Home > Into the Dim (Into The Dim #1)(9)

Into the Dim (Into The Dim #1)(9)
Janet B. Taylor

“Our granddaughter’s a bit on the curious side,” Mac explained through a mouthful of food.

Moira snorted. “Curious—that’s an understatement if ever I’ve heard one, John MacPherson.”

“Hope”—Mac wiped his mouth with a yellowed linen napkin—“Phoebe’s a good girl, and I hope ye’ll take to her. She’s high-spirited, but she has the biggest heart in the Highlands, she does.”

“With the biggest mouth to go along,” Moira muttered, though a fond smile softened her words. “Our grandson, Collum, has gone with Lu. Ye’ll meet him when they return in the morning. Collum’s a . . . serious lad. As different from his sister as night is from day.”

I laid my fork down, careful not to look up from my plate. “Speaking of Phoebe,” I said, “she mentioned something about my mother being here in the fall. But how could that be, when—”

Mac stood abruptly and hurried to open a door that led out onto a mud porch. “Och, look a’ the time. I must away to the west barn. One of the ewes is near her time.”

He thrust long arms into a faded vest and plucked a houndstooth cap from a peg on the wall. “Moira will show ye the house. If this rain lets up, I’ll take ye out on the horses later. I hear ye’re a fine rider.”

Moira snatched up my empty plate as he left. I stood and offered to help. At the sink, I turned toward her. “Moira, about my—”

She shooed me from the kitchen before I could finish the sentence, telling me she’d come for me once she’d finished up in the kitchen, and we’d take a tour of the house. I paused in the doorway and turned to face her. My utter confusion must’ve shown, because her apple cheeks rose as she gave a soft sigh.

“Child,” she said, “let me offer ye some advice my old mum used to give me.” When she smiled, her eyes nearly disappeared behind the full cheeks. “A drop of patience can yield an ocean of reward. Now, I admit, I often have a hard time following it myself. But I’m offering it to ye anyway.” She cocked her chin toward the door. “Now scoot.”

The rear of the house, which apparently contained more parlors, a billiards room, and a grand ballroom, was sealed off. Locked up due to heating costs, Moira told me during the tour. After viewing innumerable bedrooms, most shrouded in ghostly dust covers, I was relieved when Moira pushed open a set of wide double doors saying, “And finally, there’s the library, o’ course.”

Moira reminded me of my dad’s grandmother, the only member of his family who never treated me like some kind of fungus that had invaded their family tree. Memaw died when I was ten. Like her, Moira was all round curves and sweetness, a person who solved life’s problems with hugs and a tin of sugar cookies.

I liked Moira, except that all during the tour, whenever I opened my mouth to ask about my mom, she diverted the conversation with a quirky comment on this ancestor or that piece of furniture.

I swallowed down my latest attempt as we stepped inside the cozy room, the sights and smells a balm to my jangled nerves. Tall mullioned windows. Muted yellow light. Aged leather and old paper. The library smelled like Shakespeare. It smelled like my mom.

I breathed it in, walking over to pull a book from one of the floor to ceiling shelves. The Royal Forests of Medieval England, by Charles R. Young.

I’d read it, of course. The words were installed in my memory files along with billions of others. If I needed them, I could bring them up by chapter or page number.

“Ye’ll find most of the best history books ever written on these shelves, my lamb,” Moira said. “And you’re welcome to any you care to read.” She paused, head tilted as she studied me. “I understand ye’ve the gift of memory?”

Some gift, I thought as I slid the book back.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “When I see or read something, it . . . well, it just kind of sticks.”

“What a blessing that must be,” Moira said as she cupped my cheek. “Your mother told us you were a very special girl. It’s happy we are to finally have you here, and to welcome you into our family.”

Family.

I nodded, my throat too tight to speak.

“Now”—Moira linked arms with me and towed me toward the marble fireplace, above which hung a huge painting—“may I introduce Lord and Lady Hubert Carlyle. Your many-times great-grandparents. And with them is their son, Jonathan.”

Hubert was a stern-looking guy with a walrus mustache and heavy jowls. His wife looked as if she’d been sucking on lemons. But the young Jonathan’s hazel eyes danced with mischief. I liked him immediately.

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