Chapter 5: Traded for a Rose (Part Four)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 93
Comments: 1

 

Mr. Unknown watched the story progress from a distance in the study, as Beauty followed the butler down the stairs. His heart ached, watching her leave. If only he never allowed her to volunteer for this mission as his partner, then she would not be in this mess. If what the computer specialists said was true, her data existed broken into separate pieces within the human world. They could recover her memory, but only if the E.L.A. did not find her data first. If found, they could use the information to discover secrets to destroy CLOAK. Even though their goal was to rid the world of all literature, CLOAK fought them to protect the world and its happiness. 

He needed to tell her about the scattered data before it was too late. He would do anything to protect her, but an agent of CLOAK must have blood like ice. Even though she was his fiancée, the preservation of literature must take precedence. An agent must always think of the mission. Literature was their number one priority. But as he recited the mantras within his head, his heart refused to listen. 

"My master had your room tailored for you. He wasn't sure what you would like, but he told me to say that if you would rather redecorate it yourself, you are free to do so," the butler said with his hand positioned on the handle. 

Beauty stood near Hughes and leaned around him to gaze at the rose carvings, which decorated the immense door. He opened the door and revealed an enormous master bedroom filled with antique furniture. Beauty stepped around the butler and into the room. She gasped at the pink, and red rose painted walls. Because of the intricate details on the flowers, she imagined herself standing outside in the rose garden. Such time and effort went into this room! The canopy bed looked heavenly with its plush comforter and plump pillows. The double doors, which led to the balcony, were open, allowing fresh air to flow into the room. A gentle breeze lifted the curtains from the canopy. A vase of roses sat on the nightstand near the bed. Beauty walked toward the flowers and then picked up a small card. 

On the card, it read: I hope you like the room. 

Beauty turned to ask the butler about the card, but he had already left. She set the card down and sighed. How did the Beast do this in such a brief time? Had he prepared the room before her arrival? The roses appeared to be freshly cut. What if she had refused to come? Did the Beast know she had no other choice? Or was he hoping that she would? 

Marriage to the Beast, could she do it? 

"Of course, you wouldn't marry him," Mr. Unknown said after materializing. 

Beauty turned toward the sound of his voice and saw that he sat in a settee near the double doors. She crossed her arms and frowned at him. 

"Why is it that you always seem to appear when it's most convenient for you?" 

"I'm just good like that," he responded with a grin. "To answer your thought, Beauty would marry the Beast, but you would not. Once this story is complete, you will move on to the next one." 

"That makes sense. So, I am not Beauty. I am another person." 

"Yes and no. You are technically Beauty. You speak like her, talk like her, and think like her. You should, at least. CLOAK should have fixed your detection and conversation skills." 

"Conversation skills? Oh! Is that why I answered a question without thinking?" 

"Sure." 

"That doesn't give me a lot of confidence," Beauty muttered. "I've meant to ask this, but you've mentioned CLOAK and the E.L.A numerous times. You haven't said what they meant." 

"I didn't? Hm, well, CLOAK means Cops Leading Operations Against Killers and the –" 

"Killers? Cops? What? I'm a Cop?" Beauty shouted. She glanced toward the door after realizing she yelled at him. "Can anyone hear us talking?" 

Mr. Unknown sighed, "No one can hear us. I placed a sound-proofed barrier around this room. Yes, you are a cop. We are technically referred to as agents while on missions. Yes, the E.L.A. are killers. They have killed many from CLOAK. That's why we must complete the stories without any problems." 

"And the E.L.A. is?" 

"The Elimination of Literature Association. As their name states, they want to eliminate all literature." 

"Why?" 

"We don't know. Only one story has been removed since the E.L.A's founding." 

"What happened to it?" 

"Since CLOAK preserves history in both worlds, we can replace the stories that are changed or destroyed with a copy. But we can only do this once. Before we restored the tale with its duplicate, the story's removal triggered a ripple effect, altering history. An author creates a story. By removing the story, it signifies that the story was never written. The E.L.A destroys the story from within by altering whatever they can to make it unchangeable. 

"If the story is changed and is not destroyed, how can that affect history? The story still exists." 

"Imagine the author writing a story with an intended message. If the message is altered drastically, those who read it will be affected differently. For example, if a person reads a story, they are then inspired to write or create something. But if the story is changed, they may no longer feel the same way towards the story. Whatever they were meant to make will no longer exist. The effect will have an impact on history, just like how dominoes fall. 

"If the change is too great, our history and future could be altered severely. The E.L.A. could use this to create a change in their favor. As agents, we must guide the story to its true ending. We enter a story after the E.L.A does. Once we are in the story, the guide," Mr. Unknown says, meeting her gaze, "which is you, will direct the story toward the true ending. The surveyor, which is me, will assess the tale from a distance. I track the change in the story. If too much change takes place, I will try to alter it in any way in my power. I can force it back on the right path by using the agency. If the story is unsalvageable, I will pull the both of us out and have CLOAK restore the story with a duplicate." 

