Home > Into the Dim (Into The Dim #1)(8)

Into the Dim (Into The Dim #1)(8)
Janet B. Taylor

“You saw my mom?” The words tangled in my mouth until I almost couldn’t get them out. “But . . . she never . . . I mean, I thought she went straight to India. Are you sure it was last fall? When, exactly?”

The girl’s mouth snapped shut, eyes widening at the obvious mistake.

My mind whirled, trying to take it in.

Mom had left home only once last year. The final time, nearly eight months earlier. Why hadn’t she mentioned going to Scotland?

“So, uh . . . you haven’t met Collum yet,” she bumbled on. “Just so you know, my brother can be a bit of a wank, sometimes. Though if he acts like that to you, I’ll give him—”

Phoebe winced as a distant voice called up the stairs.

“Bollocks!” she groaned. “If Gran catches me, I’m done for. Don’t mention you saw me, aye?”

“But,” I called after Phoebe as she fled the room. Feeling as though I’d been buffeted about by a tiny, blue tornado, I whispered to the now-empty room.

“But why would she lie to us?”

Chapter 4

AFTER A QUICK SHOWER IN A CLAW-FOOT TUB WHOSE HAND-HELD sprayer spat rusty, lukewarm water, I wound my way down the curved stairs and through a series of rooms. High ceilings soared over scarred wooden floors lined with tatty vintage rugs. Scruffy antique furniture was clustered in comfy arrangements before fireplaces mounted with crossed swords or family crests.

I followed the sound of clinking dishes until the heavenly scents of baking bread and frying eggs overcame the odors of stone and age. My stomach rumbled as I paused in the long dining room to watch a spider swing between the prongs of a huge deer-antler chandelier. Judging by the spotless gleam on the massive table beneath, I didn’t think the impressive web would be there long.

Two voices penetrated the nearby door, the source of the delicious smells. When I heard my name, I shamelessly pressed against it to listen.

“What did ye think of her?” a woman’s voice spoke. “Will the lass be able to handle such a thing?”

I recognized Mac’s gravelly rumble. “The child barely spoke, my love. She was exhausted, and most Yanks get a bit fankled when they first see the manor, even in the dead o’ night. All I know is that Lu believes her capable.”

“Lu believes in her because she’s Sarah’s daughter.” The woman sounded unsure. “She’s had no real training, and ’tis a hard task for one not raised to it.”

I couldn’t make out Mac’s reply, though I heard the woman’s response well enough.

“I hope that’s so. I worry about the poor lamb. We’ve so little time to get her prepared.”

I frowned. Get me prepared? For what?

I didn’t like the sound of that at all. But I probably wouldn’t learn much lurking in the shadows. Exhaling, I pushed into a bright, homey kitchen. Next to a flour-dusted island, Mac and the woman stood in a loose embrace. A thick, graying braid swayed across her back as he rocked her gently, her head tucked under his chin. My throat swelled, watching them. When I was little, I’d once come upon Mom and Dad in the same pose, swaying to music only they could hear.

Mac’s blue eyes opened, and I realized I’d been right about Phoebe. The eyes were identical.

“Why, look who’s come to join us, darlin’.” He released the woman, grinning at me, and I realized he’d passed his blazing smile along to his granddaughter too. “Welcome to Christopher Manor, lass.”

Within a few seconds, I learned the round-faced woman was Moira, of the jam sandwiches. That she was Mac’s wife and Lucinda’s best friend and business partner for more than thirty years. That she and only she ran this house, and that I was too thin and needed fattening up. Despite her bulk, Moira bustled around the kitchen with the grace of a ballerina.

She hustled me toward one of the benches that lined the long, scuffed but scoured kitchen table. Soon she was smiling down at me as I scarfed up steaming eggs and two pieces of warm bread slathered with fresh butter and strawberry jam.

When Moira offered a large ladle of baked beans, Mac chuckled at my horrified expression. “Aye, I understand you Yanks don’t appreciate the bean for breakfast?”

“Well, they’re mostly a supper thing for us. Thanks, though.”

“Pity that.” Mac smothered his own breakfast with a hearty portion. “Ye don’t know what you’re missing.”

I scanned the room, wondering where the girl had gone.

“If you’re looking for Phoebe”—Moira settled onto the bench next to me with a groan—“I’ve sent the little minx to the village. She knew she wasn’t to speak to ye till Lu’s return.”

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