Chapter 4 Day 4, 5, 6: The Toast, The Siblings And The Secret Room
The first time Heron said Master, Marcus just thought of it as a joke, but when the demon general started using it almost every time they converse for the next two days, it was beginning to fluster him.
Master here, master there. It made him feel that Heron was taunting him.
He never was once called a Master before, so why start now just because he already has his own home to keep? Another thing is that, Heron for him is his guest. It was the demon who forced himself and wanted to help clean the house and become his butler.
“Quit calling me Master!” that’s what Marcus ordered after his patience finally snapped.
He was in the kitchen early one morning making coffee for himself. He thought that Heron was still asleep, but then he suddenly showed up in a plain v-necked t-shirt and plaid boxers. He offered to heat his coffee with his Hell flames finding the kettle too long to boil and used the title once again with a smug grin.
“Why Master? Don’t you like it?” was Heron’s question then, attempting to take the coffee mug out of the boy’s hand, but failed.
Marcus’ brow twitched. “Obviously,” was his short reply. His anger was inching its way out but he controlled it successfully. “Just call me the same way you did before.” He strolled towards the kettle and took it even though it was nowhere near boiling point. ”Marcus. My name is Marcus, Sir Heron. Please don’t call me Master ever again.”
Heron leaned back on the sink, assessing Marcus’ appearance with delight in his eyes. The boy was half-naked, wearing only bunny pajama pants. In his left shoulder, a Spongebob towel was draped nicely. “Ah, I see that you hate the title,” he voiced out.
Marcus released a grumble. “I don’t hate it,” he replied, turning his face to him, “I’m just uncomfortable with it okay?”
Heron chuckled lightly. “Very well. If that is what you wish, boy.” He straightened planning to make a coffee of his own, but then the doorbell rang twice. “Are you expecting a visitor this early morning?” he asked.
Marcus nodded immediately. “Yes, the plumber. The sink in the laundry area is clogged up. There are also many pipes in this house that needs to be renewed.”
“Ah, so this plumber is going to be here for the whole day?” There was suddenly a change of tone in Heron’s voice and Marcus thought it odd.
“How else would he fix the pipe problems if not?” he pointed and after sipping his coffee, strolled towards the vestibule.
“He?” Heron asked, following behind him.
Marcus thought it odd again. Why was it that he thinks the demon butler was concerned with the plumber’s presence? “Yes, Sir Heron, it is a he. Plumbers are expected to be male,” he quipped.
Opening the main door, what welcomed Marcus was a tall man, as tall as Heron, wearing a gorgeous, bright smile and a gray plumber outfit. He was holding a tool box in his left hand while around his waist was a tool belt. He perfectly looked like a sexy plumber out in a men’s magazine.
“Good morning Mr. Thayne,” he greeted and shot in his right hand in front of them. “I am the plumber from the Home Furnishings Depot. Caleb Winston, at your service.”
“Hi, Mr. Winston. You are just on time,” answered Marcus, awarding him a similar bright smile and accepting his hand for an introductory shake.
“I intend to be Sir. I want to work immediately.”
“Oh, good.” Marcus stepped to the side and gave Caleb a way to enter. “Come in, please. I was just warming myself up. Do you want some coffee before you start?” he asked thinking that it was the polite way of accepting a guest, but then, Heron showed up from behind him and answered quickly before the plumber could say anything, “No, we don’t have coffee anymore.”
Heron stood blocking Caleb’s path to the living room. His eyes were sharp, dictating attention, with his arms crossed in the chest and his shoulders squared.
“Huh?” Marcus expressed, looking at him with bewilderment. He was sure there was a full pack of coffee granules in the kitchen countertop. “But—”
“That’s okay Mr. Thayne,” the plumber inserted, smiling gratefully, “I took my breakfast and coffee already before I got here.” He scanned the opposing butler from head to foot and thereafter smiled as a show of respect.
“Ah, okay,” Marcus sighed.
“You can lead me now to the laundry area,” Caleb then stated.
“No, let me,” Heron smoothly interjected. He wasn’t going to let Marcus lead the man on the laundry room where the hallway was a bit narrow.
“I am Mr. Thayne’s butler, Heron,” he didn’t bow nor offer his hand for a handshake. He just stood there, still showing a guarded position.
“Butler?” without intending it, Caleb voiced out in disbelief. He couldn’t help noticing how unsuitably dressed this butler was.
