Celeste was a mistake. She was pretty, but vapid. She also had a lot in common with a leech. Oh, she didn’t suck blood, but she sucked energy. Sucked it right out of me. After a week I was running for hiding places as soon as I woke up. It’s a good thing my mother scared her out of her wits one day. I don’t think I ever saw her run that fast. I must admit I chuckled while planting the White Cloud climbing rose.
Elaina was certain that, had she been alone, she would have fallen to her knees and wept right there in the middle of the Roderick library. The plush Oriental rugs would have born the marks of her knees with more grace than she would have as they muffled her soft cries.
Unfortunately, Elaina was in Robert’s company, and she didn’t want to alarm him with her sudden sobs.
But it wasn’t her fault she wanted to cry; she had never seen so many books before. Not even in a library. Roderick Hall had three massive rooms connected by arched door frames full of books. There were no book cases, but simply shelves installed along the walls, from floor to ceiling. Somehow shelves had been attached to the windows. Desks and tables littered the floors and more books were stacked atop them.
She stood behind Robert as he talked about the family library, but didn’t really hear him. He mentioned something about his grandfather being a bibliophile and his grandmother being something of a hoarder. Hence all the books. She wanted to listen to him, but her eyes were practically bulging out of her head. She could spend ten lifetimes in here, happily holed up with no shortage of reading material.
Oh, the adventures she would have! Not to mention the greatest romances of the ages. There were countless worlds to explore and numerous friends to make.
Her fingers were itching to reach out and touch just one, but Robert was leading her through the rooms. She was vaguely aware that he was telling her how the books were organized. It didn’t really matter, though. She could happily spend the rest of her life in here.
Elaina’s brain snapped back to attention as Robert turned to smile at her. She felt the wonder in her eyes as the corners of her mouth began to lift. But his face abruptly froze and her spine unconsciously straightened as her neck was suddenly aware of a prickling sensation.
“The house tour is over for now,” came Rose’s crisp voice. “The seamstress is early, and very busy. ”
Elaina turned as Rose spoke. Her fingers had been pinching the folds of her dress to prevent them from reaching for a book. Now they pinched harder to help her maintain her composure. Robert hadn’t been kidding when he said his mother was unpredictable.
Rose’s eyes openly studied Elaina’s face before flickering to the books surrounding them. Something flashed in Rose’s eyes, but it was too quick for Elaina to identify.
“Don’t worry, Mother,” Robert said, his voice suddenly cool and formal. “I’ll take her now.”
A single eyebrow rose, cracking the mask Rose wore. “I will take her. You have other responsibilities.”
Elaina didn’t hear him make a reply, but felt the air stir as he moved and walked past her. He turned back briefly once he had passed by his mother to offer a small smile. She didn’t have the guts to respond under his mother’s hard gaze.
“Come,” was all Rose said before she turned on her heel and strode away.
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