The next morning I woke up to hot breath in my face and half of a dog lying on my chest. “Good morning to you too Killer,” I pushed him off me. I tried to roll over to go back to sleep, but he planted his big face right in front of mine. One “Woof”, he sneezed. I was now covered with dog slobber.
“Thanks.” I cringed as I wiped off my face with a tissue. “I suppose you want to go out?”
Killer’s tail started thumping on the bed. “Okay,” I yawned. “Let me get dressed. Don’t make a habit out of waking me up this way.”
I threw on some sweatpants and a shirt before plodding downstairs with killer on my heels. I smelled coffee as soon as I stepped into the solarium. Oh, thank you Rose.
Taking a short detour into the kitchen I poured some coffee. I noticed the machine was on a timer before I headed for the front door. I stepped onto the deck. The morning chill caressed my bare feet. My java steamed in the crisp air and my feet were getting cold fast. I started to say “Hurry up Killer,” but he felt the same way I did. He’d already bolted inside the the front door.
“My turn,” I mumbled. I refilled my cup, took a long hot shower to warm up again, and applied a touch of makeup. A little blush, eyeliner, mascara, and I’m done. I stepped into my walk-in closet to rummage for some clothes and smiled. Rose had unpacked some of my boxes. I found worn jeans, a black long sleeved, low cut, turtle neck sweater, some thick socks, black boots, and a dark green flannel shirt.
After I dressed I went back into the bathroom and contemplated my hair. It’s fairly long, a tad wavy, (if I don’t brush it right away) and normally reddish blond. Right now it’s colored a rich dark auburn. I’d been debating on putting gold streaks in for the last week. But have been holding off out of pure laziness.
I’ve got a small pink rhinestone stud in my nose and a belly button ring with pink dangling rhinestones‘. I’m slim, but still need to exercise. I’m the proud owner of five tattoos. Four of them are a Gaelic vine in different colors I drew myself, and one’s a phoenix.
The Gaelic vines start on my left upper arm and travel up my shoulder. They snake diagonally down my back and end just past my right hip. The phoenix is on my right thigh. I had them draw the designs on me that way so I can cover them. I love tattoos.
Unfortunately, some people look down on tattoo’s and think the worst. Contrary to their belief I very rarely drink and I don’t do any drugs, unless you count caffeine a drug. I smiled and took another hit of coffee. In my line of business it’s better to be able to cover them when I need to.
I brushed my hair and proceeded to check out my loft. My bathroom was beautifully built with granite counter tops and tiled floors in bone gray colors. Cobalt blue streaks wound through the bone gray, adding a touch of glamour to the bathroom. The shower’s built into the corner and my beloved Jacuzzi sat against the wall, both of them tiled in the same colors.
I stepped through the door and into my bedroom. My queen size, four poster bed was placed in the middle of my room. I fluffed up the cobalt blue down comforter and wandered over to my dresser. I glanced in the mirror attached to the dresser and grinned. Could life get any better than this?
I clicked on the track lighting strung across the ceiling above my bed. The cobalt blue vanity lights shined off my wood floor and radiated a soft glow onto the throw rugs.
Rose did an amazing job decorating. In between my bedroom and the stairs was a small office space with a desk, computer, filing cabinet, and of course some rosemary hanging from a silver string. I breathed in the scent. I still had some unpacking to do, but it could wait.
I walked downstairs, found a protein drink for breakfast, and searched for Killer. He was staring wantonly at the fireplace.
“Come on Killer, we’re going to find Rose and check out the rest of the property.”
He gazed longingly at the fireplace one more time before standing up and expelling a heavy sigh. I couldn’t help but grin as we walked through the solarium, he was already acting spoiled. I noticed more rosemary hanging form silver string by the back door. “I wonder what that’s about.” I mumbled under my breath as we strolled across the deck and down the stairs.
Rose’s house was built behind and to the right of mine a short distance away. A small hard packed dirt road edges off the main drive to her house, so she doesn’t have to walk too far. It’s built similar to mine, except her loft’s the guest room, and her bedroom’s where my solarium is, just a bit smaller to accommodate an extra downstairs bathroom.
I stopped abruptly halfway to her house. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood up on end. A creepy sensation settled over me. I glanced at Killer. He sat down, giving me his “what’s up” face. I slowly turned in a circle, eying the landscape and trees surrounding me. I checked out Killer again, no reaction from him. I didn’t see anything. The sensation didn’t last long before everything went back to normal.
“What was that about?” I asked Killer as we started walking. I glanced at him again, not expecting him to answer and smiled. “Must be culture shock, straight from the wild city to the wild, peaceful forest.” My gut told me otherwise. I ignored it. “I might need a couple of days to adjust.” I said, shaking off the eeriness of the moment before.
Killer and I halted again when we reached Rose’s front deck. We stared wide eyed, taking everything in. Crystals, fairies, dragons, unicorns, and Pegasus’s covered her deck. Some were in the form of statues, but most were wind catchers, sun catchers, and chimes. Pots of rosemary sat on both sides of the entranceway and one sat in front of her door.
Killer whined and planted himself below the steps.
“Okay, you stay here.” I climbed the stairs up to Rose’s door, announced myself and tried to enter. How weird, I thought. The door’s locked. I knocked. Rose hurried out, quickly closing the door behind her.
“My house is a mess. I’ll show it to you later.” She huffed, almost running down the front stairs.
