“Holly as a child…”
As Cahill’s voice pressed softly against her ear, the strength faded from Holly’s eyes as he gazed dazedly at him. It seemed like he caught the sound of her racing heart as he rolled his gaze.
“You, you… can’t do that.”
When her voice was subdued, as if she hadn’t spoken for a long time, Cahill raised an eyebrow at her stern expression.
“What can’t I do?”
“If you do that to a child…”
As his smile deepened, she swallowed her words. It felt like she had misspoken, even though she hadn’t said anything wrong.
“Holly is very bright, I heard.”
Her face flushed, but she couldn’t deny what he said.
“But if we had met when we were young, I would have been in a lot of trouble. Let’s cancel it.”
As he buried his face in her chest, Holly naturally raised her arms and wrapped them around his head. It felt strange to her to be holding someone much bigger than herself.
“I like the present, Holly.”
She lowered her chin and looked down at the top of his head.
“Because you can do it.”
Saying so, Cahill looked up at her face in her coy tone before he hugged her back and rolled around on the bed. In the blink of an eye, she was on his stomach.
“Because Holly now can be with me all the time.”
Continuing his words, Holly bowed her upper body and met her lips with Cahill’s. There was an excited look in his eyes.
He responded to her movement by parting his lips.
The two exchanged a light breath. As she teased the inside of his mouth with her tongue, his hand on her waist tightened.
As the one leading the kiss was different, it felt different from their usual affectionate kisses. Before her breath was cut off, she pulled her lips, took a moment to catch her breath, and then kissed him again.
The warmth of Cahill’s exhalation, which Holly swallowed, tickled her chest.
She grasped his shoulders and lifted their intertwined bodies. His pupils trembled as he followed her movements. His previously calmed breath was now growing rough again. She tried to ignore him and rose from the bed.
“Now, let’s move a little.”
Cahill, dissatisfied with the brief kiss, looked at her with a displeased gaze. However, he remembered their agreement to have their fill after the task was done.
Holly lowered her feet under the bed without any hindrance from him. She then gazed at the wall adjoining Laila’s study.
“Isn’t it strange? We fell quite a distance from the first-floor room, but beyond the wall is the study on the first floor.”
Her eyes clouded as she pondered.
“Even if we gradually ascended while walking through the corridor, it doesn’t make sense.”
Holly mumbled as she looked around the barely visible interior.
“It doesn’t seem to be exactly the same…”
She glanced around, wondering if there might be a switch, like the one on the head of the bed, to open the entrance in this space. She even tried shaking the only existing candlestick, aside from the bed.
“This doesn’t seem to be it.”
She spat out disappointedly. The candlestick remained unmoved despite her attempts to twist it back and forth.
She slowly wandered around again, considering that she was now treading on the floor of the corridor, as there was no separate door separating the hallway and the bedroom. The sand on the floor rubbed against her shoes, making a rough sound. Holly prodded the ground she was stepping on with the soles of her shoes.
With a serious expression, she turned back and walked toward the bed.
“Why is only this place covered in bricks?”
Not only the walls but also the floor of the space where the bed was located were covered in bricks. She bent her knees in front of the wall facing the study.
Starting from there, she felt the place where the wall met the floor with her hands.
“I can feel the wind here.”
Holly’s eyes twinkled as she moved sideways, touching the wall.
There was a gap between the wall she was touching and the floor, large enough for her fingers to fit in. Curious, she pushed her hand into the gap. As she exerted force, the floor trembled, but it was impossible to pull it out completely.
She turned to Cahill with a frustrated expression.
“Help me pull this a bit, please.”
“It’s dangerous, so step back for a moment.”
Cahill didn’t take his eyes off her until she had put some distance between them.
Several bricks on the floor seemed to lift up at once. Underneath the lifted bricks, there were wooden planks, and a hole was visible beneath them. It seemed that a door was made with the planks, and bricks were attached on top to make it look like the rest of the floor.
As he leaned his head down under the planks, examining the hole that could be seen, Holly also hung onto his back and looked at where he was looking.
It was an endless pitch-black darkness.
“Let’s pack our things.”
At her words, Cahill, who had been waiting for this moment, quickly got up and swept the parchment spread out on the bed into the bag, sweeping it up.
* * *
With a loud noise behind her, Holly was enveloped in complete darkness. As agreed in advance, she crawled forward directly. The space under the wooden planks was spacious enough for crawling, though not enough to stand up and walk.
“I don’t like it here.”
He seemed dissatisfied with the narrow passage, which prevented him from walking side by side with Holly, and the fact that he had to close the heavy door, making him start later than her.
“Me neither. It’s already scraping everywhere, I’m going to die…”
Holly’s inner thighs twitched with discomfort every time she crawled. After a few minutes of crawling on her knees, a space with a high ceiling appeared, large enough for five people to lie down straight.
She straightened her body and exclaimed in an excited voice. The body that had been crumpled in the narrow passage let out a scream.
Cahill, who had exited the passage, quickly grabbed her waist and let out a sigh of relief.
“I hope we never have to go through such a path again.”
Holly murmured in a tired voice.
“Let’s get out of here quickly.”
He nodded and pointed straight ahead.
“We don’t know who it was, but they seemed to be in a hurry.”
There was no need to struggle to find the door this time. Something was wedged in the partially closed door.
The next moment, Cahill inserted his foot to keep the door from closing and picked up the object. When she leaned her head to the side to see what was in his hand, it was something made of a small seashell woven with a piece of wood.
The necklace seemed to be preventing the door from closing properly.
Holly’s brow furrowed.
It was unbelievable that an intruder, so secretive that neither the owner, Lyla, nor the workers knew, would leave such a trace until the two of them had accidentally discovered it.
Lost in thought, her eyes suddenly lit up.
“Could it be that they’ve realized that there’s someone else in this space other than them?”
When Holly uttered those words with almost certainty, suddenly, a sound was heard, and a beam of light swept over her.
Startled, she turned around and saw the wall behind her beginning to open.
“What should we do? Should we hide?”
Holly alternated her gaze between Cahill and the streaming light, but his expression remained unchanged. After being in the darkness the whole time, her eyes narrowed when the bright light suddenly poured in.
For a moment, she couldn’t see the face of the person who had entered with the light behind them.
“What’s going on?”
The sarcastic tone was familiar to her.
Holly, who had been tense and stiff with tension, shouted happily. On the other hand, Cahill looked at her with an uncomfortable face when she greeted Adam so warmly.
“Take off your shoes.”
“What? My shoes?”
Adam looked puzzled, but he obediently took off his shoes and handed them over. Cahill took Adam’s shoes and wedged them into the open gap of the door instead of his own foot.