Chapter 2 - Something About Sicili
Laurie Slade breathed in the fresh Sicilian sea breeze and the world was new again. A radiant smile grew on her heart shaped face as the sun slowly emerge from the other side of hemisphere.
Tens and thousands of miles between her and her family was exactly what she needed.
She needed to be away from their plots and plans to marry her off to Charles Winsley. Laurie had no intention whatsoever to be involved in a lucrasive business transaction. Those were the very words used by her mother to describe the type of marriage she would be living in.
But she had no interest of being anybodies payday.
Atleast here, on this private island they couldn’t get to her.
Here, she could actually...live her life - for however long she was needed that is.
The long road twistsed up a slight hill and down again like a sinuous rollacoaster.They had left the jetty some ten to fifteen minutes ago and as the car rounded the ninth bend, Laurie watched as the main land seemingly disappeared from view.
Everything was green and colourful. It was amazing what a step outside an overcrowded city could do to one’s senses. She stole another glimpse at her driver
Mario, she had discovered that he spoke fluent English even if his thick Italian accent lingered on every word. He earned a smile from her when he insisted on taking her bags even if she had persisted that she was well able to carry them herself.
“We are almost there, Miss Slade.” He declared as the car made a final crest around a bend.
Laurie caught her breath at the sight of the white fortress that loomed out of the overly tall chestnut trees. As the car pulled up on a cobbled stoned driveway and her eyes soaked in the grotesque architecture. Sure, her family was wealthy but this was beyond what she had ever experienced.
The evidence was in every detail and care given to the outside of the mansion. From finely sculpted statues to uniquely designed water fountains. She could only imagine what the inside would look like.
The car pulled into a stop, Laurie peered out of the window hesitating at first to step out. It was when Mario came to her side of the car and open the door, that she allowed her feet to moved.
“Please follow Me, Miss Slade. Mrs Carsingni is waiting for you.” He said once she was out of the car.
“What about my bags?” She asked.
“No worries, I will see to them. Now if you please, Miss Slade.” He gestured inside.
Stepping inside the foyer, Laurie had to keep her lips tightly pressed together so that they would hang wide open. She was right, the internal design was way beyond what she could have imagined.
She followed closely behind him afraid that if she blinked, she might miss a step and get lost. The hallway seemed endlessly long and the walls beared no memorilia of a family legacy as she had imagined there would be. The sole sound of their harmonising steps fluttered echoes throughout the grand hall, the feeling of emptiness instantly crawled around her.
Mario steps finally halt once they had reached a big mahogany door. He knocked once and pushed open the door.
Inside was hardly what she would call a room, it was simply too big for anyone to call this a bedroom. She eyes instantly flew to the window, where a lady who looked well over her late forties sat in her rocking chair, staring out into the garden.
Her dark hair with visibly few grey strands was neatly pulled back into a bun, the front of her pearls half rested on her grey cashmere sweater and her white knee length dress. Her skin was slightly pale but probably from lack of time in the sun.
Teresa looked refined. Elegant even.
Her personal file however was like a grocery list. Laurie quickly remembered reading that the patient suffered from high blood pressure, slight acute coronary syndrome, was anaemic, had insomnia and had lack of appetite.
In all honesty, somebody suffering from all those illness would not be sitting so fit and lively, smiling sweetly at her staff.
A strange sensation pulsed through Laurie, something didn’t feel quite right. This couldn’t be the same woman the agency had told her about. She wasn’t as old and didn’t even look as crazy. But then again just what did crazy look like?
“Ah! Signora Carsingni, Miss Slade has arrived.” He announced, moving to her side to remove a silver tray of uneaten eggs benedict, various fruits, a basket of small pastries and an untouched cup of coffee.
“Thank you Mario. I will call Silvia once we’re done so that she can show her to her room. Please, close the door on your way out.” Teresa said, offering him a small nod of appreciation.
Laurie’s eyes followed Mario as he walked out of the room, the back to where Mrs Carsingni sat.
Her face immediately blushed when she caught sight of Mrs Carsingni inspecting her from head to toe. Laurie suddenly felt uneasy in her own skin, worried that she was not going to like her and send her back on her merry little way home.
A lazy smile curved up Teresa’s lip, and her eyes sparkled with devilish intent, as if secretly satisfied with what she had seen, her emeralds eyes met Laurie’s chocolate ones.
“You can come closer, you know.” Mrs Carsingni said invitingly, her voice was soft - gentle.
It bristled down her spine like warm honey.
“Oh, of course.” Laurie scurried closer to her, feeling like an awed idiot.
What was wrong with her? As if she had never seen a a house before. Get a grip!
“Mrs Carsingni, It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” Laurie said shaking her out stretched hand.
