Chapter Two

Chapter Two

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart
"

Juliet learns some disturbing facts about the man she now works for, James Hunter.

"


I had barely stepped foot out of the elevator.


Juliet Beaumont?” A woman's high-pitched, panicked voice called out to me from nearby.


Vacate the elevator now if you wish to live another day!”


The threat came courtesy of a very attractive blond woman, who sprinted towards me in heels so high, I just stood and stared at them in awe.


Come here!” She grabbed my arm and hurled me bodily behind a black marble desk that held only a very small computer. I thought it an incredible waste of space as the woman, who I assumed was Stacy, pushed me into a desk chair with such force it slid backwards, and gaped as she ducked out of view.


I'm sorry,” she said, with wild blue eyes. “But it was necessary.”


She crouched like a child on the tiled floor shakily while I tried to assimilate what had just occurred. I did not know much on the subject, but I guessed I had just been mildly assaulted.

My attacker was slight, with curls of thick hair that cascaded down her back. She chewed her nails anxiously, and I spotted wrists that were pale and disturbingly thin. Her clothes, though no doubt expensive, appeared to engulf her tiny person. Her obvious fragility disturbed me.


My name's Stacy, by the way,” she said, finally extending a hand.


Hello,” I managed to croak. “I'm Juliet.”


I know.” She punched her leg. “Damned pins and needles,” she muttered.


Erm, what's going on?” I asked, peering to see if anything extraordinary was taking place. It was not.


In there.” She pointed to a pair of black double doors situated at the far end of the room. “It's all happening in Mr. Hunter's office.”


What?” I whispered. Her fear was very easily rubbing off on me.


It's nearly finished now,” she told me. “That's why I had to get you out of the way, just in case they came out. Mrs. Belrose will be escorted out of the building soon.”


So you were helping me out back there?” I joked weakly.


A bit extreme, I know.” She smiled apologetically.


Thanks.” But I was not thankful, just alarmed. A feeling I was becoming well acquainted with.


You're a very tall girl,” mused Stacy, staring enviously at my legs. “With such gorgeous pins. I'm jealous.”


Caught off guard, I cringed, then chided myself mentally. Rachael always told me I needed to learn how to take a compliment. “Thank you,” I said, as casually as I could. And then as if it where obligatory, “You have very pretty hair.”


Stacy beamed. “Thanks!” she ran her fingers through her sleek mane. “It costs a bomb to maintain though.”


I know,” I nodded enthusiastically, temporarily forgetting the situation at hand. “I had no clue it took so much effort to maintain.”


Right?” she laughed. “The things we girls have to do to look good, huh?”


We chatted amiably in low voices, although I didn't understand why we still remained hidden out of sight like crooks as there was clearly no-one around.


To my amazement I learned Stacy had just turned thirty-something. I had assumed she was just a little older than myself, but I was wrong. She had worked at PhysTech for three years. “A huge achievement,” she told me somberly.


She revealed she had taken over the position as Mr. Hunter's PA when his last one, Victoria, quit suddenly and without warning.


What happened to her?” I asked.


Stacy shrugged. “There were rumors, but then, there are always rumors surrounding him.”


I artfully changed the subject as I did not wish to seem gossip hungry. “Is he nice?” I asked, wanting to know more about him.


Stacy emitted a laugh so loud, it hurt my ears a little. “Nice! Nice, she asks me!” She looked at me as if I were mad.


Isn't he?” I said, feeling a little bad that she was laughing at me.


She patted my knee. “I'm sorry, honey,” she chuckled, her cheeks flushed. “It's just, the words nice and James Hunter don't go together.”


Well, what is he like then?” I said.


He's not completely evil, but, I'd say, he's pretty darn close to being damnable.”


I inhaled deeply. “Oh.”


To hear him being described as such by someone who worked so close to him brought home the fact that I was not going to last very long here.


I haven't scared you, have I?” she said with concern.


No, you haven't. I've been terrified since I walked into this place this morning,” I replied truthfully.


He's not a saint.” Stacy wrinkled her nose. “But there have been moments-very rare moments. But still, I've seen a flicker of humanity in there now and again.”


Of course,” I nodded, but I could not quite believe it.


