The Wolf Mirror
Fire and Ice
A Young Adult Imprint
of Melange Books, LLC
White Bear Lake, MN
The Wolf Mirror,
Copyright 2017 Caroline Healy
Smashwords Edition, License
This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away
to other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share
it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it
was not purchased for your use only, then you should go to
Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of the author.
Names, characters, and
incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the
publisher. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the
United States of America.
Cover Design by
While thoughts exist,
words are alive and literature becomes an
escape, not from, but
Cyril Connolly, The
For another CC,
Colette, this book is for you. Like a lighthouse is to a ship, your
beam keeps me on the straight and narrow.
doesn’t always help you see things differently.
throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s
School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master
plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come
back). As punishment, her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their
creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds
herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.
help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles
Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord
Miller, a malady that could guarantee his untimely death. If Lord
Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the
brainless cousin from London.
task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without
exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself
committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who
will have her.
must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in
her rebellious nature - because the fate of her entire family, for
generations, rests on her shoulders.
Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or
her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would
dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting
in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the
servants have magically disappeared.
the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons;
Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her
to temporarily lose her senses.
help of Tallulah, a black witch, Cassandra finds her feet in this
strange land, challenging Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers, learning
about feminism and standing up for what’s right.
both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and
self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful
century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their
a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Smoking on school property was
Mercedes waited for her by the gates. News of Cassie’s suspension
had travelled fast. She walked down the stone steps and across the
green, her satchel swinging from her slim shoulders.
Principal must have phoned Cassie's mother straight after the
narrowed her eyes at the dark car. Justice Miller of the Queen’s
Bench had sent a driver. Irritated, Cassie flicked the half-smoked
cigarette onto the manicured lawn.
Winchester Abbey Girls School, no student had ever been caught
fighting. It was unheard of. The principal had spent a good twenty
minutes lecturing both Cassie and Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers.
ladies should never lower themselves to that of brawling
delinquents.” Mrs. Pritchford’s glasses slid down her nose as she
gesticulated in annoyance. “You have a reputation to uphold for the
junior girls. Your behaviour is inexcusable,” she sniffed. “Now,
would one of you care to tell me what is going on?”
remained tight lipped. To confess that they had been fighting over a
boy, a flaker like Dwane Rubens, was not an option. It didn’t
matter anyway. Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers was the Vice-Principal’s
niece. Cassie was as good as done for as soon as she threw the first
she yanked open the door of the car and slid into the back seat. She
buckled her seat belt and turned to stare out the tinted window,
ignoring the driver. They changed all the time anyway, so what was
the point in making conversation?
across London passed in silence. Cassie daydreamed about having a
full-time job, her own car, independence. All she wanted was to
finish her exams. Then she would be free. Maybe she would go to
France, visit her Dad. That would really piss her mother off.
turned a corner and pulled into a tailback of lunchtime traffic. The
chauffeur muttered something under his breath.
minutes more Miss,” he said, trying to catch her eye in the
grunted, resenting every second spent in the confines of the
Mercedes’s plush leather upholstery. A chauffeur was the sole perk
of Judge Miller’s job that she allowed her children to partake of.
normal upbringing is important, that was her mother’s
you have a normal upbringing when your father lives in another
country and your mother is a workaholic?
in the middle of a case, Cassie, I can’t take holidays now.” That
was the excuse, every time.
working week, constant meetings, never-ending phone calls with
clients, a nasty habit of forgetting important details, like the
birth dates of her own children; Justice Miller was a perfect role
thing made Cassie shake with anger.
her father had married a French tart. She felt the prickle of tears
to the back of her eyeballs but she ignored it. She hadn’t cried in
over two years.
picked at the black varnish on her nails, trying not to think,
concentrating instead on the sharp pain to her lower back.
wound its way along the embankment, parallel to the brown waters of
the Thames, before taking a turn to the left.
pulled the car smoothly to a stop in front of the Royal Court of
glanced up at the building before unfolding herself from the confines
of the car. “Have a lovely day, Miss Miller.” The chauffeur
called after her, his voice eager.
thought Cassie, as she banged the door closed. She didn’t bother to
her blazer into place, she hitched the strap of the satchel over her
shoulder. It was too hot for this crap. The collar and tie around her
neck were strangling her.
this,” she said out loud as she stomped up the limestone steps to
the main entrance.
building was old and built of squared, grey stone. To the casual
observer, it could be mistaken for a church, complete with turrets,
spires and a rose window. The only hint as to its real purpose was
the milling of people in and out of the bowels of the building.
hated coming to ‘The Office’. She stood out like a sore
thumb in her bottle green uniform and formal grey blazer. The
security guard eyed her lazily as she crossed the marble tiled foyer
towards the lift.
the button and waited, her foot tap-tapping with impatience.
