My Second apology goes to awesomeschrimp. I did say I would post this no later than Sunday, and my twisted brain pulled funny tricks on me. That is the best way I can describe not being able to post this bu Sunday. But no excuses. Hope all of you like this chapter. It isn’t the best; Although short, it gave me a hard time because I have lost touch with this story. A quick recap is in order (shoot me): Annabelle and her mother Camille visit the Mellarks of Riverview in an attempt to make official the engagement, however for Annabelle it was just a chance to test the waters with Aaron, although she is feeling apprehensive. While in the house, Aaron is no where to be found, and his brother Joshua, elopes with Lidia, the housekeeper’s daughter. There is a big what-to-do, and Annabelle ends up alone in the house with Lily, the housekeeper, she is a bit relieved at the turn of events, but not entirely without concern. Suddenly Aaron comes back, and Annabelle is forced to face him once and for all.
Chapter Five: The Trembling Branch
There was no breeze, only the stagnant coolness of the afternoon that came with the setting of the sun; yet, the golden branches of the willow seemed to move graciously above the roses in the Mellark’s garden.
Annabelle watched with fascination, wondering if it was her mind playing tricks on her, an illusion. Perhaps it was the assurance of what her heart was feeling at that moment.
“Don’t worry Ms. Lily. Please don’t cry anymore.” she heard Aaron say; he was sitting next to Lily in the sofa. Aaron soothing the woman as she cleaned her tears with a handkerchief.
The way he spoke to Lily, soft and measured; the way he comforted her with tenderness. Annabelle had never seen this side of him; she never thought it was possible to begin with. He continued soothing Lily, and Annabelle continue to stand by the balcony, staring at the willow.
“I’m sorry master Aaron. Now I have messed up your handkerchief with all this crying…this child will be the death of me.” was saying Lily when Annabelle decided to snap out of her zone, and went to join them in conversation. However, she found no words to say and stayed quiet, her mind quickly recapping all that had happened.
Aaron said, “grandpa will find them. I called him at his cell-phone. Don’t you worry Ms. Lily.”
“It will be too late then…look at the time it is and they aren’t here yet.”
“He will find them even then.” he noticed as her hands clutched the handkerchief until her knuckles turned red. “Better here at home being married, than to become a stranger to both their families.”
Lily looked up with a new found hope, “I guess you’re right ‘bout that master Aaron. I’m going to the bathroom, freshen myself up a bit.”
“You do that Ms. Lily.”
As soon as Lily was out of sight, Aaron stood up, “come” he commanded her,
and made his way to the stairs.
Annabelle remained seated. Her hands tightly pressed together on her lap, she took a peek out the window from her chair. The branches of the willow were out of her sight, but she could still see them moving before her eyes.
She heard him go up the steps; one, two, three… he stopped. What games was he trying to play? True, they were engaged, but it wasn’t official yet. So? Was he trying to make friends with her? Did he think friends ordered each other around? She would never let him order her around. And why was she still seeing moving branches in front of her eyes? An illusion, it was all an illusion.
She took a deep breath, and tried to calm herself.
It didn’t take Aaron long to noticed she was not following. Perhaps he could have gotten angry if it weren’t because her stubbornness amused him the most.
“Come, come.” He repeated, startling her. Then, he grabbed her arm, and dragged her up the stairs to the second floor, and she was surprised to see how easy her feet moved despite the strong force pulling on her.
The second floor was as astonishing beautiful as the first;
she soon forgot how his hand was pressing on her wrist.
the abundance of gold in the furniture and walls made her think of the branches once more, but strangely they were not moving. She was.
They entered a room, and only then Aaron released her arm from his grip.
She rubbed her wrist while sending dagger-like stares at Aaron. “Stupid Willow” she muttered.
“She calls me master Aaron since I resemble my father a lot.” he seemed to be looking for something. Annabelle kept rubbing her wrist. She hoped it wouldn’t leave a mark.
“My brother is young master. That was your confusion. I would never elope with someone.”
“What a ridiculous idea.”
