Beth, Lori, and I watched the flames consume the lilies. I heard Beth say something under her breath that sounded like, “Finally.” But before I could ask her to repeat it, a shout of alarm came from across the lawn.
“No! What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?” Madam Cromwell was running towards us, waving her arms. “Jacob! They’ve ruined everything!”
“They said they absorb people’s life-force. And then somehow, their bodies are used to feed the lilies.” Emma’s voice rose slightly in panic as her brain echoed the words again. Blood and bone. Blood and bone.
Everywhere Emma looked, there was beauty and an air of excitement. She found it hard to believe that she had a hand in decorating the manor. Her usual party decorations consisted of streamers and balloons, not this elegant arrangement of harmonious colors. The staff was industrious until lunchtime, putting the finishing touches on table settings and gathering supplies for the various games and activities.
Discover the beginning! Read Part 1 here. I kept my promise to Lori and called home as soon as I got to my room. “Emma? Oh, Emma! George, come to the phone. Emma’s called!” The joy and relief in my mother’s voice increased my guilt. I heard the extension click and then my father’s gruffContinue reading “The Secret Of The Lilies – Part 6”
“Wait, I have a question.” I bit my lip. “Um, do you take care of the lilies in the house at all?”
Joe smiled, his teeth white against his dark skin. “Sometimes I do. Usually, when we don’t have enough staff for the house. They seem quite happy with whichever housekeeper is on duty. Why? What have they been saying about me this time?”
I stared at him. “You… they…” I took a deep breath to collect my thoughts, but before I could try to continue, Joe laughed again.
“Yes, they talk to me. Odd, isn’t it? I thought I was going crazy the first time it happened. Now I don’t walk through the foyer without saying hello. The rest of the workers just think it’s a gardener thing, talking to the plants. They told me you talk to them, too, so I assumed they’ve talked back, the cheeky little things.”
“I know they are. We all know they are. The temps are almost always loners or on the outs with their families. Some of them are even runaways or people passing through, looking to make a few bucks before moving on. It’s not hard to make their disappearance look like a coincidence.”
As we stood, I saw a woman standing in front of the wall of windows. I hadn’t noticed her before, which was odd considering she was tall, probably about six feet, with long dark hair that floated around her like a cape. She was dressed in a dark red gown made up of layers of gauzy material. As she stepped toward us, my eyes were drawn to her bare feet. They were delicate, for such a tall woman, and the toenails were painted black.
I winced as I plunged the pan into the hot water. My hands felt raw from the heat and scrubbing, but there was still a stack of dishes next to the sink. The yeasty smell of freshly baked bread wafted towards me, but I ignored my grumbling stomach. I wouldn’t be given dinner until the dishes were done. I wasn’t sure I wanted to eat anyway.
“Haven’t you noticed? No one on the property is allowed to eat meat.” The voice of the Lillies came back to me.