Chapter 4:

The Guest

Tempest and Temptation


"Davyid!" Lady Sutherton desperately searched for her husband. She moved violently in her pursuit, her heels ramming against the floors as she darted past various corridors running around the house. As fast as she moved, it seemed she just couldn’t seem to pin down her husband’s location no matter where she hunted.

“Have you seen, Lord Sutherton?” she asked a nearby maid dusting off a vase.

The maid shook her head, watching puzzled as Lady Sutherton continued to rush like a woman without a head.

"Davyid?!" she shouted, increasing her voice with every shout. "Davyid!" She went from room to room, bursting open door after door.

“Have you seen my husband?” She anxiously questioned every person she passed by. “Have you seen, Davyid! Has anyone seen my husband!” she screeched like her throat was split open.

The truth was startlingly clear to her that something, as per usual, needed to be done about their daughter, and it needed to be done immediately.

"Davyid?" She pushed open his study quarters to reveal a brightly lit and well-decorated room; along with the golden glazed walls rays of sunlight flowing in from the windows. And there was the pleasant smell of fresh-brewed tea and pressed quill ink in the air. Yet, she could not and would not be pleased by the sights or scents.

Desperate, she went in circles around the room searching for a hint of the square outline of his figure, the thick smoke trails of his cigar, or the cold glacial sound of his taciturn mechanical voice.

"How convenient, Mister Ezra.”

Chills. She got cold chills upon hearing a familiar man’s voice.

“Davyid?” she questioned, finally finding her husband. Her eyes followed the study’s open veranda patio doors.

He was seated at the outdoor roundtable. It was something she handpicked out herself. She thought the chalk-white roundtable and ornate chairs were perfect for the setting; upon stepping out from the study one would enter a garden enclave area. There were white rose bushes, white marble stone walkways, and the occasional flight of the manor’s snow-white doves.

She had planned the whole area out even going as far as to help breed the doves herself. The intent was to create a place of refuge for her husband from his work. Yet, she never once expected to find him in such a place.

In fact, she was a little more startled by the sight.

“Davyid.” She approached him, confused about his location yet relieved to finally find him. “What are you doing here?”

She examined his face for signs of illness, but then she caught sight of papers in his hands and more documents on the table. Had that not been there she would have found more terror in that than the situation with her daughter.

“You know, I have been looking all around for you!” she snapped, still shaken and struggling to catch her breath.

Silent and unresponsive, he gradually set his sight on her. For a moment, he observed her and after that moment, a disapproving furrow scrunched up his frown.

The woman was the epitome of disaster; her once neat and silky pressed-down brown hair stood atop her head with a life of its own. Spikes of wavy brown strands were a ratted nest sticking up left and right, while her bangs were splattered on her forehead. Stress lines dotted her exhausted face. Her makeup was smudging and smearing, leaving pigmented streaks on her cheeks and lips. Her clothes were no exception. On her dress, deep wrinkles were forming, and sweat leaked into the expensive sheen of the fabric.

He could not describe her as a mess---she was much worse than that.

“What is the matter, Anya?” He looked away, his voice unfeeling and without concern.

"Reynolds," she weakly said, struggling to catch her breath. "…Reynolds he….” She placed a hand over her chest trying to calm her heaving chest. “He quit!” She broke into shards as she released the words. “Tell me Daviyd, what are we going to do now?" She put her hand over her mouth, nearly ready to faint.

“Reynolds quit?”

“Yes!”

“Hm.”

She fluttered her eyes, panicked. "You need to send a message out to some of the emergency staff, right now! We can't possibly let her stay here alone. The whole manor would be in disarray! We can't go anywhere if we don't find a replacement immediately. There needs to be someone watching her, because well?" She stopped, fluttering her eyes again.

He was not looking at her. Nor did it seem like he was even listening to her.

Instead, he was looking through some documents on the table and pausing every few seconds to sip tea.

"Pardon me, Davyid but are you not hearing how much of a problem this is posing? I mean, what if she started making a fuss? For heaven's sake, it can't be good knowing who she takes after!" She placed the back of her hand against her forehead, worries continuing to pour out in front of her quiet husband.

"I just had the rooms rearranged and the décor swapped for the fresh season, and it was a lovely perfect thing!” She covered her face, rubbing her eyes.

Her tongue was dry, and she was desperate in need of a drink. “Wine please! Somebody get me some wine!” She sighed, rubbing her eyes again. “Oh sweet, sweet, sweet holy, I'm already getting a headache and I don't know how we're going to fix this. There's no way we're going to find anyone who's qualified, equipped, and capable of handling this on such a brief notice." She groaned, hands still over her face. "This is all a mess. She's making a mess of everything!"

“Anya relax your nerves.”

She released her hands from her face. “Relax my nerves?” She widened her eyes, anxiety rising. “How can I do that, Daviyd? How? How could I possibly do that when there’s the matter about Sabina and now about Erina." She locked eyes with him, her voice wobbling and lips trembling. "So, how can I relax my nerves?"

Lord Sutherton sat his cup down and stood up.

"Anya." He placed a hand on her shoulder, surveying her carefully.

She met his eyes and assumed his stare to be softer than in actuality. Just the sight of a comforting gaze was enough to give her all the strength she needed to speak.