“Yes, a butler,” Heron affirmed. “Come this way please.”
The plumber cleared his throat. “Right... of course, I’ll be just behind you.”
Marcus watched them as they entered into the staff hallway. Once gone, he went back to the kitchen and returned to sipping his coffee. He took a pack of toasted bread from the fridge and munched on one slice while waiting for Heron to return.
Minutes later, the butler did but he was already wearing a scowl on his face.
“Why did you have to call for a plumbing service when I can do it myself?” Heron asked, standing near Marcus.
The boy raised his face up. “Because it is proper Sir Heron,” he answered in all honesty, “And besides, I don’t think a demon like you knows about plumbing. Seriously, you don’t cook in the Traugott Residence, how much more the other skilled work like plumbing and carpentry which is what we needed here?”
“I consider them mundane tasks for a demon like me to learn Marcus,” Heron replied, “but if those skills are needed to make this house new again, for you, I will learn it.”
Marcus saw the intensity of his gaze. It was melting him again and making his heart swell for no specified reason. Feeling awkward, his breathing began to escalate while his lips quivered. He had to sip his coffee again just so to help him break off the raging heat that was boiling within him.
“That’s kind of you, Sir Heron,” he softly said, routing in eyes on the table, “but let’s just leave it to the professionals. I’ll call on your services if I need them.”
That’s when Heron grinned mischievously. “Oh, you will Marcus.” For some reason, it looked like a threat. He placed a hand on the table and stooped low to whisper in his ear, “I have great skills in other things you know. Other...things.”
Marcus’ face blushed. He leaned away to create enough safe distance. “So, tell me, what is in that secret room of yours Sir Heron?” He wanted a swift change of subject to lessen the tension, but in his haste, he unconsciously picked out another subject that would far heighten the tension.
“Are you ready to be bound and gagged Marcus?” was Heron’s amused question.
“No,” was the boy’s quick reply, still diverting his eyes away from him.
“Then, quit asking about it.”
“I—I am just wondering what’s inside the room that it warrants so much of your secrecy,” Marcus told honestly. He bit off the toast and waited for the latter’s answer.
“Hmf,” Heron released a suppressed laugh, “Quite a curious cat you are huh?” He swiped the toast out of Marcus’ hand and ate it in one full bite, leaving the boy stupefied.
He wanted to complain, but chose not to and instead drank his coffee in one gulp, stood up and said, “I uh...better get back in my room to wash.”
Heron didn’t reply. He watched the boy leave but that was after seeing a red blush painting his face.
By eleven in the morning, Marcus was busily preparing lunch in the kitchen. He cooked meat kebabs in metal skewers, paired it with Greek salad and buttered chicken with mashed potatoes. Heron was out in the front garden, pulling weeds, cutting excess tree branches and doing some basic flower gardening in his butler uniform. Caleb was in and out of the house after fixing the laundry sink, taking newly purchased pipes from his company pick-up truck into the backyard.
“There are only the two of us, why is there a third plate?” Heron asked the moment he saw the full dining table when he entered the kitchen.
“Ah, it is for Mr. Winston, Sir Heron,” Marcus stated smiling brightly again.
“What? Are you offering him lunch now?” was the latter’s reply. His expression turned sour, like he wasn’t good with the idea that another man was to join them in lunch.
“Yes, he has been working nonstop since this morning. It is only fitting for me to give him this incentive.” Marcus placed the pitcher of cranberry juice in the table and wiped his wet hands with the bunny apron.
Such was the set-up of the table and Heron could see that Marcus made it so because of the plumber. He disliked the enthusiastic air that the boy was releasing and he would have complained more if not for the doorbell ringing again for the second time.
“I’ll get it,” he said, turning away from Marcus.
Once he opened the door, he saw a young woman, probably in her late teens, smiling from ear to ear and holding a delicious-looking pie. She looked like a normal next-door girl with a printed, knee-length dress and ponytailed hair.
“Who are you?” Heron clipped, raising one brow.
“Uh, hi!” the young woman greeted cheerfully, “I’m Bridgett, your neighbor. My house is just beyond this corner. Are you Mr. Marcus Thayne perhaps?”
“No, I’m Heron, his butler.”
“Butler?” she hid a laugh, “Is that a trend now?”
