Chapter 9: Abide by thy Promises
Seventeen times to be exact, I woke up screaming at the hands of nightmares littering my sleep, and all seventeen times Vincent was right there; sitting in the chair next to my bed ready to put his strong arms around me and whisper sweet nothings on my ears and take away my pain and fear to some extent, at least, momentarily. The pain was too much to co-exist with. If not for Vincent’s presence like light at the end of tunnel the pain would have eaten me alive.
After two sunrises and sunsets I lost track of how many days went by. Vincent kept running back and forth between Caroline and I, tending to us with utmost love and care trying to ward off all the pain and darkness surrounding us; feeding us, reading to us in vain attempts at distracting us from our loss, putting us to bed and sitting with us through our post nightmare times.
Days after the dreadful moment when the news of Andre’s death had hit me, the pain receded just enough to allow me to really think. The more I thought, the more the combination of loss, pain, self hatred, helplessness and me being me fueled the fire of revenge in my core, previously damped by tears and grief, to its complete glory. The pain was now burning away in the fire, so would I one day if the fire would not be extinguished by then. Only one thing could put out the fire; blood. I wanted blood, blood of those who had hurt Andre and taken him from me and his innocent sister.
With a new found determination I left my room at Andre’s house and walked around in search of Vincent. I needed to know what had really transpired that night which had gotten Andre killed, and for now Vincent was the only person I knew of who could tell me more than most or even anything at all. Upon looking through eighty percent of the house I found Vincent in the library. He was writing a letter which he added a seal of some sort to and handed it to the messenger standing at his service, ready to leave immediately. I entered the library just as the messenger walked out.
Dressed in black as almost all of the other times I had seen him, Vincent sat gracefully in the chair going through one of the many documents scattered all over the table facing him. No matter how well he dressed or how much grace he added to his posture the weariness encircled him, and was too evident for me to not notice. The bags under his eyes and his not so carefully done hair said it too well that he was not as unaffected by grief and nightmares as much as he tended to show.
“We need to talk, Vincent.”
He pulled his eyes off the letter he was indulged into reading of and placed the full weight of his stare on me, daring me to go on, which I did.
“I want you to tell me what happened to Andre.”
He motioned for me to take a seat, I complied without any complaint. I fell into a chair facing his, and looked him in the eyes.
“What do you wish for me to tell you, Eleanor, which I already have not told you? Andre was the master of coins for the Estercrest Empire. Such posts bring you one too many enemies. It was his job to make sure the money that belonged to the government went to no pockets other than the very rightful ones. Ensuring a fair exchange of hands for money in the empire meant Andre had to go against a number of noblemen and members of king’s council who were corrupt to the roots and get them convicted. Revenge from or an act of self preservation for someone such ended up in Andre being assassinated.”
“Who was this enemy of his that killed him?”
“Eleanor, no one is foolish enough to come themselves for killing someone of an office as high as Andre’s. Those were mercenaries paid, handsomely, to eliminate him as a threat to many. Unfortunately by the time I got to Andre, everyone at the site was dead; Andre, his guards and five anonymous men in black who had embarked on the mission of beheading my cousin. If any of the mercenaries lived, which is quite a likely option, they had found their way to their sanctuary timely, and no one has happened to see them while doing so.”
“What are you trying to say, that his killers will go unpunished?” I asked frustrated. I could sense anger making my voice grow a few octaves higher.
“No. The crown is investigating his death, and anyone found guilty of the crime will be charged accordingly.”
“I do not want the crown to punish them; I want to do it myself.”
“Let it go, Eleanor, do not lose your life on a pointless mission for vengeance clouded by your too fresh grief. It is not your job to go after killers and neither are you bestowed with skills to see you through such tasks.”
The moment those words left his mouth and my brain registered what he had said, my blood boiled with rage.
“Oh so Andre’s death is pointless to you?”
“I fail to recall myself saying any such thing.”
“Then tell me who killed him? I’ll kill him personally.”
“I already told you, I do not know.”
“You are lying to my face.” I hissed, barely suppressing the urge to grab his collar and rattle him hard enough to make him spill every tad bit of information he held from me.
“Don’t be petty Eleanor.”
There slipped whatever small amount of patience I was formerly clinging to.
