I stepped out of the truck and gazed at the mansion before me. It looked bigger up close than when I saw it from the truck window. The mansion looked like one of those you would find in horror stories, rather than the ones which belonged to nobles. But that's just what I thought. The warm, summer wind welcomed me by ruffling my blond hair.
The driver had long disappeared while I was gaping at the house. I pulled my modest little trunk from the truck by myself because I'm strong and independent and barely avoided dropping it on my foot. As I looked up at the mansion, I felt like the protagonist of a story with a lame beginning. However, I wasn't expecting anything out of this. I had got more than what I had bargained for. All I did was to complain on the first day of vacations; "All my friends are going somewhere for vacations while I sit in the four walls of the room and scroll through Tumblr." That was enough for my father, Jude, to ship me off into slave trade.
Just kidding. At least that would have been exciting.
He did something worse than that. He sent me to our country side ol' barn which had been succeeded from our ancestors to our present generation and now belonged to Aunt Ur. Queue the creepy organ music. It's not the first time I'm visiting my country house. I used to come here in my childhood during the summer, along with both my mother and father. It used to be fun back then, it was a huge family get together and I used to play with my cousin Gray and his friends. But as the years passed, everyone became busy and there was no time for even a video chat. It's kind of sad, but it can't be helped.
Besides, nobody likes the country anymore. It just stinks too much but nobody's going to admit it. I know, I don't seem like the greatest protagonist here, but hey, times change, and I am quite used to the city life. Pizzas and cupcakes are addictive. Nobody lives here permanently anymore except Grandma, so the mansion was looked after by a few care-takers.
I was beginning to think that I would have to make my way inside by myself when I was welcomed by a familiar, warm voice.
"Lucy! Welcome!" Ur said as she climbed down the veranda. Ur, with her short black hair, bright dark eyes, the same old jacket and jeans, looked as young as she was years ago. She pulled me into a hug and then pulled back to look at me like she was examining Fiore's Next Top Model. "It's been five whole years and my, you've grown so much! You were so tiny when I saw you the last time! You look even more beautiful in person than the photographs! Just like your mother!" Ur said excitedly.
I'm sorry Aunt Ur, but all these are cliché lines used by all adults. But of course, I didn't say that to her face because I do like her. And I'm a good girl.
"Hello Aunt Ur! You look gorgeous as before." I smiled.
"Oh, you flatter me, Lucy!" Ur slapped my back too hard and the non-existent breakfast in my tummy threatened to spill out.
"Come on in! Let's get you settled!" Ur said as she beckoned me towards the house.
I tugged at my luggage and dragged it into the house. Hefting it out of the truck? Okay. Bringing it up the porch? Cool. Carrying it up the stairs all the way up to the room? I'm not too sure.
Before I could get the thought of dragging the case and risking brain damage, two strong arms wrapped around the bag and was hefted over the shoulders of none other than my cousin, Gray Fullbuster. But he wasn't the cute teenage boy I knew five years back anymore. He'd grown taller than me by inches (I was taller than him five years ago, sob.), his hair was perfectly spiky and his face was chiseled and handsome. His arms rippled with muscle and I could sense that he definitely had six pack abs under that stupid T shirt. (Don't ask me how).
Even though on the inside I was hundred and one percent sure, I blurted unsurely, "Gray?"
He grinned at me, the same way he did back then, "It's been a while Lucy. Let me give you a hand."
I couldn't believe this was the same cousin with whom I used to play house-house. And also other ungirly games like football and basketball. I followed him into the room which was on the second floor. The room was cleaned, and looked exactly the same as it did five years back. It had been my room then too. Gray smoothly laid the suitcase on the floor and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
"Ooh, someone's been working out," I said to him jokingly.
Gray grinned once again, "Nah, it's because of all the sports activities at college. Being a part of the basketball team has influenced my life a lot. But I must admit, part of the credit for my skills goes to you," he added as he winked. I tried my best to ignore my hammering heart. Stop it Lucy, he's your cousin damn it, I punched myself mentally.
He walked out of my room and stood at the door expectantly. "What is it?" I asked him.
"I brought your luggage till here. Did you think it was for free?" he smirked.
I laughed, "Sorry! I'm given a travel card which I'm supposed to use only for emergencies. But if you really want something, would you like to try some cookies from Mrs. Fernandez? I met her on the way." I asked smugly as I held up the parcel.
