Chapter 1: Boat Troubles
When the motor on their boat began coughing and sputtering the four girls knew they were in trouble. With a sigh, Rosa turned them towards shore and the dock they could see jutting out of the shoreline. The engine finally gave out when they were only a few metres from the dock. Exchanging looks, today seemed to be their unlucky day, they dug out the paddles and rowed the relatively short distance to the dock.
"I'll go up and see if we can use the phone," Rosa told the other three as she and Karen tied the boat up. "I'll be back soon."
"Shouldn't we go with you? Gillian asked.
Rosa shook her head. "I'll be fine. If I'm not back within the hour, then you can be worried."
"Be careful," Whitney warned.
The brown-haired girl laughed. "You make it sound like I'm going somewhere dangerous. We're not that far from town not to mention nothing happens around here."
The three girls smiled at that. They knew. Hadn't all three of them lived here all their lives?
Waving, Rosa climbed the stairs that wound up the cliff that the house was perched on. It's huge, Rosa thought, as she slowly watched the massive Victorian era house come into view. At the top of the stairs was a large paved patio adjacent to a garden that looked quite wild. At the far edge of the patio was a room that was made of glass. Most of the panels were of frosted glass but a few, including several that appeared to be windows and one a door, were ordinary transparent glass.
Should I go around to the front or should I see if there's anyone in there? She debated with herself. Well if no one's there I can always go around to the front, she eventually reasoned and cautiously approached the strange room.
Peeking into one of the 'windows', Rosa saw a large square room which held an assortment of plants, chairs, several glass tables of varying sizes and a blond man lying on a couch on the far side of the room. Wincing, Rosa hoped he wasn't asleep, she knocked on the large rectangular piece of clear glass she was sure was the door as there was a handle in the middle. "Enter," a male voice called.
Hesitantly, Rosa opened the door and poked her head inside. "Umm…"
"Kindly remove the steak and bring the chicken. Xavier's being fussy," the man told her without opening his eyes, his long eyelashes visible against his pale complexion.
"Umm…can I use your phone? Our boat broke down."
This got his attention. Opening his eyes, which Rose was surprised to see were a bright grey, she'd thought green or blue, he stared at her. "Certainly. Beforehand, would you be so kind as to take the steak down to the kitchen and bring the chicken up here?"
"Uh, sure," Rosa replied, not entirely sure what was up with this guy. She picked up the plate that held little chunks of steak before stopping to look around. She had no idea where the kitchen was.
"The kitchen is down the stairs behind the door to your left," The aristocratic-looking blond told her, sensing her confusion.
"Thanks." Resisting the urge to look back at the strange man, Rosa opened the door one-handed and followed the spiralling stone stairs downwards. The darkness took her a few minutes to get used to but once she did, she found the stairway pleasantly cool. At the bottom of the stairs she hesitated when she saw two other people already there in the low-ceilinged room. "Umm…"
The thinner of the two stalked over to her, glaring with his startling red eyes. "I don't care if you're a myth or what, I don't trust you."
With another glare, the man just turned around and stomped off, leaving Rosa even more confused then ever. What is with this place? She wondered.
"I'm sorry about Adam. He can be a bit nasty but he's really a good guy. What can I help you with?"
"I'm supposed to get the chicken?"
The huge man chuckled. "It's in the blue bowl on the counter," he said pointing.
Rosa saw the dish he indicated resting on the edge of the stone countertop. Putting the plate she carried down beside it she picked up the bowl which was filled with little strips of chicken in some kind of sauce. It actually smelled pretty good. "Thanks," she said before heading up the stairs, wanting out the strange medieval-feeling kitchen.
"No problem," she heard her helper reply in his deep voice.
When she finally reached the glass room, she was almost blinded by the sun. Blinking her watering eyes for several seconds, Rosa was a touch embarrassed to notice, once her eyes had cleared, that the blond was watching her. "What should I do with this?"
"Would you mind giving it to Xavier? He's in the far corner."
Rosa was beginning to think this was an awful lot of work just to borrow the phone but did as she was asked. Xavier turned out to be puppy. A golden lab pup to be exact. Kneeling down beside the little blue bed where the dog was lying, much resembling his master, she put the bowl next to him. She was astounded when he did nothing more then give it a cursory sniff.
Frowning, Rosa pulled a piece of the chicken out and held it in front of the dog. "You know there's a lot of dogs who'd kill to get to eat something like this."
Heaving a sigh, Xavier stood up and gave the chicken a light lick. The look on his face seemed to be surprise and in moments the piece in her hands was gone and he was busily gobbling up the rest. Wiping her hands on her pants, Rosa stood and found the man still staring at her. What is his problem? She thought as she moved a bit closer to the door.
He sat up abruptly and asked just as suddenly "Who's your lord?"
"What?" Rosa was starting to suspect this man wasn't all there mentally.
"Who is your lord?" He repeated more slowly this time as if she'd had difficulty hearing him.
"I have no lord," She replied wondering what the hell he was talking about.
This seemed to satisfy him as he lay back down. Not that he stopped watching her. Oh no. Rosa was pretty sure an earthquake wouldn't make him stop it. "You were born for me to be your lord."
Alright, she thought. I think it's about time I got out of here. "Can I use your phone?"
He seemed startled by her question but then smiled. "Behind you on the wall."
Turning, Rosa did find a small white phone mounted there. I can't believe I didn't notice it before. Dialing her friend James's number, she waited rather impatiently as it rang. "James?" She called when someone picked up the receiver.
"Rosa? What can I help you with?"
"Our boat broke down. Can you come tow us?"
"Sure. Where are you?"
"You know the big house by Picnic Island? We're at the dock there."
"Christ! That place? I thought it was haunted."
"Yeah. I'm there now."
"Shit. I'll be there quickly. Don't get eaten by any ghosts."
Rosa made a face he couldn't see. "I won't."
Hanging up the phone, Rosa turned back to face the blond. "Thanks," she told him.
He smiled and nodded. "Anytime."
"Well I'm heading down to the dock to wait for our tow. Uh, bye."
It wasn't until she'd reached her friends that Rosa realized that not only had he never told her his name, she'd never told him hers. How…? You know what? I don't think I want to know.
"How'd it go? You were gone for quite awhile," Karen remarked, frowning slightly.
"I'll tell you about it later. James is on his way."
"Geez, did someone try and rape you or something?" Whitney asked.
"All I'm going to say right now is that the people that live there are not right in the head. Well most of them," Rosa amended remembering the man in the kitchen who'd helped her.
The others exchanged looks, wondering what on earth would make Rosa say that. Before the silence got to long, the sound of rescue could be heard in the form of James's old boat's rather loud engine. "You damsels ready to be rescued by your knight in shining armour?" He called as he brought the boat in.
Laughing, all four began playing along. Gillian pretended to swoon with Karen while Whitney called "You're my Prince Charming."
Giggling, they helped him attach lines from their boat to his and in no time at all they were all aboard his boat and heading away. As they left the dock, Rosa couldn't resist a look behind her, up towards what was visible of the patio through the trees. What she saw made her flush. Sitting in a chair watching them was the blond man. As if he knew she was looking at him, he raised his arm in a kind of wave.
So weird, she thought turning around. I'm never going near that place again if I can help it.