“You dare not call me petty.” I yelled, and threw the very document; he was engrossed in the reading of before I came, on his face. “You are a coward; scared of those people who hurt your cousin. You sit on your tail contently while they roam freely outside, emboldened by their conquest ready to hurt more people, because of your cowardice.”
“You do not know a thing, Ms. Black, so I would suggest for you to refrain from acting as you do know anything.”
His eyes darkened by a few shades. He looked right into my orbs and got up from his chair, thunderously placing his hands on the desk separating him from me. His gaze sent chills through my whole body, but I was determined to not cower and sat even straighter, stared right back at him with just as much anger as he was holding in his gaze. By all gods this man was scary, but he could not and would not scare me.
His now cold and clipped voice hit my ear drums. “I made a promise to your Andre, to protect you; from you and those who hurt him, and I fully intended to keep that promise, Ms. Black. One way or another, I will make certain you find nothing that will endanger your life.”
If I were to be honest, I was not exactly concentrating on what he was saying, but more on how he was saying it. I do not know why, but it hurt; it hurt the way he went from calling me Eleanor to calling me Ms. Black over a course of just few seconds. It hurt how his mesmerizing sweet voice, that usually felt like silk caressing my skin, just turned ice cold and emotionless for me.
Gathering my senses drowning in his frighteningly deep eyes; in which currently a disastrous storm brewed, I pushed myself out of the chair, and almost spat the words in his face, before stomping out of the room.
“Fine then, Vincent, I’m leaving for Carter Manor right now. I will not stay somewhere where I am just kept out of pity and some kind of promise to a dying man. My mistake, I thought you cared, for real. Take care of sweet Caroline.”
I was not even fully out of the library door when he grabbed my wrist and pulled me back; my body spun and my hands gently hit his chest as the rest of my body hit his rock hard one. Just as I opened my mouth to rant he placed his index finger over my lips.
“Don’t. Let me talk. I am sorry, I should not have talked to you the way I just did. You are grieving and in a lot of pain that I cannot even begin to understand, but you have to realize that you were talking about going on a mad man’s mission. I do care for you outside the bounds of the promise I made to Andre too, and that is why I ask you to stay here, at least till I send for Ms. Carter to come and take you along. I want you to have some love and care at all times. I request you to stay a few more days here.”
I was about to tell him to go in whatever hole he wishes to hide in and take along his fake care; that I do not need, when I did the mistake of looking into his eyes. That was my undoing. Even if fake, they were brimming with care and sincerity, I could just not utter the word no, when he was looking at me like that. What harm could spending a few more days under the same roof as him cause? none that I could think of. Sighing, I nodded to his request and stepped away from him, making my way to my assigned room.
That evening, that night, next morning and every other time I saw Vincent again, he acted like nothing had happened and everything was just fine. The act suited me well, so I joined in too. For three days we fell into the same routine as we followed before our argument; I would stay in my room, he would bring me food and coax me to force some of it down my throat three times a day, I would sleep and wake up screaming or sweating and he would hold me and lull me back to sleep.
On the afternoon of the fourth day since Vincent and my argument, Genevieve turned up at Andre’s house and brought some shimmer of happiness in my life along her. Vincent had dispatched immediately after our argument a letter asking Genevieve to come and accompany me on a ride back to her father’s estate as per her convenience, and she left the moment arrangements for her departure were made as she was well aware what had happened to Andre and was far too much concerned for my wellbeing.
I was keen on leaving soon, and this time Vincent did not object either. The horses were allowed to rest a while and my meager belongings at Andre’s house were loaded into the carriage, leaving us ready for departure by sunset. Vincent expressed some concern for our security and convinced us to take a few of his employed armed men along.
Bidding Caroline farewell, I embarked on my journey back to Carter manor. Through the carriage window for a few miles I saw Vincent, watching the carriage leave standing in the middle of road leaving the house.
His eyes had looked at me with an intensity and look entirely unfamiliar to me, and I had no idea what to make of that look either, but right now I was not about to waste my time trying to fathom Vincent and his looks. All I wanted and had on my mind was revenge. Vincent may not help me with it, or may even obstruct my path to revenge, but I will not stop until I get what I seek.