Hi everyone! I’ve the pleasure of hosting Friday Fiction this week! Yay! The linky widget is below, feel free to link up to your story and don’t forget to read and share. Happy Mother’s Day (in advance!) To all the Mom’s on this coming weekend. Cheers!

Author’s Ramblings: I’m finally out for the summer! Whew. The semester’s been a bear and I am so glad to be out and at least, getting some sleep (mostly, sorta-kinda!) and anyhow, this is my summer project for the moment, and I just had to share. I hope you enjoy the read!

Found on Google Images I own nothing. (Bristol Manor in England)

Rani nudged the car door shut with one foot and
wobbled dangerously as the movement nearly threw her off. She winced, waiting,
relieved when the door slammed shut and her foot rested trustingly on the now
solid surface. 
She readjusted the armful of bulging binders, purse,
water bottle and leftover lunch, even as the thick straps of her duffel bags
dug into her shoulders. “Keys, keys, keys…” she muttered to herself, inching up
the walk carefully.
It wouldn’t have hurt to come back for a second
trip, but the yawn that escaped as she made her way towards the old manor, was
proof enough that she’d probably be napping somewhere on the nearest flat
surface.
Once the front door was open, that is.
She made it up the tall circular stairs and absently
wondered at the old manor’s grandeur. When her great-grandfather’s will had
specifically mentioned her and a certain seaside inheritance, she was sure it
had been a mistake. In fact, she’d been completely convinced of it.
So had her adopted parents.
And then of course, the letter had arrived, and a
request from the estate’s executor, requesting her permission for legal
purposes. She’d ended up trekking halfway across the country with little more
than her wits and the useful items from her university dorm room.
Thankfully, there were more useful than useless
items in it and now as she sagged against the front door, she tried to recall
the odd conversation with said estate executor the week before.
“…ah, Miss Relkins, see, your great-grandfather
mentions leaving you a special guardian by the name of Noir and a manor to
house you both. This is in addition to the original inheritance of the
lighthouse and-”
“A manor?”
“Yes, now-”
“No, wait. A manor? The old-fashioned, giant house
of brick and mortar kind of manor?”
There was a long pause on the other end of the line
and finally, a cautious “yes.”
“Is it inhabitable?”
“Er, I beg your pardon?”
“I’m graduating this weekend, I can swing by there
on my way home. Be a good way to relax and decompress from the stress of the
past few years. Be nice if I didn’t have to stay in a hotel though.”
“…I see.”
“I am still a university student and as a universal
rule, we are mostly broke.”
“I see. Very well then, I shall meet you at the
manor, say, the weekend after?”
“I think so. Not sure. I’m not all that brilliant
with a map.”
“GPS is a wonderful invention, Miss Relkins.”
“To those who can afford it…’sides, I still mix up
my rights and lefts.”
“Shall I mail the keys?”
“I guess, if it’ll reach here by this weekend.”
The rest of the conversation had become rather
boring from there and Rani had sworn the man to promise to repeat some of it
when they met tomorrow. She knew she certainly hadn’t gained or processed any
of the new information he’d shared and hoped there wasn’t anything particularly
pressing. 
The words of a guardian in the manor had worried her
for a minute, but when she’d asked the charming Mr. Ceasar, he had stiffly, but
politely informed her that said great-grandfather had never kept any pets and
if Noir was to be a pet, then they had never met.
So…you’re not a dog…and I don’t know what you are…ooh,
maybe you’re a cool security system, all digital and stuff. Noir. I bet it’s an
acronym and probably stands for something really awesome, like…yeah, I’m dead
tired. Sleep. I so need to sleep. Remind me to never do this again. Ugh. No, wait. Inside first. Keys, keys, keys….had them a minute ago,
ha! There we go! And in we go.
The heavy wooden doors creaked open and Rani
shuffled in, bleary eyes taking in a clean entry way and light streaming in
from further down the hallway. She half-heartedly kicked the door shut behind
her and continued her shuffle forward, pausing to yawn into one shoulder. 
Her gaze skittered over the empty entry way, noting
the lack of a welcome table and even a shoe rack. She stopped at the first room
she found and wasn’t surprised to see everything covered in plastic and sheets.
She eased her armful down on the nearest armchair,
allowing her duffel bags to fall to the floor as she trooped over to the plastic
and sheet covered sofa. With a weary flick of the wrist, she drew them back and
took in a rather nice, if somewhat old-fashioned pattern on a velvet covered
settee.
“Wow. Nice.” Another yawn came forward and without a
second thought, Rani flopped onto the newly uncovered surface. She fished her
cellphone out of her jeans pocket and pressed a few buttons to send the
customary text to her mother to announce that she’d arrived and was going to
take a nap for the next few hours.
She’d nearly drifted off when the cellphone buzzed
with a reply and she squinted at the screen before a sleepy smile settled on
her face.
Several minutes later, Rani Relkins was fast asleep.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
It wasn’t the sound of the car coming up the drive
that caught his attention.
It wasn’t even the key in the lock or the door
coming open.
It wasn’t the footsteps in the hallway or the sounds
of things falling to floor.
No, it was rather, the calm, even breathing of
someone entirely too unguarded for their own good that brought Noir out of the
kitchen and towards the front of the manor to investigate. He stuck his head through
the first parlor and grey eyes arched upwards to his head of white-blond hair.
After a few minutes of incredulity, the man ventured
further into the room, taking note of the items in the room and a closer look
at the young woman herself. He watched her for a good long minute, searching
for resemblances that didn’t seem to be there, and poked at her cellphone with
one finger, before he finally gave a huff and walked out.
From the lines and shadows in her face, he knew she’d
sleep for a while and he made a mental note to warn Kane and Iylida from
barging into the manor in their usual way. The duffel bags suggested the
newcomer intended to stay.
The cellphone informed him that she’d received two
text while sleeping—and had slept on. He counted that as pure exhaustion, his
encounters with the younger generation and their mobile devices leading to no
other conclusion.
Returning to the kitchen, he continued his lunchtime
preparations, adding vegetables to the soup stock and checking on the dough he’d
left to rise in the warmest corner of the room. The heavy weight settled around
his neck seemed to lighten, just the faintest as he went about his work and the
grey eyes darkened in sorrow.
Yet another master had come. 
Again. 
Things would be complicated for a while, once more.  They always were, when the master was alive.
No, wait, not a master, this time, a mistress.
© Sara Harricharan
                                                                                                                                               
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