The Horrorphiles, Part 7
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,676 words
Chapter 10 (also), continued
“Oh,” she said. “I thought I would go on the tour as well. With everyone else.”
She walked towards the door like she was on her way out, about to leave but Adam didn’t move from the edge of her bed where he was sitting.
“It’s pretty much the same I gave you earlier, with a bunch of malarky about ghosts and satan worshippers added in. I thought we might get another drink. You know . . . Hang out.” He said hang out like it stuck on his tongue and he was having trouble getting it off.
She was at an impasse. She wanted to meet Mr. Peabody, she wanted to be with the other Horrorphiles, but she didn’t want to be rude to Adam, who’d been overly kind to her for the most part, and nor did she want to hear any ghost stories lest she end up imagining her way screaming out the front doors.
“You’ve been tense since you got here. You should relax and have fun. You did it, it’s done. You don’t have to drive this bus any more, just enjoy the ride. Come have a drink or two with me, you can meet my uncle later.”
It was literally impossible to refuse now. He was kind and friendly and quite frankly right. Anyway protestation of her part would be nonsensical and cold hearted. “You’re right,” she said. “Another drink would be nice.”
Chapter 11 (in case you're wondering)
She went with Adam down the perfectly normal but bright red staircase. She saw the tail end of the ghost tour go down the hall into the same wing as the library but she couldn’t see over the heads of the crowd to catch a glimpse of Mr. Peabody. Adam lead her in the opposite direction to the door she would have sworn should have led to the games room, the same room they’d been in earlier for drinks. Instead of poker table and pool cues in a dimly lit room, they were in bright room lit by two huge roaring fireplaces. There was a grand piano opposite the door, near a wall of burgundy curtains embroidered with gold threads that caught the light of the twin fires and sparkled. There was ample sitting room in the form of chairs, chaises, and couches, each with legs and decorations of a different animal but pillows and cushions of dark red and gold brocades.
Adam stopped abruptly by the door where there was a long walnut bar and endless alcohol bottles lined up on shelves against a mirror reflecting the fires back into the room through the bottles (wow, that’s clumsy sentence). She stood there too, right where they cam in, to stunned by the huge elaborate drawing room, she supposed it should be called, to move anywhere else. Who had started these fires? Did Adam know she would come down here with him? Or forgetting that, maybe he just had the fires lit for himself, but why were these fireplaces built so large in the first place? Big enough to roast a whole cow or two. . .maybe an elephant even? Who had ever sat in all these seats? Who’d played the piano? Was this the kind of info she was missing in the tour?
And, with fires so huge, why was she still so cold?
Adam put a drink in her hand. “Cheers,” he said, clinking her glass.
"What is it?” she asked sounding more suspicious than she meant to but after the effects of the last one, she thought it might be better to ask before imbibing.
He sipped his without hesitation and laughed. “Just an old fashioned,” he said. “With a Grayson twist,” he added.
Then again, when she still wasn’t drinking, “It’s just some fruit juice and sugar syrup added.” He laughed like her trepidation was some kind of joke, meant to be entertaining. “Come on, lets sit down.”
He set in a chair nearest one fireplace, opposite a matching chair, with a low table between them. She sat in the matching chair and took a tiny sip of her drink.
“I have a confession to make,” he said. “I’m the one you’ve been corresponding with, not my uncle.”
He was looking into the ice cubes of his drink instead of at her.
“Really?” she said.
“It was my uncles idea of course, he wanted to fill the house again, like the old days. I mean, like I told you earlier. But he isn’t that up to date on the new technologies, so he asked me to take care of it.”
She didn’t know what to do with this new information or the icy wetness of her drink. The cold condensation of the iced cocktail slipped over her fingers and onto her jeans but she didn’t want to set the rocks glass on the table without a coaster, Adam still held his but appeared to have less condensation.
“So, I’ve been very much looking forward to meeting you, since we’ve already spoken so much . . . Online. . . But only in a professional manner.” He took another sip and his glass was empty. “You ready for another?” He asked, finally looking at her.
