Author: Mi.Ishi PM
Beauty and the Beast revisited. Isabelle has one year to fix up an estate left to her to get the inheritance that she never knew she was getting. But there are some complications that she didn't expect.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 2,804 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 10-06-08 - Published: 10-14-07 - id: 2426509
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Chapter 2 –
Belle was never one to let riches get the better of her. Her mother had always bestowed gifts on her, and her house was modestly wealthy. But the sight of the rooms that she inspected as she made her way through the old halls of the manor took her breath away. It doesn't do it justice to call it a manor; this is a palace, she thought as she passed under a chandelier midway down the North Wing upper corridor.
Adelaide was leading her to the master bedroom, and Belle could feel her body tense in anticipation of the luxury that she was sure to find beyond the dark mahogany doors that were before her. The rich wood gleamed where light hit it, and as the double doors swung open, Isabelle found herself awash in warm sunlight that cast its rays from long windows along the opposite wall. Deep burgundy textiles covered mahogany couches and chairs on the right side of the room, where a massive fireplace was located. There were massive doors on the far left of the room, which Belle presumed led to her bedroom, since there was no bed in this section of her rooms.
The young maid moved to the side as Belle walked more fully into the room. "I expect that there is a bathroom attached to my rooms as well?" Belle said as she strode to the doors and opened those as well. A massive bed was pushed up against the wall directly opposite of the doors, with windows continuing along the wall, which led onto a balcony. The view showed the expanse of Belle's new land, and she was grateful that the photos she'd received had been unreliable all around.
Neat rows of fruit trees on the western side of her property sagged slightly with the weight of new fruit, white and pink flowers still blooming across the bright green leaves. Even from her vantage point she could see a few villagers carefully pruning and supporting the heavy branches, hired on a wage that her grandfather had established long before his death. Closer to the manor were the gardens, which were surrounded by a stone wall. In the centre in a tiled path was a fountain that appeared to have stopped working. Around it were flowers of many varieties, but from where she was she could not see what kinds grew. Despite that she knew that the gardens were well taken care of.
Turning to Adelaide, she said, "I did not realize that the villagers looked after the gardens as well."
The girl looked confused for a moment and did not answer, before looking flustered. Quickly she curtsied to Isabelle and then promptly left the room.
Strange; maybe she didn't understand me? But I thought she knew English… Isabelle thought, but blew it off as nothing and turned back to the gardens and then view. The sun beginning to set over the far hills, and from where her room was situated Isabelle realized that she would have the view of the rising and setting sun every single day. As it was a warm day, there were few clouds and it gave her a good view of the pinks and oranges the sky became. For a long time she stood there, looking at her lands and the sky, which in some strange way felt like her's as well. Finally the last of the sun dipped below the horizon and the cool blue that was impeding on the corners of the sky encompassed all, sending the world into shadow.
Quickly she looked over the garden, and was about to turn to her room, when she thought she saw a dark flash of movement in the western side of the gardens. But when she twisted to look at it fully it had disappeared. What was that? Belle thought as she scanned the area where she had thought she had seen it.
For several moments she stood there, hoping to see movement, but finally she sighed and shook her head clear of her thoughts. "I must have been imagining it," she said quietly to herself. "The trip must be making me tired."
Crossing the room to her bed, she took off her shoes and lay down across the covers, staring at the ceiling. She knew that despite any progress that the servants had made that there would still be a large amount of work to do to get the estate back into the condition it once was. There was more to up-keeping a property than just changing a few drapes or adding furniture. And she had to make sure it was exquisite, so she could attract the necessary buyers…
She sat up and looked out the window, and saw that the curtains had been drawn across the massive windows, but the glow around the edges showed she had slept well into the morning.
Grumbling about jetlag, she rose and saw that her suitcases had all been put into her room. Crossing the room to them she opened them with her combination lock and quickly pulled out an outfit. Last night she had not checked where her bathroom was, so she opened the three doors that led into her room. The first was a massive walk in closet, which incidentally went to the next door. The last was the one to her bathroom.
She took off her clothes from the day before and quickly stepped into the tub, turning on the shower. The first jet of cold shocked her completely awake, but the warmth after made up for it. She showered quickly and when she turned off the water and got out she noticed belatedly that someone had left fluffy white towels on a little table next to the tub. She quickly grabbed one and dried herself off, and then pulled on the new outfit she had chosen. As she did this she thought about what the day would have in store for her. She intended to inspect all of the grounds from top to bottom, and determine what needed to be done to the house, and determine the costs as well. She may have become a billionaire, but that did not mean she had to waste that money by stupidity.
Through blueprints she had received her great grandfather's lawyers, Isabelle knew that the manor had several floors and several wings. As she quickly learned, the manor was more of a palace than she thought. The centre of the house had arms to the west and east, which turned northwards to surround, what she presumed, were the gardens.
After she ate breakfast and unpacked most of her clothes into her new closet, she had Jacques take her on a short tour around the house, which was a task in and of itself. She quickly learned that the part of the house that she inhabited was the only habitable part of the entire house. Due to the massiveness of her new estate she did not realize that those rooms she had seen the day before were only a fraction of the rooms there were.
The once polished wooden floors had begun to grey with water damage on many different levels, and the pests had burrowed more holes in the furniture and walls than she could count. She knew that new furniture would be necessary. The grand staircase had lost some floorboards in a few places, and one of the chandeliers had come completely free of the ceiling, with others threatening to do the same.
Every thing that she came across she added to a list in her mind. Later, she would go back through the house with a professional, and a clipboard. For now, she stood with Jacques in the middle of the main entrance, looking at the grand staircase. The ceilings were fourteen feet high, with marble floors below and wooden panels on the walls.
She turned to the aging butler. "We haven't looked at any of the west wing. I think that if I should see any more of this one I may scream."
"Actually, mademoiselle, the west wing is locked, and none of the people here have been able to open it," he answered warily, watching her tight smile become tighter. "The locksmith refuses to come up to the house."
The headache that was just beginning to form behind her eyes blossomed in an instant so that for a moment she could not see. "What?" she asked. "He refuses to come? Why?" she demanded icily.
"Because, maîtresse, there are legends about the castle to scare many of the villagers."
"What rumours? What legends?"
The butler visibly blanched before continuing. "The villagers think that the house is haunted, maîtresse. They believe that a demon lives here, destroying the house in its hellish rage. They say that if they come to the house that the demon will go to their homes and destroy it as well." He took a steadying breath, to calm his nerves from the angry mistress in front of him. "Many of the pieces of furniture were broken from kids coming to see if there really was a monster."
She sighed tiredly. "Fine. We'll finish this part of the house until we can open that part. I'll see if I can't open it some how myself later." She thought of the list of things that she had to do, and added another two. Open lock, and fix the gates to keep kids out. "Do we know how it was locked? I suppose there's a key somewhere?"
Jacques shrugged. "We probably need the master key. You and I only have copies. I'm sure there's some record of where it is in the library, if you do not have it."
"I don't. I'll ask my lawyers about it. It must be amongst y great grandfather's things." She sighed again. "It looks like there will be a lot to do coming up in the next few months."
The butler nodded, but said nothing, so neither did she. She thought over her list again. She didn't want to restore the house without trying to keep its old charm, but that would cost her that much more. Switching all of the rooms to electricity would cost a small fortune. And she knew that wouldn't cover a quarter of the work needed to be done. Bathrooms, the kitchens, the ballroom, and the drawing room…they all needed to be refurnished too.
A thought suddenly occurred to her. "The house has a library?"
He looked a little surprised, but nodded. "It is near the west wing on the topmost floor," he answered. "Would it please mademoiselle to take you there?"