Kyra felt as though she was walking with the dead today. Everything seemed so detached after a fitful night of sleep. Actually, sleep was a horribly inaccurate portrayal of her night. She hadn't slept at all. She'd drifted in and out of a light slumber, tossing helplessly in the bed as she fought against the evil seed of another nightmare.
Every now and then she awoke feeling cold and scared. In her mind's eye she could see him so clearly, the face of the burly man sitting at the table consuming her dreams. His face would return each time she closed her eyes. She'd found herself squirming to awaken. In the darkness of the room, she felt unable to breathe. Her eyes darted nervously to the shadows in the room. Each time she remained still, letting her eyes scan the perimeter of the room. Nothing moved and she fought to convince herself that he was not here with her now.
Somewhere in the late hours of the night she lit a candle and placed it by her bed. The illuminated room seemed less terrifying. For long moments she began to question her sanity. Why was his image tormenting her so badly now? It made no sense. She could never remember feeling so frightened at Tyler Hall. Then again, perhaps she was still adjusting to the strangeness of the manor. New sights and sounds could be part of the reason she felt so tense. It could be the reason her mind was so prone to having nightmares recently.
Her only saving grace throughout those dreams was the woman with long blonde hair who had been singing in the background. Even when she was at her most terrified, the memory of that woman somehow soothed her against the savageness of the man's attack. As she lay awake time and again, she called upon the voice of the singing woman. It helped stem the rising panic she was beginning to feel.
Somewhere in the early hours of morning she finally gave up on sleep. With a ragged sigh, she walked over to the window. Sitting on the ledge, she lifted the lever which held it shut. A damp sweet air filled the room. The scent of a million flowers enveloped her and she began to feel more at ease.
Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against the chilled frame. Smiling a little, she replayed the soft song in her head. It had been a beautiful song, she thought dreamily.
It amazed her how remarkably calm the woman's voice had been, despite the intensity of that moment. Hadn't she known what was coming? How could she remain so oblivious to the man's anger?
A very long time ago Serena had tried to convince her that it was all just a horrible dream. For many years, unable to remember it, Kyra thought she was right. Now she wasn't as certain. That man's face was burned into her brain. The woman's singing sounded oh so familiar. It was as real to her as any vivid memory. If it was just a dream, why was it so real? Why was it tormenting her every night now?
Deep down, she knew it wasn't just a dream. Something instinctively told her there was also much more to it than she had remembered so far. It was a feeling in her gut, some nameless thing. It told her more had happened that night. In the deepest recesses of her mind she could almost recall what it was. Something horrible had taken place. It lay just beneath the surface, just below an area she could reach'
Like the strike of lightning, inspiration hit. Filled with renewed hope, she sprang from her seat and hurriedly dressed. A few moments later, she returned to the window and latched it firmly shut. The sun was beginning to rise over the horizon now. Surely Cassandra would be awake. She crossed her fingers as she left the room.
When she arrived at Cassandra's door, she fidgeted nervously. Suppose she's sleeping, Kyra argued with herself. It would be rude to awaken her, especially for such a silly request...
Testing the waters, she raised her hand and knocked rather softly. If Cassandra was asleep, she wouldn't push the issue.
"Who is it," called out a bright voice. Cassandra didn't sound at all sleepy.
Cassandra smiled happily when she saw Kyra's eyes peeking into the room. She'd been quietly enjoying the morning sunrise. Her window was thrown open wide as she fingered a delicate little plant on the ledge.
"Kyra? How wonderful to see you so early. What a glorious day, isn't it? The birds are singing, the flowers are in bloom and the sun is shining bright. What more could you ask for?"
Hearing such enthusiasm, a small smile grew on her face in response. Hers was a bit dimmer than Cassandra's though. With slow movements, she closed the door and stepped into the room.
"It is nice to know there are other early birds in this manor. Back where I am from everyone sleeps much too late in the daytime. I am forced to endure my own company for hours and hours each day." She shrugged a little carelessly before adding, "Then again, it's sometimes better than dealing with endless nights of my father's company'"
Her voice cut off so sharply that Kyra wondered if she was afraid of speaking out of turn. Holding still, she waited patiently for Cassandra to finish her thought.
For an endless moment, Cassandra held her tongue though it was clear she wished to say more. At last, she closed her mouth and turned back to the window to pet the leaves of the plant.
Feeling the need to apologize, Cassandra said, "I know it's wrong to say such things about him. He has provided well for me all these years. It's wicked to entertain displeasing thoughts about him. I was merely jesting."
Kyra listened to her words, wondering why there seemed to be doubt in her eyes as she spoke. It seemed to discount what she was saying. Frowning at the look of confusion in Cassandra's eyes, she hoped her suggestion might help relieve her friend's growing melancholy. Coming to stand beside Cassandra, she touched the woman's shoulder to get her attention.
