Home > The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(5)

The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(5)
Author: Ashley Stoyanoff

“Hi,” she replied, gawking at him.

“You’re just time for dinner,” he said and walked over to the rounded end of the island. He draped his jacket on the back of the chair and took a seat beside Angelle. Luke was big, bulky, and at least three inches taller than Angelle and Eric. His face was warm looking, with thoughtful hazel eyes and short, spiky brown hair. He wore a dark gray-collared shirt with the top few buttons undone, showing the top of his hard muscle-lined chest, and a light blue tie loosened at the neck.

“You can sit,” he said, in a deep and booming voice, with a touch of an accent that Amelia just couldn’t seem to place. It was a watery mix with a hint of Irish and something else, Italian maybe. “I promise we don’t bite.” He chuckled, a velvety sound, and gestured to the empty chair beside Eric.

Mabel started setting steaming plates of pasta and garlic bread in front of each of them. Once they each had a heaping plate, she returned to the sink and worked silently on the dishes. Amelia had been wondering if she would join them, but she guessed not. Maybe she eats afterwards? Not sure how this whole housekeeper thing worked, she filed the question at the back of her mind for later.

“I see you found the clothes I left. I hope everything fit okay,” Angelle said.

“They’re wonderful, thank you,” Amelia said, feeling a blush creep up the back of her neck. She didn’t usually embarrass this easily and she wondered what that was about. It surely wasn’t the first time someone had given her clothes. Since she had arrived though, she had been blushing at every little thing. Maybe it was because they were all just so kind and, well, who was she trying to kid, really, really good looking.

Eric dug in, slurping up the creamy noodles. Sitting close, she was tantalized by the scent of his musky cologne. Amelia had never spent much time noticing boys before. They had always been just an unneeded distraction from what was really important, an education. But somehow he had gotten under her skin and was quickly turning her mind to mush.

“So, Angelle tells me that you are quite a math wiz,” Luke said, and then took a bite of the crunchy garlic bread.

Amelia gave her head a little shake, realizing that he was talking to her. “Um, I get by I guess,” Amelia stuttered, twirling some pasta onto her fork.

“Don’t be so modest, Amelia,” Angelle said, shooting a dazzling smile across the table. “She designed an accounting program last year for her grade twelve credit,” she said to Luke. “You two should sit down some time. She could probably teach you a few things.”

Luke chuckled and gave a thoughtful look to Amelia. “Yes, I think that would be a great idea if you’re willing?”

“I guess I could.” Amelia took a small bite of the pasta she had finally managed to wrap around her fork. The flavor of creamy, cheesy sauce exploded in her mouth and she realized that she was starving and shoveled more in. “This is so good,” Amelia said between bites.

The food was so good that Amelia managed to forget Eric and the others while she continued to stuff herself. It had been ages since she had an actual home-cooked meal and the flavors were magnificent. No doubt, Mabel had made everything from scratch. You just couldn’t make something that great from a can.

Amelia was so distracted by the food that when Eric reached over and yanked the top of her turtleneck down, she didn’t pull away. “Why did you bother getting a tattoo if you’re just gonna cover it up?” he asked.

“It’s not a tattoo,” Amelia snapped, her sense coming back to her. She pulled away, fixing her top to cover her birthmark and placed a secure hand over it. “It’s a birthmark and I cover it up because I hate talking about it.” Eric snickered, trying to hold in his laughter and Amelia shot him a dirty look. “What’s so funny?” she asked, her voice coming out more annoyed then she had meant it to sound.

“Sorry,” Eric said, breaking out in laughter. “It’s just that you were born with the alchemy symbol for soul and you think it’s just some birthmark? Damn girl, I thought you were supposed to be like a genius or something.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m a genius but I’m smart enough to know it’s just a birthmark.” Soul, Amelia thought. It means soul? She had never really thought about it meaning something before. She always assumed that it was just some weird birthmark, a figure eight with a solid line passing behind the bottom circle. She pushed the thought back, deciding she would have to look it up later. “Can we talk about something else?”

“Of course sweetie,” Angelle chirped, giving Eric a disapproving glare that he promptly ignored.

“You know, it’s the same mark from this book I read,” Eric continued. “Luke, what was that book? Something about dreams, right?”

“I think it was,” Luke said thoughtfully. “And about soulmates.”

The humor left Eric’s face, replaced with a pensive look, the same one Luke was giving her, and Amelia thought it just looked wrong on him. “Are you having any weird dreams? Like reoccurring dreams of the same person?”

