Hey all! I’m behind on putting up the story. Sorry about that! I also decided it would help you if I told you each week what part you were about to read. This is part 3. Enjoy!
Cullen froze under her fingertips, but didn’t pull away. She didn’t prepare him or hold back. “Your sister’s name was Elaine. You have another sibling. A brother.”
“Yes. That’s all correct,” Cullen said, his voice hushed and surprised.
She didn’t look at him, but at a spot on the wall across the rotunda, keeping her concentration on what she saw. “Elaine had long blond hair. “She was petite. Much shorter than I. Delicate features and sad blue eyes. She looks like your mother.”
“Yes.” Cullen’s voice was strained. “All of that is right.”
She dared glance up at him, saw the grief transforming his features, and she snatched her hand away.
“You could feel that even with a glove on?” Cullen asked, his eyes haunted with shadows.
“Yes.” Edie said. She knew what she must do for him and his sister. She turned to her grandfather. “I need to talk to Cullen alone.”
Her grandfather twisted his gray mustache and puffed out his chest a little. His mouth tightened with disapproval. “I hardly think that’s appropriate.”
Edie didn’t have time for her grandfather’s usual overprotectiveness. “It’s all right. Mr. Moynahan is clearly a gentleman.”
At least Grandfather trusted her insights enough not to argue, and with a last look, he nodded and headed for the door. “I’ll be outside when you’re finished.”
She turned back to Cullen and smiled. “We need somewhere we can talk. Alone.”
He drew in a deep breath. “As you wish.”
“Why don’t we go outside and take a walk?”
A smile brightened his face. “Let’s walk toward the graveyard, if that’s all right with you.”
“After you.” She walked along with him as he headed toward the back of the building.
They exited from the back door, and when they stepped into the fresh air, she breathed a deep sigh of relief. Just ahead another large building stood alone, and they continued their walk toward the woods beyond that building.
He stopped halfway to the graveyard and turned toward her. “Forgive me, Miss Jones. What I know about mediums could fill a thimble. I guess you could say I’m like everyone else in my ignorance. My parents think this whole idea is a flimflam.”
“They think mediums are a humbug?”
He gave a half-hearted smile. “Yes. My father said maybe I was the one going insane now that my sister is dead.”
“I’m sorry you’re facing that attitude. I’m used to people thinking I’m a charlatan. What made you contact me?”
“I’ve always believed in science, Miss Jones. But I also know there is more out there we can’t explain. You seemed the most legitimate medium I could find.”
Gratified, she nodded. “I’m glad. That I can help, I mean.”
Now that they’d stopped walking, she craned her neck to see him. Irritated by the hat, she removed the hatpins and slipped the huge disk off her head.
“There.” She patted her pompadour and held on to the big hat with her other hand. “Much better. I hate these ridiculous fashions. Pretty soon the hats will be as large as dirigibles.”
He chuckled, and the laughter banished the sadness in his eyes. “I agree. It’s not too sunny for your skin?”
She glanced up at the bright day. “Not yet. Come on, let’s enter that graveyard.”
As they reached the gravestones, he came to a halt, as if reluctant to go further. “I can’t thank you enough for coming to Tranquil View Asylum.”
She lifted one eyebrow. “You’re welcome.”
“I’ve had some strange experiences here at the asylum. I’ve seen ghosts.”
“You’re a man of science you said.”
“Yes. I’m an architect in Denver.”
“Then it is very extraordinary that you’re admitting to seeing phantoms.” She paused and then said, “My grandfather said your father worked here.”
“Yes. He is a doctor. He left his position here after my sister ….” He drifted off, the sadness in his eyes back again. “A few of the staff here tried to tell my father that they saw my sister here. Her ghost after she died.”
“You believed others when they said they saw her?”
“I wasn’t sure. I want to believe she’s here somewhere. On the other hand, I don’t want her to suffer. I don’t want her to linger if she could be in heaven.”
Concern almost made her reach out for him again, but she refrained. She said, “She was a dear young woman. Kind to everyone despite all she suffered here at the asylum.”
“That’s right.” A light breeze ruffled his hair, and he jammed his fingers through it. “I tried to convince my parents not to send her here in the first place.”
“May I ask what was wrong with her?”
“She was rebellious. My parents didn’t like it. Father convinced my mother they needed to break her of it and put her in here.”
“Oh, my God.” She put one hand to her mouth and closed her eyes for a moment. “How terrible. You didn’t approve and tried to get her released. You visited her as often as you could.”
His eyes were moist with unshed tears, and the sight of such grief on such a strong man made her want to weep herself.
“I visited at least twice a month. She was my baby sister. Ten years younger than me. She would have been twenty-one this year.”
Agony resided inside this man, and if she could give him peace, she would. She’d never felt this drawn to a man before on short acquaintance.
Coming up next week is part 4.