Suddenly the doors burst open. Stacy and I simultaneously dived on to the floor until we were lying flat on our stomachs. She raised a finger to her lips. There was no need. I was mute.

Angry raised voices could clearly be heard from within the room. A man's voice rose easily above all the others. The fury laced within it made my stomach churn. I knew then why Stacy had insisted on us hiding.


....Sorry means nothing to me, Samantha! Nothing at all!”


Please, James. I can explain everything!” A woman cried desperately.


I'm done listening to your pathetic excuses.”


Please!” The woman sobbed hysterically. “I'll be finished!”


I will make sure of it.” The threat was clear, sharp. A promise uttered with perfectly controlled rage.


Get her out of here.” The man said silkily, suddenly very calm. It was disconcerting.


No! Please, you don't understand! I have done nothing wrong!”


From my position, I made out a woman, who's face I could not see, but who's stylish manner I recognized (though at that moment it was not so), being led away by two burly men.


Mrs. Belrose,” whispered Stacy so quietly, I had to lean in to hear her.


Her heels clicked on the floor as she was escorted, sobbing softly, into the elevator. My heart went out to the poor woman. She may have crossed a line, but there had been a hopelessness in her voice that aroused my curiosity. Guilty people did not clamor to be heard so passionately. Of course, the apparently pitiless Mr. Hunter would give none of his precious time to listen to any clarifications made by her-it was not his way, I sensed.

When they had gone, Stacy rose unsteadily to her feet and I did the same. I saw the doors to his office were closed once more.


What now?” I said.


We do nothing,” she replied simply.


Oh.”


He'll call in a while,” she said, pointing to a black telephone I had not noticed before. It was almost camouflaged against the desk. “When he calls, this flashes, see?”


A tiny inscription with the name James Hunter, CEO, written in gold lettering was located on the side of the receiver, among many other names, including one Mrs. Belrose.

Abruptly a tiny red dot began to flash by his name.


Uh oh.” Stacy grabbed the phone hastily. “Hello? Yes, sir. That's fine, sir. Yes. I understand. I'll get right on it, sir.”


I chewed my nails-a filthy habit of mine-but today I'd given myself the benefit of the doubt.


Phew, my heart is beating so fast” breathed Stacy, after putting the receiver down.


What did he want?” I hoped I wouldn't have to go in to see him anytime soon.


I need to go down to Finance personally and grab some files,” she informed me. “I'd better hurry, don't want to make him any madder then he already is.”


You're not leaving me alone, are you?” I paled. “What if he comes out?”


Stacy shook her head. “He rarely ventures out of his office when he's working. His minions do all the leg work.”


But what if he does?” My eyes darted to the fire escape.


He's not going to eat you, Juliet,” Stacy chuckled. “The worst that'll happen is he won't recognize you, and will ask who the heck you are and what you're doing on his floor.”


That was enough to make me light-headed. Engage in conversation with the angry beast? No, thank you. “I'm scared,” I confessed pathetically.


Stacy's face softened considerably. “Oh, you poor thing.” She took my hand and squeezed it. “I can't even begin to understand how you feel, coming in on your first day and being thrown into this madness.”


Tears pricked my eyes. I forced them away. I was not weak. I could do this. I would not be intimidated any longer by anyone. “You know what?” I raised my chin. “Go on. I'll be fine up here.”


You sure?” Stacy did not appear convinced. Neither was I, truth be told, but I was doing a fine job putting on an act of bravery.


I'm positive.” To assure her I resumed my seat at the desk and smiled harder. My cheeks ached with the strain.


At last she was persuaded to go. “I'll be back before you know it.”


***

I checked my watch compulsively every minute. Fifteen had passed since she left me and I was taut with nerves. I glanced at the closed doors. It was as if I awaited death, and in that room was my executioner, who sat sharpening his axe.

With every passing moment my dread grew until I could not sit still any longer. Pacing the floor eased the tension, but did nothing to quell the fear that stalked me.

He is simply a man, he cannot hurt you.

I repeated these thoughts to myself like a mantra. I realized I was more of a coward then I had previously known. It was ridiculous.

I stopped and took a deep, calming breath. It was not healthy to be this afraid of someone, especially a person I had yet to meet. As ever, my imagination was running riot. Yes, James Hunter was not a pleasant man, but he could not be as terrible as I had made him.

