Soft music filled my ears as I tried to keep myself asleep. Its sweet melodic sound aroused me awake and before I opened my eyes I already knew that I would be waking up in the same bedroom as I had before. This time it didn’t make me uncomfortable. I don’t know how long I had been out this time but from the shadows on the wall opposite the bed I guessed it was probably around mid-afternoon. Just like before I was alone but this time instead of the door being closed it was cracked open. The music drifted its way through from somewhere close by. I sat up, looking down at my arm which someone had carefully wrapped up in a sling around my shoulder. It was probably that man if I had to put my money on it. I sat there for a second trying to pick out what I was listening too but I couldn’t quite place the sound. Sad really. I happened to enjoy music a lot. Maybe if I got closer I could make it out. Moving my legs over the edge of the bed I made sure that there was no chance in hell I would trip again. Clumsy really was a bad look on me.
I stood up and tested my balance, if the man was right earlier then I had been lying down long enough to make my balance a little unsteady. After a moment of standing there I started to walk towards the open door. When I reached it I cracked it open just enough to slip through it without making too much noise. I didn’t really want anyone to realize I had woken back up again. Especially that man. I don’t know why but the idea of him giving me that disapproving sympathetic look again didn’t settle right. I didn’t want to disapprove him for some reason. Carefully I made my way down a long hallway towards the room at the end, soft light filtering its way from under the closed door.
The music was coming in clearer now and I recognized the slow beat of an old folk song. I hadn’t heard it since I was a little girl. It was one my mother used to sing to me and Veronica when we were scared. She said she learned it when she was little, that it was a song the woman in her hometown sang around candlelight to ward off evil and it would protect us. I wonder why it is playing here now. Everyone else I grew up with had no idea what the song even was. When I reached the door I stopped, my hand resting on the handle tentatively. I so wanted to open it and let the song playing on the other side embrace me fully but I was afraid. What if the man was on the other side? There’s no doubt he would be mad that I left the bedroom where he left me. I would probably get yelled at for roaming his house without permission. But the soft lull of the music drew me in and without a second thought I pushed open the door.
As soon as I stepped inside the room I could feel the warmth of a fire kiss my skin. It was some kind of office and there wasn’t anyone currently occupying it, the music just left to play. I stepped into the room fully and looked around. A large desk sat in the middle of the room scattered with papers. Behind it was the largest window I’ve ever seen. It spanned the length of the room and looked out into dense trees. I still had to be somewhere in the middle of the forest. On the right side of the room were a couple of sitting couches with a table between them and I wondered why the man would have such a formal looking seating area in his home. It was a little weird, I mean we had an office at home and of course my parents furnished it the same way they furnished the rest of the house. You know, like we were a wealthy upper class family when in reality we were just like all of the other middle class families on the street of our small logging town. But it wasn’t anything like this. So pristine and regal looking.
It wasn't until I turned to look on the other side that I gasped softly. The entire left side was dominated with overflowing bookshelves that held what had to be hundreds of beautiful novels. I hadn’t seen so many books outside of the school library. My parents never believed in them, they said reading fiction was dumb and that it would do nothing but rot my brain with pointless fantasies. My copy of Twilight that Veronica ruined was one of my few cherished novels. I picked my way over to the shelves, running my fingertips across the spines. I read the titles carefully, trying to find the one that really jumped out at me. Some of the titles were familiar, books I had read at school throughout the years and some I had managed to sneak into my bedroom. However the majority of them I hadn’t even heard of, I’m pretty sure many of them were in another language altogether.
I don’t know how long I stood there reading through the titles but eventually one of them caught my eye enough that I carefully pulled it from its place. Turning the worn book around to read the back I made my way over to the couches and curled myself onto the end of one. Hopefully whoever that man was wouldn’t mind if I just sat here and read a while. He had brought me here against my will, technically, and it’s been a hot minute since I was able to enjoy a new novel. Opening the book I started to read, letting the music and fireplace pull me into a quiet rhythm of flipping pages.