"Davyid." She heavily sighed. "Oh, I don’t mean to run my mouth at you. It’s just…the way things are right now? You must do something because you promised me---no, we promised each other." She looked into his eyes. "You have to fix this, and perhaps fixing it starts with accepting Master Privy's offer. I know you have your thoughts about him, but it would mean Erin is the least of our worries. Do you understand what I’m saying? We must do anything we can to make everything perfect again. Yes?" She fell into silence, waiting for a satisfying answer, but a rude awakening was all she received.

"Enough, Anya!" he spat, his gritty voice snapping at her. "Compose yourself. You're always so temperamental over nothing." His grimace was starkly present. “Either cease your anxious fit or depart from me. I will not be interrupted while I’m handling some important business between---.”

"Business, business, business!" she cried. "You always find time for business! But what of other things? Her breath heightened. “You can’t ignore what must be tidied and fixed! Enough of the talk on business and fix this because truly, I didn't marry you all those years back for any such burdens!"

"And, I didn't marry you to hear your mouth.” He scowled.

She felt his glare and her boldness was quick to dissipate. "I'm sorry," she said, lowering her voice. "I'm so sorry. I wasn't trying to upset you, darling." Her mouth grew dry. "I didn't mean to speak out of line, I merely got carried away with my emotions. You know how prone I am to such womanly flights of fancy. Don't be mad at me, Davyid, I just---."

She gasped as he suddenly forced her into a seat at the roundtable. “Davyid I---.”

"---Mister Ezra, forgive her rambling, this is my wife, Anya Sutherton. I meant to introduce her sooner than later, but as you can see, she loves to babble."

Lady Sutherton blinked as stared at a young man seated at the table in the seat across from her. She had not even recognized the presence until her eyes gravitated to him.

"It's alright," he lightly chuckled. "Greetings, Lady Sutherton." He smiled generously at her. "It's wonderful to meet you."

She furrowed her brows, blinked a few times, glanced at her husband, and back to the man.

Sunlight from every window gravitated towards him; the bright glowing yellow streaks wrapped around him, hugging and kissing his features, giving him every bit of a heavenly glow. Outside, the cotton blue sky was gleaming, not a single cloud blemishing it. She was certain she even heard a few chirps of birds dancing nearby, like some angelic choir of nature.

"And who would you be?" She blinked again.

"I’m Ezra Radcliffe, wonderful to be acquainted with you, Lady Sutherton. Sir Berkely sent me." He offered his hand, stretching over the small diameter of the roundtable.

"Sir Berkely sent you?" she questioned, eagerly accepting the warmth of his hand.

"Yes." He nodded with a gentle smile. "As I was telling Lord Sutherton, Sir Berkely was unable to come due to a family emergency. He sent me in person to let you know that his emergency domestic services will be unavailable until he returns."

"Family emergency? Oh my, I hope he's alright," she said, concern filling her eyes.

"Yes, luckily it was nothing too grave. Just a slight tragedy that happened."

"That sounds terrible, Sir Berkely has been so good to us." She lifted a service bell that was in the middle of the table and give it a few rings. "Something to nibble on? I see you have not yet anything to eat with your tea, and I've been waiting for a drink myself."

"Thank you, that would be lovely." He nodded. "I was just speaking to Lord Sutherton about your home. It's magnificent and befitting of your family."

"Ah, thank you. Everyone mentions that. But forgive me?" She stared at him, the tenderness in his eyes single-handedly moving the tension around them. "How long have you been working with Sir Berkely? I can't believe this is the first time I've seen your face."

Her worries she packed away, and she quickly gave her complete attention.

"It's been about a few weeks now. I have yet to be assigned to anyone, so I've just been seeking around for work before Sir Berkely sent me here."

"Really?" She took in the sight of the young man closely, taking in a clean and proper figure. He seemed like a golden object wearing a crown of friendship and cordiality.

"But you're quite young in age,” she said, stunned.

He chuckled. "I think I get that a lot."

"Huh.” Her eyes were glued. "Fascinating, that is."

Lord Sutherton found a seat next to his wife, before glancing at her with an apathetic stare. "Before you interrupted our conversation, we were talking of a possible business relation."

"Business?" She raised her eyebrows.

Lord Sutherton glanced at the young man, and then back to his wife.

“Here.” He handed his wife a thick stack of documents from the table.

"What's this?" She opened the folder, bouncing her eyes from her husband and reading. "Trained at the Queen's Domestic Service Academy? Qualifications from Norman and Bishop?" A puzzled look consumed her as she absorbed the information with debilitating shock. ".... And oh my." Her eyes jumped back and forth from the paper to the young man.

As she continued reading, a maid entered the room, bringing in a cart of more refreshments and light snacks.

Lord Sutherton waved her over. "Send for Lady Erina," he said to the maid before having his cup refilled. He took a sip, patiently viewing his wife's perplexing stare as she read.

Her hands shook, eyes traveling slowly on the page, a nervous laugh escaping. "Mister Ezra, you seem to be..." She dragged her words, trailing her eyes from the pages to him. "Very talented." She flipped through the pages. "Very so." She sat the papers back down and blinked.

“Thank you.” He smiled.

"What is this ‘business’ relation you have with us?" she questioned, enjoying his smile.

𝕾𝖍𝖆𝖑𝖑 𝖜𝖊 𝖈𝖔𝖓𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖚𝖊?

Hungry Sheep
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