The Victoria House

May 1, 2012
By , Omah, NE
She should have felt happy, ecstatic even. She was coming home to her Zach. The Zach that she had waited years for him to finally notice her as more than just a best frien. The Zach that had brought her soup when she was sick made by his mother Sarah, of course, as if her Zach would actually do any sort of “women’s work” he was much to manly and macho to be seen anywhere near a kitchen . The Zach that took her to the little Italian place, Bella Italia, on 42nd every Valentine’s Day, even though she did not care for Italian as much as Zach. The Zach that had stolen her heart in the third grade with shy glances and baggy clothes. He was a frightened little thing, nervous of everything and wary of his own shadow. So unlike the cool, confident Zach that she now knew so well.
She should have missed the blazing chocolate eyes that had held so many emotions, emotions that at one point she believed she completely returned. His eyes that had drawn her in all those years ago, the eyes that sparkled when she told him that she loved him for the first time. At the beginning of her self imposed four month exile she thought that she would long for those eyes, to be held against his firm, narrow chest. Four months ago she would have rejoiced at the thought of a traffic jam on the streets of her beloved Chicago. Four months ago she would have been anxious to get off of her family’s private plane and to speed down the street to Zach’s house. She would have rushed to his house, shouted a greeting to Sarah and her brunch party ladies and raced to his room. She imagined that she would have been enveloped in his huge arms and he would have spun in a circle. Their reunion would have been sweet and romantic. They would have gone to Bella Italia and had mediocre a plate of fettuccini alfredo. Then Zach would have ordered an order of Cannoli’s and he would eat two and she would eat one. After they finished dinner, Zach would have driven them to the lake and they would sit on his car under the blue plaid blanket. He would have spouted some cheesy line about how her eyes shone like stars and she would have completely fallen for it.
Then, she would call Emily and gush about how romantic her boyfriend was and dish about the things Jess had left out of her emails. Four months ago, she would have missed Jess’s pin-straight platinum blond hair. Her high cheekbones and steel eyes would have been a comfort. She would have pined for the perfectness of her impeccably dressed friend. But four months ago she hadn’t gone and thrown a party. Four months ago, she hadn’t had the unfortunate experience of walking into her bedroom and seeing her long-term boyfriend and best friend playing tonsil hockey on her bed.
Now, she was stuck on a plane going to nowhere with thoughts only on that sweet southern boy with his ancient blue pick-up truck. The mop of honey blonde curls perpetually in his eyes was so different then Zach’s perfectly styled chocolate brown hair. She wondered how a big town girl who moved to a small Texan town and how absurd that idea was. Her thoughts wondered to the nights she spent slow dancing in that horrid barn and how she teased him for being so cheesy.
When she thought of Texas, she was filled with nostalgia. She wanted to feel the gentle breeze sweep into her room and wipe away the scorching Texan sun from her pale skin. The violent accents of the people on the plane around her seemed startling compared to the gentle twang she had gotten so used to in the last four months. The thought of her adored Texan twon drew attention to the borderline painful grip that had taken hold of her throat. She longed to feel his rough calloused hand in hers, completely unlike the soft smooth hands of her childhood love. Hands that were meant for stroking the keys of a piano not doing the hard labor that is required of a ranch hand.
She hadn’t realized that she was crying until the motherly flight attendant, Pam, handed her a pack of complementary tissues. She could just imagine how Liam’s bright blue eyes would soften and he would say something incredibly cheesy but it wouldn’t mater because he would still be with her.
Liam. A deep sigh rolled from her as she thought of the boy that wove his way into her still healing heart. He had been there when she first arrived at her aunt’s house. For Christmas her aunt, Amelia, had asked her to come down to her house in Texas. Rose’s mother had been furious because they had a fall out after their parents died.
Amelia the older of the Dwyer girls had received most of the family inheritance and hadn’t given Claire, Rose’s mom, the half Claire had been expecting. Instead Amelia told her sister that she could have the third once she turned twenty. After the funeral arrangements were made and the properties sold Amelia, age 22, and Claire, 17, moved into an apartment in a nice area. The spacious apartment was not as nice as their old brownstone but they hadn’t moved into a cardboard box. Claire however was spoiled and had the patience of a hyperactive toddler and began to resent Amelia and rebelled in every possible way.
Her already abysmal grades dropped, she left home for hours on end and one too many times Amelia found her bed empty. Fed up, Amelia gave the now nineteen-year-old Claire the money and gave her ten days to get out, just in time for the New Year. Claire moved in with her longtime boyfriend Benjamin, the son of a rich lawyer, and spent the greater portion of her inheritance in a few weeks. Near the end of February Claire came down with what she thought was the flu. Ben told her to just wait it out and she would get over it. A week and a half passed and she showed no sign of improving. Ben drove her to the hospital and there she got the shock of her life. She was pregnant.