A couple hours passed, or at least I think it was a couple hours based on the growing darkness that seeped its way into the trees outside the window. I had sufficiently made my way through half the book and by god it was good. My stomach growled a little, I don’t know when the last time I ate was but I was definitely starting to feel the hunger claw its way out. I really didn’t want to leave the office though, this was the most at peace I had felt in a long time and I selfishly wanted as much of it as I could claim. As if on cue, to ruin my serenity, the air in the room shifted. Someone was standing behind me and a shiver ran itself down my spine. Damint. I was so going to be in for it. I knew I should put the book down and turn around and face whatever anger was most likely waiting for me. Instead I just continued to read, hoping that maybe if I ignored him then I could put off facing him.
The sweet chocolate and pine scent filled my nose again, just like it did in the forest and back in the bedroom and it eased my nerves a little. His presence was overwhelming and yet comforting all at the same time. I could feel him shift his weight behind me, his breath tickling the back of my neck as he leaned in.
“That just so happens to be one of my favorites. How are you enjoying it so far?”
His voice sent shivers running down my spine. I swallowed back the nervous spit in my mouth. Suddenly it got very hard to focus on the words in front of me. I’m pretty sure I’ve now reread the same sentence like three times. I could still feel his breath on my skin and if I didn’t know any better I could v say with 100 percent positivity that he was smirking. After about the fifth time in the same sentence I finally took note of the page number and closed the book, gulping before I turned around to look at the man who so rudely disturbed my peace. The second I did I regretted it. His face was inches away from mine and just like I guessed the biggest smirk was plastered across lips. I sucked in air so quickly it made me a little light headed. His eyes stared into mine, waiting for a response to his question.
“I uh, I’m sorry for barging in here. I just heard the music and wanted to investigate a little but then I got distracted by the books.” I said, my eyes moving from his and down to his mouth.
“What?” I asked, still watching his mouth as his lips moved.
“There’s no music playing. How long have you been here, little one?” He chuckled, the sound making me feel a little queasy.
“Oh?” Was all I could muster as I finally tore my eyes back up to his, leaning away a little so I wasn’t so close to him in an attempt to regain a little mental clarity. “I don’t know. I think I’ve been here for a couple hours. If I’m intruding I really am sorry.”
Trying to turn away to hide the blush that was most definitely making its way across my cheeks I put the book down and got up. My legs tingling back to life from being crisscrossed for so long. The man chuckled again and I could hear him move around the couch until he stood right next to me again. God why did he keep having to do that. I couldn’t think clearly when he was near me.
“No need to apologize my dear. You are more than welcome to come in here and read whenever you wish. I’m pleased to see that you are recovering well, you had us all a little worried for a bit.”
I turned around and looked at him again. This is the second time in I don’t know how long that he's confused me with what he’s saying. What does he mean ‘us?’ I could see the amusement in his expression in my obviously confused one. It seemed like this was all a game to him. The vagueness. Kind of rude if you asked me.
“Um, thanks.” I said as I picked at the hem of my shorts.
The silence between us now was starting to get deafening and it was making me uncomfortable again. There were so many things I wanted to ask him I just didn’t know how. He seemed to guess my apprehension and sat down where I was sitting moments ago and patted the spot next to him. Inviting me to take a seat too. Like before, when he first entered the bedroom I pictured my parents. This time it was the endless lectures they would give me in our living room about how awful I was and how I was ruining the family. It made me queasy. I looked at the spot next to him and shook my head. I couldn’t get the courage to sit.
“Melody please sit.” He said, reaching a hand out towards me now, “we really need to have a conversation. I’ve put it off longer than I should have.”
“I know… I have so many questions for you. I just -I don’t know, I just really can’t do it here.” Those stupid tears started to prickle at my vision again. Why the hell couldn’t I just control my emotions for once. I’m normally so good at it, what is it about this man that makes me so not myself.
“Okay. Then where would you like to talk?”
I looked at him and then at the window. Nodding in the direction of the forest I walked past him and out the door. Absolutely without any clue on how to get outside but determined to regain a little control back into my life. If we were going to talk then it was going to be in a place I could easily escape from if things started to get weird. Not like they hadn't already but you know. I didn’t even look back to see if he was following me, something inside me told me that he was.