Chapter 9

They followed her. Like she was a beacon in a dark sky. Samantha would not go so far as to say she was clairvoyant. But rather, she understood that her sense of empathy and understanding were stronger for her than other people. But she never had any proof that she was picking up on emotions from someone who was no longer alive. A consistent oppressive sadness surrounded her when she was at the house. Especially if she ran into the landlady. Now, with the breaking of the glass, she could have sworn it was the two children again. Trying to get inside.

The police were called found no one outside, of course. But they deemed the building unsafe, surprised that it was being used to rent room to students.

So, it appeared someone had tried to break into the old house by throwing rocks through the glass windows? More like disturb the peace or intimidate the occupants.

The mysterious locked room was now opened up by the arriving officers to reveal a terrifyingly deplorable living space. It was an "apartment" with a bedroom falling off the house, nearly into the trees. It was on such a slant no one dared walk in.

Stupidly, Brian declares,

"You guys had a kitchen in here all along!"

Although nothing in it probably worked, and it looked like it was about to fall off the house and into the woods as well.

Samantha began dialing Lucien as everyone began scrambling for a place to stay, at least for the night. She was not expecting him to invite her over, but it might help to move things along with getting a place to stay from Professor Morleigh. She really did not have any choice or anyone else to call.

….

Samantha snuggled up on the fold out couch at Morleigh's house in the living room by the fireplace. After a late night call to Lucien she had a place to stay for the evening. Samantha apologized if she was bothering him but was met with assurances. He was happy to help. Samantha was uncertain of where the boundaries in their friendship lay, being that he was technically her teacher. But she felt a calmness wash over her at the sound of his soothing voice. Everyone else in the house scattered for the night after the intrusion. Where they stayed after the incident was no longer his concern. Her thinking had narrowed to concern for her own safety and and she was willing to listen to Lucien's charming accent wherever it took her. His presence casting a spell of comfort. Samantha's frustration with her living situation had transferred to feelings of annoyance with her drunk housemates. Not that the apparent "break in" had been their fault. But she was done with the house and all of its mysteries.

She barely knew Lucien and his friend but she was made to feel at home immediately. It was like she was supposed to be there. First impressions are everything. Morleigh was not as old as Samantha had expected her to be for being a retired professor. But she walked with a cane and a subtle limp. Beautiful olive skin and long curly hair, calming smile. And Gracie the dog had jumped all over Samantha when she and Lucien came in with the few bags she had brought with her. Morleigh was apparently divorced with no children and lived alone. Samantha was offered a choice of coffee, wine, and there was a pie Morleigh had just baked that day.

It was all too perfect.

To be invited into this stranger's house with brewing coffee and a small fire already roaring in the fireplace... Morleigh was so overly welcoming. But it did not send off alarm bells. Samantha was so emotionally exhausted she did not know whom she could trust. Her room had been broken into several times now, the house now vandalized. She was drained.

Anna was watching Samantha's every move.

Where was she off to?

Where was she staying for the night?

Samantha let the questions fly past her as she threw things into a bag.

And the owner of the house was nowhere in sight before Samantha had made her exit, which she made more rudely and abruptly than she had meant to.

Was it a false sense of security she experienced as Morleigh's kindness washed over her?

Lucien had a familiarity around Morleigh and the home that made Samantha's foggy mind wonder what the nature of their relationship was. They seemed to have an understanding and communicated between words through motion and expression. And it was the little things, he seemed to know where everything was in the kitchen and he knew that the couch opened up into a bed and began getting it ready for Samantha.

Samantha came out of the restroom to overhear a discussion in hushed tones. Morleigh wondered aloud to Lucien if a friendship with his student was appropriate. Samantha struggled to hear his response but was unable to make out his words.

Samantha wondered if Morleigh was jealous of her. But perhaps that was just fatigue twisting her thoughts.

"I'm sorry I had not gotten back to you about helping you find a room," Lucien hesitated as he spoke to Samantha, "It's not like I did not want to help…"

He continued with a shy smile, "I'm not sure how friendly I am allowed to be with the students in my class now. I wanted to call you but then... I started thinking too much."

His sentence trailed off and his pale skin flushed. Samantha got the message but was encouraged. He had been thinking of her. A happy thought to play in her mind as she drifted off to sleep.

Samantha awoke the next morning, not knowing where she was at first. When she remembered, she was relieved, as well as anxious to retrieve the rest of her things from Mrs. Goodwin's house. But she wasn't sure she wanted to stay at Morleigh's either. She picked up her phone and realized that she had missed a slew of calls and messages, mostly from Alison who wanted a call back asap. Annoyed, Samantha decided to get the call over with.

But Alison beat her to it, "Where are you?"

"What's going on?" Samantha was surprised at her own abrupt tone.

"It's Mrs. Goodwin…"

"What?"

"She has passed away, Samantha. Anna said she let the visitors in."

That last comment stunned Samantha into silence long enough for Alison to continue,

"The police think someone eventually entered into Mrs. Goodwin's front door. The kids were seen in the neighborhood again. Mrs Goodwin's daughter is here now asking for everyone to make arrangements for somewhere else to live. Although, I don't think she can legally throw us out today."

"So, what actually happened to Mrs Goodwin? When?"

"This morning..."

Alison became tearful as she explained that there seemed to have been no forced entry to the front door, but rather it had been found unlocked and wide open. Nothing was missing, and Mrs. Goodwin was found in a chair in her front room with 2 full glasses of milk on the coffee table and a plate of cookies. The setting suggested that she had let two people inside and invited them to sit down.