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Eyes Open - Part 12
Published Nov 11, 2011


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Written By

Milii454

Storyteller
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Get up, get out, get away from these liars
'Cause they don't get your soul or your fire
Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine
And we'll walk from this dark room for the last time

Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
'Cause I need you to look into mine

Snow Patrol, ‘Eyes Open’

Get up, get out, get away from these liars
'Cause they don't get your soul or your fire
Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine
And we'll walk from this dark room for the last time

Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
'Cause I need you to look into mine

Snow Patrol, ‘Eyes Open’
Anna basked in the sun, watching the clouds pass overhead, racing each other across the light blue sky. She leaned back on her arms, sighing as the gentle breeze ruffled through her hair.

She wasn’t sure what this feeling was, it wasn’t quite happiness and defiantly wasn’t sadness. But it wasn’t a joy; just a feeling of relaxation.

She was content here.

But she wasn’t used to being just content.

She got up and walked back into the house. The autumnal leaves had begun to turn and the mornings had a frosty haze hovering above the dew on the grass. The air was crisp and the sky an unseasonably bright blue.
At the same time, Kathy was standing at the back door, watching her strange aunty Anna watching the clouds. She did some very insane things; painting squares, taking random photos, watching clouds, gaining ‘inspiration’ for some fluff that she was going ‘create’.

The young girl cocked her head and focused her eyes. Aunty Anna’s hair was cut short and she looked like a boy.

Kathy giggled at the thought and skipped over to the other patio door to greet her and ask her about her strange hair.
Anna escaped up to the observatory tower after being bombarded with questions by an annoying small child. She knew that she couldn’t blame the child, but her curiosity was going to kill the cat.

Light steps sounded on the metal spiral staircase and she groaned. If Kathy wanted another interrogation then she would have another thing coming.
Macy popped her head over the top balustrade and saw Anna trying desperately to escape onto the balcony. She laughed and Anna jumped, surprised to see her rather than her inquisitive little daughter.

“It’s alright; I’m the bigger version of Kathy.” Macy called as she reached the top step.
Anna just rolled her eyes, a silly sense of relief flooding her.

“She’s a lovely girl, but sometimes....” Anna shuffled a little.

“It’s ok Anna; I know that she’s a little nightmare.” Macy laughed, “Anyway, I came up here to tell you that I have got you a job.”

“A... a job?” Anna stuttered.
She knew that she’d been growing bored in the house, but the thought of leaving the comfort of the manor scared her. To work for a stranger, in a town that she didn’t know, with a job she probably wouldn’t know how to do.

Macy touched her arm gently.

“It’s with my mom, don’t panic. She owns an art consignment store over the river next door to the school. It’s a twenty minute drive away. She wants you to go down there tonight to discuss your role and your pay; all the boring bits basically.”

Anna nodded. A job was a job after all.

But she still wasn’t that confident.
The twenty minute drive took ten, much to her disappointment. Parking up in Macy’s borrowed car just down the road from the address she’d been given, she stepped out the car. A cool breeze ruffled her hair a little more, and a chill rose along her exposed arm. shivering, she surveyed the building.

It was a peculiar little place. It looked like a barn on the outside, but through the slatted windows she saw a panelled interior and strange scrap metal sculptures that turned and glittered in the night. The bushes in front of the building swayed and rustled in the breeze, and the old wind tower behind the barn creaked gently.
Pushing the door open, she was pleasantly surprised by the warmth the large open plan room had. A scent of paint, clay and burnished metal melded together. It was oddly nice.

Like coming home.