His eyes were so arresting she didn’t know what she wanted. “Um,” she said. She had to actually look at the glass in her hand to know if she was or not. To her surprise, the inside of her glass empty except for the clinking ice cubes and lemon rind. “IT appears so.” She tried to hand him her glass but somewhere between her fingers and his it slipped to the floor. The crash of glass and splash of melting ice against her against her leg, startled her out of the growing numbness. “Oh, shit,” she said. “I’m sorry, that was rude. Do you have dustpan or something? I can clean it up.”
He laughed, again like it was all joke. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll just move to the other side.”
“But the glass,” she said.
“Don’t worry we have plenty,” he answered already half way to the bar.
She hadn’t been that worried about the state of their glass collection but if he wasn’t concerned about someone stepping on shards of glass or the liquid soaking into what looked like yet another expensive probably heirloom what-not’s who-ever’s rug, then she’d try not to be concerned either. She supposed that if she broke another glass over there they could switch to a whole ’nother room if they had too. Then she could forget drinking whatever they drank in there too.
Adam was back with the drinks again. “I put the kettle on for hot toddy’s to warm us up a bit, but we’ve got another round of old fashioned’s in the meantime.”
It was a strange releif that despite the two noisily crackling fire, Adam was also cold. She was glad at the news that a warm drink would be next as he put another icy rocks glass in her hand.
He clinked their glasses. “Cheers.”
No one said anything as he sat down and for once though the silence didn’t feel weighted. In fact, it didn’t feel silent or creepy. With the fires, the drinks, the handsome company, it was actually cozy, it was nice. So she said so.
“This is actually very nice.”
“What? Did you think something awful would happen?” He laughed. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be antagonistic but you’re so . . . On edge. I didn’t expect the founder of horror fan site to be so jumpy.”
This time she was the one to laugh, a soft chuckle as she stared into the fire. “Jordan said the same thing.”
“Jordan? Your . . . Friend?”
She took a hearty drink of her whiskey. It was cold first then warm, comforting, burning down her chest. “My ex.”
“And you invited him here?”
This time she finished off her drink first. And even though she didn’t remember the first one, the comforting numbness of two cocktails was already weaving its way through her brain. Still…
“I don’t really want to talk about that, him,” she said.
“What would you like to talk about?”
He was reclined comfortably in his chair, one leg bent over the other’s knee. He held his glass near the rim, resting it on the chair arm, and turning it round and round again.
“How did you come to live with your uncle? Instead of whatever fast-paced bachelor lifestyle people your age enjoy.”
“People my age? Aren’t we the same age?”
She shrugged. He was smiling and laughing at her still. At some point she thought his constant amusement at her expense would become gratiating but at the moment, she was starting to feel like the most charming person in the world.
“I was a kind of troubled youth as a kid; picking fights, racing cars, stealing. Sending me here was a last resort, keep me out of trouble, look after my uncle. Tone down my wild streak.”
It was Ronny’s turn to laugh, trying to imagine this straight-laced looking young man in slacks and loafers drag racing or getting into fights in dirty city allies, just didn’t seem possible. People who wore sweaters and bow-ties (didn’t know he did that did you? Well he does now, so put bowtie some place) did not have wild streaks.
Her laughter didn’t seem to bother him. “If I were you I’d be incredulous, too.” He paused to sip his drink. “But I’d tell you ridiculous things all night, if it meant I could to listen to your laughter.”
As her laughter died down, she looked back into the fire to keep from locking with the intense gaze of his eyes. Before she questioned if he was flirting (really? Maybe we should add the someplace too), now she was sure. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Her face was hot and she felt the need to cross her legs but more than that she couldn’t tell. The whiskey had finally fully occupied her mind, concrete thoughts and action no longer exist there.
Keep Reading: Part 8
Keep Reading: Part 8
Thanks for Reading!