Roman Violets and Ash chapitre Chapitre 7

Her frame seemed even smaller from a distance and was swimming in the billowing fabric of her muumuu. Even with Lacey shouting ‘abandon ship’ in my head as she urged me to flee like a gazelle, there was nowhere for me to run.

Norma’s face was impassive as she asked, “…you do this kind of thing often, child?”

“No, of course not.” The lie came out much too fast and yanked my voice up an octave or two. Instead piecing together it’s shattered remains, I went into damage control mode. “I mean—only when I’m stressed…or in a new place.”

“Both of which you currently are.”

“Right…” I swallowed as embarrassment heated my face. “Look, I—"

“This isn’t you freaking out about going to the University is it?” She asked, and just a hint of accent peeked through.

“No, not at all.” I stammered. “It’s something I’ve done back at the old house. Look, Elijah knows about it. He and Sylvia have so much going on…I just didn’t want him to worry about me, especially when I’m doing good for a change.”

“Child, I’m still not sure what that was, but I wouldn’t walk around callin’ it good.” Her voice had the same sternness as Twyla’s did when she launched into one of her lectures.

“It’s just something I do to calm down. I don’t know why, but it makes me feel safe.” I admitted, hoping the uneasiness in my voice would prove I was telling the truth.

This time her expression did change. The sight of her narrowed eyes and pursed lips made my skin feel sticky and warm. Half a second was all it took for her face to return to normal.

She nodded at the front door. “Horace and I are the only staff that live in the house. He’s in bed by nine on the weekdays, and eleven on weekends.”

Without another word, she turned around and shuffled back down the hall.

Even though I checked the locks last night, my encounter with Norma left me frazzled. It took a few hours for the patter of my traitorous heart to stop echoing in my ears, so loud that I swore it filled every inch of the pitch-black room.

The dull glow of my phone screen lit a small patch of the room. I had a grand total of three contacts, so I knew it wasn’t a text I’d gotten. Sure enough, it turned on to let me know that not only was my battery dying, but it was also one in the morning.

I intended to put it on the charger, but I blinked and the darkness that cloaked the room was replaced by beams of sunlight.

‘What time is it?’ Lacey snarled.

I tapped on the screen of my phone, which was now dead and went to plug it in when there was a light knock on my bedroom door. Norma nudged it open without looking my way, her focus fixed solely on the metal cart she wheeled into the room. She took one look at me and huffed, “…did you not get any sleep, child?”

Even though I’m an avid morning person, my tumultuous sleep schedule made enjoying those early hours harder. Often I needed time to wake up and let the leftover exhaustion seep from my bones before getting anything done for the day.

Jackie never woke up earlier than eleven, and Elijah often left well before the crack of dawn. Social interaction first thing in the morning, that was something I’d have to get used to.

It just wasn’t today.

My eyes narrowed instinctively, “I slept fine, thank you.”

Norma raised an eyebrow, but I refused to balk. Lacey goaded me on in the background. That was, until she smelled the coffee that drifted towards us in sensual, mouth-watering waves.

“Well I’ll be damned; Elijah wasn’t pullin’ my leg when he said you’re grumpy first thing in the morning. Guess it’s a good thing he told me to bring this.”

Norma’s lips curved into a satisfied smile when I groaned and sat up in bed.

“You’ve got an hour to eat and change into your uniform, then Sylvia is going to stop by with your schedule. Just push the cart into the hall when you’re finished.”

“Thanks, Norma.” I sighed.

Once the door shut, I made a beeline for both the coffee and my uniform.

I’d been pacing when Sylvia knocked, tugging at the button-down blouse and plaid skirt, both of which fit me horribly. The top was made from a very un-stretchy material that cinched everything in. On the bright side, it highlighted my strong hourglass shape Twyla always said she envied—even if it was hard to breathe. The pleated skirt with it’s black, grey, and light blue lines was adorable, but it ended at my knees and squeezed my hips painfully.

“Come in.” I called out and held back a curse as my voice wavered.

Even though this was the third time I had seen Sylvia, I was still awed by her sophistication and elegance. She walked into the bedroom wearing a pencil skirt and peplum top, her waist cinched with a dainty belt. Her heels clicked across the floor as she walked my way, her stride purposeful and businesslike.

“Good morning, Violet. I trust you slept well.” She said, her eyes quickly scanning the messy bedroom before returning to my face.

“Oh…” I blinked, realizing she was waiting for me to answer. “I slept great! I’ve never had a bed this big before, and the blankets are so soft, it was like laying on a cloud. I almost didn’t want to get up this morning.”

“I’m glad you’re pleased with the room. The bedding is filled with eiderdown. Cultivating the feathers is a slow, meticulous process but it’s completely ethical, and you’ll never feel anything softer in your life. They’re imported from Iceland, and if only you knew how long that takes…” She shook her head softly but seemed genuinely pleased when I expressed my liking for the room she decorated. “Anyhow, let me not forget why I’m here.”

I might’ve never noticed the folder in her hand if she hadn’t held it out to me. In her other was a small pink bag with silver foil lettering. The cursive script read, ‘Sasha’s Boutique’ and what was in the bag gave off the light scent of expensive perfume.

“Your schedule, a list of all after-class groups, and a map of the grounds.” She explained as I scanned through the documents. “You’ll get a chance to look them over on the way to the academy. Since you cannot drive, my driver will be out front every morning at seven thirty sharp to take you. A student will be showing you around for the week as your assigned escort. They’ll make sure you find your classes and explain the various social circles and hierarchy at Darkling.”

Panic rose in my throat, and I swallowed it back with a smile.

“Wonderful, I’m so excited.” My cheeks ached, and I was suddenly glad I’d patted some blush on them this morning because without it I knew I’d look like a ghost.

Chapter 7 1

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