Authors: April Marcom
Tags: #coming of age, #family, #danger, #sacrifice, #alien, #extraterrestrial, #love at first sight, #soulmates, #pianist, #new adult romance
“Thank you, Henrik,” a tall man with thick
black hair said as he raised himself from the other chair. I
recognized him from the very last painting in the hallway.
“Will that be all then, sir?” Henrik
“Yes. You’re free to go.”
Henrik nodded and crossed the room to leave
through the door in between the two sofas on our left, taking the
candles with him. The men stared at me as the door shut behind him,
the sound echoing weakly around the room.
The man from the painting held his hands
behind his back as he came closer, forcing me and my suitcase to
move forward when he reached behind me to close the door
effortlessly. Then he walked slowly around as he studied me.
Enock and I stared at each other, but he made
no move to come closer, making me feel even worse.
The man circling me stopped to stand right in
front of me, his eyes flashing blue for an instant and a hint of
pointed fangs peeking out from behind his lips. “Thank you for
coming on such short notice, Sarafina. I am Paul Halvandor, the
master of this house.” He held out a hand to me, so I gave him
mine, holding his gaze as he kissed it. A familiar tingling
lingered on my skin as it left his, and the way he was watching me
made me extremely nervous.
“Um, thank you for having me, M-Mister
“Ah, call me Paul, my dear,” he smiled,
stepping closer to me and dropping his voice to an unsettling hissy
whisper. “But never in the presence of Mistress Demora. When she is
present, you must always refer to me as Master Halvandor.”
Was that his wife? Was this some sort of
inappropriate exchange? He
kind of gawking at me.
I looked past him to Enock, wanting him to do
something. He was watching us with his lip curled and his eyes
glowing with a faint hint of red in them. I raised my eyebrows in
silent pleading. Most of the other men were already speaking
quietly to one another, not paying us any attention, but Enock
began moving closer to us.
“Allow me to show her to her room,” he
“That will not be necessary,” Paul said. “I
was just about to escort her there myself.”
“No need.” Enock came to take my suitcase,
placing his hand over mine, an indirect but very clear message,
judging by the way Paul raised an eyebrow and looked so intently at
him. “I’m heading toward the kitchen for a bit of something to eat
Paul took in a deep breath and let a burst of
heat escape as he exhaled. His voice rose and he turned halfway to
the rest of the men. “Very well. Kristoffer, please walk Sarafina
to her room with Enock.”
“It’s Sara,” I said timidly.
“I do not need assistance,” Enock said, doing
a poor job of hiding his annoyance.
“Oh, yes,” Paul said, his eyebrow raised
condescendingly now, “I’m afraid you do.”
A man with a reddish-brown ponytail and amber
eyes came to stand beside Enock, who turned and began walking
toward the door between the sofas on the right side of the room. I
pulled my hand away from my suitcase and left Enock in charge of
pulling it along, following closely behind him with Kristoffer just
We entered a hallway with four doors on each
side and one facing us at the very end. Every single door was just
as immense as the other ones. Two long candlesticks with burning
candles in them sat on little tables in each corner of the
Enock picked up one of the candlesticks
beside us before he and Kristoffer led me to the last door on the
right, which he opened with ease, even though it looked like it
weighed a ton. “This will be your room while you are staying here,”
he said, standing in the doorway.
“It’s...huge...and beautiful,” I stammered,
walking in and looking around. A fireplace already filled with
burning wood warmed the room, crowned with a hearth that had dozens
of beautiful little crystal animals on it. A giant vanity covered
with old perfume bottles rested against the peeling blue wall
beside an equally giant bed with way too many pillows on top. The
corner of the room to the left of my bed was built outward instead
of inward—like there might be a bathroom behind it! My
What about running water?
pretty sure you needed electricity for that. It could wait, though,
because I really wanted to talk to Enock.
But when I turned back toward the door, now
closed, Kristoffer was standing nearly against me. Gripping my
shoulders, his eyes blazed with orange light in the darkish room.
