The sky had darkened with the rain, but it wasn’t until the sun started to go down that the large windows that lined the ballroom no longer provided enough light for us to see by. There were no light switches anywhere that we could see, so Macey was forced to end her impromptu ball in favor of finding Aunt Pen for dinner.
As Macey and I made our way towards the kitchen the rain only seemed to grow heavier, beating on the windows with new force. In the time it took us to reach the kitchen, the noise of the storm had swelled so loud it was almost enough to drown out the voices arguing in the kitchen. I stopped upon hearing them and pulled Macey back from the open door when she didn’t.
“Shhh,” I whispered. “Listen.”
“You cannot be here, Amos,” Aunt Pen said, her voice tight and angry. “You are not to cross the fence uninvited.”
“You invited me in; is that not invitation enough, Caretaker?” When Amos answered her he sounded smug, but there was something dangerous in his voice that made me uneasy.
“With the weather this bad I had no other option, as you well know. Now, why are you here, Amos?”
“The boy tried to cross over today.”
Macey gave me a disapproving look, which I suppose I deserved.
“He was glamoured.”
“Even so, the children are your responsibility.”
They fell into silence, leaving Macey and me to try and puzzle out what Aunt Pen had meant.
“It won’t happen again.”
“It’d better not,” Amos said. “It would be such a shame if something were to happen to them.”
Amos didn’t sound like he’d be all that upset if something happened to us.
“Will that be all, Amos?” There was venom in Aunt Pen’s voice now, as if she were holding herself back from saying something very different.
“I think that’s all,” he said, his shoes clicking as he crossed the room. “Though you may want to warn your charges against eavesdropping. It’s a dangerous pastime.”
Aunt Pen gasped, swinging open the kitchen door to glare at us as Amos left through the opposite door and went back out into the storm.
“You two ought to know better than to listen in on adult conversations.”
“We’re sorry Aunt Pen,” Macey said. “We won’t do it again.”
“Who was that?” I asked.
“No one,” Aunt Pen answered. “Take a seat, dinner’s almost ready.”
“He can’t be no one. Everyone has to be someone.”
“Be that as it may, Dillon, to you, he is no one.”
Dinner was a tense affair after that, and while I didn’t question Aunt Pen any further, I couldn’t stop thinking about the man. Who was he that he could put Aunt Pen so on edge? And where had he come from? I was pretty sure Aunt Pen didn’t have neighbors, and I hadn’t seen any houses nearby when we drove up. But he knew that I’d almost gone into the woods today.
I went straight to bed after dinner, but I couldn’t sleep. I had too many questions, and no way to get answers. Eventually, the steady beat of the rain against my window lulled me to sleep, but not before I’d decided that no matter what, I’d find answers to my questions before the end of the summer.