Ben was ecstatic and made plans with her to go to dinner. Claire showed up at the Bella Italia and walked to the table to find Ben kneeling awkwardly in the middle of the dining room. They were married by April and Claire had given birth to a healthy baby girl on November 22. They named her Rose after Ben’s grandmother. Amelia was informed of the wedding and baby only after a distant family friend mentioned it on facebook. Unable to take the cold rejection of her sister any longer she took a job as a pediatric nurse in a small town outside of Dallas. Claire received the first contact with her sister in over 3 years in the form of a wedding invitation. She calmly took the invitation and tossed it into the shredder. Six months passed and she received another invitation, only this time it was to a baby shower. Again it was tossed into the shredder. For the next four years she would receive invitations to baby showers and to birthday parties for her niece Ella and nephew William. While she left her baby, Rose, at home with a sweet Latino woman, Celinda. Celinda was a short woman with dark hair that she pulls back in a bun when Claire is around. She had sparkling black eyes and medium brown skin.
Claire hired her the week after they brought her home from the hospital. Claire had been too busy trying to lose the weight she had put on during the pregnancy to take care of a baby. Ben, while he loved Rose, was a young man who had just inherited a big business from his father and was trying to support his family worked long hours and weekends. Celina was appalled at how there was no nursery and quickly fixed up the nursery that was attached to her room. From then on Rose was basically ignored, her mother was gone from ten am to six pm and because her days were “very stressful” she did not feel the urge to spend the rest of her night with a newborn. Celina would be the one to take Rose to the first day of kindergarten and Ci-ci’s brother, Antonio, would be the one to teach her how to ride a bike. Claire only bothered with her daughter when there was a family occasion. She would dress her six-year-old up in frilly dresses that Rose despised and parade her around a room full of wealthy aristocrats. Then after the initial round of meet and greet, she would drop Rose off with Ben. Moreover, Ben did have good intentions, but with his busy work schedule, to support Claire’s absurd lifestyle, he never got to see his daughter. Therefore, they did not have anything to talk about. They would sit awkwardly and not speak to each other. Rose would wish she would be at home in her jammies while Ci-ci went about her nighttime routine. They would brush their teeth together and wash their faces. Then while Ci-ci got dresses Rose would snuggle down into her covers and wait to hear her favorite bedtime story. Then when Rose was all tucked in Ci-ci would sneak out of the backdoor to the guesthouse Ben had given her when Rosie turned three. Then she would brood in her living room and wait for Tony. He would sneak up to Rosie’s room, carry her back to their house, and place her in the room they made just for her.
The room was soft lavender; unlike the neon pink of her other room. There was a small twin bed with a handmade blue and green quilt, made by Ci-ci’s mother. The room had hardwood floors covered by a rug; there was a desk in the corner and a dollhouse in the other. The house was not much but the doors were always open and smelled of baking banana bread. The kitchen was warm and the living room cozy, which is why Rose preferred to stay at Ci-ci’s house instead of her “real house” which was cold, white and immaculately clean. The house was not meant for a child. Where Claire was a long list of rules followed. There was to be no messes, no matter if you were to pick them up or not. The white couches- 20/22- were not to be sat on unless there was company. All food was to be eaten in the kitchen and absolutely, positively no crumbs were to be spilt on the floor at any time ever. Her precious schnauzer could not be tempted to break his diet. And while Claire was not around Rose for most of her life, she certainly was always around to berate Celina’s cooking style, the way she vacuumed, the way that her hair always fell out of her “horrid bun”. The things that Claire could find to embarrass Celina were so miniscule Ci-ci was sure that she had made most of them up. If Celina had not fallen in love with the rambunctious little girl, she was sure she would have left a long time ago.
Rose was a small child with wild auburn curls that she got from Claire’s mother. Her new penny colored eyes shone eagerly when she spotted something she had never seen. She was wild and loud, everything her mother was not and her Aunt was. When Claire looked at the girl her upper lip- recently waxed- curled in disdain and she snapped something venomous in the girls face. She would watch as Rose’s eyes would dim and her chubby face would drop in disappointment, and Claire would enjoy it and ignore that tiny voice in the back of her mind asking when she became such a bitter harpy. She would watch them, from the window of her dressing room and shudder at the sight of a little girl, running in mix-matched socks and bright pink tutus over overalls. It was times like these that she remembered the days she and Amelia would run all over the neighborhood, climbing trees and jumping fences, and wished that she could enjoy her daughter’s childhood with her, but chose to become no more than a silly housewife- like all the Dwyer women did before her. When the memories got to be too much she would submerge herself in a sea of Big Sexy Hair. The suffocating chemical smell smothered the happy recollections out of her mind and reminded her of the position she had chosen to put herself in.

