Pendulum — chapter fifteen

“Imposing ideas”

When he arrived at Eve’s house, Bailey couldn’t help but stop himself at the driveway as she continued for the front door.

“Come on,” she said, gesturing to him to follow. “I’ll give you the tour.”

“Um, okay. But shouldn’t you run that by the tour manager first? She didn’t really warm to my first visit.” Eve walked back to Bailey to reassure him.

“She’s away for a couple of days — meeting with a client in the city for work. I didn’t ask questions, I just helped her pack faster.” Bailey breathed a subtle sigh of relief, attempting not to let on that Eve’s mother had him utterly terrified.

On second inspection, Bailey took in the details of the house a little more observantly. There was the elaborate garden he’d already noticed — still lined with marble statues standing guard over the entire setting, seemingly ready to burst into life and tackle anyone who didn’t walk on the lawn in acceptable footwear. The house was double-storey, covered with a high-pitched roof. The whole structure towered over anyone who stood closely in front of it. It was predominantly built from brick, with the windows mainly confined to upstairs. The bottom storey was rather boring from the outside, but was balanced out by an extravagant door that looked like it had been hand-carved centuries ago. Within its frame it had four frosted glass panels that felt like creepy, staring eyes.

The imposing nature of the house increased when Eve led Bailey inside. He had to stop himself from letting out an expletive from sheer awe. He also still had the nagging concern that Catherine was hiding somewhere, ready to leap out at him. The entrance was a spectacle in itself. Bailey stood on a beautiful stone floor, and was confronted with expensive vases and delicate wooden stands. He was afraid to move for fear of breathing in the wrong direction and breaking something. He trod with the utmost caution as Eve continued the tour.

As they moved through the entrance into a huge kitchen and dining room, Bailey looked up at the ceiling and in each corner observed intricate sculptures of cherubs to complement the ones in the garden. A final look behind him revealed a lavish lounge room on the opposite side of the entrance. The kitchen was also a sight to behold. Polished floorboards from wall to wall were finished to such a fine lustre that Bailey caught sight of his own dumb-founded expression in the reflection.

“So, your Mum must be a high powered business type or something?” Bailey asked, as he took in the rest of the kitchen — complete with marble bench tops and foreign souvenirs decorating the walls and cupboards.

“Yeah. An attorney,” Eve replied. “After everything that happened with Dad, she kind of made her career everything — and has tried to impose the same life philosophy on yours truly. She doesn’t really trust a lot of people any more, which is probably what makes her so good at putting people in jail.”

A glint of light sent Bailey’s attention in the direction of the mantelpiece. Eve had switched on a light and it caught the well-polished metal of a samurai sword. This treasured implement of violence had Bailey even more on edge. He gulped and brought his attention back to his gracious host.

“This is the dining room,” Eve said, walking slowly over to the impressive wooden dining table dominating the room. Bailey’s focus became more intent on her though, as he felt Eve’s bubbly mood from earlier — one of the things he had been instantly attracted to — unexpectedly dissipate.

She stared down at a single plate that had been set for her. On it was a frozen dinner — an expensive brand of course — that Catherine had left out. On that was a note that simply read: ‘Plates in top cupboard.’ Eve let out a deep sigh.

“And this is her idea of love.” Bailey moved closer to her, unsure what help to offer. “I just need to not be here right now. Bailey … do you think we could go to your place?” There it was: the question Bailey was dreading — and which he was unsure how to answer. The idea of going to his place had even less appeal than what he imagined Catherine could do with that sword.

He searched his brain, trying to think of an alternative option. He thought they could go to Ethan’s, but quickly put that idea to bed when he remembered the impression he’d left earlier today. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to take her to his place — it would probably be nice to give her a glimpse into his life and see if she ran away screaming — but another tense situation was really not what she needed. Bailey would just have to hope like hell his parents weren’t there.

“Sure,” he said, smiling reassuringly. “Sure we can.”

Copyright © 2017 Nick Duhigg