All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Fourteen

Kelly was confused and scared but did as ordered,  When she was led inside, she felt as if she was in the middle of a war zone. Men were swarming everywhere, carrying guns, wearing masks and screaming orders.

She watched as Ellis was led down the grand staircase and shivered as he turned toward her.  A thousand thoughts were going through her mind.  She looked at him as if asking, “what’s happening?  Where are they taking you?  Why are they taking you?”

His face was almost expressionless but his eyes were fixated on her and the intensity was frightening.  He was looking at her the way someone would look at someone who had betrayed them.

Suddenly, a shadowy figure walked up to her, leaned over and whispered, “you look good, kid.”

It was Nedward.  She looked at him and asked “what do you mean?”  He said “it’s okay.  We’ll talk later.  Just let them cuff you and take you downtown.”  Then he walked away.

An hour later, Kelly found herself sitting alone in a room with a big window, which she knew was a two-way mirror.  Suddenly the door opened and she was surprised when Roy walked in and sat in front of her.  He had a huge scar on the side of his head and had lost all of his hair on that side.

He smiled and said “hey Sela.  I’ll bet you’re surprised to see me.”

She looked at him and said “what happened to you?  Where have you been?  And you should know that my name is not Sela.  It’s Kelly.”

Roy looked at her and said “no it’s not, but that’s not my story to tell.”

Again, Kelly asked Roy what happened to him.  He said “do you remember asking me to take you away with me?”  Kelly said “I do, but I thought you just left without me.”

Roy almost painfully said “the King knew that I was planning on leaving and taking you with me, so he decided to…shall we say…stop it.”

“Stop it how?  Kelly asked.  “Did he fire you?”

Roy pointed to his massive scar and said “no, he shot me in the head and had me thrown in the ocean.  I was one of those lucky blokes who happened to float within sight of a cruising Coast Guard boat and was rescued.  The doctors say I’m a walking miracle.”

Kelly put her head in her hands and said “this is too much.”  Then she looked at Roy and said “I don’t believe you!  I don’t believe Ellis would ever do such a thing.  He has always been kind and supportive toward me.”

Roy looked at her and said “didn’t it strike you as at least a bit strange that the very night you asked me to take you away, I suddenly disappeared without so much as a goodbye?  Don’t you think I would have told you goodbye?”  He took her hand and said “you know how I felt about you.”

Kelly was embarrassed and pulled her hand back.  “I know you had feelings for me,” she said, “and I think you knew that those feelings weren’t shared, yet you were willing to risk your life to help me escape and I was willing to let you.  I want you to know that I’m sorry and I’m sorry for what happened to you but I don’t believe for a minute that Ellis had anything to do with it.”

Roy raised his eyebrows when he echoed “Ellis?”  Kelly said “yes, I call him Ellis.”  Roy said “so, you two are…”  Kelly quickly said “no.  It’s not like that.  He’s a kind, gentle man who has taken care of me and there is nothing beyond friendship.”

Roy said “do you really not know who this man is?  Do you really not know WHAT this man is?  Do you really not know what he does and what he has done?”

Kelly angrily said “as I said.  He is a kind, gentle man who has taken care of me.  You are obviously a jealous, vindictive man and this conversation is over.”

The door opened and Nedward walked in with an officer who escorted Roy out of the room.  Kelly’s accusatory eyes followed Roy as he left the room and without looking at Nedward, asked “where are they taking him?”

Nedward said “somewhere safe.”

Then he sat down, looked at her and in his soft whispery voice said “it’s just me now.  You don’t have to pretend anymore.  It’s over.  It took a few years, but you did your job and you did it to perfection.  You should be proud.”

 

To be continued________________________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Thirteen

The King was impressed with the performance Kelly was giving.  He had never seen one better, with the exception of his own.

He had detected none of the things that would immediately give someone away.  She was good.

He knew what was going to have to happen but he had a gnawing question.  How long before the “end,” should he enjoy her company and enjoy her company, he did.  More than once, he had undressed her with his eyes and more than once she had noticed and he had noticed that she had noticed.

Maybe the chameleon’s information had been wrong.  Maybe she really did have amnesia, while pretending to have amnesia.  The King couldn’t and wouldn’t take any chances.  He was too careful.

Kelly had stopped crying and was numbly staring out of the window.  The King put on some romantic music and said “dance with me.”  Without hesitation, Kelly walked straight into his arms.  He wanted to feel the slightest quickening of her pulse, not because sparks were flying but rather, to feel a tremble of uncertainty.

