I scanned the airport, trying to find any sign of someone who would be looking for me. Stupid as dad and I are, he never told me what the people looked like and I never thought to ask. I raised myself on my toes one last time and spotted a younger boy of around 11, maybe, holding a sign that said ‘’Arielle Norman’’. I approached him, not really knowing how to do this kind of thing.
‘’Ehm… are you one of the Beaumont’s?’’ I asked.
He looked up, but before he had a chance to answer I was enveloped in a huge hug from behind.
‘’Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, darling! And right on time as well!’’ a voice gushed in my ear. I quickly turned, and came face to face with a friendly looking, plump woman in about her 40’s.
‘’You must be Lady Beaumont,’’ I guessed.
‘’That’s right, dearie, but please call me Millie. Now come right along, let’s get you home,’’ she urged, smiling cheerfully. We exited the airport and the cold air hit me straightaway. I already missed California… We stepped in a fancy black limousine. My dad had one back home, but I preferred my own red Mazda 3, which was my favourite car. My dad was going to sell it.
‘’Your cases have already arrived at the mansion, dear,’’ Millie assured me, patting my knee. I smiled, a little uncomfortable, because I’d never had a motherly figure to fuss over me like that. You couldn’t exactly call Miss Fairmont a motherly figure, now could you? She was more like a modern grandmother.
‘’So how was your flight, Arielle? I can call you that, right?’’ Millie questioned.
‘’Yes of course!’’ I assured her, ‘’the flight was alright. I slept most of the way, it was a bit tiring,’’ I told her. She nodded in understanding, ‘’It’s not easy staying still for so long,’’ she agreed.
For a long time we didn’t say anything. When I ventured to look at her she had dozed off. I could hear the boy, which I had come to know was called Sean, talking to the driver, making him laugh. I laid my head back against the headrest and closed my eyes. I really was tired and it looked like this trip was going to take rather long.
‘’Arielle dear, wake up. We’re home,’’ I heard Millie say. I opened my eyes sleepily. Guess I dozed off. I quickly grabbed my bag and stepped out of the car. My eyes widened and I let out a small gasp.
‘’Wow,’’ I whispered.
Before me arose a huge black-grey castle. I know it was called a mansion but it honestly looked like a castle. It even had a tower! All around the castle was a huge garden. It was so huge I couldn’t see the whole of it. There were rose bushes and it looked very well kept. A soft breeze rustled through the high trees, causing a few leaves to detach themselves from the branch. The leaves of the trees were slowly changing into their fall colours. Red, brown, yellow and orange. It coloured up the whole garden. We were parked on a kind of circle of cream pavers. In the middle was a beautiful fountain. The whole house and garden were surrounded by high black iron gates. It looked like something that came straight out of the movies.
‘’Come dear, let’s get you inside. You’re probably not used to this kind of cold,’’ Millie called from the front step, causing me to snap out of my daze. I looked up at her. She was standing at the huge black front doors, one of them was open, causing me to catch a glimpse of a big hallway. I hurried up to her and slipped inside. Once again, I was stunned. The hallway was big, long and spacious. The wallpaper was a velvety maroon colour and the floor was made of cream tiles, over which a long, thin- ish maroon carpet was laid, which continued up the huge Titanic-like stairs. To my right were 5 doors and to my left 4 doors. They were all the same style, round at the top and gold handles.
‘’You must be Arielle!’’ two high, similar voices squealed. I looked up. Two girls with long blonde hair were storming down the stairs. They looked exactly alike, they must be twins.
‘’That’s right,’’ I smiled, ‘’what are your names?’’
‘’I’m Paige,’’ one of them said, ‘’and she’s Pearl,’’ they both smiled.
‘’Your accents are adorable,’’ I blurted out, and almost face-palmed. That was a dumb and awkward thing to say, but they didn’t seem to think so.
‘’Thanks! Yours is so sweet, too!’’ one of them, Pearl, I think, complimented me.
‘’Thanks,’’ I grinned.
‘’Hey, Arielle! My name’s Rose. I think we’re going to be best friends,’’ someone pulled me in a hug.
