The Murderer's Daughter

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Chapter XXI

She held her face in her hands for some time while sitting on the edge of her bed. This was the only time that her brain decided to be silent. Her journal lay open to a blank pain in her lap, looking neglected as she peeked at it between her fingers. The pen dividing the pages, the countless lines blank, empty and unexpressed. Where had all of her inspiration gone in order to get her life back how she wanted it? A second voice in the back of her head reminded her that everything she had done in her life was under someone else's influence. There was hardly enough of her own accomplishments to make up for the ones made by Hayden and her father's guidance. How would she execute this plan that had no structure? She was certain that Hayden knew about her ideas, if only he would at least threaten her to give her the confirmation of knowing. Of course threats could become actions, and he could easily overpower her.

Maybe Martin could be a sort of lookout for her, like a body guard. No. He would just be someone she would have to worry about, and that kind of thing would ruin her. It had to be only her, performing every detail and watching her own back. That was what needed to be done. Guidelines were what she needed to get started. Lena's eyes light up slightly as the pen returned to her hand and began writing, in no particular order but that was something for another time, she needed to write now. Number One, find out of other hidden secrets like the hallucinogen around the house. If he had one part of the house set up for intruders, why not the rest? He was extremely cautious, never saying too much, always picking the right words to keep her guessing of what was really on his mind. She found that both exhausting and genius. Number Two, learn about what could be in the syringes. If she found out the chemistry behind them and got ahold of them, they would come in handy, Easy to use and easy to dispose of. Little blood to clean. But burning down the house would just as easily rid of any evidence too. But the risks of the public finding the underground rooms were too much. Then the information about the entire organization Hayden created would be out in the open, leaving Lena to have to be cautious for the rest of her life if she was going to continue with the work. There was always a counter thought.

Number Three, Find out about his new projects. Learning his schedule would give her an idea of how busy he would be, his downtime would no doubt be spent on watching her, keeping eyes on her at all times. No doubt there was a camera hidden in each room as well. Without moving, her eyes glanced towards the bathroom, would he be so slow as to have a camera in there? Probably, there was very little about him that she knew. Lena was certain that the more she tried to think of things about him based on what she was already aware of, she would get nothing accomplished. She barely had enough written down now to even grant herself the luxury of sleep. Lena dropped the pen back in the middle of the journal, rubbing her eyes until she started seeing stars and strange swirls behind her eyelids. Why was that so comforting? She needed to move around, the length of time sitting on the bed was making her legs cramped and the time she wasn't sure of. Was Hayden back? Did Martin leave? How many people did he have working around the house?

Her room was dark, the few candles she lit a while ago, the scents she had become so accustomed to that she couldn't smell them, the red, tan and deep purple candles almost gone inside their glass jars. Their soft glow beginning to make her eyelids drop as the sun set from behind her drawn curtains. She closed the journal with the pen inside and got off the bed, stretching her cramped legs and cracking her shoulders by stretching her arms wide above her head and twisting her arms. The dress left creases on her legs when she pulled the skirt down to hang properly around her, the tingling in her feet subsiding when she walked. Lena put her shoes back on before hiding her journal and opening her bedroom door, looking from the frame to either side of her. The ivory walls had hints of gold painted in vines and flowers all around her. The room was left behind as she walked down the hallway, greeted by the statues that she found the only comfort in, the stairs wide, winding to the entrance of the house. She still enjoyed looking up at the chandelier. The lights once again sparkling down at her while she reached the bottom of the staircase to stand beneath it. She was greatly intrigued.

Something so beautiful and breathtaking could easily take a life. If the wires let go, the chain holding it above her came crashing down and crushing her body, embedding the thousands of crystals in her body so she became a part of the art. People were like inanimate objects, fate would claim them all. Time and the world dragging everything down. This splendid house would soon rot from the inside out, the people in it would fall victim to age, death, anything that karma would see fit. Lena found it amusing how even those who did no wrong, the statues in their scenes of distress, animals dying in the weather, also fell under the influence of horrid fates. Lena didn't realize that she stood frozen on the final step, her toe of her foot barely touching the floor. Her mind took over her again, her thoughts crushing her precious time. "Lena? Would you care to join me for dinner?" Hayden asked, leaning against the wall, adjusting the cuff on his sleeve. His relaxed features were so natural yet there could not possible be a way for such a man with so many things to think about and plan to be relaxed.

"That would be fine, do you mind if I change into something I haven't worn all day?" She asked, finally standing on the floor and now in front of him, even with her heels his height still an advantage on her. He seemed to be still amused by it while looking down at her with no sense of condescending but something in his eyes showed slight humor. Of course she was no threat in his eyes, he no doubt would be faster, of course stronger and smarter. The same factors that kept her up at night. "Yes that is fine, I will have the cook take more time to prepare the meal. I hope you are fine with Italian."

"Yes that's perfect, I won't be long. The dining room is just down the west hallway right?"

