Lightning flashed outside the bedchamber’s windows as Patty smoothed the top sheet on his bed. “Is that better?”
“Mrs. Reinhardt does it better than you.” He grumbled some more.
“I’m sorry. But I think it looks pretty wrinkle free.” Patty walked around the bed smoothing invisible wrinkles. Then her foot kicked something under the bed. She bent down to find a decorative gold box. She picked it up. “This is beautiful. What’s in it?”
“You’re as nosy as that Rush reporter.”
Patty almost dropped the shiny metal container. “What?”
“Never mind. Put that back where you got it,” he said, wheeling himself to the door. “I’m going to the parlor.”
Patty watched Lord Andrei wheel himself out of the room and down the hall. She walked over to where she had sat the box on his bed. She would have replaced it back where she had gotten it but he had mentioned the words Rush and reporter; he had to have been talking about Ruby’s brother. She heard the elevator door open and Lord Andrei wheel himself inside, and then the clank of the door close as he rode it down to the first floor.
She stood there debating whether to open it. She walked to the doorway and looked down the hall both ways to see if anyone was around. She saw no one. She walked back to the box and picked it up; whatever was inside was light. She shook it but it made no sound. Just do it, she said to herself. She opened the lid and looked inside. Other than smelling like rotten meat, it was empty.
“So much for that idea,” she said as she closed its top and slid it back under the bed.
Patty walked out of the bedroom and to Ruby’s room. She was not there, so she walked out of the room and then quietly down the hallway toward the southwest wing, the wing she knew was forbidden. Since everyone was downstairs, they would not notice her going that way.
Patty rounded the corner and stood in the wing, now out of view of the rest of the house. It was dark but she could tell that it looked similar to the other wings and was obviously cleaned by Mrs. Reinhardt. It was lined with closed doors, but at the end was another door that she knew must lead to the castle.
A sudden thunderclap made her jump. The storm was now over Lucifer’s Island, making the abandoned wing even more eerier. She had come this far so she might as well walk down it and see if the door would open. She took the cell phone from her pocket and turned its lit face so that she could see where she was walking. Powerful sounding cracks from nearby lightning caused the floor to vibrate underneath her timid steps. But she kept going until she reached the end. Then she reached up and turned the knob. The door was locked.
She turned and was about to run down the corridor’s length when she heard a creaking sound behind her. She turned and saw that the door was cracked open a few inches.
“No way,” she whispered as she turned around.
Patty debated whether to run or to investigate. She reasoned that it could not be anything dangerous, how could it be? This was real life, not a horror movie. Besides, maybe her jostling of the knob was enough to cause the door to open by a draft from the storm. She walked back to it and peeked through the small opening. It was dark.
“Hello,” she said, thinking possibly that robed guy was coming through but had changed his mind.
She pushed the door open, it creaked, sending echoes through the black passage. Patty shined the light from the phone into the ingress. Shadows caused by Patty’s unsteady hand moved along the stone walls and floor. This was surely part of the castle.
Patty reasoned that it would not hurt to investigate at least a little. One never knows if Alan’s wallet could have dropped on the floor or some other type of evidence as to his whereabouts could be found. Ruby had told her that he came up missing around Monks Hill and the old monastery, and that was exactly where she was.
Patty stepped into the dampness. The storm was muffled, leaving only the sounds of dripping water and her footfalls on the stone floor. She would go to the end where there appeared to be a corner or possibly a set of steps; then she would go back and tell Ruby about her discovery.