Mrs. Belrose had rightfully incurred his wrath by betraying him, whatever her reasons. It was natural for him to be upset. He was a man with extraordinary power and wealth. Such beings did not take well to treachery-especially within their own realm.

I needed to get a hold on myself.

This job was very important to me, I could not afford to lose it-literally. Rachael and I owed our landlord at least three months rent. He had been kind so far, but I knew it would not last long. As an older sister I felt it was my duty more then hers to solve this particular problem. She helped as best as she could, but her shifts at the music store were few and far between, and the salary it rewarded quite appalling.

Why should I be so afraid? I was a grown woman. No, I would not feel this way. I was only letting myself down.

As a result of the internal verbal dressing down I was giving myself, I failed to spot the little flashing red light flickering madly by his name for a full five minutes. It was only when it stopped did I realize what had happened.


Oh, God.” My head snapped up, immediately focusing on the doors to his office. “Oh, no.” I licked my lips, which had suddenly become very dry. “Please let it have been all in my head,” I prayed. “Please God, let me have imagined it.”


Everything I had just drilled into myself simply evaporated, vanished into thin air. Who was I kidding? I was a coward, and would remain so forever.

In chillingly slow motion I watched as the doors began to creep open. I gasped aloud, my eyes searching for a quick escape. There were none.

He was coming. Coming for me.

I did the only rational thing that I could do (that I assured myself anybody else would do) and dived under the desk.

Inexplicably, I was quite impressed with myself. Never before had I moved-or thought-so fast in my life. Clearly I could handle things when in danger.

I pushed myself as far back into the desk as humanely possibly, ending up in a foetal position, which was ironic, as I was behaving like I had not yet developed a backbone.


Stacy!” growled an angry voice. His voice. “Where the hell are you?”


I stopped breathing when his footsteps drew nearer. I dared not make a sound. It would be just wonderful if he saw me lying on the floor like a discarded old rag.

Where the hell is my staff?" He cursed loudly, making me flinch.

My legs shook from the exertion of the unnatural position I had placed my body in, and I was sweating. There was dust under the table, it couldn't be seen, but I knew it was there as my nose longed to be itched. I scratched stealthily, freezing when my elbow banged on a table leg.

I do not know how long he remained there-it felt like forever. Finally he sighed, a strangely soothing noise, and the echo of his footsteps grew faint as he walked away.

After making sure he was gone did I slide out from beneath my hiding place. Stacy walked in just as I was brushing dust off my skirt.


Hey.” She stopped with one look at me. “What happened.”


Nothing.” Lying was not my forte.


Tell me,” she demanded.


I confessed.


Oh, Juliet!” she cried, nearly dropping the files. “Why?”


I'm sorry.” I was ashamed of my behavior. The floor seemed a good place to stare at.


Oh, Juliet.” She sighed.


I panicked,” I said, barely audible even to myself. “I just-”


She held her hand up to stop me. “You know what? You don't have to explain. I get it. You freaked out. I actually don't blame you.” I stared at her. Stacy laughed. “He has that effect on people. Heck, I spend most of my time hiding under this desk.”


Yes, but you've faced him,” I pointed out.


Yes,” agreed Stacy. “But it doesn't mean he doesn't scare the doodles out of me.”


I managed a laugh. “Doodles?”


No swearing allowed,” she said mock solemnly. “I'll go and do damage control,” she added, and headed into his office, showing an admirable lack of fear.


I vowed then to begin standing my ground. I would not spend the rest of my life hiding under a desk.


***


I'm glad I'm home,” I told Rachael later, who handed me a steaming mug of coffee. “It was a long day.” I took a sip and felt the warmth spread throughout my body.


We were standing in the cupboard that served as our kitchen. As soon as I had walked through the front door, Rachael had ambushed me, demanding answers as to how my first day went.


Did you bump into Mr. Jerkface?” she asked, taking a huge bite of her hastily concocted cheese sandwich.


No,” I replied, handing her a napkin. It was best not to tell her of the desk incident. She would definitely not understand.


So you didn't see him at all?”


