Chapter Twenty

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In her first waking moments, Dorothy breathed deeply and smelled Robbie. What came to her was the memory of his mouth on hers and his body moving over, inside of her.

She smiled and snuggled deeper, not ready to let go just yet.

And then came the presence of pain all over her body as every muscle remembered that a terrible day had passed since she had last seen him.

Kissing him goodbye. Writing the note to Charlie. The light and the sound and the hellfire. The bodies ripped open and the screaming.

And Robbie, missing.

All of it turned to her in a sickening gush.

Tucked into his comfortable bed, she had no choice but to accept that it had, indeed, happened.

It was still dark. Charlie snored loudly in the bed next to her. She left him there, dressing quietly in the darkness, then fumbled across the room to check on the dove. She could barely see it, but she heard it fidget in his bed with her approach. Relieved that it had made it through the night, she went downstairs.

There were others up and moving, grim-faced and looking like they hadn't gotten a wink of sleep. She doubted many had. She'd been in a wonderful bed and had only gotten a few hours. Even when her mind settled, the pain in her leg roused her.

She first looked in every room to see if Robbie had come back and simply let her sleep, but he was nowhere to be found. Wherever he was, he'd been there all night.

It was still dark but Helena was in the kitchen with three little ones and their mother, all helping to slice the fresh bread and twist open jars of preserves. Their mother peeled potatoes, and Helena made porridge at the stove. Dorothy came in she looked to the boarded up window.

"Did you even sleep?" Dorothy asked.

"I took Daniel's bed with Lillian," she said grimly, then cocked her head towards the window. "Look outside."

Dorothy went to the door and was met with more misery.

After all this, a blizzard. A bloody blizzard.

"Hopefully this helped to put out some of the fires," Dorothy said. If that was a silver-lining, it was a terrible one. There were still people trapped, and with the heavy snow to contend with it would be harder than ever to find them.

She turned back to Helena. "Wonder if they moved people out of those tents on the commons."

"And put them where?" asked the woman. She had a little girl's voice, and such cynicism didn't seem to suit her. "The only thing to do is leave. I'm taking my babies home as soon as I can."

"Where might that be?" Helena asked, then turned to the two smallest girls. "Can you start bringing me one bowl at a time and take them out to the people waiting to eat?"

"Antigonish," the mother said.

Dorothy poured out a cup of tea from one of the three pots on the table. "My mother's people are from Antigonish, or just outside of it anyway, but she grew up in New Glasgow."

"What's the name?"

"My name's Gaston, but it was Chisholm for my mother."

"I knew a Mary Chisholm who lived in Ballantyne's Cove."

Dorothy smiled. "That was my great-grandmother."

"Will you be heading up that way?" For some reason, the women looked hopeful. Surprise must have shown on Dorothy's face because the woman followed up with a sheepish smile. "I'm going to have to move in with my aunt. She's not my favourite person, so I was hoping to find someone to share a house up that way. Not that you would want to live with me and these monsters."

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