Chapter Six:: Underground
“We can’t raise her any longer,”
“She just a child,”
“A child that will bring this family down. We can’t have her, she’s not perfect.” I stood there, watching my parents argue. I held my rag doll very tightly.
“Mama?” I look up, all I can see is her long red hair, wearing a long white dress. Her dark brown eyes are cold.
“She won’t inherit the line, not with her condition. Leave her,” with that, she turns and left me alone, while my father, which I can barely see leaves as well.
“Mama? I won’t be a bad girl.” I cried out, but both of my parents simply walks away, as my body becomes heavy.
“She simply not perfect.”
“Don’t worry lady, I’ll protect them,” I’m not sure if it was a dream or not, but those words seem to float around me. Deep in my heart. It’s been two weeks since the incident, I still feel weak. Then again, when I awoke the next day, Issac told me that Ciel helped around the orphanage while hiding from Mrs. Morris sight. I am still touched by that. He just a stranger.
‘Why did Mrs. Morris do that? Has Pop agreed to this?’
Then again, I haven’t come up with a way to get the money to pay off the government. I watch my children play outside carefree.
‘I can sell my ring.’ I frowned at the thought, rubbing my arms, I felt a strange feeling of being watched once again. I turned my head to see no one around, but the stairs that lead to the second floor. I rub my head.
“Is that thing again,”
“CIEL, play with us,” I heard Oscar call out. I turned my head to see Ciel which is holding a red wagon, wheeling it towards the orphanage. I leaned my head against the smooth wall of the doorway.
'He’s been good this two weeks. Even Mrs. Morris hasn’t spotted him. I’m glad he’s here. I doubt my kids would have calmed down after my episode.
‘God, is he the answer to my prayers? At least to take care of the children, while I can’t? No.. That can’t be, what man will take care of eight children that are not his? Heck, not even their own parents want them.’ that’s how sad it is.
I watch as he places the wagon down and looks at them.
“I have work, but if you want, um.. You can play a game call Shadow.” he said. Luckily, he’s in earshot for me to hear.
The children look at him, while Oscar tilts his head.
“Shadow?” he asks. Ciel nods.
“Shadow. Whatever the leader does, you must do. The first that break the tradition, loses. Those who loses will have to do what the leader asks. The winner will be next to lead.” he explains. They all look at him with wide eyes.
“Follow the leader then, follow Ciel!” Isabella shouts. Ciel’s eyes widen.
“No, follow your brother or sister, not me.” he groans, as a laughter escapes my lips. I was not in the mood to be laughing, but Ciel’s face is priceless. He looks confused and frustrated. So they line up going behind Ciel, as he starts to push the wagon, even though he’s limping. My kids follow him like a row of ducklings. At the very end is my eldest, as my youngest Armando is behind Ciel. I walk forward and rub my arms. Ciel stops in front of me, I gave him a gentle smile. I took notice his eyes narrow and he turns his gaze.
“Have you all turn into ducklings?” I asked. Everyone nods their head.
“Ducklings,” Sophy claps, bouncing her tiny body with a clap. Issac shrugs.
“I had no other choice, I was dragged into this.” He said looking away, looking embarrassed, while Lilly claps.
“It's fun,” she said. I nodded. Ciel looks at Lilly then back at me.
“Now that your flock came back to you, I have to go back to work. Good day lady,” he said, pushing the wagon, but the kids started to follow him once again. He stopped and look back, to see the kids laughing. I laughed, but cover my mouth with my hand. Ciel threw me a dark look.
“Come on, my little flock, leave the goose alone. He has work to do.” I wave, yet they didn’t move. I frowned as Ciel look down at them.
“You said whoever breaks the loop will lose, so we aren’t going to.” Oscar crosses his arms with determination in his face. Issac shrugs and Lilly nods.
“Oh for the love of God. You can all go fly back to your mother bear. I set you free.” he waves his hand. The children look at him..
“Silly Ciel, mama isn’t a bear, she’s a Mama duck,” Evanly said. Ciel raised both of his brows, but I heard him cough a chuckle, but clears his throat.
“Well, I’m sorry, Miss Evalyn, then go back to your mama duck. This goose has work to do..” he said, shaking his head.
“Oh, see much better now.” Evanly crosses her small arms and nods seriously.
“Why am I playing along?” he murmurs, looking confused. I couldn’t hold it, I burst out laughing hard. Ciel and my children are too much. Their conversation is just so adorable and funny. Ciel just goes with it.
'That's so sweet of him.'
Ciel turns his gaze to look at me, as I laugh. He stares at me with a strange look. While my children did the same.
“Mom?” I heard Issac ask.
“Did we make mama laugh?” I heard Daniel ask. Everyone nods.
I walk up to my children, breathing out to control my laughter.
“You heard the man. You all free.” I said to them with a wave of my hand.
“Awe, really mom?” Oscar protested.
“Yes, the goose is busy. Now go, in an hour is your classes,” I said. They sigh out in protest, while Sophy wobbles herself towards me. I smiled at them, as I bend to pick her up.
