Ollie leaned her head against the window, letting it hit the glass with a dull thunk. Grey rain drizzled down, blurring the passing streets so the only thing she could see were peoples black umbrellas. She watched London pass as she sat in the back of the town car her father sent. The weather here seemed to exactly match how she felt about the entire situation: depressing. The only sound was the patter of rain on the car, and the jazz coming from the radio. The man driving kept stealing glances at her through the rearview mirror, but never tried to talk. And that was just fine with her.
They passed a large sign that read, Welcome to Sevenoaks, Kent. The little brown houses on the outskirts of London turned into huge white houses and just like that, the bleak grey city streets turned into rolling green pastures topped with manors. Sooner than she'd like she was standing at the front doors of a house nothing short of a mansion, luggage in hand. She stared at the massive wooden doors, debating if she walked away now, whether anyone would be able to catch her.
The right door opened, and a thin man with a lot of white hair stood smiling at her. His crystal blue eyes looked at her excitedly. Ollie raised an eyebrow quizzically.
"Ms. Fernsby?" he asked.
"Heavens, no." the man grinned. "I'm his assistant, Charles. Please come in."
Charles stepped aside, allowing Ollie to walk into the foyer. She titled her head back, to see the full expanse of the house. The entrance was marbled with white floors and tall columns that stretched to the top of a golden ceiling.
"Your room will be upstairs on the second floor," said Charles. "Please follow me."
He started up the large staircase that wound upwards to two other floors. Ollie quickly grabbed her bags and followed, heaving them up the stairs. The only sound in the house was her and Charles' footsteps. No other voices or music could be heard.
They reached a room on the second floor, whose door was the only one ajar. Ollie pushed it open slowly and looked in.
It was very simple. A small bed with a white cover sat near a window with fluttering white curtains. The walls were covered in yellow flowered paper that reminded her of a nursery. A wooden dresser sat across from the bed, where a little box with a ribbon laid.
Ollie set her bags down and walked over to the dresser, and looked down at the box.
"What is this?" she asked.
"It's from your father." Charles said. "He told me to tell you he's sorry for being unable to pick you up from the airport, but had an important business engagement."
Ollie reached out to open it, but paused as she touched the blue ribbon.
"When will he be back?" she asked.
"This evening, for supper."
She nodded, and dropped her hand. Charles watched her curiously.
"Is there anything I can get you?"
"No, thanks. I'm just going to start unpacking."
He nodded and left. Ollie walked to the bed and fell into it, letting her legs dangle over the edge. She stared at the ceiling, finding shapes in the bumps of plaster.
So, this was going to be home. No more warm Louisiana afternoons or bright colors of the French Quarter; just quiet rooms and rain.
She sat lying on the bed as the sunlight started to dim, and the rain stopped. She didn't bother moving until the unmistakable sound of a car pulling into the drive broke the stillness. She jumped up, her heart hammering somewhere in her throat, and looked out the window. A black car had parked by the front doors. A tall man in a black suit stepped out from the back, and walked towards the house. Another man came hurrying out of the car, carrying papers and looking flustered.
Ollie pushed herself away from the window and rushed down the hall, to the banister of the stairs and leaned over the railing. The two men were in the entrance now, oblivious to her watching. The man in the suit pulled a pen from his jacket and began signing the papers. The other man spotted Ollie and stared with an odd expression. He mumbled something to the first, whose head snapped up to the stairs.
A small smile creased his face, and beckoned Ollie with a finger, his dark eyes glued to her as she came down the stairs. She felt like her mouth was full of sand. The closer she got to this man, the worse it got. Ollie hit the bottom of the stairs and stood still, feeling like if she got any closer, she would stop breathing. He had her nose, or she had his – and his hair, which was cut so short you could barely see the curls like the ones that bounced around Ollie's face.
"Mr. Stone, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Oliver." Said the man in the suit.
The man standing next to her father straightened up and gave her a half smile. Her dad tucked his pen away, and walked towards her and pulled her into a hug. She went rigid, unsure if she was supposed to hug him back.
"It's nice to finally meet you." He said softly.
"You too," she said.
He quickly pulled away, placing a hand on her shoulder, and nodded his head. "Time for supper. Mr. Stone," he said, addressing to the man still holding the stack of papers, "please join us."
Mr. Stone bowed his head. "Thank you, my Lord."
