Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ocean Point - Part 3

As the open door shed more light on her situation, she saw that she was standing beside a sofa. She was able to duck behind it before Christopher turned the light on to examine the room for the source of the noise he had heard. Even though she had reset the lamp and nothing looked out of place, it seemed he needed to check further. As he started into the room Bethany heard Ivy call his name. He shut the door. This was probably the only time she would be thankful for Ivy in her life. In his haste, he didn’t make sure the door latched. It was slightly ajar, giving Bethany just enough light to find her way across the room.

She heard the front doors close. She waited a beat before exiting the safety of the blackness. As she opened the door, the mansion revealed itself in all its glory. She had hidden away, deep inside, her feelings about the place. She had loved living at Ocean Point. It was a grand estate. She and Christopher had no idea that his parents were going to give them the mansion as a wedding present – all that beautiful marble, the grand staircase, more rooms than anyone needed. There was a dining room, a salon, a parlor, a kitchen with butler’s pantry, and 5 bedrooms with attached baths. Everything was opulent, but the most magnificent part of Ocean Point, for her, was the grand foyer. It connected to a large open space from which all the other rooms on the ground level could be entered.

She remembered the first time she’d walked into the grand foyer. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the chandelier. It was dazzling and shimmering like a cluster of brilliant diamonds. She had never seen anything like it. Ocean Point was an old estate. It had been in the Wakehurst family for three generations. Of course the mansion’s electricity and plumbing had been updated completely. The furniture and light fixtures were modern. It was lavish. She knew what it was like to have money, but her parents didn’t live as extravagantly as the Wakehursts.

Being back inside Ocean Point awakened the joy she had always felt living there. Two things she adored the most about the mansion were the walls and the ceilings. The ceilings were filled with painted scenes that took her breath away; the walls with blues, greens, and yellows that seemed to be from some magical color wheel. The colors shimmered with elegance. It didn’t seem possible that one could walk into a Home Depot and have the colors mixed. There were other walls covered in wallpaper that made you want to reach out and touch them. Images of trees so full of ripe fruit that you were sure you could pick it, birds poised to take flight, peacocks with vibrant plumage, beautiful flowers that you were positive you could smell. Of course, the smell was coming from bouquets of flowers that, now, as then, were in every room she had seen, perfuming the air.

She had nothing to do but wait for Christopher and Ivy to return from the party. She made her way across the foyer to the grand staircase. She was torn. Part of her wanted to look through the mansion and the other part was apprehensive. She knew as she approached her old room the memory of that night would flood back to the present. She didn’t want to put it off. She didn’t want the fear to win. She wanted to confront the room just like she wanted to confront Christopher.

She made her way up the stairs, turning back to look over the grand foyer when she reached the top. She couldn’t help but remember during their first year of marriage when they hosted a party. She had watched from the very spot she now stood as her guests enjoyed themselves. She could see it like it was happening right then. The conversations and laughter. The slaps on the back when seeing an old friend. The air kisses, the cheek kisses, the hugs of hello and goodbye. The champagne glasses never empty. The orchestra filling the room with melodies that bounced off the walls. The flowers permeating the air with their ambrosial fragrance. It was a happy time.

There was never any indication to her that Christopher was unhappy, but there were unexplained absences. She didn’t think much of it until those absences became more and more frequent with no real explanation. She had always been able to reach him during the times when no one seemed to know where he was. Always. Until the night she couldn’t. That was the night she started being suspicious of him. She didn’t want to ask him if he was having an affair without any proof, but she couldn’t help feeling that an affair was the only possible explanation.

Bethany knew that Christopher wouldn’t want to be caught, or even suspected of, having an affair. He would lose his inheritance if he got a divorce within the first 5 years of marriage. A stipulation that Grandfather Wakehurst put in his will for all those who inherited his money. Honor and family name were very important. It was no secret, the stipulation. Everyone who married into the Wakehurst family knew about it. What Bethany also knew was there was no clause on the will separating the Wakehurst from his money should the spouse disappear or die.

Christopher loved the affluence that his money and name imparted upon him. His was an old-money world and he wouldn’t endure a hit in the purse. Bethany knew Christopher wanted to have his cake and eat it too. She also knew her trust in him had been broken.

She now stood outside the bedroom door. There was a conscious hesitation before opening it. She wondered if it was the bedroom Christopher shared with Ivy. It didn’t matter though. It was the bedroom he had shared with her. It was the bedroom where he turned his back on her. It was the bedroom where he left her dying. She took a breath and turned the knob. This was no time to be scared. She had long ago put the scared, fragile little girl inside of her to rest. That girl died the night Bethany almost died.