The demon’s patience snapped. “State your business, woman.”
“Oh, I...I just wanted to give him this,” she raised the pie higher, “as a sign of welcome in our neighborhood.”
Heron looked at the baked dish blankly, but in the back of his head, his thoughts roamed on Marcus and how he would be jumping out of happiness while eating the food.
“Apple pie?!” Speaking of which...
Marcus ran from the living room to the main door and smiled at the young woman immediately. Heron opened the door wider.
“Uh... you are Mr. Marcus?” Bridgett asked.
“Yes, I am. I am Marcus Thayne,” was his excited reply.
“Oh hi! This is for you,” she handed the pie to him and he quickly took it, “My mother baked it. She said welcome to our neighborhood!"
“Why, thank you,” Marcus stated, eyeing the pie; his mouth already watering.
“You’re welcome,” Bridgett smiled brightly again. This didn’t lighten the sour mood of Heron however. What’s with all these bright smiles this morning?
“Would you like to come inside and share this pie with us? We were just about to eat our lunch,” Marcus offered and then stepped back to show the way.
The young woman sheepishly bowed her head. “No, I don’t think—”
“Come on, I insist,” Marcus interjected.
“Well...” she eyed Heron who was still showing her a grim face and then to Marcus, who looked cute with the bunny apron and then said, “if you say so.”
As she and Marcus strolled inside the living room, Heron released a frustrated grumble. It wasn’t audible though as he did it in time with the closing of the door. He eyed the two and clenched his teeth after noticing how the girl blushed beside Marcus.
“This place is quite comfy,” Bridgett stated after examining the whole of the living room and kitchen.
“Yes, it is,” was Marcus reply. He placed the pie in the dining table and nodded on her way. Heron was a couple of feet away from him now, standing near the sink, listening to their conversation.
The young woman absentmindedly played on an artificial butterfly on top an artificial tulip placed in a vase. “You know, I’ve been living in this community since I was a child and I always thought of this house as a haunted house.”
“Oh, really?” Marcus expressed. He did thought of it too the moment he first saw the house.
“Yes, because it looks abandoned and all. Quite a scary house before you came.”
Marcus chuckled. “Well, I’m happy to ease your fears, Miss...”
“Oh! I’m Bridgett Winston,” she immediately jumped towards him and offered a hand, “I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself earlier.”
“Winston?” Marcus raised a brow. “Mhhmm... are you by chance related to Mr. Caleb?”
The woman’s eyes rounded in puzzlement. “Why, yes. How did you know?”
Marcus released a small laugh. “Well, he is my—”
Caleb’s voice resounded in the staff hallway suddenly.
“Oh! Brother?” she exclaimed as soon as she saw the plumber walk towards them.
“Why are you here Kittykat?” Caleb asked, standing in front of his younger sister.
“Brother, please not that nickname. We are in front of our new neighbor,” she stated, embarrassment etched in her face. “Uhmm... why are you here?”
Marcus stepped in and said, “Well, your brother does the plumbing here, Bridgett.”
“Oh! I see. What a coincidence!” she exclaimed with her hands clasped.
“Why are you here little sis?” Caleb asked.
“Mother asked me to give Mr. Marcus her special apple pie as a sign of welcome.”
“Ah, I see,” Caleb softly laughed, “That’s her alright.”
The trio looked at each other, each one with joy in their eyes.
“Ah, please, Bridgett, you can just call me Marcus. We don’t need to be formal here.” He took off his bunny apron and placed it in the counter. “Now, I guess this calls for a celebration. I have finally made new friends in this place! Please have a seat guys.”
The siblings sat down the dining chair while Marcus took the pie and placed it in the counter to slice it. He looked at Heron who remained quietly standing near the sink and asked,“Uhm, Sir Heron, can you please help me with slicing this pie?”
It was a long stretch of silence before the demon sighed and straightened his back.
“Ah, so now you need me,” he voiced out without a care that their guests were able to hear. Marcus cleared his throat unconsciously. The way Heron looked at him; it somehow made him feel nervous suddenly.
“Okay, I’ll take that,” Heron took the knife from the boy’s hand and sliced the pastry with efficient strokes.
Their lunch went on with Marcus having a great time. Heron however sank into a fouler mood. He chose not to join them in the table and instead do what he does best as a butler: serve his master and guests.
