Read Assumptions Online

Authors: C.E. Pietrowiak

Tags: #angel, #assumptions, #catholic, #chicago, #death, #emerson and quig, #ghost, #high school, #loss, #novella, #paranormal, #saint, #saint ita, #supernatural romance, #suspense, #twilight

Assumptions (14 page)

BOOK: Assumptions
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Jordyn let the dart fly. It landed in red,
near the seven. She threw two more.

Deirdre clapped. "Very good. You did
double-in. Our turn." She handed Will three darts. He threw. The
first landed in the wall.

"Aim for the
center
." Jordyn reminded
Will.

“Got it.” He crinkled his brow in
concentration and scored a total of two.

Oisin threw three quick darts and scored
twenty-two. Deirdre, six. Jordyn, nineteen.

"I thought you hadn't played before, Quig,"
said Will.

"She’s a natural," said Oisin.

"Yeah, right," grumbled Will. He scored
seven, his third dart bouncing off the chalkboard where they kept
score. He shrugged at Deirdre. "I'm not sure we'll ever get to
zero."

The gap widened with each turn.

On stage, the band played tune after tune,
traditional and not, each more vibrant than the last. Deirdre poked
her head out of the room. "Looks like the party’s moving to the
front. It's almost time for the ceili dances. We should call it a
game."

Will sighed. "There is mercy."

Deirdre took Will’s hand. "Always."

The four of them found a place amongst the
crowd in front of the stage. In a gravelly brogue, the fiddle
player announced the ceili dance. "We'll be starting with the
"Siege of Ennis." Most of you know it. If you don't, just follow
along best you can."

The music started. The dancers formed lines
and skipped forward and back and through each others’ arms, always
leaving Jordyn a step or two behind. At the end of the dance, she
fanned herself with both hands. "I need some water."

Oisin took her hand. "Come with me."

They found an empty booth tucked into the
corner of the room. On three sides, it was paneled floor to ceiling
in rough-hewn pine. Thick velvet curtains hung down the sides of
the open end. Inside, the sound of the crowd, though they were very
near, faded to a low murmur.

"Wait here," said Oisin.

He returned with two glasses of water. They
sat and caught their breath. On the index finger of his left hand,
he wore a pewter ring with an intertwining knot at the center of a
circle.

"That knot, on your ring. It's the same as on
the door," said Jordyn.

Oisin looked at his hand. "It is. I've had it
a long time."

"What does it mean?"

"It's an ancient symbol. Some say it
represents past, present, and future. And the circle, it represents
unbreakable unity." Oisin reached across the table and traced the
rhinestones on Jordyn’s t-shirt.

The band stopped playing. The fiddle player
spoke. "We'll be taking a break, now. I'm told the dining room
table is still full of good food. Enjoy! We'll be back shortly."
The party guests, and the noise, migrated down the hall.

“Would you like more to eat?” asked
Oisin.

“I’m not really hungry. But you should go. If
you want.”

“No. Thanks. There’ll be plenty left for
later.”

They sat together in the quiet room until
Jordyn slid out of the booth. She smiled sideways then half-skipped
to the front of the stage. She climbed up and sat on the edge, feet
dangling. Oisin followed, stopping squarely in front of her. He put
his hands in his front pockets and shrugged.

Jordyn laughed. “That dance was fun. Maybe
next time I won’t trip over everyone else’s feet so much.”

“It’s easy once you get the steps.” Oisin
lifted her down from the stage and went behind the bar to turn on
some music. When he returned, he led her to the center of the
floor, stepped a few feet away, and turned to face her. “Now,
follow me,” he directed. “You’ll be holding hands with the person
beside you. Like this.” He held his hand up near the side of his
face and took the hand of his imaginary partner. Jordyn snickered
then straightened up and mirrored his movement.

“OK, now. Listen for the beat.” He counted
down, “Four, three, two, advance, advance.”

Jordyn stutter stepped to catch up. They
skipped toward each other.

“Retreat, retreat,” Oisin called. “Again.”
They skipped forward and back. “Now side step, side step, hold,
hold, side step, side step, advance and turn." The music stopped.
They finished the last steps of the dance to his call. Oisin
applauded his approval. “And I still have all of my toes.”

