Fire burned through me, pulsing through my veins, racing towards my heart. I writhed as the heat coursed along my limbs. Cooling hands touched my skin, a tender voice penetrated through the fire. I couldn’t make out the words but I knew that they meant to help me.
I sank back into graceful oblivion, away from the fire and pain.
Sunlight hit my face as I rolled over. I opened my eyes and squinted in the bright light.
Where was I?
I pushed myself up with my arms. But they shook as they tried to hold my body weight.
What was wrong with me?
I collapsed back on my pillows. Pillows? I twisted my head and studied my bed. Or whoever’s bed this was. It defiantly was not mine.
The four posters where made from some dark wood and stretched up towards the ceiling. Blue cloth hung from each post, covering my view of the ceiling. Curtains were tied back around the scroll worked posts. I felt behind me and tried to count the pillows. At least five from what I could feel.
I swallowed and felt the dryness of my throat. I tried again to sit up.
“Easy, miss, let me help you.”
The maid that I had first seen came into my view.
“What...” I swallowed and tried again. “What happened to me?”
“Why, miss, don’t you remember?” The maid helped me sit up and held a glass of water to my lips.
I took a sip. “Not really.”
“You came here with a bullet inside of you. You’d been shot.”
I closed my eyes and laid back on the pillow. Slowly the memories came back to me. The running, the message, the music, the shots, the men.
“Truscott.” I twisted my head trying to spot my faithful dog. “Where is he?”
“He’s down in the kitchen, charming the cook. He’s gotten fat. But every day he comes up here and sits with you for hours. The first few days he wouldn’t let anyone touch you. We had to get a couple of the gardeners to come up and take him away so the surgeon could work on you. Even then he paced outside your door, growling at everyone. Oh, look at me babbling on. I’m tiring you. Here, let’s get you settled back and when you wake up again I’ll help you to the bath.”
“Wait, who are you?” I stretched out my hand to her.
“Oh, how silly of me. I’m Elise. And you’re Crystal.”
“How do you know?”
“The envelope we found in your backpack, it gave us all your information.”
“Where am I?”
Had I fallen among thieves and robbers? But I couldn’t of. The music had been coming from this house. I had heard it. And just as I was about to speak I heard it again. That music, I had heard it before. That song, but it wasn’t the same player, it wasn’t as sweet.
“Who is that? Who is that playing?”
“Why, that’s Miss Savannah,” Elise said. “Now you lie back down and sleep. You need more rest.”
I allowed her to tuck me back in. I was tired. How long had I been here? Was my family okay? Did they know where I was?
But my body betrayed me and slipped back towards the darkness. I heard the click of nails on the floor and then a wet nose pressed against my neck. I smiled and rolled towards the comforting warmth of Truscott.
The next time I opened my eyes a girl with blond hair curled into ringlets sat in the chair beside my bed.
“Hello,” she said. “I’m Savannah Brooke.”
“You’re the one who was playing that music,” I murmured.
“Music? What music? I was playing the piano.”
“The day I came here, I followed the sounds of your music. You were playing that day, weren’t you?”
“The day you came here no one was playing. At least I wasn’t.”
“Grandpa told me to follow the music. It led me to you. Does a man named Dante live here?”
Savannah looked at me in surprise and wiped my brow with a soft, white cloth. “Dante’s my brother. Don’t worry; the envelope from your grandfather is safe in his hands. Are you thirsty?”
I nodded and watched as she glided gracefully across the room. Her dress was long and form fitting. Something like they would have worn back during the civil war, minus a few petticoats and the corset. It was a dark pink and it swished as Savannah walked back towards me.
She returned with a glass and helped me sit up. I took the glass from her hand and drank half of it with one gulp.
Savannah raised an eyebrow.
“What?” I looked from the glass to her and back again.
I gulp the rest of the water down and handed the glass back. I settled against the pillows and studied Savannah. Her eyes where blue like the cobalt blue bottle Quincy had. Her hair was golden like ripe wheat.
She tipped her head sideways and I could tell that her perfect skin wasn’t natural. She obviously used make up and a lot of it. I touched my skin, roughened by the wind and sun, freckled but still smooth.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” Savannah asked. “Is there something wrong?”
I pushed the blankets down and swung my legs over the side of the bed.
“What are you doing?” Savannah stood up, backing away from the bed.
“Getting up. What does it look like I’m doing? I’m fine. I need to go home. Thank you for everything. I’ll get the money back to you somehow.”
“What do you mean you’re going home? This is your home now.” Savannah took a step towards me.
I snorted and began to search for my clothes. This place had a million drawers. There were two dressers, each with six drawers. The wardrobe thing had three and another table with a mirror had some too. But none of the drawers revealed my clothes.
I turned to Savannah and propped my hands on my hips. My legs had begun to shake and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold on to this charade much longer.
“Are you okay?” Savannah asked.
“Yes, of course.” I was not going to admit to this perfect person that I was in pain and that this wound was much worse then I wanted to admit. “Where are my clothes?”
“What? Those old rags you were wearing? We threw them out.” Savannah took my arm and tried to draw me back to the bed. “Come on, you need to rest.”
“Those where my best pair of jeans and my favourite sweater. You shouldn’t have done that. I need those clothes.”
I was scared now. My family wouldn’t be able to do much longer without me. How long had I been here?
“How long has it been since I came here?” I allowed Savannah to lead me back to the bed.
“It’s been three weeks.”
I turned to her, my knees weak. I sank to the bed and stared at her. “What? Three weeks. I have to get out of here.”
“Why?” Savannah sat back in the chair. “Why do you want to leave?”
“I have to get home. I need to get back to my job and make money to help pay for things.”
“This is your home now, Crystal.”
I shook my head. “My home is in the east slums on East Third Street. Not this place. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I’m going home.”