While they danced, Kelly looked at him and said “may I call you Ellis?”  The King said “yes, for a while.”  Kelly seemed to ignore the latter part of his statement as she repeated “Ellis.  That’s a strong name.  Were you named for the famous island?”  He smiled and said “not to my knowledge.”

She surprised him when she said “you told me that no one was looking for me.  I had no one in my life.  Tell me.  Do you have anyone in your life?  I see people coming and going.  You have a full staff.  I’m here.  But, you always seem to be alone and I think you’re lonely.”

The King resented the intrusion into his personal life but she seemed to be so sincere.  “This is all part of the game,” he told himself, but there was something about her that made him hope.  She made him want to believe that she genuinely cared.  He put his hand under her chin as if to lift it for a kiss.  She smiled.

He said “it’s going to be hard to…..”.  Kelly looked at him and said “hard to what?”  The King said nothing.  He had become enamored with her but self-preservation was his driving force.  Still, he had to play the game.

He momentarily weakened when he looked at her and said “there was someone once.  She was beautiful, like you.  Actually, you remind me a bit of her.”

“What happened?” Kelly asked.  Quickly regaining control, he said “that’s a story for another day and right now you’ll have to excuse me.  I have to take care of some business and it can’t wait.”

Kelly left the room and passed a rather large, muscular man on the way down the stairs.  He nodded but didn’t speak.  She stopped and watched as he went into the King’s office.  She could hear them talking and was a bit embarrassed when the King walked over and shut the door, seeing that she was still standing midway down the stairs.

She made her way to her beloved gardens.  It was dusk and a chill in the air made her shiver.  Just as she was about to go inside, she saw flood lights and men in dark turnout gear surrounding the house.  One of them was standing in front of her, screaming the order “hands up.”

She looked toward the large window and saw the King being handcuffed.

To be continued______________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Twelve

It was as if time was standing still as the King continued to study Sela’s face.

The chameleon had uncovered Sela’s entire life and now that information was in the possession of the King.  His initial instincts had been right.  She was there for a reason.  Happenstance was not part of his world and the bizarre events surrounding her mysterious arrival were just as he suspected.

He knew who she used to be.  He knew it was her intention to infiltrate his operation.  He knew that her intention was to bring him down.  He knew that the “pretend accident and loss of memory” was being executed with an Oscar-winning performance.  He knew that she had been trained well and although not being a man who was easily impressed, he admired her performance.

He knew that he was being played but he also knew that he was the ultimate player…and he always won.

The King, not yet willing to put all of his cards on the table, decided to play with Sela, much like a cat plays with a mouse before the kill.  He wanted to see her reaction.  He wanted to see defiance in her eyes.  He wanted to see desperation in her eyes.  He wanted to see fear in her eyes…but he saw none of those.  His thoughts were interrupted when Sela, with hopeful expectation took his hand and said “you know who I am?”

He smiled as he lied and said “your name is Kelly Jordan.”  Sela frantically began a barrage of questions.  “Is anyone looking for me?  Do I belong to anyone?  Where am I from?  How did I get here?”

The King interrupted her and said “you need to take it slow.  It’s a lot for you to take in right now.  One step at a time.”  Sela pleaded, “but I need to know.”

The King walked over to the window and as he looked out, said “I will tell you this.  No one is looking for you.  It’s almost as if you are a ghost.”  Sela began to cry but the King was not touched and smugly controlled his anger when he thought, “this is all part of her game.”

The King did not suffer fools nor was he going to be easily swayed by the pretentious tears of a beautiful woman.

Still crying, Sela surprised him when she walked over and put her arms around him.  “Thank you,” she said.  “Thank you for rescuing me.”

The King had forgotten the tenderness of touch, even if it was coming from a traitor who was feigning loyalty and gratefulness.  His companionship consisted entirely of women for whose services he paid handsomely.  Should one of them betray him, they paid dearly, or so it was said.

Still, the warmth of her body made him question the information for the briefest of moments.  He knew that she had overheard conversations and had witnessed certain conveyances.  Only once had she questioned him and given the slightest impression that she was interested, when she asked him if he was perhaps a wealthy heir.  That, he now reasoned, had been part of her cover and the question had been answered with a smile.

They were both playing a game and it was going to be a matter of who played it the best.  The King silently commended Sela for her great aplomb.  A lesser, more trusting man might have taken her at face value, but he was not one of those men.  He was an astute, suspicious man who had an empire to protect and he would protect it at all costs.

Now he was going to play the game with the expertise of a master craftsman and the “new” Kelly would have to guard against his fatal checkmate move.

