Home > Harvest Web (Moonshadow Bay #4)(5)

Harvest Web (Moonshadow Bay #4)(5)
Author: Yasmine Galenorn

“If he shows up here again, I swear, I’ll break more than his wallet. That restraining order gives me the right to protect you, if I think you’re in danger. And trust me, I can rationalize any action he makes as putting you in danger.” Killian wrapped his arm around me. “I’m so glad to be home.”

“Rough day?” I leaned against him.

“Yeah. Ida Clarkson came in. You know that gorgeous parrot of hers?”

I nodded. “Jacktaw.”

Ida Clarkson owned a fabric shop. She was eighty, if she was a day, and she had taken in a macaw thirty-two years ago. I remembered when she had gotten it—I was nine. My mother had taken me into the shop to buy some material for a tablecloth and Ida had let me pet the bird, who could speak English fluently. I had fallen in love with Jacktaw. Ida had told me that the bird was already twenty-one years old when she adopted him. Which meant that Jacktaw was fifty-three now.

“He died today. It was so heartbreaking. He wasn’t able to groom himself any more, and he had almost stopped eating. We knew it was coming. Four months ago, he started to slide, and I warned her that the end could come any time.” Killian opened the door and escorted me in.

“Old age?”

“Probably. I’ll do a necropsy but my guess is the little guy just wore out. Parrots live a long time, but nobody lives forever.” He headed for the bar. “I think I’ll pour myself a cognac. Want one?”

I sat on one of the bar stools. “Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll pick up a sympathy card and some flowers for Ida tomorrow and drop it off to her. That’s a long time to live with someone and then have to say good-bye. She wasn’t married and didn’t have a lot of friends, so she’s alone now.”

“I wonder why she’s so alone,” Killian said. “She always seemed congenial to me.”

I shrugged. “I’ve seen it before. Ida was a successful businesswoman. She didn’t have much in common with the women in her circle, and I think they may have found her too abrasive. I’m really sorry about your day, love.”

“It was harder on her than it was me—though I never like having to let an animal go. And thirty-two years—that’s exceptional. She adored him. But it was kinder to put him to sleep, so that was what I did today.” He handed me one of the snifters and I swirled the liqueur inside of it, then took a slow sip. The warmth trickled down my throat and I sent up a silent prayer to whoever was listening that Ida would be okay.

“How was your day?” Killian sat down on the stool next to me. “You seem a little anxious.”

“Well, the message from Ellison didn’t help. I don’t know. I was fine this morning but now, something feels off, but I can’t tell you why.”

“Have you asked Esmara if anything’s amiss?” Killian had finally gotten used to the fact that the spirit of my great-aunt was hanging around to guide me. She was one of the Ladies of our family—a group of women who had gone before, who acted as spirit guides for the living. Esmara had appeared to me shortly after I moved back to Moonshadow Bay, and she had immediately become a permanent fixture in my life.

“Not yet. I’ve learned the hard way that she doesn’t hand out answers on demand. If I don’t try to figure it out myself, she smacks me upside the head. In fact, she told me that advice was like candy—it should be a treat, doled out sparingly and not gobbled down like it was an entrée. I think Esmara liked to cook. She compares everything to food.” Laughing, I finished my drink. “Should we head to bed?”

Killian took my glass and carried it into the kitchen. I followed him.

“I meant what I said, you know,” he said, glancing at me. “I’m going to miss you when you go home.”

I leaned against the counter as he washed the crystal. “I’ll miss you too, but I think the past month has only served to prove that we’re not quite ready for the next step. Do you agree?”

He laughed. “Yes, I agree. I love having you around, but…”

“You’re not ready to give up living on your own, right? And neither am I. I’m just discovering what it means to be on my own after all those years with Ellison. I’m rediscovering myself and my own likes and dislikes. While I know you wouldn’t interfere—you’re not that kind of man, thank gods—I’m just not ready to merge my life with someone else’s again.”

Killian wrapped me in his arms. “It’s okay,” he said, his voice soft. “You don’t have to be. I’m not looking to remake your life or to make you jump through hoops. We started out fast, but now we’re getting to really know each other, and I—for one—am enjoying the journey.”

And with that, he slid his arm around my waist and walked me to the bedroom, where we ended the day with quiet passion—the kind that feels comfortable rather than wild and untamed. Sometimes, silence said more than fireworks. When we were done, I fell into a deep sleep, with no dreams to mar my world.

 

 

The next morning, I headed for my house the minute Killian left for work, and spent an hour making certain there were no opportunities for the cats to escape. But Jim had done an excellent job, and the house felt almost new again. After I reassured myself that they would be okay, I ran back to Killian’s and scooped Xi and Klaus into their carriers.

As I carried them out into the front yard, I happened to glance up at the maple trees lining the street. The leaves were beginning to turn. Only three days ago they had still been green, but the nights had grown chilly and all of a sudden, I realized that autumn was really, truly on the way. I sat the carriers down and stood for a moment, just breathing. The breeze was light, tickling my neck, and the sun radiated its golden sheen, but beneath the warmth of the day was a faint tang—a slight change in the thickness of the air that told me autumn was definitely marching in.

There was always that one day when you could sense it—the hints of the dark nights and cloudy days to come, when the rains would stream down in a perpetual drizzle, and the beautiful gloom that marked the Pacific Northwest would settle back into its normal routine. I loved the autumn, and I loved the cool nights when the leaves went swirling off the trees.

“It’s on the way,” I whispered. “Not long, now.”

Xi let out an excited mew. She could feel my anticipation.

“All right, let’s get you two back inside.” I picked up the carriers and within a few minutes, they were safe inside, sniffing around. Home was still home, but it felt different and I could tell they were both cautious and a little confused.

“Get used to it, because that’s the last reno I intend to do for a long time,” I told them. Xi glared at me, as though I’d just sworn a blue streak.

I tackled the boxes. If I worked steadily through the day, I figured I’d be done by late afternoon at the outside. I was most of the way unpacked when my phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. It was Tad—my boss.

“Hey,” I answered. “What’s up?”

“I hate to do this to you, but do you think you could cut your vacation short and come in tomorrow?”

I knew Tad well enough by now to know that he wouldn’t interrupt my time off without a good reason. “What’s going on?”

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