Gray made a sour face, "I'll ask for it when I need a stomach ache for a holiday from school." We both laughed and gave each other a fist-bump. "I'm sure you'll have a great summer. And you owe me one alright?" he disappeared downstairs. I noted how he said 'you' rather than 'we'.
I closed the door and threw myself on the bed. My stomach rumbled in hunger so loud that I thanked her for keeping quiet when I was talking to Gray. It was past noon but I didn't want to ask for food right away. My eye lids were heavy and before I could get the idea of opening my luggage or freshen up myself, I fell asleep.
Apparently, I snored. That's what Ur told me when she came to wake me up for supper. Thankfully, she didn't mention anything about drooling, but the edge of my mouth felt suspiciously wet when I came to be. More importantly, she didn't think much of it. I guess she sensed that travelling was tiring.
She had prepared my favorite mushroom soup and spaghetti. Did I mention she's the best cook? I was just about to dig in when my cousin walked in. Shirtless. And I was proved right about the abs. It was a spectacular sight. Damn, he was hot.
I must have said that aloud because both Ur, who was washing the dishes and talking on the phone and Gray's head shot towards me, "What?"
Stupid, stupid, Lucy. I punched myself mentally for that. I quickly covered up by saying; "Hot soup! The soup is really hot!" and I started blowing over my spoon to prove my point. I mentally punched myself twice for that. Gray, the hot soup. Then thrice for thinking that my cousin looked hot.
"Oh", they said and went back to their works. Before that Ur yelled at her son, still on line in the phone, "Gray! Don't walk around shirtless with ladies in the house! How many times do I have to tell you?!"
Poor Gray. He glanced at his bared chest and yelped and ran off maybe to find his lost shirt or maybe in embarrassment. Well, of course he would be embarrassed because someone on line had probably heard it and was having a good laugh.
Someone sighed next to me which made me jump, "Kids these days," I looked over and two seats away from me, was Grandma Mavis, the true owner of the barn. It was scary how I hadn't noticed her at all. Her long whitish blond hair in a bun, emerald green eyes which always sparked with mischief, but her face had more wrinkles than before and I could see the green veins in her bony hands.
I greeted her with a smile, "Hi Grandma! How are you? I'm sorry I couldn't come in to greet you earlier."
"Dear, you don't need to be so polite with me. Besides, I'm tired of people asking me how I am. You should ask how are you to those are ill and excuse me, I'm perfectly fine!" Mavis grumbled, her voice shrill.
I laughed and raised my hands in defense, "Right, I'm sorry."
"I just averted my eyes for a minute and you've grown so much! Looking like a proper lady now, just like Layla. I hope you act like one now! And I sure hope you've washed your pretty little hands before you gobble down that food!" she began criticizing me just a minute into our conversation.
I rolled my eyes, "Yes Grandma."
"Don't you roll your eyes at me. When you were younger you used to play in the backyard in the mud with the piglets and then eat food with those muddy hands." And she jumped into an old embarrassing story from my childhood. I felt glad that Gray wasn't around to hear what Grandma was saying, and even that Ur wasn't paying much attention as she was on the phone. I had almost forgotten how Grandma Mavis could be… stingy. Some useful advice: Avoid grannies. They'll remind you of some really embarrassing childhood memory which you tried to bury or jump into their olden golden days like 'Why back in my time…'
Fortunately, she wasn't the one to talk on the latter.
She got up from the chair and was about the leave the kitchen (and let me eat me in peace) before she pulled my head into a hug. I could swear she mumbled, "Glad to have you back here." Or something like that.
I couldn't help but smile to myself.
I ate the rest of my meal in silence as Ur continued talking on the phone. Even after I finished eating, Gray did not come back. I suppose Gray's pursuit with his shirt hadn't ended. I thanked Ur, who had just finished talking on the phone and went upstairs to my room. On the way upstairs, I heard Grandma yelling at the television in the living room. I sighed as closed the door behind me. I couldn't help but feel a tad bit lonely, but I already knew that would happen even after finding out that Gray would be around. I had to embrace it because it was just the beginning of your usual two month relaxing country holiday.