"But if there is only one duplicate? What happens if a story that was replaced is changed or destroyed a second time?" 

Mr. Unknown stood from the settee and walked to the balcony. He stood with his arms behind his back. He responded, "I don't know. Because it has never happened." 

"Did the E.L.A. have anything to do with my memory loss?" 

"No." 

"So, what did?" Beauty asked, walking closer to Mr. Unknown. 

Mr. Unknown turned away from the balcony. He observed her in silence. For a moment, he appeared conflicted. If she had not been watching him so intently, she would not have noticed the change in his emotion. Just as the Beast had, Mr. Unknown also appeared sad. Beauty stiffened after remembering that he could hear her thoughts, but he looked distracted and did not comment on her musings. 

"Beauty," Mr. Unknown said but then stopped. 

"Yes?" She asked when he did not continue. 

He held his hand out to silence her. In a soft voice, he said, "I need to go because the Beast is on his way here to escort you to dinner. We will continue this conversation later. Remember, follow the story. Do what you think is right." 

After Mr. Unknown finished speaking, he vanished. Beauty glanced around the room and noticed a lilac-colored dress on the bed. Was she supposed to change into it? Guessing that she was, Beauty quickly changed into the dress. Just as she was pulling the dress over her hips, she heard knocking. After fixing the dress, she walked to the door and opened it. 

The Beast peered down at her from the doorway. He slumped over to avoid hitting his head on the doorframe. Happy that she no longer was afraid of him, she smiled at him and said, "I love the room. It's beautiful and very thoughtful of you." 

"I'm glad that you like it." 

Beauty gave him another smile when she asked, "How was your afternoon?" 

"Pleasant. But my afternoon will be brighter and much happier with you in it. If you do not mind, will you accompany me to dinner?" 

She held out her hand and said, "Yes, with pleasure." 

The Beast hesitated before he reached out and took her hand into his. He led her into the hallway and escorted her down the hall. With her hand resting delicately under his right arm in the crook of his elbow, she curled her hand back over it and followed his lead. During their walk, Beauty wondered how to ask him about his past. Now that she knew more about CLOAK and the E.L.A, she needed to guide the story. But how? 

As if the Beast knew what she was thinking, he said, "I'll answer any question that you may have about the mansion and its history. But I am unable to speak about myself. I hope you understand, but I must keep silent on this." 

"Of course. I don't want to invade your privacy." 

"Thank you for understanding." 

How was she supposed to find out more about him if he did not want to talk about it? Beauty looked around the mansion and decided that she would take what he offered. Maybe when he was more comfortable with her, he would be willing to talk about himself. They did just meet, so she could relate to wanting to keep her secrets private too. 

Once at dinner, they sat across from each other at a long slender table with high-backed chairs. The dining room was a luxurious room filled with paintings, windows, and marble floors and columns. Everything within the mansion was breathtaking and delicate. Beauty glanced out the window and watched the sunset paint the sky with orange, purple, and red hues. Though their conversation was polite, she wanted to know more about him. She did not want to trespass onto his boundaries, so she continued to engage in the conversation while eating her dinner. 

"Before we end the night, I wanted to say that I enjoyed our conversation together. I'll hold my question for another night since I had already asked you in the study." 

The Beast cleared his throat in embarrassment, and his eyes narrowed with amusement. Beauty smiled up at him once she realized he was teasing her. 

"As I said, you are the mistress here. You are free to roam the mansion. I can escort you back to your room, or you could explore. If you choose to explore, I'll be in the study if you prefer company or if you've forgotten your way back to your room." 

"I'd like to explore the mansion and discover what secrets it holds." 

"As you wish," he said with a soft smile. 

~ 

Beauty lost track of time wandering the halls. She had opened multiple doors and investigated the contents of the room. So far, she found a music room, a gallery, a ballroom, a drawing-room, and a great hall. She exited a large room with a mini theater inside. She glanced around the hall. She figured that she was somewhere on the third floor. As the Beast had guessed, she was lost. She had been to her bedroom twice since her arrival today, but she was distracted during both times to remember where it was found. 

For some reason, she knew where the study was. She only had to find the front of the mansion, go down to the first floor, and find the hallway off the foyer. She hoped that the Beast would still be awake. With a plan in mind, Beauty departed the mini-theater and went ahead toward the staircase. 

Footsteps echoed throughout the hall. Had the Beast come to find her? Or was it one of the servants? It was not Mr. Unknown because he usually appeared either near or next to her. He would not approach her from behind. Beauty turned to the approaching person and saw an older woman wearing all black. She had grey hair that was pulled back into a severe bun. From all the servants she saw today, a darkness surrounded them, hiding their appearance. 

