t mind you being my brother’s bride. I think you would suit him greatly.” she said sweetly. My face turns red.
“I’m not good around men. I get very nervous,” I admit. Joan giggles at me.
“He’s shy too. You know, I nicked named him Dark wolf because he gets wild when he’s mad, he growls.” she laughs at that. I went still at her word.s
“He’s aggressive?” I asked not getting it. Joan shakes her head.
“No, is when someone makes him mad, besides, he is a gentle pup,” she giggles. I smiled at her, noticing how much love she describes her little brother.
“If God permits, I hope one day to meet your brother,” I smiled at her.
“Me too,” she said, but it had a double sense.
“Well, I’m going to be late, I have to go and since Mr. Lancer isn’t coming soon enough, I’ll drop by tomorrow once again. My fiance is waiting for me.” she gives me a small hug, then kisses Lilly.
“Nice to meet you two,” she said. I nodded. Joan turns to face Vanessa.
“How about we meet this weekend? You have to meet my fiance. He’s so good looking and kind. He makes my world shake that I never thought it would be possible.” she blushes, giving Vanessa a hug.
“Okay, just send me a post,” Vanessa said. Joan nods.
“Sure thing babe. See you there. God bless,” and with that, we watch her leave.
“I like her, how did you meet her?” I asked.
“She used to work for my husband, a few years back as a personal assistant. I simply made friends with her. She’s trying to make a lot of money, to get her brother back,” she said. I didn’t get what she meant, but I didn’t question it.
“I’ll pray she does,” I told her. I sat on the chair, and place Lilly on my lap, while her mother sat in front of me, and starts playing with her. Lilly giggles, pushing her body back.
I don’t know how long we waited, maybe an hour or two, but Lilly started to cough hard and I as well. I cover my mouth, to look to my right where the door is at. Smoke was fuming inside the office.
“Fire!” Vanessa shouts, grabbing her daughter. I move rapidly and open the door only to burn my hand slightly.
“Ouch!” I hissed, but somehow manage to open the door. To my horror, the whole hallway is on fire. The fire looks like a monster consuming everything in its path.
“What the?” I gasp out in horror, as the fire kept getting worse. I can hear people screaming from somewhere.
“Let’s go,” I said, turning around, to see Vanessa trying to open the windows, but it was no use. They were bolted shut.
“Who puts bolts in their windows?” She screams as Lilly started to cry.
“Mama!” she cries. I move towards Vanessa and grab Lilly from her arms.
“You know this place better than I, is there any other way?” I cough out. My asthma starting to kick in.
“No, come on,” she takes my arm, and we headed towards the hallway. We dodge some burning logs. Somehow, my vision started to get blurry.
“I can’t breathe Vanessa,” I heaved hard. Vanessa turns around, but my eyes widen, to see a log falling right towards her.
“No!” I shout, pushing my sister away. The log hit my back, causing me to groan in excruciating pain, as I held Lilly tight on my chest so she won’t get burn.
“Zara!” My sister yells as I felt another log fall on top of me making my body slump more. My sister moves quickly, and removes the logs, not caring that it burn her. I couldn’t move anymore.
“Take Lilly!” I said, taking Lilly out of my arm and hand her over. Vanessa takes her, and takes a hold of my arm and picks me up. I couldn’t move.
“Just hold on, just hold on.” My sister said, pushing me forward. I hissed and groan at each step. I still can feel my back burning. Then after a few steps, Vanessa trips with a log she doesn’t fall, but Lilly somehow flew out of her arms and falls to the burning ground. Her small leg gets caught in a small hole. She starts yelling in pain.
“LILLY!” Vanessa cries.
“MAMA!” Lilly cries. I move quickly forgetting my own pain, and reach Lilly and picked her up, in doing so, Vanessa pushes me out of the way, making me fall on my behind, in front of two brown doors. I turned around to see a fire log covering the only path for Vanessa to come to my side.
“Please tell Issac I love him and take care of them for me. I love you, Lilly. Please be good to your aunt.” she cries out, with a cough.
“What? No, come with me. There’s gotta be another way!” I felt desperate, wanting to return, but she shakes her head, as another log fell in front of her, tears running down her cheeks.
