Upstairs in her room, Kyra had awoken rather early. It was ironic how daylight always knew when the body would prefer to rest just for another hour. The brilliant morning sunlight filtering through the window caught on the glass just right, sending a blinding beam straight into her closed eyes. Blinking against the brightness of it, she felt a little faint when her eyes opened to meet the frightful mess on the floor. After a fleeting moment of panic, she started to remember what had happened. But, that first blink of confusion happened hours ago.
Now the clock in the great hall was chiming away as the only voice of reason. She was sitting next to her bedroom window, hiding from the world like a frightened child. She hadn't been able to gather the courage to venture downstairs. The morning meal had come and gone, and now the sound of the clock warned that the afternoon meal would soon start. She bit her lower lip, knowing it wouldn't be long before someone came up to see if she had taken ill.
Her eyes turned to glance around into the room. It was clean now, unlike the mess she had woken up to. At least two vases had been smashed to pieces and one of the ornately woven tapestries had been ripped from the wall, strewn atop the entire mess. Kyra felt mortified when she recalled every detail of the night before. Caleb must've thought she was insane!
The memory of waking up to find him kneeling over her brought a flush to her cheeks. He'd been sweet enough as he'd carried her over to the bed, but he'd looked worried. She could almost see his face as he looked down at her, watching her return to sleep. She'd barely heard his whispered words. He must have been wondering if evil spirits had taken control of her. From the look of the room she must have appeared to be a crazed lunatic.
She'd already made a mental note to have one of the servants remove the remaining artwork from the room. Sherman had never allowed her to possess any breakables in her room when she lived at Tyler Hall. Years ago, after the first nightmare she had, she'd shattered one of Sherman's valuable sculptures. He had given her hell and removed everything of value from her room. Although it left the room looking bare, it was actually a good idea. Without anything in her room that could break, there was little chance she could get hurt.
A wave of guilt assaulted her as she wondered how valuable these two vases must have been. The etchings on them were unfamiliar to her, but that meant nothing. She knew very little about the world of artwork. They could have been worth a great deal of money or they might have even held some sentiment for Caleb. She couldn't imagine how much it would cost to have them replaced.
The sum of her savings equaled little more than a week of hard labor. The amount she'd saved probably wasn't even enough to buy a single shard from the vases. Shaking her head, she wondered why she hadn't told Serena to have a chambermaid remove them before she went to bed. She should have known the stress of yesterday might trigger another series of nightmares.
Grasping at straws, Kyra remembered the box Isabel had given her. Jumping to her feet, she ran over to the bed and lifted the hanging bedspread. Her hands felt for the oak wood box. Finding it, she pulled it forward. She set it carefully on the bed wiping a piece of cobweb from its surface. She knelt down on the floor, wondering what the box might contain.
It was beautifully carved with scenes of nature. Whoever had made the box had taken time to create wonderful scenery over the entire structure. It was the most valuable thing Isabel had ever given her.
Thinking over the words Isabel had used, Kyra wondered what kind of a puzzle the box contained. Why had Isabel kept the key from her for so long, she wondered. Her adopted mother had told her she must wait for the key. But, what was there to wait for? Would it be wrong to try and open it now that Isabel was gone?
Kyra pulled ineffectually at the lock and sighed aloud. She knew she could never dare break the lock when it might damage the precious carvings. The only thing that made her debate doing so now was the hope that the contents of the box might equal the value of the things she had broken. But, she knew she wasn't brave enough to try it.
Sometimes it drove her crazy to imagine what treasures might be stored inside. The box was almost a foot in length. There could be almost anything inside of it. When it was shaken, Kyra could hear something rattling around. But the sound gave no clue about what it was. Would she ever learn what was inside?
In the distance, the clock began chiming again. Kyra was halted knowing it was time to leave the sanctuary of her room. Sooner or later fate would have to run its course. In just a moment the afternoon meal would be served in the dining hall. If she didn't go down for the second meal of the day she might find herself further embarrassed when they came looking for her. She would feel ten times worse if they found her hiding in there. It would be better if she just bravely walked down to face them all.
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