Author's note: Hope you enjoy! If you want to read the next chapter just post me a comment and I will. ^_^
Matchmaker's Mansion: Ch. 11A blue glow emanated from the screen of Asha’s cellphone, illuminating the spot in the dark hallway where she stood as she looked over her text one more time:
Hey Christie, I’m going out shopping for something special for my mom. I told her that I was over your house. Please cover for me. Thanks!
That jab of guilt pried at her heart as she clicked the send button. Snapping the cellphone shut, she turned to the faint outline of the door in front of her. She had received
Turning the doorknob, she entered the room, a golden glow pouring out. Shutting the door behind her, she noticed the same red walls and cream drapes, remembering the room to be the one that Chase had fainted in. But why had they asked her to come back to this room? She glanced at the TV screen on the left as she passed, memories of the dance fresh in her mind. She paused when she saw that among the sofas, in the middle of the room, stood a tall man with his back to Asha, apparently ignorant of her entrance.
Taking a few steps forward, she heard him speaking in low tones and wondered if she was interrupting anything important. She instantly relaxed when Chase leaned over to peak out from behind the man. A smile broke out on his face and he waved excitedly from his seat on a couch.
Asha smiled and waved back. The man turned and she recognized him as Shaun. It’d been a while since she had last seen him, but he looked the same as always with his hair slicked back and his ever-present smile.
“Hello, Miss Asha,” Shaun said.
“Hello,” Asha said timidly, not used to such formal greetings, “did I interrupt something?”
“No, no,” Shaun waved a hand as though dismissing the idea. “As a matter of fact, you’re a part of this too. So please listen in on this.”
Asha moved up to stand beside Shaun as he spoke to her and the three boys who sat in a row on one long sofa. “These blank notebooks are for your personal use,” Shaun pointed to the four books sitting in a perfect stack on the low glass table. “But we have certain rules for you to follow. They are to be used only for the purpose of your sessions. You are not to write about anything pertaining to outside occurrences since your master matchmakers will be reading this to get further insight on your thoughts. Your matchmakers have also made it a little more fun by assigning special entries for you, although you are not required to fill them out. But I would highly recommend it since it will help you all to understand each other more.”
Asha nodded when he paused, looking to the boys who sat there with blank faces. When Shaun saw no response from them, he turned to Asha, “Now—I’ve asked you here for a very selfish reason.” Shaun clapped his hands together and held them there in front of him, which made him look like he was about to pray. “I call you here for an unscheduled session because our cook has fallen ill. We, as ignorant men, beg you from the bottom of our hearts to help us.”
Asha laughed at Shaun’s pleading expression, something she’d never expected to see on the face of someone so distinguishably dressed in a suit. “Of course I will,” she said sweetly with a smile.
“Thank you so very much,” Shaun said with a mock swipe of his brow. Quickly, he looked to his watch and said, “It’s about ten o’clock right now and lunch is served at 12:30. Start whenever you feel necessary—the boys know where everything is.” And with that, he left with the long tails of his suit jacket flapping behind him.
Chase picked up the book on the top of the stack and flipped through some of the pages. “This could be fun…I think,” he said. The dark mass that was Shay, sitting between Chase and Ever, picked up one too. He mumbled “How lame” under his breath as he thumbed through it, tossing it back onto the glass a few moments later.
Ever leaned forward on the sofa, picking up the one Shay had tossed aside to look inside the cover. His dark blue dress shirt was open at the top and when he bent forward she caught a peak at his muscled chest. Slowly he said, “Why don’t we fill out the first entry and then at 10:30 we’ll start on lunch. Sound good?” he looked to Asha, then to the boys. Shay looked resentful, slouched in his seat and arms crossed loosely across his chest, his light black scarf pulled up to hide his mouth. Chase said, “Sure!” and stood up as though to go somewhere else.
“Chase,” Ever said in a deep tone. Chase stopped mid-stride to look back over his shoulder. “You didn’t ask Asha which one she wanted before taking your own.”
“Oh,” Chase said with a look of innocence. “Which one would you like, Asha?” He picked up all four of them to show her.
“Well…I… which one do you want, Chase?” Asha said, looking at the different colored books.
