Home > Into the Dim (Into The Dim #1)(7)

Into the Dim (Into The Dim #1)(7)
Janet B. Taylor

Not even seven, yet. Who the hell is wandering around at this ungodly hour? And in heels, no less.

I pulled the quilt up to my chin and burrowed deeper into the feather mattress.

Without warning, the bedroom door flew open with such force, it smacked against the paneled wall. I shot up, heart hammering. Before I could blink, a dainty, elf-faced girl with an upturned nose and short spiky hair the startling shade of a blue Slurpee bounded into the room. In a short skirt and peasant blouse—and sporting the highest platform heels I’d ever seen—the girl scampered up the steps to the bed and settled herself beside me, wriggling like an excited puppy.

“Cheese an’ rice.” A toothy grin lit her entire, freckled face. It was infectious, and I had to force my own lips not to respond. “I thought you were going to sleep away the morn.”

My mouth felt lined with cat fur, my brain pickled from sleep. I shoved my hair out of my face and scooted back until I was pressed against the puckered velvet headboard.

She followed my gaze to the half-open door. “Shh. I’m supposed to let you sleep, but you look fine to me. I’m Phoebe, by the by,” she said. “Mac’s my grandda. You met him last night, I hear. He and Gran help Lu run the estate.”

“I’m—”

“You’re Hope,” she said, giving me a blinding grin that went all the way to her hairline. “I know. Everyone knows. We’re so excited you’re finally here.”

“That’s, um . . . good?” I managed before she hopped to the floor.

“I’ll put your things away while you get ready.”

I winced as the bubbly girl began yanking clothes from my suitcase and jamming them into a massive ancient dresser. When a pair of too-large sweats emerged from the jumble, she cocked an eyebrow at me.

“They’re my mom’s,” I said as I slid from beneath the covers. “I just—”

“You don’t have to explain to me. I sleep in one of my da’s old shirts. I know it’s nutters, but sometimes I can still smell him. We lost him when I was but a babe. Still . . .”

Her smile wobbled as she swiped a hand beneath her nose. “It’s pure natty, but I don’t care. Gran and I had a huge row when she threw it in the bin and I fished it right back out.”

It was so weird to watch someone else handling my things. I’d never had a friend back home. No one to wear my clothes without asking or ruin my favorite sweater or share stories about boys. When I was younger, I dreamed of having a friend like that, but Mom always claimed being around “empty-headed” girls my own age would only distract me from my studies.

Stifling a groan, I eased out from under the covers and stumbled to the center of the room, taking a first real look at my new surroundings.

Holy cow, I’m living in freaking Hogwarts.

Turning in an idiot circle, I gawped at the shabby opulence. Dusty ostrich feathers topped yards of midnight-blue velvet that draped the immense canopy bed. A high, scalloped ceiling was complete with plaster cherubs. Stuffed bookshelves lined each side of an honest-to-God marble fireplace. I inhaled, tasting book glue and the ghosts of long-ago fires.

Phoebe cheerfully slammed the last of my things into a drawer. “Pure awesome room, aye? It was your mum’s, you know. Sarah’s.”

I could see it. My mother as a young girl, curled on the tartan loveseat, strawberry hair tucked behind her ears as she frowned down at a leather-bound book.

Phoebe tactfully ignored me, humming under her breath as she heaved my empty suitcase over to a closet. I noticed her eyes were an exact replica of her grandfather’s. Small. Blue. Smiling.

Before setting the frame on a bedside table, she studied the only photo I’d brought. Me and Mom, lying on a bed of autumn leaves, brown and gold bits tangled in our hair as we grinned up at my dad.

“Gads,” she said. “You don’t look anything like her. Sarah, I mean. You’re exotic, like some gypsy girl, with that dark hair and those great gray eyes of yours.” She tilted her head, studying me. “But then, you’re adopted, aye? Lucky, that. They say I look just like my mum. And you couldn’t know, but that’s pure unfortunate.”

I couldn’t help but grin at her comically tragic expression. A stud pierced one straight, rust-colored eyebrow, which I assumed meant that beneath the dye, she was likely a redhead. The silver stud winked in the light as she babbled on in an accent so thick, I had to concentrate to understand.

“I met her—Sarah—when she was here in the fall. She came before . . . Well, she was in an awful hurry then, wasn’t she?”

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