Eventually the doors opened. In the privacy of the lift she adjusted
her skirt, rolling the material up at the waistband. She opened the
top button on her shirt and pulled her tie askew. If she was going to
get in trouble she may as well make the most of it.
elevator ascended to its final destination, Cassie brushed her long
mahogany hair away from her shoulders. She fingered the piercings at
the top of her ear, a habit she unknowingly performed. The base of
her back burned fiery red so she shifted the satchel to her other
shoulder, trying to ignore the discomfort.
Dobson, her mother’s aid, was standing at the reception desk
talking quietly to a receptionist. Dobson glanced up when the lift
he said warmly, as he moved forward to greet her, his hands
outstretched. “Oh my! Your mother mentioned something about your
hair, but she didn’t say it was so,” he paused, “bright!”
smiled at him. The ends of her long hair had been dyed pink these
last two months. Her follicle antics had lost their ability to
irritate her mother so Cassie was considering a trip to the
hairdressers for an undercut.
Dobson. How are you?” She unceremoniously dropped her satchel to
fine, thank you, Cassie. How are you, more to the point?” Somehow,
he managed to waggle his eyebrows, a trick Cassie had tried many
times but failed to master.
great. I’ve just been suspended from school and summoned to my
mother’s place of work. I’m just perfectly peachy.” Cassie’s
at the other end of the reception area opened and a meek looking
secretary exited, scurrying down the hallway, past the reception
desk. She glanced over her shoulder, her gaze lingering on Cassie for
felt a stab of pity for the secretary. Justice Miller was a hard lady
to work for. She turned her attention back to Dobson, “What should
I hope for? Sunny temperament? Happy disposition?”
lifted his shoulders in a slow, lazy gesture. “Your guess is as
good as mine, sugar plum. But when the phone call came through this
morning,” he leaned in, so only Cassie could hear him, “I think I
heard her use a bad word.”
fumbled the retrieval of her satchel from the floor. She swallowed
loudly; her mother must be mad, really mad.
up, Cassie spied the receptionist looking at her, a fleeting look of
distaste crossing her otherwise marble features. It was enough to
rally Cassie’s fighting spirit. She gave a quick toss of her head,
the motion causing her pink-tipped hair to flick back over her
shoulders. She walked briskly down the hallway, her heart rate
accelerating. Best get this over with, she thought, as she pushed
open the heavy door. Cassie didn’t bother to knock.
Eve Miller sat in a burgundy, leather-backed chair, behind an
impressive mahogany desk. Along the walls were a number of
bookshelves, crammed with files and folders of various shapes and
sizes. A tall, green lamp stood in the corner of the room, next to a
large sash window. Cassie could make out the grey limestone facade of
an office block across the courtyard.
of her mother’s office was relatively ordinary, a sparsely
populated coat rack stood sentinel at the door. There was a seat,
positioned just in front of the desk. Cassie made her way to it and
sat down heavily, dropping her satchel at her feet as she stretched
out her legs in front of her. She hated this chair, it was low and
creaky and to keep her mother’s gaze she had to strain her neck
upwards. Cassie concluded that her mother liked it that way, towering
over her underlings.
