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Chapter 8 Her Surroundings

  • ‘Wine? Wow.’ Eloise hadn’t thought of that for a long time, her general menu being mostly water. Suddenly, she can almost taste her favorite Chateauneuf-du-Pape. She will definitely have to check out that wine cellar. She pulled her mind back to the room and noted that Anna was leaning against the marble island with a little smile on her face, giving her a moment.
  • Anna continues. “I generally do the cooking. It’s pretty exhausting, but it is part of my duties and making sure you’re comfortable here.”
  • That’s another comment that makes Eloise realize she’ll be here for a while, and her mind once again fills with questions. She really needs to start talking, but the wall she has built up for her own protection won’t allow her any wiggle room.
  • “Come, let’s move on.”
  • She followed Anna into a grand living room with a view of miles upon miles of land that weaves throughout the mountains. It is hard to comprehend where she was, but this place is spectacular.
  • Eloise was born and raised in New York City, so all this land is fascinating. The living room has high ceilings with wooden beams and an enormous fireplace. Everything is either dark wood or stone.
  • The couches are red, with large black blankets draped over the top. A huge tan rug with black thread woven in a native pattern sits in the middle of the room, tying together the decor in the sitting area.
  • Despite how massive the room is, it has a cozy feeling. She noticed a patch of fluffy white fur on the floor by the couch leg. Someone must have a pet.
  • They move into the dining room and face the same beautiful view overlooking the lake as the kitchen. A giant wooden table that looks like it seats at least thirty takes up most of the room, with three cast iron chandeliers hanging above.
  • She also noticed a security camera tucked near the ceiling, and she quickly looked away, not sure who was watching her.
  • On the top floor, Anna shows her all the bedrooms, including hers. Next, they head to the bottom floor, down a flight of stairs near the kitchen. There is a game room, indoor pool, workout room, and an entertainment room. She noted how supersized everything is and began to feel a bit exposed. She wanted to find a small room and wrap herself up in a blanket.
  • On their way back to the main part of the house, Anna pointed to a shorter hallway and told Eloise this is where Pierce works, his office being at the end of the hall.
  • “He works a lot, but he’s around for dinner and most evenings unless he’s traveling. If you’re afraid you’ll be lonely, don’t be. This place is always crawling with people. Some are friendly, and some don’t talk that much. You’ll learn who’s who. When you’re in this business, you see many things that can change you.”
  • Eloise was not utterly blind to the fact that their job must be high-risk and dangerous. She just wished she knew if it was legal.
  • “So, you take a left out of your bedroom, down the stairs, and another left to the hallway to Pierce’s office. Remember, your meeting is at four,” Anna prompted, watching for her reaction. Eloise nodded, and Anna smiled. “Well, that’s great, then. Are you tired, or would you like to see outside?”
  • ‘Outside? Freedom?’ Eloise smiled and nodded toward the door.
  • Anna stepped outside and continued to talk about the house's history, but Eloise stood motionless at the doorway. She stopped and looked back at her with a sad expression. “Baby steps.”
  • She handed Eloise a pair of tinted sunglasses. “Put these on, Eloise. Your eyes will need some time to adjust to the light. Thankfully, it’s cloudy this time of year.”
  • Anna gently links her arms with her and walks her out onto the stone porch that wraps all around the house.
  • Eloise took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the cleanest air she’d ever breathed. A gentle breeze moved her hair around her neck, and she closed her eyes, soaking in all the sounds surrounding her.
  • Birds chirping, the rustling of the leaves, water lapping on the shore—it was perfect until she heard the snap of a twig behind her. She jumped, gripping Anna’s arm.
  • “Remember, never far from people,” Anna whispered, pointing to a camouflaged man armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle and blending seamlessly with the tree beside him. “This is a safe place—one of the best, Eloise—but for it to be that way, there has to be constant surveillance. Everyone who works for Nicholas is top-notch. Scout snipers, Navy SEALs, Green Berets, you name it. If they’re Special Forces, we’ve got them.”
  • ‘Does this Nicholas run this place? And will I ever meet him?’
  • Eloise scanned the woods, trying to locate more guys, but she couldn’t see any.
  • “Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not here.” Anna takes in her gaze around the property and then motions for them to move on. “You’ll get used to it in time.”
  • ‘Time. There’s that word again.’
  • “The lake is cooling off fast, but some can tolerate the cool water midday. Not me—too hard on these old bones.” Anna laughed. “There are canoes and kayaks in the boathouse and anything else you may want. Don’t forget to wear a life preserver.”
  • They rounded the house and approached the front again, and she was growing tired. Walking great distances wasn’t something she was used to anymore.
  • Anna senses this and starts pointing to things rather than walking over to them. They stop at the front door. “I can show you the rest later, the stables and the hot tub. All this is yours to use whenever you like. We want you to make yourself at home, Eloise.”
  • They walked back inside and up to her room. Before Anna leaves her to rest, she pauses and sits on her bed. “I’m sure this is a lot for you to take in after all you’ve been through, but I promise everything will be fine. The sooner you relax and settle, the easier it will be for you to adjust.”
  • She watched Anna leave, trying to process everything she said. It doesn’t take long for her to drift off to an unsettled sleep.