“Hello, Anna, is that you?” a feminine voice called down the stairs, the voice accented by a light Middle Eastern accent.
The voice’s legs suddenly appeared on the spiral staircase, a pair of nude heels, followed swiftly by slim brown trousers, which were splattered in paint. A deep brown apron wrapped itself around the woman’s tiny waist, paint, clay and a variety of other materials caked themselves over it. She wore pale blue shirt beneath that, open at the collar with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. She was tiny and slim, but looked relaxed. Her eyes, a turquoise blue, flicked around the room. There was an intelligent mind behind those deep eyes. Her streaky grey hair was pushed back from her forehead, her nose was slightly hooked, her lips thin and her skin a tan colour which was lined and wrinkled in the corners. She smiled widely at Anna, her eyes glittering, the wrinkles deepening around her features. She set a book down on the nearest counter that she’d carried with her; the title in a foreign language.

“Ah, you’re exactly as Macy described to me! My name is Khilda, I’m Macy’s mother. Come up to the office Anna, there is much to discuss, with little time before I have to leave.”
The two women sat in the office. It was wood panelled, like the rest of the building. Khilda settled into an antique armchair by the windows and indicated to Anna to sit down on the one adjacent to hers.

“So, you’ll be working as my customer liaison manager, 5 days a week. The pay is 500 simoleons an hour. You’ll be responsible for the valuation, acquirement and private sale of the art or inventions. If you want you can have a company car free of charge.” Khilda said, getting right down to business.
Anna just gaped at her.

“500 simoleons? And a company car?”

“I can pay you 700 and take your hours down to 3 days a week if that’s better for you?”

“No, Khilda, it’s amazing. 500 simoleons? Wow.” Anna was in shock. This woman had more money than sense.
“Can you start tomorrow?” Khilda pushed.

“Of course!” Anna said breathlessly. She just couldn’t believe it.

“Good. Here’s the address that you have to go to tomorrow; get Macy to take you there tomorrow whilst I sort out your car. Oh and give Max this note, that’s the customer you’re going to see tomorrow. Max has a painting of a horse I’d like; he hates the thing so he should part with it. But Max is even more stubborn than my daughter so it might be a struggle.”
As quickly as they’d sat down, they were standing up again.

“I’m sorry to cut this meeting short, but I have a very thirsty husband at home who needs his dinner.”

Anna smiled at her and nodded her head. As they walked back to the stairs, she noticed a large photograph on the wall.
Khilda noticed her looking.

“That’s my grandson, Cobalt, when he was just a little toddler. His birthday is next week, we’re throwing a party. You should come.”

“I’ll be sure to be there.”

Khilda’s eyes glazed over with memories as she looked at the photograph.

“There’s nothing more important in this world then family Anna. Nothing what so ever.”

Khilda snapped out her of her memories and lead Anna to the door, switching off the lights, turning on the alarm and locking the door after Anna left.
Anna drove home in the dark. A few droplets of rain pattered onto the windscreen. A sudden realisation washed over her.

Did Khilda say that her husband was thirsty?

She laughed at herself. Khilda must have just said the wrong word. What was she thinking? Khilda’s husband wasn’t a vampire! They didn’t exist!
Macy drove Anna to the address on the piece of paper Khilda had given her the previous night. Macy had smiled when Anna had told her of the peculiar meeting with her mother, and laughed when she described her mother’s speed.

“My mother is a rather... elderly lady. She doesn’t like hanging around.”
Macy wasn’t going to tell Anna that her mother was once a mummy and ‘elderly’ was over 3000 years old. Macy pulled up on the curb opposite the farm. It was covered in trees, with a huge lake and a vast paddock. A small house and yellow barn sat in opposite corners of the lot.

“Call me when you’re done.” Macy called as Anna climbed out the car.
Anna walked along the pond and the fence of the paddock. She stopped to watch a man riding a horse.

The horse trotted up to the jump and sailed over it with ease.
The rider had evidently spotted her as he pulled the horse up after the jump and trotted it over to the gate in the fence. The rider dismounted and led the horse out of the paddock and began taking all the horses tack off.

Anna walked over to the rider, who heaved off the saddle and let the horse wander into the adjacent grassy paddock.
“Can I help you?” A voice asked, deep and with the same country twang as Macy.