“Asha,” Ever said, shaking his head. “It’s your decision, don’t try to get out of it.” Asha stared at him, her eyes locking to his hazel ones. Why was he making such a big deal out of this? Her eyes moved to his lips as he mouthed the silent words of “Baby, you’re a firework.” Is that what he wanted, for her to be herself?
She still didn’t quite understand, but obeyed by saying, “I’d like the white one with the stripes,” she said. Chase handed it over and sat back down beside Shay, forgetting where he had previously been heading.
Asha took a seat on the smaller sofa across from them. She cracked open the soft cover notebook to the first page. Signing her name on the owner line, she flipped to the first entry. At the top was written: “Describe your partners with detail, examining their looks and personality.”
Asha chewed on the end of the pen Ever had given her, frequently glancing up at the boys across from her. Ever was feverishly writing, Chase was looking at his paper dreamily, and Shay sat looking at the closed book on the table like it was an alien.
As she wrote her thoughts, Shay watched her before picking up his own notebook. He gently pried open the blue cover to the first page, the leather of the cover soft beneath his fingertips. Reading the requirements of the first entry, he groaned in disgust. His pages stayed blank until he leaned over to look at what Chase had written. Instantly, a mean idea grew in his mind and he turned back to his own notebook to start his first entry.
The end of her pen now bitten till it was flat, Asha admired her list of descriptions. Glancing up, she saw Chase holding up his notebook wide open. Her eyes took in what he had drawn on his page. In pen, he had drawn on the white lined pages a rough sketch of her with little sparkles decorating the space around her. It was done so beautifully that she couldn’t help but smile wide. But her smile became a frown when her gaze shifted to the entry that Shay was holding up: a drawing of a stick figure girl in a dress. The stick figure had a large head with a mop of hair on it with plenty of stray hairs. She had zombie-like eyes that were just empty circles, little line for a mouth, millions of freckles, and “Asha” written in scribbly letters above her. A huge arrow was connected to the girl and pointed towards a large door on the other side of the page. Over the door was written- “Exit Our Lives.”
Asha sat in shocked silence, staring at the picture until Ever leaned over and grabbed the notebook away from Shay. He snapped it shut, shooting a warning glare at Shay. Ever set Shay’s book down on the glass table, then slid his own notebook over to Asha. It was already open and when Asha glanced down she read one word on his page- “SIMPLE”. Her heart fell even more, and Ever reached over and turned the page for her to see the back of the page. The entire page was filled from top to bottom. She lightly skimmed it, her confidence rising with every word she read and when she reached the last paragraph she read it over more than once:
“Asha is a young lady who tends to go with the flow. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s natural to want to please others. But someday I hope she’ll realize that she needs to stand up for what she thinks and what’s important to her. She needs to value her opinion, only then can people see the real her.
The choices you make, make you.”
Asha stared at Ever’s notebook where it sat on the table, the gears of her mind starting to turn after years of staying still. He was right. She had grown to let others make her decisions for her, never fighting against it.
Quickly, she grabbed her pen and started to draw ferociously on an empty page of her own notebook. She wasn’t sure if Ever had meant for her to take his advice the way she was, but she had the sudden urge to fight back- to show that she wasn’t going to be pushed around.
She finished the picture with a flourish and held it up in Shay’s face. Shay stared at the page with an even gaze, but deep inside he felt the hard casing around his heart crack a little.
Situated in the middle of the page was a stick figure of a boy wearing a shirt and pants. He had the same zombie eyes but with a drape of black hair cutting across them. An empty circle sat in the middle of the boy’s chest. Pointing to the circle was an arrow; at the end of it were the words: “this is where your heart is supposed to be.” Shay’s eyes traveled over to another drawing. It was a remake of his drawing of Asha and in the stick-figure Asha’s hands was a huge heart with the words “since you don’t have one, you can have mine” above it.
Asha lowered the book to see Shay’s expression, but he didn’t have one. He was blank. Slowly, his eyes rose to meet her’s and when they did she felt like she had had the wind knocked out of her. For several moments, she sat staring into his grey whirlpools of emotion.
“Well, it’s 10:30. We better get started on lunch,” Ever’s voice cut their connection.