Friday, June 20, 2014

House of Hollow Wind (Mini Blog-Series Part 5)

 A little while later, still sleepy from my restless night before, I’d reclined to the bed with one of Vanessa’s mystery novels when I heard a soft rap on the door. 

“Yes, who is it?”  I called tentively and yawned, despite the early afternoon hour.

“It’s me,” came a gruff male voice as he opened the door and stuck his head inside. “Libby sent me up with your luggage.”

Now that I had a closer view, I realized how handsome the young man was.  He looked to be in his mid-twenties and sported the kind of rugged good looks you could expect in a plow hand.  His tight, red long-sleeved shirt accentuated some hefty biceps and I caught my gaze lingering upon his contour a bit longer than necessary.  He had curly blonde hair, and a natural half smile that looked sort of like a smirk, depending on the general tilt of his head.  He was certainly a looker.  I could understand why Vanessa had found him attractive.

“Oh I see,”  I touched my hair in a subconscious effort to quail the static electricity, realizing with embarrassment that I’d just been staring and he was still waiting for me to answer.  “Please bring it in, you must be Greg.”

“That’s my name,” was his retort, not bothering to give me so much as a glance.  “I guess you could call me the handy man.  I’m usually about if you need anything else.”  He looked around the room for a moment. “Not that I expect you do, looks as if you are well settled in.”

His rudeness could not be mistaken and I felt my cheeks redden in anger.  What an unfriendly introduction!  My mouth fell open as I watched him make his way to the door. 

“Just a second, please,” my attempt not to sound angry faltered, I felt this man at least owned me the consideration of a proper introduction, considering he might have information about Vanessa.  I desperately wanted to know if she was okay.  I could understand her reluctance to contact my grandparents if she was angry, but according to Libby, she and Greg had been close friends.

“I’m kind of in a hurry, got a lot of work to get done today.  Is there something else I can do for you—“

“Aubrey,” I said pointedly.  “My name is Aubrey.  And I understand you and Vanessa were close friends.  From what I gather, no one has heard from her in weeks.  I was just wondering if maybe you’d heard from her.”

“If no one else has heard from her, what makes you think I would, Aubrey?”  His eyes flicked angrily as he grabbed the doorknob pointedly.  Obviously the question had hit a raw nerve, or else he was still heart broken and angry at Vanessa’s rejection.

“I just thought maybe she told you where she was going before she left,” I said.  “It’s not like her to just totally disappear, especially if she knew I was coming here. I know she was probably excited to see me.”

“I see,” he sneered at me, his eyes ablaze.  “So you feel she’s snubbed you by running off with that scoundrel Keith before giving you a proper goodbye.  Well, if it’s any consolation to you, I’m sure that’s not what happened.”

I was taken aback.  I’m not sure what affected me the most, his blatant anger towards Vanessa or his insulting attitude towards my concern.  Whatever falling out he’d had with Vanessa, I was sure had turned him this bitter.  I could never fathom her spending time with someone so stand-offish and angry, not the light-hearted happy-go-lucky girl who’d written me countless letters full of bubbly observations. 

“What do you mean?” I narrowed my eyes, demanding an explanation.  “If it’s not true that she ran off with this Keith character, then where do you think she is because she’s sure not anywhere around here!”  I threw my hands up in frustration.

Greg turned toward me, closing the few steps between us.  He was close enough that I could feel his breath on my face. 

“I don’t know where she is any more than anyone else does.  Despite the rumors I’m sure you’ve got bouncing around in your pretty head, there was nothing between Vanessa and I but a friendship.  I looked out for her when I could,” he looked pained, his face reddened.  “I don’t know what to tell you, other than there’s something real fishy going on around here.  If I were you I wouldn’t bother with playing the part of Nancy Drew.   If you want my advice you need to leave here.  And now, tonight!”

With those words he threw the door open and shut it loudly behind him.  I stood there for a few moments, too shaken to move.   This was the second time someone had warned me away in less than twenty-four hours.  I shivered as I leaned against the door.  I could not leave yet, the meager savings I had would not allow me to live anywhere else.  Besides, Vanessa was like a sister to me.  I owed it to her to make sure she was okay.  I had no other choice but to stay.

Part 6 coming soon!

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