Ollie stared down at her plate, trying not to make a disgusted face, even though every fiber in her being wanted to chuck the whole meal across the room. Her dad and Mr. Stone were on the other side of (in her opinion) an unnecessarily long table that could fit 20 people comfortable.
Ollie looked up to see Charles leaning over her with a grin.
"Oh, uh… no, I am…"
"You just don't want this."
She looked back at her plate, where an entire bird was sitting on her plate, its dead eyes staring up at her. It still had its tiny feet, which were curled under it like it was sleeping.
"It's watching me."
He chuckled. "Cornish game hen is your father's favorite dish."
"I'm sure it's fine, but why do they have to leave the head on?"
"Is there a problem?"
Charles and Ollie looked up to see her dad watching them. Charles quickly poured more water into her cup and walked away. Ollie smiled and shook her head.
She picked up a fork and pretended to start cutting it up. He turned back to Mr. Stone. Ollie quickly put the fork back down and slumped in her seat, ignoring how badly her stomach was growling. Charles meandered back over, and put a clean dish on the table, quickly taking the one in front of her away. He winked and went back to the kitchen. Saved by the butler.
"Oliver, how was your flight?"
Her dad was looking at her now. Whatever work he'd been doing with Mr. Stone must have finished, because now he was watching her with full attention.
"Long," she said.
He started cutting his hen, staring at her as if expecting more. Ollie bit her lip, trying to think of something to say.
"So, you're a banker?"
He nodded, but didn't stop eating.
"Cool." She drummed her hands against the table, feeling doubly awkward that Mr. Stone was watching. "This is a nice house."
"It's been in the Fernsby lineage for over 300 years."
"Neat." He continued eating. "So… school here ends at 16, right? Does that mean I can start going to college?"
Her dad put down his fork and smiled. "You'll go to finishing school before University, but I'm glad you've brought it up. I've enrolled you in my alma mater, not far from Sevenoaks. I think you'll enjoy it."
"J. Rogers Academy. It's an excellent facility."
"For how long?"
"Until you are 18."
Ollie widened her eyes in disbelief. She was a year from graduating high school at home thanks to skipping a year when she was 7. Now she had another two years of school?
"You know, in the states I could have graduated next year."
"But you live in a proper country now, and you'll be at the Academy until you are 18." He took his napkin off his lap and placed it on the table as he stood up.
Charles stood behind him, with a glass of scotch on a small platter. Her dad took it and walked out of the dining room, with Mr. Stone in toe. Charles looked over to Ollie who was sitting with a disgusted look.
"I'm sorry, love."
"Was he for real?"
"Afraid so. Your uniform came this afternoon."
"Uniforms? Great." She slumped back in her chair. "Does he always get up in the middle of conversation and walk away?"
"Only if he doesn't want to keep talking." Charles said with a grin. "Come meet me in your room, I have something for you."
He left. Ollie pushed herself up and trudged out of the dining room and upstairs. Charles was already waiting in her room with a stack of boxes in hand. He set them on her bed as she entered.
"Go on, open them." He said.
Ollie slid the top off the first box and pulled out a brown material. "It's… a sweater."
"It's part of your uniform." Said Charles.
And sure enough, Ollie noticed a small emblem of a crest crossed by two swords on the left breast. She looked back in the box where more shirts were folded, all in brown or dark green colors.
"Brown and green, huh?"
"It's the school colors."
"Of course it is." Ollie folded the sweater and put it back in the box. "I can't believe I've got another two years of school."
"It will fly by. Before you know it, you'll be back for Christmas holiday and-"
"Wait, time out. What do you mean, I'll 'be back'? Where am I going?"
Charles started at her with confusion. "To school. J. Roger's is a boarding school."
"WHAT! Is there some kind of appeal process?"
This was unbelievable. Just unbelievable! The first conversation she'd ever had with her dad, and he tells her he is sending her away. Why couldn't he have let the judge allow her to live with her aunt? Ollie fell onto her bed, shaking her head.
"Cheer up, love. You'll like it sure enough."
"That's right, says I. Your father means well,"
"He has a funny way of showing it."
"Well, he's a Duke; you can't expect rainbows and picnics. I suggest you pack up your uniform, we have an early rise."
Ollie sat up. "Why? What are we doing?"
"Going to drop you off."
"At the school! No way, it's only August!"
Yes way. And at 9 in the morning Ollie was stepping out of the car with her bags, staring up at the massive estate that was J. Roger's Academy. The car drove off, leaving her to lug all her things up the long stairway.
