In Red (Chapter 7, page 2 of 3)

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"And what were you referring to?" inquired Roxanne.

Joseph got up from the foot of the bed, where he had sat.

"I'll bring you your dinner and then I'll explain calmly. First things first. Relax. I'll be back in a second."

Celeste raised her forehead thinking: Relax? That's easy to say.

Neither of them moved nor spoke during the few minutes it took him to come back, this time with Alan.

"How's the patient doing?"

Roxanne didn't know that word, but he was obviously referring to her.

"Quite better, thank you," she told Alan, smiling in spite of the ache.

Joseph gave her a couple of pills and she took them obediently. Then, she began to eat, anxious to collaborate as much as possible on her own recovery.

Celeste had no intention of touching her food until the matter was resolved.

Alan stayed by the door and the doctor sat down again at the foot of the bed. What he now told these girls would affect them more than anything he could tell anyone during the rest of his life. He was well aware of his responsibility at this moment and of how important it was to dose the information in the most appropriate way.

"The legend I was referring to is that of Leonard having a castle in the south, where he kept his daughters locked up, making each of them dress in a different colour. Uhm… It was not so much a legend but gossip - hearsay regarding his eccentricities. The secretive manner in which he conducts business in those lands has always encouraged all kinds of stories - many of them, I thought, absurd. But, when I talked with you," he said to Celeste, "and linked what you were telling me with your looks and your behavior, I suddenly remembered the things I'd heard about the castle and I realized that it might be true after all."

"So," interrupted Roxanne, who was paying very much attention, just like her sister, to each and every one of Joseph's words, "not many people believe it."

He looked at her with tenderness.

"Actually, cruel as it may sound, not many people care."

Celeste felt things weren't being told in the order she'd need to know them, and she was getting more and more nervous.

"But, what about the witch?"

Alan made a queer face to stifle a guffaw.

"Man, have I heard and seen strange things since I came here, but this… this really takes the cake."

Joseph wasn't seized by the change of mood fostered by his friend.

"Please, try to understand their perspective," he scolded him reproachfully.

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