The Only Female
"Who did you say dropped by earlier?" Karl asks over dinner.
"Thomas D. Said he's your friend. Is he?" Alice ask back. She turned a page while waiting for Karl's answer.
Karl nodded sullenly.
"Yes. Thomas is a friend."
"I see. A couple also dropped by. Their name is Melinda and Devin Armstrong if I'm not mistaken."
"Melinda is Thomas paternal aunt."
"I see. They didn't seem too friendly. Did something happen between them?
Karl suddenly had turned quiet. Alice closed her book and look at him.
"Well?" she ask. Karl put down his fork before taking a sip of his water.
"Something happen to Thomas parents a couple of years back. The D'Artaganan was caught swindling the money that was supposed to be a donation for Hurricane Suzzane. They denied it of course, but the Commitee have all the prove so there nothing more they could've said. Thomas parents was taken away and never been seen again."
"I see. So that happened... Hold on... Did you just say 'D'Artaganan?"
"Yes. Thomas is the son and only child of Vincent and Ingrid D'Artaganan."
Alice had turned quiet. She suddenly begin remembers something on the night she met Karl. The debutante ball and lots and lots of dancing. Then, it all come rushing to her like a flood. The highest bidder who ask her hand in marriage. There's only two, a tie between The Vakross and D'Artaganan.
She choses The Vakross because it was easy.
Somehow, the suitor she had tossed away had come for her rescue. Alice couldn't help but feel like a cruel irony at play.
"You seem awfully quiet. What's on your mind?" Karl ask after a pregnant pause. Alice shakes her head.
"Nothing... I was just thinking."
"About what?" Karl ask and put the meat on his mouth. He chew it slowly while watching her face.
"The debutante ball. The bidding... How I choose the Vakross over D'Artaganan. It's all coming back to me now." she answer. He nods.
"I see. And do you have any regrets or unresolved issues regarding that?"
"No. Not really. Why you ask?"
"I don't know. He's tall and pretty good looker. He could be your type." Karl added. He poke on his tomato in a hurry before putting it in his mouth. Alice tap her fingers on the top of her book and replied,
"Sure, he's a good-looking guy, but I hardly know him at all. Also, looks alone is not enough to make him my type."
"So what's your type then?"
"I'm asking about your type because I'm curious." Karl said nonchalantly. Alice frowns. Asking a personal type of question like that is so unlike Karl. She didn't quite know how to respond.
"Well, I... I'm not sure myself." she said. Karl raise an eyebrow.
"Come on... Everyone have a type. Surely not even one? "
Alice think for a while. Slowly, she turned her gaze towards Karl who is busy breaking his bread.
"I'm not sure... Someone like you maybe?" she replied after a while. As soon as she says that, Karl almost choked on his food. He rubbed his throat and frowns.
"You don't mean that." he said, grimly. She shrugged.
"Why not? I married you, didn't I?"
"That's different. You don't have much choice. You do it simply just to get away." he answered for her. Alice look at him for the longest time. Then, she break into a smile,
"No. I can tell you Karl that that wasn't completely true." she said. Then, she grabbed the book on the table, stand up from the chair, and left to her own bedroom. Karl didn't see her for the rest of the night. While spending the rest of his night, Karl find himself pondering at her last word.
It's a brand new day when Alice decides to step out from the home that she and Karl shared together. The day is bright and Alice is excited to finally embarked on a solo trip to the library. Alice loves reading and usually Mandy would be the one whom pick up and borrowed new books for her.
Now that she's gone - Alice have no choice but to learn how to do it herself.
Picking up books in the Ventaga library can be a bit daunting because of the amount of books they kept there. Over 5 000 books and each occupants can check out for more than a dozen, if they want. Alice find herself puzzled and daze over the sight of books. She didn't want to make any mistake, so her eyes begins to scan the blurb and covers.
It's no use. This is still proven to be too much for her. Her head feel spinning.
As Alice put some of the books back on the shelf, she begin to take interest in a book on the other shelf. The book title, 'How to stop worrying and start living' sounds as bogus as it comes, but that that moment - she's curious to read the content. She extended her hand to grab on the book and her finger accidentally touches another person.
When she lifted her chin, she realize that that person is Thomas D, Karl's friend.
"Why hello there. Fancy meeting you here." he said with a smile. Alice retrieve her hand back and hide it behind her back. He grabbed the book and handed it to her.
"Here. Looks like you gonna need it more than I do." he said. Alice frowns her forehead.
"Are you making fun of me?" she snapped back. He immediately shakes his head.
"No, of course not. I wouldn't dream of it." he added. She take the book and begin to inspect it. A few suggestion in there seems to interest her. But, she doesn't wanna look too absorbed by the book, so she clasped the book and put it in her basket.
"I take it that you going to check out that book, huh?" he asked. She didn't respond and begin to look at another book. Thomas, however - isn't done.
"Look... Alice. I think we start with a wrong foot."
"Really? You think?"
"Yes. I can sense that you're mad at me. May I ask why?" he ask politely. Alice stopped walking. She slowly turned to him before putting down a basket filled with books she's going to borrow.
"I don't know what you're talking about." he said. Thomas left out a sigh.
"Really? You gonna give me that?" he asked back. She nodded. He shakes his head. Then. he smiles.
"Sorry if I seem too forward. I know you made your choices already and the shipped has sailed... But I think I like you, Alice." Thomas said with a straight face. Alice frowns at him.
"Yes, it's true. I have loved you from the first moment I saw you at the debutante ball. I learned that I almost come close in winning your hand in marriage... That's until you made your own choices. Why did you choose Karl and not me, Alice?"
"I... don't see how is that your business." she shot back. He chuckles.
"True... But, I also know something about the relationship between you two."
"What do you mean?"
"I know you and Karl are not married out of love, are you?"
"So what? There's a lot of arranged marriage in Ventaga. It's hardly a surprise if sometimes some of us don't like each other." Alice tries to defend herself. Thomas shakes his head.
"But that's not what surprised me, Alice. What surprised me is that the two of you were presence on the day Mandy Abermore was killed."
"That... That's absurd. We're never there!" Alice shouts back. Thomas quickly put on finger on his mouth, signaling her to keep quiet.
"Shhh... You don't want anyone to know about this too."
"What are you talking about?" she ask back. Thomas look around him uncomfortably. Then, he says;
"Well, isn't it obvious? The day that you find out that she's dead - I was there too." he replied calmly. Alice continues to look at him in disbelief. Then, slowly - she can feel her stomach sank.
"Come, let's talk about this somewhere else. I know a place." he said and offers his hand. Alice wasn't sure why or how, but she remember taking his hand and walking quietly to the private room inside of the library.
-End of Chapter 10-
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