Chapter Nine: Omnipotent
Soulmate. He said I was his "soulmate". The words echoed repetitively in my ears. Darien and I have been connected this whole time through this inseparable bond that I've learned about only seconds ago. My eyes couldn't bear to meet his any longer as I quickly covered my face in my hands. As if expecting my reaction, he smoothed my hair back reassuringly.
I found my voice as I hoarsely spoke, "So this is why you want me here, then? Because we're soulmates?" I found my courage to let my voice rise. "What makes you think that I'm your soulmate anyway? There's just no way…"
Darien gently pried my hands away and lifted my chin. I was forced to look up again at his hypnotic chocolate eyes. "I just know." For some reason, I believed him.
A pause came over us and more confusion flooded me. What in the world was he talking about? He needs to stop this foolishness this instant. Suddenly I started to feel how cheesy this whole situation was. I felt pathetic and I weariness seemed to have come over me.
Brushing his hand away from my face, I muttered, "I don't understand." With all the energy I could muster, I picked my skirt and turned away from him. "If you'll excuse me…"
"Where are you going?" he said. He seemed to be very calm about this, something I was slightly annoyed by.
"Home." I answered defiantly.
But before I could take another step he says to my back, "I can pay for all your mother's medical funds if you stay here." It brought me to an abrupt halt. "If you go," he continued, "you'll struggle to find another job that pays for much less. But if you continue to stay here, I can guarantee enough money for your mother's care."
How tempting his offer was but… "It's not just about the money. My mother needs me as well."
Behind me, I can hear him chuckle to himself. "Miss Hamilton, for goodness sake. I'm not taking you as my prisoner. Of course, I will allow you to come and go as you please. To top it all off, you'll be coming as my personal guest. No more housework or cleaning. If you will only promise that you'll continue to visit me daily."
"And if I don't?"
"Well, let's just say I know where you live."
Dang, he caught me in a bind.
"So let me get this straight. You'll allow me to go as I please only that I visit you every day? You'll pay me enough money just for me to visit? And all this is because you strongly believe that I'm your so-called 'soulmate'?"
"Correct." I froze as I felt his body suddenly up against my back. My face grew beet red and I squeezed my eyes shut from embarrassment as his hands barely grazed mine. I can feel his breath as he whispered in my ear, "You'll also be able to find out the truth about your existence."
For some reason, this had convinced me so. "Fine. I'll do it."
At that, I hastily escaped from his grasp and ran back to my temporary room.
I was surprised to find Lydia already occupied in my room. She was just about to pour the rest of the tea when she looked up at my disheveled presence.
"Lydia…" was all I could say in one audible breath and I crumpled to the floor exhausted. Alarmed, she helped me onto my feet and into a chair. Then, she offered the tea which I sipped hastily, not caring if I had manners or not.
"So, what did the master tell you?" she finally spoke.
I looked up at her worrisome face. She was worried as if I was her own daughter. It made me feel braver as I told her.
"He believes I'm somehow his 'soulmate'. And because of that, he wants me to come by every day to see him in exchange he will help pay my mother's medical bills. I honestly just don't know why though. Why is he making this such a big deal?"
Lydia made a grave face as if she already knew this would happen. Suspicion settled in. I took a stab at it."He…" I began, "says this to many other women, doesn't he?" But Lydia shook her head.
"No, he's not like that at all. You're the first and only. I believe that you really are his soulmate." There, it was again. That word again. The word with such an ambiguous meaning.
"I don't understand what you mean by that, Lydia," I reply.
"Now Alice, listen to me very closely. I warned you before that you were in danger but now I'm afraid it's too late. He's already found you and there's nothing you can do but accept it."
Her words began to make me tremble. Seeing me, she took my hand reassuringly.
"You mustn't get tricked by him. If you do, something will happen."
"I'm sorry. I'm not permitted to say. No one can," she answered, looking at me apologetically.
"…Why? Why can't you tell me? Why can't anyone in this blasted place tell me except for him?" At this point, I was practically shouting at her.
"Because our families for generations took an oath that we must continue to bare the rest of our lives," she says darkly. Her expression seemed distant that made me not press any further. I seemed to have re-opened a wound and the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt the only comforting person I cared about in this house.
"I'm sorry… I just…. I didn't know what to do. I stupidly agreed to his conditions."
"Just follow what he says for now. Continue to visit him to discover the truth."
Sir Jonathan asked Charles, the Faraday chauffeur, to escort me back to my home. He told me that every day I will be picked up promptly at 9 o'clock in the morning in front of my house. I did nothing but nod.