With the door open, she stepped inside and turned on the light. It looked just like she’d left it 10 years ago. Well, not exactly. There was no blood on the floor. But other than that, it looked as if the room had been put in order and then shut away behind the door - still vibrant, still red. He didn’t share this room with Ivy. This room was all about Bethany. It was almost a tribute to her by the mere fact that it was unchanged. It was a shrine; a room no longer in use. Her painted portrait was actually hanging above the mantle. She wondered what it meant that he had kept the room. Was it a trophy for what he had done to her? Could it be that he stole moments away in his life to sit inside this room and bask in the glory of his achievement? Or was it a punishment he kept to remind him of that terrible night? She felt sick, but the real wave of nausea hit her when she looked at the floor at the foot of the bed. She closed her eyes as the present gave way to memory.

She remembered seeing Christopher kissing Ivy. She couldn’t believe he had the nerve to bring her into their home. It was almost like he wanted her to catch him. Maybe he did. She stood frozen to ground for a moment, willing herself not to faint, before turning away. She knocked over a vase as she ran from the scene of the kissing. She heard Christopher running toward the sound of the crash. She turned and saw him see her as she ran up the stairs. When she reached their room she ran inside and slammed the door. It never occurred to her to lock it.

He burst through the door and walked with purpose straight to her. She tried to pull herself together and stop crying before she looked him in the eye. When she did look at him, she saw no remorse. It was a look she had never seen on his face before. He looked angry, pissed off.

It seemed to Bethany a moment of sheer panic. Before she knew what was happening he was choking her. He pulled her to her feet. She tried to pull his hands away, but the man she had never seen be able to stay mad at her, was different, changed. He seemed to be lost in his own mind. She remembered the pain his hands were causing her neck and the struggle to breathe. She was gasping for air. Her head was pounding. The light was fading. She was slipping into unconsciousness, death. Her body began to go limp and the light around her faded to black. And just like that, he let go and her body fell to the ground.

She couldn’t move and was barely breathing, but her assault was not over. Consciousness was returning. She was just beginning to open her eyes. They were no more than slits, but she could see his feet approaching her. Then she felt excruciating pain as she was hit on the head. She knew that she was bleeding. Something must have snapped him back to reality, because he screamed. He dropped the object and didn’t hit her again. His primal, agonizing scream was the last thing she remembered as the blackness consumed her once more.

Bethany snapped herself out of the painful memory and back to reality. With her right hand she wiped a single tear away from her cheek. She let her gaze move around the room, then she settled on the bureau. More precisely, she settled on the crystal candlesticks. She knew without any proof that it was one of the pair that had been his weapon of choice. She wanted to walk away from them, but her curiosity made her walk toward them. As she was about to pick one of them up she heard a voice behind her.

“Who the hell are you?”

She turned to see Ivy standing in the doorway…

Part 1
Part 2

©2010 Michael Rohrer

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ocean Point - Part 2

With her dark glasses firmly in place, she opened the door to the Mayfield Inn. She was prepared for Mrs. Mayfield’s questioning eye, but it was a non-issue. Mrs. Mayfield was not working behind the desk. It seems after 20 years the owner had decided to take some much deserved time off. She had hired someone Bethany had never seen. That worked in Bethany’s favor. There was nothing to hide. Bethany had made the reservation using a fake name and paid in cash when she registered.

Bethany didn’t anticipate being in Somerston very long. When she got to her room she opened her solitary suitcase. Along with the clothes she had a photo album. It had been an impulse to bring it. She wasn’t even sure why she still owned it. Once she looked at it in the suitcase, the feelings that she had had upon seeing Christopher made more sense. She did still feel love for him.

The album was of her wedding day - memorabilia that should have been destroyed years ago. As she opened it, the first page was her wedding invitation. She remembered the day that she and her mother finally came to an agreement on what it should look like.

Bethany smiled when she thought of her mom, particularly at that moment. They both gave a little. But compromise is what it about. She got to have everything in lowercase and her mother got the design she thought both elegant and modern.

As Bethany turned the page, the photos were nothing new. She had seen them all before - professional shots, as well as, candids from that glorious day. There was no rain, only sunshine and beauty. The September air was perfect. Dusk with a breeze, candlelight and every white flower available. The gardens at Ocean Point had never been more beautiful. There was no expense spared. Her parents gave her the wedding of her dreams. Maybe even of theirs. Christopher was her love and life. Her white knight. And as cliché as it might sound, he was ever the charming prince. Loving, caring, handsome, with a beautiful smile, and arms made for holding her. She found herself smiling, lost in the moment. She had to focus on her reason for being there. She stopped smiling, closed the album and her eyes, and then took a deep breath.

She placed the album back in the suitcase making sure to place it under her clothes so as to keep the sentiment in her heart from longing to see it again. To regain her focus, she opened a small case and took out the vile of clear liquid. As she looked at it, her lips formed another smile. This time she thought the smile was appropriate.

She didn’t want to waste another second. It seemed like as good a time as any to put her plan into motion. There was no need for her driver. She was perfectly capable of driving to Ocean Point. Besides, this was her quest, her journey. She needed to take it by herself. She got behind the wheel and gripped it. She found that her nerves were much less prevalent than when she first arrived in Somerston. There was a sense of calm and peace about her. She started the car and pulled out of the parking lot of the inn and drove toward the water and her destination.

