Read an Excerpt
In the fading light, Weston Hall looked something like a small castle. It was a misfit in the rugged, western terrain of the Rocky Mountains. In Rath Haven, Utah, we'd expected to find something more like a ranch.
Jack and I were misfits, too, standing on the porch of our new home hoping to be invited in by the strangers that were to be our new family. Jack tossed his ball back and forth into his mitt absent-mindedly. We hadn't brought much with us, but wherever Jack went, the ball and mitt went too.
"I thought you were going to grow up to be a cowboy," I whispered to Jack.
"Yeah, and I pictured you as the rodeo queen," he replied with a sarcastic grin.
"Very funny!" While Jack was destined to be elected prom king, captain of the baseball team, and most likely to succeed, we both knew I would never be the queen of anything remotely social.
The evening was still and quiet except for the hum of the Cadillac that had brought us here from the train station in Salt Lake. Leroy, the driver, unloaded our few belongings onto the porch and then drove the car away to the garages. A gentle breeze carried with it the faint smell of cinnamon apples, grass and cows.
"I wonder if you ever get used to the cow smell?" I mused aloud.
"It's not the smell that bugs me," responded Jack distractedly, "it's the flies! This one has been driving me nuts." He watched the back of Mr. Gilly's head for a few seconds, and then snatched the fly from its orbit around the man's greasy, black hair.
After picking us up at the train station, Leroy had continued on to the airport where Mr. Gilly had joined us. He was thin,snooty, and remarkably short. He hadn't said one word to any of us during the entire two-hour trip here.
He turned a withering stare on Jack.
Jack rolled his eyes. He wasn't interested in keeping the fly. He was a baseball player -- a shortstop -- and he just liked the challenge of catching it. He opened his fist and the fly shot out into the twilight.
Mr. Gilly sniffed and turned away again.
A small, wide woman, who looked like she might hug you if you didn't move quickly enough, came bustling into the entry. "My Heavens, you're here. Come in! Come in! I'm Mrs. Appleton, the housekeeper. Oh, you are just the picture of your mother and father!"
I winced at the mention of my parents.
She stumbled embarrassed.
"Such a horrible tragedy! You young people are gonna be just fine here. We're gonna take good care of you. Don't you worry about anything," Mrs. Appleton said, wringing her hands as if restraining herself from gathering us against her ample bosom. "You make yourselves at home here in the sitting room." She turned to the man. "You must be Mr. Gilly. I'll show you right to Mrs. Weston's room. She doesn't come down much now, what with the wheelchair 'n all."
Mr. Gilly followed in her wake, explaining as they went how fortunate we were to have him here to care for the plants.
Jack cast me a wicked smile. I knew he was thinking he was glad we weren't plants.
I gazed around the foyer. "It's just like in a fairy tale," I gasped in unexpected enthusiasm, staring at the huge winding staircase and tapestries depicting mythical forest creatures.
Copyright © 2005 Rachel DeFriez