Rose was dressed in light teal leggings, a dark teal tie-die long sleeve hoodie and bright red hiking boots. Her long silver hair was tied back in a braid with brilliant blue dragonfly rhinestone clips on both sides of her head, holding the wisps’ of stray hair back.
Rose’s full name is Rosemary Parks. I used to work for her helping out around the house. Now she works for me, kind of. The deal is she can stay on as long as she wants for free as long as she takes care of the property while I’m gone. So far everything’s worked out great. She’s a little taller than me, but almost everyone is, a little rounder, and much older. I’ve never asked her age and she’s never told me. I do know she acts younger than her age and looks younger too.
“I’m packing, and then I have to clean before I leave this weekend.”
“Why so soon? I thought you’d be here another couple of weeks so we’d be able to spend some time together.” I said pouting.
She growled. “You know my kids. They don’t think I can take care of myself.”
“You did tell them I would be here right?”
Another growl, “Yes, but they decided I might get stuck in a snow storm, end up staying all winter, and break my hip from slipping on ice or something.”
Rose’s kids live in Los Angeles, California and desperately want her to move somewhere closer to them. Rose can’t stand the smog or the noise pollution, so she visits for a couple of months once a year over the holidays to pacify them.
“Anyhow,” she said as we started walking to the barn with Killer on our heels, “I had the solar panels rechecked, they’re good to go, and the wood pile’s full thanks to Bear.”
“Who’s Bear? And what’s with the hanging rosemary in my house?”
She got this huge grin on her face “You’ll meet Bear later today. He’s invited us to an early dinner. The rosemary’s for protection against evil spirits, negative energy, and to prevent illness. I read about it in a book. You should burn some every once in a while too.”
I pondered that for a minute. No evil spirits were allowed on my land or in my house. I hardly ever got sick and negative energy was definitely not allowed on this trip. I could handle the rosemary, I’d just add it to the growing list of Rose’s little quirks. Bear, on the other hand, would hopefully be Roses age.
Rose stalled at the barn door, turned around and peered at me like she was trying to read my mood. “How did you sleep last night?”
“Really good. What’s up Rose? Is there a problem? You’ve been acting weird all morning.”
“Well, we adopted a barn cat,” she tossed her braid back, while eyeballing Killer, “her name is Pumpkin.”
I side stepped her and entered the barn. On the right, shelves reached close to the ceiling. Most of them full of odds and ends for my horse. A plank leaned against the side for a cat walk. On the top shelf was a huge orange tabby cat with yellow eyes.
“She keeps the mice away.” Rose said.
Pumpkin looked like she had her fill of mice, along with the dried cat food on the top shelf. The cat had to weigh 20 plus pounds. There was no telling where the hair ended and the fat began.
Rose’s back came up. “I found her in town. No one would claim her, so here she is.”
“It’s okay Rose” I mumbled as the cat began to hiss at us. “I’m sure we could use a barn cat.”
Pumpkin hissed again louder, apparently she’d noticed Killer. Killer sat down and whined at Pumpkin. Pumpkin glared down at him.
“I’m going to finish checking out the barn and say hi to Lightning.” I walked into the stall with Rose right on my heels.
“There’s something else I need to tell you.” Her voice sounded rushed.
I have four stalls in my barn and one horse. I found two.
“You took up horseback riding?”
“No.” She replied from right behind me. “You know I only like horses from a distance. I meant to talk to you, but I’ve been busy. That horse there is Ace and he belongs to Max.”
“Oh, you’ll like him. I offered him use of the barn in exchange for Chase.” Rose grinned.
“Who’s Chase?” I asked, wondering if Rose was being vague on purpose.
Rose sighed, “He’s the kid taking care of the horses. Max is paying him to come take care of Ace and Lightning while he builds his barn. Plus Chase said he’d take care of Pumpkin for me too. Chase likes Pumpkin.”
“Why does this guy Max own a horse and no barn?”
“He’s got wolves.” She replied, like I should already be aware of this. “Look I’m not comfortable with you staying here alone all winter.”
“So you’re bringing people into my vacation I don’t know!” I was starting to growl now. “Rose I have a video cam on my computer to talk to my family, Killer, Lightning, now Pumpkin, and a truck. I won’t be isolated up here.”
“You’ll like Max and Chase,” she humphed, putting her foot down. “Subject closed!” She stomped out of the barn.
I blew out a breath and rubbed Aces nose. Ace gave me the impression he was a top breed horse, but I don’t know much about horses. He stood tall with a mix of gray and white hair, white mane and tail. Gorgeous.
I frowned, my first day here and already I was becoming stressed. I closed my eyes, rolled my shoulders and relaxed by picturing his owner as a short, pudgy, balding, middle aged man, who needed wolves, and a gorgeous horse to feed his ego. I smiled and held on to the image.
Lightning’s my horse. She’s in the stall across from Ace. She’s a sleek black female with four white socks, black mane, and a black tail. I think she’s a mutt. She doesn’t carry the same princely demeanor as Ace. I adopted her down in Hurley because I wanted a sweet horse to ride up here. I grabbed a brush, stepped into her stall, and started brushing her, wondering again what had come over Rose.
“Woof!” I snapped out of my zone, put away the brush, and went to make sure Killer wasn’t killing Pumpkin. Nope, he still had his eye’s glued to her, but now his tail thumped on the hay strewn floor. I glanced up at the cat. Not to upset. Good.
“Come on Killer, I suppose we should get ready to meet Bear.”