I couldn't sleep a wink. Not because I was feeling lonely or missed my room. The thing about sleeping in the day is that it makes it impossible to sleep at night. I tried my best to make myself feel sleepy. I opened up my luggage and put them neatly in the cupboard (yes, I am a neat freak). I tried watching videos on YouTube, but the darn net didn't work at all because there was no reception (I shudder to think about it again because it means that I can't keep myself occupied by using my phone or laptop). I tried reading but I just couldn't make myself read. And just after I dozed off for a few minutes, a hen screeched outside the house though it felt like it was in my room above my head.
After that my sleep vanished. No matter what, I just couldn't go back to sleep and it was just 6 o clock. Stupid hen. I will find you and eat you. Just kidding, I'm a vegetarian because I'm kind and I love animals.
After a quick breakfast (I chatted with Ur for a bit, who was awake and ready for action) a shower and an encounter with clothed hot soup with bed hair Gray who had just woken up and Grandma Mavis (who was heading for a soak in the tub after me in line) I was back to my room. Now that I was in the country side, I was going to take full advantage of this situation. I was going to look for inspirations for my novel.
During school days I could barely write short stories, but now that the holidays had arrived with plenty of free time and a (cough) beautiful mansion and nature around me, I couldn't wait to write a full-fledged one.
I sat before my old little table on a stool, placed a fresh bundle of papers along with my favorite ink pen which once belonged to my mother. The cup of coffee I had brewed for myself lay before the blank papers. I know, it seemed a bit old fashioned of me, but I liked to do it that way. It made me feel close to being a writer even though I wasn't one yet.
I heard the car engine start downstairs and from the window directly in front of me I saw Ur drive out of the garage. She told me earlier in the morning that she was working in a library in Clover downtown as a part-timer, and if I wanted to give a visit I could ask Gray to take me there. Considering it was still 7 AM, I knew he was back in his room, snoring away. Why? Well his room is right below mine and I can hear him.
I just hope I didn't snore that loudly yesterday.
As soon as I lifted my pen, an idea struck me and I began right away. I had written down about seven pages when my flow of thoughts stopped. I settled my pen down and shuffled back to the first page. As I read them over again, it left me with an unsatisfied feeling. It didn't have the kind of spark which made the person curious to read more. Even if it did, the flow of ideas in my mind had come to a sudden halt, as I couldn't figure out what to write anymore.
Soon, I began dazing as I stared outside at the sky which was slowly turning from red to blue. The sky was void of any clouds making it quite a sunny day. I was blankly staring at the sky, when the whining of a horse pulled my attention back to the ground.
I blinked as I could still see some sunny spots, when the spots disappeared; I saw a horse running along on the field across our house. The horse was a beautiful white one; and riding atop him was a man. When I saw the black mane of hair, I thought it was Gray, but it wasn't him. This guy's hair grew all the way down to his neck and was a darker shade of black. He was sturdily built and he held his shoulder and face high, looking forward with a focused and determined gaze. His skin seemed pale, even from such a distance. His strong arms which seemed to ripple with muscles, even under the cursed jacket, held the reins steadily with composure. Even as he tugged the reins, in no way was he ruthless. In fact, he seemed to be gentle and passionate both at the same time. The mystery guy rode over and vanished.
I pulled myself away from the window; I blushed in embarrassment, as I hadn't realized that I had stuck my face to the window to look at him. But I was on the second floor, so he definitely couldn't have seen me. Besides, he didn't even glance anywhere else other than straight forward. A dreamy sigh escaped my lips. The sound of the gallop of the horse still echoed in my ears and the picture of his strong back was fixed before my eyes as I stared at the blank pages on my desk. My cup of coffee had gone cold.
I wanted to see him for some more time.
Oh I saw him many times alright and sometimes a little more than I deserved. I woke up at 6AM again (I swear, it was the hen!) and by the time Ur would drive out of the garage and I was at the window at 8 AM, he was there, riding the same white horse in all glory. Literally, in all glory.
I had never seen anyone ride a horse this elegantly before, even though I have never seen anyone ride a horse before. He would ride the horse around the huge fields; he would stop at the barn far across, stroke the animal and feed it. Then he would disappear into the barn house for a long time. I would watch him trudge down the road and he would mysteriously disappear.
This went on for about a week. I began noticing small things like how his hair would fly off his face due to a sudden wind and a silent pleasure would pass over his face. Sometimes he tied a pony tail out of his messy hair (I barely stopped myself from squealing Gray awake.) One time, the horse nuzzled lovingly into his face and out of surprise he fell into the mud bath of the pigs, my childhood friends. Calmly, he stripped off his shirt, leaving me in disarray. As my hunches, his body was strong with abs and all that. I had to remind myself to breathe.
