Evangaline modern-era. After Unexpected Guest
The boy jerked and scooted backwards into his pile of blankets when she said “inside.” “I didn’t do anything wrong!” he insisted, skittering backwards away from her.
Startled, Eva crouched down, making herself smaller while still blocking the exit. “I didn’t say you did. But it’s going to get really cold tonight, and the barn isn’t heated.”
He shifted a little further backwards. “You don’t look like a witch,” he answered, not sounding all that certain about it.
“What do witches look like?” she countered gently. She wasn’t surprised at the rumors – the house itself did half the work, with its hallowe’en aspect, the widow’s walk, the cupola, and the tower, the big wraparound porch and the dark red roses.
“Pointy hats?” he joked weakly. “I don’t know, long noses and warts or something?”
“Well,” she tapped her nose, “I don’t have all that big of a schnoz, and I promise you I have no warts at all. My name is Evangeline, but you can call me Eva.”
“Hi,” he muttered. “I’m, um, I’m Robert, but you can call me Robby.”
“Well, welcome to my barn, Robby.” Tone with teenagers was tricky; she could get away with fudging it a bit with her cousins and niece-and-nephews, but with strangers, botch it once and you were a clueless adult forever.
“Thanks.” He smirked back at her, like they were sharing a joke. “I can, uh, leave, if you don’t want me here.”
“I don’t want you freezing to death, in my barn or somewhere else.” She frowned at him, as he started to get jittery again. “Look, if you don’t want to come into the house, how about just the Florida room? It’s warmer than the barn, and I’ve got some soup on the stove if you’re hungry.”
He licked his lips uncertainly. “I’ve eaten?” he offered. “But… the Florida room thing isn’t part of the house?”
“It’s a porch that’s been enclosed,” she assured him. Later, maybe, she could find out what superstition was going around about the house. “There’s an old divan out there and some blankets, and I can haul the space heater out there.”
He eyed her cautiously. “You’re not asking why I’m hiding in your barn.”
“Nope. And I won’t, either.” There were advantages to being the neighborhood witch; whoever he was hiding from would think twice about coming after her. “I figure you’ll tell me if you want to.”
She stood up. “If you want to come inside, come on in now. I’m going to lock up in a few minutes, and then you’ll be stuck with the raccoons for company.”
He still seemed torn, but a convenient wind rattled the barn just then, and he nodded. “The porch,” he insisted, “right? Not in your house.”
“The porch,” she agreed. “This way.”
The Florida room had, at one point, been a back porch, but a prior Aunt or Aunts had glassed it in and had the floor insulated and redone; it was, as she’d said, chilly, but far better than the barn. She left him with the space heater, a pile of blankets, and a charmed night light.
“If you’re still here in the morning,” she warned him, “I’m going to offer you breakfast. Good night, Robby.”
He looked as if he wasn’t sure if that was a threat, but, gulping, nodded. “Thanks, Eva. Good night.”
She headed into her house, wondering if she’d get a chance to learn his story.
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