Chapter Twenty-Four

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Dorothy was proud of the little house she called home as she guided Robbie through. With Charlie working, they had been able to rent a cozy place that reminded her of the one they had lived in before Ian shipped out, only here they had no neighbours thumping around overhead.

The kitchen was enormous and the heart of the house where most of their time was spent. Dorothy rarely entertained but when she did, it was in that beautiful kitchen with the enormous window that overlooked the rolling fields in the distance where the Glynn farmhouse poked out of the greenery like it had been grown, not built.

The dining room was no less impressive, albeit small. The house had come furnished with a gorgeous table and chairs, both ornately carved, and a buffet filled with the china set she had splurged on when she finally got her compensation money from the city of Halifax. She had only used the dishes a handful of times, but after spending Christmas with the Green family, she would host them for the New Years Eve party he had planned. She called the dining room 'the green room' because of the scrolling vines on the wallpaper and the stained glass window. She typically used the room to write her letters or pay her bills versus eating, which was done in the kitchen.

It was to the parlour that she led Robbie. It wasn't tidy. Her magazines were strewn across the tables and the pillows askew.

"I don't normally have guests," she told Robbie as she tucked her things away. "In fact, you might be the first to actually sit in here, aside from Fiona, that is."

"And Fiona is?"

"Charlie's girl."

He chuckled and the tip of his cane thumped on the burgundy and gold carpet as he made his way to the centre of the room. "I can't see Charlie as anything more than the kid who used to get so mad at me when I'd beat him at cards."

She lit the fire, then turned. She was so deliriously happy to have him there that all she could do was stare back at him, a stupid smile on her face.

Robbie gave her the same for a moment, and then as he had done the first time he entered the flat in Halifax, he strode to the fireplace and looked at the photograph of Ian in his uniform.

This time, he picked up one of the medals that lay alongside it.

"When?"

Dorothy's spirits dipped. "That August, in France."

"I'm sorry." He set the medal down. "I wish I could have been there for you."

"I didn't want anyone there when the telegram came, to tell you the truth," she confessed. "I was here alone that day when the car pulled up. I always thought I would have some sort of premonition before it happened, like I would know before the knock at the door came, but it was nothing like that. I went out onto the porch expecting nothing at all, and then I saw the telegram in the man's hand and the look on his face. I sat down at the kitchen table and read it, and then I waited for Charlie to come into the house. I didn't really feel anything once I had finished crying, and not until the war ended. Then I became so angry that he'd almost made it home. Three more months and it all would have been over."

Robbie moved slowly around the room and paused at the record player. He set the cane aside and lifted the lid.

"That's Charlie's," she explained. "He got it from a woman when her daughter ran off and got married, and she was cleaning the house of everything the poor girl owned. You should have seen him with his friend walking it through town." He set the needle, and the room filled with a scratchy tune that made Dorothy cackle. "Fiona bought that one for him. I think she wanted to give him something to think about when he started taking a look around."

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