The rider turned towards her. Beneath the helmet, was a man. He had a shock of red hair poking from under the helmets brim, and stubble dotting his cheeks and chin; the shade not unlike her own natural colour. He was lithe but well build, his upper torso wide and bunched with muscles beneath a grubby shirt. Water trickled down his legs and arms; the horse hadn’t quite made the water jump successfully and splashed the man.

But the thing that drew Anna to him was his eyes, a dark emerald green. His face was set, but his eyes twinkled with a hidden knowledge and mischief.
“I’m a representative from ‘Khilda’s Art Gallery’.”

“You mean ‘Khilda’s Consignments and Arts’?”

“Yes, that’s one.” Anna mumbled a red flush passing over her cheeks. How on earth had she forgotten the stores name?!

“What’s your name?” He probed.

“Anna.”
“Oh, so your Khilda’s illusive niece. Whole towns been talking about you; apparently your bright green with seven eyes. Stupid Hillbillies in this town.” He said gruffly.

“Khilda’s niece?”

It took Anna several moments to work out what he meant by ‘Khilda’s illusive niece’. Of course, she was meant to be Macy’s cousin, which made her Khilda’s niece!

“Oh yes, dear Aunty Khilda! How silly of me! Mind went completely blank! The one who owns the consignment store...” Anna laughed nervously.

The rider looked at her, wondering if this woman was all there if she couldn’t remember who her aunt was.
“I guess you’re here about the art portrait then?”

“Oh, you must be Max then!”

Max just sighed internally. Khilda had sent him a nutcase.

“Let’s go inside, I have to change so you wait in the kitchen.”
Whilst Max went to shower and change, Anna sat at the table, mentally banging her head against the table. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

How could she blow her cover that easily? She needed to think clear her head.

The dog yawned in his basket and began panting. Loudly.

It didn’t help her head to clear.
Max walked into the kitchen, changed out of his riding gear. He patted the dogs head, put his damp clothes on the stand and sat next to her, a slight smile on his face.

“So Khilda’s sent you to get my watercolour then?”

“Errr...” How could he make her so tongue tied?

He just laughed.
“I don’t want any money for it. She can have it; in a while, after one condition.”

“Oh ok then. What condition?” Anna asked and settled back.

“I’ll let you know in a while.” He said with an infuriating smile, “So, how long have you worked at Khilda’s?”

“This is my first day.”

“Oh. Well this is going to be easy commission for you.”

“I don’t get commission.”

“Oh.”

Another awkward silence.
“What was it like growing up in Egypt?”

“It was... Hot and... sandy.” Damn it why hadn’t Khilda and Macy prepared her for this.

Another silence.

“Speak some Egyptian; I love it when Khilda does that.”

“I’m rubbish and rather rusty.”

“At speaking your own language?”
Max gave up. This woman was unbelievable.

“Alright, I’ll let you out of your misery.”

Anna would have given anything to not do that condition.
She sighed grumpily. It was just typical that she’d be given the weird case for her first job.

Pulling on the hat, she straightened the jodhpurs and stomped out the room.
She knew that Khilda knew that this was the condition, Max had laughed at her shocked expression when he’d told her what it was.

She yanked open the door and walked over to where Max was standing, in the far corner of the lot.
The horses were tethered up to the fence posts, the Paint that Max had been riding earlier eating hay and the other, a cross breed, pawing at the ground. Max watched her approach and called out to her.

“Talon,” Max pointed to the cross breed, “Is my champion racer. He’s won 6 international standard races. He’s perfectly safe; I’ve tacked him up for you.”

“You mean... I’m going to be riding the horses?!”

“Of course! How else did you expect us to exercise them?” Max said, aghast.

The condition which Khilda had implicated was that to get the watercolour, she’d have to find somebody to help Max with the horses. Every day for the next three months. Anna wasn’t exactly pleased.
The horse bowed his head and nuzzled her hand. Apprehensively, she touched his forelock. He was such a calm horse, not at all skitterish much to her pleasure.

She couldn’t wait to go much to her surprise.
They walked the horses down the road, away from the farmstead. Max limped as he walked, dragging his ankle. Anna wondered why.