I hugged back out of politeness, but pulled back soon. Rose was very pretty, it was making me a bit insecure. She had beautiful beach blonde hair that was cut in layers and was styled in large waves. Her eyes were a beautiful stormy grey-blue colour and her eye make-up was professionally done. I felt like grabbing a mirror and checking to see if my mascara, the only eye make-up I was wearing, was done properly. Her skin was such a beautiful cream colour that I was almost ashamed of my tanned Californian skin. I wasn’t a redhead, yet the green eyes. My hair was a dark chestnut colour. My looks were pretty boring.
‘’Hey Rose,’’ I smiled. She barely had time to react before a young woman delicately descended the stairs. She was so graceful. I wish I had that. Her hair, like all the other girls, was beach blonde. Why were all these girls so beautiful! Way to boost my self-esteem, dad! I mentally scolded.
‘’Hello Arielle, I’m Cecilia, sister of these wild people here,’’ she grinned, rolling her beautiful blue eyes. I smiled, ‘’Nice to meet you,’’ then I noticed a gorgeous little boy clinging to her.
‘’Aww, he’s so cute!’’ I awed. He was so adorable! Cecilia looked at him with a smile, ‘’Yes, he is. He’s my son, his name’s T.J. He’s 2,’’ she told me.
‘’You’re married?’’ I asked, before I could stop myself. I felt myself blushing. Shit. I shouldn’t have asked that.
Cecilia smiled, ‘’Yes, my husband’s name is Jason Vaughn,’’
I nodded, unsure of what else to do.
‘’Shall I show you your room?’’ Rose suggested, and I nodded, grateful to get away from this awkward silence.
We walked up the huge Titanic stairs and into the huge hallway. There were about ten or more doors and at the two ends of the hallway was another hallway going to both sides. Rose walked down the whole length of the hallway and entered one of the side hallways. She went up another set of stairs, these ones not so big and we came into a big, square hall/room with soft grey carpet. There was a comfy couch and two cupboards filled with books. My eyes lightened up at the sight of that. Rose noticed.
‘’You like books?’’ she smiled. I nodded, ‘’’Like’ is an understatement,’’ I grinned. She grinned back.
‘’You and my brother will get along, then. He loves books. His room is like, filled with them,’’ she informed me. ‘’Really?’’ I asked, letting my fingers trail along the shelves, touching the backs of the books. I couldn’t wait to grab one and delve into it, letting myself get lost in the adventures the heroines and hero’s had. When I read a good book, I could almost feel the emotions the characters had, see myself making the decisions they made… or not.
‘’And this is your room,’’ Rose announced, throwing open a cream door to my right. I walked into the room. It was beautiful. Straight in front of me was a huge dark-brown mahogany bed. It had cream and gold coloured curtains, which were tied up with a gold ribbon. The bedding was cream, the cushions were cream and looked delightfully plump. There were also little gold and brown coloured decoration cushions. The floor was covered with a thick, soft, cream carpet and there were two dark-brown mahogany dressers and a mahogany desk and soft cream cushioned armchair. There also was a cream and gold sofa with a flat screen TV in front of it and a little mahogany coffee table in between. The room was gorgeous. I noticed two doors each on one side of my bed.
‘’What are those?’’ I inquired, turning to Rose.
‘’The bathroom and your walk-in closet,’’ she answered, ‘’I hope you like your room! The maids have already hung up your clothes and put your luggage away. You can freshen up and meet us downstairs for dinner at 7.00 PM if you want. Feel free to ring for anything,’’ she pointed to a button next to my bed, ‘’the maid will come up straight away’’
‘’You have maids?’’ I asked. At home we only had a housekeeper. Sure, dad was rich and owned a huge villa, but we were barely home and maids made me feel like I was living in Victorian times or something.
‘’Yeah… don’t you?’’ asked Rose, looking confused.
‘’No, we’re barely home anyway, so we only have a housekeeper. She’s fun,’’ I said, biting my lip and looking around. I really wanted to be alone right now, so I could get my head around everything I had seen and heard.
‘’Okay,’’ Rose smiled, ‘’I’ll leave you to settle down,’’ she gave me a small wave and disappeared.
I sighed and sat down on the bed. I was feeling a little homesick, but I was also excited to be somewhere new. These people were not at all snobby and I could see now that I had been childish to put myself so against coming here. I got up and walked to the bathroom. It was the same cream colour as me room, with a shower, bath, toilet and wash table. It also had a cupboard with a glass door with soft towels and bath stuff in it. I undressed and got into the shower, turning it on and letting the warm water stream down my body. I washed my hair and my body and got out. Wrapping myself and then my hair in a soft towel, I padded out the bathroom and into my closet, which was bigger than my own at home. I walked through the three aisles (the freaking closet had aisles) and looked through my clothes which were hanging there. I also noticed a lot of beautiful new dresses filling the third row. They were not mine. The Beaumonts must have bought them for me.
