First impressions (Chapter 11)
Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap.
I watch as Linda reaches over and puts her hand on top of her partner’s, stilling his repeatedly tapping on the extravagantly decorated table. His face is tense. This man isn’t use to waiting. Counselor Hertilz, or Johna as Linda seems to call him, has the presence of an arrogant aristocrat. His face is refined yet masculine, his hair dark with streaks of gray around the temples, his eyes dark and calculating. He is dressed in finery with the largest gold chains around his shoulders I have seen so often. The gold chains glide over a deep blue sash with gold trim he wears draped over his dark grey suit.
We make an odd group, sitting together at one end of a table decorated for what I assume is the finest of dinners. There is the faint smell of warm smoke from the candles on the table and florals from the two oversized bouquets with adorn the table. The room has an intricately carved wood ceiling and the same light stone walls that adorn the rest of the house that almost looks like frosted glass. Two of the four walls are covered with rich tapestries depicting a gathering of some sort with finely dressed men. One wall has a large painting of older man posing in front of a building, his face grim. In addition to the candles, warm light emits from strange torches on the walls with balls of fire floating above a metal torch.
A servant cautiously approaches carrying a bottle of the light brown liquor. The Counselor waves him away nearly hitting him before returning his hand to the table.
Nothing about this is comfortable. The wood chair is straight and hard. My silky pink wrap dress I was given sticks to my skin from my nervous sweat and the stiff lace overlay is digging into my skin at the neck and sleeves. My hair is in an intricate braided up-do with bobby pins poking my scalp and it makes my hair feel unusually heavy. The layers of my dress catch against each other as I move creating a scratching sound that draws attention to my leg’s anxious bounce and I sit as still as I can in a hard wooden chair trying not to let my unease show.
After a short and awkward ride with Linda occasionally breaking the silence to tell me about her charming and handsome son, we arrived at a large stone structure with no windows with a brightly painted red door on a quiet street lined with similar houses. Leafy vines crawl up the outside of the light glassy looking stones and well-tended shrubs line the side of the clean road.
I was not allowed to admire it however, and was ushered into the building, through a series of hallways and into a bedroom. Once there Linda left me to be washed and dressed, poked and prodded to get me ready in the finest clothing for this vital dinner where I will meet the man who I will apparently instantly fall head over heels with, the perfect son of the Johna and Linda.
The perfect son is also very late.
“Where is he?” Johna slams his free hand on the table causing various utensils to jump.
“Calm down dear, you know how long the debates can go”
The Counselor growls in response before reaching for his liquor-filled glass and taking an angry sip.
“Sorry the meeting …”
I turn in my seat towards the booming voice to see a man walking in through a side door. He’s tall with thick wavy black hair and almost scrutinizing black eyes, an aristocratic nose and thin pink lips. He too wears ropes of thick gold chains and a plain sash of emerald green over a black suit. His clothing emphasizes his too broad shoulders and his trim waists. He is a mix of authority with a dash of stern. He is hot- like really hot.
And he is staring straight at me with a deep frown.
“What is this?” he demands looking straight at Linda. This must the son.
“Sit down dear” she releases the Counselors hand to gesture to an empty seat to my left “We’ll explain and it will all make sense in a moment.” There is an edge of nervousness in otherwise steady voice.
The Counselor begins to tap the table again watching his son silently and his nervousness feeds mine as butterflies swim in my stomach.
The younger man’s long legs allow him to reach the chair next to me in only two angry strides, but instead of sitting he grips the back of the chair, his knuckles turning white under the stress. His lips draw a straight line as he presses them together. His nearness allows masculine scent to wash over me; it’s a warm mix of deep earthiness and musk and I almost close my eyes at my enjoyment of it.
“What. Is. This?” he demands, barely in control, his angry eyes daring them to confirm his suspicions.
“This dear is Ivy” She gestures to me “Your father and I have decided it’s been long enough and it’s time for you have a new…”
“What the fuck!” he roars and I try to stop my body from shaking in response to his anger. It’s clear he didn’t know about me and his parents have decided to thrust me upon an unsuspecting man with anger issues. Fabulous.
I hear a chair squeak against the floor and turn to see the chancellor standing “Do not speak to your mother in that tone!”
“Just sit down dear and…” Linda begins.
“I will speak however I want!” Giddean glowers at his father.
“This is about your future Giddi!” his mother cries standing to join the others.
“This better not be what I think it is”
I attempt to shrink back in my chair. I am a stranger to these people and though this is about me I am too shocked at the anger on their faces to think of a coherent defense of my own presence- a presence I would rather take elsewhere. It’s as if I am witness to a family conversation that doesn’t involve me, but it does.
It does and I’m tired of not standing up for myself. I feel my own anger at being thrown into this situation overtake my fear. Screw this. I stand up to join the argument.
I open my mouth to defend myself.
The Councilor turns to me. “Ivy would you be so kind as to leave the room while we talk with our son?” he forces out through strained lips
I purse my lips. I want to scream that this is about me, but I hold myself together because it isn’t. It’s about family dynamics and I am just collateral damage. Ugh, I am an outsider. I nod and make a quick exit to the hallway letting the heavy wood door slam behind me.