Episode 1 - A Secret Paradise
Kyra's Bedchamber, Damon Manor:
Left alone for the moment, Kyra looked around the spacious room and felt a giggle bursting into her throat. She mentally explored what places she might put her few menial possessions, realizing it wouldn't take very long to finish unpacking.
Isabel had given her a small allowance each month, but she saved more of it than she spent. She'd always known that one day her luck might run out and she'd find a true need for it. So far that hadn't happened, but Sherman could have thrown her out on the streets just as easily as sending her off to live here. Saving the money had been a wise move.
She'd already begun to contemplate the future. Lord Damon was not going to let her live here for free. He would probably expect her to pay for her room and board, then put her to work when her money ran out. She was already prepared to accept the offer, but the money she'd saved should accommodate her for a little while, at least. No doubt, he would need time to find a use for her. Under the circumstances, that might take him a while. Of course, her room wouldn't be nearly as spacious and grand as this, but that didn't matter to her in the slightest. She would just be happy to have a place to call home.
For the moment, she was going to savor every last moment of this brief reprieve. She was enjoying this room because she had arrived with Serena. She would still be safe for a little while longer.
A new fit of laughter burst into her throat when she placed her clothes in the over-sized wardrobe. There were five pitiful dresses hanging in a closet meant to fit ten times that many. It was almost comical.
Grabbing up her small satchel, she walked around the room to put her last few possessions in their proper places. Her matching brush and comb set was placed on a beautifully carved vanity table. Her jewelry box, given to her by Serena, was placed on the nightstand by her bed. Lastly, she took out a large wooden box and placed it under the bed. She was careful to drape the bed skirt to make sure it was concealed from peering eyes.
In childhood, whenever Isabel had presented a gift to Kyra, a similar or slightly better gift had always been given to Serena. That was how Sherman had demanded it be. Kyra never expected anything less. The beautifully handcrafted box had been one secret gift Isabel had given Kyra without Sherman's knowledge. Even Serena had never known about it.
Isabel said it contained the pieces to an old puzzle. She'd said she would give her the key one day when the time was right. Now that she was gone, Kyra wondered if she would ever learn what secrets the box contained. She was still happy merely looking at it though, knowing it was proof that Isabel had loved her enough to give her such a special gift.
Standing, she picked up her well-worn satchel and carried it over to the wardrobe. As she closed the closet door, a beam of sunlight broke through the clouds, bursting brightly into the room. Out of curiosity, she walked to the window to peer outside. Her eyes were treated to the most spectacular sight she had ever seen!
The back yard of Damon Manor was comprised of a huge terrace extending from one section of the back wall to the middle of the building just below her window. The terrace must be used exclusively for entertainment purposes, because there were white lawn chairs and glass tables scattered all around, yet there was no one in sight.
Further out, beyond the terrace was a long metal fence that led into a beautiful garden filled with flowers of every imaginable color. Many paths were interwoven throughout the veritable wilderness, but they all ultimately led to a larger path which traveled out to a large pond in the distance. There were more white tables placed in simple patterns around the edge of the pond. It resembled a park she'd seen in a city once while traveling with Isabel and Serena to London.
It was hard to believe no one was taking advantage of such beauty on a day like this. Perhaps if she dared, she could find her way through the halls of the manor to locate the doors that led out to such a wondrous sight. There was a wall of high-tended ferns that acted as a fence around the perimeter of the area, so she assumed she wouldn't be able to enter it from the outside. There must be a set of doors somewhere in one of the rooms below her.
Crossing the hall, she knocked loudly and entered when she heard Serena call out in a weary voice. She frowned slightly as she opened the door and looked inside.
"Kyra? Is something wrong," she asked in concern. She was half-lying, half-sitting against the pillows of her bed. Clothes and boxes were scattered everywhere around the room as a hasty servant worked to arrange the items to put them away.
For Kyra, this only accentuated how little she owned in comparison to Serena. She normally tried not to compare things between them, but it was amusing that she was able to accomplish the task of unpacking without the help of a servant, while Serena could not.
Kyra shook her head in answer and fluttered her hands to give voice to her thoughts. It was a language she and Isabel had worked hard to develop. Sometime after arriving at Tyler Hall, Kyra's frustration had grown considerably from being unable to communicate. A friend of the family suggested they try using hand signals to express her needs. They had worked together to develop a simple system to describe her most basic needs. It worked wonderfully. Then, Isabel suggested they work on more complex words that would permit her to express her thoughts.
Soon, even the servants began picking up on the language. With everyone's help, the entire household was soon able to communicate with her, opening new doors to her silent world. It had been the beginning of a new life for her.
In answer to Serena, she said, "I would like to explore the manor."
"Right now?" Serena's voice was whiny, a sure sign that she was exhausted. "Couldn't we wait until later?"
"Don't be silly," she chastised her. "You know I would never ask your assistance with such a silly errand after the tiring day you've had. I can manage on my own. I just wanted to tell you where I was going."
Goodness! Kyra was developing an independent streak that Serena didn't recognize. She'd always had one, but it had grown immeasurably since their mother's death.
"Kyra, I realize that you want to feel you can do most things for yourself—and you can," she qualified. "But, you must also realize that you have limitations. This place is very new to you. Should you get lost in the intricacies of this place, you won't have anyone to ask for help. This is not like home. The servants here do not speak your signing language."
"Serena," Kyra sighed impatiently. "In a few days, you will be gone and won't be available to drag me around by the nose. I must learn to do things alone. One day soon, I will have no choice. I won't remain the insecure twit that I once was. So," she continued, "you lie down and get some rest. I'll return here in an hour or so."
Serena would have complained, but Kyra was already closing the door behind herself. There was a glint in her eyes that was too determined to be denied. She could see the satisfactory smile on Kyra's face, but Kyra missed hers.
That girl might think she was able to take on the world, but she wasn't. In spite of that, Serena stood and walked to the door as she smiled after Kyra.