Cassandra looked a bit wary for a moment. Kyra smiled again and gently touched her shoulder once more. Nodding slightly as she held her eyes, Kyra tried to tell her it was all right. She would think nothing less of her for a momentary lapse in better judgment. No doubt if she'd had a voice she would have been kicked out of the Tyler home long ago for speaking ill of Sherman. It was only natural to let out such aggravation once in a while.
Realizing Kyra was not going to push the issue, she remarked, "You must have come to my room for a reason, Kyra. I'm sorry to have been so rude." She suddenly noticed how tired Kyra looked. With a touch of concern, she asked, "Are you feeling well? You look a bit pale."
Kyra shrugged. It didn't really matter. Giving in to her earlier inspiration, she began to flutter a hand in front of her mouth. After a moment, she raised a second hand to point at Cassandra.
Watching this silent charade, Cassandra felt stumped. Most times she understood her silent friend, but her momentary distraction prevented her from thinking clearly.
Kyra repeated the motions several times before finally giving up. Letting out a harsh breath, she raised her eyes skyward. Why was everything so complicated? If only these people would learn her signing language'
"Kyra, please don't be upset," Cassandra pleaded sadly. She felt like she was failing Kyra somehow.
A frustrated pout crossed Kyra's face. It was irritating to be so helpless at times. Just once she wished she could speak her thoughts aloud. She wished she could be heard and understood without the need for so many theatrics.
Watching her growing dismay, Cassandra couldn't help herself. She reached out and quickly embraced Kyra. She almost felt she was soothing a wounded child as she tried to encourage her to continue.
Kyra felt stunned by the physical gesture. She couldn't remember the last time anyone had given her an honest to goodness hug that way. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, but tears welled in her eyes as she suddenly remembered the loss of her adopted mother. Isabel had always understood her!
"Now, now..." Cassandra patted her back. She hadn't expected such an outburst of emotion. Pulling back a little, she comforted, "There is no need for tears, Kyra. I promise you, I will watch patiently until I understand you. No need to be upset now."
Taking a deep breath, Kyra stepped back feeling a bit embarrassed for getting so upset. If only there was a way'
As if a window opened in her mind and the sun poured in, she struck upon an idea. Grabbing Cassandra's hand she gestured to the door and pulled her insistently. Caught up in her idea, she hurried them out of the room. Cassandra willingly followed her lead.
They left the room and Kyra led her downstairs to the first floor. She led them into the ballroom and pointed up to the balcony where the instruments were located. Not knowing how to get up to there, she pointedly stared at Cassandra wondering if she knew the way.
Seeing where her eyes led, Cassandra pointed to a curtain at the back of the room. Smiling now Kyra walked to it and pulled it back to reveal a flight of stairs. They led up to the balcony. Kyra's excitement was infectious. They were both a little out of breath as they crept up to the top.
In the center of the darkened room was a piano. Sitting down on a small bench in front of it, Kyra tested the chords to find just the right ones.
At last, Cassandra realized what Kyra wanted. Her amazement was evident as she asked, "You want me to sing? But, why?" Kyra answered her with a pleading look for patience. Unable to deny her curiosity, Cassandra asked, "What song are you trying to play?"
Driven on by some unknown force, Kyra finally found all of the chords and played them with accuracy that astounded them both. At last she felt certain that she had played it correctly. She stared up at Cassandra as she played the first few notes.
Listening to the old melody, she remarked, "I have heard it before, but I'm not certain I will remember every word."
Kyra shrugged and rolled her hand, suggesting that Cassandra try to sing what she did remember. Cassandra's brows rose in question, but she nodded anyway. The opening of the song was short. Cassandra was quick to pick up her cue and began to sing the first verse of the song.
Oh little one,
Please don't cry,
It's time to forget your pain.
Come out and play,
The time will come again.
For you will know,
Forever you will be,
All that ever matters to me.
Something nameless flashed in Kyra's eyes as Cassandra sang the words out loud. Almost as clear as the instrument before her, Kyra could hear the woman from her dreams repeating the lyrics. She could hear that woman's sweet voice. Her long blonde hair hid her face, but her image was clearly defined. The rich tones of the music trailed off slowly as she was caught up in the memory of it all.
Kyra could remember holding her hands up to the woman. She was waiting patiently for the woman to turn around. She wished so badly to see the woman's face. Panic assaulted her and she knew the image was vanishing before her mind's eye. The words in the song were now repeating over and over in her mind. Then, one word rose in her mind. It seemed to break through above everything else. Though the image in her mind began to fade and the song had long since ended, that word remained strong and clear. It nearly undid her to remember the word.
Shaken back to the present, Kyra looked up. Cassandra had been watching as Kyra drifted deeper into her mind as the song played. The keys were struck ever louder and Kyra's eyes had closed until she was fully engrossed in the deep tones that filled the room. Then the music stopped suddenly. Kyra nearly jumped from her seat. The abrupt silence that filled the room was almost deafening.