After their merry eating, Bridgett left the house, while Caleb continued on his plumber duties. Unfortunately, with the excess break he had, the pipes weren’t done on time, so he had to come back the next day to finish it for free. Marcus understood the situation and willingly permitted him to do as he wishes.
It was late afternoon when he and Heron left the house by car. They were to buy garden sprinklers and hose in a nearby department store. Heron asked these materials saying he needed them for his gardening tomorrow. He was in the driver’s seat while Marcus was in the passenger side, watching the passing houses outside his window.
“Where are we going Sir Heron? The road to the department store is straight ahead,” said he when he noticed Heron making a wrong turn.
The demon only smiled without looking at him. “I want to go somewhere, Marcus,” he stated simply.
Marcus cocked a brow. “To where?”
“Mhm, you’ll see.”
It was after fifteen minutes when they arrived in their destination. The moment Marcus caught a glimpse of the colorful lights that were on the beams of the huge roller coaster and Ferris wheel, his eyes bulged and twinkled.
“Ooh, it’s an amusement park!” he exclaimed, suddenly giddy with excitement comparable to that of a preschool child. “Is this where we are going?” he asked without looking back at his butler.
“Yes, we are going inside. I have a feeling you would like it,” Heron stated, feeling warm and fluttery in his chest. He drove the car to the parking lot just near the entrance gate of the park.
“How do you know they have an amusement park here?” Marcus asked glancing at him while wearing a wide smile.
Heron turned the engine off and faced him.
“I knew of it already days ago. When I teleported to the Traugott Residence and then back here, I noticed the park.”
“Oh, you went to the residence?” Marcus’ smile suddenly faded a bit. He did not expect his butler to say that at all. “Why?”
“It’s nothing Marcus. Don’t bother yourself with it,” was Heron’s answer. It was a cold one, for Marcus at least. It instantly made him feel insignificant. Unconsciously, he bent his head.
For a moment, his giddiness of seeing the amusement park died down, but then Heron touched his chin, tipped it up slightly and gave him a soft smile. “Hey,” he said, “Come. Let’s do some damage in this park.”
Marcus’ strained a smile. He watched as Heron exited the car first and before he slipped out himself, he heaved a sigh, a long one, to whisk away the sudden insecurity that loomed inside him.
Why was he visiting the Traugott Mansion anyway? Marcus thought. Aurora - his big sis - and her husband, has been very busy travelling the world. Heron had no business to attend to there, so why was he teleporting back and forth?
“Do you want to ride that roller coaster?” asked Heron when they entered the park. The roller coaster ride was the first one that caught his attention as it was ominous-looking. He had been always curious about what it feels like to ride such a thing and why people go crazy over it.
“Sure,” Marcus nodded, looking at him with daring eyes, “do you want to tag along?”
“Of course, I am always up for a challenge.” Heron grinned.
And so they rode the “Roller Coaster of Doom” or so what was written in the signage. After three full cycles, Heron didn’t feel a thing. His face was blank; his body looked relaxed. He was actually enjoying the thrill of the twists and turns of the path. On Marcus’ side however, he looked stiff. His face showed an angry flush; his hands were shaking. Heron enjoyed the look of horror in his eyes though.
Still showing that he had courage, Marcus chose the next ride. It was what the park calls “The Russian Roulette” having only to sit in a metal chair with a single chain as a seat belt and get tossed high up in the air for three minutes. Heron opted out of it, saying it was a ‘mundane’ ride.
The ride went on with only Marcus as the passenger of the two. By the time it was done, his balance was off for minutes that he needed to sit on a bench.
They took many rides after that for the whole one hour; some were simple, some were daring like the roller coaster, but all of them were fun. Marcus had a great time indeed and Heron was pleased with it.
It was after their dinner in a nearby food stall that they choose a shooting game. It was in a stall that offered big stuffed animals as prize for five consecutive clean shots in the target.
Marcus, feeling bold and lucky, went to do it first. Holding the toy rifle in a good angle, he was able to get two straight clean shots in the target.
“Yes! This is fun!” he cried out and then made a small victorious bob of his head.
He shot again for the third time, the fourth time and then the fifth, but all three were a fail. “Oh shoot. It seems my luck has ran out,” he stated sadly.
Heron, the whole time, was just watching the boy, but when he heard his sad statement, a new idea formed in his head then. “Do you want that stuffed bunny Marcus?” he said, eyeing him and then to the big black bunny hung on the farthest corner of the booth.
