Text copyright © 2017, L.A. Fiore
All rights reserved
My hands fisted in the pockets of my trousers as I watched Lizzie Danton walking down the drive. Fuck. Damn that fucking conscience. I didn’t need it, didn’t fucking want it. I wanted to turn my back, but I could hear Brianna and Fenella, even Finnegan, in my head. “Fucking hell.”
Fenella was just entering the library as I was leaving it. She was giving me her stink eye, that frosty look that condemned without her needing to speak a word. What the hell did she want? I let the woman sleep here, fed her, and clothed her. It was the clothes, or lack of them, that stirred something left well enough alone. “Our guest is walking home.”
“I think she’s coming down with a cold.”
“Fucking walking in the rain will do that.”
“Not her fault the car broke down.” She narrowed her eyes at me before she added, “And it’s not her fault she’s kin to Norah Calhoun. Remember, she’s kin to Brianna too.”
I didn’t pay my staff to lecture me. They weren’t staff; they were family, but I ignored that. I was halfway down the hall when Fenella called after me, “She wants to paint your home.”
That stopped me, my head swiveling to her. “She said that?”
“Yes. Said you could Google her to see her portfolio and that she would gift you the painting.”
I didn’t need to Google her. I was familiar with her work. But after my interrogation last night, why the hell would she offer that? “Why?”
“Because the sight of the castle from the lane took her breath away, her words.”
It was the view from the lane that sold me on this place; more specifically the feeling of peace it evoked, a foreign, but not unpleasant feeling. Fucking hell.
There were a few broken branches blocking the drive. By the time I got the Range Rover out of the garage, it had been about an hour since Miss Danton left. Halfway back to the village, I saw the body on the boulder. My chest grew tight thinking harm had come to her; the unwanted sensation annoyed the hell out of me. Pulling over, I climbed out to hear Lizzie Danton talking to herself. She had a bizarre habit of talking to things, like those cows and Brianna’s ghost. Her words that day had lingered because despite the shit she’d seen, she still had it in her to paint fucking sprites…to try for happy. I couldn’t decide if she was the most well adjusted person of my acquaintance or the craziest. I wondered if she’d spent any time in a mental facility.
I couldn’t make out what she was saying, didn’t really care. My goal was to get her ass back to the cottage. That would ease the nagging from my fucking conscience. I stepped closer, to peer down at her, her eyes went wide then she screamed. She jumped off the boulder like it was on fire.
“What the hell! Didn’t you ever learn not to sneak up on someone resting on a rock?”
I ignored that ridiculous question. She was pale and there were dark circles under her eyes. “You don’t look so good.”
“Nice. Scare the shit out of me and then insult me. Seriously, charm school was completely lost on you.”
She had the oddest way of communicating. More surprising was the urge to grin at her nonsense. “I’ll give you a ride to the cottage.”
“No, thank you. I wouldn’t want you thinking I was after your car, or your house and heaven forbid you. I’ll walk.” She started walking away but stopped and turned back. “And why assume I was like my mother? You knew Aunt Brianna, but you interrogated me like I was after something. Never mind. I don’t care what you think.”
She did care. I saw how deeply it cut her to be compared to her mother. Another unfamiliar sensation curled in my gut. Guilt. I shook it off. “You can barely stand.”
Temper burned behind her eyes, but she acquiesced. “Fine.”
She didn’t wait for me and walked to the car in much the way a child in temper might do. She yanked open the door and dropped into the seat. I climbed in, felt her eyes on me, but when I looked over her focus was out the window.
“Why are the villagers freaked out by you?” She turned in her seat to face me. “They think you’re a werewolf.”
I’d heard that rumor. Was actually rather fond of that one. “Maybe I am.”
I glanced over at her and she was contemplating the real possibility that I was a werewolf. Damn, if I didn’t want to grin.
“I don’t think so, but I’ll be sure to stay inside on the full moon.”