Knowing she was upset from a bad dream the night before, Sierra took great care not to awaken Chantal when she quietly opened her room door and saw her in bed sleeping peacefully the next morning.
Dressed in faded blue jeans and an old T-shirt, she walked downstairs to the kitchen, and poured water into a black cast iron kettle to make tea. As the water boiled, she sat down at the kitchen table and placed a cell phone call. She reached out to Leslie Brent, the engineer that did the property inspection of Brooke Manor, to inquire about the cemetery.
His phone rang a few times before he answered it.
“Good morning Leslie, it’s Sierra Rhys.”
“Hello Sierra, it’s nice to hear from you.”
“How are you?” she asked.
“I’m fine. What’s up?”
“I was hoping to set up an appointment to meet with you at your earliest convenience to review the blueprint for Brooke Manor.”
“Is something wrong?”
“Not exactly, I just have a few questions about a cemetery located behind the property. It took me by surprise when I saw it because I had no idea it was there,” she said.
“OK, may I place you on hold to take a quick look at my calendar?”
“Sure, that’s fine,” said Sierra. She walked over to the stove and poured hot water from the kettle into a cup. She added two lumps of sugar and a single serving mint tea bag and made her tea.
“Thanks for holding. I’m available this morning between ten o’clock and twelve o’clock if you would like to meet then. I can drive out to Brooke Manor.”
“That’s nice of you, but I need to pick up a few items from the store. I can meet you someplace in town.”
“OK, there’s a coffeehouse called Café Noir located off the highway in Mystic Woods, ten miles north of the farmer’s market that we stopped at when you and Chantal first came to town.”
“That’s perfect. I could be there at eleven o’clock.”
“I will you see then.”
“Great, see you then.” said Sierra.
“I should hurry, it’s already nine thirty,” she said to herself as she placed her cell phone down on the table and sipped her tea.
Then, she heard a knock at the front door. She went to the foyer, and peered through the window. She saw Devlin standing outside holding a bag of groceries and an older woman with a stern look on her face clutching an old-fashioned hobo bag.
Sierra opened the door.
“Good morning, please come in,” she said.
“Hello Sierra,” said Devlin. “This is Ella, the housekeeper I told you and Chantal about when we first met. Her family has served the Lloyd family for years.”
“Ella, this is Miss Sierra Rhys.”
“It’s nice to meet you Miss Rhys,” Ella said in an English accent.
“The pleasure is mine. You may call me Sierra. Let’s go into the parlor room and sit down. May I get you anything to drink?”
“No thank you.”
By then, Chantal had awakened and gotten dressed. She walked downstairs looking for Sierra, and found her with Devlin and Ella in the parlor room. They all stood up to greet her as she entered the room. She was wearing a pink flowing ankle length skirt and a pink blouse. Her black hair, styled loosely, had curly wisps that framed her face. Devlin never took his eyes off her.
“She reminds me of Christa,” he said softly to himself. “She is Christa.”
“Did you just say something?” Sierra asked turning to Devlin.
“Good morning everyone,” said Chantal.
“Dearest, you finally woke up,” said Sierra. “Have a seat here on the sofa next to me.”
Chantal sat down and Sierra held her hand.
“Chantal, this is Ella,” said Sierra.
“I brought her here to prepare our lunch for the picnic. She’s available to do housework if you need her,” said Devlin.
Chantal was silent. She stared in wonder for a moment at the tall portly woman whose gray hair, combed back, was neatly tucked into a bun. There were two prominent wrinkles in the middle of her forehead. She had crow’s-feet near the outside corners of her eyes, slightly hidden by a pair of rimless frame eyeglasses with a curved earpiece on each side that wrapped around the ear. Dressed in an all black old-fashioned maid’s uniform, she wore black opaque stockings and a pair of black leather rounded toe shoes.
Devlin’s dressed as usual, she thought.
“It was sweet of you to bring her,” said Chantal.
Ella was spellbound. She recovered, looked at Devlin, and said, “What an uncanny resemblance?”
“I know,” he replied.
“Pardon me,” said Sierra. “I do hate to run out on everyone, but I have an eleven o’clock appointment scheduled in town this morning. I need to go change clothes so I can leave soon. It was nice to meet you Ella. Chantal will let you know if there are any chores to do.”
“Thank you,” said Ella.
“Goodbye Devlin, “ said Sierra walking away.
“Wait, where are you going?” Chantal asked.
“Do you remember the discussion we had when I came in last night?”
“Yes, oh OK, tell Leslie that I said hello.”
“I will,” Sierra said with a wide smile before she went upstairs to her room.
Devlin told Ella about the menu items for the picnic. He had seemed aloof and uninterested during Sierra and Chantal’s discussion about last night, although he listened to every word.
“I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, but what are we having for lunch?” asked Chantal.
“It’s a surprise,” said Devlin.
“Come young lady, let’s go in the kitchen and let Ella cook breakfast for you,” said Ella. She seemed to take an instant liking to Chantal.
In no time at all, Ella cooked a hearty breakfast for Chantal.
Meanwhile, Sierra drove into town alone.
I’m glad I remembered the route Chantal and I took from the farmer’s market to Brooke Manor, she thought. She pulled up in front of the coffeehouse.
She looked at her watch and said, “I’m a few minutes early.”
Then she got out of the car and went inside where Leslie waited for her at a table for four in the center of the café. When he looked up and saw her, he waved his hand for her to see him. She walked to the table.
Leslie pulled out a chair and she sat down and joined him.
She smiled. “Hi Leslie, it’s so good to see you again.”
Suddenly, before she could get comfortable, someone tapped her on the shoulder from behind and asked, “Sierra Rhys, is that you?”
Sierra turned around.
When she saw who it was, she asked with a shocked look on her face, “Miles Banks, what are you doing in Mystic Woods?”
Then, he asked, “Where is Chantal?”