In belated honor of that occasion, I offer you, Readers, one of my favorite chapters from this darker set of my e-book serial. Here you will experience a vivid meeting between a methodical matriarch and her one-armed gardener…
We now take you to the conservatory...
Dinkel stands in the doorway, silently watching his employer. She hands a check to the piano tuner for services rendered. The handsome man appears to be in and around Dinkel's age.
"Your skills are remarkable, Mr. Peterson."
The man folds the check and slips it into his breast pocket. "My father taught me everything I know."
Anapola casually steps closer, "Your father was an exceptional teacher."
Dinkel raises an eyebrow as the tuner blushes and a nervous chuckle escapes his lips, "Maybe I was an exceptional student."
"Indeed, but there is always room for one more lesson." She smiles lusciously, inching nearer to the male specimen standing at attention.
"Excuse me, Anapola!" Dinkel blurts out; purposely killing the moment as he unabashedly enters the room. “I need to speak with you."
Anapola turns and states in a calm voice, "Not now, Dinkel." In stark contrast, her green eyes burn with uncontrolled fury.
Caught completely off-guard, an uncomfortable Mr. Peterson utters, "Um, have a nice day, Mrs. Van Der Van." The tuner quickly vacates the estate, imagining the notes he would have hit if the one-armed fellow had not interrupted.
Dinkel smiles in disgust, "Is Xylem not enough man for you?"
"Is Crop not enough for you?" Anapola snaps back with an icy smile, making him aware that she saw Ivan in the stable. The challengers stand like statues, neither about to dignify either insult with a response.
Growing bored of this game, Anapola takes a seat at the piano. She runs a hand down the ivory keys and is truly pleased with the sound. As the last note fades, she asks curtly, "What do you want?"
Dinkel positions himself in the curved crook of the piano and answers bravely, "Crop wants you to visit him today."
"There is no need for that," she swiftly dismisses the idea and considers what to play.
"You owe him."
Anapola looks up from the keys and stares directly into his blue eyes. A cold rage charges through her voice, "My debt with Mr. Hoppins was paid well in advance."
Dinkel can barely breathe as she begins a familiar piece of music. It emotionally transports him to a simpler time...before Cheryl left...before he lied to Crop...before Charles died.
He remembers hiding in a servant stairwell with a 12-year-old Cheryl. The little girl eagerly described the music's story as her mother played at one of the illustrious Van Der Van parties. It is about a man willing to sacrifice himself for love and honor. Isn't it romantic, Dinkel?
The gardener nods his head in agreement with the memory as he listens with older ears. At first the music is soft, as it describes the man, peaceful and handsome. Then the music throbs with fierce, chaotic aggression, echoing the turmoil the man faces. In the end, the notes become heavy and melancholic, the choice made as the sacrifice looms.
The music slowly fades away and in a low voice Dinkel demands, "You owe me."
Anapola studies the serious expression, his lips sealed tight with determination. Focused blue eyes show no fear, only blinding truth burning through her. The typically resilient woman sighs in rare emotional defeat..
"Fine, I will visit Crop. In fact, I will go now if you answer one question."
"What question would that be?" Dinkel asks tiredly, fully expecting the usual inquiry.
"How is my daughter?"
If Dinkel were prone to exaggeration, he would fall to the floor in shock. He assumed the question would be where, not how. "She is doing well,” he answers calmly, not giving his employer the satisfaction of seeing or hearing his surprise.
Anapola glances down as she remembers the last time she had seen Cheryl, so full of anger, for good reason. Still, she misses her daughter and wishes she would return home.
"Thank you, Dinkel," she chokes out while fingering the keys.
"Thank you, Anapola," Dinkel states timidly, unsure of how to react in this emotionally tender situation.
Anapola plays a few random middle notes and then solidly rises. "Now get back to work!" she spews venomously; a scolding for witnessing her softer side.
Dinkel decides to obey her command and quietly exits the conservatory. Anapola waits until she is certain the intrusive gardener is outside before slowly walking to her bedroom. The lady of the manor must prepare for the promised visit, curious over what Mr. Hoppins could possibly want from her now.
Copyright 2013, John L. Harmon
For further information on this e-book (available for Amazon Kindle and other Kindle App-compatible devices) please click on one of the following Amazon links…US UK CA AU
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Don't forget to read Chapters 12 & 64 and excerpts from the fourth set...JLH
Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,
Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,
P.S. Click WHIP to read about the excursion behind Dark Excursions.