Miller was scribbling on a notepad, seemingly unaware of Cassie’s
presence. Eve Miller was good looking, Cassie supposed, for a woman
her age. She was forty-five years old, sharp grey eyes, an auburn bob
to just below her jaw line. Cassie stared at her, willing her to
speak. The sound of the pen scratching over pale cream paper filled
the space around them.
week-old polish from her finger nails, Cassie began to tap her right
foot, conveying her impatience, hoping it would annoy her mother.
deliberately trying to irritate me, Cassie?” Sometimes Judge Miller
had a freaky habit of reading Cassie’s mind.
stopped what she was doing, put the lid on her fountain pen and laid
it gracefully on the sheet of paper in front of her. She looked up at
Cassie, her steely eyes cold and still as water.
thought Cassie, she is really mad. “Mum, I…”
it Cassie, I don’t want to hear it.” Her mother held up her hand,
magically cutting off Cassie’s ability to speak. “The principal
phoned me this morning in the middle of a chamber session telling me
that it was urgent. I thought there had been some kind of an
accident, only to find out that you had been caught fighting with
snorted. She wasn’t sure if her mother was put out by the fact that
her daughter had been suspended or that her own chamber meeting had
been interrupted. Either way, Cassie resigned herself to the fact
that there was no point in trying to explain. Her mother would
believe the principal, whose version of events had been tainted by
Becky ‘The Troll’ Travers’ lies. She slumped back in the seat
and gazed over her mother’s shoulder, out into the autumnal day.
have anything to say about your behaviour?” her mother asked.
Cassie continued to stare blankly out the window.
to put forward in defence of your actions?”
bristled, hating the fact that her mother was using legal jargon on
her. “It’s not like you would even listen to me anyway.” She
picked at her hair, examining it for split ends.
for justice being blind,” Cassie continued petulantly, “It looks
like you have made up your mind, so there is no point giving my side
of the story. You’re as bad as that lot at Winchester.” Cassie
looked at her mother, challenging her to disagree.
facts are pretty conclusive, Cassie. You were caught by your biology
teacher in the hallway of your school…scrapping!”
said nothing, just shrugged her shoulders.
know how this will look on your record? Do you know how much that
school costs me? How many strings I had to pull to get you in there
after your last episode?”
back a smile. She found it amusing when her mother referred to her
expulsion from the Greystone Girls Grammar as an episode. Shortly
after the divorce, things had gotten a bit messy.
class, her one-time favorite subject; she had been etching graffiti
on her desk with a black pen when her lab partner dared her to mix
the chemicals in the test beakers. On a whim Cassie had added salt to
see what would happen. The fire had been an accident. She hadn’t
meant the solution to ignite. No one believed her when she tried to
Miller was glaring at her across the desk, her face stony.
nodded her head, if only to move things along and get the lecture
actions reflect badly not only on yourself but on others too. Did you
ever consider that?”
Cassie wanted to add, my actions will reflect badly on your standing
as a representative of the law.
told her to keep her mouth shut. This would be over sooner if she
just kept quiet.
have anything to say?” asked her mother.
Cassie just wanted to go home. This whole day had been a disaster
from start to finish.
threw her hands up and sat back in her chair, sighing heavily. “Fine
waited. Fine then what? She had expected the usual sentence. No phone
for a week, no internet, no going out, having to babysit her brother.
But her mother hadn’t mentioned any of these things. A finger of
dread brushed along Cassie’s spine. The silence was making her
twitchy. What was her mother playing at? If Cassie was to get out of
here she was going to have to capitulate.
what?” she asked sullenly.
leave me no choice. We are going to Ludlow Park.”
almost jumped out of the chair, “NO! Mum, come on. I hate it there.
It’s ages away. There is nothing to do, no WIFI, no way of
contacting my friends…” Cassie was panicking, gibbering on like
an idiot. She stopped listing off the disadvantages of going to
Ludlow Park, aware that these were the exact conditions, in her
mother’s mind, to constitute an appropriate punishment.
leave first thing in the morning. Until then, you are duly grounded.
Your phone will be confiscated, no internet, no television.”
started to complain, to fight her corner but her mother held up her
hand, the action bringing instant silence. “You will go home, pack
your things and make dinner. Your brother will be in from school
shortly, and I have given Mrs. Jenkins the afternoon off. I will be
home from work early. I want you to take this time to think on your
actions. When we get back from Ludlow you will go into school and
apologize to your principal, your teacher and that poor girl who you
teeth clamped together. She felt the burning of dry tears behind her
eyes. She could practically taste her anger. She was duly dismissed,
as Judge Miller had returned her attention to the paper work on the
table in front of her.
