I took my seat and began to eat.
Soon Mary Jane came over and placed the fruit bowl and a glass of orange juice on the table.
“It must take the gardeners hours to keep these plants so healthy looking,” I commented.
“This is nothing. Wait till you see the greenhouse. It’s so much bigger than this, and they grow all kinds of vegetables there. Even fruit.”
My heart jumped at the information. “There’s a greenhouse here?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “South of the estate. You have to cross the bridge over the lake to get to it.”
“The greenhouse,” I zeroed in. “Are there only food plants there? What about flowers?”
“Hmm.” She lifted her gaze to think. “I’m not really sure about that. The gardener is in charge of it, and I think he focuses more on growing vegetables than flowers. The boss prefers his food be home grown. Do you like flowers?”
“I love them,” I replied. “I’ve always wanted the chance to grow them, but it’s just never happened. Never had the space or the time.” I shrugged. “I live in a small apartment.”
Curiosity about my situation and how I had come to be in this house glittered in her eyes, but she knew better than to go there. “Well, the greenhouse is massive so I’m sure John, he’s the head gardener, won’t mind if you want to grow a few flowers there.”
“That would be wonderful,” I replied in a heartfelt tone, feeling a spark of excitement that I hadn’t felt in so long.
If I was able to get access to the greenhouse then perhaps I would be able to pass my time there, tending to some flowers. Nothing else would make me happier.
“I’ll leave you to it,” Mary Jane said and turned around to leave, but I quickly stopped her.
“Can I go after breakfast? To see the gardener?”
“Not today,” she replied. “I think Madam said you’re having a meeting with a stylist immediately after breakfast.”
“I am?” I asked.
“Yes, Madam said you came without luggage last night.”
“Oh, okay,” I said.
“Is there anything else you need?”
I shook my head.
“All right. If you need anything, just press that button,” she said pointing at a little device that looked like a computer mouse.
I nodded. “I will, thanks.”
“Great. Now, I guess I better go do some actual work. Catch you later, Skye.”
“Catch you later,” I echoed as she walked away.
I felt hollow after her departure, but I pushed the feeling aside, and focused on my surroundings. Everything was so clean and beautiful that I couldn’t help feeling a little envious at how little Luca seemed to appreciate his good fortune. I couldn’t even imagine owning all this amazing beauty and only coming here to sleep at night and disappear before anyone else awakened.
It occurred to me then even though there was so much wealth and luxury around, it all seemed empty and barren. The irony of life was staggering to me, and once again, Luca came into mind. I wondered why he chose to live this way. Without any real companionship, children, or warmth. His behavior deliberately discouraged anyone from getting close to him.
After I’d finished my breakfast, I decided to wander a bit around the house. After all I was supposed to be living here for a month. However just as I reached the doorway, I met the housekeeper coming in from the corridor.
“Please remain here,” she told me coldly. “Miss Anna Franklin will be arriving soon.”
Instinctively, I took a step back and she made as if to turn around and leave, but I stopped her.
“Madam Mitterand,” I called.
“Yes,” she replied with a frown.
“I just wanted to inform you that I have an appointment at five so I’ll be calling for an Uber.”
Her frown deepened. “I don’t have any instructions to let you leave the house.”
“Please, I have to go. I have to see my father. He is sick.” My voice broke at the last word because sick didn’t explain how poorly my father was.
She stood as still as a stone. At first, I thought she was completely unmoved by my plight, but then she asked, “Do you have to be at your appointment at five or do you have to leave the house at five?”
“I have to be there at five,” I said, my voice full of hope.
“I will ask Steven to wait for you at the entrance at four o’clock. Do not be late.”
“Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”
Madam was unsmiling. “He will take you to your destination. He will wait for you. And he will bring you back when you are done.”
She nodded formally then walked away.Chapter 13SkyeMiss Anna Franklin was a tall glass of sophistication and sunshine with her burnt auburn bob, sprinkling of freckles, and wonderfully manicured nails, painted in the palest rose. She had a bright smile for me the moment she appeared and I smiled back gratefully.