Cleeves did not turn up until later that morning. As usual, he carried a basket containing food, a bottle of wine and a flask of water. He watched her suspiciously as she (more clumsily than usual) gathered the goblets and plates together.
"Are you feeling alright, Ezra? You don't seem yourself." he said calmly.
Ezra held back the urge to swear as she dropped a plate which smashed on the floor. Cleeves had always taught her not to use any form of vulgar or foul language.
"I assure you I'm fine, master." she said hurriedly as she set the table.
"I took you in as my daughter and I've never seen you this flustered." he noticed she hadn't stopped smiling since he arrived, "What's made you so happy all of a sudden?"
Trying in vain to wipe the smile off her face, she sat down trying to look innocent, "Nothing, master. I guess I just woke up in a very good mood."
Cleeves narrowed his eyes but decided not to pursue the issue any further. He passed the flask of water, a half loaf of bread, some cheese and an apple to Ezra before pouring the wine into his own goblet. Ezra couldn't help noticing there was something different about him. It was his eyes, like when she had been taken away, but she had no idea what it was. She ate her bread slowly, occasionally washing it down with the water. She noticed Cleeves was watching her still, but not in the way Aldawin had. Beneath his cold calm demeanour there was something stirring. Something he had buried long ago. She trembled inside at the thought.
When he left the cathedral, Cleeves returned to his chambers above the courthouse. As a public official, this was where he both lived and carried out his duties. Slamming the chamber door behind him he closed the curtains blocking out all light from view. The four poster bed, the table and tall fabric chair, the cabinet, the wardrobe, everything instantly disappeared into darkness.
Striking the match he lit a couple of candles then used a candle to light the logs in the fireplace. The light filled the room with a soft, almost eerie glow. Cleeves stared into the large fireplace, the crackling flames casting shadows on his features. He let his mind wander back to earlier that morning when he had visited Ezra. He had never seen her in such a good mood. She couldn't stop smiling and seemed to be in her own world half the time. But before her hair had been cut, the way it had hung over her face and down her back...
Her sparkling eyes, slim figure...
Shaking his head he turned away from the fire towards the darkness, his head in his hands. He had never experienced desire like this before. He had hoped cutting her hair would push it away, but it didn't. A glass jar sat on the desk containing long red locks. Picking it up and removing the lid he caressed the strands between his thin, bony fingers. So long he had kept her hidden and now these feelings burned inside him. As he stared into the flames again, he saw her staring back at him. Her flaming hair dancing around her. Her eyes two burning embers. Her smile broad and almost intimidating. Her fiery fingers reaching out towards him, he recoiled in terror trying to avoid their touch. Yet he wanted to embrace her. To hold her in his arms. To gaze into those smouldering eyes. To kiss her hot lips. He shook his head again cursing to himself. Strands of red hair tangled and twisted between his fingers. Closing his eyes he held the strands to his lips, lightly touching them. The desire was overwhelming. The flames seemed to grow and reach for him. He could still see Ezra's smouldering eyes boring into his very soul.
Then something stirred deep in his soul, determination. This demon had a strong hold on him. He would make her his and destroy it. Then she would be his and his alone.
Ezra would be his. There was no one else for her. She was alone in the bell tower. He could get her accepted into society but only if she chose him.
There was a loud knocking at the door.
"Enter!" Cleeves quickly blew out the candles and opened the curtains allowing the sunlight to pour in, lighting up the room.
"Minister Cleeves," said the guard, "the boy rebel, he has escaped. Guards are searching the city and the cathedral but he's nowhere to be found."
Cleeves was silent for a moment as he took it in the news, forcing his burning mind to focus on the present. There was no way the boy could have escaped. He must still be hiding in the city somewhere.
"Continue your search," he ordered and the guard bowed low, "Find him."
The guard left closing the door behind him. Cleeves stared back into the flames where Ezra had been. The vision had gone. He took out couple of the red locks from the jar sealing the lid over the rest.
"You will be mine, Ezra." he said quietly rubbing the soft locks between his fingers.
Raising his arm he cast the locks into the fire. They sat for a bit before eventually igniting and burning to ash. Cleeves smiled with satisfaction, turned, and left the room, leaving the flames to weaken and die.