Cassie,” her mother said as she looked up, “Leave your mobile
wasn’t able to say anything. She knew if she opened her mouth she
would probably start to scream. She turned with as much composure as
she could muster and walked steadily from the room, her fists
clenched by her sides.
waiting at the reception area. He held his hand in her direction and
wrinkled his nose in distaste. “Sorry Cassie honey. Boss’s
orders. I’m going to have to take your phone.”
felt a sudden kind of pressure, like a golf ball stuck in her throat.
It pushed against her esophagus and larynx making it both hard to
breath and hard to speak at the same time. A flash of Becky ‘The
Troll’ Travers’ face after Cassie punched her came into her mind
and for a moment she thought the whole thing had been worth it. She
slipped her phone from the front pocket of her blazer. “Dobson,”
she asked, her voice raspy, “one text. Just one?”
at the solid door to her mother’s office and hesitated.
drive it home, thought Cassie. “Please,” she begged, looking as
dejected as possible.
text,” he conceded. “Quick now. You have five seconds.”
fumbled with the key lock, her fingers feeling large and clumsy in
her haste. She scrolled through the menu, frantic in her hurry. Who
should she text? Dwane wasn’t exactly top of her list at the moment
and Tallulah was probably still fuming after the bust up in the
hallway. Cassie bit her lip, knowing she did not have the luxury of
time to overanalyse. She typed the words quickly, her thumbs flying
across the buttons.
sent 2 Ludlow—Hell
Will try 2 contact u soon. Cx
pressed send and waited for the delivery before dragging the key lock
button and slowly, ever so slowly, handing her phone to Dobson.
problem, C. Now I have been given instructions to get you home and to
do a pit stop at the shops. You are on galley duty this evening,
cooking for your brother. What’s your poison?”
shrugged. She may have to cook for the little rug rat but it didn’t
mean that it would have to be nice. “Macaroni and cheese.”
looked disgusted. “If you say so sweet pea, rather him than me.
I’ll have a car brought around. Say hi to Jonah.”
moved slowly through the reception area towards the lift, her
shoulders sagging under the weight of her punishment.
followed her and pushed the button. “Hey, don’t worry.” He
tried to sound cheery. “It might not be that bad. It’s always
nice to go on a holiday.”
nodded and smiled a tight smile as the doors of the lift opened. She
stepped in and waved half-heartedly. A holiday was not how she would
describe her punishment. Dobson had obviously never been to Ludlow
Park, never had to spend time in the depths of a communication black
spot and more importantly, he had never met Mrs. Rivers.
could see the corner of her mobile phone. It was peeking out from her
mother’s handbag; tantalisingly close. She desperately wanted to
check for messages. The last sixteen hours of technology withdrawal
had been hell. No Facebook, Twitter, emails, text messages; even a
phone call to Tallulah had been off limits.
they all were, the happy family, driving out of London.
prospect of being stuck in their exclusive company was a depressing
tell your teacher about the squirrel you saw in the park?” Cassie’s
mother chatted sporadically with Jonah, ignoring Cassie completely.
She asked me what colour it was. I told her pink, ‘cause it was a
girl squirrel.” They both laughed. Jonah turned his attention back
to his Nintendo, her mother to the road.
stared out the window, silent, her fingers rotating the silver
sleeper in the upper cartilage of her ear.
with her mother was clipped, all interaction brief. Their communal
exile to Ludlow Park was not in Judge Miller’s best interests
either. She had, no doubt, a very full schedule. The lack of reliable
internet connection and phone would set her back a few days. Cassie
got some pleasure in knowing that her punishment would
inconvenience her mother also. She sighed, the scenery flying by as
they joined the motorway.
long, Mum?” Jonah shouted from the back seat, the beep of his
computer game beginning to irritate.
should be there by six.”
Park will be worth the trip.” Judge Miller’s voice was bright and
positive, the lie sounding dubious.
Park was Judge Miller’s family home. It was over two hundred miles
from London, and in the middle of a dead zone; the Bermuda triangle
for communications and I.T. They rarely made the journey.
sighed. It was going to be a long two weeks. She began to shift in
her seat. Her back was particularly uncomfortable today. The pain
changed depending on the way she was sitting, what clothes she was
wearing, how tired she was. Right now, it was a thumping kind of
ache, increasing in spasms every time she moved. She bit her lower
lip and tried to distract herself from the discomfort, counting the
road signs. The car wound its way off the motorway, going deeper and
deeper into the countryside.