“Just raise them well my dear sister. I will always be proud of you and I’ll protect you from heaven. I love you!” With that, an explosion happens right behind her, causing the floor to crack up and swallow her up.
“NO VANESSA!” I shout as I felt two arms on my shoulders pulling me out. My atshma getting worse and Lilly cries horribly.
“My sister, someone saves my sister.” I cried out! Since then, I have never forgiven myself, the one that should have died is me, but I think God wanted me to survive to take care of the children I adopted. That's what Vanessa wanted me to do. Up to this day, my heart still hurts for my loving sister, but every day I make it through so her sacrifice won't be in vain.
“You love me? Is not my liquor messing with me?” Ciel asks, trying to figure out my words. I nodded, feeling my heart is about to explode.
“She just slow, don’t take it to mind Ciel. Even her parents knew,” I heard Issac say. I blushed hard, now feeling self-conscious.
“Why? I don’t offer anything,” he said, scratching his head.
“Why? Do I have to spell it out? You offer everything I want. You place my children first, you don’t find me disgusting. You treat us as human beings. You are kind and gentle. You have a good, very good heart. You are patient, and you simply make me happy. I know that our lives aren’t perfect Ciel. I know where you came from, and you know my life wasn’t easy either. Yet, we match so well. I was just not in tune with my feelings at the time until this morning,” I told him.
Ciel just stares at me,
“You sure?” he asks once again. I nodded.
“A hundred percent,” I assured him. He didn’t hesitate this time and moves forward to kiss me, wrapping his hand behind my head and takes my breath.
“Oh, thank God,” he sighs, giving me a tight hug. I hold him tighter.
“Also, even if you lose, I would loose the orphanage, but I won’t lose custody,” I assured him, moving away from him.
“How do you know? Wait, from what you said earlier, what did you do?” he asks, as Issac moves closer to me.
“Um. That is another story.” He said to Ciel. Ciel didn’t seem to like that answer so I took his hand and guide him towards the bed and sat him down.
" Well is about Silver and Armando,” I said. Ciel nods at me. I felt myself grow nervous.
“You can do it, mom,” I felt Issac hand on my shoulder giving me courage. I look up to him and nodded.
“Thanks,” I told him. Ciel starts to get worried about my sudden hesitation.
“Tell me what?”
“Well. You see, I..” I was about to tell him when the door suddenly burst open.
“Where is she?” a loud, angry voice echoes the room. An unnerve feeling crawls up my spine. I turn my face, to see Silver gazing fury towards me.
“There you are. Where’s my kid?” he fumes, heading towards me. Ciel moves rapidly to stop Silver in his tracks.
“What the hell are you going to do?” Ciel hissed through his teeth. Silver didn’t even speak, he pushes Ciel towards his right goes up to me. I felt paralyzed, as he takes a hold of my shoulders and stood me up.
“Where is Armando?” he shouts, shrugging me.
“Mom!” Issac screams. I move my hands and push Silver out of my grip.
“Don’t touch me. He isn’t your son Silver.”
“Like hell, he isn’t, you bitch. I just want my child back.” He lifted his hand to hit me, but Ciel tackles him, making both men fall on the ground. Ciel gets on top of him and starts to punch him hard in his face.
“Because of you, Armando is traumatized and you hurt Zara!” Ciel said with pure anger and growls as a mad dog or something.
“Damn it, stop him!” I heard Paul shout. I move quickly and grab Ciel hand, stopping his punches.
“Please, stop it,” I cried, he snaps back to reality and turn his gaze towards me.
“Zara?” he asks, as I have tears streaming my cheeks. I saw some few men barge in, grabbing Ciel, but Silver spits out his blood and rushes towards Ciel and starts to hit him.
“NO, STOP IT!” I can feel my asthma activate once again.
“I should have killed you when I made you a cripple,” he shouts, hitting Ciel so hard, that he falls into the ground. He was about to start kicking him, but I move rapidly, wrapping my arms around Ciel, closing my eyes. Nothing happens this time around. I open my eyes, to see Ciel looking at me, then I heard a loud scream. I turned around to see the black shadow standing in front of me. Silver fist hand is stopped in midway, his eyes are bulging out in fright.