He knew what he was going to have to do.  The question was what, how and…when.

After dinner, they went out onto the veranda as they had done for the last several months.  Kelly wanted questions answered and the King encouraged her to have patience.

She looked at him and said “you know my name.  Will you tell me yours?”

The King looked at her and said “my name is Ellis Carrington Winchester.”  Again, he studied her eyes.  Was there going to be a reaction?  Would she show a micro-expression of already knowing or would she be able to detect that he was lying?  He hadn’t told her what her real name was.  Was he telling her what his real name was?

 

To be continued_______________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Eleven

Weeks went by and Sela found that she enjoyed the company of this illusive, charismatic man who she defiantly called “Ben.”  Although it seemed to be reciprocal, Sela suspected that he was most likely an Übermensch: someone who feels so superior that they are bound by neither law nor morality.

After they dined, they stood on the veranda and Sela watched as Ben overlooked his vast empire.  They spoke only of the meals and occasionally, the stars.  There was no touching, no lengthy glances and the quest for each other’s identity seem to have faded into the background, at least for now.

They were once interrupted by Earl, who had apologies with an urgent message.  When Ben excused himself, Sela could hear words like “product and delivery.”  After thinking she heard Ben raise his voice and say the word “Sycophant,” she never saw Earl again.

Earl had not been one to “get to know,” and it was as if Ben had just changed a floral arrangement in the foyer.  It was of no concern to Sela, as it had been with Roy.  She had free reign of the mansion and didn’t need to be “watched” anymore.

Still, she wondered what happened to Roy and she was worried and she knew something.

Roy had, in strict confidence, told her that the King had once been on trial for murder.  He hadn’t offered details and Sela hadn’t asked but quietly wondered if that was the reason for his isolation from the world.  She also wondered if it was true.  Roy was enamored with her and possibly by telling her that secret, it might make him look more like a knight in shining armor.

Ben was charming, a good conversationalist and Sela was surprised with how she looked forward to spending time with him…but was it true?  Was he a murderer?  Or was he just accused of murder and was found to be innocent?    He didn’t look like a murderer but what did a murderer look like?

Sela had obvious bouts with depression.  She still craved the idea of escaping the confines of the mansion.  Sometimes she would cry uncontrollably.  As she sobbed, Ben would stand beside her but offered no hug or even a hand on her shoulder.  He knew why she was crying.  She wanted to know who she really was and more importantly, why no one had ever come for her or even looked for her.

Ben was uncharacteristically compassionate when he told her that maybe she found her way to him because it was meant to be.  He smiled and in an almost protective way, said “you could have suffered a far worse fate.”

Although Sela smiled, she hadn’t forgotten how she had been found and how long it took to recover.  “A far worse fate?”  How much worse could it have been?” she thought.

She didn’t know that she was still under suspicion.  The things Sela mourned for were the things that had become an obsession for the King.  He was good at placating her vulnerability but his ulterior motives were always on the surface.  He didn’t believe in coincidence as he had almost playfully suggested to Sela.

Months went by and the games and mutual manipulation continued, with each thinking they were holding the winning hand.

They grew closer and they were both excellent thespians but for Sela, it was becoming more and more difficult to resist this man of absolute, near perfection.  When he took her hand one night, they locked eyes and almost embraced.

Sela pulled away and said “we can’t do this.  I have to know if I belong to someone.  I feel like I belong to someone.  Don’t you see?  If we begin a relationship, I would feel a sense of betrayal until I know for certain, that I don’t belong to someone.  Please understand.

He leaned over and whispered in her ear, “I understand.”  Sela smiled and said “thank you.”

Unbeknownst to her, he had played every card, called in every chip, made every threat, made every offer that couldn’t be refused, and money had flowed like a rapid stream until one day, his efforts paid off.  It had taken more than two years but through a source called the “chameleon,” the King discovered exactly who Sela was.

The next night as they dined, the King looked at Sela and said “I have something to tell you.”  Sela timidly asked “what?”

Looking for the slightest expression of surprise or fear in Sela’s eyes, he took her hand and said “I know who you are.”

 

To be continued_____________

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Ten

Sela was sure that she had stirred something in Roy.  She knew he was watching her as she strolled back into the house and a backward glance, accompanied with a beguiling smile made Roy blush.

The next morning, Sela dressed and went for her usual garden visit.  As she swung back and forth, she searched for Roy in the distance but didn’t see him.  As she got up and started walking, another man appeared and said “good morning, ma’am.  My name is Earl.”