Kyra's eyes were opened wide. They filled with fright and she turned away to stare at the wall. The room felt ominously still.
"Kyra," she whispered softly. Her eyes shifted back Cassandra's. "What is it," she asked worriedly. "Did you hurt your fingers? You were'"
Kyra didn't seem to hear the rest of the words. She grabbed a quill out of the ink well that sat atop the piano and wrote a single word on a piece of parchment. With one last look at it, she thrust it into Cassandra's hand and ran down the stairs as fast as her feet would carry her.
Rather than running after her, Cassandra opened the crumbled piece of paper. She knew how to read only a few words and this one was not familiar to her. She anxiously wondered what it spelled. She heard Kyra's footsteps thudding across the ballroom floor and she walked to the edge of the balcony to look down.
Running toward the door, Kyra was stopped short when she nearly collided straight into Caleb. He stood before her with a stunned expression, but this time she took no heed of him. Her hands pressed against his chest to pass by him into the hall. He would have turned to chase after her, but Cassandra suddenly called out to stop him. He saw she was leaning over the balcony, her face one of confusion and it piqued his interest.
Climbing the steps two at a time, he asked, "What was that all about?" For a moment he wondered if she would answer him. She seemed to be contemplating whether to tell him or not. Exasperated, he vented, "I came in here because I heard music being played almost louder than an entire orchestra. The minute I step in the room, Kyra was racing out of here as if the devil was riding her heels. Now tell me what has happened."
Cassandra looked up at him sympathetically. Handing the parchment to him, she asked, "Can you tell me what that word is?"
He looked up and raised a brow in question. "What is this," he asked. "The word is, Mama."
Cassandra gasped suddenly. Her hand flew to her mouth in wonder. She looked up at him and gasped, "I think she is remembering something from her past. It truly frightens her, Caleb."
"That isn't possible. She never really'" This time he interrupted himself. He didn't want to believe this. There had to be some other reason for what happened. He still wasn't fully convinced that Kyra had ever even lost her memory.
Reading the doubt in his eyes, she remarked, "When you told me about her amnesia, I saw the suspicions in your eyes. It is obvious that you still do not trust her, especially around me. But I assure you, the pain in her heart is real! Whether you choose to accept it or not, I believe she is just as in the dark about her past as we are. I think she needs our help!"
"No," he shook his head in denial. "It is not possible that she could have a voice and not know it. How in the name of heaven could she go so long without slipping up and learning the truth?"
"Exactly!" Cassandra raved. "No one who has a voice would be able to live so long without speaking. Could you?"
He thought about that for a moment before shaking his head in denial. "I think it would drive me insane if I were forced to keep silent for years."
Cassandra nodded. "Then, can you not consider that Kyra would also have been driven insane years ago if she knew she had a voice and were forced into silence?" She was on a roll now and there seemed no end to her logic. "It is only feasible that she must be truly ignorant of her voice. If not, she would have given this game up long ago. Instead, she has spent ten years in silence? You must see that she is not feigning this illness."
He only shook his head in answer. He still had serious doubts in the depths of his mind, but he would have to weigh this new development carefully. He did admit there was something out of the ordinary happening here. He could not argue against Cassandra's logic.
It was obvious that her loyalty to Kyra had grown measurably. That was quite interesting. More than anyone, Cass had a reason to distrust people. Even so, she trusted Kyra. That, more than anything else, convinced him to make one final attempt to help Kyra. Perhaps, the only way he could do that was to force her into speaking.
In the darkness of his bedchamber last night he had concocted a wild scheme. At the time it had all seemed an undeniable fantasy, a tormenting vision that danced in his head as he tried to sleep.
He knew there were numerous ways to lower a woman's defenses. It was devilish of him to even think such thoughts. But, if Kyra were distracted enough, would she slip up and cry out to him in passion? The look on her face in that moment would tell him all he needed to know.
If she appeared horrified or guilty, he would know she'd been playing him for a fool. On the other hand, if her face became one of confusion and fright, he would know that the forces at work here went far beyond that of guilt or innocence. Only then would he drop his suspicions. The only thing that held him back was a single warning his mind kept repeating over and over.
Could he bring himself to touch Kyra and not lose his sanity? Could he force himself to stop the moment Kyra uttered that one sound that would seal her fate? He knew he could not allow the act to come to completion. That was unthinkable, but how far would he have to take her before she submitted? How far could he push her before he began to submit himself?
Closing his eyes, he turned away from Cassandra. He didn't want her to know his dishonorable thoughts. He just couldn't see another way to force the truth from Kyra.
She was not going to willingly admit she had a voice if she was as deceitful as he believed. She would deny it without question, if she chose. And, if she felt threatened, he might never learn the truth of it. He would gain nothing from asking her outright. The chance that she might be unaware of her voice did not sit well with him. He refused to believe that was a possibility. It was incomprehensible.
"I will uncover the truth, Cass," he vowed. "Don't let it worry you further."
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