Caroline felt relieved to hear the oak door crank open. She immediately sat up and in the doorway stood Francis. She breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hello darling!" She whispered.
She noticed at once that the lantern had been mended and the flame was alive and strong. Odd. Perhaps Francis had an identical one in his room? Either way, Francis was ignoring her. She wondered why he had bothered to enter the room if all he had intended to do was ignore her.
"Francis. This is no good. why bother coming here to ignore me?" She said.
In that instant Francis stopped at the side of the bed and glared down at Caroline. She wondered whether he would speak.
"Caroline, I do not believe that I know you that well. Please, introduce this other woman to me." He said coldly.
"Francis, I have no idea what you mean!" She said, staring at his face. "If you are referring to the situation earlier, I was merely curious-"
"-Ah, yes. I thought that might be the reason why you were attracted to my chest in such a way. You looked as if you were hypnotised. As though, perhaps, it was an attempt to seduce me into your bed."
She was surprised and insulted by the way he said it (as if they were strangers). But it made her laugh; as though the topic of seduction between them was awkward. That could not be true. They were after all, a couple, or so she assumed.
"I loved you. However, it seems that we have different ideas on the topic of seduction. I want you to Love me; I require little else from you." He said.
Caroline assumed this was Francis' way of distancing himself.
"Look. Is there a problem? Are you not attracted to me?"
"Caroline! Only a fool would ask such as question and you are not a fool. No. I think you are the most beautiful person I have met. So gentle and sweet natured but you come across, as, well, rather confident sexually."
"Francis, all I did was try to touch you! I was not trying to seduce you!"
Caroline was confused. She could not understand why Francis was so uncomfortable. All she had intended to do was touch him. Why was that such an issue? And why would it have been an issue if she had tried to suggest they do anything else?
"You are sure of this?"
"Yeah, now can we drop it? I do not want to argue over this silly misunderstanding."
" I must be sure of one thing. Why were you so anxious to touch me?"
"I don't know. I guess I felt drawn somehow."
" 'Somehow'? How can you be drawn somehow? In what way were you drawn? By evil or good, or something else?"
Caroline wondered why it mattered. She could not deal with the inquiry at goodness knows what time! She simply wanted to be at home, safe and able to sleep comfortably.
"Francis. I have no idea. I am tired. I forget. Can we now drop it?"
"What is it that you wish to drop? Be clear, my lo-Caroline, be clear!"
"Very well. I will forgive you for I am certain that your attempt, was not one of seduction but of keen interest. Do not let me find you the same in the future. But I do, so very much Love you my dear."
Caroline began to stare at Francis as if he had approached her as a stranger for the first time. He was all together cold and distant. His tone of voice was no longer soft but harsh; as though he had reflected his feelings towards her into the way he spoke. She could not understand how it was that easy for him to fall in and out of love. Take her for example; she still loved him despite the awkward distance between them now.
"Yeah. Well I will speak to you tomorrow."
Francis approached the door.
"Wait! Leave the lantern. It is impossible for me to sleep in the dark alone now."
Francis placed the lantern by the bedside on the oak cabinet and left abruptly. The room instantly felt cold; as though Francis' love had left Caroline entirely. She was close to tears when all at once the light in the room wavered. The shadows in the room danced. She abruptly looked around to find the flames within the lantern erratically swaying back and forth. Her heart raced.
A moment later the flame was almost still, when-next to it- appeared, that scary man that had appeared at the end of her bed. Caroline immediately leaned back into the headboard and stared at him. He had a strong jaw, dark blue eyes (like the ocean) and two long teeth which currently protruded from his mouth and seemed a massive contrast to his hair laden face.
"Do not be afraid. I will not hurt you. There is no reason to fear me." The man hissed.
"You tried to kill me!" She cried.
"I did so when I thought you were interested in my brother. Now that you have come to your senses, I see no reason to kill you."
Caroline recalled Francis mentioning that this man could be his brother and she instantly made the connection. They looked the same. Except this man had darker hair and what appeared to be a beard.
"Ah, yes. Your brother. Francis?"
"That is him. He is a fool…to tell you not to touch him, when he allows those whores to seduce him."
"Wait. Did you just say-"
"-Yes. You heard it. He has them all over this place. Maybe I should take you to were he keeps them."
Caroline had to be hearing this wrong. Francis had women locked up somewhere? She felt convinced that she was being tricked. This man had clearly made the story up. The women were he's! They had to be. Francis would not even let her touch him let alone a bunch of, well, "whores", as it was so nicely put.
"I know what you're thinking." Hissed the man.
The man leaned in, close to her face.
"They are not my women. I would not take a woman that I did not love! I maybe mean and powerful to those of the same sex but I will never commit such a crime against an innocent woman."
Caroline felt a warmth flow through her. She hated to admit it but up close this man was beautiful. He wore a lose shirt, tight trousers that hung low on his waist, with braces hanging just above what appeared to be riding boots. His face up close, despite the hair was the very same as Francis'. He was solid and rugged looking. That interested her.
The man stepped away from her face.
"My name is Rafael. Now allow me to introduce you to my brother's women."
Rafael lifted the lantern and beckoned Caroline from her bed to follow him. She could not resist. She needed to know the truth and wanted to discover more. Either, she had been wrong about her love or about this strange brother of his. She had to know which.