Crispen's Rose: Chapter Fourteen

Crispen's Rose: Chapter Fourteen

A Chapter by Rhayne

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

LAURA’S SURPRISE

 

Tabora Beach, North Carolina

Tabora Museum

 

The museum remains closed for preparations for the opening of the new Exhibit.  Laura and her boss, David Roman sift through more crates, cataloging each item while Mr. Merlion wipes them clean of dust. The three of them are startled when the sound of the elevator trickled down the corridor.

“Laura, didn’t you lock the doors when you arrived?” asks Mr. Merlion.

“Yes, I did.  I even double checked them an hour ago when I let David in the side entrance.”

“I’ll check it out” says David.  You stay here.  If I’m not back in five minutes, call the police.”

“Please be careful, David” she says.

“I’ll go with you” offers Mr. Merlion.

The two men close the door behind them leaving Laura in total silence.  Within seconds, muffled voices come from the other side of the door, then a scuffling sound and a loud pop.  Frightened out of her mind, Laura grabs the phone and dials 911. Just as the operator answers, another popping sound and loud voices came closer to the door.

“I need the police sent to the Tabora Museum.  We’re in the basement.  I think someone has broken in and they are shooting. Hurry, please!”


The operator is talking when the door opens and David rushes in with Mr. Merlion right behind him.  They see she is holding the phone.  David’s hair is tossed about and his shirt is ripped open.  Mr. Merlion is out of breath and frightened.

“Have you called the police?” David asks.

“Yes, what happened?  Who was it?  Were those gunshots?”

“It was your friend from the club.  The one harassing Rose. He tried to shoot me.  I think I shot him when I tried to get the gun from him.  There’s blood leading to the elevator.  You stay here and lock this door.  He may still be in the building. I’m going up stairs and wait for the police.”

“Oh my god, you shot Derrick?” she cries out, “what was he doing here?”

“He was looking for Rose” David replies, hurrying out the door.

Mr. Merlion holds his chest as he falls back onto a chair, struggling to open his shirt collar.  Laura fans him with a clipboard in one hand while pouring a glass of water with the other.

“Here, Mr. Merlion, drink this and try and slow your breathing.  I’m so sorry.  Derrick is a lunatic.  Ever since Rose broke it off with him, he’s been doing crazy things.  Are you all right?  You don’t have a heart problem, do you?”

He nods ‘no’ as he sips the cool water and leans back to catch his breath.

“I chased him to the elevator. Almost had him too. I’ve never seen a man so crazed.  He asked Mr. Roman where she was and before he could even answer, he pulled out the gun and shot at us.  Mr. Roman lunged at him and all I could do was watch.  They were rolling all over and then the gun went off again.  At first, I thought Mr. Roman had been shot but then the other guy pushed him off and got up and ran.”

They both look toward the door as it slowly opens.  David steps in followed by two police officers.  He assures her that the basement area is clear and they are safe.


“Mr. Merlion, the police would like for you to come up and escort them around to make sure they check every room.  Laura and I will stay here until we know all is clear.  Someone needs to stay with this artifact.  Wouldn’t want anything to happen to our investment, you know.”

Laura is already dialing another number as the curator and David talk.  She waits for an answer, impatiently.  She breaks the connection and re-dials.

“Come on Chelle, where are you?”

David locks the door behind Mr. Merlion.  Laura breaks the connection again and dials another number.

“Rose?  Thank god!  Where are you?”

“On my way to the museum.  Is that where you are?” she replies.

“Yes.  Oh Rose, you’re not going to believe what just happened here.  Is Rochelle with you?”

“Yeah, she’s with me.  Don’t tell me, you found another painting that I just have to see.”

“No.  Derrick was just here and he was looking for you.  He took a shot at David.  They got in this horrible fight and David turned the gun on Derrick.  He’s out there somewhere, bleeding. He’s really gone crazy, Rose.  He could still be hiding somewhere close to the museum, waiting for you.”

“What!  Derrick has another gun?  He’s been shot! Laura, are you all right?  And Mr. Roman?”

“We’re fine.  What do you mean another gun?”

“He showed up at my house last night with a gun.  I have that one, thanks to Alexander.”

“Who’s Alexander?”


“It’s a long story, Laura.  You’ll be meeting him in just a few minutes.  We’re almost to the museum. Just a couple of blocks away.  A police car just zoomed past us.  Must be coming your way.  You’re sure you’re all right?”

“A little shaken but fine.  David is with me.  Mr. Merlion is upstairs with the police looking around.”

“Well, you stay put.  We’ll be there in a few.  I’ve got a bigger surprise for you than you had for me yesterday.  You’re not going to believe what we have to tell you.”

“Just be careful, Rose.  Bye.”

