Ravenous - Book cover


Mel Ryle



It can’t be him, she thought. ~Or can it be?~

Thinking about his name made her lose her breath. He was a man not easily forgotten, even with time or distance. And hearing his name called out brought alive those memories again. She shuddered and then composed herself.

Mia feigns interest. “Do you know the man, auntie?”

“I do,” she replied conversely. “Mr. Kingsley’s family owns a handful of real estate and hotels in the US, Europe, Caribbean, and Dubai. His family also owns a bank. It’s what makes them rich. He is also English, born and raised in England.”

Adelia snorted. “Glad to know I have an answer to the mystery of their family’s wealth.”

“Indeed. I didn’t know this myself until I’ve met Erik.” Leanna admitted.

“Where did you say you’ve met him?” Mia pressed with interest.

“Oh, it was at a business event. After my husband passed away, I took over as his representative and chairman position. I’m only a board member as a title since the shares are now under my name. So they invite me to such occasion to represent him.” She informed bitterly, then waved her hand, moving her story along. “Anyways, the young man was there, and one of my business associates introduced us.”

“And how long ago was that?”

“Maybe a year or so,” she answered. “Why do you ask, sweetie? Have you met him as well?”

Mia was quiet. The memory of their first meeting seemed fresh on her mind, like it was yesterday. Then, finally, she understood why her aunt nearly swooned while thinking about him.

She had the same reaction back then. His handsome features, and those deep blue eyes, hypnotized you into overlooking the darkness within. Irresistible and alluring. In a short span, their eyes met; she was his prey.

Should she tell her? She thought again, nearly giving up one of her secrets this past year. But luckily, Adelia announced they had arrived, reeling her from her memories. And a man she wished she’d never meet again.

When they pulled up, Mia felt a rush of excitement. She had the impression its roof was made of straws and held up by thin decrepit wood walls. But the one standing in front of her looked more like a decent farmhouse than a small cabin.

Rather than straws, the roof was tiled with red clay stones. The walls were made of wood and painted in cream white. The front porch was also painted white to match the cabin. A stone chimney was perched on the left side, where smoke was evident.

“My grandson is tidying up the place for ye before headed out to the docks,” Adelia said as she parked the car close to the porch.

“Richard is here? I thought he would have gone back last year.” Leanna peered at Adelia skeptically.

“No, he’s here. He decided to stay and manage the Tavern for me. But he’s…” she trailed off and coughed to change the conversation. “Aye, we should head inside and get ye two warmed up. Ye must have been traveling air, land, and sea for twelve hours.”

Leanna took notice of Adelia’s abrupt dismissal and decidedly went along. “We did. Though it’s not my first time, I’m always exhausted, especially at my age. And I’m sure Mia’s tired as well.” She glanced at Mia with a weary smile.

They got out of the car simultaneously. The last time Mia left the city and lived in a remote area such as this was at her grandparent’s home. Even then, their place wasn’t devoid of close neighbors. She hardly saw the next house from where she stood outside the truck.

The cabin's front door burst open, and a tall, lean man walked out down the front porch. The man wore a wool sweater with a white polo underneath and jeans.

As he approached, Mia caught sight of his facial features. His full dark brown beard covered most of his face, but it didn’t betray him of his age. He was young, between his late twenties to early thirties.

“Richard!” Adelia waved over at the man. “Come and help us with the bag, and greet Mrs. Leanna Stanton and her niece, Mia Harnett.”

Richard walked up and stopped within arm’s length, holding his hand to them. “I’m glad to see yer trip went smoothly, ma’am.” He paused and turned to Mia. “Miss Harnett.”

Mia studied him and his outreached hand for a moment. Finally, she cleared her throat and then shook it briefly. “Nice to meet you, Mister, uhm, what’s your name again?”

“Richard McKenzie, ma’am.”

Mia let go with pursed lips. “Mr. McKenzie.”

There was an awkward pause as they studied each other’s appearance closely. Somehow time stood still as they stared. It was then Mia noticed more of his features. The soft crinkle at the edges of his eyes and the hue of it. There was a bit of light left, and she caught a glimpse of a shade of green and yellow in them. He had lovely eyes, she thought, ~but they couldn’t compare with another.~ As it crossed her mind, she felt herself going rigid.

Adelia cleared her throat, bringing the two newly acquainted youth out of their ogling.

“The luggage is in the car, mo ghràidh,” Adelia informed Richard. Mia noted the unfamiliar word­ —language, really—she used. But then, she got distracted when Adelia gestured towards the cabin. “And ye two, please come with me. Let Richie handle the heavy lifting.”

Leanna grinned at her niece and gave Richard her business smile. Yet underneath her façade, she seemed worried. “Thank you, Richard. It’s lovely to see you again.”

