If you missed chapter 1 you can read it here
“Do you mind telling me why?” He asked as he rubbed the back of his neck that must have gotten stiff from the computer work he’d been doing all day.
“Uh… research project,” I responded with the first reasonable answer that came to mind. It made sense considering I was taking an online college English course thanks to Liam’s coaxing.
He had once seen a short story that I had submitted to the Crystal Harbor Harold just for fun. “Adeline this is fantastic!” He had raved. Have you ever thought about getting a degree in English? You’d be able to get a much higher position at the library and do a lot more work with the kids.
“Oh, I don’t think so.” I had said, flattered by his compliment. There’s so much for me to do for the church and it’s been almost a decade since I graduated high school. I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with college work”
“Stop limiting yourself Adeline!” he had said with a tone of frustration. “Someone like you can make a huge impact. I’m talking about more than just your little church and this community. But you’ll never know the amount of good that you can do if you limit yourself out of fear.”
He was so passionate when he spoke that I agreed to sign up for one class. I wondered with concern if there was anything he couldn’t convince me to do. I quickly shook the thought out of my head. Liam had only ever encouraged me to be my best. He had gone back to school himself to get an advanced degree in folklore and mythology. When I asked him what he planned to do with a degree like that, he just smiled cryptically, “personal interest” was all he had said and then busied himself shelving more books.
“This should get you started,” Liam said as he dropped a stack of books on the desk, jolting me back to the present. I thought he would go right back to his office but instead, he sat down beside me and looked me square in the eyes. “Now, do you want to tell me what this is really about?”
Damn, I hated it when he did that! It was as if those eyes could see down into my soul. He could always tell when someone wasn’t being truthful. Oh well, maybe it was a good idea to tell him, I pondered. With his deep knowledge of folklore, he could probably tell me more about witches than any of these books.
He stayed silent and expressionless as I told him the story of Jane’s misfortune, how it all happened after Tim’s ex-wife came into town and how now David was sick with the same mysterious symptoms that took the life of his father. “I know it sounds crazy but I believe Jane and I promised I’d try to find a way to help her. Although I have no idea how to do that…”
“Well you’re right about one thing Adeline, it does sound crazy.” He said bluntly. “I know how kind you are and that you only wanted to make her feel better but validating this woman’s delusions is not doing her or her son any favors.”
“But I didn’t just say it to make her feel better. I really do believe her! It’s too much of a coincidence…” My voice trailed off and cracked as I tried to make my point. I hated that I could never keep my emotions from coming to the surface.
“Adeline I’m surprised at you. Now which do you think is more likely: Jane came up with this story in her mind to try to find some meaning behind her husband’s death, and the fact that David caught the flu from him has sent her into a panic making this scenario in her head seem even more real, or that a wicked witch has flown into our town casting some sort of death curses?”
I could feel my face getting red hot. I didn’t want him to see how frustrated I was, so I just looked away. He sat there a moment longer and then got up and went back to his office. I felt so humiliated. Next to Dean, I valued Liam’s opinion more than anyone’s. I thought that he had valued mine too
I sighed and tried to focus on any useful information I could find in the books he had brought over. I read as much as I could between helping library visitors. Before I knew it, the last person had left and it was time to close up. Liam’s office light was off. He must have left early without saying goodbye. “Jerk,” I mumbled to myself as I put on my coat and locked up.
The cold fall air hit me as I walked down the steps from the library to make my way home. I squinted and saw Liam walking about half a block ahead of me. I was about to yell at him to wait up so we could walk together but then I noticed that he didn’t make his usual turn down Maple Street where he lived.
“Where are you going?” I wondered under my breath as I looked at my watch. I still had quite a bit of time before Dean would be home for dinner. My curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to follow him.
After about five minutes my curiosity turned to anger as I realized his destination. Liam walked right up to Evelyn’s Antique Shop and went inside.
“You rotten liar!” I whispered to myself as I followed close behind him.
I opened the door and stepped inside the charming antique shop. A little bell jingled announcing my entrance. I could see Liam a few feet away with his back turned, thoroughly examining a shelf of old books.
“Anything I can help you with today?” The redhead at the counter asked. This must be Evelyn. She looked to be in her early 40s. With her frizzy red hair pulled back in a ponytail and oversized grey sweater, she wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I had imagined.
“Oh no thank you. I’m just browsing.”
I could see Liam’s body stiffen at the sound of my voice. He waited a few seconds before glancing at me. His face had turned pale but the look in his eyes was of red-hot rage. Funny that he thought he was the one who had the right to be angry.
I gave him my sweetest smile as I raised my eyebrows, challenging him to say something. He shook his head and turned back to the old books.
It wasn’t until an elderly couple walked in and started chatting with Evelyn that he moved towards me. He grabbed my wrist tightly and pulled me around the corner so that we were out of sight from the register where Evelyn was standing. He held me against the wall firmly as he glared. “Why did you follow me?!” He whispered.
“Why did you lie and pretend you didn’t believe me?” I shot back. I tried to move out of his grasp but his hands held tightly to my shoulders. “You made me feel like an idiot!” I bit my lip as I knew that came out louder than I intended. Liam frowned and glanced around the corner to make sure I hadn’t attracted attention. Evelyn must have stayed at the register because he turned back to me, his eyes still blazing.
He leaned in so close that I could smell his musky aftershave and feel the stubble of his cheek against mine as he whispered in my ear, making sure I could hear every word. “I don’t give a damn that I made you feel bad, Adeline. And I don’t care that I bruised your precious little ego. NOTHING about this whole situation is safe for you and keeping you safe is ALL that I care about!”
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