No.” Lady luck had taken my side for the first time in my life, and the remainder of the day had been spent chatting with Stacy and doing small, easy-to-complete tasks for her. She had been correct when she told me he rarely left the confines of his office.


You're going to bump into him one day,” she warned me, flicking her unkempt hair off her face. “You can't avoid him forever.”


“I'll cross that bridge when I come to it,” I said evenly, and excused myself.

***


Good morning, Miss. Beaumont,” said Jane pleasantly, when I signed in the next day. A day I thought I would not see.


Hello.” I fiddled with the sleeve of my blazer and attempted to meet her gaze.


And how are you today?” she asked kindly.


Good,” I replied, noticing how wonderfully clear her almond colored skin was.


Great.” She smiled at me. “And how was your first day?" 


Eventful,” I admitted, begging myself to relax.


Well I hope today is less so,” she chuckled, handing me my ID card.


I pulled down my skirt self-consciously on the way to the top floor. I was convinced it was too short, though Rachael kept reassuring me that was not so. I had borrowed it from her as I currently only owned one new outfit for work, and I had worn that yesterday. I would have to do some thrifty shopping soon.

It had been a risk wearing something of Rachael's, as even though we looked alike, we were certainly miles apart in the height department. The nickname “The BFG” had been thrust upon me at school-my lucky sister only came up to my shoulders.

I hoped I was dressed appropriately. Drawing attention to myself was not something I aimed for. I assessed my reflection in the shiny gold plated walls of the elevator. It would have to do.

Rachael had promised she would accompany me to a clothes store to buy more outfits for me. A task I would definitely be unable to complete without her assistance. She was always trying to make me go it alone, but shopping for clothes was something I simply could not handle, no matter how hard I tried. Fashion was not something that really interested me, apart from a healthy appreciation for shoes.


There she is!” cried Josh, when he spotted me. He was leaning against Stacy's desk-she sat on top of it, legs crossed, chewing on a sugary doughnut.


Hello.” I moved slowly towards them. “Um, where's Mr. Hunter?”


Stacy waved a hand in the air dismissively. “He's not here yet.”


Is he late?” This was surprising. Stacy shook her head, but couldn't reply as her mouth was full.


Josh wagged his finger. “A little birdie told me that it's some personal drama. A woman thing.”


Who told you?” I couldn't help myself.


My mom,” replied Josh. “This is not going to improve his mood. Lateness is a pet peeve of his.”


Um hmm.” Stacy grabbed another doughnut and offered me one. I declined.


When do you think he'll show?” I asked.


Who knows?” shrugged Josh. “The man's got women trouble. It could be awhile.”


Stacy lightly punched him on the arm. “Get back to work, jerk.”


Yes, Ma'am!” Josh saluted her. “But first I want to know how your first day went, Miss. Beaumont.”


I placed my handbag on the desk. “It was okay.”


I heard you had a little breakdown.” He pressed his lips together, obviously trying to contain his mirth.


You hear a lot of things,” I replied artfully, while Stacy managed to land a punch to his stomach.


Hey!” he cried, wincing.


Leave the girl alone,” scolded Stacy, hopping off the table. “She's got enough to deal with without having to endure your lame jokes.”


Okay, okay.” Josh rolled his eyes. “I was just kidding around.” He put his arms around my shoulders. “But seriously,” he said. “How was yesterday? Good?”


It was okay.” It would take a while to get used to his over-friendly manner.


I told you you'd be fine,” he smiled, rubbing my back. “The Hunter ain't so bad.”


He has quite a temper,” I murmured, feeling unnerved by his proximity.


Don't they all?” He removed his arm reluctantly when his phone buzzed in his pocket.


I took the opportunity to creep around the desk to get away from him. Stacy eyed me shrewdly.


Well, I have to go. I am needed elsewhere,” he said with a wink.


Someone's got a crush on you,” said Stacy, with a raised eyebrow, after he'd left.


I looked at her in surprise. “What?”


Oh, come on, Juliet,” she said. “Don't tell me you can't see it. The boy has a crush on you.”


I couldn't see it. “I just thought he behaved like that with everyone?”


She laughed. “He does, but I've known him long enough to know when he likes a girl. His eyes get all sparkly and dreamy.” She clasped her hands together and fluttered her eyelashes. “His jokes get sillier, his shirts get crisper. Did you notice he's wearing a pink one today?”