Sela was confused and asked “where’s Roy?”  Earl said “I’m sorry ma’am.  I wouldn’t know.”

“Why are you here?” Sela asked.  Earl said “I’m here at the King’s request.”  Sela asked “his request to do what?” Earl said “to be your guardian.”

Sela was angry and repeated, “where is Roy?”  Earl repeated, “I’m sorry ma’am.  I wouldn’t know.”  Sela said “I want to know where Roy is.  Find out.”  Earl was silent as Sela made her demands and she sensed that he was not going to be swayed by her feminine wiles.

From the window, the King was watching and summoned Earl.  Standing before the King, Earl was asked what Sela was talking about.  Earl said “she wanted to know where Roy is, Sir.”

“And what did you tell her?” asked the King.  “I told her that I wouldn’t know Sir,” said Earl.  The King said “I think Roy was becoming a liability, in that he was getting too close to her.  Can I be assured that you will not be making the same mistake?”  With an appropriate bow of respect, Earl said “you can be assured, Sir.”

The King surprised Earl when he said “bring her up here.  I think it’s time that we met.”

Earl escorted Sela to the King’s “tower.”  As they walked in, the King said “that will be all.”  Earl, with the same bow of respect, left the room and closed the door.

The King had his back to Sela.  Stinging from the absence of Roy, Sela asked “who are you?”  The King answered,”I might ask you the same thing.”

She said “I am called Sela, but I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are.  Who are you?”

The King, turned and said “you might call me your benefactor.”  Sela quipped, “so I should call you what…Ben?”  Her insouciance angered the King but he found her quick wit intriguing.  He walked toward her and invited her to sit.

Sela obliged and watched as the Kings’ eyes traversed her long legs from hip to ankle as she crossed them.

He said “I think we should get to know each other a little better.”  Sela looked at him and said “how can that possibly happen?  My name may not be my real name but at least I have a name.  You either don’t have a name or you refuse to tell me and if you think I’m going to call you “the King” like your subordinates, then you are truly mistaken.”  She smiled as if she had one-upped him and said “yes, Roy told me that everyone refers to you as ‘the King’.”

He didn’t appear to be amused but it was obvious that she had piqued his interest.

In truth, Sela could understand why he might be called “the King.”  He was beautiful.  His dark, close-cropped hair, tan skin and piercing pale green eyes, lent an air of mystery and potential danger in an exciting way.  The way he carried himself, his almost whisper of a voice and the dominion that he oversaw, left only two things missing.  A crown and a throne.

Sela again asked “what’s your name?”  The King smiled but didn’t answer.  Sela said “understand one thing.  I am not going to call you ‘the King’.”  He whipped around and said “and you understand one thing.  You are here at my pleasure and you don’t tell me what you are and aren’t going to do.”

Sela stood and defiantly said “fine, BEN.  Help me find out who I am and I will be happy to leave…at your pleasure, of course.”

They were playing mental Chess with each other and it seemed to titillate them.

 

To be continued________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Nine

Sela believed that she had found her silent champion but Roy’s feelings and actions had not escaped the King’s notice.

As Sela continued to play with Roy’s emotions, she was tasting freedom.  She was not allowed to leave the grounds but he was and she saw him as her ticket out of there.

She would have to win his complete loyalty and make him want to enjoy that same sweet taste of freedom…and they could not do it under the auspices of the King.

Sela had already begun to feel like she, Dr. Burt, Roy, Greta and all the other silent people in the “kingdom” were part of a “glass menagerie,” kept for the Kings’ pleasure.  She had heard the whispers and she had seen how everyone stood on ceremony.  It was like none of them had an identity of their own.  They were just a small part of a whole and that whole was the King.

She began with a casual question to Roy.  “Could you just leave anytime you wanted?”  His first response was “actually, I’ve never given it any thought.”

Sela looked at him and said “but there’s a whole world out there.  Aren’t you curious?”  Roy surprised her when he said “there’s a whole world here as well, and it’s a very good world.  We, who live here, want for nothing and we’re treated very well.”

“But,” Sela continued.  “Don’t you feel almost like you’re in servitude?”  Roy answered exactly as Sela had hoped.  “We are free to come and go as we please.  We’re not prisoners and certainly not servants in the sense that you mean.”

Sela walked over to Roy and looked at him with beckoning eyes as she said “you can leave and you could take me with you.  We can make a plan.  We can have a life together.”