Richard coughed, peering briefly at Mia, before turning back to Leanna. “Ye too, Mrs. Stanton. I’ll fetch yer things. Please head to the house and warm up. I already got the fire going.”

“Thank you again, Richard,” Leanna said and gazed back at her niece. “Let’s go, Mia. Your nose is red as cherry now.” She added teasingly and then marched ahead.

As she entered, the floorboard creaked with every step. The cabin felt small. When they entered, it was already the living room. Yet it was not too cramped. Her first impression was not what she expected. The place had a sense of normalcy. Something she knew her aunt lacked living lavishly in the city.

Looking at the place more, she noticed the velvet couches facing the chimney had knitted pillow covers. Finally, her eyes wandered towards the firewood, which hissed and crackled as the flames grew brighter. Across the hall, the dining table was furnished with oak and mahogany wood. The far wall was the kitchen, lined with a granite countertop, with a stove and sink made of stainless steel. A luminescent lamp was stationed strategically around the room, engulfing the cabin in a warm glow.

This wasn’t the home of a widowed multi-millionaire. Yet here they were. Mia judged her aunt by whom she’d married. She had nearly forgotten she was her mother’s sister. Someone who grew up with a minimum-wage professor as a father and a dressmaker as a mother. This was a familiar homely set-up, reminiscent of her childhood.

Mia understood why she visited this place more times than her other houses. And for that, her aunt made this her home for three months, going back every year.

“Where are the rooms, auntie?” Mia asked. She continued assessing the area while moving further in until she stood in the middle, between the living room and the dining table.

Leanna gestured towards two doors on the right corner. “You can take the one by the kitchen, Mia. The bathroom is the door in the middle,” she replied.

Nodding, she turned and made her way, eager to see her private quarters.

Her bedroom was what she expected from a cabin. A single bed on the left corner with a tall wooden dresser beside the door and one vanity table across the bed. It had its mirror and a chair tucked underneath the desk. She continued her assessment with the dresser and started pulling the two drawers. To her luck—and dismay to see something mysterious, it was empty. She continued her search on the vanity table, pulling the drawer in and out, finding nothing again.

Her pursuit was abruptly halted by a knock on the door.

“Mia, your things are in the living room. Do you need help moving it in?”

She sighed in relief, hearing her aunt’s voice across the door. Somehow, she expected someone else.

Richard McKenzie.

It caught her off guard to show some interest in the newly acquainted young Scotsman. But she’d be lying to herself if she said he wasn’t more attractive than most men his age. And thinking so surprised her more. How long has it been since she found anyone attractive besides—she shook her head, pushing away the memory.

“I’ll be out, auntie. I can get it myself,” she called out.

When she joined her aunt, Adelia, and Richard, they were huddled by the main door. The luggage was placed near the couch, half scattered on the floor. With a creaky floorboard making it difficult to sneak up on someone, everyone turned in her direction once she arrived. Mia smiled shyly like she was caught doing something mischievous.

“I’ll get my things and start unpacking. I might sleep in early and skip dinner,” she announced.

“Oh, nonsense. Don’t you dare skip a meal, Mia. Adelia will prepare us something before she and Richard head back to the farm.” Leanna turned to her confidant. “What are we having for dinner, Adelia?”

The old woman smiled, “I’m making Shepherd's pie with one of my family’s recipes. It’s one of yer aunt’s favorite dishes.”

“Oh! You’re making that tonight.” Leanna took a deep breath. “I can smell you haven’t started yet. Would you be able to do it now? We can just have sandwiches. Mia loves a classic BLT sandwich.”

Adelia scoffed. “I can do it, Leanna. Don’t ye worry about it. I’ll be done once ye’ve both cleaned up and unpacked.” She glanced briefly at her wristwatch. “And I have some time on my hand. It’s no worries.”

“If it’s alright with you, then it’s fine with me.” Leanna grinned and walked up to Mia. “And you, my dear, are having dinner with us?” She arched her eyebrow in challenge, though her question was not open for refusal.

Mia pursed her lips in defeat. “Fine. I’ll be glad to join you.” She started pulling her bags from the pile, grunting as she went. “I’ll start unpacking now.”

Then Adelia nudged at her grandson, pulling him out of his stupor. “Richie, go on. Help the lass.”

He half-ran towards Mia and took the bags out of her hand. “Aye, let me.” He stated before she could oppose it.

Mia grabbed the last of her things but paused momentarily, watching Richard’s back as he strode inside. She hesitated by the door, seemingly angsty about a man’s presence in her room.

“Mia?” Richard’s thick accent calling out her name somehow brought a different reaction than she expected.

It was new and almost alien to her, or maybe she’d forgotten the feeling after the extremity of her experience with Erik. But then, Richard unknowingly gave her a friendly smile. It wasn’t sexual or flirty, in the least, but it made her blush.

My gosh, shit, she thought.

Next chapter

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