Chapter Fourteen

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“I heard you met Grandpa. That must have been a delight for you.” Sebastian laughed over lunch.

“Yeah. He made quite an impression…for a dead guy.”

“He hasn’t crossed over, because he can’t forgive himself for what happened. I promise he’s not always cranky. You’ll grow to love him.”

“I’m not sure about that. He scared me so much the first time that I haven’t dared go any further than my room and the kitchen.”

“Really? You’ve been cooped up in your room for two weeks? I thought you’d have been up for exploring every inch of this place.”

“Normally I would have, but I didn’t know what would pounce out on me next. It seemed safer not to risk it.” I took Sebastian’s plate from him and put it in the dishwasher.

He wrapped his arm around my waist. “Come on. I want to show you something.”

We left the kitchen and headed upstairs.

“You haven’t said anything about your time away. What was the emergency?”

“Father was called away on urgent business. He needed me to hold the fort here. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on, and our family has a huge responsibility to help.”

We walked past both of our rooms, Connor’s, and Tamar’s, to the very end of the corridor.

“What bad stuff?”

“It’s complicated. You shouldn’t be burdened with our problems.” It was clear he didn’t want to talk about it further.

A large tapestry hung on the wall in front of us. Sebastian raised the base of a nearby urn to reveal a key. He picked it up and pushed the tapestry to one side, exposing an old wooden door.

My eyebrows raised with surprise. “Well that’s one I wouldn’t have found.”

Behind the door was a spiral staircase made of stone. It wound up into the darkness of I knew not what. Sebastian took my hand, and I followed him up the steps. I almost stumbled on the uneven surface, eroded through time, but then a dim light began to ease our ascent. It came from a slit window, immediately preceding two more doors at the top. We exited through the right hand one, which was unlocked. It led out onto the roof.

The bitter wind stung my nostrils and whistled around my ears. It was freezing, and I didn’t have my coat.

“Sorry. I didn’t stop to think about how cold you’d be. It doesn’t really bother me, you see. I just wanted to show you the view. I love it here,” he enthused. “You can see every inch of our land. If I could paint, I’m sure I’d never tire of the possibilities.”

I stared over the edge, and caught a glimpse of a horse truck leaving the side entrance, before twirling around to milk in the panoramic view.

“It’s b-b-beautiful…b-b-but rather arctic,” I said through chattering teeth.

“I know. I’m sorry. Come on, let’s get you warm.”

Back in my room, Sebastian treated me like an invalid, insisting that I get into bed, and piling on more covers, before joining me and hugging my body tightly against his. I felt like a chrysalis ready to burst.

“You need the extra body heat. It’s a well known fact.”

“I know you’re only trying to look after me, but I’m not hypothermic. I think you’re going a bit over the top for a couple of cold ears, and actually, I feel fine now…even a little hot!”

“Okay, if you’re sure,” he said, relaxing his hold and releasing me from my blanket prison.

I shook the covers off, welcoming the cool air of the room, yet not moving from the bed. Sebastian took hold of my hand.

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