“Yes, I love bunnies. That’s supposed to be what I want to get if I was successful on hitting the target,” he stated, making a frustrated sigh.
Heron only pressed his lips thinly. “Good,” he said and then signaled the store man to charge the rifle.
After one minute...
“Wow! Five hits in a row!” Marcus exclaimed as soon as the last shot was fired. He almost jumped from where he stood, feeling happy about his butler’s victory. “You’re so good Sir Heron!”
The demon produced a smug face and crossed his arms. “Call on a demon to do the job properly, boy.”
When the store man gave the stuffed bunny to him, he handed it to Marcus with a soft smile.
“Here,” Heron said, “for you.”
Marcus blushed in pink shades. “Thanks.” He took the bunny and tucked it around one arm.
They left the booth, walking into a path that leads toward a secluded area of the park.
“Say, why did you come back on Earth, Sir Heron?” Marcus asked trying to break the silence between them. “I thought you had an army to train there.”
Heron, with his hands hid inside his pants pocket, replied after looking at the dark sky, “I was beginning to get uneasy.”
“Why? Because of Hell’s heat?” Marcus joked.
“No, because a memory of someone kept on popping in my head,” Heron replied with no hint of laughter in his eyes.
The boy’s brows cocked then. For some reason, he felt a pang of ache inside him. “Oh,” he said, “I wonder who that someone is. It must be a maid in the residence right? That’s why you’ve been teleporting there from time to time?”
Goodness! Why does he have to raise that issue up?!
“No, Marcus, you got it all wrong,” Heron replied. Abruptly, he stopped from walking and held his burning gaze on the boy.
“What—what do you mean?” Marcus stuttered, suddenly anxious now. Clutching the stuffed toy tightly, his heartbeat spiked up.
“I don’t have a relationship with any maids, Marcus. That’s so cliche. I had some...things to transfer from there to my new room in your house, that’s why I kept on teleporting to and from there,” he reasoned.
“Oh,” was the boy’s quick reply, “what are these things then?” Although he asked, Marcus expected already that Heron would dodge the subject, but then it surprised him when the demon smoothly answered, ”Things that are inside my secret room, Marcus.”
“Ooohh,” Marcus gulped hard.
Heron stepped closer to him and grabbed his elbow. “Do you want to see?” he said looking serious.
‘Why the sudden change?’Marcus voiced out in his thoughts.
“I don’t—don’t fancy seeing myself bound and gagged, Sir Heron.”
“Oh, no, I won’t do that,” Heron smirked again. “Just promise me that you won’t laugh.”
The boy seemed to thoroughly weigh it then.
“Promise,” he finally said after a minute.
“Pinky promise, Marcus,” Heron stretched out the finger in their front.
Marcus, upon seeing it, suppressed a laugh. “Do demons do that?” he asked, biting his lower lip.
The demon general gave him a vexed expression. His brows twitched and his jaw tensed.
“Okay, okay!” Marcus quickly cried, finding his expression threatening, “Pinky promise. I swear on my grave.”
He connected his little finger around Heron’s and the moment it touched, they were not in the amusement park anymore.
“What? Sir Heron?!” Marcus yelled in panic as complete darkness enveloped him. He could feel that he was in a closed room as the air was warmer as oppose to where they were seconds ago.
“I’m here Marcus,” voiced Heron from his behind. He touched the boy’s waist with his cool hand and that made Marcus jerk in surprise.
“Yes! Yes! I can feel you,” he stated. “Where are we anyway?”
“In your house.”
“What?! We are in my house now?” Marcus turned to where he thinks the butler was standing, and because of that his face bumped into the demon’s chest.
He doesn’t even know that Heron was standing so close to him.
Marcus heard a chuckle then. “It seems you are still not used to teleporting, boy,” Heron stated.
“It is just too sudden. Could you please turn on the lights? My eyes are straining now.”
He felt Heron’s warm chest disappear, replaced by a cold draft and so unconsciously, he bit out a disappointment. When the lights flickered initially and came on, his eyes took in all that was around him with his mouth dropped open.
Heron was standing near the door; his right hand resting in the light switch. His face was devoid of any other expression except for a small curve in the corner of his lips.
“Welcome to my secret room Master Marcus,” was his greeting then.