Chapter 3 Part I
Killian didn’t pick me up until near eleven. By then Duncan had been asleep for a while and I was struggling not to join him. I had gone down to the nurses’ station and showed them my papers. I said I’d take Duncan home the next day as soon as he was checked out and when would that be? They did things with computers and said how nice Duncan’s neighbor was, and how handsome. They had been on duty the night before when he followed the ambulance in. Oh, yes, here it is. Waiting for paperwork. They said Duncan seemed a little shocked but after all he was very old, but, hastily, very nice. They were sure he was nice even if he had been out cold when he was brought in. We could leave the next morning and his doctor was noted for early rounds. How early? Well, seven. I’ll be back at seven. We’ll tell the desk to let you in.
The phone, buzzing in my pocket, sent me down to the lobby ready for a bed, hoping the ride wasn’t too long. When I stepped out of the elevator there was no one in sight in the lobby at first. I looked around. The windows with the dark night behind them were excellent mirrors. An incredibly handsome man was behind me and by the looks of it, he was making excellent use of the mirrors to watch me. He was in his early thirties and was black-haired and blue-eyed. Some odd quirk in me saw him still as the fifteen-year-old god. And that made me the nine-year old Jess as well.
I turned around. “Killian?”
He nodded, came forward and put his hands on my shoulders. “Jessamyn. I’d have known you anywhere. How are you?” He bent forward and kissed my cheek. He hadn’t changed since his exercise earlier that evening and there was a faint smell of sweat and cows and aftershave that was actually very familiar. “I’m sorry it is so late. How is Duncan doing?”
“The nurses say he’s doing well. He wants to go home — he said. They say I can take him tomorrow.” Killian was holding the outer door open for me. I staggered a little on the threshold and he caught my arm.
“Simon said he thought you were going to be more than exhausted. I’m surprised you are standing from the way he talked.”
I looked up at him to see if he were joking. “He was very kind to pick me up. And I am very tired but I guess I still have some questions about what’s going on. I’m really glad you called me. What was Duncan doing out in the rain?”
“Don’t know. I found him flat out on the ground and carried him to the roadside. My sister had called 911 after the we saw the dog and an ambulance stopped next to the field. But Duncan came back to consciousness long enough to say, ‘Send for Jessamyn.’ The ambulance guys heard him.” He opened a truck door and ushered me into the shotgun seat. I climbed in, stumbling again, and we drove off. “Are you going to be all right?”
“I got up at 4 a.m. this morning that’s all. The day was a little different than I thought it would be.” There was silence in the truck for a few moments. “What else did Simon say?”
Killian glanced at me and smiled. “He said my description of you from when you were nine was perfect and completely misleading. Fortunately, he said, Duncan has shown him pictures now and then. He said you don’t seem to think you are a nun and I’d better get that straight.”
That was too much for me to absorb and I said so. “I have no idea what all that means.”
“It means that you still have blonde braids, one at least, and big dark eyes. And you have no luggage which sounds kind of nun-like to me but he said he got a really dirty look when he asked you about that. He said he’s glad you aren’t a nun.”
That was a very mischievous remark. But I still fell for it. I was tired. “Doesn’t he like nuns? Did Duncan say I was a nun? I guess it doesn’t matter.”
“You know, Jessamyn? Stop trying to talk. This is a short ride. Just shut your eyes.”
I did. I opened them again when the truck had stopped and Killian was lifting me out. I didn’t remember any of the road but I could see on the dash clock that it had only been about ten minutes. We were at the farm house. I couldn’t see much in the dark but Killian knew his way around and had carried me to the door before I wiggled down. Inside the air was fresh. The house seemed both familiar and different, but mostly it was dark. He took me upstairs, made the bed, and left saying he would be back early the next morning to help out. I didn’t ask help with what. Killian had helped me find sheets for the left hand bedroom explaining that when his older sister got married Duncan had hosted her in-laws, so all the O’Reillys knew where everything was. I sat down on the bed, turned sideways to touch the pillow, and fell promptly asleep. Hours later I woke long enough to turn off the lamp and slept again.
Early sunshine washed over the bed and woke me. I was completely confused for a while. The ceiling was unfamiliar but it made me happy. My pillow was soft and smelled of lilac and lemon and lavender. A framed photograph with fir trees, giant green boulders and blue sky, contrasting with the white foamy water seeming to leap away from the rock walls, reminded me of something. Eventually I realized that it was a waterfall in Kazakhstan near Almaty where I had gone hiking ten years earlier. That also perplexed me but only in a very peaceful way. I turned my head and there was an embroidered bible verse on the opposite wall.
the LORD your God
show love to
a thousand generations
who love me
and keep my commandments.
Surely that was my Great Aunt AnnaLise’s favorite verse and probably her stitchery as well. I must be dreaming. When I turned my head a clock I didn’t recognize on the nightstand said it was nearly 6 a.m. Six!? A sudden jolt of adrenaline dragged me to a sitting position flooded with general worry. How could I have overslept? Who let me sleep so long? … I remembered where I was. In the airplane I had imagined worrying all through a sleepless night. Not.
As the shock wore off and the peace crept back, I took stock of the situation. My first need was fresh clothes for myself. A quick look around the house to orient myself for the care of an elderly patient at home came next. Duncan wasn’t my first older client though I preferred children like Alina’s two. There were protocols about what I should expect.
The shower was clean, the water hot and someone had left a towel on the rack. Putting on my extras, I rinsed the clothes I had been wearing and left them hanging moistly on a wall rack. Maybe there would be a dryer or a line somewhere. Then I ran down to the stairs, turned left for the kitchen and felt memory stirring again. Looking in every cabinet and the refrigerator gave me basic information about supplies, which were fairly low. I mixed up some breakfast rolls with flour and yeast. While the rolls were rising I looked through the rest of the downstairs, smoothing, dusting, and straightening anything I could. A spinning room was on one side of the back hall and Duncan’s bedroom on the other. The spinning room didn’t need any obvious attention though I would have dearly loved to investigate it. Between the spinning room and the kitchen there was a short hall with a door in the far end which probably led to the outside. In the suite across the hall Duncan’s bed was rumpled. It cost me a moment of shock to see it unmade but then I thought he had evidently gotten up to go check something outside and had never been back. I pulled everything straight, checked his bathroom and returned to the kitchen. The rolls went into the oven and I went looking for the cellar.