Chapter 1 A black Sudan drove up to the Waterville hotel. It parked outside the maroon colored twelve-story building and a tall thin woman stepped outside of the driver's side. A girl of sixteen or seventeen followed, the two were polar opposites in looks.
The woman was tall and thin with bouncy, curly too-blond hair that was held up in a rushed but well done pony ponytail. The woman was tanned but not dark, she had olive shaped green eyes and a perky smile.
The girl was on the shorter side, her frame thin and seemingly elfish. Her skin was pale, her hair a raven black hung straight and in a short modern bob, making her rather large, walnut shaped grey eyes seem even larger.
The two were in fact Lacy Grey and Joanne Grey Joanne's mother had decided that a 2-month mother-daughter vacation to this 80-year-old hotel would be a good idea. Joanne was not too sure, her mother's constant cheeriness bothered her and she was already doubting her ability not to snap at her mother after a three hour car ride of sing along songs on the radio. \"Oh! it is beautiful! Joa! Don't you just LOVE it!\" her mother exclaimed, practically bouncing from ecstasy. “Ummm… I guess it has… history.” Joa said, not so sure that she could sum up a positive answer about the hotel. Her mother gleamed with joy and Joa felt a pang of regret for being so grumpy, her mother thought she was doing a good thing for Joa and she was just shoving her away. “ I know! I can’t wait to get to the library and read up on the history of this place.” Her mom said, sending her a knowing smile. Her mother always knew what to say to make it all better. “ Wait, library? You didn’t tell me there was a library here! My heart is content! I love this place and shall never leave!” she laughed. If Joa loved anything it was books, she loved to escape into a different reality altogether for a while. Joa followed her mother through the double glass doors into the lobby and gasped, she may not like the age of the place but she had to hand it to them, it was magnificent! The carpet was red and intricately designed with gold thread, the floorboards were gold and the desk was gold. The walls were a lighter red and had pictures of people playing in a magnificent garden, the hotel from years ago, the lobby and many other things. There was a grand, golden marble staircase and the north east of the room, spiraling out of sight. Her mother signed them in and got their room key, and yes it was an actual key, a big brass decorative key, it was ancient. Her mother pocketed the key, it stuck out of her pocket, and they continued on their way, dragging their suitcases up twelve flights of stairs to their room, suite 1238 at the very end of the hallway. The key glided into the lock easily and the click it made as the door unlocked would become one of Joa’s favorite sounds over the next eight weeks. Their room had light green walls, a light green floor and white pillowcases. The sheets were white with green vines stitched all over it. There was a desk in the corner, it was white and had a green office chair at it, but that was it. Joa drug her suitcase over to the bed by the window and went to look out the window. The window was dusty and locked. It looked as though it hadn’t been opened in years. At that moment her stomach rumbled loudly and her mother chuckled. “ Ditto, let’s go to the cafeteria and grab a bite to eat.” Her mom said. Joa grinned and followed her lead, making sure to lock the door. The stairs were going to kill her. She was sure of it. Walking up and down twelve flights of stairs certainly would help slim her figure. The cafeteria was quaint and the food was good, but she still longed for the food her father made at home in Gretchenville. On the climb back up to their room Joa looked out of the window at the hotel grounds. The grass was full of flowers, purple, pink, blue, white, yellow, orange and more colors lit up her view. A large hedge blocked her view, she frowned and squinted past the hedge and realized there was another hedge and another followed by even more hedges. A labyrinth! Joa smiled to herself, after the library she would explore the labyrinth. As they approached their room Joa realized something was very wrong. “ Joanne, did you lock the door?” Her mother asked, suspicion tainting her voice. “ Yes, I made sure of it. Why?” She asked but she didn’t need to hear the answer she could see why; the door to their room was open halfway, definitely not locked. “ Oh my god, do you think someone broke in?” She asked, horrified. Again her question was answered; there was the sound of someone walking around and the creak of bedsprings. Joa walked forwards but her mom grabbed her and held her back. “ No, Joanne, I’ll deal with this.” Her mother said her voice strong and certain. Mrs. Grey walked cautiously towards the room. Joa walked forward again. “ Joa! Let me deal with this!” Her mom said, her voice dangerous. “ NO! I’m going in there with you, we’ll deal with this together.” Joa said, surprised at the strength in her voice. Her mom sighed but let Joa walk up next to her. Together they pushed the door fully open and stepped inside. The teenage boy sitting on Joa’s bed looked up and smiled at them. He was around Joa’s age; tall, thin and blond Joa couldn’t help but think he was cute. He was deathly pale, as white as the clouds and his eyes, a golden honey color, seemed dim and cloudy. He had a wonderful smile though, sarcastic yet friendly. Joa fell hard for him without even realizing it. “W-What are you doing in our room?” Joa questioned as her mom seemed speechless. He smiled even wider and stood up. “ I’m waiting to play the game.” He said, his voice rich and warm like honey. “ The game? What game?” Joa asked him; pretty sure this guy was insane. “ It’s called Rumplestiltskin, you guess my name and I’ll tell you a secret about this hotel, A really big secret. What do you say? Will you play?” the boy asked. Joa looked at her mother. Lacey nodded to her. Joa turned around. “ I- I guess. What happens if I need help?” She asked him. “ Repeat this phrase ‘ Rumplestiltskin, Rumplestiltskin where have you gone?’ and I will be there.” He responded. “How will you know I’ve said it?” She asked. “ I’ll know.” Was his only response. He walked towards the door and turned to her. “The game begins now.” He told her before walking out the door. A shiver ran down her spine. “Wait! I have more que…” She broke off, she had walked into the corridor and looked out only to find the boy was nowhere in sight, which was strange to her because the stairs were quite far away and he couldn’t have reached them yet, even if he were running, and she didn’t hear a door. “ What is it?” Her mother asked. “ He’s gone. It’s like he disappeared, there’s no sign of him anywhere.” Joanne said, turning and going back inside, making sure to shut the door before she began to unpack her bag, her mind still on the boy, and the game. Joa set off bright and early the next morning to explore the gardens. She wanted to explore the labyrinth, usually the center of a labyrinth was beautiful, and she wanted to see it. After she had been walking around in the labyrinth for about five minutes she rounded around a corner and saw a familiar face standing there, facing the hedge. She was about to say something when she saw the tears running down his cheeks. He let out a choked sob and Joa moved backwards slightly, tripping on a rock and falling to the ground. When she looked up the boy was standing over her dry-eyed and amused. He was grinning behind his attempt at a serious expression. He had his arms crossed and she saw that he probably wasn’t going to help her up. She stood up and came face to face with the boy once more. “ Hi” She said, knowing that she shouldn’t have been watching him. “ Did you see?” He asked her calmly. “ Umm, a little bit, yeah.” She said, guessing he was talking about him crying. “Don’t mention that to anybody.” He told her. He turned on his heel and began to walk away. Joa followed him. “ Wait, I don’t want to leave you titled ‘the boy’ so give me the first letter of your first name.” She pleaded. He stayed silent for a moment and then replied, “G.” G? she thought what name starts with G? He doesn’t look Italian so it wasn’t going to be Gianni or something but she didn’t know very many other G names. “ Are you going to tell me why you were crying?” She questioned, changing the subject. “ No.” “Why not?” “Because it’s… complicated. You ‘ll understand after you figure out my name. Promise.” He said, flashing her a Heart melting smile and turning around the next bend. She turned the corner and G was nowhere to be seen. She ended up coming out at a different point in the garden, outside of the labyrinth and not making it to the center. Her mom wanted to hear all about it, especially bumping into G, she left out him crying and told her everything else, she didn’t need to know that.
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