Trying to ignore him, she curiously looked about the room,
There weren’t any guitars.
“Where are all the guitars at? Ms. Lily said you collect some.”
For the first time since he had come to the house he faced her directly,
“some…” he stated. Annabelle was still waiting for an answer, and he quickly added, “oh, this is not my room; my brother’s…”
“This is your brother’s room?” he nodded, “why are we here?”
“Well, I’m here looking for clues; you…
“you are just here because I’m here.”
“Very funny. NOT.”
“I wasn’t trying to be. You can sit by the bed, and be careful not to knock anything. Are you still as clumsy as you were back in high school? Jeez.”
She sat on the edge of the bed, trying not to let his words have any effect on her. But her chest was not cooperating. Indignation was the best word to described what she felt at the thought of being shaken by Aaron.
She tried making casual conversation,
“Why are you looking for clues? He wrote on the paper he would be in Hidden Springs by tomorrow.”
Aaron was now opening the drawers on the night stand. He spoke without lifting his head, “wow. You are so smart. Huh?”
“Now you know?”
“That was a way to mislead us dummy. My brother hasn’t left town even now.”
“Your brother is so brave.”
“My brother is a coward.” Annabelle flinched at such remark.
“It’s true. A brave man would have stayed and face his mother; his whole family. The world if necessary.
“For the person he loves, he would have stayed and face everything.”
“You speak as if you knew what love is. It’s hard to go against your family, and at the same time disappoint the person you love. I’m sure your brother thought this was the best way.”
“I know. Girls always want to do things the hard way. You love all the melodrama don’t you? Eloping. It’s all very Romeo and Juliet. Tragic love. You all feed from that bull crap. Can’t believe my brother fell under the trap.”
“Romeo and Juliet is a classic work of literature.” She started saying when she noticed he was now laying on the bed,
his jacket and gloves on the floor by the bed; exasperated she stood up and took two steps back. “what are you doing? I thought you were looking for clues?”
He gave her a big grin, “I’m taking a break.”
“I’m tired, I’m going downstairs to rest. My mother should be heading back now anyway.”
“Lily will tell her you are here with me.”
“That’s what I don’t want.”
“She’ll love it.”
“This is exactly what I dislike about you. Your stupid arrogance.”
“Why? It’s one of my best assets.”
The door suddenly opened surprising Annabelle. It was only Lily with a message from her mother;
“she says she’ll stay at the hospital until Mistress wakes up. Couldn’t leave Patricia and Clare alone.” Before she could answer Lily, Aaron thanked her, and Lily started walking away. Her words never made it out, and she felt her throat become heavier as she stood there, without a reason to be, but feeling every bit determined to stay.
“Come over here. Lay next to me.”
“Oh come on. I’m not gonna do anything to you.”
Aaron moved to one side of the bed and sat on the pillow, “okay what if I sit instead? Come over… come on!”
This was moment in which every sensible person would have walked out of the room. She didn’t have to take orders from him, she repeated to herself. He had dragged her to the room and now she would walk out of it with her head held high, feeling proud for not letting Aaron win every situation.
Her feet started moving, like the branches of the willow, carelessly flowing, without intention or purpose. She realized in her stubbornness, she had been tired all along, and completely famished. But food was the least of her worries at the moment; wanting to put her head on the pillow, enjoying the comfort of the soft mattress; this was all she wanted.
Okay, so she was about to do exactly what she said she wouldn’t. But it was not because she acknowledged him, it wasn’t because her idea of him had changed if only a little that afternoon.
She was just tired. She repeated to herself.
“This is very awkward.”
Aaron smiled kindly, no sign of cockiness she could reproach; and soon, while studying his face, her eyes starting closing at the sound of his voice,
“you’re very funny Annabelle.”
She said halfway between sleep and alertness as she led her head rest on his shoulder, “you are the second person that says that to me today.”
“Oh really? Who was the first? I hope it wasn’t a man.
Gently, so as not to wake her, he lifted her head and positioned her on the bed. He laid next to her.