The air was hot. I could hardly breathe and the sweat ran between my skin and my clothes. I made my way up the stairs to the dark, airless office that I was proud to list on my business cards. My answer service revealed a request to escape the city heat and spend an afternoon in the hills with a prospective client. Nothing to be gauged except that the caller was male, sounded middle-aged and lived in a very affluent area. I decided to go; I needed to feel elven again.
I drove away from the suffocating stickiness of the city to the clean coolness of the hills. The owners of the properties here had more money than I would make in a lifetime, if I were human that is. Still it did not matter much. I have money and, by not flashing it, I have a happiness and freedom of sorts, and that is more than most will ever have.
Bright awnings of the type described as cheerful shaded the leaded windows. Pink brick and a rustic style wooden door overhung with climbing berries gave a country feel. The spray mist from the sprinklers watering the garden felt fresh against my skin as I walked up the path.
The most bored man on the planet answered my knock. He led me to a small sitting room. “Wait here,” he said in his middle-aged voice, the same as the one on my answering service. “The Master will see you in his own time.”
I was used to the snobbery of servants and, in former times, my own had indulged in their tiny displays of power. So what? All they had was their position and a piddling piece of control that could be snapped in a minute. I was not interested and yawned as if unimpressed.
He showed me to a comfortable looking chair. I sat down and leaned into the soft leather. I am old, even though I look young. Soft comfort is always welcome. My blond fringe flicked away from my face and I put my head back.
“You might get me a drink.” I said to the superior butler, who managed to hide his surprise at being ordered into action. He smirked and remained in position. I stood up and walked to the door. “Tell your master that he can contact me at my office.”
I walked into the hall and stopped. The butler’s master was standing in front of me and I felt as though there was no breath left in my body.
“Do you really have to go?” he asked sweetly before taking my hand and walking me back into the room I had left. “Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Mr. Eress, and you are Mr. Dell. Am I correct?” I nodded dumbly.
We walked over to the settee; two slabs of soft cream leather set at right angles, nearly as comfortable as my bed. He looked at me and held my hands. Beautiful, warm brown eyes looked into my fëa and I felt naked. “I need you to investigate something for me.”
Eress looked at his butler and asked where my drink was. “It is a hot day Miggins. Mr. Dell is our guest.” The butler smirked, then sauntered off.
I walked to the door to make sure Miggins was not spying on us before going back to the beautiful yet seemingly fragile creature on the settee. “He is gone. Now tell me everything.”
“I do not know who I can trust anymore. Can I trust you?” I held his hand to give him confidence and assure him of my loyalty; he seemed to like holding hands. “Miggins is blackmailing me. I have asked you to come here to investigate a missing woman at the Summer Springs holiday complex and that is all he must know. Please, is there a way to get him off my back without involving the police or courting publicity?” His voice was low and he was scared.
For all I know this could have been bullshit; however, the butler’s superior, ‘I don’t have to do my job’, smirk and his master’s pleading eyes swayed me. I could smell his scent and out of curiosity, I brushed away his long black hair. He flinched and tried to stop me but there was no mistaking the delicate pointed tip of his ear. “You are an elf.” I whispered and he started to shake.
Footsteps outside the room necessitated a change of subject and the withdrawal of hands. “I need full access to records, photos and staff. You understand that this may become a police matter which will attract publicity?”
Eress nodded. “We will cooperate in every way we can. My staff already know that you are to be allowed access to all areas and the household and business records. You can contact me at any time.” A drink slammed down onto the table beside me and I gave Miggins a warning look. He chose to ignore me.
I took a sip. Homemade lemonade and something else. Something bitter. Mr. Eress watched me as I put it down. “Perhaps some bottle water?” He seemed anxious to please and walked over to the cooler hidden behind a dark wooden shutter in the wall and pulled out an unopened bottle of water; he got one for himself.
I drank some and it tasted clean. “It is hot in here, shall we go outside?” It would give us some privacy. I stood up and so did Eress. He seemed grateful for the suggestion.
We walked through the large French windows and down the path to the fountain. We sat on a stone seat near the falls of water issuing from cherubs mouths. I asked him his name.
“Your real name, not the one you use now.” I took a swig of the water and waited.
He looked nervous and his eyes studied the gravel at his feet. “Erestor.” Quietly said and almost a whisper.
“Erestor?” He nodded and looked away. “I knew an elf once called Erestor, in Imladris. He was an advisor. A sarcastic, mean spirited harpy. Do you know of him?” He made a small distressed noise and ran.
I caught him easily and held him as he struggled. His eyes were wild with fear and tears ran down his face.
“Why did you hire me Erestor?” He struggled but I held on tight. We walked over to a bench. “Sit.”
He sobbed, so I waited for him to stop. “I did not think you had recognised me.”
“I recognised you as soon as you took my hand. What has happened to your face?” I wanted to strike him. The old feelings rose in my throat as bitter bile.
“My face was rebuilt after a car crash. Glorfindel, I am so sorry.” Tears ran down his cheeks. I had seen it all before.
“Why did you hire me?” He broke down at my coldness and it was a while before he stopped. I waited silently, not offering comfort but sitting in stony silence.
“I did not lie. Miggins is blackmailing me and a woman has gone missing at the holiday complex.” Erestor looked hopefully at me, his eyes shining with tears that were yet to spill onto the lovely cheeks. It was all an act; he still had it in him to live a lie.
I seized the front of his shirt and pulled him close. “Why did you hire me?” I looked dangerous and could feel his fear. I wanted him to feel it. I wanted him to be so filled with terror that he could not breathe.
“Because your name reminded me of the elf I so stupidly gave up, the elf I did not know I loved until I lost him. There are you happy now?” He shouted and fought to free himself. I pulled him close and kissed him. I kissed him as though our lives would end if we did not, then I let him go and slapped him hard across the face.
“You always were a liar.” I stormed off and made my way to the house leaving him sitting on the stone bench. Nothing had changed.
The French doors hung open and Miggins stood by the frame, a sneer on his lips. I grabbed his shoulders and slammed him face first against the wall so that his eye was perilously near a hook holding a small ornament. “You tried to poison me.” I spoke softly so that he would be frightened.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He gasped, eyeing the hook.
“Yes you do. When your master went over to get me a bottle of water I tasted his drink and his was sweet, not bitter like mine.” I spoke softly but with a more menacing undertone.
“Why would I poison my husband’s latest bit?” I could feel his smirk and pushed his eye onto the hook, then let go. The hook had caught on the brow bone and he was suspended and screaming.
“He is not your husband. You are lying, you bastard.” I hissed in his ear and pushed his head forward again.
“It is no lie…” Erestor stood watching as I unhooked his husband, and then he fainted. He lay on the floor, cool and beautiful.
“See to him.” I snarled at Miggins as I left.
Part of the 'Dark Judgement' series.
Disclaimer: I do not own the elves or their surroundings. The elves made me write this even though they belong to Tolkien; they are very naughty making me do this! I make no profit and have no intention of making any.
Glorfindel visits his new client. Can he trust him and has his drink been spiked?
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