"East hallway." he corrected without any tone. He checked his watch nonchalantly without looking at her. "It is the first room on your left, I look forward to seeing you soon, Lena." Hayden politely took her hand and kissed the top of it, departing from her into the room he must have come out from before their conversation. Why had she even come down here in the first place? It was though she was always on edge when Hayden was around and he fed off that, using his charming hospitality to relax her. Which was worse? Always being on her guard and him knowing that? Or being relaxed, putting herself in a more vulnerable position? These sort of questions were making her crazy. Lena went back upstairs, stripping her dress to drop on the bed. Her room was warm enough so she did not have goosebumps on her skin. She went to her closet, finding a simple deep purple silk and lace sleeved dress that flattered her curves and the color accented her skin tone perfect.

She didn't want to show off anything to him, it was unnecessary and she was quite particular on how she carried herself around anyone. Even herself. She was a perfectionist, it was her personality to be critical of everything she did and was going to do. She needed Hayden to treat her on the same level of skills and intelligence, despite the obvious fact that he was higher in rank for nearly everything. The dress was comfortable, mature and fitting to her taste, the black heels giving her the coveted height. Her hair she left to hang down her shoulders, only pinning it out of her face and applying a crimson matte to her lips and removing the thin gold chain so her neck was bare. It took her a total of fifteen minutes to transform from teen girl lost in her thoughts, to a young adult who would join society, even if it was only with Hayden. It was time to face him again, there was much she wanted to ask him and perhaps learn.

Lena made her way down the east hallway and found the large dining room lit with candles in the middle of the table and a fireplace at the far end. She felt as though she were stepping into a gathering during the Victorian Era. The plates and silverware elegantly placed and polished so the flames glowed in the reflection. Hayden was not around yet, a few platters covered in the middle of the table, three places set. Lena's observation of the number of place settings made her raise an eyebrow while making her way towards the seat closed to her. Her hands supported her weight while she waited for Hayden and the mystery guest to arrive. Once her toes started to ache inside the shoes Hayden walked up behind her and wished delicately in her ear. "You look lovely, Lena." A cold chill ran down her spine and the warmth of the fire could not help it. "Why are there three place settings?" She asked, turning her head to look at him while he slowly moved beside her to pull her chair out for her. Lena sat quietly but continued to look at him for the answer. "You will soon see. For now, until our guest arrives we are to enjoy our meal and each other's company." He smiled again and went to his own place at the head of the table and only a few feet from her. The empty place in front of her bothered her but she remained silent while a waiter poured them glasses of champagne and presented the first course, a small portion of Brown Butter Gnoochi, the spinach a beautiful green mixed with the white of Parmesan and potato gnoochi.

"I promise that the meal is not poisoned." Hayden said was a small laugh, taking a bite of the meal and looking at her. The fire behind him shadowed his face yet made his dark hair seem more shiny as the flames illuminated it. She took a bite and found that the spinach almost melted in her mouth, the taste simple yet so delectable. She had never tasted something so heavenly and this was only the first course. There was only enough on her plate for a few bites but she enjoyed the small portions, she hated the feeling of being too full, it made her tired and almost weaker. She made sure to not eat faster then Hayden even though she had nothing to eat all day, the idea of a meal somehow slipping her mind until the dinner invitation. The champagne went untouched, it held no interest to her as her eyes locked with that of the flames for a few moments until the courage to begin the questioning took over her and she averted her eyes to Hayden's.

"Is it alright if I ask you some questions?" Lena asked, finishing her plate and ignoring the hand that cleared it from in front of her, a new plate with the entree a simple soup that she recognized as White Bean Soup, still scalding when she lifted the spoon to her lips. The way that the food burned her tongue made her feel more in touch with herself, more in the reality of the situation instead of her mind. "Of course, you are allowed to ask me anything." Hayden replied, leaning back in his chair with his soup only halfway gone. He rested her elbows at the edge of the arm rests, still his face shadowed. "Thank you, first I would like to ask you why is it that you showed me your most secret of spaces. That room with all of the syringes...I am mostly trying to understand why is it that after what had happened beforehand with what you did to me, showing me another part of your reality seems out of sorts. Wouldn't you want to keep secrets from me so I am not so much of a threat?" She meant for the end of the question to be lighthearted and it was received in that fashion as he smirked and lifted his glass to take a drink.

She was a bit disappointed in herself at the way she asked the question. It sounded so jumbled as opposed to so clearly spoken in her head not moments before. Her body became hot with embarrassment for herself, her skin feeling dry and tight, making her ache to want to move around but she wanted the answers more at this moment, that was more important. "I have to admit that was not the sort of question I expected you to start off with. But I am impressed by it since it takes a lot usually to surprise me. I showed you to hopefully put some more sense into you if you planned to try anything in my own home. If I must be honest, I see you a great threat. Your mind is clear of what you want, your skills are wonderful yet can still be developed. Personally, I would like to be involved in your practice seeing as how I know you could be so brilliant in what I have created." Lena remained still. He was completely honest now, but what was the motive? Was manipulation is any of these answers to come? She had to be careful no matter what it was seeming like.

"Any others?" She nodded and turned her head to the empty place before her. "Who is coming?" She could see his white teeth when he smiled and he leaned to the side to take his phone from his pocket, finally his face showing as he sent a message and pocketed the phone again. "You'll see in a few minutes. How about a different question until then?" She sighed in agreement. "What is the exact purpose of me being here?"