I nodded, unsure whether to laugh or not. “I thought it was more coral.”


It's the one he wears when he's in like.” She grabbed my hands and span me around the lobby, surprising me. I burst out laughing as we whirled around the floor like ballroom dancers. For such a small woman, she was certainly strong. She led me with ease.


He likes you, Juliet!” she sang, obviously in a good mood. Maybe it was because the boss was away? “Do you like him and his pink shirt?”


I barely know him,” I protested.


Who cares? It's about chemistry.


Erm...” I was at a loss for words.


What?” she stopped dancing. “You've never dated someone based solely on the fact you think they're hot?”


No,” I confessed quietly.


What?” she cried in dismay. “Why the heck not? And don't tell me it's because no men have come on to you. I won't believe that for a second.”


I really didn't know quite what to say. “I'm not very talkative?” I offered finally, making it sound more like a question then an answer.


I guessed that,” she said dryly. “But haven't you ever just felt it? You know.” She twirled a lock of hair around her little finger. “Something magnetic? Just, you know, primal?”


I gaped at her. She had no clue who she was talking to. The words primal and magnetic did not register in my vocabulary. Even saying them in my head made me nervous.


What about boyfriends?” she said. “How have you done in that department?”


This was controversial territory for me, a subject I definitely did not want to discuss, but I sensed she would not let the matter drop so easily. “I've known some...men.” I replied, hoping my vague answer would dissuade her from taking the topic further.


You're going to have to be more specific then that.” Of course she would not.


My last relationship ended about eight months ago,” I revealed, reminiscing about my former boyfriend, Fletcher Taaveti. “On good terms. In fact, we're still friends.”


Stacy looked impressed. “How mature. I hate all my ex's. I'm sure the feeling is mutual.”


She turned the coffee machine on. “Tell me more.”


I sat down heavily and knotted my hands together. “We were together for two years.” Stacy whistled. “But we broke up.” I faltered when I remembered that time, sadness overwhelming me. “It was difficult.”


Stacy did not notice, or chose to forge ahead anyway. “Who initiated it?”


Him,” I replied softly. “He wanted more, but I couldn't give him that.”


You mean marriage and babies?” Stacy shuddered. “Who wants that?”


I do,” I said forcefully, my tone surprising us both.


Just not with him?” she said knowingly. “I get it.”


She babbled on about someone she used to know, but I barely heard her. His face haunted me, made me want to weep. It truly was my fault it ended.

How could I say what I really thought of myself? That I was the one who held back? I never seemed to find my feet on solid ground when in an intimate relationship. Instead, I would float mindlessly, without direction, feeling no satisfaction. Wanting it all, but never really being able to own what I was been given. To own myself.

Fletcher had noticed eventually. He'd been so patient, had tolerated so much, the anger, the hurt that stalked me like a shadow. But, he'd left when he received almost nothing in return. Somehow, we remained on speaking terms with each other.


....so I left her. She was crazy,” Stacy finished. “I nearly had to get a restraining order on that one.”


She? I blinked, coming back to reality. She? Had she said that? I really needed to concentrate.


I'm sorry to hear that,” I said sympathetically, attempting to atone for drifting off into my own world.


Don't be,” she said. “She was just crazy for me. And not in a good way.”


It must have been a bit flattering having someone so in love with you,” I said, envy pooling inside me.


I guess.” She shrugged. “But it definitely is not what it's cracked up to be. It's not like it is in the movies. There is nothing romantic about someone threatening to smash your car up.”


She handed me my coffee and I placed it on the desk. “So you've never been madly in love with anyone?” she asked, continuing with her torturous line of questioning. I prayed it would end soon.


No.” I had never allowed myself to. Sometimes I believed there was a wall built around me that no-one could see, but I knew it was there, and no-one could penetrate it. It was not a shield for protection, but a deterrent that reminded me to abstain from giving myself away.


Love is over-rated,” said Stacy severely. “It's best to stay away from all that nonsense.”


I like your shoes.” I pointed to the blood red stilettos that graced her feet. “They're pretty.”


“These are my I-mean-business shoes,” she told me with a short laugh. “They give me the attitude I need to make it through the day.”


