Ch. 17 - Questions

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The sun was just starting to peek in through the floral patterned curtains, and Rhianna had a million questions, by the time she and the others snuck back into her bedroom and dove into their sleeping bags.

After a few excited whispers, everyone was soundly asleep except Rhianna. Her mind raced. Was Teasel the one looking out for her, and making everything go her way like magic? Like a guardian angel. She got the distinct impression that he would not like that comparison.

And what did Grayson have to do with any of this? She never really thought a boy was cute before—she'd always been too busy following her mom's zig-zaggy flight from one end of the country to the and back, like the yearly migration of a cuckoo bird. And the first boy she notices when she finally has a moment to let life catch up with her...has a last name like Demonsprite?

She wanted to rebel against Teasel's advice. She wanted to go find Greyson and jump on the back of his motorcycle again. She remembered the wind and the sense of power from knowing the dangers and deciding to ride anyway—like, for just that moment, her life was hers.

But...Demonsprite. That did not bode well. He probably wasn't even human. He probably hadn't even been there by accident. Maybe he had been spying on her. Though it sounded like Teasel was technically spying on her too, even if it was some kind of helpful duty. His name was Pepperbug though.

Now she was just being silly. A person's character wasn't defined by how harmless or ominous his name sounded. It must be the lack of sleep. She punched her pillow and tried to get more comfortable.

She half expected Gran to come in and roust them all from bed to do chores. It would probably be better than laying here staring questions at the ceiling. Her mind was far too busy to sleep.

Gran did not wake them until nearly noon, and the last thing Rhianna remembered before Gran barged in and yanked the curtains apart to let in the cruel sunlight, was thinking she would never fall asleep.

"Come on, up you get girls. I've never seen such a lazy bunch. How late did you stay up whispering and giggling?"

She projected sternness, but she had let them sleep in, and wasn't reading off any lists of chores—yet.

Rhianna wondered if her grandmother was actually capable of being indulgent. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, trying to decide if she saw the ghost of a smile on Gran's lips.

"Chop, chop, maybe after you girls get some food in you, Rhianna can show you how to muck out the barn and you can all make yourself useful while you're here."

Nope. Any ghosts were long dead, probably scared away by long lists of chores.

Stuffed full of warm biscuits and jelly, Rhianna led them out to the barn, where she had learned the joys of mucking out Kasubia's stall after the storm. Even though there had been no other storms, Gran had decided to put Kasubia in the last few nights because the horse had seemed restive.

The stalls were well made, with modern materials—at least modern for the last time this place was a functioning horse farm. Rhianna had always imagined horse stalls being rough wooden boards slapped together, and a dark dirty interior.

This barn was well lit, clean, and several ceiling fans spun keeping the air fresh. The stalls were large and spacious, floors lined with rubber mats. The wood of lower walls and doors was lustrous with a well maintained finish, and the black steel bars on the top half were fancy like a wrought iron fence. In Kasubia's stall the window was open allowing in a patch of sunlight and a miraculous cool breeze. It looked like Gran had already been in to tend her, but left the grunt work for her lazy grand daughter.

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