'Gale'

Chapter 2: 'A Rush Of Blood'

A/N: Thank you sooo much for the reviews! They are really encouraging. Here is the next update! :)


It was 7:15 in the morning and a cool breeze was blowing outside. She could clearly hear the chirping of the birds and loved the sound produced by the rustling of the leaves. The light of the dawn flooded through the front door as Alice got dressed for the first day of her job after being miraculously selected for it. As soon as she reached her destination on time an unexpected voice greeted her.

"Good Morning Alice; how is it going?" A brisk and cheerful voice greeted her.

"Good Morning" Was all she said after knowing that it was nobody else than David who had appeared out of nowhere.

"Clara's in her room, I hope you know where her room is " He gave a questioning look that told Alice that he was going to lead her there regardless of whatever she said to him..

Pompous idiot.

Though she decided that she'd rather not speak that to him while he remained her employer's son; which meant that one additional word would rather have her thrown out – of the window. So she plastered a polite smile and meant to get out of his way.

"I know, thank you." She mentally thanked him when he slid out of her way and let her go into Clara's room.

"Good Morning Clara" Alice greeted Clara as soon as she stepped into her room. Her room seemed quite gargantuan painted in baby pink color. A wide dressing table painted in the same color was placed in a corner; pink curtains hung on colossal windows looked extremely alluring.

The room had to be the dream of every five-year old.

And then she remembered how her childhood had been strangely monochromic – devoid of the color and light that surrounded Clara.

"Morning Alice!" Clara bounded towards her; the multicolored frock trailing behind her in waves and the red ribbons in her hair fluttered merrily.

Clara was far more dedicated than Alice had thought she would be and to her astonishment Clara was a possessor of many extraordinary abilities such as sharp and retentive memory and had an inquisitive mind. She had an amiable personality combined with determined nature. At nearly 2:00 pm they took a terse lunch break.

That reminded Alice of how she never used to have a luncheon when she was Clara's age – they were too poor and could only afford a dinner.

Ah, the unbecoming prejudices of the poor towards those filthy rich ones…

The schedule designed by was quite strict. She was too persevering with all her party stuff that she hardly managed a single second for Clara. To Alice she looked more a devoted business woman than a zealous and doting mother. Thus, she appointed Alice to look after Clara for at least eight hours in case to keep her engaged.

At nearly 3:00pm they entered inside a massive library. Alice noticed all her cherished books and it was too hard to control her over-flowing emotions. But with courage she picked a story book and handed it over to Clara.

"Now I shall have to leave." She aforesaid soon after realizing that time had really flown away as they had kept up with the hard routine, not that Alice minded; she was a hard working person who didn't mind work when she knew it was productive and economical.

"Sure I'll have a reading of it." Clara's face lightened with the idea of finally taking some rest.

Just as Alice was about to leave; David showed in dressed in a sky blue T-shirt and black jeans. But he was not alone, behind him entered a tall, fair complexioned girl with quite sharp features, mild green eyes wearing blood red T-shirt and black skirt.

"Whoa! Your house is really captivating!" She gasped while examining the dining room.

"I know" David retaliated with a proud expression on his face. Soon his eyes fell upon Alice and a dark expression flitted across his face. Alice was dressed in a simple sea-green top and navy blue bottom.

"Hi there Alice - I thought you would have left for your house." His face lit up with a coy beam crossing his face.

Fake.

Liar – you knew I was here…

"I was just about to leave" She cleared her throat, refraining from rolling her eyes.

"Hmm…ok then." He replied glibly and was about to offer to drop Alice when Diana, probably sensing David's intentions – interrupted.

"David, I'm really thirsty...Hey you - fetch me a glass of water!" She pointed at Alice and ordered her.

It was one thing to know that you are poor, one thing to accept that you were once rejected by your very own father but it was another, completely different thing to be down trodden by others.

Her pride was the only thing that had been just strengthened by circumstances and not molded by them and she valued it.

But then again the money from this job was more monumental than her own pride.

"Me?" She asked with a deliberate expression on her face.

"Yeah you…I don't think so there's any fourth person in the room." Diana responded rather sarcastically.

Ignore.

Focus on the money, Alice.

Alice, without another word went to the kitchen and fetched a glass of water for she did not want to spoil the first day of her job. After Diana had quenched her thirst, David finally spoke, his voice dim and dull.

"Diana this is Alice...Alice is Clara's governess. Alice this is Diana, my...my friend. " He gave a quick glance at Diana.

"Oh, I thought she was your servant...She looks like one. I mean just look at her!" She chuckled as she spoke and Alice blinked rapidly, trying to chase back the tears and swallowed noisily.

At times like these, she just lost her composure.

David shook his head and it seemed as if he felt embarrassed but soon he regained his wit and cast her a sharp look.

"Diana." His growled words were masked behind an amiable smile, a raised eyebrow indicating his displeasure alone. "Please, stop it. You will not stand in my house and insult or question the people here."

For the first time, David appeared to have some other personality than that of a flippant dandy.

Diana grew red in the face but flipped her hair, regaining her ease.

"And by the way I am not only your 'friend'; I am your..." She was interrupted by David who almost shoved her down the corridor, past Alice.

"Yeah...I know let's check out the library " A flagrant expression crossing his face.

"If you don't mind, I am getting late" Alice fisted her hands and stalked away, voice trembling a little; as she heard Diana's voice.

"Oh…I have not seen your bedroom; let's go and see that first." She pulled David's hand forcing him upstairs.

That was all Alice had for that day before David and his 'special friend' vanished upstairs. It was about sunset; all the birds were returning to their nests.

Those words of Diana were revolving in her mind. The only reason why she felt annoyed was that David was standing just beside her; quietly witnessing the scene and did not said a single word except for the lame argument he had come up with, sounding like the Prime Minister.