Cassie.” Her brother kicked the back of her seat. She winced.
“CASSIE. Cassie.” Again, he pummelled the headrest. She knew that
he wouldn’t leave her alone unless she turned around.
younger brother by nine years, Jonah was all the things she wasn’t.
He was fun, even-tempered, made friends easily and their mother
actually liked him. She shifted around in her seat and glared at him.
his Nintendo at her. “Level twelve!”
That game is for retards.”
her mother chastised, taking her eyes off the road, “you know
better than to say things like that.”
made a face at Jonah before turning back to stare out the front
window. She wished for the tenth time that she had her iPod. Flicking
on the radio, she rested her head back against the seat, her eyes
half closed, comforted by the thump-thump of the deep bass. Suddenly,
with a click of the tuning button, the nasal tones of the Radio Four
news reader hijacked her listening pleasure.
glared at her mother whose eyes were trained conscientiously on the
narrowing road ahead, a hint of a smile on her face.
so infuriating, fumed Cassie silently. She crossed her arms and
closed her eyes, settling gingerly in to her seat. She was determined
to ignore her family for the remainder of the journey.
hour later, as the car jolted over a pot hole, Cassie woke. The sky
was black and sullen, angry clouds gathering all along the horizon.
Cassie looked at her mother. She was hunched forward over the
steering wheel, a frown of concentration marring her features. Jonah
was asleep in the back, snoring gently. The Radio Four lady voice
drifted in and out as the car bumped its way along the muddy roads.
weather warning for parts of…and east…poor conditions…”
The radio signal was crackling so much Cassie was surprised that they
could make out anything. She leaned forward and flicked it off.
glanced at her. “You’re awake.”
Obviously. “Are we almost there?” she asked, looking out
the window, trying to distinguish any familiar landmarks.
another ten minutes or so should see us…” A crack of thunder
echoed off the hillside. Cassie held her breath. Two seconds later a
bolt of lightning lit up the sky. Then the heavens opened. Torrents
of rain lashed against the windscreen battering the wipers, which
whipped back and forth across the glass, furiously trying to keep it
clear. Her mother muttered something under her breath and hunched
even further over the steering wheel, peering into the darkening
found herself gripping the edge of the seat as the car lurched over
every bump and pot hole.
took a sharp turn to the right and there it was; the entrance to the
estate. Blocks of fluted limestone, over two meters tall marked the
gateway. Once-elaborate carvings of two fierce wolves adorned the top
of the pillars; their muzzles pulled back, their vicious teeth
exposed. She had nightmares about wolves for weeks as a child, every
time she came to the estate.
shivered as the car passed beneath their watchful gaze.
driveway to the main house was as she remembered it, lined with oak
and chestnut trees as far as the eye could see. It was a big estate,
built at some stage in the 1600’s by the first Miller. Her mother
had attempted to impart the family history many times but Cassie was
not interested. In fact, she actively ignored any conversation raised
on the ancestral home. It was one of the reasons her parents got
divorced. She despised the place.
rounded a bend in the driveway, and in the blink of an eye she could
see it, rising up from the growing darkness; Ludlow Park.
not help but be impressed, simply by its size. The house consisted of
three parts, the main building and two wings, one to the east and one
to the west. Pale grey limestone steps led up to a thick, deep-set
door of heavy mahogany. Doric pilasters stood to attention on either
side. The walls were a mix of light grey and cream blocks of
limestone, interrupted by huge sash windows.