The plane’s rumbling landing jarred Rose from her thoughts. She stared out of the planes small window. When the light went off she got up, grabbed her backpack of the ground, and unwound her headphones. She scrolled through her iPod and set it on shuffle. She kept one headphone in and walked through the terminal. Her steps were heavy and her eyes tired. She found a bathroom and set to work, Rolling in the Deep, blasted through her headphones as she pulled her travel toothbrush out of her backpack. As she pulled the brush through her hair, the song changed. And I know that you see what you’re doing to me, tell me why? This brought Simon’s betrayal to the forefront of her mind.
She thought that they were happy, well she was. What had changed? Why had this happened? Her stomach dropped. Things had changed after she went on a collage visit with Ci-ci. Zach wanted her to stay in town and go to the University of Chicago. That weekend she went to the University of Manhattan; he made his opinion very know, much to the chagrin of Ci-ci. She had not taken to the changes that the boy went through his sophomore year of high school. His shaggy brown hair was cropped short and his vibrant chocolate eyes were sunken in and slightly bitter. His shoulders slouched and head down. When his father, Billy, came into the room Zach stood up- shoulders back, chest out, and chin held high. Billy’s eyes shone with pride and Zach’s began to harden even further. It was after this that they had gotten together and Rose was ecstatic, Zach was quiet about it and Rose thought that that was just him settling into their new routine, Zach never did like change.
The sound of the gentle violins resounded through her ears as she went back to the task that was taming her curls into something somewhat respectable. She glanced at the flashing screen of her phone and saw that she spent nearly fifteen minutes daydreaming. She grabbed her bag and changed from her travel clothes- a sweatshirt and leggings- into her “Texas clothes”. She drew the jeans up and wrapped the belt around her waist. She then, very carefully pulled a white t-shirt over her expertly crafted French braid. She dabbed some lip gloss on and headed out of the bathroom ready to meet her “long lost family”.

The sight that greeted her was so unlike what she was used to. Usually, when she got home from a trip she would drive whatever car her father had rented for her and drive home to find Ci-ci and her boyfriend Roger, waiting at home for her with a warm hug. Then Ci-ci would ask her what she wanted for dinner and they would move on. When she got to the waiting terminal there was a man with a sign that said “ROSALIE DYWER”. Behind the man were two women and another man.

The oldest woman, Aunt Amelia, was a stunning woman with flowing auburn hair, not unlike Rose’s. Her eyes were bright, hazel, and warm. She was dressed casually, a yellow summer dress. When she spotted Rose, she beamed and pulled the smaller girl with her. The girl was short and skinny, dressed in jean shorts and a loose white tank top. Her hair was honey blonde and hung loose around her chin. Her bangs fell in her matching blue eyes, her nose was small and she seemed to be dancing her way behind her mother.

“Hello, Rosalie! My name is Ella and I think this summer is going to be the best ever!” Ella was so excited that her sentence was smushed together and very had to understand.

“Hi, I’m Rose” when she realized that they knew her name she blushed.

Amelia gave her an encouraging smile, “Hello, dear” she beamed as she pulled Rose into a warm hug, “I’m Amelia but you can call me aunt Amy.” She pulled Ella, who was still chattering to herself, and Rose back toward the tall blond man and the ginger.

“Hello Rose. I’m Chase, Amy’s husband” the man was tall with the same color hair as Ella. His hair looked silky and Rose wanted to touch it. When Chase saw what had drawn Rose’s attention he smiled and leaned down to her ear.

“My hair was the first thing that caught Amy’s attention too. She says it was my ‘charming personality’ but, I think we all know it was my gorgeous hair.” He stage whispered. Amy leaned over and smacked him on the arm.

“Excuuuuuuse me. Hello there honey, I’m William James but, you can call me Will.” The ginger said with a wink.

Rose shot a slightly disturbed look at Ella, silently begging her for some sort of distraction.

“Or you could call him creep, mostly every does.” Ella shot in and Rose threw her a grateful smile.

“Alright-y then, lets get on the road!” Chase exclaimed as they began the long walk to their car, “Where’s your luggage, that’s the only reason we brought good old Will for!” Chase teased.