Every thought, every memory began to melt away from my mind.
“Sarafina Lacy Oli—” he managed to say before Enock ripped one of
his hands away from my body and the lights went out.
“Not yet, brother,” Enock said. “Let her rest
Kristoffer gave me a wary look. “She can rest
when we are finished.”
I wondered, shivering
with the strangeness of his words.
“Tomorrow, Kristoff. Let her rest now,” Enock
Kristoffer’s voice lowered. “It is too late
now. Think of what she has just seen.”
“Trust me—tomorrow.” Enock’s eyes became
fierce as he reached for the door, his stare on the redhead
remaining constant and cold.
Their voices began to change and became
difficult to understand as he opened the door and they both left,
shutting me inside the room all alone.
The hair on my arms was still standing on end
from what they were saying, but I had to pee. So I went to open
what I thought was the bathroom door, but the little bit of light
that drifted in revealed a closet full of dresses and shoes. They
were gorgeous, but I needed a bathroom.
Hurrying to the door the two half-men had
just closed, I grabbed the charcoal-black handle and pulled. I
thought my bones might rip right out of socket; the door was so
hard to open. But budge by budge, I got it.
Of course, the hallway was deserted by then.
And I didn’t want to go wandering around, looking for a bathroom
and risking running into the wrong person. So I put my back against
the door and slowly forced it shut, thinking how strong my arms and
legs would probably be after a few weeks of using the manor’s
There was another door on the right side of
the room, but I was so scared it led to another bedroom that I
wasn’t willing to check it out.
Instead, I pulled back the drapes hanging on
the wall beside the closet. It was the only window I could get to.
The other ones were covered by the headboard of my bed and the
vanity mirror which was almost as big. The window I stood beside
was surprisingly easy to unlock and open. Then I climbed into the
cold air, praying no one would see me, and used the bathroom
outside. It felt wrong and weird, but it also felt like I had no
As I squatted down in the grass, I felt
rotten. I was stuck in this old house, which was stuck in the past,
peeing outside because I didn’t even know where the bathroom
was—assuming there was one—and Enock hadn’t even said hi or
I was starving.
As I climbed back into my room, the magic of
escaping to a foreign land to chase after a mysteriously gorgeous
man wore off completely, and I really wished I was closer to home
so I could find somewhere with cell phone reception and call my dad
to come get me immediately!
“Miss Sarafina,” someone with the same accent
as Henrik’s said gently.
The cold air hit my arms as I pulled them out
of the blanket to stretch. Jet lag had set in full force, so I felt
“You’re just a girl,” the voice said
I opened my eyes and saw a pretty young
blonde—bright-eyed with pale skin—standing beside my bed. “I’m not
a girl,” I said as I sat up. “I’m eighteen. I’m an adult.”
“But you’re a teenager, like me. I’m the only
other one in the household, you know. So I’m really glad you’re
My drapes had been drawn, so I could see the
sun barely coming up. I also noticed that the door on the side of
my room was open and that the main one wasn’t. “Are you like my
next door neighbor?” I asked jokingly as I pulled the covers around
my shoulders against the cold. The fire had long since gone
“What’s a neighbor?” the girl asked.
I stared at her a little dumbfounded. “You
don’t know what a neighbor is?”
She shook her head. “I’ve never left the
It was true that there didn’t seem to be
another living soul for miles around. “A neighbor’s someone who
lives next to you.”
“Oh. Then yes! I am your neighbor. How
exciting…I’m Helena, Miss Sarafina.”
“Really? Everyone’s been calling you Sarafina
“Well, it’s Sara.”
“Hmm...All right, Sara, let’s get you
dressed. Master Halvandor will want to meet you for breakfast.”
“We met last night, actually.” I climbed out
of bed to go poke at the red coals in the fireplace and put some
sticks on them.
“But you’re a musician. You’re important
enough to eat in the dining room with the Halvandor family. And you
get to wear the most beautiful dresses.”
