The hallway was silent. The air, still, but not stuffy, held a lingering scent of sea breeze. A row of windows, lined in shear white curtains, let in a soft light. Their lace trim looked old, but hadn't yellowed. Like everything in the house, they seemed dated, but appeared to be in pristine condition. The windows themselves were tall, almost eight feet high, and rounded at the top. They were framed in a dark finished wood, and opened into the hallway like welcoming arms awaiting a victim. The house sat with the hallway overlooking the ocean and if one were to jump, they would simply disappear into the waves. This high above the water, one could barely see the rocks below. During a low tide, there might even be a strip of sand to the east of the house. But there never seemed to be anything but crashing waves below the windows. When open, one could hear the waves, but only as a soft rush and smell the salt on the breeze.
She walked down this hallway often. She would stand at the tall windows and watch the waves below. The warmth of the sun pulling her closer. She dare not open the windows. She could imagine just stepping out into the waiting abyss. It seemed to be the simplest option at times. A swift end to the pain, a release from purgatory, an escape from the emptiness. Stepping through a window larger than most doors. Leaning into the warmth of the sun and the scent of the ocean. Slipping from the sill into the churning pool below.
As she lay in the warm water of the antique, claw-footed bath, she watched, with the blankest of expressions, as the water dripped from the golden faucet. Each drop sent ripples across the still water. She barely took a breath, keeping the only movement of the water reduced to the waves summoned by the drops. The only sound in the house, the slow "drip. . . drip . . . drip". It was a beautiful room. All white marble and gold trim. Eloquent, extravagant, and old, with an air of desperate effort, as if it had been built by a lord to woo his reluctant bride. It was marvelous, but on the edge to too much, too ostentatious for it's purpose. The ceiling held a great chandelier of shining crystal that illuminated the marble masterpieces engraved upon the walls. Angels and gods loomed overhead. Frolicking in a garden long forgotten. Robes cast aside, bare to the sun as nature surrounded them.
As the bath began to lose it's warmth, she considered sliding down further into the tub, letting the water creep higher. Slowly, letting it climb above her chin, caress her lips, and finally swallow her whole. Would there be peace below the surface? Would the water fill her with it's stillness, only to be moved by a single slow drip?
Instead, she inhaled deeply. Shaking the trance from her mind, she stood. The cool air of the room assaulted her damp flesh. The chill dragging a shiver from her. She stepped out of the water onto the thick white carpet. She reached for the fresh towel that had been left for her. It was remarkably soft and just as white as the rest of the room. The only color a sizable, deep blue "M" mono-graphed near the end. Another token of his presence she suspected, as if she needed the reminder.
She found herself in the library. It always seemed to pull her in. No matter where she wandered, she always wound up here. Like the rest of the house, it was incredibly extravagant. The ceiling was high and sat atop tall arched widows. The sun would shimmer down through the room like a golden veil on sunny days and offer an entrancing blanket of stars and moonlight on clear nights.
The room itself was several stories high, with wrap-around balconies at each level.The walls not covered by stacks, were a deep dark blue. The trim and molding were darkly varnished cherry wood. Wrought iron banisters ran the length of each balcony. Each of the library's ladders were dark wood with intricate iron steps. The stacks reached up almost to the ceiling. Every shelf was full. Some held old leather bound first editions pages yellowed by age, but not falling apart, while others shining new paperbacks. Some looked like beautiful pieces of art, with designs branded upon then or shining metallic flourishes. Much of the collection was in English, but just as much wasn't. Many held secrets in German, Latin, Italian, French, and other old scripts she couldn't place.
In the center of it all stood a massive, yet simultaneously elegant spiral staircase. The winding iron curved and twisted forming black roses along the railing as it grew up threw the library, landing at each at each level. Reaching out from the center stairs to spread across the balconies, connecting each like an iron vine of climbing roses. Organic, yet metallic.
At one end of the room, a smaller cove held the study. Along the inner wall stood a deceptively simple fireplace. In any other house it may have seemed too oppressive but it sat lightly in its place here. Two overstuffed chairs resting on a deep blue baroque rug, faced the flames. A calm, almost hush, seemed to perpetually linger in most of the house, but here it brought a sense of peace and conveyed quiet anticipation. The mysteries held in her shelves would take a lifetime to uncover, but here one could feel the heart of the room, the soul of the pages, the longing of the secrets to be shared.
She felt herself trying to place him here. Would he sit before the fire, lounging comfortably with a book in his lap or would he sit rigidly at the desk deep in thought, surrounded by papers. Had he read them all? All of this seemingly endless collection. Did he enjoy the softness of the rug under bare feet as she did?
The fireplace sat cold. It was surprisingly easy to light. A rack of wood always set to the left and the ring of fireplace tools to the right. Upon it's mantle sat an old wooden clock. The color matching so perfectly, that at first glance it would seem to be carved into the mantle piece itself. The carvings on its face were smooth and simple. Bold lines and swirls twisted around it's surface pulling one's gaze into the opening. It's massive mouth could easily swallow her whole. It's entrance just high enough, she wouldn't even need to bow her head. She could face the flames and surrender into their charring embrace with her arms open, another paramour seduced and consumed by the light.