“Will used to be really skinny, a little bag of bones, ya know? So daddy used to joke that the only way he would get any stronger was to carry all of our bags. At age, like four, ya fall for that kin’a stuff especially because your daddy said it. So it’s kinda like a lil’ inside joke for us”, Rose was immensely grateful for Ella’s chatterbox ways. She had a feeling that Ella would become very helpful to her. When they arrived at a beat up old Sedan Will pulled out the keys and popped the trunk.

“Here ya are, honey” he said with a gentlemanly bow.

“Why thank you kind sir” Rose said in a dramatized southern accent.

Will winced, “We’re gonna have to work on smushin’ the mid-western righ outta ya!”

“Will, honey! Wait at least until you’re at home to start beratin’ the girl!” Amy yelled from the front seat.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah! Whatever ya say mamma.”

Rose looked around, bewildered. She thought that these kinds of family interactions only happened in books or movies. Seeing Rose’s dazed expression, Amy started the car up the Chase turned up the music. They mostly rode in peace, only speaking when Ella pointed out favorite places to go and things to see.

When they reached town, Rose looked around in awe. She had never seen such a beautiful place. The estate she lived on was beautiful but cold and immaculate. The scene that greeted her in this small Texan town could only be described as breathtaking. The trees were so colorful and the sun shone directly on them. There were children of all shapes and sizes playing in yards and in the streets. When they saw the silver sedan pulling through the street they stopped, waved a chorus of “Hey Mrs. Amy” rang through the street. Amy stuck her arm out of the window and waved back at them.

Amy looked into the rear-view mirror and caught Rose’s eye. She gave a small comforting smile and then turned back to the road. They drove past a school, park and a library before the car slowed and Amy pulled into a driveway.

The house was white; it had a big wrap around porch with a worn wicker bench next to the door and a grey brick turret. It had navy blue shutters and a right red door. Rose opened the car and was mauled by the scorching Texas heat. She squealed and pulled the door shut. When she turned and faced front she was greeted by four amused grins. She blushed and turned her head away.

“It takes some getting used to doesn’t it?” Amy asked with a happy grin.

“Yeah, I suppose it will.” Rose was used to stinging cold. She could handle vicious wind and brutal cold, but this heat was something that would take a lot of time to adjust to.

“Well, are we all just going to sit here? Or should we move this party to the house?” Chase asked.

Rose opened the door but was expecting the blazing heat so she didn’t flinch and turn away. She did however take a deep breath of the heavy air and immediately chock. Ella patted her on the back and gave her a nudge. Rose immediately moved out of the way and stepped into the town that she would call home for the next four months.

She marveled at the beautiful scene around her and wished she could lean over and gush to Ci-ci about how wonderful this sight was. She turned, half expecting Ci-ci to be there but met the understanding eyes of her aunt. Amy strolled over to Rose and put a reassuring arm around her shoulder.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” her voice was soft and unassuming.

“It’s so different. I don’t even know what to say”

“It was the same way when I first moved here. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of this town. Something I could never explain. I still don’t know what it is but ya know what they say, don’ look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Amy led her through the house and Rose marveled at the warm house. The walls of the hallway were light blue and every so often a picture of Will or Ella would pop up from the wall. The floor was covered in a light carpet that Rose dug her toes into. The Estate she lived at with her mother didn’t have any carpet, but Ci-ci’s house did. Their house had wooden floors too, but Ci-ci liked to cover them with an array of warm rugs.

Amy led Rose up a flight of stairs and to the first room on the right. “This is Will’s room. I would open it up but, I’m almost certain that he did not clean it like I told him to, soooo we don’t want to go in there.” Then she moved to the next door “This is the bathroom.” She led Rose to a room across the hallway, opened the door and stepped inside. The room was cotton candy pink with grey shag carpet. “This is Ella’s room, you’ll be stating in the room right next door, but for now you can rest here before we run to the store.”

“Why do we have to go to the store?” Rose questioned.

“Well, we’ll need to paint, chose a bed spread, some-.”

“You’re going to make me a room, and I’m only stating here for four months? What?” Rose rambled.

“Of course we are, we want you to feel at home” Rose yelped and twisted to see Chase standing in the door. “We don’t want you to feel like you’re an outsider.”

“Oh, well, thanks I guess.” Rose wasn’t used to people considering her feelings, with her mother and Zach she had always been the one who had to settle or compromise. She learned early on that the rewards weren’t nearly worth the fight it took to change either of their minds.

“Shall we show you said room?”

They led her down the hallway to the last room on the right. Rose gawked in astonishment at the sheer size of the room. She was used to grandeur but this room was incredible. The ceilings were tall and the walls painted light grey the floors were white carpet. Rose could picture herself sitting on the floor reading one of the many books she brought. A door banging open interrupted her thoughts.