A knock to the door shakes her, prompting David to take her in his arms for a moment.  A voice calls out.  It is Mr. Merlion telling them all is clear and the museum is once again safe.  The police have taken their search outside after following a blood trail out the side door and into an alley.  David explains that Derrick must have slipped inside behind him before the door closed completely.  He feels responsible for what could have happened.  He opens the door for Mr. Merlion and hurries back to Laura.  The shock of everything has finally settled in on her as she trembles in his arms.  Then the sound of the elevator echoes in the corridor again.  Mr. Merlion looks surprised at first and then frightened.  Quickly, he locks the door. 

“There was no one upstairs when I came down and I locked the doors behind the police.  Surely, he’s not still in the building” Mr. Merlion whispers.

Voices echo toward the door.  Two, then three voices.  Laura is relieved to hear them.  She hurries to open the door.

“It’s Rose and Rochelle, Mr. Merlion” she says.


“But how did they get in?  I locked the doors” he keeps insisting.

Rose and Rochelle file in first, hugging Laura.  Then Crispin, Alexander and Barcelli join them.  Laura is certainly surprised. Crispin, she recognizes from the club six months ago, but the other two men are complete strangers.  She is surprised even more when Rochelle takes Alexander’s arm as though she had known him for a long time.  Laura knows everyone that Rochelle and Rose know and suddenly she feels separated from them.  He is as handsome as Crispin, faintly resembling him.  He has the same dark brown eyes and dark hair.  The same nose and chin but the mouth has a distinct difference.  His is slightly crooked and somewhat pouty.  Crispin has a full bottom lip and a curved upper one giving him a completely sensuous and sexy look.  She can hardly take her eyes from Alexander. 

“Laura, this is Alexander, Crispin’s younger brother” explains Rochelle.  “He saved mine and Rose’s life last night. Derrick tried to shoot us and Alexander stopped him by, well, if he hadn’t been there, Rose and I wouldn’t be here now”, she says smiling up at him.

Laura’s eyes would not even blink for her as they are still locked on him.  He reaches out to take her hand.  She lifts hers slowly expecting a handshake but he bends and kisses it gently as though he were straight out of sixteenth century France.

“Very pleased to meet your acquaintance” he says with a strong seductive accent.

“Pleased to meet you too, Alexander” she replies.

“And this is Barcelli, Laura.  He’s Crispin and Alexander’s father” interrupts Rose.


Laura has to force her eyes from Alexander to greet Barcelli. She stares at his bright blue eyes wondering how his sons could have such brown ones.  She holds up her hand expecting another kiss.  Barcelli bows to her, with a gentle tug on her fingers.  His smile can barely be seen behind the beard and mustache.  She is amazed at his size.  His hands could have devoured hers.  Crispin steps in front of her, taking her hand in his, bending and kissing it properly, “so wonderful to see you again, Laura.  I want to thank you for taking such good care of my work.  Rose has told me that it is here.  Would you mind if I see it?  It’s been a very long time.”

Feeling faint, Laura points the direction.  Rose winks at her as she passes, still holding his hand.  Following them, also hand in hand, is Alexander and Rochelle and then Barcelli, still looking around the room admiring the decor.  Realizing that Laura is about to buckle, David moves up behind her, his arm circling her waist, “what’s going on here?  Who are they? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“I have, three of them.  Rose was telling us the truth all along.”

“Truth?  What are you talking about?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, David.  I didn’t, until now.”

She takes his hand and leads him past Mr. Merlion who is still in a state of shock.  Inside the room where all the crates are stacked, the group surrounds the easel where Crispin’s portrait of Rose sits.  Crispin thinks of Chanler, Barcelli thinks of the day he had to return Crispin to 1789, and Alexander thinks of the day Crispin was carried away to the monastery.  Rose thinks of the night for which the portrait stands for.  Rochelle thinks of Alexander, the feel of his hand on hers.  Laura glances from one to the other as they all stare at the half naked beauty sleeping in the midst of her lover.  The silence in the room is uncanny.  It is like no one is breathing. 


Suddenly, the ring of Mr. Merlion’s phone breaks the silence.  He answers with shaking hands, “hello? Oh, hello. Have you found him yet? Yes, officer, I will tell them.  Thank you.”

“That was the police?” asks Laura, “did they find Derrick?”

“No.  They followed a trail of blood to the building next door but the trail stopped there.  They have no clue where he could have gone.  The proprietors of the dry cleaners say they saw no one.  They said they would call if anything turns up.  Police said it was like he just vanished where the blood trail stopped.  They’ve alerted the hospitals should he seek medical help.  They wanted me to pass it on to you, Miss VanZandt, that you should be extra cautious until he’s caught.  If you would like a police guard you would need to go to the police station and request it.”