But why would he; and who am I for him. Why shall he argue for me?

I am a nobody for him…

A nobody…

He has everything and look - all I have is a sick mother whom I have to look after and nothing but the tag of poverty trailing after me.

This was the only thought that occupied her mind and captured her attention. And all of a sudden she realized that she had to buy medicines for her mother; who must be anxiously waiting for her to return and narrate the story of the first day of her job and she at once decided to skip Diana's part in the conversation.


The next day Alice was sitting in library with Clara, the spring was nearly over and she was about to see the first sunset of summer.

And even though it should have been hot, Alice didn't feel a thing due to the air-conditioning in the study room.

"Alice; is this story real?" abruptly Clara questioned and Alice was shaken out of her thoughts.

"Which story?" Alice rolled her eyes adding another question to her asked one.

Stories will always remain stories – a lesson well-learnt.

"The story of Cinderella?" She asked her eyes as round as the buttons on her magenta frock.

"I don't know, maybe it's just an imaginary story?" Alice supplied, not having the heart to break whatever notions Clara carried about Cinderella.

"What do you think? Who is your prince charming?" She questioned earnestly showing maximum interest.

This is no childish notion, this is an idea every child should be kept away from.

"Well definitely not - and you should not think of all such stuff; just focus on your studies okay?" Her tone showed how shocked she was.

"But David says that he is the prince charming of every girl!" Clara protested in an innocent manner, pushing her books aside.

"Your brother's greatly misunderstood and all I really know is that he's really conceited. " She retorted in a cross tone.

"But I think he's right; he has so many friends and..." Apparently Clara tried to argue passing out another explanation.

"But that's not your topic, you are too young to get indulged in such a conversation" Alice countered briskly.

"I really don't like Diana." The little girl growled.

"She's older than you and you should respect her; even if you don't like her!"

"David says Diana is his best friend, but she's so arrogant."

"Enough for today Clara; Diana and your brother are older than you and you should honor both of them" Alice riposted with a tone of finality that she had learnt to use when people argued against her.

And it worked.

"Last month, he said that Melissa was her best friend, his best friends keep on changing..." She replied in a robust manner.

Apparently, Clara is immune to all glares cast her way.

"I'm late for home." Alice gathered her things and thrust them in the bag hurriedly. "Talk to you tomorrow and I want you to read this book."

"Okay?" She raised her eyebrow. "Alice, I think – you're avoiding my question."

No six-year old can challenge me.

Ignore.

"Bye!" Alice passed her a honeyed grin she had plastered to her face earlier.

Alice rushed downstairs in a hustle and bustle in order to get home as quickly as possible when she ran into David.

Timing.

"Sorry." David remarked.

"That's okay." She replied and tried to find an agile way to escape, without entering his immediate notice.

"No. I mean that I'm –" He cleared his throat, looking away. "I'm sorry for yesterday…" He finally spoke, his hands in the pockets of his navy blue jeans and his eyes determinedly averted from hers.

"Yesterday?" She inquired in an amazed way trying hard to pretend that she did not know anything.

"About what Diana said to you; she's a bit straight forward and..." His words and voice fading simultaneously.

"And you don't need to apologize for all of this. It's not your fault" Her cheeks now becoming red and she found herself looking everywhere but at him.

"I know but that 'Servant' thing was really rude, she was apparently just kidding...Ah...she's really funny...Yup!" He remarked, the roguish grin back on his face.

"Yeah I can actually see that" She managed to see.

David gave a little nod.

"Anyways how was your day?" A severe expression on his face. "I hope Clara is not much trouble."

"Quite good. Clara is really nice to me" She felt really awkward for she had never ever witnessed a contemplative expression on his face and doubted that he really was embarrassed for what happened yesterday.

"She really is.." He boasted passing a perky expression. "After all she's my sister"

They were quiet for a moment and Alice awkwardly noticed that David was purposefully blocking her way.

"Hey, I wanted to ask you something which I should have asked at the interview but -" He paused, suddenly.

"What?" Alice asked uncomfortably.

"How many siblings do you have?" He asked. "I want to know from where you've got your experience of handling kids. I'm a failure at that."

The joke was a waste and Alice found her expression hardening.

"I am the only child." She retorted trying to escape for she feared that he might say something that she would not be able to bear and her fear turned into reality.

"By the way; what does your father do?" He enjoined with a general expression on his face.

The small talk ends here.

"I believe that it's none of your business. And will you please excuse me? I'm getting late" She tried to control her overflowing emotions and left the room just in time before she could burst into tears.

Within the blink of an eye David was standing alone.

He at that instant moment came to know that something was wrong maybe that's why Alice was so uncomfortable with him and she acted so weirdly sometimes. And he made up his mind to ask her what the matter was.

As he was about to leave for his room, his eyes caught hold of a strange thing. It seemed like a page or something at the first sight. As he picked it up he came to realize that it was a photograph. When he reviewed it more closely he came to know that it was Alice's photograph.

In a photograph stood a woman dressed in pink coat with big white buttons. Long torn boots with straight black hairs just like Alice's, dark brown eyes and fair complexion. And beside her stood a nearly 8 year old girl with blue eyes, dark straight black hair and fair complexion wearing a hand-me-down red shirt and black sneakers. In the background was a hospital. David could clearly read the name of the hospital named as " INDUS HOSPITAL"

He at once came to know that it was Alice and guessed that the woman beside her was her mother. He wondered that where was Alice's father and the more he thought about it the more curious he became about her father and the fact that why she worn a torn shirt. He got only a dim picture in his mind that was blurred. Putting the photograph in his drawer made him feel even more apprehensive than he was before and at once he realized that he did not want to close the matter without investigating.

Something just wasn't right.


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-Iris Nightingale-