The Captain of the Manor
As one night passed and another began to darken outside of his rather spacious suite, Aiden blinked and looked away from his laptop screen. Lifting the reading glasses, he rubbed his fingers against his aching eyes. After searching almost every available job listing throughout the country for the last twenty plus hours, he couldn’t find anything which required his particular set of skills. There wasn’t a teacher’s position, a researcher, nothing.
“Damn this economy,” he said with a grumble.
There was a knock on the door.
Dropping the glasses on the desk, Aiden pushed the chair back and strode to the door. He opened it and saw Edmund standing outside, dressed in stunning perfection of a dark suit, crisp shirt opened at his neck, and a swatch of hair falling across his forehead.
“Good evening, Aiden. How was your evening and day spent with the suite? Is everything to your liking?”
“Umm.” Aiden looked around the suite which he barely explored after finding the desk and opening his laptop. He didn’t even get a chance to have a bath or sleep under the thick flowing comforter in the four-poster bed. “It’s great.”
“You appear tired. Have you slept at all since your arrival? My staff mentioned no one saw you leave this room, not even for meals. Is everything all right?”
“Umm. No, things aren’t well.” Aiden shoved a hand through his hair.
“What is happening? Can I help?”
“No, I doubt even you can help.”
“Perhaps. What is the issue?”
“I’ve been searching for a new position.”
“Job. I need a new job. A car too. Or a rental car so I can go home.”
“You wish to leave the manor.”
“I don’t have the money to stay beyond this night. I checked my accounts. I don’t want to take advantage of your hospitality.” Aiden shoved a hand through his hair when Edmund waved away with his concerns.
“Relax, dear Aiden, the money doesn’t concern me. I can comp a suite whenever I wish. I’m part of the family in charge of this old place.”
“I couldn’t possibly…”
“You will accept and say nothing more. You can stay until things are sorted out.” Edmund motioned with his hand. “May I enter?”
“Of course, please, and thank you for the suite.” Aiden stepped aside to let the other man enter the room.
“No need, please.”
After entering the room, Edmund waved his hand once more. Aiden looked outside and saw a server pushing a silver cart into the room, covered with silver dishes and white cloth. He watched the server nod to Edmund before leaving the room, closing the door behind him.
“I suspected something was wrong when you weren’t seen downstairs for dinner. Forgive my impertinence, but I ordered a pair of meals to be sent here. Would you like to join me at the table and enjoy our evening meal?” Edmund placed his hands on the cart and pushed it to the small round table near the French doors which led to a small balcony overlooking the ocean.
“I lost track of time,” Aiden said and placed a hand to his belly when it rumbled in agreement.
“I have a tendency to do the same when I’m involved in a project,” Edmund said as he settled the placemats, dishes, rolled napkins with silverware, glasses, and a pitcher of iced tea on the table. He wheeled the cart to a corner, moved to the French doors, and opened them to let in the soft evening breeze. Standing in the opening, he lifted his head and breathed in the fresh air. “Isn’t the night ocean breeze wonderful? I enjoy this time of the year.”
A little stunned at the handsome male standing in his suite, paying him attention, Aiden swallowed and dragged a hand through his hair. He stepped over to stand with him. Looking across the balcony, he saw the dark ocean with the soft white caps of the breaking waves rolling and crashing on the beach. The cries of seagulls added to the sound of waves. The old cypress trees and oaks surrounding the manor waved, leaves brushing one another, as another wind curled around them.
He leaned one shoulder against the frame, ready to fall asleep at this perfect moment, but the soft rustle of clothes distracted him. Glancing to the side, Aiden stared at the taller man. He tilted his head to study him.
“Is something wrong? Do I have a smudge on my face?” Edmund raised a hand to his face and smoothed his fingers over his open collar.
“You’re perfect…” Aiden blushed at the words.
“You like my appearance.”
Aiden lowered his gaze.
“Though rumpled and tired, I enjoy looking at your form.”
“Me? Nah. I’m a skinny, geeky nerd who has no fashion sense for a gay guy.”
“Hmm. It adds to the appeal and unique quality you bear.”
“Why are you here with me? You have other guests, paying ones, who need your attention.”
“You’re the guest who is troubled. My attention is on a guest, an important one in my mind.” Edmund waved a hand toward the table. “Please, come and eat before the food chills and is ruin. The chef would never forgive me if I share cold food to a guest.”
“What did you chose for us?” Aiden sat down, copied Edmund by unrolling and laying the napkin across his lap.
Edmund opened the small dish. “We start with crab stuffed baby portabella mushroom caps as our appetizers. For our entrees we have a Roasted Black Sea Bass with Chile sea salt and a tomato, kalamata olive, and orzo salad. I requested a light chocolate mousse dessert to finish off the meal.”
“This looks wonderful.”
“I hope you’re not allergic to fish.”
“No, I’m not allergic to anything with food.”
“Excellent,” Edmund said and scooped several mushroom caps onto Aiden’s plate. “Enjoy, please.”
Cutting the cap in half, Aiden slid a piece into his mouth and moaned in appreciation at the burst of flavors. Throughout dinner, Edmund carried the conversation, drawing answers out of Aiden with ease along with laughter.
There was a connection growing between them.
Finishing dinner, Aiden leaned back, placed a hand on his full belly. “Everything was delicious. You have a fantastic chef.”
“Hmm. He helps to make the visit to our manor complete,” Edmund said, pressing the napkin to his lips before laying it across the dish, hiding half of his meal.
“You didn’t eat much.”
“No, my appetite wasn’t all there this evening.”
“Not do to something I said,” Aiden asked, worried he ruined things.
“No. No. It is my problem,” Edmund said. “Now. You said you’re in some difficulty in finding a new position.”
“Yet you have several Master degrees and a doctoral one as well in several fields,” Edmund said.
“I have a doctorate in physics and Masters in the other fields. I sent a few requests to various universities for a position within their physics and quantum mechanics.”
“What will happen until you hear from these universities?”
“Figure out how to survive.”
“Perhaps I could help…” Edmund swallowed and stared out the window.
Aiden stared at the handsome figure sitting across from him flickered. He completely flickered from transparency to solidify. Even the clothes altered during the change. His eyes widened and he pushed back from the table. Rising to his feet, he backed away until he hit the nearest wall.
“What the…” Aiden swallowed. “What…”
Edmund dropped his gaze to the table. He placed his hands, a little translucent, upon the table. “I hoped it wouldn’t happen yet, but I have no control.”
“You…” Aiden shoved a hand through his hair.
Rising from the table, Edmund placed his hands behind his back. “I will take my leave. Do not worry about the dishes, I will call a server.”
“Don’t. Not one move.” Aiden pointed a hand at the man. “I want an explanation.”
“Would you be in the right position to listen?”
“I don’t…” Aiden swallowed.
“I will answer all your questions tomorrow, if I can,” Edmund said with a nod and disappeared completely from Aiden’s view. He didn’t leave through the door.
Shocked by the disappearance, Aiden felt and found a chair. He sat hard and stared at the spot Edmund disappeared. He didn’t move for hours.
Ghost… How… Not possible…
TO BE CONTINUED