She started heaving them up, muttering to herself angrily as she went. "Nine in the morning… unbelievable… barely even got in this country and he's sending me out again…. Ridiculous…"
She reached the large doors, where the same crest on her sweater was engraved into the wood. Blown up 100 times the size, she could see the details in the crest she couldn't before. On the emblem was a ship, with its sails out as it sailed on what looked like clouds. The two swords that crossed over the emblem had decorated handles that looked eerily like bones.
"I'll never understand British taste," Ollie mumbled, and pushed a door open.
The Main Hall was cool and dark. All the walls and floors were wooden; the little lighting there was came from torches that hung throughout the room, so their flickering light made the room almost feel like it was swaying.
"May I help you?"
Ollie jumped and turned around to see a fat little man watching her above his round glasses. He had rosy cheeks, and beady little eyes that reminded her of a bug. His grey hair was almost hidden underneath a blue knit cap that fell to one side.
"I need to find the dorms."
"Name?" He said, cocking his head to one side.
He looked at a clipboard in his hand and went down a list with his finger. "Mr. Fernsby's room is up the stairs, on the third floor, east wing, room 307."
Ollie opened her mouth to correct him, but decided she didn't want to know why he thought she was a man. "Er…thanks,"
She picked up her bags and began walking towards the massive staircase that was lined with plush red carpeting. Two floors later, she was heaving for breath.
The rest of the building, thankfully, wasn't covered in wood like some archaic ship. It was considerably modern, with beige walls, and modern art hanging between the doors. She dragged her things down the hall, until she reached room 307 where two plaques were hanging under the number:
That must be my roommate. She thought, pulling the key out of her pocket and unlocking the door.
The dorm was much bigger than she'd expected. To the right were two beds, each with their own night stand, and dresser. On the left side of the room there was a little red sofa that faced a ruddy bookshelf. Directly across from the door was a large window that overlooked the school grounds. Ollie dumped her bags and walked to the window.
Not bad. Not bad at all. It was better than the room at her dad's house, and it wasn't covered in flowery wallpaper. A few people were walking around the grounds below, saying goodbye to their parents and greeting their friends. She noticed bitterly that most had people helping them with their luggage. Several guys below were already in their uniforms. She had to admit, the uniforms seemed to fit the guys much better than they did on her.
She walked back to her bed and unzipped the nearest suitcase. Her eyes widened as she opened it. On the top was a little pink basket wrapped it pink cellophane. She pulled it out and unwrapped it. Inside were bottles and bottles of soaps, bath salts, perfumes, all in bright colors. A little note stuck out from behind a loofa with her name written in a neat cursive. She picked it up and flipped it open.
Oliver, here is a little gift to make your stay more enjoyable. Don't be afraid to be let your feminine side out.
Ollie grinned, as she looked back at the basket. "Charles, you're amazing." She grabbed a large ruby bottle called Cotton Candy, and walked over to the only other door in the room at the back. She pushed it open, flicked on the light and her smile spread ear to ear.
The bathroom was tiled floor to ceiling in elegant pebbles so it looked like little grotto. The tub was almost as deep as it was long. Ollie leaned over the edge and whistled.
"Oh, hell yes." She said.
She turned on the faucet and let the steaming water fill the tub. She unstopped the bottle and poured the soap in the water. It immediately began to bubble in iridescent colors of gold and purple. She turned back to the two sinks, where a long mirror stretched above them, high enough so that she just barely could look into it. Clearly it was designed for people taller than 5'4". She smiled at her reflection, making her amber eyes crinkle. Her wavy hair was the same chestnut color as her dad's, and it fell in loose curls down her back. Besides her dad's hair and little nose, Ollie looked just like her mom who was petite in every way.
Ollie glanced at the bath tub, which was almost full now, and 4 inches high with bubbles. She quickly grabbed a towel from her suitcase, and closed the door behind her. She dipped a toe in the water, and happily stepped in the rest of the way, letting the mountain of bubbles envelope her.
It was like floating in clouds. The room filled with the smell of sweet sugar and fruit. She lifted her hand above the bubbles, examining the trail of purple color they left on her skin. Ollie sighed, and dunked her head under.
The sound of a shutting door shook the water. Ollie popped her head back up, as she listened to the faint sound of voices from the other room. There were several more thuds, as her roommate probably put down her suitcases.
"I think you've been paired with the new student. I dunno anyone called Fernsby."