The Beast never mentioned any other people inside the mansion aside from himself and the servants. This woman was an E.L.A agent. Maybe if she pretended to be unaware of the woman's identity, she could catch her off guard and escape. 

"Who are you?" Beauty asked as she took a step back. 

Anger filled the woman's voice. "You are ruining everything." 

"I don't understand. What have I done to you?" 

"If I don't get rid of you now, you'll destroy all that we have worked for." 

"Worked for?" Beauty repeated. Fear flashed through her. If she could not stall her, the E.L.A. agent would kill her. "I don't understand. You want to destroy this story." 

"We don't want to destroy the story. You understand nothing. I do not have time to talk to you. One-shot is all it should take, and then my job here will be done." 

Beauty prayed for Mr. Unknown to arrive, but he did not. Beauty watched in horror as the woman pulled out a gun from the holster on her hip. She aimed the barrel of the gun at her. Beauty turned to run but screamed when she heard the shot echo through the hall. An intense burning rushed through her arm that she felt deep into her bones. Reaching the staircase, she ran blindly down the hall. She screamed again for help, but she was pulled into an embrace when she reached the second landing. She released a half-scream from the shock but immediately relaxed when she realized she was in the Beast's arms. 

The adrenaline slowly vacated her body. Her arm burned. As her body grew numb from the pain, she felt the tears slide down her cheeks. The Beast stared at her, shocked. She followed his line of sight and saw that she was bleeding from her left arm. 

"Who did this to you?" The Beast asked with a harsh whisper. 

Beauty knew that she could not mention CLOAK or the E.L.A to him, so she told him half of the truth. "I don't know who she was. She was in the hallway when I exited the theater. She shot at me. So, I ran." 

The Beast leaned closer to her. From his closeness, she could smell him. He had a fresh woodsy fragrance clinging to him, and to her, his scent calmed her. She felt silly for realizing that about him after she had been shot. 

He straightened after inspecting her arm. "I don't believe the bullet penetrated you. It appears to have only grazed your upper muscle. Forgive me for doing this." 

Before she could ask him anything, he picked her up and carried her as one would carry a bride. She wrapped her unhurt arm around his neck to steady herself. She gazed up into his face and wondered how he had found her so quickly. 

Before she could stop herself, she asked, "How did you know I was in danger?" 

"I heard your screaming in the study." 

"I'm surprised you found me so quickly. I was up on the third floor." 

She felt the vibrations in his chest when he chuckled. "I told you that I would protect you. Though so far, I haven't done a decent job at doing that." 

"Yes, you have," she interjected. "If you had not shown up, she would have killed me. Thank you for saving me." She paused and then said, "I thought maybe you went to bed. I had hoped you were still awake because I was lost. I was headed for the study to find you before I was attacked." 

His voice held a severe note to it while responding. "I would never go to sleep before you. I've had a maid check on you now and then to see if you were well." 

"I never noticed her." 

The Beast said with a soft voice, "I'll have Hughes check to see if she was attacked as well." 

"I hope she's okay." 

Arriving outside of her bedroom, the Beast opened the door with one hand while cradling her against his body. "Hughes will treat your injury. Before I go, I want to say that I do not understand why a woman was after your life. She will not have another chance to do so. Until she is found, you and I will be spending a great amount of time together." 

Hughes carried the first aid kit in his hands. The Beast entered the room with Hughes following him. After he gently set her on the bed, Hughes and two maids surrounded her. Beauty watched the Beast leave her room. To the corner of her eye, she noticed Mr. Unknown standing in the corner. 

He held a finger up to his lips to tell her to remain silent. 

Instead of speaking aloud, she heard his voice in her head. "I was afraid that you had died. Two agents attacked me. Before I could reach you, the Beast saved you. I am glad that he did. It will help the story progress. I caught the agent that attacked you. She has been silenced. You do not have to worry about her attacking you again. I am sorry I did not protect you like how I promised I would. Just know that I will do my best to keep you alive. We will find your memories. I promise." 

Once Mr. Unknown finished speaking, he vanished. Beauty stared at the open space that he vacated. What was she supposed to say? From what she saw, his clothes appeared torn, and he was bruised. She hoped that he had not been shot like her. She wished she could ask him, but she could not. 

Hughes made her sit up to drink a small cup of liquid. Once they dressed her arm up, he departed the room. The maids aided her in bed after they changed her clothes. Her first day ended in a way that she least expected. Once sleep claimed her, she dreamed of Mr. Unknown. 


Submitted: April 14, 2020

© Copyright 2021 A.E. Surdam. All rights reserved.

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LoknathRabha

Such a Amazing story... I feel like mr. Unknown is the hero of the storys that the girl is going through... I am excited for next chapter :)

Sat, May 2nd, 2020 5:48pm

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Thank you! I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Mr. Unknown is a troubled character, but I see him as a hero as well.

Sat, May 2nd, 2020 11:30am

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