First Gray, and now the mystery guy, seems like I'm in luck.
I know, I sound like such a stalker right now, but I just can't help it. He's just so…mesmerizing. I couldn't get the picture of him on the horse out of my head. He looked so dashing; it was difficult not to look at him. For nights, I lay awake, staring at the cracking ceiling. The nights in the country were utterly silent, except the crickets, but I was always absorbed in my own thoughts. The traces of my dead dreams were the graceful image on the mystery guy on the horse.
I finally plucked the courage to go out there and talk to him. Because I'm confident and a charming girl. Before that, I obviously did some research. He could be a psycho criminal on the loose who loved animals, so I wasn't gonna take any chances. However, I could admit my sources weren't reliable. I inquired casually the cook Mr. Arnold, Mrs. Spetto the house keeping lady and Mr. Connell who occasionally looked after the animals and the fields (considering how the mystery guy did half of the work).
None of them knew about any dashing guy who went berserk on one of our horses in the morning.
This house needed some discipline. Even though I'm not a morning person (which teenager from the city is?), I'm ready for action at 7 AM while these folks continue sleeping even after the hen screeches.
Maybe they eat the hen after every morning and a new one shows up thinking that I'm the one eating its family.
I wore my best jeans and my lucky pink top of Heart Kruez brand. I tied my hair in a ponytail and applied some lip gloss on my lips and some cologne. Then I took a selfie because Dad was begging me to send him one of my photos (Grandma Mavis taught me about a miraculous WiFi in the house) because he claimed to miss me. Well he should have thought that before shipping me off here by myself. But he sent me some funny snaps while he cooked on his own and ended up ordering the food anyway. He's the worst cook ever. Now that I think about it, maybe he's missing me cause I'm not around to cook him food.
This selfish, selfish world.
Anyway, I'm sure he won't suspect anything fishy about his daughter dolling up early in the morning which she usually never does.
Here goes nothing.
I walked downstairs and outside the sleepy little house. It was still 7:30, and the sun was still rising from behind the mountains so the sun rays hadn't hit the ground yet. Aunt Ur had already left for her work, as it took quite some time to reach the town. I took a deep breath, and looked around; the mystery guy hadn't arrived yet. I decided to take a stroll along the fields where he would accidentally stumble upon a beautiful maiden that is me. I know, that is like counting the eggs before the eggs are laid. That reminds me, I need to find that hen and politely ask it to shut up because I really needed my beauty sleep for such days.
Even after taking two rounds of the fields, he did not show up, so I decided to go to the animal barn. On reaching there, there were no animals in sight. I sat up on a huge stone and started wondering if the guy was just a fragment of my imagination for all these days. That would explain why he just miraculously disappeared. Or maybe he was a ghost. A handsome ghost haunting my sweet old mansion. It was kind of cool for a blockbuster novel, but did not sound that amazing if you're sitting alone in a sort of run down animal barn.
A sudden gust of morning breeze made me shiver. Just when I was about to give up hopes of seeing him, I heard the whiny of a horse. I stood up and there he was, the mystery guy, riding the same white horse across the fields. My eyes followed him while he rode the horse until he took notice of me, which suddenly made me feel self-conscious. I expected him to smile and ride over for a chat but he simply pointed at me and continued riding his horse.
I was completely baffled. With my luck, maybe some bird had pooped on my head and I hadn't realized, or maybe I was wearing my shirt inside out or I looked like some sort of wild animal. Like you know in safaris you spot an animal like- "Oh look, a kangaroo. I spotted that one first!"
After confirming that I was still human, the guy pointed at me again and mouthed, 'Behind you'. I don't remember quite well what exactly happened, but I instinctively ran as soon as I realized that there was a bull standing right behind me.
As I ran, the bull continued chasing me around the barn. The rope which harbored it at one place had gone loose, thus chasing me effortlessly. When the bull was closing in on me, I began screaming my head off. I'm sure I looked like a complete idiot. The mystery guy rode over to me and I ran overhead past him as he quickly got off the horse and ran over to pull back the rope and tie the bull to its place. I finally stopped as the bull was firmed tied and fed to prevent it from struggling. I walked over slowly to the guy who was bent down and feeding the bull, his back facing me.
"Wh-Where did it come from?" I asked.