"That's too bad. I was hoping Allen would transfer over."
Ollie's jaw had dropped. Those were definitely not girl's voices. What were boys doing in her room!
She scrambled out of the tub, leaving a trail of bubbles as she made a dash to lock the bathroom door. She leaned against the wall, and sighed. Her mind was racing. Had she accidentally gone into the wrong room? Was there another Oliver Fernsby, and she was in his room? Ollie grabbed the towel and quickly patted herself down, cursing herself for not bring a change of clothes.
She tied it around her, and pressed an ear against the door. Maybe if she waited, they would leave. Then she could go get clothes, and be able to figure out why they were there. Simple. No need to panic.
"Mate, look at this."
"I think your roommates a puff!"
They started laughing. "Would you look at these? Who where's pants like this?"
"Is that a bra?"
Oh my god! Ollie thought. They're going through my things!
Before she knew what she was doing, Ollie unlocked the bathroom door and marched out to find two guys standing over her open suitcase. One was holding up her panties with a disgusted look, the other holding her bra against his chest.
"What are you doing!" She gasped.
They jumped and immediately dropped her things. She snatched them up and stuffed them back into her suitcase. And then the reality of what she'd just done hit her. She slowly looked up, uncomfortably aware she was soaking wet and in a towel, as her face turned beet red. The guys were looking at her in completely surprise. The taller of the two was gaping at her as if he'd been less surprised if a man-eating leprechaun had come running out of the bathroom. The other, black-haired one just started laughing.
"Who sent you?" he asked. "Are you one of Madison's friends?"
Ollie shook her head, feeling too embarrassed to care to know what he meant.
"Why would they send this?" said the tall one, pointing to Ollie.
"'This'?" Ollie said in disgust. "'This' wants to know why you're going through her things, and what you're doing in her room!"
"My god, she's American!"
"We could ask you the same question, sweetie." Said the taller one. "Did you get lost? You know the girl's school is on the other side of town."
"No, I'm not lost." Ollie snapped, but secretly hoping the driver didn't drop her off at the wrong place as a practical joke.
"So you know you're at J. Rogers, not Lagoon Prep?"
Ollie raised an eyebrow, trying to figure out what their point was. So, if this was J. Rogers, than the only issue was why they were in her room.
"Look, clearly there was a mistake, but I'm not living with a guy, so if you can just take you things, and find somewhere else –"
Both of them raised their eyebrows and burst into laughter. Ollie crossed her arms and frowned.
"Are you sure you know where you are?" asked the taller one.
"Yes," she snapped.
"I don't think you do. You're in the wrong place if you don't have something hanging between your legs. And…" he looked her up and down with a grin. "-judging by what I see, I don't think that's the case."
Ollie's face grew hotter, but she ignored it. "What's that supposed to mean?"
The one with black hair grabbed the welcome letter off her bed and thrust it into her hands. She glowered at him, and tried giving it back.
"Read the envelope."
"I know where I am."
"Just read it."
Ollie looked down at the envelope where the same crest as her uniform was stamped in the corner. Underneath it read:
Jolly Rogers Academy for Boys
Her jaw dropped. The two guys doubled over, roaring with laughter as she tore open the seal and pulled out the papers inside. She began reading quickly, as her heart hammered a million times faster than it's supposed to.
Dear Mr. Oliver Fernsby,
We, at J. Rogers Academy for Boys are thrilled to have you join our school for your junior year…
Ollie stopped reading and looked up in horror. The guys were watching her with giant grins.
"They… think I'm a guy." She said barely above a whisper. "My father enrolled me in the WRONG SCHOOL!"
The burst into laughter again. The taller one ripped the letter out of her hands and read it aloud.
"'Mr. Oliver Fernsby'? Well, there's your problem, you've a man's name!"
"It's our family name!" Ollie snapped, snatching the letter back, but he was right. Her name got her enrolled into the wrong school.
How could this have happened? Was her father that desperate to have a son, or that oblivious that he signed her up to the wrong school? How could he have not known!
Well, she wasn't about to stand for this. She grabbed a dress and ran into the bathroom, changed quickly, and came marching back out.
"Where are you going?" he called after her.
"To find a way out!"
She slammed the door behind her as the boys erupted in laughter again.
Author Note: Thank you for reading, and please share how you feel by posting a lovely comment. Also, don't be afraid to check out my Facebook at Avila Naislin.