Chapter 7

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Eleanor finally summed up the courage to return downstairs, venturing tentatively out of the safe haven of her pink bedroom. For the last few hours thoughts and images of being murdered in her sleep had plagued her, keeping her from either relaxing or spending her time usefully.

She found Wolfgang in the kitchen, humming softly to himself as he prepared the evening meal.

“What’s cooking?” she asked. She had approached silently, but he didn’t jump or flinch at all when she spoke.

“Roast,” he answered shortly.

“Roast what? Pork?”

He grimaced, sticking out his tongue and screwing up his nose in a way that was almost cute.

“No,” he replied indignantly, almost as if she’d suggested he eat roast veg for dinner. “Pork is for lesser predators. A true carnivore only settles for the real thing. Beef.”

Eleanor tried not to let this idea make her feel sick. She wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d finished his sentence with ‘human’. Nothing new and weird he came up with shocked her anymore.

“So it’s beef?”

“Nah. It’s lamb today.”

“Yum,” she said, unenthusiastically. She had never contemplated going vegetarian before now.

He didn’t bother responding, just put his head down and kept on peeling garlic.

“Can I help?” she asked.

“No!” he snapped angrily.

“Why not?!” She’d expected that he of all backward people would like the idea of a woman doing the domestic work. And if she wasn’t here to be used as a slave, what was the point? She didn’t mind helping, at least it would save all of her brain-cells dying off.

“Because! And why do you want to help anyway?!” he demanded suspiciously.

What kind of question was that to ask?!

“I don’t know, because I’m bored, maybe? Or because I enjoy cooking? What’s the big deal?!”

He glared at her, his eyes burning amber, and for a moment she was reminded of an angry leopard guarding its prey.

“I don’t trust you,” he stated.

She laughed. This was absurd. And, yes, she was a patient girl, but there was only so much nonsense she could take in one day.

“What are you expecting me to do?! Poison you?”

“Maybe,” he said, his voice no longer so hard and accusing, it was more sullen now.

“No,” she said softly. “I’m not a murderer.”

His gaze snapped up to hers, his expression one of blazing anger and hatred.

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” he challenged, his hands curled into tight fists as if he would strike her at any moment.

But somehow she was not afraid.

“Never mind,” she just quietly said, because she’d had enough trouble lately to last her a lifetime, and goading him would only make things worse.

The food took a while to cook, and meanwhile Wolfgang became more and more agitated, constantly scratching at his wrists and neck, and clearing his throat in a rather unsettling way.

When they finally sat down to eat they did so in tense silence. Once he looked up at the clock, and catching sight of the time, pushed his plate away.

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