It was as
if the house, decrepit from years of neglect strained towards them,
welcoming the wanderers home. Cassie averted her eyes, the large
windows looked eerily vacant.
came to a stop as close to the front door as possible. “You and
Jonah make a run for the front door.” Judge Miller raised her voice
over the din of the rain on the roof. “Mrs. Rivers should be
expecting us. I’m going to gather up a few bits and pieces from the
rolled her eyes knowing full well that her mother was going to stand
in the downpour, hunting around for her work folders in case she got
a spare minute.
please, Cassie.” Her mother’s tone was not one to be argued with.
on, Jonah,” Cassie called as she reached back to shake her brother
awake. “We’re here.” She gathered up her bag and pushed open
the car door, streaking out into the rain, taking the limestone
steps, two at a time.
squealed as he followed her. Once on the steps beneath the portico,
he shook his head, spattering rain drops on them both. “Quit it!”
door groaned on its heavy hinges. Cassie and Jonah both froze, before
turning in expectation. The door inched open. Cassie held her breath
and reached out her hand, pushing against the dark wood. In the
dimness of the hallway, Mrs. Rivers stood still, watching them.
she was a little girl Cassie had been terrified of the housekeeper,
of her severe stares, her prolonged silences, and her disfigured
face. Mrs. Rivers was as synonymous with Ludlow as the green
pastures. Cassie had memories of her as far back as she could
housekeeper was in her mid-sixties, apparently never seeming to age,
stuck in time like the very stones of Ludlow Park. She was tall with
broad shoulders, wearing a self-imposed uniform of shapeless, tweed
skirts and stiff, starched blouses. Wrinkles colonised her face and
silver was the dominant colour in her once dark hair. She wore it
scraped back into a bun at all times.
scared Cassie. They were deep set and of a dark green, the colour of
a cloudy sea on a dull day. Whatever Cassie did, no matter the
importance, those eyes would scrutinise her and she would shrink
under their steady gaze.
also the scar. It ran the length of the right side of the
housekeeper’s face, from her hairline to the middle of her cheek.
It stood out, a line of angry pink on her aging visage.
here they were, the three of them, standing on opposite sides of the
threshold. Cassie didn’t know what to say and she could feel
Jonah’s trepidation at the prospect of stepping into the hallway
without their mother. Cassie risked a glance over her shoulder. All
she could see were a pair of legs, her mother’s frame blocked by
the opened boot. She would be drenched by the time she rooted out her
right, thought Cassie, as she shuffled forward dragging Jonah with
swallowed nervously. “Hello, Mrs. Rivers. We got caught in the
beginnings of the storm. My mother is just getting her things from
the car, she should be with us in a moment…” Cassie’s voice
trailed away into silence, breaking under the scrutiny of Mrs.
A wet hand
gripped her shoulder from behind. Cassie jumped, stifling a scream.
are you doing standing there in the cold?” Her mother was behind
her, dripping water on the stone steps. She crossed the threshold
into the hallway, her breathing a little heavy. “Mrs. Rivers. We
are here, finally.” She shook the rain from her hair. “No thanks
to that terrible weather.”
Rivers nodded her head, her gaze never leaving Cassie’s face. The
way Mrs. Rivers looked at her made her feel as if she had done
something terrible, something inexcusable. Cassie blinked and glanced
down at her wet trainers, hoping that Mrs. Rivers would look away.
shook out her jacket, depositing files, and folders onto the dry area
of the tiled floor. Cassie risked a quick look around, dropping her
bag. The old place hadn’t changed much. The hallway, where they
stood, was long and cool, floored with a chequered tile, in black and
white. A grand staircase swept up to the next floor. The timber was
golden in tone, the wood worn shiny in places. Along the walls of the
staircase, a range of portraits from various periods were hanging,
their faces stern. She shivered, even though the heavy, mahogany door
had been closed against the darkening evening.
going to see if the T.V. is working.” Jonah wandered off into the
noticed that the furniture in the entranceway was covered in a light
film of dust. Her mother had informed her once that it was Queen Anne
style, whatever that meant. If it was a queen who had designed it,
then she had horrible taste. Cassie surveyed the space, her interest
momentarily stirred. The low hanging chandelier in the centre of the
hallway was greying with age. She wondered how Mrs. Rivers managed to
keep on top of all the chores.
looked up, her mother had moved up a step or two on the stairs, Mrs.
Rivers dutifully following. “Huh?”
bag? Do you want to take your things to your room and get settled?”
looked behind her to the doorway and her discarded rucksack. She made
her way over and bent down to retrieve it. Immediately she realised
her mistake. The hoodie she was wearing had ridden up, exposing her
lower back. She could hear her mother’s gasp from the foot of the