Scarlett wiped her hands on her jeans and looked around the bedroom. She was finally happy with it, though it had taken all afternoon, but everything had a place now. The bed was probably made, all of her and Greyson’s clothes put away, the bookcase was between the windows and filled up, her dressing table and mirror positioned next to the wardrobes and the bathroom stocked.
Smiling she walked out and headed into the kitchen on her left. The smell of cooking meatballs mingled with a waft of spring evening air. She stopped just inside and saw Greyson at the sink, filling the kettle with his back to her.
‘The bedroom is done,’ she declared.
He glanced at her then turned off the tap, ‘that’s great.’
‘I thought we’d set the traps after tea,’ Scarlett added.
‘Sounds good. Fancy a drink?’
Greyson replaced and clicked on the kettle before grabbing a bottle of red wine from the metal rack. He dug out two glasses, uncorked the bottle and half-filled each glass with the dark red liquid.
‘A toast to the new place,’ he said, giving Scarlett a glass.
She nodded and they chinked the glasses. Sipping the wine, she hovered for a few moments, watching him turn the meatballs over and get out a large pot for the spaghetti. Then Scarlett walked to the back door and stepped outside.
The large expanse of light green lawn sloped gently before her, leading to a tall hedge row and a number of openings and gates. To the right she could make out a flag stoned patio area that connect to the hotel’s dining room and bar. A number of plastic and wicker chairs and tables were spread out, almost as if they were about to be used for a party. Lastly, she could see another disused fountain centred on the lawn. On this one’s plinth were three naked nymphs holding tipping Greek style vases, out of which water should have been flowing.
Scarlett took a deep breath. The air hummed with the soft scent of newly opened flowers whilst birds were singing the evening chores so charmingly. The sky was an artist’s wash of pastels which promised an even better day tomorrow.
‘Why don’t we eat out here?’ Greyson asked.
Scarlett turned to him, not having realised he’d joined her.
‘We could bring one of those tables closer.’
‘They are so big though,’ Scarlett pointed out, ‘Why don’t we get the kitchen one out?’
‘We’d have to carry it all the way from the entrance hall. Where are we actually going to put that? The kitchen is far too small for it,’ Greyson added.
‘I don’t know. Okay, let’s go see if there’s a smaller table over there.’
Scarlett handed her glass to Greyson, who ducked back in the kitchen to set them aside. Together, they walked over to the patio area and found that there were a few smaller tables. Selecting one they carried it back and returned for two white wooden chairs. They ate in the fading light, complementing the food, the evening and the garden.
Afterwards, they went into the living room and Greyson set up the TV. Scarlett rummaged through the boxes and found the one with the DVDs inside. Deciding on a newish romantic movie, she then helped set up the DVD player and move the sofa around. Curling up, they settled down to relax.
‘Tomorrow, I’m going to do this room and the dining room,’ Scarlett said.
‘I’ll do the study then,’ Greyson responded.
He kissed the top of her head as the movie started playing.
Scarlett yawed, feeling a sudden wave of tiredness. She pulled a fluffy blanket over her knees and snuggled into Greyson’s chest. He wrapped an arm around her and rested his head on her’s. Focusing on the TV, they both let everything go and dozed through the movie.
A gentle tapping brought Scarlett fully awake. She listened and thought it sounded like someone knocking on the manor’s front door.
‘Greyson?’ she whispered.
‘I hear it too,’ he muttered back.
‘We should go check.’
‘It’s probably the wind and branch or something,’ Greyson suggested.
Scarlett shook her head and took the blanket off her knees, ‘it’s too much like someone knocking.’
Getting up, she went to the front door of their apartment and unlocked it. Opening the door slowly, she looked out into the darkness of the entrance hall. The tapping continued, but it was louder now. Opening the door more, she looked back and saw Greyson stepping behind her with the ring of keys in his hand.
Scarlett turned the lights on and walked around the reception desk and to the front door.
‘Hello?’ she called loudly.
The tapping stopped.
Greyson opened the door and swung it wide open. They both looked out and saw nothing but the new night settling in. Listening, they heard the last of the bird songs fading and the soft rustle of leaves. Greyson stepped out and looked around. Scarlett hung back in the doorway, wondering what could have caused the soft knocking.
‘Maybe it was an animal?’ Greyson said as he came back in.
‘We need to set the traps,’ Scarlett recalled.
‘Go and get them. I’ll lock up again.’
Nodding, Scarlett hurried back to their rooms and the dining area, which was currently a storage room. She grabbed a heavy plastic bag and took it into the living room. Sitting on the sofa, she began taking things out of the bag.
‘All done,’ Greyson’s voice called from the hallway.
He came into the living room and set the keys back on the coffee table.
‘We need to find a good place to put these,’ Scarlett said, indicating the basic rodent traps.
‘The bedroom and the kitchen? I’ll set the outside ones up in the morning,’ Greyson responded.
They set the traps up together and placed them in out of the way areas. Checking everything was turned off and locked up, they went to bed. Scarlett set the alarm clock then grabbing her book, got under the sheets. Turning the pages, she began reading whilst Greyson was in the bathroom.
A gently tapping brushed against her ears.
Scarlett looked up, frowning. The noise was the same as before, only this time it sounded liked it was at the apartment’s front door.
The toilet flushed and the sink tap ran.
Scarlett shook her head and began reading again. She heard Greyson humming as he brushed his teeth.
The tapping remained, though it seemed to be growing louder.
Closing her book, she slipped from the bed and walked to the bedroom door. Listening, she became sure that the sound was actually in the apartment. It probably was a rodent or some draft causing the breeze to move something. Scarlett’s hand went to the door handle. She turned it and opened the door onto the dark hallway.
Peering out, she couldn’t see anything and the tapping was still continuing. Gently, she walked out and headed towards the noise. At the opening to the living room, she stopped and looked in. The knocking really was something tapping on wood. She flipped on the light, eyes darting everywhere possible.
The noise stopped. Silence filled the air.
Scarlett studied the floor. Thinking at any moment she’d see a furry body shooting away. Seconds tick by. Finally, she let go of the breath she had been holding and went into the living room. Puzzling, she tried to see what could have been making the noise, but there was nothing obvious. She peered under and around things, hoping to spot anything that would give her a clue.
Putting her hands on her hips and standing in the middle of the room, she decided to give up and go back to bed. Turning, she walked back and switched the light on her way. Heading into the bedroom, her feet paused.
There was creaking on the grand staircase.
Scarlett’s hand reached out for the wall. She pressed her palm against the cool surface and turned around. There was a slice of light coming from under the doorway of the apartment.
‘Greyson! You forgot to turn out the lights!’ she shouted.
‘Huh? What?’ his distant voice called back.
Scarlett stomped to the door, unlocking and opening it. Darkness filled her vision. Stepping back, her hand slipping from the handle, confusion seized her.
‘What?’ Greyson said coming into the hallway.
‘I saw…there was…’
‘Scarlett? Are you okay?’
She turned to him, ‘there was a light coming from under the door. I thought you’d left them on.’
‘No. I turned everything off and I double checked before we came to bed.’ Greyson stated.
Scarlett looked out into the black entrance hall, her thoughts tumbling. Slowly, she closed and locked the door. Stepping back to where she was before, she looked at the gap under the door.
‘Your mind’s playing tricks on you,’ Greyson explained, ‘it’s been stressful and tiring. Maybe you’ll feel better after some sleep?’
‘Maybe,’ Scarlett mumbled.
‘Come on. Everything will be fine in the morning.’
Greyson took her hand and with a gently tug, led her into the bedroom. Scarlett’s eyes lingered on their front door.
To Be Continued…