For a moment she stared back at the man through the rain. It appeared that he was staring right at her, not just the house. Slowly she eased backwards, unwilling to remain in plain sight of the staring man. A disturbing grin appeared on his face. His eyes remained shadowed by the hat he wore but she could feel his sinister stare burning through her. There he stood, boldly among the sparse pedestrians yet no one else seemed to see him. Then a kid walked by in a hoodie. He stopped in front of the man, blocking her view. She could not be sure, but it looked like he was speaking. A moment later he walked away, leaving the ominous man staring after him in anger.
A large truck passed by, momentarily blocking her view of the strange man. When it had passed by, the man was gone. Chills went up and down her spine. For a moment she didn’t do anything then she fled the room for a less conspicuous room.
“Umph!” She collided with someone.
“Land sakes child, slow down!” Mrs. Powell the housekeeper scolded her with a laugh as she held Kallista upright.
“Sorry about that Mrs. Powell,” She apologized sheepishly.
“Nonsense Sweetheart, I know you are busy exploring.” Mrs. Powell interrupted with a twinkle in her eye. “If you backtrack two feet and turn down the hallway too your left, you may find something….special!”
Laughing she did as she was told. To her surprise there was a grand ballroom almost the entire length of the townhouse. In her hast to get away from prying eyes, she had set of blindly down the arched hallway and came to the set of elaborate wood carved doors brushed in silver. Upon opening the doors, an expanse of marble met her gaze. Stone pillars reminiscent of the Byzantine era graced the edges of the dance floor. In the center was a raised dais in which a full orchestra played. Balconies trimmed with beautiful Italian railings added a touch of European elegance to the room. So vibrant was the room that Kallista could almost hear the sounds of music playing.
Boldly she walked farther into the room and whirled as if in a dance then stopped in surprise as she noticed a trio of French glass doors leading to a private courtyard. It was only nature’s splendor that could compete with the inner grandeur of the ballroom. Immaculate gardens exuded a magical fairy land of flowers, bushes, and trees, laced with vibrant lights that gave a splendorous glow.
“I could get used to this.” Kallista breathed in fascination as she explored the garden further, forgetting about the odd man out front.
Above; unseen, Mrs. Powell watched and smiled in satisfaction. It was about time that child had something special of her own, she thought to herself. She always did think that the Lady Serena worked the girl too hard. It was a shame she would have to interrupt her. Dinner was about ready and someone had to look after the child. Humming, she walked back towards the kitchen.
Instead of the fine dining room, Kallista ate in the kitchen that night sitting in the warm colorful nook overlooking the side street. An elaborate stone and iron fence separated the small outer courtyard from the busy sidewalk. From her position Kallista could easily watch the people passing by, noting that the fence ensured the privacy of her backyard. Sighing, she took a bite of her dinner, enjoying the delicious flavors.
“What are you looking at Kallista?” Mrs. Powell spoke causally while cleaning a pan next to the granite counter near the stove.
“I’m looking at the people outside.” Kallista answered thoughtfully. “It sure is cold outside so I hope they all have a place to go.”
She thought about the time she had no home; no place to be safe and warm.
“Oh sweetie, you are safe now,” Mrs. Powell replied as she understood the deeper meaning. “As for those other folk, I’m sure they all have places to be and are taken care of.”
“I wish no one ever had to be alone, Mrs. Powell,” Kal murmured.
“So do I, my dear. But these things have a way of working themselves out for people. You will see for yourself!” Mrs. Powell’s sympathetic voice held a touch of comfort and hope.
Feeling somewhat comforted Kallista finished then went on exploring the rest of the house. Soon she made her way up to the roof where there was the widow walk, and was startled to see a girl already there, sitting while glaring fiercely down at the street.
“Um, hello…. Who are you and why are you on my roof?” Kallista ventured to ask, trying to be polite despite her initial shock.
The other girl looked at her with penetrating brown eyes, not seeming to be nervous at being caught.
“My name is Raven Ashcroft,” The girl answered as she shook away dark hair from her face. “I’m a bit busy now, if you don’t mind.”
“I do mind, you are on my roof. It’s creepy.”
“How is my being here creepy? Am I really a creepy looking person?” Raven looked slightly taken aback.
“Well, no, but being up here uninvited is creepy.”
Raven shrugged, “It’s necessary.”
“I am here to protect you and to do my job I need to be here.”
“I’m sure I am not in any danger.” Kallista fought back a laugh.
“You have been already targeted for death once, then accused of murder. This is the state in how we found you. “
“We? Who are we? And who targeted me for death?”
“There are others like me whose mission it is to protect you. By now, you should know why, but it seems you are in denial.”
“I can protect myself!”
“Yeah? Let’s see,”
Without waiting for an answer, Raven drew back her fist and punched Kallista in the nose.
“Ow!” Bending over from the pain, Kallista held her nose, “You HIT me!”
‘You didn’t protect yourself.”
Kallista clutched her nose and glared.
“There are six of us total; we are the ones who are destined to be the Companions of the Lioness. It’s our duty to protect you.” Raven told her
“But how do you know it was me?”
“Your blood called to us. Besides we have been watching you for a long time now.”
“Your blood called to us. Besides we have been watching you for a long time now.”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
“Well, that’s not surprising, you don’t need to call yourself do you?”
“How does blood call to blood anyways?” Kallista asked impatiently, “Can you just come down from there and talk inside with me?”
Kallista turned to leave and found herself face to face with another person who looked her age.
“Hello, I’m Simon Marks.” He said as he pushed up his glasses.
Biting back a scream, Kallista stumbled backwards into Raven.
“Careful now, we can’t have you falling off the roof”
Flabbergasted she looked between them and stuttered, “There are TWO of you?”
Sighing Raven looked at Simon, mouthing She doesn’t listen to well, before turning back to Kallista.
“There are six of us.”
Wildly Kallista glanced around looking for the rest.
“You won’t find them here at the moment,” Simon commented, looking up at the night sky. “Maybe we can take this inside….talk it over and explain?”
Above the stars twinkled mysteriously between the stormy clouds of the spring night.
Without waiting anymore, Raven walked to the roof door that led back into the house with Simon following behind.
Stunned, Kallista followed them. As strange as it all was, she did not feel any alarm at all that was happening. Something came to Kallista, “I saw a man staring at me today. Is he a Protector too?”
“No, he was just a stalker but Ezra got rid of him.”
“Ezra Valentino, he should be with us soon.”
“Great,” Her heavy sarcasm was lost on them however.
Together they trudged down the stairs and into the kitchen. Raven looked around curiously while Simon inspected everything.
The doorbell rang and she went to answer it. A stocky boy about her age stood there with sandy colored hair and green eyes. “Hi,”
Apparently he was a person of few words. The next moment he gracefully brushed past her and walked further into the corridor.
“You can come in if you want,” she murmured sarcastically as she turned to watched him.
“Thanks. You might want to close the door now. You are letting in all the cold air.”
Grumbling, Kallista shut the door just as Mrs. Powell came bustling by.
“Heaven’s child, you should have told me you were expecting friends over.” She puffed, “I found one of them in the kitchen drinking out of the milk carton! Imagine that! Are you expecting anymore?”
Raising an eyebrow Kallista looked at the boy.
“Not tonight,” He answered as he glanced around.
“Well then, let me just lock the door and finished getting the house secured for the night.”
A moment later she was gone, leaving Kallista alone with the strange boy.
“Would you happen to be Ezra?” She ventured to guess.
“Yep, that’d be me!” He answered as he walked into the library.
There were three in the house with her with three more to come.