The morning stung his tired eyes . He lifted his hand to shade himself from the rays as he walked down the street. It was cold and the coat he wore did little to protect him against it. He didn't want to go back to that house that was falling apart. That house where his aunt and uncle seemed so content. Could people really be so comfortable in such horrible conditions? The thought was sickening. He didn't believe in the idea of true happiness, all he saw was the tireless struggle that surrounded his kind. The toil they put themselves through to just get through the day. It was more frustrating than he could describe. It was something he absolutely loathed. He couldn't return to that, he didn't dare.
"You there!" It was one of the men from the cafe. The first one who had spoken against the charge of murder. He was tall, his hair sandy and his strides great. He wore his confidence as if it were just another collar.
"Can I help you?" Jared questioned, his brows knitted together as he stopped walking and waited for the man to reach him.
"I'm glad you've got your release. A part of me thought that the police would not believe our story." He was smiling.
"It was the truth. Surely they should believe the truth." He replied, tucking his hands into the torn pockets of his coat.
"You're as naive as you are wicked. Fascinating."
"Should I take that as a compliment, I wonder." Jared let a smile break onto his lips despite how tired he felt.
"Listen here, I have Mr. Murray's home address... We will take your claim as well as Mr. Murray's word to his lawyer later this evening."
"I doubt they will even listen."
"They shall. No worries." He assured him firmly with a nod of his head. "As for now, where do you stay?"
Jared's heart sank. The evening was still several hours away. He wasn't sure if he could survive that long. "I'm afraid where that is I do not wish to return."
He looked Jared over, studying him it seemed before he made a sound of understanding. "How could I blame you? Well it so happens that I have an extra room available. Would you like to come with me until your future begins?" His smile was almost secretive whenever he chose to show it.
"If I am not a burden." Jared couldn't help the excitement he felt over the idea. Looking at this man he was talking to now was enough to let him know he was beyond wealthy. The only place Jared had been in that dripped with riches was that cafe'. He wasn't even sure how to act.
"Of course not, it would be my pleasure." He also put his hands into his pockets. The cold even seemed to touch men like him. Jared wished that wasn't so.
"Well show me the way." Jared laughed a little as they began to walk.
"It isn't far. Next time you come down this way I promise you it'll be in Mr. Murray's finest carriage with men waiting on you."
"Why do you seem so unaffected by your friends death?"
"Friend? I would hardly consider him a friend. He was merely a business associate. I had to keep him company or he would pull his investments out of my company."
"What sort of company do you own?"
"One that sparks the desire of men and piques the confidence of women." When Jared could not find an answer he laughed. "Lingerie. Imported from France. Fine things really."
"And Mr. Murray was not a fine man."
He laughed. "If anyone called him a fine man than they might as well call myself a saint."
Jared laughed in response. "And you helped me because you did not like him?"
He shook his head. "Not entirely. I just believe that every few years we would all do good with some new blood."
"Ah. That makes sense."
"Of course it does. Now what is your name? My name is Thomas Kender. But you, as my new friend, should call me Tom. No reason for formalities now."
"Jared. Jared Leto."
"Well Jared, you'll be saying hello to your new life soon. I hope that you're quite prepared. Here we are." Tom stopped and gestured ahead towards the townhouse that stood gated away from the rest of the world.
Jared looked ahead and had to stifle the gasp he felt coming in fear he would seem far too childish.
The townhouse was of an ash color, the windows shuttered by black shutters. There was smoke singing out from the chimney, vines crawled up the sides. The gate was of heavy iron and there was a garden that could be glimpsed from between the bars. The gates opened without Tom having to do a thing and Jared's senses were automatically filled with the rich scent from the garden. They walked down the path towards the door and were automatically joined by a man whose sole purpose in life seemed to be to serve Tom.
Jared ignored the voices and simply kept walking. He could feel some new feeling sinking in, the way it enwrapped him and gave him a new free way of breathing. This was a new world and he was a new man and he was definitely prepared.
The maid had left him in his room. It was supposedly the smallest room in the house that Jared stood in now but as he looked around he knew it was certainly the largest room he had ever been in. The windows were closed against the cold and the hearth offered a crackling warmth. The bed was a large four poster, the light flickered and the scent was of fresh flowers and herbs.
Tom had given him some clothes that had belonged to his brother, he was sure they would fit him although a little big. Jared saw them now where they were folded up on the bed. He let his hand touch to the fine fabric and smiled. Things were already getting better just like his soul was aching for. This was the life for him, he could feel that in the very core of his soul.
Quickly he stripped himself of his old and worn clothes. He freshened himself with the items given to him from the staff. He put on the trousers first, the sash and then with excitement pulled on the shirt, the cravat and the jacket. He fixed on his shoes and ran a brush through his hair. He felt his posture change, felt his spirit change. Who was this man that stood in the room now? What had happened to the old man who had strived for so long? He had been replaced by this new and bold man who stood in gentleman's finery and was looking forward to another turn in his life in just a few hours.
He smiled to himself, feeling satisfactory fill him. He picked up his old clothes from off the floor with the tips of his fingers. He could feel the past in them, the fabric that had been weathered with holes. All those working memories were in the cheap stitching. He shut his eyes on the voice that said his parents lived within them, within the dirtied and damp colors. He cursed the memory to hell before turning to the hearth and threw the clothes into the fire. He watched the flames lick away the material before they all but disappeared.
Memories be damned. The past be cursed. It was over. He was someone else now. Everything else was forgotten.
He crossed the room and slipped out. The staircase was sprawling but the wood didn't creak nor was it splintered. He could feel the way his shoes almost cushioned his feet as opposed to his old boots that he could feel the very ground as he walked. He slid his hand down the wood railing and followed the sound of clatter. Tom had told him to join him for supper and he was more than glad to. The only thing he hoped for was that his stomach didn't growl too much once he sat down.
The meal was one of wealth and decadence. Tossed salads with bits of apricots and cranberries. Succulent mutton and roasted pheasant. Vegetables steamed as did rolls that held melted butter. The dessert was nearly as decadent, the chocolate and fruit richer than anything he had ever tasted. The wines were rich, silky, sweet. He had been transported to a whole other world where nothing else mattered than the moment he was in.
Afterwards Tom brought him into the drawing room for cigars and brandy. Jared sat down, puffing away on his first cigar and let out a long sigh of relief.
"I must say Jared, this life suits you." Tom said, setting down his glass and smiling.
"It feels that way." Jared replied.
Finally it was time to leave and speak to Mr. Murray's lawyer. Jared couldn't help the nervousness that suddenly took root inside of him. He pulled on one of Tom's coats and when he stepped outside he did not feel the cold coming down upon them. Tom gestured him inside the carriage and off they went further away from town.