If Roy, even for a second, believed that would be a possibility, he didn’t reveal his thoughts to Sela.  “Do you realize what you are asking of me?  You are asking me to betray the King.  You are asking me to put my life at risk…to leave the life I’ve known for most of my life.”

Sela gently put her arm on his chest and said “do you really think you’re living?  No matter how you much you posture, you are his servant.  You are at his beck and call.  And remember, you said that you would risk your life for me.”

Roy said “I did say that but you have forgotten the circumstances surrounding that statement.”

Sela sat down on the swing and said “Roy?  Where exactly does the King get his money?  Did he inherit it?  I mean, I  never see him go to work in the traditional sense.”

The look Roy gave her left no doubt that she had crossed the mark and she would get no answer.  As if she had never pried, Sela cavalierly tried a different ploy.  Able to call misty eyes on command, Sela walked over to Roy and said “I need to know if anyone is looking for me.  Don’t you know that I need to know if I am missed?  I had to belong to someone.  Wouldn’t you want to know?”

As she moved closer, she said “don’t misunderstand.  I have been treated like royalty here.  You have been so kind and helpful but I need to know and I need you to help me.”

Sela’s charm and beauty had certainly captured Roy and he was finding it more and more difficult to resist, especially when she was playing the “I’m so vulnerable…please take care of me” card.

 

 

To be continued_______________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Eight

As he walked into the house, Sela screamed “I don’t know who I am!  Do you hear me?  I don’t know who I am!”

Roy walked over and tried to calm her down.  Sela looked at him and asked “who is that man?”  Roy said “he owns this house and these gardens.  He owns everything as far as your eye can see.  This is his kingdom.”

“But who is he?” she asked.

Roy gave just the slightest hint of a smile when he said “we call him the King.”  Sela quipped “the King?  You mean as in the ‘King of his Kingdom’?”

Roy shook his head in affirmation.  “Is he Royalty?” she asked.  Roy laughed and whispered “no, he just thinks he is.”

“You still haven’t told me his name,” she said in an almost pouty voice.

Roy said “if and when the King wants you to know his name, he will be the one who tells you.”

“What is your relationship to him?”  Sela questioned.  Roy said “I work for him.”

“In what capacity?” she asked.

“I am multi-faceted.  I’ve been appointed your guardian.  I’m a liaison and most importantly, I’m a trusted family member who protects the King at all costs.”

“At all costs?” Sela echoed.  “Yes.  At all costs, up to and including sacrificing my life,” he said.

She asked “are you in love with him?”  Roy laughed aloud and said “no, it’s not like that.  It’s more of a loyalty thing.  I protect him but he protects me as well.

“From what?” She asked.  Roy pensively answered “from outsiders.”

Sela said “who are these outsiders and why would they pose a threat to you?”

Roy quickly switched gears and said “don’t you love these gardens?  I see you out here every day and you always seem so relaxed and peaceful.”

“You watch me?” Sela asked.  “Yes,” said Roy.  “I told you that I am your guardian.  I am here to protect you on the orders of the King.”

“You mean you’re a stalker,” she said.  Roy said “no.  Not a stalker.  A guardian.”

Sela said “tell me.  Do you stalk me in my bedroom as well?”  Roy smiled and said “no.  Not in your bedroom.  Only on the grounds, and I’m not a stalker.  I’m your guardian.”

With playful eyes, Sela said “so, does that mean you would sacrifice your life for me as well?”

“I would,” said Roy.

“Do you carry a gun?” asked Sela.  “Yes,” said Roy.  “Is it a big gun?” asked Sela.  “Big enough,” said Roy.  “Can I see it?” asked Sela.  “No,” said Roy.

Sela was flirting with him and knew that he would be flattered.

“Are you in love with me?” she asked.  She could see the flush in Roy’s face as he tried to stumble through a denial.  “I’m here to protect you on the Kings’ orders.”

Sela had exposed Roy’s soft underbelly and she knew that he would be vulnerable.  He was in love with her and she could see a means of escape, if she played him…and her cards right.

Using her feminine wiles, she took Roy’s arm.  Coyly returning to the previous conversation about the gardens, she said “you’re right, you know.  The gardens are lovely and so relaxing and peaceful but I still feel as though I am a prisoner.”

As they slowly walked in silence, suddenly Sela stopped and tightened her grip on Roy’s arm.  She could feel his pulse quicken and see his pupils widen.  She looked at him and said, “would you do something for me if I asked?”

Roy thought Sela had finally noticed him and against his better judgment, said “anything.”

She leaned toward him and whispered into his ear, “would you help me get away from here?”

 

To be continued______________