Home > The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(4)

The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(4)
Author: Ashley Stoyanoff

Angelle shot her a sideways glance. “I think it was on one of your application forms.”

Weird, she thought. Amelia was sure she hadn’t written down anything about food on her applications. But how else would they know?

Angelle ushered her along a hallway that opened up and was naturally illuminated by a wall of windows. “That’s a balcony, obviously, and this is the outside lounge.”

Amelia noticed a shiny pear-shaped glass dome and wiggled her way out of Angelle’s grasp to take a look. “Is that a pool?”

“Sure is. We open the glass in the summer. You were on the swim team at your last school, right?”

“Um, yeah,” Amelia answered. The backyard was huge, lined with more of the beautiful weeping willows. Colorful flower beds adorned every corner of the lawn.

“Come on Amelia, there’s still lots to see.” Angelle took Amelia’s hand again, towing her away from the view.

“Sorry, I just… I mean… It’s just… wow.”

“I know, right? It’s crazy. This is the foyer,” Angelle said, gesturing to the lofty upper floor and grand double staircase that cascaded down to the main level. The stately steps were carpeted in a lush forest green. Above, Amelia observed the sunlight sparkling through four oblong skylights in the turret ceiling.

Angelle pulled her along towards the balcony that overlooked the foyer. “This room is Luke’s. The other two corners are guest rooms.” She looked over at Amelia with a twinkle in her eyes. “And this,” she said, while opening a solid dark wooden door, “is my favorite room.”

“Oh my God,” Amelia gasped as they walked into a two-story oval library. “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’ve never seen so many books in my life!”

All four walls were covered with floor to ceiling bookshelves, painted in a high-gloss black. Recess lighting along the coffered ceiling lit up the room in a bright glow and there were three cozy chairs with exposed legs and velvety upholstery.

“I thought you’d like it.” They went down the spiral staircase in the center of the room. The smell of ancient books mixed with new paper wafted around her. There wasn’t an empty shelf in the room.

At the bottom, Angelle pulled her along. “Wait a minute,” Amelia said, exasperated. “I want to explore. Slow down.” She just knew she couldn’t wait to check out all the books. So many wonderful books.

“There’s lots of time for that later and I really want to show you the rest before dinner,” Angelle replied, tugging Amelia out of the library and back into the lower level of the foyer. She stopped for a second and pointed at a door. “That’s the study,” she said. “Office,” she waved her hand. “And that horrid room is the dining room. It’s so King Edward. We never use it.”

“I’m never going to find anything in this place,” Amelia said, flustered.

“You’ll get used to it,” Angelle replied, taking Amelia’s hand again and towing her beyond the grand stairs. “Over here is another family room. It’s just like the first one and another powder room.” She kept walking, speeding up her pace and Amelia struggled to keep up. “The other stairs,” she pointed to a staircase that looked identical to the one on the other side of the house. “And this is your room.” Angelle reached out, turned the knob slowly, and gently pushed the door open.

“This is my room?” Amelia asked breathlessly, looking around the sleek, fresh room. The beige walls were offset by rich, mahogany hardwood floors. “It’s big enough to be its own apartment,” Amelia said in wonder, and took a few steps into the room. In one corner, a massive bed sat on a raised landing with two steps leading up, covered in a rich ivory carpet. The bed was smothered in a plethora of pillows and a down comforter in bold blues, giving the contemporary styled room a splash of color.

At the bottom of the landing, there was a seating area with two brown leather chairs by a limestone-surrounded fireplace. Above the fireplace hung a large, flat-screen television and the area was brightened by a wall of windows and French doors leading out onto the terrace, showing off a magnificent view of the vibrant gardens and pool.

“Awesome, right? And check this out,” Angelle said, taking Amelia’s hand and dragging her up the steps towards the bed. She swung open a set of double doors revealing a walk-in closet. “That wall is for shoes,” she pointed to the left, “and that side is shelving so you don’t need to clutter up the room with a dresser.”

There was a light knock at the door and Amelia spun around. Eric, all clean and fresh, stood there in her room. He smiled at her, a radiant smile and her breath caught in her throat. “Brought your bag. Where do you want me to put it?” His voice sounded strained.

Amelia tried to think of something to say but nothing would come out. Her brain was clouded by a thick fog. He is just so cute, was the only thought that was surfacing.

Thankfully, Angelle came to her rescue. “Oh, just drop it anywhere, Eric,” she said, waving a hand at him. “And go away. Amelia needs time to get cleaned up before dinner.”

