Chapter 7: Love is All There is

Dressed in pajamas and a pink silk robe with matching slippers, Chantal sat in the parlor room and worked on a sketch while she anxiously awaited Sierra’s return. Peering through her black rimmed eyeglasses behind a peek-a-boo wave of her dark hair, she used a soft graphite stick on a piece of drawing paper and filled in the shadows of a person’s face.

She dropped the graphite stick and jumped up immediately with the drawing still in her hand and walked to the foyer when she heard the sound of keys unlocking the front door. As she pulled the front door towards her, Sierra pushed it opened.

Chantal seemed relieved. “I started to worry,” she said.

Slightly out of breath, Sierra rushed in and went into the kitchen without breaking her stride. She took a 20 ounce bottle of water from the refrigerator and began drinking it. Then, she walked over to the dining table and removed the leather satchel which was slung over her shoulder. Chantal followed closely behind her.

“Where have you been? It’s pitch black out there.”

“It’s the weirdest thing,” said Sierra as she wrapped her dark long curly hair up in a chignon. She took the folded blueprint of Brooke Manor out of her satchel and opened it on the table.

“What is weird?”

“Well, as I finished my inspection this evening, I saw Devlin walking towards the tall row of hedges that surround the property in the back. I don’t think he saw or heard me because he did not respond when I called out his name. So, I followed him on a path into a cemetery right here on these grounds where he literally vanished. Just like that, there was no sign of him at all.”

“I hope nothing happened to him,” said Chantal.

“Wait, what cemetery? You never told me about a cemetery,” she said wide-eyed.

“That’s because I did not know there was one here,” said Sierra. She reviewed the blueprint methodically without blinking. “Everything here suggests the property line ends where the extensive hedge of trees begins, eight to ten miles from the main road.”

“Is it a public cemetery?” asked Chantal.

“No, I don’t think so, it’s too small. There were only a few gravestones and a small mausoleum with maybe one or two burial chambers inside.”

“Could you read any of the names on the gravestones or go inside the mausoleum?”

“No, I wanted to, but it was getting dark so I decided to leave and come back here. Tomorrow, I will go into town and visit Leslie Brent to find out what he knows. I’m sure Devlin just forgot to include the information for the cemetery in the packet that he mailed to me. Do you want to come with me into town tomorrow?”

“Thanks, but I’ll go with you another time. Devlin and I made plans to have a picnic lunch.”

“You like him very much, don’t you?”

“Yes I do, he’s enchanting and we have fun together. We had a marvelous time today. It was a Kodak moment when I offered him some potato chips with his sandwich. You may not believe me when I tell you this, but he did not know what they were.”

“Really?” asked Sierra noticing the drawing paper in Chantal’s hand. “What’s that?” she asked pointing at the drawing.

“Oh, take a look and tell me what you think.”

Chantal held up the portrait of Devlin’s face that she was sketching. Sierra studied it closely.

“It looks just like him and you’ve captured that inscrutable look in his eyes perfectly. You definitely have our father’s gift as an artist. Has Devlin seen this?”

“No, it’s a surprise, I’m sketching it from memory so I need to spend more time with him to finish it.”

“Sure, you do. I know he will adore it. Well, I’m going to get ready for bed now.”

“Do you want anything to eat?”

“No thanks, I ate a granola bar earlier. Goodnight.”

“OK, I’ll see you in the morning,” said Chantal.

Later that night Chantal had a dream that deafening howls of wind raged with heavy rain and caused large swathes of destruction in a small town. Giant waves from the ocean surged and traveled inland off the coast and began to flood the area. As gallons of water spilled into a mansion, a young man went desperately from room to room opening doors searching for someone.

“Christa!” he shouted when he entered the last room. ”There’s not much time! Where are you? Christa!”

“I’m over here,” said a beautiful young woman with a soft gentle voice barely heard amidst the violent clapping sounds of the shutters slamming in the wind against the broken glass in the windows.

With tenacity, the young man followed the sound of her voice. Tragically he found her, impaled against the wall by a steel pole in her chest that blew in through one of the windows. Blood oozed from the corner of her mouth, and blood stains drenched her pastel colored floral print dress.

The young man froze for a second in shock. Then, he ran to her and began to reach with his hand to extract the steel pole from her chest. His father walked up behind him and grabbed his hand away from the steel pole.

His father stopped him and shouted, “No son! If you pull that out of her now, you will hasten her demise. You do not have much time with her. Flood-waters have covered the floor and risen quickly. Use this moment to say goodbye to her.”

“No, she can’t die! I have to save her!” The young man shouted without ever taking his eyes off Christa to look back at his father.

“Darling, please, love is all there is, and our love will never die,” she said. Tears streamed down her face and moistened her lips that were starting to turn blue. “Now listen to your father and get to safety. I love you.”

“I will always love you, said the young man crying, and he kissed her on the lips before she took her last breath and died.”

A wave of water crashed into the wall of the mansion and the young man ran.

Chantal began screaming in her sleep and shouted, “No! No! Help them! Save them!”

The shouting awakened Sierra who leaped to the floor out of bed and ran into Chantal’s bedroom to console her. She leaned over Chantal and gently shook her awake.

Chantal looked up at Sierra with tears in her eyes and sobbed. Sierra sat down on the bed and placed her arms around her.

“It’s OK dearest. Everything is fine. It was only a bad dream. That’s all it was,” she said and she rocked Chantal to sleep again.

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