The sink tap was dripping again. Scarlett could hear it as she came awake and rolled over. Moaning, she tried to bury her face in Greyson’s shoulder blades, but she was too hot and sweaty. Rolling again and tossing the duvet away, she tried to ignore the echoing water and the creaking of the manor.
Moments later with a deep sigh, Scarlett give in and sat up. Looking around the bedroom,which she was now becoming use to in the darkness, she traced her way to the bathroom. Stealing a glance at Greyson, who was snoring gently, she slipped out of bed and walked quickly across the carpet.
In the bathroom, she ran the tap and splashed water on her hands and face. Feeling around for a flannel, she picked it up and soaked it. Wiping down her neck and shoulders, she felt better. Turning off the tap, she used the toilet then headed back to bed. A soft crying halted her feet at the bathroom door.
Her eyes shot across to Greyson, but she knew it wasn’t him. Slowly, walking back to bed, she sat down next to her pillows and listened. The crying was child like and steady, though she couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl. Nor where it was coming from. Maybe it’s not crying, Scarlett thought, It’s some other sound in this old house or an animal? Maybe one got caught, but not killed and now it’s injured and in pain. Do rodents cry like people? She paused at the thought, surprised by it.
‘Greyson?’ she hissed, ‘wake up. Greyson!’
‘Huh?’ he mumbled.
Greyson rolled over, before she could stop him and stretched out. The bed creaked and Greyson yawed loudly. Scarlett pressed a hand over his mouth and hushed him. Turning her head back, she tried to listen again, but the crying had stopped.
Greyson removed her hand, ‘what is it?’
‘I heard crying,’ she answered, ‘maybe the traps only half worked. I’m turning on the light.’
Scarlett clicked on the light and blinked away the pain in her eyes. She got up and went to the trap they had set under the dressing table.
‘No,’ she called back.
Leaving the bedroom and going into the kitchen, she checked the trap in there and found it also empty. Wigging her toes on the cold floor, she glanced around. The night was pressing against the kitchen windows and the panel in the back door. Without really knowing why, she walked over and peered outside. She couldn’t see anything.
‘Perhaps, you dreamt it?’ Greyson said from behind her.
‘I was awake,’ Scarlett replied, turning to him, ‘I was in the bathroom.’
Greyson frowned, ‘it was something else then. Come back to bed.’
Nodding, she crossed the kitchen. Turning out the light, they went back to bed, but Scarlett couldn’t sleep. She lay awake, listening to the movements of the manor. Half an hour or so went by then she heard loud, heavy, running footsteps on the main staircase. She froze. The footsteps faded. She looked up at the ceiling and heard a door opening and shutting.
‘Greyson? There’s someone in the house,’ Scarlett hissed.
She turned on the light and got out of bed.
‘Huhuh? What’s it now?’ Greyson’s sleepy voice mumbled.
‘I just heard someone go up the stairs!’ Scarlett whispered.
She went to the wardrobe and began changing, putting on the first things that came to hand then grabbing a woolen jumper. She crossed back again and picked up her phone.
‘Are you sure?’ Greyson asked.
Nodding, Scarlett dialed and pressed the phone to her ear, ‘Hello, police please. The Bruntwood Hotel. I believe there’s an intruder in the house. Thanks.’
Hanging up, Scarlett saw Greyson padding over to the wardrobe. She watched him change into jog pants and a turtle neck jumper.
‘You’re sure about this? he asked.
She nodded, ‘They ran up the stairs and into a room.’
Greyson went to the close the door then reached in and pulled out an old, worn cricket bat. Scarlett stared at him.
‘Just in case,’ he muttered.
‘I’m coming,’ Scarlett burst out and hurried to put her shoes on.
‘Fine, but keep back.’
Quietly and slowly, Greyson open the bedroom door and walked out. Scarlett followed him to their door then out into the entrance hall. Turning on some of the lights, they stopped to listen. Wood cracked softly and the fridge freezer hummed. Moving to the stairs, they stopped again.
Looking up, Scarlett tried to see any movement above, but everything was cast in shadows. Keeping her distant from Greyson, she trailed him upstairs. He was sticking to the side of the steps, cricket bat handle at his side. He reached the square landing and looked both ways, before glancing back at Scarlett.
Scarlett tilted her head to the left and looked up that staircase. She saw Greyson nod before he moved off that way. She waited, watching his muscles under his top bunching in tension. Reaching out for the banister, she steadied herself then carried on climbing.
At the top Greyson, turned on the lights then checked the first few rooms on the right. He opened the doors and peered in, turning on the lights then turning them off and moving on. Scarlett watched him, holding her breath and clutching the banister. He crossed to the other corridor and checked the first few rooms on that side.
‘If anyone is here, the police are on there way,’ Greyson called at as he made his way back to the stairs, ‘We will find you,’ he added.
‘Let’s check the other rooms and turn on all the lights,’ Scarlett spoke.
Greyson nodded, ‘Maybe you should arm yourself, just in case. Here.’
He give her the cricket bat. Scarlett wrapped her fingers around the handle, feeling a lingering warmth from his tight grip. Balancing the weight, she held it half up and give it a small swing.
‘Shout me,’ Greyson stated then went back down the corridor.
Scarlett shuffled her feet over the thick carpet and turned on the rest of the lights. Gingerly, she walked passed the rooms that had all ready been check and to the next one. Opening the door, she flicked on the lights and looked into the hotel bedroom. A bare double bed was against the wall to her right with a curtained window opposite. There was a small wardrobe, cupboards, a desk and chair and a door in the corner leading to the bathroom.
Had Greyson checked in there? She walked in, nerves rushing through her and tried the handle. The door opened. She felt for the light and turned it on. There was a bathtub and shower to her side, a sink to her other and a toilet before her. Turning out the light, she headed out and went to the next room. It looked the same as the first. She repeated everything and saw nothing in this room either.
Stepping back out, she turned and saw Greyson entering a room in the distance. Looking across at the next room, she tightened her grip on the cricket bat and went to the door. Opening it, she turned the lights on. Nothing. She checked the bathroom. Moving the shower curtain aside, she sat down on the edge of the tub and took a deep breath. Perhaps, I was wrong again, she thought.
Resting the cricket bat on the floor, she looked into the empty bedroom. She heard another door opening and the dim click of lights. Greyson’s voice called out hello. Getting up, she walked out, turning out the lights as she went.
‘Greyson?’ she called, ‘Let’s give up and went for the police.’
She saw him come out of a room and began walking over. Doing the same, they met at the top of stairs.
‘They can’t actually get out from up here can they?’ Scarlett questioned.
‘If they used the fire escapes. But then the alarms would go off,’ Greyson added.
Scarlett sighed and looked down the stairs. Her eyes and body felt heavy with tiredness and was repeatedly questioning herself. She felt Greyson’s fingers brushing her hair way then dropping to her arm and hand.
‘Let’s go downstairs and wait,’ he said and took the cricket bat from her.
They went downstairs and at the bottom heard the distant blaring of police sirens.
To Be Continued…