Evangaline had spent a nice afternoon talking with Janelle and spoiling Anna Marie with love, explaining some of the more-explainable strangenesses of the family to her sister-in-law and reassuring her that no, the aunties and cousins didn’t hate her and yes, Aunt Beatrix really had known what she was doing when she gave her that silk negligee, and, yes, lavender silk would look lovely on her and Owen would love it, and, just for good measure, repeating her willingness to babysit.
Some days she thought that the family had Aunts to provide a nanny for the endless children produced by all the other siblings.
She finished cleaning up after tea-and-baby, and sat down with her knitting for her self-allowed hour of evening TV before she got back to cataloging and figuring out the mess the last three Aunts had left of the house (just yesterday, she’d found an entire box of haunted mousetraps, each one carrying around a tiny mouse shade).
She was only twenty minutes into NCIS when the first of the wards around the property told her she had a visitor. Sighing – she’d asked the family, time and again, to call first, to come up the front way, but they did what they’d do – she paused the TV, set down her knitting, and listened for the second set of wards.
When the presence went for her barn and not for the house, she began to get suspicious. She picked up the baseball bat Owen had given her when she first moved out, and the glass globe that had been Fallon’s gift, focused on the pitch of the wards – they had to be not-too-sensitive, or they’d go off every time a raccoon wandered through – and headed carefully for her barn.
Unlike older Aunts, she had no need of a horse, no need of a milk cow, no need of chickens, so she’d done basic clean-up to make sure nothing would fall over, and left the barn for the next year. Thus, piles of old horse blankets and unknown family detritus still filled most of the stalls.
And, uncomfortably huddled in one of those stalls, a teenage boy looked up at her, nervous, uncertain, and trying to make himself even smaller.
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” he muttered.
“No,” she agreed. At the moment, at least, he wasn’t. “But I think you should come inside.”
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