Chapter 1 – Adventures in Moving
Miss Filia ul Copt adjusted her hat, squinting against the sunlight, as she looked up and around. She was hopelessly lost…having no clue where to go, and in a strange town with no one that she knew! Save her little six-year-old adopted son, Valteria. The small boy held tightly to her hand as he, too, looked about, his curious little eyes dancing to and fro; he was so caught up in the excitement. They were interesting-colored eyes…a light golden color so close to light brown that hardly anyone noticed. Her adopted son was quite interesting all in himself. Smartest little boy she'd ever known.
He'd been left to her in the will of his family…distant relatives of hers. Filia didn't know the particulars, but according to Val, they had died soon after he was born, and so they'd given her custody of him. She'd yet to figure out why; she had never spoken to any of them and she hadn't even known of poor Val's existence. But such was life, and she was now a mother. She had to admit that he had stolen her heart immediately with his childish charms.
But staying at home with her elderly grandfather had begun to wear on her nerves. She was one to live in the modern times, while the old coot was stuck in the past…going on about some war where he'd supposedly knocked off the entire lot of the enemy's troops, and how he had left the secret weapon safe where it wouldn't be found. He was a tad bit on the eccentric side. He was also overbearing and self-righteous, a combination that, along with the eccentricity and the fact that he was a military man at heart, Filia found extremely difficult to live with. Therefore, deciding that she was old enough to move out on her own, she did as such, much to her grandfather's chagrin. She took Val with her, who was more than thrilled to get away from his grandfather's threats against his life; apparently the old miser was convinced that poor Val was one of those 'Enemy bastards', as he put it.
Filia shook her head, groaning and attempting to clear her head of the memories. It was good to be away from that life, and now she had her own. She was ready to take on any challenges that came her way…provided she could beat it down with her trusty parasol. It was bright pink with the most adorable lacy frills around the edge. It fit her perfectly, the pure-hearted soul that she was. It was also heavier than it looked, and also deadlier. In her hands, it was a weapon of mass destruction.
Val tugged on Filia's hand, getting her attention. She looked down, startled, and said, "What is it, Val, sweetheart?"
"Momma, I have to pee-pee."
Filia turned red and embarrassedly looked around, hoping no one heard that. She was bashful about mentioning those sorts of things…or even hearing them! It just wasn't proper to do so in public.
"Val, that sort of thing isn't proper to mention in public," she scolded.
Val jumped up and down. "But I have to go!" he cried, much louder than before. Drawing many stares from passers-by.
Filia groaned. "Val! Hush!"
"BUT I HAVE TO-"
"Okay!" Filia grabbed his arm and pulled him into the nearest building to save herself more embarrassment. She was still learning the ropes of this motherhood business…obviously she'd missed the chapter on how to keep one's child quiet in public. She was quite oblivious to the fact that every mother has this problem.
Filia marched up to a desk where a well-dressed older gentleman was writing something. She gathered her wits about her, willing herself to banish all thoughts of embarrassment as she cleared her throat to get his attention.
No such luck. He kept writing.
She tried again. Still to no avail.
"Excuse me!" she said forcefully, despairingly sure that she was losing a large bit of her composure.
The gentleman looked up from what he was writing and stared at her. Blinked.
"Can I help you?" he asked in a not-so-helpful manner. Basically translated: "Don't look at me, I just work here."
"Um…" she began, not really wanting to ask him the question, but one look at Val's pleading eyes and crossed legs told her that she'd better ask or there'd be an even bigger mess than just her frazzled nerves. "I was wondering…you see…I just…well, my son…he needs…"
The man rolled his eyes and pointed to the back hallway. "Out that door and to the left."
Val immediately ran down the hall before Filia could utter a 'thank you'. She sighed and rubbed her temple. The man at the desk resumed writing his letter; this woman with the speech problem was not a customer, therefore he needn't bother with her.
However, as Filia began to look around, she brightened. How fortunate! This was perfect! She silently thanked Val and his timely bladder…she'd run straight into the exact building she needed to go.
The real estate office.
"Excuse me, sir?" she asked again.
"What is it now, Madam?" the man said, looking up with an air of annoyance. Filia flinched, but was not about to let this man's poor attitude get the best of her.
"I am in need of a house," she replied. "You see, I just moved her from – "
"Beg your pardon, Madam, but wouldn't your husband do better to decide that matter?" he interrupted with a smug look on his face. Clearly he was thinking, 'foolish woman, doing the decision-making for her husband'.
This infuriated Filia beyond rational thought. She clenched her hand around her pink frilly parasol and pointed it straight at the man's nose.
"I am NOT married, and I'll thank you to let me make my OWN decisions, you pompous piece of garbage! I'll have you know that I am a woman of well to do, and whether I am married or not is not your business. If you would rather not have my business, I shall seek another realtor with better work ethics."
Filia turned on her heel and was about to leave. However, the man at the desk, once getting over the shock of having a parasol shoved in his face (which left little room for further snide remarks about her virtue), rushed around the desk and was immediately between her and the door faster than she could blink an eye.
"Forgive me, Madam, I was not aware of your current marital status. It is obvious that you are a woman of well-to-do. I simply assumed that you –"
"Some assumptions should not be made and should not affect business decisions, my good sir," Filia interrupted curtly.
She could see him clench his fists and grit his teeth. His thoughts were plain: "The NERVE of that brazen woman! As if SHE has any idea what business is all about...silly foolish woman..." But it was obvious that he wasn't going to voice his opinions; he wasn't going to let her walk out of that door. Just as she didn't have any intention of leaving until she had a house; necessity before pride, she told herself.
"So…shall we see what kind of residences you have to sell?" Filia asked sweetly.
"Of course, Madam. This way."
"This one would do nicely, Madam. Lavena Mont, upper Valencia Drive. Two bath, three bedroom, kitchen, recreation…I say, are you listening to me?"
Filia was, indeed, not listening to him. He'd been going on about these houses for the last hour and half, and she was bored. Val was equally, if not more bored, as he sat fiddling with the cigar box on the man's desk…the man's name, she had discovered, being Mr. Calloway. She had still not found a house that she felt suited her. Nothing really…reached out and grabbed her, as she liked to put it. Nothing called to her…like one soul to another, or something to that extent. She shrugged…at any rate, she hadn't found what she was looking for.
Mr. Calloway had finished rambling about the last house, and had picked up another description. Filia watched curiously as he grimaced and quickly set it aside, picking up another one. As he began reading yet again, she felt compelled to pick up the paper and read what was so horrible about this particular house.
And as she read, her eyes brightened and a smile lit up her face.
Carlahan Cottage. Six miles outside of town. Two-story. Four bedroom. Two bath. Kitchen with stove, ice box, and pump sink. Beautiful, scenic view of the ocean, as it sits on the highest cliff in the area. Balcony outside master bedroom. A place of rest for one's soul.
She liked that last part. Her soul was in desperate need of rest. Not to mention her travel-weary body.
"I should like to see this one," she announced, handing him the paper. He uttered a shocked gasp and snatched the paper from her hand, setting it down on the table. He looked at her as though she were a child being scolded for touching something she shouldn't.
"That house just doesn't suit you," he said matter-of-factly.
Indignant, she picked up the paper and said as calmly as she could, "It does suit me, and I'll thank you to let me make my own decisions, yet again."
She picked up her parasol, noting with concealed amusement that his face went white as she did so, and stood up as though she were about to leave. He stood up as well, flustered, and asked with no concealed exasperation, "Where are you going?"
"I wish to see Carlahan Cottage. I suggest if you want my money you'll take me to see it."