“Mistress, look at this!”
Dragon, in her guise of an elf maiden, burst into the room, with Cleric right on her heels. Dragon was waving a newspaper over her head, and an ear-to-ear grin lit up Cleric’s face.
“What is it?” I looked up from the book I was reading.
“It is Didi’s article about Colton and Blue. It is in the local newspaper this day.” Dragon handed me the paper, already opened to the aforementioned piece. “I think she did a wonderful bit of writing.”
Cleric nodded in agreement. “Didi mentioned Peaches, Colton’s first therapy pony, whom we knew as Mystery. She touched on how Peaches had been prepared as a therapy horse, and how Colton and Peaches had been trained to work together. Then she explained briefly how, after Peaches passed away, Anna attended an auction and found a new pony for her son. She also gave a quick overview of Blue’s history, with just a brief mention of both Andrew and Casey.”
Dragon took up the story. “There are two . . . er . . . what I believe I have heard you refer to as sidebars. The first one highlights the benefits of equine therapy for the handicapped. The other is a short but glowing profile of the facility that trained both Peaches and Blue. The bulk of the main article, however, concentrates on the relationship between Colton and Blue, how they have bonded, and how Blue has given Colton freedom he would not otherwise have been afforded. Didi included several paragraphs detailing Colton’s ability to take Blue out on the trails without supervision. The article is augmented by a number of photos of the two of them, both in the arena and on the trails.”
I took the newspaper and scanned the article. When I reached the end, I sighed in relief and smiled. “No mention of the incident with Arthur, nor of your ability, Cleric, to communicate with animals.”
Cleric nodded. “I am relieved to know Didi had more integrity than to include sensational details in her article.”
I frowned. “I know Didi was planning on writing several additional articles, more in-depth pieces, for various larger publications. I hope those articles reflect the same level of integrity.”
Dragon narrowed her eyes and gave me an enigmatic smile. “I believe Didi will continue to treat both Arthur’s grief and Cleric’s empathic abilities with respect and discretion. She is . . . a rather exceptional person.”
I was about to question Dragon regarding her cryptic comment about the journalist, Didi, when my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter stomped into the room, arguing loudly.
As their yelling and bickering escalated to pushing and shoving, I frowned at the intrusion. “Whoa! What’s up with you two?”
“None of your affair!” My Arrogant One snapped at me as he continued glaring at his companion.
My Bounty Hunter, on the other hand, faced me and replied courteously, in a respectful tone of voice. “It is a private matter, milady. Please pardon our unseemly comportment.” He concluded with a bow, then grabbed my Arrogant One by the arm and steered the elf back out of the room and down the stairs.
As they clambered down the steps, I heard my Bounty Hunter’s voice. It sounded as if he were talking through clenched teeth. “You have really outdone yourself this time, elf! How do you plan to rectify the situation before anyone else discovers what you have done?”
I looked at Dragon and Cleric. “Any clue what that was all about?”
Both of my characters shrugged. “I never know what is going on with those two.” Cleric frowned.
Dragon nodded and raised one delicate eyebrow. “Whatever it is, you can bet it is not anything good.”
Cleric, Dragon, and I returned to our discussion of Didi’s newspaper article. We were still huddled together on the sofa when my husband, Miles, called to us from the kitchen. “Lunch is ready! Come and get it!”
We scurried to the kitchen and were soon joined by the rest of my characters. My husband ladled out steaming bowls of vegetable soup, while my Old Dwarf handed each of us a thick slice of homemade bread still warm from the oven.
As he filled my bowl, Miles asked me, “Marge, did our next-door neighbors mention anything to you about moving their house?”
I shook my head. “No, they didn’t mention anything about moving. Why? Is there a for sale sign in front of their house?”
Miles sighed and placed his hand on my shoulder. “No, honey. I didn’t ask if our neighbors said anything about them moving, I asked if they mentioned anything about moving their house.”
“What?” I furrowed my brow and cocked my head. “What are you talking about?”
“Haven’t you looked out the window lately? The neighbor’s house is gone.”
I immediately put down my soup bowl and walked back into the living room. I looked through the glass of the French doors and did a double take. I opened the doors and stepped out onto the deck for a better look. Sure enough! Where just this morning there had been a lovely, tan, two-story house with contrasting aqua trim, there now stood a gaping hole in the ground.
As I turned around and walked, dazed, back into the house, I spotted my Arrogant One tiptoeing toward the stairs.
What happened to my neighbor’s house, and what did my Arrogant One have to do with it? Be sure to come back next week and find out! We’ll leave the porch light on for you.