I quickly chose my outfit, which consisted of cream skinny jeans, a gold belt, an aqua silk blouse and a cream blazer to go over that. I slipped on some gold ballerina flats and put on some gold earrings and a gold charm bracelet. I dried my hair and let it fall in its natural waves down my shoulders. I looked at my face in the mirror and decided to only put on some mascara. I didn’t trust myself to apply other eye make-up, not after I had seen how professionally done Rose and Cecilia’s had been.
I quickly brushed my teeth and then exited my new room, softly closing the door behind me. I went down the stairs and found my way to the top of the Titanic stairs. I had no idea if I had to go down or anything, so I decided to go back up to my room and press that button and ask one of the maids.
As soon as I entered my room, however, Rose was already there.
‘’Arielle! There you are. I was looking for you. Dinner is ready, do you want to come down?’’ she asked, a friendly smile on her face.
‘’Sure! I was just going to ring the button and see if one of the maids could tell me where I had to go,’’ I explained. She laughed, ‘’It can be rather confusing at first, hence the coming to find you. But I assure you, you’ll get used to it soon,’’ she promised.
We descended the stairs and walked down the hallway, turned right, walked past the Titanic stairs and into the hallway at the other end of the big upper hallway. There we turned left and again came into a big square hall/room thingy. This one, however, was empty, only surrounded by two doors on the left and right. Rose walked to the right one. Just before opening it, she said, her hand resting on the door handle, ‘’This is the family dining room,’’
She opened the door and gesture for me to go in. Inside, I saw Lady Beaumont and what I presumed to be her husband talking to Cecilia and a young man. That must be her husband. The twins were laughing and giggling together and a little girl was running behind Sean. Nobody was sitting at the long table, except a guy, who was sitting there with a bored look on his face, doing something on his phone. I looked at him and almost gasped. That guy must be the hottest guy I’d ever seen. His hair was raven black and his face… he could be a Calvin Klein model. He was even wearing a black leather jacket, making him look like a stereotypical bad boy.
‘’That’s Safari,’’ Rose pointed to the little girl running after Sean. He was tickling her and Safari was screaming with laughter. I smiled, they looked adorable.
‘’Oh, and that’s James,’’ she pointed to the guy at the table. James. I tasted the name on my tongue, softly whispering it so that Rose wouldn’t hear.
‘’Hey everyone, can we be respectful and say hi to our new addition to the family!”’ Rose suddenly yelled, startling me. The room fell quiet and all the eyes were on me, even James. He looked me up and down and then his eyes returned to his phone, a frown on his face. What was that? I shook it off and smiled at the family, who all smiled back.
‘’Arielle! You’ve grown so much since I last saw you!”’ Sir Beaumont said. Suddenly I remembered him. I had gone with my father to Italy for one of his business trips and we had dined with Sir Beaumont.
‘’Oh, now I remember you,’’ I blurted out, before blushing. Why did I always have to say the dumbest things. Couldn’t I just have nodded and smiled? Thankfully, no one seemed to think it was a dumb thing to say. Sir Beaumont just smiled and nodded.
‘’Well, would you like to have some dinner? I hope you’re hungry,’’ he added.
‘’Yes, thank you,’’ I thanked him and sat down next to Rose. Servants came in and started to dish out food. I didn’t even know they did that anymore. I kind of felt like royalty right now. The food was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner. After dinner, James left immediately, but the rest of the family headed to the living room, which was the other door.
The living room was beautiful, with plump couches and armchairs and a big grand piano. My hands ached at the sight of that piano. I had always been one for classical piano music, and I can safely say that I’m good at it. My former piano teacher said I had a great talent for piano. It always brought me peace, cheered me up when I was feeling down.
‘’Do you play?’’ Cecilia asked me, having caught my looking longingly to the piano.
‘’A bit,’’ I answered, hoping she wouldn’t ask me to play. I would probably mess up in front of everyone.
‘’Oh, please play something for us,’’ one of the twins asked. I shook my head, blushing.
