I had not planned for this. I had not factored in the possibility of an innocent standing between Coveton and me. And as I stared in anxiety at the unfolding situation, my curiosity turned to utter disbelief as I caught sight of a woman stepping out of the vehicle. It was purely the image of Emily, my daughter, though obviously not her. The resemblance was uncanny.

The car’s headlights split the mist of rain still present, creating an unsightly haze. The woman walked towards the manor’s door, with Emily’s same golden hair, quirky smile and honey skin. She moved onward swinging a handbag wildly about and held a bag of groceries in the crook of her arm.  Keys jingled in her fingers.  I must have edged out of hiding, as she spotted me against the manor’s wall. Her eyes squinted and her mouth was slightly agape.

“Dad? What the hell are you doing here?” she asked, in a most displeasing tone.

I didn’t understand the game she was playing but apparently Coveton had already corrupted her brain. I stood now, regaining a proper stance.

“The owner of the estate, this man, Coveton. I have business with him.  And how do you know him?”

She pursed her lips, leaning back slightly. My wife, God rest her soul, would assume this position when angry with me.

“Are you serious? I still live here. Henry told you we’re living here until the wedding.  We’ve gone over this dad.  You have to accept that he’s my fiancé.”

My throat locked up.  It felt strange to hear that word – fiancé. I wondered if the term had changed through the years and didn’t define a member of a relationship but had another meaning, like she was his thrall.

“Fiancé, you say? But do you not know? Of his true nature?”

Her countenance changed again. Her eyes looked to the clouds above, and her petite lips clenched.

“His true nature?  This talk, these crazy ideas you get. I don’t know what to say when you talk crazy like this.”

I could only guess that her sudden departure from amiability was due to the poor weather and time of night.

“My manner of speaking is not relevant here. You need to leave. It’s not safe.”