It was the kind of house Jared had only been able to dream about. He heard of places like this back in America, newly born places, but he had never left the working city to glimpse them. Here he was now though, looking up at the most beautiful place he had ever laid eyes on. He was home. He could feel that right down to the soles of his feet. This would be the place his life would peak in. This would be the world his freedom would finally dawn in.
All the thoughts of luxury, of dreams realized crossed his mind as he waited for Tom to exit the carriage. He had never felt so complete, so whole, so full of amazing relief. This was it. This was his life now and there was no turning back. He didn't want to turn back. There was no way he wanted to look back at the life he used to live and yearn for it to return. And yet there was a twinge of darkness that refused to shake him free. What was it? It couldn't be foreboding. He was here, he was ready to live again. This was what he had always been waiting for. Why would he be afraid? Why was there just a breath of hesitance? He was being ridiculous. Nothing could happen to him. Now he was untouchable. Not even the cold could touch him.
He shivered however, clutching Tom's coat closer to his body. Well maybe there were things at work that even he couldn't persuade.
"Are you ready? Or will you stare up at this house as if you're lost in a dream?" Tom's sarcasm was filled with humor as he nudged Jared to follow after him.
Jared smiled a little, having barely noticed what Tom had said. He followed after him though and stood beside him when Tom knocked.
"What do I say?"
Tom was still smiling. Did he ever stop? Had life really been so kind? "Why do you think I've come? I'm helping you."
"Well it's appreciated." Jared replied before the door finally opened.
The butler stood before them, looking them over. His eyes were tired, worn out with age and yet his posture and figure spoke of a men much younger than he was. Something about him seemed sad. The news had already reached them of course.
"Might I help you? No visitors tonight."
Tom laughed and looked to Jared with a mocking gaze. "Tell whoever is in that the new master of the estate has arrived and he is coming in."
"New....master?" The butler questioned, his brows lifting slightly.
"Mr. Murray's lawyer is in, correct?" The butler nodded. "Well then he would have already received my wire. pardon me." He pushed past the man and entered the home.
Jared glanced to the butler who now stood aside, his head hung low. Jared followed inside and stifled the gasp that threatened escape.
The staircase was floored in marble and the railing was a deep mahogany. There were golden sconces hanging on the walls and a chandelier dangling beautifully above their heads. He looked at the tiny flames dancing, quivering. Harshly he swallowed as he thought of all the servants in the home whose job it was to put them out. A flame only had so long to live.
"Where is he?" Tom asked, looking back to the butler.
"In Mr. Murray's study...this way, sirs." The butler led the way, his coattails swaying lightly with his walk.
They walked along the marble floors, the sound of their shoes echoing in the quiet. Jared looked at the portraits hanging on the walls, the ancestors that had always inhabited these walls. They were looking at him with scowls, with judgement, with hatred. As if it were his fault he had lived and Mr. Murray had not! He was the one who insisted on testing his righteousness. Apparently he had none.
The butler stopped in front of two large doors, the gold door knobs glinted. Tom turned to Jared and held up his hand.
"You wait out here, let me have a few words with the goat." And with that he slipped into the study.
Jared stood there awhile even after the butler had gone away. He couldn't hear any talking from inside the study no matter how close he got to the door. He tapped his fingers nervously on the side of his pants as he tried to decide in his mind on what was going on. Were they voting in favor of him? Or would they turn the situation around and take what had happened to their advantage?
He inched away from the doors and returned again to the front of the house. He let his eyes look up again at the dancing flames, so tiny and unimportant on their own and yet together they could create a terrible blaze. He remembered the small hearth he had had back in America, the one that had barely kept his mother warm when she was ill. He used to stand by it after he tore off his gloves whenever he came back in from work.
He closed his eyes on the memory and hated the bitter taste it left in his mouth. That was no longer his past. He was longer that man. He had been left behind at the docks, poverty in one hand and hunger in the other. He was a man without memories now, none of it existed. Not even the darkness that kept threatening its way up.
"Who are you?" A soft voice questioned from behind him.
Jared couldn't help the twitch of a smile that crawled its way onto his lips. He turned around to look up at her.
Farrah stood there in a long gown of black. Her eyes were puffy and her lips were pulled down with her sadness. In one of her hands she held a lace handkerchief and the other rested daintily on the railing. She was mourning her father and what a beautiful mourner she was.
"I am sorry about your father." He said, keeping his voice low, knowing she was in a sensitive state.
"You knew him?" She asked as she slowly descended the staircase.
He nodded. "For a short while. Unfortunate."
She lowered her head as if for a second she needed a moment to gather herself together just at the mere mention of her father. Were there memories running through her mind as she stood there, a broken and wilted flower?
"You must be his daughter...Farrah Murray."
She looked up at him then, her eyes a little clearer. Perhaps she had been trying to conjure up some strength. "How did you know my name?"
"Why everyone knows the Murray family. How could we not? We are all but worthless peasants at your door steps."
"No one is worthless." She defended, his brows tensing together.
"Ah, yes. You must believe in the equalities of all people, do you not? You feed the sick, clothe the naked. Why you must even steal from the rich to give to the poor."
"Do you mock me, sir?" She demanded, her tone sharper.
Jared smiled and shook his head. "Of course not....I would never dream to mock a lady." He assured although his eyes spoke a whole other truth.
She backed away a little. Instinct? Or insult? "You have not told me who you are."
"Oh where are my manners? Do forgive me. My name is Jared...Jared Leto." He extended his hand out to her then, that handsome and arrogant smile appearing on his lips.
"Ja- You're the man then! The man who killed my father." She declared, her eyes widened as if she had seen a ghost.
"I believe you have the story mixed up, my fair Farrah. Your father brought the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger. All of his friends told him to do otherwise. Too bad he didn't listen to those angels on his shoulders." He laughed at his own words.
"I would have you out of this house, sir! At once!"
"I'm sorry, Ms. Murray. That cannot be arranged." Tom's voice dripped with as much arrogance and disrespect as Jared's. Or perhaps more.
"What do you mean?" She asked as she made her way back to the staircase as if there she was finally safe.
"Because he isn't just any man...not anymore."
"I don't follow."
Tom smiled and pulled a paper from his coat and handed it to Jared. "He's the master of this estate."