Patty walked down the dark corridor and picked up Patty’s phone. The battery was almost dead, and the phone was locked. Ruby put it into her pocket, and the same as Patty had done earlier, used her own phone to light the way.
“Patty,” Ruby called out.
It was cold, damp, and smelled of wet soil as she continued walking into the depth of the black tunnel. When she got to the end, the hall itself turned to the right, but before her was a metal door with a small window of vertical bars, like that of an old prison door. She pushed and pulled the handle but the door did not open. She held her phone up to the opening so that she could see inside, but all she glimpsed was a barren dark room. It was unlikely that Patty was in there, she must have continued walking down the other arm. But if that were the case why was her phone laying in the corridor? Something happened to her. There could have been a struggle, and she ended up dropping her phone while they took her away. But on the other hand, it could be possible that she had a flashlight and carelessly dropped the phone and was still roaming around inside the castle. That seemed to be the most likely scenario, Ruby reasoned. But no matter which one was correct, Patty was somewhere inside the monastery.
Ruby knew she had to find Patty, but she needed a flashlight. She rushed out of the hallway and closed the door without latching it. She took the key that Mr. Miller had given her and tested it in the lock, it turned without difficulty. But she decided to leave the door ajar only enough for it to look like it was closed so that if Patty returned, she would have no trouble getting back into the manor house.
No sooner had she stepped into the hallway when a text message came through. It was Tabitha with the good news that she was pregnant. Ruby texted her back saying she was excited, but that she was in the middle of something important and she would call her later.
Then it vibrated again, this time it was Sammy telling her he had found some important information. She texted him back saying she was about to go into the forbidden hall because she could not find Patty and that she would talk to him later.
Ruby walked back to her room to get her nursing penlight, it would work well enough for a flashlight. She was about to leave the room when Sammy sent another text message telling her to not go into the castle, that it was dangerous and that he should be there with her. She texted him back saying she was not going in that far this time, but that she would wait for him to go with her when she was able to look for Alan. Then the monitor buzzed. It was Lord Andrei needing help with something.
Great, she said, as she put the light into her other pocket.
She walked out of the room and down to Lord Andrei’s. She went inside and saw him getting out of his wheelchair and then hobble to the bathroom.
He looked at her and frowned. “Where’s the other one?”
Ruby was not sure what to say. Deciding it was best not to say that Patty was missing and that she was going to look for her, she said, “Patty? Ah, I haven’t seen her lately, I’ve been busy helping Mrs. Reinhardt in the kitchen. Did she say she was going anywhere when she was with you?”
“Where would she go? She’s supposed to be sitting on her ass in your chamber. I need to get ready for bed,” he grumbled as he walked into the bathroom and closed the door.
Lord Andrei was capable of doing many things himself, but she was not sure what Patty usually helped him with. Ruby walked up to the bathroom and spoke through the closed door. “Do you need me to help you with anything?”
He did not answer, so she went to his bed and turned down the sheets while she waited for him to come out of the bathroom. Before long he came out and sat in his wheelchair.
“Help me take this boot off,” he said.
Ruby removed the offloading boot.
“You can leave now,” he said.
“Okay, but call me if you need anything.”
He did not answer as he wheeled himself to the bed where Ruby had sat his pajamas. “Tell that other one that I’m marking her down for not being here.”
Ruby did not say anything as she nodded and then walked out of his room, closing the door behind her. She stood in the hallway as she took the phone from her pocket. No new messages.
She walked back to her room, deciding she should give the agency a call, maybe Patty was sick and there was no need to go any further into the castle until she at least had a map in hand.
She closed her bedchamber door and dialed the nursing agency. The call was redirected to the after-hours staff.
“Black Water Staffing Solutions, this is Jason.”
“Hi, Jason. This is Ruby Rush; I’m working at the Vroloks on Fish Island. I was wondering if you have heard from the home health aide, Patty Anderson recently.”
“I’ll check the call records,” he said. Moments later he was back on the line. “No, there’s been no communication from her since Saturday. Is something wrong?”
“Probably not, but I haven’t seen her this evening and was just wondering if she had called the office and left a message as to her whereabouts.”
“Sorry, but as far as I can tell she hasn’t called,” he said. “Call us back if there’s a problem, will you?”
Ruby said she would and disconnected the call as hail began pelting her window. But before she went any further down the forbidden hallway, she would need to go to Patty’s cottage. It was possible she was sick and had to lie-down, but still that did not explain her phone being on the floor in the passageway.
Ruby took the car keys from her purse and walked downstairs. She unlocked the front door and ran to her car as ice pellets stung her skin. She took out her umbrella and walked swiftly to the side gate, punched the pedestrian code onto the keypad, and jogged down to Patty’s cottage.
Same as she had seen through the upstairs window, Patty’s car was still in the driveway and there were no lights turned on. She went up to the door and knocked. No answer. She turned the doorknob; it was locked.
“Patty, are you in there? It’s Ruby.”
She walked around the cottage, looking into the windows that she was able to reach. It was dark inside and there was no sign of Patty.
“Damn it, that means she’s inside the castle,” Ruby said as icy rain drummed the top of the umbrella.
Lightning flashed and thunder cracked as she ran back to the mansion. She went inside, locked the door, and stood in the entry, dripping water onto the floor. She debated whether she should tell Lady Beth that she was unable to locate Patty. But the minute she did that, and Lady Beth found out that Patty had gone to the forbidden part of the mansion, the both of them would likely be fired and kicked off the property. If that were to happen, then it would be near impossible for Ruby to find her brother inside the old convent where she thought he had to be. Trespassing and walls too high to scale would make it near impossible to get into the castle.
Ruby decided she would investigate a little further. If she found no more signs of Patty, she would have to say something to Lady Beth, just so she knew if Patty were okay or not. What if she had fallen into a dungeon and her leg was broken or she was knocked unconscious? If her little investigation turned up nothing, then Victor would have to go looking for Patty.
Ruby walked up the steps and back to her room, just to make sure Lord Andrei had not called again. He had not. So she walked back down the hallway to the forbidden door. She stood in front of it and turned on her penlight. She pushed the door open enough to walk through it and then went into the dark corridor.
“Patty,” she called again, hoping Patty was on her way back from wherever she had been. All she heard was the echo of her own voice.
She kept walking until she got up to the locked metal door once again. She shined her penlight inside, she could see a little better this time. Other than cobwebs, there was nothing inside. It was an odd room with no apparent windows. Then she turned to the right and began her journey down the other length of the tunnel.