The next morning my dad shocks me by making late breakfast pancakes. We eat them with cinnamon sugar and lemon and although it breaks my heart and I feel guilty for betraying my mom, I am friendly with Shirley throughout.
They take me on a drive through the town and then on a tour of Slane Castle. I have always liked walking around in old castles, so I enjoy the morning. I learn that the Castle re-opened its doors for guided tours in two thousand and one, after an extensive restoration program lasting a decade. In its present form, the Castle dates back to seventeen eighty-five and the famous Gothic Ballroom literally takes my breath away.
After the tour of Slane Castle, my dad takes us to lunch at a typical Irish Pub and later that afternoon when we get back to their house again, my dad says to me, as we walk into the house, “Shirley and I have to go to the pub to meet friends. I hope you don’t mind. We shouldn’t be gone long.”
I smile reassuringly. “No, it’s okay. I’ll watch TV.”
They leave an hour later, all dressed up for a night out. Shirley is wearing a long flowing summer dress, which reaches her ankles and her long blond hair hangs dead straight down her back. I cannot help it when I look at her in appreciation. She definitely looks like an elfin fairy. My father looks distinguished, as always, but he has a relaxed appearance so he does not look like the same man I know, which is more business-like than relaxed.
After they leave, I slump down onto the couch. I realize I should have asked him to take me home instead. It is not as if I can go to the kitchen at any time to make myself something to eat, it feels awkward, it is not the same as being at home. I am even too nervous to lift my feet onto the couch, so I sit back and then I select Shannon’s number.
It rings a few times and then she answers the phone with laughter in her voice.
I ask, “Hi. What you doing?”
She shrieks. “No, Dermot. Wait! I am on the phone. Hey, Heather. We are at the beach. What are you doing?”
“Nothing much.” Everybody is going on with his or her life while I feel as if I am stuck here in limbo.
She shrieks again, “Dermot!” I cringe as her voice screams in my ear.
“Shannon.” She does not hear me. “Shannon?”
“Sorry, Dermot is being his usual eejit self.”
“There is someone at the door, so I’ll speak to you again later?”
She laughs exuberantly. “Kay, Heather.”
I hear her drop the phone and she exclaims from a distance, “Gawd, Dermot. Look now my phone is going to be ruined.”
After I end the call, I lean into the armrest with a long, heavy sigh. I reach for the remote control on the little end table next to the couch, and I switch on the TV.
I am not sure how long I sit like this when there is a knock at the door. Frowning, I get up lazily and walk into the hall. I stand in front of the door for a few seconds, I am uncertain whether I should just open the door or not. I do not know if this is an area prone to break-ins or gypsies walking door to door to beg.
I run up the stairs two by two and then in my pastel splash room, I open the window. I lean out, but I cannot see anybody under the alcove in front of the door. I do, however, see Jayden’s car parked haphazardly across the driveway. I decide it must be Kieran, so I twirl around and run downstairs. I jump the last four steps and land safely on my feet. I am so bored and I am excited to see Kieran.
I pull the door open and take a step backward when I see Jayden, instead of Kieran. My joy evaporates in an instant.
He frowns and his eyes tighten when he looks at me broodingly. “Why are you always so unhappy to see me?”
I apologize, “It’s not that.”
Abruptly he says, “It’s okay, you thought it was Kieran. I am sorry to disappoint you.” He holds out a flat square box toward me. “Here.”
I reach for it and hold it in both my hands and as I look down at it, I notice it is wrapped in soft paper. Instead of sticky tape, there is a wax seal with an elaborate JF stamped into it to hold the flaps together. I am reluctant to break the seal because it looks so fancy, so I tear the paper away around it. I gasp and look up at him when I see the contents of the gift. The Script CD I wanted. “You shouldn’t have.”
He smiles slowly. “I wanted to.”
Then I realize. “How did you know I was here?”
He says dismissively, “It doesn’t matter.”
“It does,” I say argumentatively.
“Must you always be so aggressive when you see me?”
Feeling embarrassed I look away from him.
“Come,” he says. “I want to show you something.”
I step out of the house hesitantly. “What is it?”
“You have to come with me in the car. I promise I won’t bite you.”
“Must I get a jacket?”
He looks up at the sky. It is clear, hazy blue and the sky goes up and away into forever. Although it is already eight o’clock at night, the sky is still bright, preparing for the long summer days. “Yes, just in case. You never know with the weather here.”
“Okay. I’ll be back now.” I turn in the door and walk up the stairs calmly, because I can feel his eyes riveted onto my back.
When I get back downstairs, he is leaning against the hood of his car casually. He looks at the jacket I have draped over my arm and he asks, “Why do you always wear black?”
I retaliate, “Why do you always wear black?”
“I am a sorcerer, remember. It comes with the territory. You didn’t answer my question, though.”
As I pull the door shut behind me, and I hear the latch catch, I realize I do not have a key to get back in again. Frustrated I turn around to Jayden. “I cannot get back inside.”
“Don’t worry about that now. Come, I want to show you something and it is not going to wait for us.”
I sigh annoyed and then I walk to his car. I get in and notice I still have the CD he gave to me in my hand. Exasperated I say, “Jeez, I should have left this inside too. I do not want the seal to get ruined.”
Jayden glances at me amused as he pulls out of the driveway.