"I let it out from the back door." He said, his back still facing me.
"Oh." was all I could reply.
After what seemed like an eternity, he stood up to look at me. He looked even more handsome up close. He stood tall with certitude and was lean and rugged. His raven-black hair fell over the left side of his face, completely covering his left eye. A scar ran along his nose and he had a prominent chin, which added to his determined look, giving him an aura of sensibility. He wore a white shirt with plaids over which he wore a waist coat of a darker shade of blue and brown corduroy pants with armed boots.
A sudden gust of wind blew his hair behind and I could see the windows to his soul. His eyes gave away his gentleness, and similarly that drew me towards him. They were red irises, the color of a red rose in prime, with slits like those of a cat.
His voice carried a deep baritone, "Are you alright, Miss?"
I think he asked me that because I looked kind of dazed, or because I had been chased by a full grown bull. If it was the latter, I'd think he was an idiot. Words from my mouth barely came out as a whisper, "Yes, thank you."
He looked at the bull with uncertainty, "Taurus seldom does something like that. Don't know what got into him today. Unless…" he was going to say something but then thought against it. "Never mind."
I nodded, utterly tongue-tied. Now that I was facing him I had no idea how to strike a conversation. I smiled a bit awkwardly, "Taurus, as in the sun sign?"
"Yes, that is correct." he said very much indifferently. He seemed quite uninterested and cold. He stared at me piercingly which make me a bit uncomfortable which was followed by awkward silence. The horse whinnied as if to say, 'Hey man, you gonna hitch this ride or what?'
He nodded to me and said, "Be careful around them. Especially the bull." Then proceeded to walk to his horse and climb over. Before he could do so, I yelled, "Wait!" in a more commanding tone than I intended. Well, I wasn't letting him go until I at least knew his name. That was easier thought than asked.
He stopped in his tracks and looked at me, "What is it?"
I cursed inwardly as I tried to think of something, "I… I was wondering if you worked here…"
The mystery guy looked at me questioningly, and then shrugged, "You could say so."
"Does that mean you live here?" I asked, trying to keep the conversation up.
"Somewhere around," The mystery guy also spoke in riddles, like an enigma. Well, what could I expect from a guy who vanishes mysteriously?
"Why are you looking after the animals? We've got care-takers in the house to do that." I said. He looked alarmed. Before I could say anything more he asked, "Are you Miss Heartfilia?"
The fact that he knew my surname should have alarmed me too. I knew I should have lied, but his eyes tempted me to tell the truth. I simply nodded.
"I knew it." He said, his voice turning ice-cold. "All you city girls are the same. Always prying into other people's lives like it's no one's business. Give me a break." He walked off to the fields leaving me behind. I'd never been this confused in my life. All I was trying to tell him was he didn't need to do it as a compulsion (and a handsome guy like him needn't), but I didn't realize that maybe he was actually enjoying it and doing it out of his own will.
I tried to yell out to him and run after him but something tugged strongly at my jeans and I found myself falling and landing on my butt on a mud puddle. The pigs, which had appeared out of nowhere, oinked at me in glee. How nostalgic.
I heard the guy curse and grumble as he walked back towards me and held out his hand in defiance. I accepted it and he pulled me back to my feet into his arms. Before I could feel embarrassed about it, he pulled me back at an arm's length and gave me a look of anger.
"Are you an idiot?! Don't wear heavy perfume around animals! That's the reason why they're all behind you! And if you can't watch your step then don't get out of the house!" he yelled into my face which made me cringe.
That was the last straw. I ran away from him into the house.
A/N: Don't worry that's not the end. I'm not gonna lie. I'm a lazy person who gets distracted very easily. This was supposed to be a one shot but it's turning out to be rather long and I couldn't finish it on time (IM SO SORRY!) I will update in this week itself...probably.
Well I hope you've forgiven me and also hopefully you liked the story till now. Anywayz, HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAINA! CUT CUTE CAKES AND GIMME SOME TOO! ITS BEEN 4 YEARS (I think) FOUR CHEERS TO OUR FRIENDSHIP HIPHIP HORRAY!
This is the first time I'm writing a story in this format (you may have noticed) it's inspired from your style and TA-DAH at this point it's obviously RoLu one pairing I've never written a word about lol. Also the first time I'm writing about Rogue (he's always a cameo appearance in my stories XD)
Hope you have a great birthday! :-)