“The pleasure is all mine, dear.” Teresa gave her a heartwarming smiled.
Laurie could see that Teresa was no doubt was a warm person, she could sense it. It was in the way she spoke, the way she took her hand in hers even her body movement had such grace. There was a gentle aura about Teresa Carsingni. And plus her six sense never let her down before.
“You have a lovely home.” Laurie said glancing around the white room.
A small smile formed on her face at the sight of pictures of a young boy hanging all over the room.
Maybe that’s why the halls were so empty, she thought.
“Thank you. Please, have a seat.” Teresa said, gesturing to the empty chair next to her.
“How are you feeling today, Mrs Carsingni?” Laurie asked once she was seated.
“No more than usual. Please call me Teresa, I feel that we will be together for a long while.” Terasa turned and smiled at Laurie.
There was no denying that in Teresa’s young days, she must have been a heart breaker and even now, she was still blessed with her looks.
Teresa Carsingni was beautiful.
It made Laurie want to go to her room and quickly apply some make up on, the very least.
“Okay, then it is only fair that you call me Laurie.”
“What a beautiful name. Are you French?”
Laurie smiled. “No, my parents just have a terrible sense of humour. I was conceived in France.”
“Indeed.” Was all Teresa said.
Laurie didn’t know what to make of that.
“Would you like to take a stroll in the garden later on, Teresa? I can see that you’re admiring the view.”
“Oh, no thank you dear. I never leave this room.” She said turning her attention back to her window.
Laurie slightly frowned, confused as to why.
“Why not?” She asked before she could think properly.
“No point in seeing something that I have seen a million times .” Teresa simply shrugged.
“Yeah, but this time you’ll be showing me the garden. It will be something new, no?” Laurie urged trying to get her attention.
“I suppose. I’m sure we can hold it off for a couple of days or so. You’ve only just arrived, maybe you should get yourself acquainted with the staff and the house. It’s easy for one to get lost around here. ”
“Okay, tomorrow then.” She said earning an approval nod from Teresa.
“I’ll call Silvia, she’ll show you around and fill you in on my schedule. I’ll see you when you’re done, I usually take a small nap after breakfast.”
Laurie watched her press down on a red button near her dresser and within minutes a plump grey haired lady seemingly in her mid-sixties barged into the doors. The expression she had on was not pleasant, she looked about ready to blow.
“Really Signora, Mario returned you’re food uneaten again!” She scolded.
“Silvia, please. We have a guest and I was not hungry.” Teresa stated.
“It is always the same story, Signore Tomasa will not be please.”
“Then let him come and tell me how un-pleased he is.” Teresa shrugged, unbothered by her threats.
The old maid shook her head, not certain of what to say. It seemed like the ‘Tell Tomas’ trick was no longer working, she sighed.
Laurie sat as if watching a foreign scene, she couldn’t understand a word that they were saying but judging by their body language and the way they were interacting, they seemed to be more than just employee/employer. They actually seemed more familiar with each other, like they were friends.
She swallowed nervously, when Silvia’ eyes narrowed her way as if recently aware that Laurie had been in the room. Teresa’s eyes followed hers and she looked amused.
“We are being rude Silvia. Please speak English in her presence.”
Silvia sent her a look, she clearly wasn’t done putting her point across. “You want me to say in English? I say it, next time you no eat I sit on you and force spoon down throat. Then, I call him.”
Her threats only earned a chuckle from Teresa.
“No need to look so distraught dear, her bark is worst than her bite.” Teresa assured Laurie trying to conceal her amusement.
“Is Mr. Tomasa your husband?” Laurie asked immediately regretting doing so.
It was as if the room had suddenly been sucked out of all its oxygen. You could literally cut the tension with a knife as the lights in Teresa’s eyes instantly died out as she quickly blinked the uninvited tears that were threatening to form.
“My husband is dead, Miss Slade.” Teresa simply said turning her attention back to her wide open double window.
Oh damn! Way to put your foot in your mouth.
“I’m sorry for your lost Teresa. I didn’t mean to-- I assumed that Mr. Tomas meant --”
“Tomas is my son.” She interjected, she let out a heavy breath before speaking again. “Please, Silvia show Miss Slade around. And Laurie -- I’ll see you later.”
The sadness in her tone couldn’t be missed.
Laurie’s bit down on her lower lip.
Great! Just great, Laurie. You’re here to help her, not add depression on her list.
Silently cursing at herself for asking so openly about her husband. Her heart heaved heavily with the thought of being the reason why the silver glow that was so vibrant in Teresa’s light eyes was now turned to gloom.
“Of course--” Silvia said, then turned to Laurie, “--please follow me Miss Slade.”