“I have all the body guard I need, Mr. Merlion.  I assure you, I’m as safe as can be” she says looking at Crispin.

Mr. Merlion steps forward slowly, nervously and wringing his hands.  He looks at Crispin and then to the portrait.  His eyes shift back quickly to Crispin.  His thoughts gave him away as his fear wells inside.  Crispin steps toward him, reaching out to reassure him but Mr. Merlion jumps back.

“There’s no need for you to fear me, Mr. Merlion.  I’m completely harmless, I assure you.”

“How is it you look so much like the man in the portrait and did I not hear you say that it was your work?”


“Yes, you heard correctly.  It is my work.  All of these paintings were done by my hand.  The man in this portrait is me. And the lovely young woman is Rose.  You see, Mr. Merlion, I have been entrusted with special powers.  I can travel through time.  I can read your mind.  These are just a couple of the many things I can do.  I know you must think that I am as insane as the man who was here earlier waving a gun about, but I assure you, sir, I am as sane as you and everyone else in this room.”

“Don’t include me” Rochelle speaks out, “I’m still not quite sure about my sanity just yet.”

Alexander pulls her close to his side, “you have nothing to doubt, my dear lady, your eyes and ears have not deceived you. All will be clear to you soon.”

“What is this nonsense!” interrupts David.  “There’s no such thing as time travel or reading minds.  That’s circus tricks.  Who are you, really?”

Crispin turns his back to David, “think of something that no one else in this room knows about you.  I will prove what I say.”

David chuckles in disbelief while everyone waits for him to submit to the test.  His chuckle fades to clearing his throat, “all right, I’ll play along with this ridiculous joke.  What am I thinking?”

Immediately, Crispin begins speaking David’s thoughts aloud.

“I love this woman standing next to me.  I have loved her since the first day she walked into my office to interview for the job.  She had the job the moment she sat down and crossed those lovely, sexy long legs.”

“Stop! Stop!” he urged angrily.  “How the hell did you do that?”

“Are you sure you want me to stop?  I could go on and save you the trouble of asking later” Crispin says, turning around smiling.

Already embarrassed, Laura steps away to look at David’s face, “David, why have you never said anything.  I mean, I know the past couple of nights we have let our hair down, so to speak, but I had no idea that you felt this way.”


“I didn’t think you would go for someone like me, older, unattractive.  I didn’t dare let on and chance scaring you away.”

“Why, David, I think you’re a very attractive man.  And as far as your age, well, it’s been kinda nice being with someone mature and romantic.”

“Then, you’re not upset?” he asks.

“No, I’m flattered, a little embarrassed that everyone had to hear this, but flattered.”

Crispin leans forward to whisper to David, “I think now would be the perfect time.”

David looks back to him, still in disbelief, “I can’t” he says suddenly shy.

Crispin hears his thoughts as his eyes connect with his, ‘I want to be alone with her when I ask.  I want the time and place to be perfect.  Not here in the basement of a museum in front of total strangers.’

Crispin answers telepathically, ‘you’re right, David, it should not be in the basement of a museum.  But I assure you, none of us here are exactly strangers.  We are all connected in one way or another.  But I will honor your request and not take this conversation any further.  But I could spoil things a little by telling you what her answer will be, but I won’t.’

David is completely amazed and a little unnerved at Crispin’s ability.  He’s still not convinced about the claim of time travel and so Crispin takes in a deep breath at his stubbornness.

“Okay, David, I feel it is important that you trust me.  Tell me which of the vehicles in the parking lot is yours and of an item in the vehicle that I can get for you.  I will have it here before you even see me leave the room.  Trust me?”

David laughs again at his claim but is urged by Rose, Rochelle and Laura to challenge him.  Mr. Merlion looks on in as much disbelief as David and joins in with the girls.


“All right, I guess I can play along with this one too.  You’ve already proven yourself to be a spectacular magician.  My vehicle is a black BMW.  Inside the console is a pair of sunglasses.  Incidentally, both the car and the console are locked.  Would you like the keys?” he says sarcastically.

“No need” Crispin answers.

David laughs jovially as he turns to Laura to joke about it.  He sees Laura’s eyes shift toward Crispin.  She smiles.  David turns to find Crispin holding out the sunglasses...two pair.

“You didn’t say which one, so I brought both pair” he says plainly.

Alexander bows his head, snickering.  He sees the shock on Rochelle’s face as she looks up at him.

“I can do that too” he whispers to her.  “Really, I can.”

“How the hell did you do this?” David asks taking the glasses from Crispin.

He examines them closely, confirming they are his.

“But my car was locked. How did you, wait, you didn’t break the window, did you?”

“No, I assure you there is no damage to your car.  By the way, nice leather seats.  Italian imports.  Very expensive.”