They stopped at a quiet crossroad. Cicadas began chirping in the long grass and a dog barked in the distance.

Max placed his hands on Anna’s waist and helped swing her up onto Talon’s saddle. She swayed slightly, not expecting the height of the horse as Max mounted and clicked the Paint, called Plum, into a gentle walk.
Talon followed close to Max and Plum without much prompting, and seemed to enjoy the gentle walk, his head bobbing gently, and a spring in his walk. But Anna found the rocking of Talon slightly nauseating, and she kept slipping around the large saddle. Some time and a numb bottom later, Anna was growing more and more frustrated with each passing second.

“Where are we going?” She snapped.

“Getting saddle sore?” She could hear the smirk in his voice.
They trotted on in silence; Anna stropping, Max admiring the blanket of stars that coated the sky. They stopped in a pasture down by a river.

“We’re here now.” Max said with that irritating grin.
He had to look away to stop himself from laughing at Anna trying to dismount. But couldn’t hold the laughter in when she began wiggling her legs.

She responded with a glare.

He dismounted and the horses began to graze.
“Why are you so horrid to me?” Anna asked pouting.

“I’m not horrid. I’m just an old man who finds an inexperienced woman rider funny.”

“Oh, so you’re saying that women cannot ride?”

He sighed, not bothering to rise to the argument and shuffled back over to check on the horses.

“What’s wrong with your leg?”

“That’s a rather personal question don’t you think?”

She looked him right in the eye. Anna had the most amazing, deep, innocent green eyes.

“I was a pro athlete, on the starting team, a star striker and perfect player. Then in one game, a bad tackle sent me sprawling across the field. It shattered my leg bone and almost all of the ones in my foot. I was in a wheelchair for a year and a half and I sunk into a deep, deep depression. I don’t know what I’d have done without Travis. He helped me through it. I had to get a job at the local business office which I hated; I wanted to be outside, running around, adrenaline pumping, not pushing papers and making coffee all day. They said that if I recovered properly then I might get on the bench again, if they repaired correctly, but my ankle had always been an awkward area, never fused properly. And that’s why I cannot walk properly.”

He turned, setting his jaw. He hated talking about his ankle; it made him think about the life he’d lost.
He whistled for the horses who came trotting back.

They mounted the horses and Max kicked Plum into a gallop.

Much to Anna’s disgust, Talon thought this was a race.
They got home just before midnight.

Max watched as she patted Talon on his flank. He felt a sense of pride in his horse. Talon was used to himself, but he coped well with Anna.

And Anna, contrary to her own opinion, was a good rider, not many people could have galloped for that long without falling from the horse.

They unsaddled the horses and put them in the stalls. They changed out of their riding clothes and began the drive home.
They’d barely made it halfway down the road before the truck spluttered and died.

With no phone signal, and the evening rain beginning, the pushed the truck to the verge and walked back to the house in silence.

Max showed her the spare room, found her one of his mother’s old nightgowns and bid her goodnight.
Max lay on the bed in his childhood room, listening to the rain patter against the slates on the room.

He pondered Anna. Such a strange, strange woman.

Rather like her aunt.

But still, something didn’t seem right.

He switched off his light and pulled the covers over him, Anna’s eyes dancing against his imagination.
Anna awoke early in the morning, a mist clinging against the window outside. It was quiet, not even the morning bird song could be heard here. The dog had snuck in during the night and was curled up at the foot of the bed.

Anna changed and walked out onto the dewy grass, enjoying the calm of the morning.
She walked out to the stable and let the horses out, who were pawing at the hay strewn floor.

Her phone buzzed, the caller ID reading ‘Khilda’.

“Hello?”

“Did you enjoy last night then?”

“Well, it was interesting to say the least...”
Max leant against the wooden post holding up the porch roof, watching Anna brush down Plum.

