I wanted to have Hodgin's point of view start on next week's chapter but I foolishly included today's prompt ""where angels fear to tread..." in his space. Regardless, I hope you enjoy!
*Haven't read the older chapters? Press the tab above that says Wednesday Brief and scroll down to the bottom.*
Light of time 5
The wheels in Bethany’s mind turned furiously as she stared at Hodgins’ cold eyes. His angular face was an unreadable mask and his posture was statue-like, tension seeping off him in waves.
“Sit, Beth,” he said quietly.
Balling her hands into fists, she obeyed, not so much because he ordered it but because she was still dizzy. Gently, she sat back down, perching on the edge of the golden hued settee, swallowing her sigh of relief. Folding her hands on her lap, she resumed the ladylike posture that had been drilled into her mind since she was a child, careless of the fact that her skirt was still wet.
Hodgins watched her with veiled eyes. She noticed for the first time that he’d let down his hair, the long tresses covering the shaved bits of his scalp and partially hiding the pink scar. She knew there was no point in running, not now at least. She didn’t know where she was, how to get out, and more importantly, she felt that had Hodgins wanted to harm her, he would have already done it.
“I have no intention of hurting you, Bethany but I couldn’t let you see where I was taking you. It is for your own safety.”
Hodgins studied her face, clearly waiting for her to say something. She stared back, taking in his features, from the five o’clock shadow on his angular face to the fullness of his lips and the straight bridge of his nose.
“You surprise me, Bethany and that is a rare thing. Most women would be crying or firing me with questions, yet you remain silent—“ he hesitated. “Observing me,” he added.
Bethany shrugged. “As you observe me, General.”
“Touché.” Coming to his feet, he took a step toward her and offered her his hand. “Come. You must get out of those wet clothes or you will fall ill.”
Disregarding his hand, Bethany stood. For an instant she saw mirth reflected in the cool eyes.
“You took off my boots,” she remarked, having failed to notice before the way her socks slid on the rug.
“Yes, regardless of what you think, I do not want you to get sick.”
She made no move to grasp his hand and with a curt nod, he accepted her decision. Grabbing a rusty oil lamp, he led her out of the room and up a flight of stairs into a bedroom, illuminated by a shaft of moonlight coming through a large double set of windows.
Bethany watched him as he moved from one place to the next, lighting lamps on matching bedside tables and starting the fireplace. He was like an animal, sleek, quiet, dangerous. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and she shivered again, cursing the moment she’d accepted to meet him.
“I shall bring you something to wear,” Hodgins said, leaving her alone.
She took the chance to inspect the room. It was lavishly furnished in red and browns, but, though ornate, it seemed cold, empty even.She walked further inside, running the palm of her hand across the embroidered bedding, pausing to trace the design on one of the posts of the four poster- posts.
"Grandpa, what have I gotten myself into?" she murmured. Hodgins had promised answers but all he had done was snatch her away. Nana knew she was thinking about meeting the General but she had kept the date a secret. She'd been a fool.
“Here.” Bethany turned around sharply, almost colliding with Hodgins who had sneaked in behind her.
“Careful.” He grabbed her arm, steadying her. “Are you still dizzy?” he asked, searching her eyes.
Bethany shook her head and disentangled herself from his grip. Handing her a pink pastel robe, Hodgins made his way to the door. “I will be in the drawing room, downstairs, second door to the left. Please join me when you’re ready.”
Without another word, he snapped the door shut and left her.
Hodgins took a moment to relax in his old armchair in front of the blazing fire. He rested his elbow on an armrest, leaning into his hand, covering his tired eyes from the light. Ever since BJ, Bartholomew James, Beth’s grandfather, told him about finding the silver gem, he knew trouble was coming. The precious thing was a rarity and BJ had refused to tell him where he’d found it.
Hodgins rubbed his temple. He had found no proof, but his gut feeling told him that he’d been set up. His granddaughter also had her suspicions or she’d never have agreed to meet him. He was not popularly liked in New Lancashire, especially after the Hummingbird 121 incident.
A reckless man, he went where angels feared to tread. His foolhardy behavior had allowed him to rise fast in the military and he soon became General Lester Hodgins. Men respected him and women threw themselves at his feet. He’d had everything a man could ever want until the Zeppelin incident, a tragic accident that left him more or less unscathed physically, but not emotionally.
Rumors flew and he became the cursed one. He caused the accident on purpose, he sold them to the enemy, he was an undercover agent, he had made a pact with the devil, he was cursed. The more time passed the wilder the stories became. He’d been inspected, investigated and run through like a criminal. They found nothing. They kicked him out of the military shortly after and he became a recluse in his home. The life of wealth and enjoyment he had known fleeing out the window as his friends pulled away from a marked man.
Then one day, about five years ago, he met Bartholomew. The old man had been taking a hike in a nearby quarry of rocks, and they’d started talking. When he introduced himself, he expected the elder to balk and leave as others had done before him. Instead the old man, smiled, shook his hand and thanked him for his service to their country.
From that day on, BJ came to visit him at least once a week. Slowly, they started to work together and he found pleasure in helping the old man search for the myth of electrical light.