"That is simple. I want you to learn in a more secured and serious setting. Your father is not stable right now. The process of finally teaching you...I was severely disappointed in how he is behaving. I intend for him to be separated from you so he can clear his head, and perhaps rejoin in my vision. Welcome, Martin." Hayden said, his graze turning from her to Martin who she sensed standing behind her. She remained neutral faced. What was the plan behind inviting Martin? She couldn't ask, she knew he would tell. "Hello, Lena." Martin greeted and made his way to his place, dressed the same but without his jacket. My arms exposed and even in the dim light she saw the trace of a scar that ran from his elbow to the covered place at his shoulder. The short sleeves no doubt hid more damage. More secrets that irritated her as she watched him sit down in front of her.

"Hello to you as well." She answered rather dryly, no eye contact made but tense rising in the room quickly, making the flames quiver between them all. "I hope you are hungry, Martin, the cook has outdone himself yet again." Hayden's cheerful frame of speech was unsettling, making her stomach churn. Here they all were, the doors now closed thanks to a butler who was clearly onto what every this evening was about. Martin made sure not to look at her, acting perfectly as though there was nothing different between them. Martin nodded in reply to Hayden's comment where Hayden nonchalantly took out his phone again and sent a single, pre typed text and within seconds the food was delivered and placed before Martin and then the staff departed after refilled Hayden glass, ignoring Lena's untouched one, and had their third course brought out, a dessert of a classic strawberry shortcake, the biscuit still warm and soft.

"Now Lena, correct me if I am wrong but I was given the impression that you and Martin have been speaking more often. One of my members of staff say you both casually chatting in the library. Mind you nothing was overheard but I want to take this moment to let you both perhaps explain to me what was in the conversation? If I am open with you, I expect the same outcome from you." Once again he leaned back in his chair while Martin took a few hesitant bites f food, chewing slowly.

"I completely agree, and you have been more then kind to make that clear." Lena said, getting her confidence back once the tension started to make her blood rush through her body and her heart pound. "We were discussing..." Hayden held up his hand, cutting her off. "I want you to think hard about your answer. If you lie to me, things will go badly, and my anger will surface again my dear Lena. I will allow you to start over your explanation after you take another moment making sure what you will speak is correct information." Once more he resumed his position leaned back in his chair, eyeing them both while Lena and Martin ignored each other. Three breaths. No more no less until she spoke slow and clear.

"I was looking for a new book since I left the majority of mine back home. While I was looking around in a copy of Romeo and Juliet. I came across a picture, somehow Martin was nearby and took the photo away from me before I could get a proper look at it. So I asked him what the photo was and why it was here but he wouldn't say anything, just that he had meant to take it out after using it as a bookmark. And I will admit that I pestered him more then I should have about it since I do not like secrets being kept from me. Eventually he told me a small detail of it being of a friend and his sister yet I was not allowed to look at it." She knew that Martin would give her a look of disgust. She was lying and was throwing him under the bus. It was low, but she didn't care about him, she couldn't afford to. His life was in his own hands, not hers and they were not friends. No leverage.

"I see. And why would you not show her the photograph?" Hayden turned to Martin. Martin's plates were empty now, as was his glass. "It was my property, she didn't need to know everything. It is as simple as that."

"I understand but if it was so important for someone to not see it, there should be no mistake to have the photo be in near plain sight. And Lena, I am sorry to say but I know that you are not being honest with me. How I knew is irrelevant, you lied, and refused my offer to be truthful. I don't care any longer of what the true story was, if there was anything going on being you both is none of my business. I just want what happens under my roof to be revealed to me. For that I need to take matters in my own hand once again. Watch closely Lena." Hayden spoke in a dark yet somehow still nonchalant voice. He picked up his steak knife, rubbing his thumb along the blade and jagged edges, staring at it for a moment. His arm jerked to the side towards martin who will was on edge, did not expect the blade to embed itself in his throat, halfway through but blood spilled instantly from the wound, coating the white tablecloth in red, refilled his plate with the blood, even spraying in some places to spot her hand. "Now Lena, I want you to push the knife in further. No hesitations this time." His smile was menacing while Martin's gagging and choking echoing in the room.

She stood up, removing the napkin from her lap and walking around behind Hayden's's chair, the fireplace flames warm on her bare legs and Martin's eyes staying on her face, wide and filled with hatred and fury, becoming glazed over as she took the handle in her hand from beside him, staring him straight in the eyes like Hayden would want and pushed the knife all the way through, severing his vertebrae and snapping her head back to be stabbed by the tip of the blade protruding on the other side. Lena said nothing, kept the handle in her hand until the last breath of life passed his lips in a sigh of breath, blood sticking his shirt to his body and staining everything around him, including along her arm and legs. "Very good, that was his punishment, yours will proceed in the morning. I shall see you in the parlor at precisely nine in the morning. Do not be late." He stood and kissed the top of her head, leaving Martin's body in the chair and Lena to question everything once more.


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