• Blackwood Manor was located in its own little world, Raven thought as she sped her Lexus up the long driveway. It had taken her half a day to find it, even her GPS could not locate it. She had almost been afraid that the invitation had been some practical joke and the old manor did not exist. She had been proved wrong when she had almost drove by it. Raven had made the quick right and drove through the gates. The driveway was long, ten minutes later she finally parked in front of the Manor. It looked like she was the first guest to arrive. She parked her car off to the side, and looked out her window. The weather station had claimed that there would be a snow storm, that night. The clouds were already forming, Raven guessed that it would turn into a Blizzard by Midnight. They would be snowed in within the next few hours.
    Raven had never been in a blizzard before, she had been through ice storms and very bad snow storms, but it had never turned into a blizzard. She was excited at the prospect. She loved storms of various kinds. It did not matter what they were, she loved them all the same. In the winter it meant snuggling up into a warm blanket on the couch with a hot cup of hot chocolate. In the summer time, it meant staying under a blanket and watch the lightning dance across the black sky. Raven loved lightning, and lightning loved her. It would gather around her, yet not once did it harm her. She had an affinity for lightning, Raven had been able to control it at a young age. Stepping out of the car Raven shut and locked it.
    The front door was unlocked, it stood slightly a jar, Raven could see the entrance hall. She frowned, something was wrong, no one left their front door open like that, even if they were in the middle of no where, especially if the owner was wealthy. She reached up and knocked on the door. She waited a minute before deciding to push the door open and enter. Raven stood in the hall, not wanting to intrude any farther. She looked around until she caught her own reflection in a mirror. Raven was nineteen although she looked twelve. She had attempted to cut her blue black hair by herself but ending up butchering it. She had gone to a hair stylist who had craftily made it look as if she intentionally styled her hair all jagged and uneven. It looked good, her bangs were longer than the back of her head, and were a shocking white in contrast to the rest of her hair. Raven had inherited her mothers sapphire blue eyes, small straight nose and full lips yet she still managed to have a boyish face and figure that had attracted more girls than guys.
    Raven moved towards the stairs leading up to the second story. She stood at the base for a minute before heading up, curiosity got the better of her. The second floor like the first; cluttered and creepy. The walls were covered in old painting, some of them were portraits. Raven hated them, it felt like she had a thousand eyes peering down at her from the walls. She did her best to ignore them as she moved down the corridor. All of the room doors were closed, but there were more stairs at the end of the hallway. She was about to go up the next set of stairs when a voice behind her asked, “Do you need something, Mrs. Cross?” Raven whipped around to face the Butler.
    “No, Not thanks,” She stammered, “Sorry, I know I should not be up here, but no one was downstairs, and I don't know what I was doing but I just sort of came up her.”
    “Mrs. Cross would you kindly go back downstairs? I am sure the other guests should be arriving shortly,” The butler motioned down the hallway, “I must attend to matters in the kitchen and have no time to deal with curious children who wish to wander about the manor getting themselves lost.”
    “I'm sorry,” Raven snaps, “But I was not lost. I did not mean to be such a nuisance. Perhaps next time you should not leave your door open, anyone can just barge in.”
    The butler frowns, “The front door was open? Are you sure? I had closed and locked it before I came up here.”
    “How else could I have gotten in?” The girl arches one eyebrow, “I'm no magician, and I certainly cannot walk through walls or doors.”
    “I must have been mistaken then, did you at least close and lock the door behind you?” The butler asks, “I don't want anyone else to entire unnecessarily.”
    “Why don't you go check then?” She says almost snobbish, “While I wait in the dinning room?”
    They headed downstairs, walking in a smothering silence. Raven already disliked the Butler, he had called her a child. She was not a child any longer, she was nineteen. Nineteen had to count for something. As they made it to the bottom of the stairs, someone else knocked on the partially open door. “Come in,” The butler opened the door all the way, “You must be Doctor James Curtis. Mr. Blackwood will be pleased that you could make it.”
    Doctor James laughed, “And what kind of man is Mr. Blackwood?”
    Raven glanced at the Doctor. He was in his early thirties, and by the look of it took a great deal of care of himself. He wore a perfectly tailored suit, there wasn't a stitch out of place. His black shoes shined as if just polished. He was clean shaven, and his chestnut brown hair was carefully brushed back. His eyes were chocolate brown, and he had a good strong jaw with straight nose. Had Raven been a few years older she would have tried to make a grab at him. “Oh, you don't know who Mr. Blackwood is either, Doctor?” Raven asked innocently, “Oh my, then I wonder why he would invite strangers to a dinner party. It's a very odd thing to do.”
    “I'm afraid I have never met anyone by the name of Blackwood,” The doctor shook his head, “But I am always happy to make new friends and acquaintances, Mrs?”
    “Raven Cross, Doctor,” Raven shook his hand, “Pleased to meet you, and I am nineteen, not twelve.”
    The Butler glared at her, “Well, I suppose I can take the both of you into the downstairs study, Please follow me.”
    “Alright lead the way, Butler,” Raven mocks, “apparently we adults cannot be trusted to be on our own.”
    “My name is not Butler, Mrs. Cross,” He replies calmly, “Its Sebastian.”
    “Well, Sebastian, take us to the study,” The doctor interjects before Raven could say anything further, “Will there be drinks in the study?”
    “I will have the maid bring you some,” Sebastian replied, as he took them down the hall to the study, “I believe we have champagne in the cellar.”
    “Thank you Sebastian,” The Doctor thanked him, “When is dinner scheduled?”
    “As soon as all of the guests arrive, dinner will be served, Now if you will excuse me, I must attend to things in the kitchen, the study is through the doors in front of you, Please don't break anything.”
    As the butler departed, Raven opened the door to the study, and walked in. “Are you coming, Doctor?” She teased. The study was small much to Raven's surprise. She had expected something bigger, considering the size of the Manor. A book shelf lined the far wall. A small coffee table sat in the center of the room circled by a couch and several chairs. On the right wall hung an old painting of a man in old military garb. A lamp stood in the corner of the room. Raven sat in on the couch, tucking her legs underneath her. “Aren't you going to sit down, Doctor? Or have I frightened you away?” Raven asked, she could feel the sparks in her hair, “I'm sorry if I offended you, but the butler offended me first.”
    “How so?” He asked as he walked into the room, and sat across from Raven, “What did he do?”
    “It wasn't what he did exactly, its how he talks to me, as if I am a little child that needs to be scolded.” Raven almost pouts, “I am not a child anymore. Sure, I may look like one, but I am not twelve!”