I think I may need a pair of those,” I said dolefully.


The phone rang and she jumped to retrieve it. “Mr. Hunters office,” she chirped, all business-like. Her face fell immediately. I knew it was him.


Her stance changed from relaxed to alert as she gripped the phone to her ear. “Yes, sir,” she stuttered after a tense silence. Terror flashed brightly in her eyes. “I will.”


What happened?” I asked nervously after she had hung up, hands shaking.


He's on his way here,” she told me fearfully. “And he's in the worst possible mood.”


Is he ever in a good one?” I said, trying to make her laugh.


It's not a joke, Juliet,” she said gloomily.. “When he gets like this he usually takes it out on his staff.”


You mean us?”


She nodded. “I'm afraid today you'll have to prepare yourself for the worst.”


I'll try to stay out of his way.” I stood up. “He probably won't even notice me,” I added thoughtfully.


Hopefully not,” she said. “Let's prepare for when he does show up. Follow me.”


She led me into his office. I hesitated a split second before entering, the strangest feeling creeping up my body, making me shudder. It was as if I were entering a place I should not.


Here is where the master resides for most of his time.” Stacy swept her arm through the air.


My mouth dropped open in awe. The room in which I now stood was at least thirty times the size of the apartment I shared with my sister, maybe larger. It was simply gargantuan. How could one person need so much space? It was absurd.

I stared around me open-mouthed.

I could not get over how magnificently decorated the place was. Luxurious black and silver marble tiles covered the floor which wouldn't seem out of place in a Kings palace-which was perhaps the point. An opulent opaque glass top desk with a limestone front sat in the corner next to a whole wall of floor to ceiling windows, which were tinted black, meaning the light that poured through them was muted and dull, giving the place an appearance of semi-darkness. It was quite unnerving.

A ridiculously long black marble meeting table-large enough to seat forty people-was placed on the other side of the room. I wondered which poor souls had the arduous task of carrying it up here.

For decoration, a large collection of morbid paintings were draped on the walls around us. As I passed them I realized they were by the same artist as they seemed to carry the same shadowy theme. I guessed, of death.


Creepy, huh?” said Stacy behind me.


Yes,” I replied, unable to tear my gaze from one of a lone figure dressed in black standing in the corner of an empty room who, I could swear, was staring back at me.


That's him for you in a nutshell.” She placed a file I had not noticed her carrying on his desk and shook her head. “I hate coming in here.”


Shall we go?” I did not wish to spend longer then needed in there either.


She held the door open for me, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked out. What a strange man he was, choosing to spend his days in a depressingly dark room that could only emphasize how alone one was.

I sat down at our desk and opened a file to distract myself. To my surprise I was upset, but could not understand why. Maybe it was the paintings? Perhaps they had unsettled me?

The doors to the elevators slid open and I froze. The temperature in the room seemed to drop drastically, an insane notion, but it did, I knew it.

James Hunter had arrived.












© 2013 Joan*Eckhart


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Featured Review

“gorgeous pins” What exactly are pins?

Okay, this chapter did not have as many “ly’s as the first one did. I still think that they could be replaced though. I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh when she hid behind the desk. Lol, that guy has some anger management issues. Great job on the chapter! :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joan*Eckhart

8 Years Ago

Lol! "Pins" are a British term for legs. I'm guessing they don't use that word much in America so I'.. read more
Miranda

8 Years Ago

OKay. Thank you. Ya.... I've read one other book where she uses all kinds of old English terms. She .. read more



Reviews

“gorgeous pins” What exactly are pins?

Okay, this chapter did not have as many “ly’s as the first one did. I still think that they could be replaced though. I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh when she hid behind the desk. Lol, that guy has some anger management issues. Great job on the chapter! :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joan*Eckhart

8 Years Ago

Lol! "Pins" are a British term for legs. I'm guessing they don't use that word much in America so I'.. read more
Miranda

8 Years Ago

OKay. Thank you. Ya.... I've read one other book where she uses all kinds of old English terms. She .. read more

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Added on January 7, 2013
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Tags: Love, Romance, Betrayal, Secrets


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Joan*Eckhart
Joan*Eckhart

United Kingdom



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Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart