Part 9: “The Disappearance of Emily Bennett”

Part 8

The following morning, I woke to a note on my pillow:

The property is yours to explore today. Get to know your new home. I’ll return for dinner. Yours, Ethan

The offer seemed decadent, but upon further thought, I realized it was more likely an expectation that I know my surroundings. After all, that knowledge might be necessary for a later command.

A light knock at the door preceded Tess’s unobtrusive entrance. This was only my second day, and already, she felt us natural a part of my existence as my skin. So very interesting how certain people could do that, just become what was needed without calling attention to themselves.

Tess noticed my sleepy movements and asked if I’d like the curtains opened.

“Yes, Tess. I’d best use the day I’ve been given. It looks as if I’ve been provided a rather important task.”

I handed her the note, and Tess smiled knowingly. This wasn’t the first time for her. She knew the drill.

She opened the curtains, inviting the sun, and headed back to the door where her cart was still propping it open.

Returning with a package, she explained briefly, “The Master says you can wear this today, as he won’t be home.”

I opened the box to reveal a simple white sundress.

“He also left you these,” Tess produced a set of white sandals from her cart.

“Well, good thing it’s been warm lately…these things won’t do much to protect me from the elements.” I laughed awkwardly, uncomfortably aware of my nudity again.

Bathed, dressed, and fed, I wandered the second floor, peering in open doors and turning knobs to expose unused rooms. Nearly all of them were furnished like my own: simple, clean, and white.

And so I made my way back down to the first floor, quietly investigating the kitchen, library, office, and various rooms set obviously for company. While beautifully and expensively decorated, the Master’s tastes tended toward classic and unpretentious.

Jonathan and Tess and a small army of various other servants milled about, quietly fulfilling their daily obligations. None of them made eye contact with me, and all of them exited quickly any room I entered.

It didn’t appear that any other company was in the house. I was alone, save the help, which I found unexpected — that I must be his sole focus.

My feet stirred me onward, down the front steps and into the garden, the sun heating my skin quickly in the early Southern heat. Climbing roses wrapped themselves around rails and canopies, strategically placed for privacy. Dogwood trees softly rained pink-white blossoms, and the air was thick with the scent of magnolia. It was intoxicating, and I felt my skin moisten and swell, my thighs sticking as I made my way to a stone building with a set of thickly painted red doors. A chain, held fast with an ancient-looking padlock, denied me entrance, and, upon brief inspection, there seemed no other way in.

My curiosity prickled.

Part 10 (coming soon)

Prompt: a locked door; click the image to visit the prompt post and read other writers’ work. Thanks to Charlton Tod for the inspiration!


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