His phone buzzed in his pocket and he smiled at the caller ID.
“Hello Khilda. Smart plan, she is my type, but you cannot borrow my truck, break it and then force her to stay the night again you doddering old matchmaker. She’s going to be here for three months and no longer; she doesn’t like me.”

The cackle down the end of the phone made him grin.

“Oh let an old lady have her fun...”
Meanwhile, in a solitary jail cell.......

The orange jumpsuit clashed horrendously with her hair.

And it was greying, quicker than she would have like.

With a frustrated click of the tongue, she moved away from the chipped and broken jail mirror.

She sat on the bed, the ancient rusting springs creaking below her slight weight.

She sat for a while, in silence.

Then laughed.
Years? Phah! Only two and a half! She was getting out in three weeks due to good behaviour; however it was more like the need for more jail cells.

But she didn’t care. She was getting out of this hole.

Out of this jumpsuit.

Her stupid daughter.

She thought of Laura every day.

Little reckless darling.

Thinking that she could stop mummy.
She was probably a million miles away, on a beach.

Laughing at the fact that she outsmarted mummy.

But she couldn’t remember the poverty she had used to live in, or the pain.

Everything she’d ever done was to avoid putting her adored children back into that poverty.

She remembered the times she’d had to go and beg to Laura’s genetic father for food when Laura was a toddler, before she’d married Stiles.

Jared didn’t care; “Starve to death! And take the brat with you” rung through her ears.

She closed her eyes.

The anger surged.
The silly girl thought that she’d put her away; but for a lot less then she could have ever imagined.

Because she wasn’t stupid.

Stiles had signed everything when they got married; the business was in his name and his falsified signature on everything. She used a false paper trail; implementing the other branch leaders, who got longer, stronger sentences and taking herself out of the equation to reduce her involvement.

But they were always disposable.

She was disappointed with her son though. A rare visit now and again, no desire to restart the business off his own back; at least he’d married the right woman and had started her legacy with her first grandchild.

But she had a new, adoptive son, who visited her religiously each week, who would help her instigate the business again, her genetic son the leader, the adoptive son the right hand man.

And the right hand man controlled everything.

She’d be home soon.

She’d find Laura.

And Laura, little precious Laura, wouldn’t cross her mother ever again.
If you reach this page; THANK YOU! I know that this is a massive chapter, but the characters just kept talking, silly simmy’s. Thank you all for being patience with the wait as well; real life is messed up at the moment unfortunately, so a very big thank you to you all.

Images 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16 – “Fashion Ikon Outfit” by ESsiN
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#1HellsaintNov 11, 2011

WOW!!! What the heck is going on?! Khilda was a MUMMY?! And may be having a vampire for a husband?! \:eek\: \:eek\: And then trying to matchmake Anna to Max... What speed!! *shock* Next, a certain someone is plotting schemes and pulling strings... Oh jeez, what a mess but great suspense! New love and old enemies... Very well done. I love this chapter, great job Milii!

#2eviNov 11, 2011

Amazingly complicated!\:rah\: i love this chapter!

#3fabrizioammolloNov 13, 2011

Congrats on the feature! It is a very interesting chapter! It seems that Laura could have found a new home after all. Obviously Claire is still plotting and playing along, but she could find out that Laura's new friends are much more difficult to defeat. :P

#4spitzmagicNov 14, 2011

This was a fun chapter. I just love the new family *Anna* is staying with..oh Clair wicked wicked woman \:eek\: can't wait to read the next one. \:rah\:

#5spladoumNov 15, 2011

Ha, that's the Jared I know and love in a twisted wrong way. \:D "Adopted son," eh? ... who took Claire on as mama? Yeesh, I shudder to think of it ...

#6martoeleNov 15, 2011

Great chapter and you make good use of the 'Pets'-possibilities. Congratulations for having had the story featured. \:cool\:
 

#7fruitopiaVIPNov 16, 2011

\:rah\:\:rah\:  

#8urm0mNov 25, 2011

Eek watch out, Clair's about!

#9taxa08Mar 15, 2012

\:cool\:

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