‘’Nah, I’m not that good,’’ Gosh, I hoped they wouldn’t make me.
‘’Oh, please! We love a little music after dinner. None of us can play well enough, though, except James, but he rarely does so in front of others,’’ Rose pressed. James played?
I sighed inwardly, knowing it would be rude to decline and made my way to the piano. I sat down and softly slid my fingers over the keys, mulling over what to play. I finally decided on The Entertainer from Scott Joplin. I felt so happy, exhilarated even as my fingers flew over the keys. It was like I was transported into my own little world. A world consisting of only music.
When I finished, I was snapped back into reality at the sound of clapping.
‘’Wow! You said you were not so good? You’re amazing,’’ one of the twins exclaimed. I smiled shyly.
‘’Thanks,’’ I thanked them.
I guess they saw I didn’t really want to play more, as they didn’t press for more as I got up and went to sit next to Rose. The next half hour consisted of small talk and getting to know each other. Safari was a real darling. She was 5 years old and was so excited to be starting school next year. At first she was a little shy, but then, as we got to know each other more, she grew more bubbly and sweet.
Soon, Jason and Cecilia left, claiming to have left T.J. at home with a babysitter and he normally didn’t really take to babysitters.
Sir and Lady Beaumont and the kids left too, then and Rose and I walked back to our rooms. Turns out she, James and the twins slept up there too. Rose’s room was right next to mine, for which I was grateful.
‘’I really need to get some stuff done, Arielle, or can I call you Elle? Are you alright on your own for an hour or so?’’ she asked.
‘’Yeah, that’s totally fine. And of course you can call me Elle, Arielle is rather a mouthful,’’ I laughed.
‘’Okay. I’ll see you in a hour, Elle,’’ she grinned and then proceeded to go down the stairs.
I stood there, unsure of what to do now. Then my eye caught sight of the bookshelves. I smiled to myself. Now that was something I wanted to check out. I walked over to the cupboard and started reading the titles. A lot of those books I had already read. There were the classics, like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet, but there were also quite modern books like, To Kill A Mockingbird, Enid Blyton’s whole The Famous Five series and a whole lot others. After some thinking, I decided to look at the books in the other cupboard. I was just about to do so when I heard voices and people coming up the stairs.
I turned around, and then wished I hadn’t. James had come up the stairs, with a beautiful blonde girl. She was giggling, clinging onto his arm. Her smile turned into a haughty face as soon as she saw me. James frowned at me. Sh*t. What did I do now?
‘’Oh, who’s this?’’ the girl had a rather high-pitched voice, not exactly pleasant to listen to, ‘’You haven’t introduced me yet, James…’’
It was clear James wasn’t going to say anything, so I smiled and held out my hand, ‘’I’m Arielle Norman, and who might I have the pleasure to meet?’’ I felt like kicking her in the face, but dad said I had to be polite and ladylike while I was here.
She took my hand in her own slim one and let it go very quickly after that, ‘’Oh, you’re American? My name is Janae Lionel, James’ girlfriend,’’ I must admit my heart kind of sank after hearing that.
‘’Pleased to meet you,’’ I kept my voice friendly and light. My dad would have been proud.
‘’Same here. I’ll see you around, Arielle,’’ she said, nearly sneered. I could tell she didn’t like me, it wasn’t that hard to see.
‘’That is our own personal pain in the *ss,’’ a voice said behind me, I turned around, it was the twins.
‘’Oh, hey girls. Yeah… I had the feeling she wasn’t the ray of sunshine in the house,’’ I said.
‘’To put it lightly…’’ one of the snorted. We all laughed.
‘’So, could you tell me how to tell you two apart?’’ I asked curiously, ‘’it’s a bit weird not knowing who you’re talking to,’’
‘’Well, we don’t tell it to everyone, because we like to confuse them… but you can tell us apart by a little birthmark. Look, Pearl has a birthmark on the left side of her nose, and mine is on the right. They’re quite small, so nobody has ever noticed before,’’ Paige explained.
‘’Ooh, so that’s how you do it,’’ I smiled. They grinned back at me.
‘’We really have to go make our homework, tomorrow’s school,’’ Pearl said, frowning a little. The twins both made a face at that, but they gave me a quick wave and ran off to their room. I quickly picked Moby Dick from the cupboard and headed to my sofa to read.