“You had fun Sophy?” I asked her. She nods, looking at Ciel, while she places her head on my shoulder.
“Duck, duck, goose.” she bounces a little. I laugh at her.
'This is the first time I see Sophy excited about something.' My heart swells with a warmth of happiness. I turned around to look at Ciel. .
He was quiet, but somehow his gaze made me feel weird. He turns around and went back to work.
‘Thank you, Ciel, do you think, maybe one day, this place will fill with laughter once again? Just like today? You manage to give happiness to them at least a little.'
“Good night,” I kiss my last child Evanly, while everyone slept in the girls’ room once again.
“When are we going back to our dorm?” Issac asks, looking at me. I licked my lips.
“Soon. That water damage still not repair. Mrs. Morris still waiting for the improvement so they can send someone to fix the ceiling.” I lied, hating to lie like this to the kids is killing me. Issac gave me a long look, this time he doesn’t say anything.
“I’m going to take a bath, I’ll be back soon. If anything, Ciel is in his room.” I told them. They all nodded, as I close the door. I look down at the wooden floor while walking. I bump into someone. I lifted my gaze to see Ciel, which was drying his hair with a towel. His skin looks flushed. His eyes look more profound.
“Sorry,” I blushed, moving to the side. He lower his hand.
“Is okay. Are the kids asleep?” he asks.
“Almost,” I look up at him.
“Can you go inside and watch them. I think that man is still inside the orphanage.” I frowned.
“I did check around, I found nothing, but I still can feel him.” he mentions, looking at my eyes.
“Then what about you?” he asks.
“Me? I’m okay.” he didn’t seem convinced.
“Use Pops bathroom. I just came out of it, so I sure you there's no one in.” he said.
“Ah, but I don’t want to..”
“Just use it. I’ll watch the kids,” he mumbles, walking away, but I move fast and grasp his wrist. He stops and turns his gaze towards me arching a brow.
“Yes?” he asks. I nervously lick my bottom lip.
“Um. Thank you for taking care of my children, while I was out of it. Mrs. Morris left the same night she came. I don’t even know what happen to Pops. The children are so disappointed that they couldn't see him.” I felt a heaviness in my heart.
“Exactly who is this pops?” He asks. I didn’t even notice that I kept holding his wrist. He does, again using his gaze trapping me, he lowers his gaze. I follow, my eyes widen, and I let go.
“Sorry.” I nervously rub the back of my head. He doesn’t say anything.
“Pops is an elderly man. He is Mrs. Morris father and founder of this orphanage.” I explained. Ciel seems to let this new information sink in.
“I see,” he said.
“Then I’ll go and take that bath. Once again thank you for everything this past two weeks, while I was sick. I don't know how to pay you back.” I told him.
“Is fine. You're letting me live here for free, is the least I can do. I don’t like to pry, but you should really take care of yourself. You have eight children that depend on you, you can't afford another attack. ” He said. I bite my bottom lip and sigh.
‘I know, but I couldn’t handle it. No one speaks ill about my children.’
“I know, but you don’t know how much. I mean, I’ll keep it in mind.” I said to him. Out of nowhere, I felt a hand on top of my head. I lifted my head, to see Ciel looking at me, his dark eyes look soft and suddenly gave me a soft real smile, which causes my heart to jump as hard. His eyes brighten up in a strange way.
“You did a good job, next time, let me beat the hell out of him. Hate those types of men,” he said. I stare at him with wide eyes, as he lowers his hand. He places his towel over his shoulder, while I blinked rapidly, my heart racing even more. He turns around to head towards the dorm. Then it dawns on me.
“Oi, Mister no cursing.” I spat, as he waves his hand over his shoulder.
“No violence, lady,” he said, as he enters the girl’s dorm. I place my hand on my chest, where my heart is racing.
’Strange, wait.. What did he mean by that? Did he see me slap Mr. Don? ′ I lowered my head.
’Don’t be absurd, he doesn’t care what it’s going on here. My top priority is to find money before the two weeks are up. Oh God help me. ′
When I returned from my bath, I walk down the hallway, reaching the girls dorm. Again, that cold chill rushed down my spine, making me shiver. I rub my arms, looking around, but didn’t find anything.
‘Relax Zara is nothing,’ I lick my lips when I jump in fright to feel a cold hand on my shoulder.
“Mom, are you okay?” Lilly asks. I place my hand on my chest, breathing hard.
“Mom? Is your asthma acting up again?” she asks with a panic tone, I shook my head.
“No, you just scared me. What’s wrong?” I asked her. She wraps her arms around me. I went still for a second, surprised by this, but wrap my arms around her.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” I asked, rubbing her back. She gasps out.
“I thought we would lose you,” she said.
“Well, thanks to you and your brother, I manage,” I told her. She went quiet but held me closer to her.
“I don’t know what I would have done if we lost you. I can’t lose another mother,” she said.
“I know.” we let go, and she kisses my cheek.
