~Chapter Eight - Playing with Fire~

Everyone knew Cole was rich.

            It wasn’t like he flaunted it, but not only does he have a motorcycle, he also has an expensive Italian car that he got, like, a year before it was released anywhere in the world. He wears expensive clothes and always has the latest in technology. He never mentioned money, and I don’t think it meant much to him, but it was evident he had it at his disposal, and wasn't afraid to use it.

            But his house was huge. Steel gates with a voice box, tall pillars and large bay windows, manicured lawns and shiny vehicles. It was like a celebrity’s house in Hollywood. There were rolling lawns, big elm trees, it had a forest behind it, and it was a colonial-Victorian kind of mansion with black shutters and big bricks.

            I pressed a button on the voice box, glancing over my shoulder nervously at the perfect street behind me. There was a beep, and then a small crackling sound.

            "Yes?" came an older woman’s voice, and I jumped in fright.

            "Oh, uh, hi," I stuttered nervously.

            "Can I help you?" came the voice out of the speakers, like a Voice from above.

            "Hi, I’m, uh, my name is Grace Holland. I was wondering if I could please see Cole?" I asked sweetly, rocking back and forth on my feet

            "Do you have an appointment?" the voice inquired

            What, to see a seventeen-year-old boy? What is he, a divorce lawyer in his spare time?

            "Er, no," I said. "This is kind of a surprise visit."

            "I will ask him if it is alright for you to come up."

            "Wait, no," I said quickly. Then I found myself in the awkward situation of explaining things the best I could. His pranks and my retaliation and his latest stunt yesterday. Yes, it had taken me twenty-four hours to work up the courage to come here.

            By the end the crisp, formal voice had disappeared and was replaced by a worried, motherly, maternal tone. "Oh, dear, I am so sorry. I knew Cole had his pranks, but this has really disappointed me. I’m letting you in right now."

            Slowly the gates slid aside with a muffled creak and I walked up the long gravel drive, twisting my hands and staring in awe at the surroundings.

            The door opened by a woman in about her mid-fifties, with red-brown hair streaked with grey and green eyes and one of those French maid outfits you see in old movies. She smiled at me and gestured for me to follow her into the grand foyer.

            Everything was basically an expensive mahogany with lilies in hurricane vases and gilt-framed hall mirrors. It was beautiful and antique-y and… expensive. And intimidating, if we were being honest. I felt underdressed. In fact, I didn't really feel like I should be allowed in here. Like I was ruining the perfect interior. My family had money, but not this kind of money.

            "I’m Juanita, the maid. Let me show you the way to Cole’s room."

            She led me up a spiralling staircase and through various winding corridors. With every step my heart beat faster, feeling like it would beat out of my chest. Deep breaths, Grace. Yoga breaths.

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