David feels his knees weaken.  Mr. Merlion has already fell back into his chair.  Alexander snickers again until Rochelle bumps him.  Barcelli is bored with all the theatrics and demonstrations and is casually looking through the artifact, unnoticed.

“Are you a believer now, Mr. Roman?” asks Rose, “or do you need him to do for you what he did for me?”

“And what was that?” asks David.


“Take you with him on a trip and back before any of us even know you’ve left.”

“You can do that?” he asks.

“Do I need to prove it?” says Crispin, stepping toward him.

“No, I think I’ve seen enough.  I still don’t understand how you did it...but I’ve seen enough.  Just where are you from and how did you get these extraordinary abilities?”

Barcelli quickly steps forward before Crispin could answer.

“That, my friend, is a very long and complicated thing to explain.  Maybe one day when there is nothing but time, we can show you everything you need to know.  But for now, Crispin, Alexander and I have more important tasks to complete” he says looking at both his sons.

“Barcelli is right.  I have a very important appointment to keep if there is to be a tomorrow for us” adds Crispin.

Rose takes his arm in a firm grip, “what do mean?  What appointment?”

“Yeah, Crispin, you make it sound like the world is coming to an end tomorrow” Laura grins.

“Come with me, Rose.  I have something I have to explain to you.  Alexander, you stay with Rochelle and Laura.  Keep them safe.  Barcelli will explain everything when the time is right.”

He walks to Barcelli, looks up into his father’s eyes, “no matter what you hear, do not come.  It will be trickery.  You must keep Alexander with you.  I need you to protect all those I love.  Promise me, Barcelli.  Give me your word as my father.”

“You have it, Crispin, you have my word.”


Rose could no longer force down the lump in her throat.  She knows all the words she just heard spells danger for Crispin. She closes her fingers tightly around Crispin’s hand.  He closes his hand tightly on hers as Barcelli hugs him, kissing his forehead. Alexander senses something has been kept from him and demands to know what Crispin is about to do but Crispin speaks to his brother’s mind, ‘calm down, my brother, before you upset the ladies.  There is nothing for you to worry about.  As I said, Barcelli will tell you everything when the time is right. Trust me.  All will be all right.  Your job right now is to protect the lovely lady by your side.  She has fallen in love with you if you haven’t already noticed and even though you have not proclaimed it yet, you love her too.  I am trusting you to take care of Rose until I return.  I will not be long.  I want you to listen to our Father and do what he says.  Do I have your word as well, brother?’

“You have my promise, Crispin” he answers lowly as if it will be the last time he sees his brother.

Taking Rose’s hand, the two of them disappear right before everyone’s eyes.  She can feel the cool mist of clouds on her face as the brisk winds slow to a gentle breeze.  She opens her eyes to find Crispin’s staring into them.  Slowly, he leans in for a kiss.  His lips are so warm and passionate, her body melds into his.  The kiss goes deeper than any kiss they have ever shared.  She feels this is a sign that she will never see him again should she let go of him.  Their lips part reluctantly.  Their foreheads touch, his eyes are closed as hers are wide and scanning his face.

“I lost you once, how can I stop it from happening again?” she weeps.


“You’re not going to lose me, my darling.  I only have to leave for a little while.  I have something I have to do.  I hate to part from you at all, but I have to go for just a while. I need you to understand and believe in me, that I will return. I never told you before, the first time we were alone together. I will not leave you this time without telling you.  I love you, Rose.  I love you as I have never loved anyone in all my life.  I think you understand what I was trying to tell you in my paintings.  I delivered you into this world.  From that moment, I knew that I loved you in a different way from how I loved all others.  I waited for you and you have been well worth the wait. I will love no other the way I love you, Rose.  This I pledge with all my heart.  When I return we will plan our life, together. I will ask God to make it so.  You must ask Him also if it is what you want too.”

“I have done that already, Crispin.  I have prayed to Him and asked him to return you to me every night since you disappeared from me.  I don’t want to lose you again, Crispin, please don’t leave.”

He holds to her tightly as they hover in the clouds.  Two drops fall upon his cheek and he can feel the presence of his mother. He knows she is all around them as she weeps for them.  He kisses Rose again, first with quick butterfly kisses on her lips, nose and eyes and then another deep passionate one.  Just as quickly as their lips part, she finds herself back in the basement of the museum.  She can still feel his warmth on her arms and body even though he has already gone from her.  Lightly, Rochelle touches her shoulder, “Rose?”

Quickly, she turns into Rochelle’s arms and weeps.  She feels sure that she will never see Crispin again.  Looking up into Alexander’s eyes, she sees the feeling is mutual.  She buries her face into Rochelle’s shoulder, weeping uncontrollably.

 



© 2019 Rhayne


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Added on September 14, 2019
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Author

Rhayne
Rhayne

Nashville, NC



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