11. ‘Aren’t You Supposed To Be Dead?’

Today’s track is ‘The Angel Of Darkness’ by Peter Connelly & Martin Iveson. You can listen to the track HERE and visit the store HERE.

Standing at these gates made me feel emotional. I was soaked through to the skin but I couldn’t help but just stand in the pouring rain and watch the manor. It almost felt like a mirage in front of my very eyes. Was it real? Was I really here and home?

Getting back felt like a blur; my experience with Putai, the Shaman who nursed me back to health, was almost unbelievable. Although her being had vanished, I’d felt her presence around me. She would appear in visions; I’d hear her voice and wisdom echo through my mind. I wished I could remember everything that had happened, yet my mind wouldn’t allow me too. It was as if there was barbed wire around my memories; I couldn’t recall getting all the way back here for love nor money. It was another reason as to why I thought that this moment wasn’t truly happening.

I was almost hesitant to go in. The manor was in complete darkness – I shuddered at the thought, but I didn’t even know if Winston was alright. He wasn’t a young gentleman anymore and I had been gone for a long time. I could only assume that he’d presumed me dead. Perhaps if I’d have been in his position, I would have felt the same.

My energy was depleted, but the only way through these gates was with the entry button which was inside the house. If I wanted to get into my home and in some fresh clothes, I needed to scale this colossal gate. As I clambered carefully, my mind whirred as to how it would appear behind those doors.

Had they packed up my belongings? Was Winston in there? Had the manor been raided as I hadn’t been there to defend the priceless relics I’d travelled so far to gain? I had to find out, however scaling this gate was proving far more difficult than I ever thought it would be. It used to be a breeze and a part of my training if I found the assault course a little dull one morning.

I dropped to the gravel, hearing that thick familiar crunch as I steadied myself and rose back to my feet. Even landing properly wasn’t a strong suit of mine any more. It was as though I was seeing my home through someone else’s eyes; I was experiencing emotions that I’d never thought I would ever hold. Perhaps being faced with death as close as I had, had shifted things for me.

With a sigh, I stopped as I was approaching the doors. The hammering rain was drowning out the sound of the water feature. I had to look at the marble fish to remind myself that it was still working. I had to remind myself of the familiarities; this was strange, I felt as though I was trespassing. It was ironic really as throughout my career, I had perfected doing just that – albeit not all that quietly.

I crept a little closer, noticing just how fast the rain was pouring down the windows and how intimidating the outside looked under moonlight. It felt strange; there was an automatic reluctance within me that I’d never felt before. As much as I wanted to get inside and get warm and finally rest, my legs would not allow me to move as quickly as my sense of urgency had. It felt as though I was edging myself closer to a temperamental beast, in the hopes of it letting its guard down and trusting me enough to allow me into its space.

Water dripped from every part of me as I peered around the manor in hopes of seeing an open window or a door that hadn’t been locked. No such luck. I’d always been hot on security, especially after the invasion by Bartoli’s men. If Winston was tucked up in bed, there was no way he wouldn’t have deadlocked every single entry point like I’d drummed into him.

It was no use; I resorted to banging the main doors until I could no longer feel the pain. After a short while, a saw a light flick on. My stomach swirled with relief as, from the blurred figure I could see, I could tell just from the posture that it was him. The bolts were quickly undone and the door opened.

Winston had looked like he’d seen a ghost, perhaps in his mind he had. His mouth fell open in shock as he stared at me. I felt that I had to tread softly, especially as I hadn’t known how he would receive my surprising return.

‘Is it really you, Lara?’ Winston asked, looking visibly upset.

I swallowed back my emotions; however a tear managed to sneak out undetected as the rain served as a disguise. This was the first time I’d ever heard him call me by my first name.

I merely nodded.

‘But I thought you were dead, Father Patrick, Charles and I held a memorial for you. Even your parent’s came to pay their respects-’

‘They needn’t have bothered, they never did when I was alive-’ I spat.

‘Lara, what happened?’ Winston asked, almost pleading for answers in his quivering voice.

‘May I come in first? It’s a bit wet out here.’ I felt silly for asking, but I was worried to just barge in, even if it was my home.

He moved backwards and held out an arm as if to welcome me to a new environment, I felt as though it was in a way.

I looked back to Winston who had smoothed a handkerchief down his cheeks, tucking it back into the sleeve of his dressing gown. ‘I thought I’d lost you forever.’ His voice quivered, quickly apologising.

‘I thought I had too.’ I nodded, trying to not allow my emotions to surface now that the rain had been shut outside. ‘I’d hug you, but I’m not exactly dry.’

‘I don’t care one bit.’

Winston held out his arms and I accepted; I broke down as we embraced. I hated myself for doing so, but I’d spent a long time in those tombs thinking about him. To be back and to know he was safe was overwhelming.  It had been quite the journey to get to this point; there were many days I’d thought this day would never come. I truly thought I’d never see the manor or Winston ever again.

‘Get yourself dry and I’ll make you a nice cocoa. Would you like something to eat, Ms. Croft?’

‘What happened to ‘Lara’?’ I quizzed as I tugged at my wet laces to free myself of my sodden boots.

‘That’s exactly what I’d like to find out myself.’ He mused. ‘I’ll make you some soup. Now please, go and get into some warm clothes.’

I smiled. ‘Thank you, Winston.’

He returned a grin and made his way towards the kitchen. Home sweet home.


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