Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Eleven: Remember) Wuthering Nights: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Eleven
    Hinton was surprised that the lights were still on in the drawing room as he entered the house. The dog had slept by the fire until everyone else had gone to sleep. Then, he’d done as usual and wandered upstairs to lie at the foot of his master’s bed.
     The boy had removed his coat; he wore the latest sneakers and low rise jeans. Hinton wandered into the kitchen to see if there was anything to eat. He hoped Greta had left something since. He was very hungry after hours of clubbing in Soho. He was often photographed there with various girlfriends, but lately, his shallow existence had begun to bother him. Perhaps he was more like his adopted father than he thought. The family photographs that filled the drawing room told barely half the story of its dysfunction.
     Hinton shook his head at the pictures on the wall as he climbed the stairs. It was funny to him that Heath could give himself airs and graces but no one knew where he came from either. Heath could use the title bestowed upon him for “services to the economy” but that didn’t make him a Lord, not in Hinton’s eyes. He couldn’t have cared less about titles but he thought it almost funny that he had to practically ask permission to live in his own house when his sister had more rights to it than Heath (who only owned the house because of a swindle…) but that was another story.  
    The boy was aware there were two sides to the family history. In the first version, Heath had “saved” him as a child from a vicious beating by his drunkard brother-in-law, Harrison. The other was contained in an apologetic note from Harrison years later. Truth lay somewhere in between. One thing Hinton knew for sure; Heath cheated Harrison out of his own home during a game of high-stakes poker.
    There are always more sides to a story but this was the particular side that Hinton chose to believe. Before the bet, papers had been signed. Heath, the foundling child, had risen to become the rightful owner of Hareton Hall. Hinton grimaced in the mirror as he cleaned his teeth and splashed his face. His image was hazy with condensation. He rubbed the mirror with a towel and wiped his face dry. Hinton turned off the light and walked quietly to his room. Heath’s light was on. As usual Hinton didn’t bother to say goodnight. Instead, he flopped on his own bed fully clothed.
    Heath wasn’t so bad. He’d been more of a father than Harrison and treated him more like a biological son than the father he’d never met. Besides, unless he won the annual Art Prize at his college, he had nowhere else to go.    
   Hinton had flicked on the television news in his bedroom and was chugging orange juice and eating what was left of some roasted chicken, when he heard a piercing screech that made him walk into the hallway.
    Doors flung open and Heath’s dog bounded out of the main bedroom towards a room with blazing light under the door; a room that had never been used since his teenage aunt had inhabited it more than twenty years ago.
    A dark-haired girl flung open the door and stood on the landing, looking pale and frightened in the half light. Hinton Spencer froze on the spot.
   ‘Who are you?’
   ‘I’m… I’m Katarina Hunt.  You must be…’
   ‘Hinton, your…cousin by marriage, for all intents and purposes.  I…I was adopted. Are you okay?’
     ‘I don’t know… I think I will be. Someone tried to get into my room…’
      The boy, mesmerized by her white skin and red lips, stared at her longer than was necessary, then apologized, adding, ‘sorry…it’s just that you are identical to my…adopted Aunt…’ He gestured to Kate’s picture on the wall.
     ‘May I?’ Hinton said.
     ‘Yes…come in, please…’ Kate said with desperation in her voice. Hinton checked the cupboards and behind the curtains, even under the bed.
     ‘There’s nothing in here…’
      A slight breeze wafted through the room, seemingly from nowhere.
     ‘I…I  met…your Uncle, um Heath and I wanted to come back to see some old photos and the house my mother grew up in. Then the storm set in so I asked if I could stay the night and…I don’t think Heath wanted me to stay and… someone tried to get into my room.”
    Hinton looked around.
    ‘The door was shut when I came up.’
    Almost speechless, Katarina whispered, ‘not through the door, through the window.’
     Hinton wandered past the bed and towards the upstairs bay window. It was unlocked and unopened. He pulled it up. They were on the upper floor. Below, lay a stone pathway.  The flower beds were a metre away from the walls and the trees even farther. It would not have been possible for anyone to climb up.
    ‘There is no one there now,’ Hinton said. ‘Are you sure you didn’t have too much to drink?’
    ‘Are you serious? I know what I saw.’
     Outside, the wind started to pelt down onto the trees. In the distance, an icy storm began to howl again.
     ‘Tell you what,’ Hinton said, smiling, ‘why don’t you come into my room… I’ll take the floor, of course, and you’ll be safe until morning when I drive you home.’
    Katarina looked at him hesitantly. This wasn’t the cousin she was supposed to meet, though she’d heard about him often enough at Art College. Hinton was known as a real ladies’ man, a guy who failed his A-levels and only got into college because of the brilliance of his drawings and a scholarship. Everyone knew his family were loaded. Hinton was a year ahead of her, so they’d seen each other in the halls but never spoken. He’d dated more than his share of girls at the college, and dumped them just as quickly. 
    Katarina reluctantly dragged her checked blanket off the bed and pulled on her jeans over her underwear as Hinton pretended to look away.
   ‘C’mon, then,’ Katarina said, as the storm raged outside.
    Hinton couldn’t believe his luck. He started walking towards his room when he realised the girl had taken a wrong turn.
   ‘I’m going to sleep in the drawing room,’ Katarina said. ‘Perhaps, you could come with me?’ She was still pretty scared after the earlier incident, though she’d never admit it and Hinton had all but convinced her she was dreaming.
   “Mmm… give up my bed for a hard couch?” For a minute she thought he was going to refuse.
    ‘Why not?’ he said with his most affable smile. ‘We can pretend we’re on a camping holiday.’  Although her likeness to her mother threw him momentarily, Hinton was beginning to like this new cousin.
    Heath was able to sleep through practically anything but lately he’d been woken up at all hours. He’d drunk three glasses of brandy before bed and fallen into an almost trancelike state reading the stock reports and going through some important files in relation to an upcoming merger. He’d been out hunting squirrels and rabbits again. He’d swiftly scaled the outside wall so no one would notice him coming back or leaving. Disgusted, he wiped the blood from his mouth, rinsed and brushed his teeth before bed. 
     Though he dimly heard the sound of a woman’s scream it faded just as quickly and the only change in his vast, kingly bedroom was the blurry sight of his dog’s ears standing up. He crawled under his duvet. Heath slept a few hours every night. After his maturity, at twenty-one, he hadn’t slept at all. But recently, he’d started falling into a deep slumber in the early hours of the morning. He reached over for his newly prescribed elixir. There were many underground markets now and different products for both vampires and hybrids that hadn’t been available to Heath in his youth. After he chugged some Magenta (a new elixir), he fell back into a deep sleep. The dog whimpered and snuggled at his feet like she always did when he woke.
     In the dark he heard a woman’s voice, clear as glass.
    “Heath… Heath…” the girl whispered to him. Then, her hand reached over and shook him awake.
     Dark hair fanned across his ear, irritating him and interrupting his dream, which was more than a dream. Heath opened his eyes and saw the perfect brown eyes of another and heard Kate’s pleading voice as he reached out to touch her cheek.
    ‘Heath,’ the girl said. ‘Forgive me for what I did. I’ve been away for eighteen years. Please come back to me, I have missed you. It’s so cold out here…come back to me…come back…Let me in. I’ve been in the in-between for so long…’