This scene is where Ellie gets to meet the architect of her abduction. She's with Obidiah Worthington, a church Elder who has been charged with looking after her.
The normal caveat applies, this is as rough as my hubby's nine o'clock shadow.
The drive curved around to the right and the trees fell away to reveal a white framed house, an elaborate confection of mock Victoriana, complete with a tower, balconies, gables trimmed with lacy wooden trim. Ellie felt like a tourist when she paused to try and take it all in. Worthington kept walking. She hurried to catch up with him, still not used to the long skirt flapping around her legs.
Wicker chairs and tables were scattered across the broad verandah. Ceiling fans swung languidly between forests of hanging ferns. The double doors glittered with beveled glass. Worthington sighed and rang the doorbell. Ellie stood beside him, curling her fingers in the folds of her skirt. She didn’t want to meet the Prophet, she wanted to go home.
She was surprised when a child opened the door. She was small and pale with silvery-blonde hair. She stood beside the open door and regarded the guests with luminous blue eyes. Other people might have thought her pretty, but her stare made Ellie shiver and take a step back.
“Hello, Ruth. Your Papa is expecting us.”
“Yes.” A tiny whisper. She opened the door for them and disappeared into the cavernous depths of the house. Her footsteps echoed away, leaving the house in silence. Ellie followed Worthington along the hall to a pair of double doors towards the back. He knocked, softly, on the door.
“Come in.” The voice struck Ellie as ordinary. She had expected a booming, biblical roar.
“Ah, brother Obidiah, thank you for coming.” A tall, thin man rose from the depths of a leather wingback chair beside the empty fireplace. He regarded Ellie with the same luminous blue eyes as the child. He held out his hand. “You must be Mrs. Freeman.”
Ellie took it, surprised that his grip was warm and firm. “Yes.” She tried to stare him down, but his eyes disturbed her as much as his daughter did. She wanted to wipe her hand on her skirt.
He nodded towards a chair. Ellie sat down and folded her hands on her lap. She forced herself to look at him without wanting to run. She hoped it would be a short visit.
“I trust Brother Obidiah and his family are taking good care of you?”
“Yes, they are. They are very kind.” She replied, meaning it.
“Ah, that’s good.” He shifted in his chair, crossing his long legs. “You’re working too, I understand.”
“In the community garden, Sir. It’s very pleasant.”
“Good….good. So, you are happy here.”
Ellie lifted her chin and forced herself to look him in the eye. “It’s not my home, Sir but, I will get by.”
“Very diplomatic answer, Mrs. Freeman.”
Ellie noticed Worthington exhale with relief. Out of courtesy to him, she held her tongue. “Thank you.” She wanted to put her hands around his scrawny neck and throttle the Prophet. She wondered how such an unremarkable man commanded so much power.
“Hopefully, you won’t have to stay with us for long, Mrs. Freeman.”
Ellie nodded. There seemed little point in answering.
“God told me that you would be happy here.”
“Really.” Her God and his obviously had different opinions.
“He told me that you will have an important part to play.”
She was tempted to make a flippant remark about her gardening abilities. She held her tongue and wanted to be away. Even hoeing weeds in the warm August sunshine was preferable.
He rose and Ellie took that as a signal to leave. He shook her hand once more, clapped Worthington on the back and walked them to the door.
“It was nice to meet you, Mrs. Freeman. In spite of your doubts, I believe my Lord when he says you will find happiness here.”
“Thank you, Sir. I’d like to think so.” Ellie hoped her lie was convincing enough.
He smiled, revealing teeth that had not seen a dentist for a long time. “I’m sure you will.”Ellie was relieved to escape back onto the broad drive and the restless, dappled shadows cast by the trees. Worthington walked away swiftly, apparently in a tearing hurry to be away. She couldn’t blame him. On the way back to the house he remained silent and Ellie didn’t care to break the silence. It seemed to her, that his loyalty to the Prophet was not complete. The thought gave her hope.