Bethany knew exactly where to park so the car would go unnoticed. She had been keeping up with the news in Somerston for years. The annual Peony Ball was being held that night. The hosts lived next door to Christopher and Ivy. It would be easy to slip into the line of party guests waiting to have the valet park their cars.

When she arrived at the valet stand, she was asked to present her invitation. Undeterred, she began to search through her bag for it. She knew it didn’t exist, but they didn’t. She could hear the orchestra playing inside, a beautiful song she couldn’t quite place, but knew she had heard before. Just then, a gentleman gave her a claim ticket and jumped into her car and drove it away. No one seemed to be paying much attention to her or the fact that she hadn’t produced an invitation. Bethany wondered silently if the staff had been informed that the rich don’t like to be kept waiting. She walked away while a melancholy horn from the orchestra played As Time Goes By in the background. She finally recognized the tune. She thought to herself that time had gone by, but tonight was now.

The first part of her plan had gone almost exactly as she’d pictured it. She hoped that Christopher and Ivy had already arrived at the party. She knew they would be invited. It was inevitable. The scandal of their marriage had long died away and their money had ingratiated them right back into the society that once shunned them.

Some things never changed. Christopher only left the lights of the gate on when he was not home. Everyone in Somerston knew that. He wasn’t the cleverest of men. She smirked a little at his ridiculous ability to be so predictable. She slipped through the side door of the gate and made her way up the driveway toward the side of the house. He felt secure enough behind his large gates that his grounds went unpatrolled. If she knew Christopher, and she already knew that she did, the door off of the side garden would be unlocked. It had always been unlocked. Knowing him so well was going to make this easier than she thought.

She eased open the door. The room was black and empty of people. As she stepped inside and closed the door she found herself engulfed in the blackness - blackness as dark as she presumed her revenge-filled soul to be. The layout wasn’t exactly as she remembered it, which made sense to her. It had been 10 years after all. She bumped into a table and nearly toppled the lamp. She stifled the need to scream, but couldn’t stifle the curse word that passed her lips. As she was readjusting the lamp, a light came on under the door across the room. They weren’t gone yet. She froze for a moment, unable to breathe. She heard the door opening and saw more light filling the room as the opening got larger. The outline of the person opening the door was Christopher. She was sure of it. She wished there was a penny to see and pick up from the floor because right now she needed luck to find a way out of this situation or everything she had planned would be over before it started…

Part 1

©2010 Michael Rohrer

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ocean Point - Part 1

When the Rolls Royce came to a stop, the dream she had been dreaming vanished like fog after sunrise. She was finally here. Back in Somerston, Rhode Island, parked in front of Ocean Point, the place where it happened. Her nerves were showing themselves, but her excitement was more present than her fear.

As the haze of sleep disappeared she looked out the window of the car. There he was, Christopher, unloading suitcases from the trunk of his Mercedes. She couldn’t help but wonder where he’d been. Where they’d been. She wasn’t prepared for the rush of feelings that washed over her when she saw him. She thought it would be nothing but anger, but after 10 years she was surprised to find remnants of love mixed in with the anger. It was anger that made her upper lip curl in disgust, that knotted in the pit of her stomach; but was it love that made her heart beat a little faster? Maybe it wasn’t love. Maybe it was just adrenaline. Whatever it was, Bethany was not prepared for any other feeling but anger. She had a plan and she had to stick to it. There could be no thinking with her heart, only with her head.

She had seen enough. She asked her driver to take her to the inn once Christopher was inside the house and couldn’t see the car drive away. She didn’t need to see him anymore and she certainly didn’t need to see Ivy. Seeing Ivy might make her retch in the back seat of the car. Ivy Ashfield was the woman that Christopher has married after her “death.” Ivy, it could be said, was the person Christopher had “killed” her for.

“Beautiful socialite Ivy Claire Ashfield weds Christopher David Wakehurst in a garden ceremony on the grounds of the Wakehurst Estate, Ocean Point.”
It was hard for Bethany to remember a time when that headline wasn’t burned into her brain.

The headline and all the pain connected with it suddenly became less important when she arrived at the inn. She had been missing and presumed dead for the last 10 years. She made her reservation under an assumed name. In keeping with the anonymity and secrecy, she wore a large hat and sunglasses. None of that changed the fact that she was back in the town where she’d grown up and “died.” She knew most everyone and they knew her. Keeping her time there a secret was going to be difficult and she knew it.

Ten years isn’t really that long when you think about it. Things hadn’t changed that much. She recognized the voice of the owner of the inn when she made the reservation. Mrs. Mayfield had owned the Mayfield Inn for at least 20 years. Returning to her hometown was painful enough. Without her parents to turn to, the Mayfield Inn was the closest thing to a home she could think of.

She wasn’t sure how anyone in Somerston would feel to see her again. She wasn’t sure that anyone would even recognize her. She hoped they wouldn’t. It didn’t really matter though. She didn’t need their love, respect, or approval. What she wanted was revenge…

©2010 Michael Rohrer