The kindling began to smoke as I turned to
watch Helena, in a ruffly white shirt and long blue skirt, walk
into my closet. “Is that a bun in your hair?” I asked.
“No—I mean a real bun.” It seriously looked
like she had her hair wrapped in a bun around a bread bun.
“Yep.” She poked her head out of the closet.
“You never know when you might get hungry. Now what’s your favorite
I had to fight back laughter. “Red,” I said
with a little burst in my voice. Blood red has always been the most
intensely beautiful color there is, in my opinion.
Helena disappeared for a minute before
reappearing behind three long red gowns, two of them unnecessarily
elaborate. She threw the craziest one down on the bed and held the
other two up on each side of her. “Do you want to wear one of
these?” She furrowed her eyebrows and shook her head. Then she laid
them on my bed and picked up the other one. “Or this one?” she
asked, nodding her head excitedly.
I threw a bunch of small pieces of wood on
the first little flames and went to pick up the scarlet one,
velvety with wide-ending sleeves, but simple and elegant. The one
Helena was holding looked more like a five hundred dollar Halloween
costume to me. “This one’s more me,” I said.
“But this one’s so beautiful, and it looks
more like what the Halvandor women wear.”
I stared at the ridiculous dress. It
pretty amazing, it was just so—so—ridiculous. But the
men last night had been wearing those fancy old suits, so maybe I
should be wearing a matching dress.
“All right.” I laid down the one I really
wanted to wear, assuming she knew better than I did, and took the
other one from her.
“I’ll give you a minute to change. Then I’ll
show you where breakfast is served,” she said, walking toward the
door on the side of my room.
“Wait,” I stopped her halfway. “When will
someone be going to town again?” I really needed to contact my
As far as leaving goes, my nerve had deserted
me during the night. I won’t say I didn’t still want to go home,
but I will say my heart really wanted something to happen with
Enock. And I was kind of scared to tell the mistress of the house I
wanted to go home when she’d only just flown me out here.
“Next month?! But I need to let my parents
know I’m okay.”
Helena looked worried. “I’m sorry. Master
Halvandor only sends Henrik out at the end of each month. It’s
important to him that we keep away from the world.”
She shook her head and turned away, reaching
the door before she turned back to face me. “Trust me. It’s better
that you don’t know.” Then the door shut and she was gone.
I wondered if the
secret was simply the true nature of Enock and the other
Halvandors, and why she knew. Everything about this place was
strange, but not any stranger than I’d expected. I just really
hoped Enock would make sense of it all.
Feeling all kinds of sick and sad—and
—I pulled my clothes off. In a rush, I stepped into my
sneakers, hoping the long skirt would hide them. As I pulled on the
dress, I hoped it would be too tight or something, but it was a
perfect fit. It zipped up easily over my back and the ends of the
skirt hung just above the ground, maybe half an inch. Even so, it
was extremely itchy and uncomfortable with the hard material inside
of it keeping the bodice stiff and the skirt puffed out. Looking
down, I felt like a red-riding Cinderella, but when I stepped in
front of the mirror, I decided it looked more like Cupid had thrown
up all over me. My lip curled and there was a scraping sound I
couldn’t believe I slept through as Helena came back in.
“You look gorgeous,” she said. “Spin around
so I can see it all.”
I turned as quickly as I could, getting poked
and jabbed the entire time. “I could fit ten people under this
skirt in the back,” I said, looking over my shoulder.
“No, you couldn’t,” she laughed.
“You really think I should wear it?”
She nodded brightly.
“All right, but before we go to breakfast,
can you show me where people use the bathroom out here?”
“You mean no one told you where it is last
“It’s right across the hall from my room.”
Helena pulled a standing screen over in front of the fireplace.
“Come on.” She grabbed my hand and I took one last glance in the
mirror before I let her pull me away from my room.
“Why are all the doors so heavy?” I asked as
she pulled mine open.