He dropped it at the door, and vanished down the hallway. With him gone, Amelia was able to focus her attention back to Angelle and the cloud in her brain cleared.

Cleaned up? Amelia wondered. She realized what Angelle had meant when she was led through her room and into the attached private bathroom. She took one look in the mirror and was disgusted by what she saw. Her eye make-up was smudged, tear lines ran through her foundation, her hair was a ratty mess and her clothes were all wrinkly. She looked as if she had just crawled out of bed.

“I’ll go find you some clothes while you freshen up.” Angelle glided around the room, pulling out towels, shampoo, conditioner and soap. She filled the over sized circular tub with hot water and added bath salts and bubbles that smelled sweet and almost like pears, all with a grace and speed that amazed Amelia.

“You don’t have to. I have some clothes in my bag.”

“Nonsense. I have too many anyways,” Angelle replied, beaming at her. “Like I said before, I have a little shopping problem. It’ll be good to clear out some of the stuff. Most of it still has the tags on. Someone might as well use them.”

Amelia watched helplessly, wondering why Angelle was being so nice. She was sure at any point Angelle would just throw her out the door and laugh at her for thinking that she actually liked her. That was just the way her world worked. People didn’t actually like her. They just put up with her for the government checks.

The alternative was that Angelle actually genuinely liked her, but Amelia had trouble believing it.

So here she was, in her new room with a wonderful new friend. But she felt alone and scared. Really, really scared. No one had been this nice to her in years. Well, no girl had been. Boys were nice but boys always had some ulterior motive, didn’t they? Amelia hadn’t planned on saying anything but she couldn’t stop herself. It just flowed out like in a mess of word vomit. “Why are you being so nice to me?” she blurted out, and again she blushed, embarrassed. It wasn’t like her to be so blunt. She was usually so shy and quiet.

“Well, that’s a silly question. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Before Amelia could say anything more, Angelle disappeared, shutting the door behind her.

With a sigh, Amelia looked over at the steaming tub filled with bubbles. Her body ached with tension and the water looked alluring. She stripped off her clothes, enjoying the sweet aroma of the bath salts and slid into the tub, immersing herself in the bubbles and warm water.

It was wonderful. The house, Angelle, Eric, Mabel. Dreams really do come true, she thought. She could feel her body start to relax as the warm water soothed her aching muscles. She let the sweet, fruity smells fill her lungs and she lay back dipping her head under. As the tension floated away, her jumbled mind seemed to clear.

Amelia let out a soft, contented sigh and reached for the cloth. She scrubbed the smeared make-up off her face and shampooed her hair. The shampoo smelled sweet, like a fruit punch.

Finally, after, she didn’t know how long, but long enough to be all wrinkly like a prune, Amelia got out of the tub, wrapped herself in a plush yellow towel and wiped down the steamy mirror.

When she saw her reflection, Amelia smiled. She could barely believe that this was happening. She felt happy and an odd sense of belonging. A quick thought crossed her mind, what if the others aren’t as welcoming? But she quickly pushed it away, not wanting to ruin the peace she felt at that very moment.

CHAPTER 3

Angelle, Amelia assumed, had left a stack of clothes on the bed and she picked out a pair of black leggings and an ivory knit turtleneck sweater dress. She put on some make-up and scrunched mousse in her long, curly hair, leaving it down to air dry.

Once she was satisfied with her appearance, she glanced at the alarm clock beside her bed and realized that it was already 4:45.

On her way out of the room, in search for the kitchen, Amelia noticed another door, slightly open beside the bathroom. Curious, she reached in and flipped the light switch. It was an office. A dark wooden desk sat in front of a large bay window with a computer. Across from the desk was a bookshelf with all her textbooks. She smiled, excited to have her own little study place and then, not wanting to be late for dinner because she was sure Mabel wouldn’t be happy about that, she bolted out of the room in search for the kitchen.

Amelia found the kitchen, miraculously, on the first try. But when she came around the corner, veering through the living room, so preoccupied trying to figure out if she was going the right way, she walked right smack into another cute guy. Jeez, is this the attack of gorgeous people? she thought as she looked up at him and mumbled a quick apology.

He smiled down at her, a smile that reminded her of a father looking down at his little girl. She knew he could not be more than twenty-five, but there was something impossibly wise and mature in his eyes. “Hey kiddo,” he greeted, ruffling her hair. “I’m Luke.”

   
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