Chapter 24 Voices from Beyond
Alexander and I were in his attic room. My boyfriend was painting a beautiful picture of the rail yard while I attempted to write my English essay on my mom's laptop. But I was too distracted to begin to write about possible career choices-not only because Alexander was quite the handsome artist, glowing and focused on his creation, but because I could hear the muffled voices of Alexander's parents talking in their bedroom, one floor below.
I could barely make out a few words.Mr. Berkley.Sale .Romania .
"I'll be right back," I said to Alexander, but he was so engrossed in his brushstrokes that I'd probably be back before he even noticed I was gone.
I snuck down the attic stairs and tiptoed past his parents' bedroom. The door was ajar. The bathroom was only a few doors down, and if I hung out inside I'd be able to hear their voices echo off the empty walls.
"Mr. Berkley says we need to put money into renovations before this house will ever sell," I heard Mr.Sterling say as I passed their doorway. I remained by a hallway table just outside their door.
"I think it's perfect the way it is," Mrs. Sterling responded.
"I agree. I'm not changing a thing. My mother built this house the way she wanted it and it will remain that way until there is a new owner."
"Maybe it's the real estate agency we should change," Mrs. Sterling offered.
There was a slight pause.
"Constantine," Mrs. Sterling began in a soft yet concerned voice. "Perhaps we are making a mistake by putting the Mansion up for sale at all."
"I know, Cassandra. I've been wrestling with that, too. This has not been an easy decision. I've tried to explain that to Alexander,But our lives are inEurope . And now it's time for us to return.All of us. Our home has always been inRomania . We are too old to change all that now."
"I guess you are right. But I do worry-"
"I don't understand it," Mr. Sterling added, changing his tone. "Mr. Berkley said not one person has shown interest. He explained that the townspeople have told him awful things about our home. I'm not sure why anyone would say such things. No one, besides theMadisons , has been inside,"
The floorboard underneath me squeaked so loudly, I thought one would be able to hear it inRomania .
The bedroom door creaked open.
Mr. Sterling appeared, and behind him a very tall and statuesque Mrs. Sterling.
The bathroom doorway that once looked so close now seemed miles away.
"Raven," Mrs. Sterling said, "We didn't know you were here."
"I was just on my way-"
"We've been meaning to talk to you," she said, "now that you've heard about the Mansion going on the market,"
I didn't move.
"I know it must be hard for you, Raven-as it is for us," Mrs. Sterling said in a soothing voice.
"You have done so much for Alexander," she continued. "I know it will be difficult for him being away from you. So you must promise me you'll visit."
Under normal conditions, the thought of going toRomania and seeing Alexander's family would be the thrill of a lifetime. However, if I had a choice, I'd rather vacation inRomania and visit my boyfriend on Benson Hill.
"I promise," I said in agreement.
Alexander appeared at the foot of the stairs.
"What's going on down here?"
"Nothing," Mrs. Sterling said. "We were just passing in the hall."
I felt a tinge of sorrow for theSterlings . They were just as torn as we were about the move. They were making what they thought was the best decision, even if it wasn't the choice Alexander and I would make.
I couldn't concentrate on writing, and Alexander needed a break from painting. It was getting late, so he drove me home.
"I think our plan is working," I said as he walked me to my door. "At this rate, you'll be here longer than the Mansion has,"
Alexander leaned in and gave me a blissful kiss. For the first night in a long time, I actually got a good night's rest.