Home > Until Harry(6)

Until Harry(6)
Author: L.A. Casey

Things were rosy right now because I was home, and my family were glad to see me, but it didn’t change the fact that we had problems. There was a reason I’d only spoken to my uncle. He was the only person who didn’t threaten me or guilt me into coming home; everyone else did with no remorse.

They didn’t understand that I needed to be away from home. They knew why I needed to be away – they just didn’t get why. My decision to leave abruptly ended day-to-day communications between us. It sucked not speaking to them. I missed them terribly, but I was just as stubborn as my family and fought their anger and hurt with my own. It resulted in a barrier of silence that only my uncle’s death had been able to break through.

I leaned my head back against Layton’s shoulder and hummed with content when he leaned his head on mine. “God,” I murmured, “I missed you, Lay.”

He kissed the crown of my head. “Missed you too, darling.”

I snuggled into him and listened to everyone as they spoke about mundane things. I made a point not to look at Kale, who was on the far end of the sofa, well away from me. I didn’t need to look at him to know he was there, though. I could feel his presence. I was always aware of when he was close by; it was like my body had a sixth sense designed specifically for him.

I glanced to the sitting room door when the blonde woman and her brunette friend I met upon entering my parents’ house walked by and out of the house, closing the door behind them.

“Who are they?” I inquired, finding it bizarre that two strangers were just walking around the house like it was nobody’s business.

Layton turned his head and said, “Samantha Wright is the brunette, and Ally Day is the blonde.”

I knew the second girl’s name – I was sure I did. I thought about it for a minute, and then like the snap of my fingers, the name clicked in my head. I blinked and stared around the room dumbly.

“Ally Day?” I quizzed. “The Ally Day who convinced me, along with her evil friend, that I was fat and ugly when I was younger . . . that Ally Day?”

Everyone froze as they looked at me.

“People change, Lane,” Layton murmured, making sure to keep his arm tightly around me, like he was afraid I would bolt. “She’s not the mean girl she was when she was a kid.”

Was that supposed to be comforting? I angrily thought.

I swallowed the sudden lump that formed in my throat. “You didn’t suffer like I did because of her and Anna O’Leary,” I said, fighting to keep composure. “I was self-conscious for a long time because of those two. Do you know how many times I wished I looked like anyone other than myself just so I could feel like a regular girl?”

I was met with silence, so I balled my hands into fists as annoyance filled me.

“Why the hell was she even here?” I snapped, feeling exasperated they would even let her into the house after the hurt she caused me.

My nanny sighed. “She works for me, in the café.”

Stunned speechless, I could not get past my incredulity over what I was hearing.

“Lane,” my nanny prompted when I stared at her blankly, blinking. “Are you okay?”

I couldn’t respond to that in a way that wouldn’t have her smacking me around the head.

“So you’re recruiting staff from the forces of evil?” I asked, staring icily. “Nice, Nanny, real nice.”

My nanny brooded in silence, and it gave me some much-needed time to think. I couldn’t believe I didn’t recognise Ally at first. The last time I’d seen her was when we left secondary school nearly a decade ago. I heard she’d moved to London, but she was obviously back in York and working in my nanny’s café of all places!

I loved that café, and now it would forever feel tainted to me.

“Do I know the brunette?” I questioned, my jaw set.

“Yeah,” Lochlan answered me with a snarky tone. “She was in your school year, but you never hung around with her. She works in Nanny’s café too. They are our friends.”

I couldn’t remember a Samantha Wright, so I didn’t dwell on her; instead, I focused on Ally bloody Day.

“I just can’t believe you’re all friendly with Ally Day. Do you invite Anna O’Leary over for tea on the weekends too?” I sarcastically asked.

My father clucked his tongue at me. “You sound like a child, Lane.”

He was right; I was being bratty and rude. It was uncalled for and not needed, but I was hurt they could just forget what Ally had done to me. They’d seen first-hand what I’d gone through because of her; I didn’t understand how they could just get over that.

I glowered at him. “Good thing you only have to put up with me for a few days then, isn’t it?”

It was a low blow, throwing my departure in his face when I’d just arrived, but I couldn’t help it. It slipped out before I could stop myself.

“What do you mean a few days?” my mother snapped, speaking for the first time since we embraced in the parlour. “When are you leaving?”