“H.. How are you here?” his voice trembles, falling into the ground.
“You died,” he points out. The ghost rapidly moves in front of Silver, tilting its head to the side. Then out of nowhere the Ghost opens its mouth, and a loud screeching sound comes out of its mouth, making all of us cover our ears.
‘Oh no, she’s going to kill him.’ I move away from Ciel and went up to the ghost.
“Please, don’t kill him, then you really won’t have peace. Like I promise you, I will bring justice.” I told her. The ghost lifts her gaze towards me.
“I promise you this morning didn’t I? I will bring justice.”
(Earlier in the Day)
“Paul, due to all respect, is it true? Is Ciel sister dead? I couldn’t sleep a wink last night from your words.” I burst out, entering Paul office. Paul is working on some paperwork, and lift his gaze at me.
“Well, good morning to you to Miss. Hart. About your question, I’m not sure myself. I had a few drinks last night, wasn’t right in my noggin,” he points at his head. Issac comes around me and slams his hand on the table, causing Paul to raise his arms up and look at my son with an amusing look.
“You better be honest with us! He snaps at him. My heart clenches as Paul smirks at my son.
“You aren’t too far from Ciel. He was like that when he was your age. If I don’t be honest, what is a kid like you going to do to me?” he asks with confidence raising his brow up. I felt my heart race with fear.
“Damn you,” Issac said, causing me to go up to him and slap behind his back. His head goes forward.
“Mom!” he rubs his head, as I took his arm.
“Watch your language young man. Even though we are here, doesn’t mean you can free roam. I thought you better than that.” I told him. Issac nods, but gave Paul a dark look.
Paul just laughs at our antics. I shook my head and look straight at his eyes.
“Tell me what really happen to her, please,” I tried to be nice. That catches Pual attention.
“After I took Ciel in, Joan, I sent her to a good school and she got a good job as an assistant,” he explains. He leans back in his chair.
“Later her boss died at a young age and she started to get odd jobs. Met her husband through the jobs and got married. After years of marriage, she got pregnant and had a son.”
“Oh thank God she had a good life and a son? So Ciel is an uncle,” I felt happy about the whole conversation
“Yes, but sadly enough the child was kidnaped when he was four.” he went silent, as I stare at him with side eyes.
“Kidnap?” I asked.
“Yes, Kidnap by two strangers, a man and a woman. That was last year if I remember correctly,”
“Oh my, what happened?” I asked.
“Try to guess Miss. Hart. You are the one that took her son.” my world turns cold at his words.
“I did? Who? Oh, my God, I have Ciel nephew? Who?” I started to bounce my leg while my heart raced with fear and excitement at the same time.
“I will tell you when Ciel stumbled in your orphanage and found his nephew I was thrilled. That is why I asked you to watch Ciel for me, not only to hide from the police, but having them spend time with each other. It's the least I can do for him." I had to sit on this.
“Who is his nephew?” I asked, but then it seems to dawn on me.
‘He said last year.’
“No, Armando?” I asked. Paul nods.
“Wait, so Armando is the blood relative of Ciel? That’s amazing and I’m so happy for that. No wonder Armando is so attached to him. Blood called his own.” Paul gets up from his chair and walks around his desk to look grab a glass of water from his little bar near the window on my left.
“I checked your background, Miss. Hart. I was pleased to know that a kind woman took in one of my own blood. I already feel remorseful towards Ciel as it is,” he said, noticing his voice is thick. I frowned at his words.
“Then speak to him and..” but my words are cut off when I felt a cold shiver run down my back. I turned to see the ghost. It opens it’s mouth as to speak, but it lowers its head in sadness.
‘Ciel should know this, oh God, this is worse than last night.’
I turn to face Paul.
“Please tell me Paul, who is the woman that died that night? Was it the kidnapper or Ciel older sister?” I question him.
Paul looked at the ghost, then back at me to say.
“Is not my place to say, just ask her yourself Ms. Hart, but one thing for sure, I will make sure that you won’t lose custody of your children, is the very least I can do for taking care of my siblings.”