“I don’t even know how to repay you, mom. You just took me without batting an eye, not caring about my condition.” she sniffles. I cup her cheek and smiled.
“What condition? I don’t see anything but a beautiful young woman in front of me. You were the cutest four-year-old that I have met.” I praised her. She blushes, but shook her head.
“Don’t scare us like that. Luckily, that Ciel helped us. Mama, I think you should really marry. Even though you have us, you look lonely. You need someone to take care of you as well. You always give but never receive anything back. I want a man to give you that love you deserve and take good care of you.” she said. I giggled, and shrug.
“Oh, don’t be romantic Lilly, if I get a man, he has to love you all first. I won’t accept anyone unless he accepts you all. Plus doubt anyone will fall in love with me after he discovers about my...”
“Mom, that’ is not a problem. You know that love is more than skin deep.” Lilly said. I rolled my eyes.
“What do you know? You’re only twelve Lilly, you’re acting like an old lady.” I told her. She snorted.
“Well, someone has to be mature in this family.” she giggles. I rolled my eyes.
“Oi, you’re saying that I'm not?” I teased her. She shrugs.
“Maybe.” she said with a giggle. Then something seems to cross her eyes like she wanted to tell me something.
“What?” I asked, getting worried. Lilly shakes her head, I sigh and kiss the top of her head.
“Its late, finish your prayers and sleep soon, mom. Good night,” she tells me. I nodded, watching her go in. I rub my chest.
‘Then tell me what’s wrong Lilly? I don’t like the look in your eyes.’
I look at my ring. A gold ring with a small stone on top. I run my thumb across it. While I sat on the edge of my bed.
‘I should sell it. Is not worth anything to me anymore.’
“You know, is almost three in the morning, you should sleep.” I heard a whisper. I jump in fright, to turn to see Ciel sitting on the edge of my bed. I rub my chest.
“Why is everyone scaring me today? I’m still recovering,” I mumbled, trying to not wake the children.
“You’re a magnet for it.” he shrugs. I place my leg on top of my bed and fold it, getting comfortable. I look up at him.
“You know, I should be afraid of you,” I said out of nowhere. Ciel nods.
“You should.” he agrees, while he crosses his arms in front of his torso. I licked my lips.
“Yet, even though you have been here for two weeks, I feel like I can trust you. Not sure why, though. When will you leave?” I asked him. Ciel went quiet.
“Oh..” somehow that made me sad.
“You shouldn’t trust me. I’m a stranger to you as you are a stranger to me. Also, don’t know, maybe before winter comes.” he finally said. I felt more disappointed by that. I look down at my ring.
“Ciel, did you promise to protect children?” I asked. He doesn’t say anything.
“The ring looks very expensive. Anyone will pay good money for it.” he suddenly said changing the subject. I lifted my gaze up.
‘Well, so is a no? He didn’t promise? Was it my imagination?’
“Really? Do you know anyone that would love to buy it? I was thinking to go to a pawn shop in a few days, but they normally don’t give enough.” I said.
“I actually do have one person in mind. Won’t you miss that thing? Looks like someone with loot gave it to you, maybe an ex-lover?” He questions.
“Lover? Don’t be silly, here’s a secret, most men won’t’ bat an eye with a single woman with eight children. Is very rare to find it, plus I never courted a man before. Didn’t I tell you before? This is something that I don’t need anymore.” I told him. Ciel looks at the beds, then back at me.
“I’ll take you in a few days, then,” he told me. I couldn’t help but smile a bit stupidly at him.
“Oh, thank you.” I somehow bounce a little closer to him. He nods, giving me a curious look at my reaction, but turns his gaze to look down at the floor. I cleared my throat.
“Ciel, I never asked you. What do you do for a living?” I licked my lips. He lifted his gaze towards me.
“You want to know?” he asks me.
“If you don’t mind me asking. You pretty much know us by now and how we live. I was just curious, you keep to yourself. I don’t want to pry, but I want to know a little more about our housemate. Especially now that the kids took a liking over you. I want to be at ease. The only thing I know is that you don't know how to read.” I told him. He doesn’t say anything. I suddenly blushed.
“Plus you’re so gentle with the children and have patience. Anyone would have gone crazy by now.” I started to play with my thumb, feeling shy. He stares at me not sure how to react at my sudden strange personality.
“Do you really want to know?” he finally asked. I nodded.
“Yes, I won’t judge. Remember, this place is the orphanage of the outcast. No such things as normal here.” I told him. I felt his body move. I lifted my gaze, to see him facing me, his leg on top of my bed, but his eyes are very guarded.
“Just a little information Lady. After this, you will decide to keep me or not,” he said. I felt my heart hammer with fear.
‘Please don’t let it be bad, please God.’ I prayed, holding into the blankets. He leans forward to my ear, somehow I shivered at his closeness, while his hot breath brush against my skin, I held the blankets even tighter. I closed my eyes, not sure why. A dark smirk passes his lips.
“What I do for a living? Easy, I’m an underground fighter.”