Home > Drawn to Him(5)

Drawn to Him(5)
Author: Willow Winters

My brown boots come up mid-thigh and brush against one another as I cross my legs. “May I have a look around once the interview is over? I’m curious to see the estate.”

Alec nods once and walks around the desk to take the seat next to me, surprising me. I clear my throat and angle the chair to face him just as he does.

“Of course,” he says, leaning back with his right ankle on his left knee and his hands clasped in his lap. “Whenever you’d like.”

“Thank you,” I tell him as I bend down and pick up my notebook and pen. “I really appreciate it.”

“No recorder?” he asks and I shake my head. I flip through the pages and find where I left off with Brant, making a clean line and writing Alec’s initials where the break starts. “I prefer this way,” I explain.

“Alright then… Lila.” He says my name as if it’s a way to tease me. I raise my eyes to him, the pen still on the notepad. “What would you like to know?”

With his father in mind, I ask a question I hope will put him at ease and allow me to uncover new details about the Kulls. “Your business is family-run from what I’ve read?”

He nods his head once, running his thumb along the tips of his fingers. “Myself and my two brothers, Marcus and Elliot.”

I scribble their names down and ask, “And before you three, did your father run it with his siblings or was he an only child?”

“My father did everything on his own. He was an only child and alone most of his life.”

I lift my head to look into his eyes as I say, “Alone?” Alec only nods in response.

My back settles against the leather as I give him a small smile and ask, “Could I take you up on that offer for tea, Mr. Kulls?” My voice is soft and sweet.

He smirks at me, rising from his seat, but not answering me. As he pours the tea I watch the snow falling behind him, covering the already white ground.

“You don’t have to coax me, Lila,” Alec says, placing the cup on the saucer and bringing it to me. “I’m happy to address whatever it is that’s on your mind.”

Goosebumps flow down my arms. Caught in the act. “Was I that obvious?” I ask him, not willing to hide the fact that yes, I was playing into his ego to get him in a favorable mood.

“What do you really want to know?” he asks, passing me the tea.

I swallow thickly, taking the hot cup and watching as he retakes his seat. The steam drifts up and begs me to take a sip. I lift the cup to my lips, but I don’t drink just yet. “Brant, the driver,” I start to explain, not sure if he knows who I’m talking about.

“I know who Brant is. Just spit it out,” he says with his fingers steepled and the tips tapping against one another.

Although I appreciate his no-nonsense attitude, I’m intimidated, but I won’t shy away. “Brant mentioned that your father broke tradition?” I say as I glance back down to my notes. Alec gives me a look of confusion at first and then lets out a heavy sigh as his eyes flash with a knowing look.

“That’s not very fair of Brant. It wasn’t just my father.” Alec looks over his shoulder and out of the window and then back at me. “You want to hear the history of the town?” He gestures behind him to the shelves and shelves of books as I nod. “I’ve got plenty of books that will tell you the ins and outs of the economy and where our money comes from. The names of those who took office and how the laws changed over time. There are even books on heritage and marriages.”

I purse my lips, nearly ready to tell him that I want to hear about only his father and their family’s history, but he continues.

“You’ll find the Kulls have been influential since as far back as we can date. The history of the island starts with my family, and we’ve maintained our position throughout generations.”

“What position is that? You don’t hold offices.”

“There’s a small sheriff here and elected officials, but they hold positions to fill in seats and make sure things run smoothly. The Kulls maintain wealth, not only monetary, but also land and the decisions to invest in certain industries have been critical to our island’s economy.”

“So, you provide the jobs?”

Alec shakes his head. “Not exactly. More like we make sure there are jobs available, because we make sure the resources are already here before they’re needed. As a result, the money on the island doesn’t have to go overseas. The estate holds a huge stake in the natural resources here. If anything runs low, we acquire and disperse it as needed.”

I can feel my eyes narrowing, but before I can ask anything further, he adds, “In the last two decades, we’ve ensured that the island can sustain the three-hundred-person population on its own. With modern technology, access to anything a person can desire is available through the shipping ports. This town likes to keep its traditions, to stay independent and maintain a relatively hidden and quiet lifestyle. We make certain it’s possible.”

I take a moment to write the information down, but it’s not what I wanted to discuss. This is simply business jargon. It’d make for an interesting piece maybe, but one question pops out at me. “What’s in it for you?”

“This is simply what the Kulls do, and of course the income and notoriety are a bonus,” he says as he taps his pointer finger to his lip. “That’s not quite what you were after, is it?” he asks me after a moment.

“It’s not,” I tell him honestly.

“What then?” he asks, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.

“What traditions were left behind?” I ask Alec, and he shakes his head as he sits back in his chair.

His eyes search my face for something, but I’m not sure what though. Finally, he answers, “The island descends from ancient clans who took pride in nature and made every decision based on customs and folklore.” He licks his lips, and my eyes are drawn to them. “Even marriages were determined by old traditions, up until my grandfather’s generation.” I nod, and he continues.

“Although the island fell out of the old ways with the industrial revolution, some beliefs still carry on to this day.”

“Which ones?”

A huff of a laugh leaves him as he says, “Ones my father refused to teach us, I’m afraid.”

“Why’s that?”

He noticeably swallows and for the first time he seems uncomfortable, but before I can take it back, he speaks. He looks past me at the books behind me as he talks. “He married my mother according to what he was supposed to do, and she passed away giving birth to my youngest brother, Elliot. They were only together for twelve short years.”

“I’m so sorry,” I say and he waves off my apology, continuing.

“He wasn’t supposed to remarry. The elders wouldn’t bless a second marriage. They’re all gone now with no one left to replace them, because my father made sure of that. Back then, everyone took their word as law. They said my mother was the only one meant for him, and that if he remarried it would be an atrocity and place shame on our family.”

Alec gives me a sad smile as he continues. “He demanded the ritual regardless. It involves a tincture for those who haven’t found their partner. The tales say that once you’ve had a taste of it, within a day’s end you’ll have found the one you’re meant to be with.”

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