“Liam, do you have cat food?”
Alanna was pushing her cart down the worn linoleum tiles between shelves heading toward the back of the store where the meats were displayed.
“Depends on what you want, canned, kibble or fresh raw meat?” Liam thought she must be nuts. Everyone knew Cardamon was allergic to most cats. Only one or two breeds were good around him.
“I think fresh raw meats would be good. What do you suggest?”
“We have a couple of fresh caught salmon, back there, but you’ll want organ meat for the cat. At least that’s what Doc Andrew says.”
“He’s the local vet. Takes care of all the animals around here, including the cows and sheep. Even the pigs. Farmers around here love him, but we town folk take all our pets to him too.”
“I guess it’s kidneys and liver for Deataigh then, I expect he’ll be catching his own food soon enough. We have enough mice around the workshop. I’ve already cast a spell to keep them and the rats out of the cottage.”
“You have a cat? Cardamon must be sneezing like crazy,” Liam said. He couldn’t contain his chuckles at the thought.
“Not a single sneeze. This tom is huge, I’ve never seen a bigger cat, and from what I can tell from looking at his teeth, he’s a young one, not even a year old.”
“You might want to take him to Doc Andrew then. His office is on the other side of town though.”
“I’ll look him up later. I healed up most of Deataigh’s injuries. He’d been fighting, I think. Now he’s adopted me. I’m not sure how I’m going to get him home when I have to go back.”
“Another reason to go see Doc Andrew. He’ll know what you have to do to get the paperwork in order.”
“I hope he won’t have to be in quarantine.”
“I doubt it, people bring their pets across from the U.S. all the time.”
Liam ducked behind the counter, and said, “I’ll give you a break on the meat. Family price since it’s for a sick cat.”
“Thanks, I need a few other things, a bit of fruit, some honey, and bread.”
“We have the fruit. Apples are fresh from the orchards right now, and of course bananas and oranges. We’ve even got a few grapes.” Liam led the way down to produce. “Lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and zucchini are over there.” He pointed to the display bins. “And of course, potatoes are in that aisle with the onions and mushrooms.”
“Thanks, what about the honey?”
“Tell Cardamon he needs to talk to Riona. She’s bringing in the honey now, it will be ready for sale in a week or so.”
“Mmmm, honey fresh from the hive? I can’t wait, I’ll remind him.”
“Okay, enough about groceries. What about finding your witch?” Liam asked.
“We can go to the church in a couple of days. I want to make sure Deataigh’s all right first. He’s pretty stiff and sleepy still. I think I hit him a little too hard with a calming spell when he attacked me.”
“Is that why everything went quiet around your cottage?”
“I guess so. Oops. Sometimes I get carried away when I’m in a hurry.”
“I can’t wait to meet this cat. It’s a date, for the church thing?”
“Of course, come by and meet my cat when you have a chance,” Alanna said.
“Come on, I’ll put you through the check out.” Liam didn’t waste any time running her items through the scanner.
Alanna pulled her grocery bags out of her own tote, filling the mesh bags with her purchases.
“Thanks for the help. I hate getting used to a new store. I’ve been shopping at the one at home ever since I can remember.”
“No problem, I’ll have to hurry though, I think the bakery is just across from here?”
Liam pointed across the street where a sign in the window advertised fresh rye bread and multigrain rolls as the special of the day.
“I’m already in love with their rolls. I’ll be home in a few minutes. Come on over any time you like,” Alanna said as she pushed the door open to leave.
Liam watcher her saunter across the street and said, “I think I’ll take to Father Patrick about the records. Soften him up a bit for Alanna. He’s picky about who gets to see those ancient ledgers.”
“Why do you need into those records son?” His father asked.
“Just a favor for a friend.”
“Are you finished your homework?”
“Aye, did it during the slow time. I’m ready for the afternoon rush.”
“You’re free to go as soon as we close. Take the day for yourself tomorrow. Wednesday is always light. Was that Cardamon’s niece?”
“Yes, Alanna Quade’s her name.” Liam turned to the till and began to check out the next order. He knew Alanna’s quest to find her many times grandmother wouldn’t be a secret for long.
“Is she going to school? His father called as he made his way back to the stock trolley.
“I’ll ask tomorrow.” Liam said.
“Would you like to join our class for the year?” Liam asked as they walked toward the church at the end of main street.
“I’m not sure. It would be fun, and I’d probably learn a lot. Do you have advanced classes in biology? And chemistry? I need them both for what I want. I hate advance math. I only need ratios and percentages for what I’m going into. History would be fun as well. I’m always up for a good trip through the past.”
“If Cardamon would come into the school, and you have a transcript of your marks from last year, it should be no problem to get the classes you want. It might make up for the year you are missing back home.”
“I’d miss out on my senior year there, but I would get into university sooner. I have to talk to the one that has accepted me and find out if they would allow the courses here, instead of the ones back home.”
They arrived at the big doors as they talked, and Liam pulled the rope setting of a quick peal of bells.
“How wonderful,” Alanna exclaimed. “I love the way you use proper bells to announce a visitor here. It’s something I would like for my home.”
“It’s sad we have had to lock the doors of the church except when services are being held. No more wandering in to sit in the pews to pray.”
“Do you do that?”
“No, but my grandmother did, and so did several of her friends. It was a comfort for them.” Liam said.
“I think I hear someone coming.”
“That will be Father Patrick. He’s a bit crusty about letting anyone near his records. Says people have no respect for the history they hold.”
“I brought cotton gloves. The herbalist I worked for in Billings was as picky about his older books too. I had to wear these whenever I touched them. The oils from our fingers are are really bad for the old parchment.” Alanna pulled pristine white gloves out of her jacket pocket.
“Hmpf, at least one of you has come prepared.” Father Patrick was slender and slightly stooped. His eyes direct as he assessed Alanna.
“Come in. I’ll take you back to the library. I’ve taken the time to make a proper archival space here. You’ll find the records from several of our cathedrals in there.” The pride in his voice made Alanna smile.
“I have a mystery to solve. I keep dreaming about a woman, who I think lived here, somewhere close to this village. The castle was still strong then, not ruins like it is now. And she lived in a cottage in an oak grove.” Alanna decided telling the black robed priest exactly what she was looking for would be the best course. Even if it sounded a bit outlandish.
“Dreams are often a message from the past.” Father Patrick stopped to study her more closely. “I may be a priest, but I understand there are many miracles our good Lord has wrought. They might not be what we understand, but they are His miracles none the less.”
“You sound like my Grandda Harry. He’s always insisted we are God’s children as much as we are part of the Goddess.” Alanna like this white haired, brown eyed man with laugh wrinkles which belied his gruff manner.
“Aye, Harry O’Connor was well know for his unusual beliefs. How are he and Gaia doing? I was but a junior priest in Dublin when they married. You have a bit of him around your chin and mouth child.”
“I’m sorry, you just don’t look that old. I’m surprised you know of him.” Alanna knew she was staring like a fixated rooster.
“He tracked me down last spring and told me about the dreams. And then young Liam here, reminded me about it yesterday when he came to tell me you wanted to see the birth and death records from, when was it, the late 1200’s?”
“It figures. Grandda Harry never misses anything when it comes to easing our way. He’s the best thing that ever happened for me and my brothers.”
“We’ve been friends since the awful day Gaia was forced to swear obedience in her wedding vows. They married the day before they went to America. Legal just before they left.”
“There’s a story there, I’d like to hear,” Alanna said.
“But we need to get to those records,” Liam reminded them.
“Yes, yes, come along.” The priest lead them through the apse to a door behind the pulpit. “Through here. I’ll unlock the door.”