Chapter 2 - So You’ve Returned
The pale woman lowered her head in guilt and retrieved her forgotten broom to resume sweeping. However, it was not she whom the blonde had an issue with. In truth, her qualms laid with Anna. The blonde was subtly condemning Anna, indirectly insinuating that Anna had it easier than the rest of them because she had someone to fall back on in case she screwed up.
However, Anna couldn’t find it in herself to react angrily at the blonde despite hearing those malicious words. She didn’t like how the blonde was disparaging the individual supporting her by calling them a ‘sponsor’, but it was true that she was able to work in a more relaxed manner in comparison to other employees of the Kilner family thanks to them.
The only thing that Anna felt was truly unfair was that she and the person behind her never wrongfully begged for forgiveness nor did they provide excuses whenever she made a mistake. With a shrug of her shoulders, Anna turned back to look outside the window once more, only to find that the house’s lively and populous front yard was now completely empty.
“You look much more capable than you did three years ago, Dylan,” David, Dylan’s older brother, said. He smiled warmly as he lifted his wine glass.
Dylan grinned playfully, his perfect teeth peeking through. “Three years is not a short time, after all.”
A clinking sound rang out as the brothers’ wine glasses lightly tapped each other. Blood red wine danced within each glass.
“You know that, so why did it take you three years to come back to us?” Madam Jane interjected. “I was worrying about you day after day, concerned about whether or not you were eating or sleeping properly. At the very least, you should have sent a letter, or—”
Sir Crane cut her off. “So you’ve completely returned?” he asked Dylan. Jane glared at her husband for the intrusion.
“Yes, I’ve completely returned,” Dylan nodded.
Hearing this, Madam Jane shed a tear of genuine happiness. Sir Crane scolded her display of emotion, citing that she was making a fool of herself, but his claims were tempered by the way he held her hand and took a handkerchief from his pocket, kindly dabbing away her tears.
Using this slight diversion as a chance, Carol joined the conversation. “Welcome back to the household, Young Master.”
Dylan smiled at her in response and nodded.
Three years was certainly not an insignificant quantity of time, and considering how old memories eventually fade with age, Dylan assumed that if he chose to live away from his loved ones for long enough, his emotional connection to them would fade as well. However, that didn’t seem to be the case. The memories he possessed of them, as precious as they were, didn’t become any less precious simply because they were left in the hands of time. In truth, absence had made the heart grow fonder. He loved and appreciated those memories even more than he once had before.
He watched as Carol lifted a little bit of mashed potato from her plate into her mouth. Although she was eating, she wasn’t consuming a substantial amount of food at all. Spotting his gaze, she gave Dylan a small smile, curious as to what he was thinking, but soon her smile grew faint.
Just like the pale skin upon her face, Dylan’s heart became white as well. The three years he spent trying to forget about the woman who became his brother’s wife now crumbled apart in his mind.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think you would be in your room reading books,” Samantha said as she lowered her head, embarrassed. She wasn’t often the type to make mistakes, so she felt particularly flustered. Aware of this fact, Anna, who stood behind Samantha, lowered her head as well.
“I think it’s more like you didn’t think to knock on the door since this room has been empty every day for the last few years.”
Dylan’s tone of voice sounded like water flowing down a river. Anna raised her head slightly. He was sitting on a windowsill with the sunlight pouring in, his gaze still fixed on his book.
“I’m sorry,” Samantha said.
“I didn’t say that to hear you apologize. I’m just saying let’s both pretend we don’t exist around each other and mind our own business.”
Dylan’s voice was the same as it was all those years ago. Anna felt so relieved to hear it once again that a small smile crept up onto her lips.
At that moment, Samantha glanced at Anna. Nodding her head in understanding, Anna walked towards a closet built out of red mahogany wood with the intent to put away the clothes she was holding. She pulled on the closet door’s handle, but for some reason, it didn’t budge.