I avoided direct eye contact with her as I softly muttered, “Sunday night.”

“Lane!” my family bellowed in unison.

I guess we’re over pleasantries.

“I have to go back,” I countered, trying to defend myself. “I have to work!”

“You’re a freelance editor,” Lochlan growled, barely able to hold his sitting position on the sofa. “Once you have Internet access, you’re solid to work wherever you are!”

I couldn’t think of anything to say in response because he was right, so I remained quiet.

“Lane,” my nanny said. “Kitchen. Now.”

I watched as my nanny got up and walked out of the sitting room, her body tensing with each step she took. “Crap,” I grumbled as I got to my feet and followed her into the kitchen, my eyes cast downward. I felt like I was little again, and she was about to tell me off.

I entered the kitchen and saw she was already seated at the kitchen table, so I walked over and sat across from her. I clasped my hands together on the surface of the table in front of me and stared down at them with intent.

“You’re me granddaughter, and I love ye with all me heart,” my nanny started, “but sometimes I want ta just whack ye with a common-sense stick right across that beautiful head of yours.”

Trust my nanny to keep things real.

“I’m sorry,” I said, hoping it would dampen her burning temper.

“Sorry isn’t good enough,” she clipped, then lowered her voice. “Me baby died, Lane. Your uncle died . . . and ye just want ta up and leave a day after we put ’im to rest? That’s not me grandbaby – she wouldn’t do that.”

Your grandbaby died a long time ago, a cruel voice in my head taunted.

Burning pain filled my chest. I glanced up to my nanny before quickly looking away from her aged but still graceful face. I saw my Uncle Harry when I looked at her; they shared the same aqua-blue eyes, high cheekbones and button nose. My brothers and I had inherited the very same features too.

“I can’t stay here,” I murmured, and took another glimpse up at her. “You know why.”

My nanny shook her head, disappointment crossing her features. “That’s not good enough, and ye bloody well know it,” she remarked. “Ye have ta act like the twenty-six-year-old woman ye are and push your issues with Kale ta the side and focus on Harry. He doesn’t deserve ta be pushed aside, Lane. You of all people know that.”

I felt horrible as I let what my nanny said sink in. I really did deserve to be whacked around with a common-sense stick. How could I have ever thought my leaving right away would be a good idea for anybody? My family would be heartbroken, and so would I.

I couldn’t be here and remain sane, but I couldn’t leave either without losing my mind, so close after my uncle’s death. I didn’t win either way, but the latter meant my conscience would be clear.

“I’ll . . . you’re right,” I acknowledged. “Uncle Harry deserves more than a brush-off. I’ll stay longer. I’ll help with whatever needs helping. I promise.”

My nanny reached over and took my hands in hers, rubbing her fingertips back and forth over my knuckles.

“Ye can help me and your ma clear out his house after we meet with his solicitor on Monday,” she said, sighing. “We have so much ta sort through, but we have ta hear the contents of Harry’s will before we can start a clean-out.”

I blinked, dumbly. “Uncle Harry had a will?”

My nanny nodded. “Yeah, we all have a will, silly.”

I don’t, I thought.

My nanny snorted at my facial expression. “By ‘all’ I mean Harry, your parents, and me . . . because we’re old and can kick it at any given time.”

“Nanny!” I choked. “Don’t talk like that. You aren’t going anywhere.”

I hoped not, anyway. My heart couldn’t handle it if anyone else were to die.

My nanny smiled lovingly at me as she reached out and brushed her fingertips over my knuckles once more. She did this to me often when I was younger to relax me, and it seemed to still have a calming effect on me. It was nice to know that hadn’t changed.

I remained silent for a few moments, but when I looked back at my nanny, I saw she was gazing at me. “What is it?” I inquired.

She blinked and without missing a beat she said, “I want ye home every Christmas.”

Not a question. Not a request. A demand.

I sat motionless. “Nanny—”

“I don’t want an excuse,” she said sternly. “I want your word ye will come home every Christmas. I can’t go on with me granddaughter being on the other side of the world and never seein’ ’er. Me heart can’t take the pain and longin’ anymore.”

I gasped in dismay. “Oh, God! Is your heart okay?” I asked, terrified.

“Me heart is fine,” she assured me, “but it won’t be in the future unless ye come back home every Christmas.”

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