As I soon as I reached the familiar house, I bolted up inside and into my mom's room. I found her awake, propped up on a pillow reading a book.
"Oh Alice, you're back." I glanced at the tray that normally sits at her bedside to find dirty dishes that need to be washed.
"I figured you had to leave work for work early since I didn't see you in the morning." This calmed my heart a little. At least I didn't have to find my mom all distressed and worried over me. I didn't want to cause any more heartache on her.
"By the way," she continued, "the breakfast you left for me was fantastic! It was something I haven't ever tasted before." Breakfast? I didn't leave anything for her. Perhaps it was Fred? After the last time I saw him, I was doubtful he'd return. Besides, mom was all too familiar with Fred's cooking. So maybe it was him.
"Thanks," was all I could say. She motioned me to lean over to her so that she could pat my head.
"So, mom," I said as I chose my words carefully, "they told me that I was officially hired for the job. I'll have to start working every day now." It was like spitting acid, lying to my mom like that. But I didn't want her to worry in her condition. This made her eyes light up, delighted.
"Oh honey, I'm so proud of you! You're working so hard. I knew you could do it. I'm so grateful to have a responsible daughter like you. Just try not to overwork yourself, ok?"
"I won't," I replied as I secured the bed sheet covers over her. "They'll be picking me up every day at 9 o'clock."
"Ok," she responded.
And with that, I shut the door carefully behind her.
I decided my next task was to make amends with Fred. I didn't want to get on his bad side when I've always been entrusting my mom to him while I'm away. Since I will be gone even more often, the more I needed him.
I picked up my phone and pressed speed-dial #1. Fred picked up immediately after the first ring.
"Hello, Alice? Is that you?"
"Hey Fred, yeah it's me." I could envision feel the relief spread across his face.
"I was just worried since I came to pick you up for your work, but you weren't there. I asked your mom and she said she said she didn't know where you went off to. But she figured you went to work already."
"Yeah, um… I'm sorry about that." No way, was I telling him that in truth I was kidnapped and was forced to make a bargain against my will!
"Your mom convinced me after she said you left her with breakfast." This confirmed my suspicions. Darien really did make the breakfast.
"They sent a car to pick me up early today. Sorry I forgot to tell you the other day," I lied.
"Oh right. The other day…. Look I'm sorry for what I did," he sounded genuinely apologetic. "I don't know what came over me. Honestly, I didn't. It's just… when I think about your safety and what you're going through and all, I just feel the need to be protective over you."
"Freddie, you don't have to protect me. I'm fine, seriously."
"No, don't you see? I want to protect you. It's something I want to do. I couldn't bare it if you were hurt by the Newport thief or, or that guy at work!"
"I'm fine, Fred," I replied again. "Things are turning out for the better anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"They told me today that I was hired for the job. I'm going to be able to work every day now. They also promised me more than enough money for mom's medical bills", and to sound the most convincing, I forced myself a "Isn't it great?"
But I can hear bitterness in his tone as he forced himself to say, "Yeah, Alice. That's… wonderful. But…."
Knowing full well what he was going to say next, I interrupted, "Don't worry Freddie, I no longer see that guy from work. He got fired." Little did he know, that guy was actually the head of the Faraday mansion. That seemed to cheer him up tremendously when he answered, "Ok good. Now I'm more relaxed."
"So… what time will I have to drive you over there tomorrow?" Crap.
"Oh yeah, about that… well, they will be sending a chauffeur to pick me up every day from now on, so I won't need a lift anymore."
"Oh." I can taste the disappointment. I was truthfully just as disappointed as he was.
"Yeah, I'm sorry Freddie."
"No, it's alright. It can't be helped."
"But don't worry! I'll call you up as soon as I'm done with my first day tomorrow and we can see each other."
I felt like I would need someone reassuring to be by my side after an unnerving full day with Darien. Plus, I want to see Freddie happy. I can't disappoint him after all I've been lying to him about. I have to make him believe that everything was okay. When it obviously wasn't.
Fred seemed convinced. "Ok, promise?"
"Promise." With that, we said our goodbyes with the hopes that tomorrow would go by smoothly.
That night, I ended up only reading three diary entries of the little black book before I drifted off the sleep. From what I could make of this 10-year old Barrington child was that he seemed so desperate to want to return to London and how hard it was to adjust to his new home. It left an impression on me that he hated to adjust to change. Moreover, as I was reading his genuine handwriting, I couldn't help but envision a lonely crying child, lost and alone in a dark, foreboding world.