Amelia froze for just a second, feeling a cold sweat break out on her forehead. He couldn’t know, could he? She took a bite to give herself time to think of what, or how, to answer that. Well, actually, yes, I do dream of the same person almost every night. You see, after my parents were murdered, I went a bit nuts and I made up this dream guy to be my friend because dealing with real people just kinda sucked. His name is Mitchell and well, after five years of these dreams I kinda fell hopelessly in love with him. But it has nothing to do with a book or soulmates. I’m just a crazy freak.

Yeah, that would be taken well. They would laugh and throw her out or worse, put her in a straightjacket and lock her in a padded room somewhere. She swallowed a quick gulp of pop to stall a bit longer and then instead of telling them the crazy truth, Amelia said dryly, “No I haven’t been having any dreams.” She did her best dramatic eye roll. “At least not ones that I remember and please tell me you don’t believe all that crap about soulmates because, seriously, no such thing. They were just made up as a marketing scheme for Valentine’s Day.”

“You’re a really bad liar, you know,” Luke said in a light voice, but his face looked tense with a forced smile. “I don’t remember much of the story but the book really is interesting. Maybe you should give it a read.”

Wow. Am I really that bad at lying? Amelia wondered, speechless.

“Seriously, Millie,” Eric said. “Don’t you think it’s a little bit strange that your birthmark actually means something?”

“That’s enough, Eric. Stop scaring the poor girl,” Angelle said, her voice dripping with syrup. “And Luke, I expected this from Eric but you should know better. We will chat about this later.”

“I was just saying she should read it,” Luke said. “It’s all very interesting and I am surprised you have never looked up the symbol, Amelia.”

Angelle’s smile brightened to a blinding level and when she spoke the sugar gushed from her voice. “I said that’s enough.” She focused her gaze on both boys and Amelia watched in amazement as they both visibly shuddered under her stare. Weird, Amelia thought, watching the three with curiosity. They held the stare, unblinking, and it was obvious that some silent conversation was taking place that she was not privy to. After a moment, Eric and Luke both muttered an apology to Angelle and Eric reached for the ketchup and slathered his food in it.

“That’s so gross,” Luke said, disgusted. “You’re ruining it.”

“Ketchup makes everything good,” Eric laughed. “You’re missing out.”

They finished up the pasta and Mabel served a home baked apple pie for dessert. The sweet crumble, warm apples and cinnamon were like a piece of heaven melting in her mouth. Amelia swallowed it down in three large bites.

When they all finished, Mabel promptly cleared the plates and left the kitchen without a word. Amelia thought for sure she would never be able to get used to this. Having someone wait on her just seemed so wrong.

She felt pleasantly full and exhausted. The bus ride, the house, her new roommates. It overwhelmed her in a delirious whirl of contentment and uncertainty. An involuntary yawn escaped and Amelia brought her hand to her mouth, suddenly afraid that they would think she was being rude. Her eyes felt heavy and it was getting hard to keep them open.

Luke reached under the table and pulled out two shiny wrapped gifts, setting them on the table. “We’re glad you’re finally here, kiddo,” he said with a warm smile. He pushed the glittering presents towards her. “These are for you.”

Amelia opened then closed her mouth, not knowing what to say. She wanted to cry. She wanted to laugh. She wanted to run out of the room and hide. They had bought her presents? Presents just for her? It seemed like such a touching gesture and, sort of, really scary. It dawned on her that maybe they felt sorry for her. Why else would they buy her things? They probably thought she was some poor little homeless girl. She flushed with embarrassment. “You guys didn’t have to do this,” Amelia said in a small voice. “Really. You don’t have to pretend to like me. I’ve had enough charity to last a lifetime. I don’t need yours.”

“Really, Amelia,” Angelle said, sounding a bit hurt. “They’re nothing special. It’s just a few ‘welcome home and to the family’ presents.”

Home? Family? That sounded so perfect and so terrifying all at once. Amelia rolled it around in her mind, trying out the words. She looked around the table, it did feel like home. She hesitated for a second and then took the glittery box in her hand, gently peeling the tape, afraid of ruining the lovely paper. “It’s just paper, Millie,” Eric said, rolling his eyes. “You’re supposed it rip it.”

Amelia giggled and ripped into the paper to find a shiny pink iPhone. “I pre-loaded it with all the best music,” Eric said proudly.

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