“Kellan! It would do you well to remember the new rule we just put in place!” Amy’s voice was louder and screamed ‘don’t argue, just do’. It wasn’t mean or held any contempt, just slightly louder than normal.

“Alright-y Mrs. P!” That voice boomed from the bottom of the stairs, the heavy footsteps clomped up the stairs and the right to Rose’s new room. “Do you know whe- Hello there, I’m Kellan” Kellan was in one word, huge. His arms were round and probably the size of Rose’s thigh. His large hand engulfed hers, brought it to his lips and gently kissed the top. Rose’s cheeks burst to flames and her heart raced in her chest.

“Now, now Kellan, I don’t think that Scar would appreciate that behavior, would she?” Kellan’s cheeks darkened and he immediately stood up after Amy’s chastisement.

“Who’s Scar?” Rose asked

“She’s my best friend! She is also Amy’s god child, Will’s biology partner, and Kellan’s Girlfriend. With a capital G because Kellan has been a player for the longest time we used to joke about how whoever could tame that . . . wild beast” -Ella gestured wildly to Kellan’s general vicinity- “deserves some sort of honor. Will joked that they should have the title- All-knowing and great tamer of Idiots- but Kellan decided that he didn’t like that. So we decided I decided that she should just get girlfriend with a capital G.” Rose was amazed at how fast she could talk and how she didn’t seem to be out of breath at all.

“How does she do that?” Rose’s tone was incredulous.

“I wonder the same thing and I’ve known her for her entire life.” Kellan stage whispered.

“Hey! It’s a talent!” Ella shouted and jumped onto Kellan’s large back.

Rose looked over at Chase “How did she jump that high?” she mouthed.

“A lot of practice” he mouthed back.

“Will! Will, help me! There is a demon-pixie on my back! It’s gonna hurt me! Help! Help! Mrs. P. you’ll help me right! Rose you? Will you help a poor innocent man! Please have mercy demon pixie! Mercy!” Kellan shouted. Will causally strolled down the hallway.

“I’m almost certain that you don’t deserve this but, I’ll help anyway.” He ambled lazily over to Ella and expertly tickled her. Ella immediately curled up and was easy to remove from Kellan’s prone form- he fell to the ground during his dramatic monologue.

“Thank you, Will! You are my savior. I am forever indebted to you!”

“Indebted? Big word- ten points for idiots” Will sauntered back to his room. Kellan stood shot a betrayed face to Amy and Chase and stomped to Will’s room.

“Three down, two to go” Chase whispered to himself.

“What do you mean?” Rose inquired.

“Well, Will and Ella have a rather tight group of friends. You have met three and you only have to meet Scarlett and Liam, hopefully you can get on well with them. Liam is a sweet boy but it’s really Scarlett that you need to watch out for. The girl has gone to Hades and back so she’s pretty tough. Her story is sad, but it’s not mine to tell.” Amy’s tone left no room for arguments. “If you don’t back down you’ll do just fine.” Chas let out a small sigh when she started to talk about Scarlett.

“Okay, we’ll leave you alone for you to settle down” Amy smiled softly and pulled Chase out of the room.

Rose looked around at her new room in awe. In the middle of the south wall was a four poster bed- California King size. There was a plain green comforter spread over it and scratchy white sheets. When she went to set her pillows with the rest a cloud of dust puffed around her. She coughed an waved a hand in front of her face. She walked over to a window and pulled the roller shade hard. She dodged it as it came tumbling off of the window. She turned and expected someone to come in and scold her for making “such a rucks” as her mother used to say. She was pleasantly surprised when the only reaction she got was a calm “You okay?”. She shouted a confirmation and went back to exploring.

She pushed pulled the other roller shades down, with a lot less force and pushed back the curtains of the other six windows in her room. Some of the windows faced the street where she saw children riding bikes, racing, and just being kids. Through the other window she had a view of the backyard, and the far wall was circular, she remembered that there was a turret on the outside of the house and figured that her room must be part of it. There was a small step leading up to it and it was slightly closed off. There was an old white desk, obviously built in to the wall, and four other windows above the desk. From the windows Rose had a lovely view to another house. It was as big as Amy’s but yellow. A window matched exactly with the placement of her middle window. There was a small door under one of the legs of the desk. She gently pulled at it but after further inspection found she needed a key. She searched the drawers of the desk but could not find anything except that one of the drawers was locked. She studied that lock and concluded that they both needed the same key.

She could feel something stirring in this house, she didn’t know what, but it was something .She could feel it deep in her bones, something was happening.

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