The band took the stage. The drummer beat a
large, flat drum cradled in his arm, the rhythm slow, the sound
deep. The fiddle began to weep.

A few people trickled in from the dining
room, quietly settling at tables or standing at the bar.

"I guess we’re done," said Jordyn, looking
for an empty table.

Oisin held out his hand. “May I?”

Jordyn smiled. “Why not?”

Oisin wrapped his arm around her waist and
pulled her close. A woman began to sing, her voice fragile against
the haunting melody.

“What is this song?” whispered Jordyn.


The Wexford Carol
. It tells part of
the Christmas story. The angels appear to the shepherds. The
shepherds are afraid. The angels tell them to go to Bethlehem where
a blessed child has been born. So they go and, in great joy, find
their Messiah as had been foretold."

They danced to the rest of the song, its
story unfolding in music, until the room was again quiet.

Deirdre and Will came down the hallway, heads
together, chatting like best friends. "There you are," said Will.
"Thought we lost you. I have our coats. It’s late, we should
go."

Jordyn stepped away from Oisin. "Thanks for
the lesson.”

Oisin smiled warmly. "I'll walk you out." The
band began to play a raucous pub song. The four of them pushed
through the crowd out onto the street in front of Molly’s.

The sky was clear and black.

Jordyn hugged herself. “It’s so cold in this
town.”

Will looked at her. "Told you.” Will giddily
went on, “but, the upside is that Quig has learned to make a
perfect cup of hot cocoa."

“Now you're just giving me grief,
Emerson."

"No. It's true."

Jordyn grinned at him. "It is pretty good if
I do say so, myself."

Oisin chimed in, "Humble, isn't she?"

"Have you met this girl?" said Will.

Jordyn sneered. "I work at it, you know. It’s
the best . . . I’m telling you.”

"That sounds worth trying," said Oisin.

"Okay, no need for you to get smart, too,"
said Jordyn.

"Honestly, I'm not," said Oisin.

She looked him over. “You really aren't, are
you? Okay, I'll play. Wednesday after next? After
Thanksgiving.”

"I’m game," said Will.

Deirdre interrupted. "Will, you promised to
help me with that essay that week." She glared at him.

"Oh, right. Sorry, Quig. Busy."

"Guess it’s just me then," said Oisin.

"Okay. How’s eight?"

"Perfect." Oisin stepped into the street and
hailed a cab. He held the door as Jordyn climbed into the back seat
of the yellow sedan.

"Get in, Emerson. I'll drop you on the
way."

Will jumped in and closed the door. Jordyn
gave the driver directions and the cab pulled away. She looked out
the window. "The stars are bright tonight."

"So what was that all about?" asked Will.

"What?"

"I don't know. You. Oisin."

"Nothing."

Will watched her looking up at the sky.

"Stop looking at me like that," said Jordyn.
"It's nothing."

"Whatever you say, Quig."

"Me and guys are definitely not a good
idea."

"What about me?"

"Oh, don’t be a goof. You’re different."

"I’m beginning to feel a little hurt." He
stuck out his lower lip in an exaggerated pout.

"Stop it."

He pushed his lip out more. Jordyn slugged
him on the arm.

"Ouch.” He rubbed the sore spot. “So, sweet
sixteen and never been kissed."

"That’s a cliché." Jordyn looked out the cab
window. "Well, yeah."

"Really?"

"What’s that supposed to mean?"

"Well, I just thought . . . "

"What about you?"

"I’ve kissed girls." He bit off the edge of a
broken fingernail. "Well, just one. Last summer. On the dig. Her
name was Yehudit, a professor’s daughter. Her hair was long and
soft and she always smelled like flowers, even in the dirt." He
smiled at the memory. "I almost forgot about that."

"Sounds nice, Emerson."

"So, you like him?"

The cab stopped in front of Will's
building.

"Here’s your stop," said Jordyn. "Get out and
stop bothering me." She grinned.

"See you tomorrow, Quig." He closed the
door.

Jordyn directed the driver. “Can you take
Lake Shore to Fullerton, please?”

"Lovely tonight," said the driver as he drove
along the lake, glassy and dark as the night sky above.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: GONE

 

Will enjoyed the ease of Saturday mornings.
He stayed in bed an hour past his alarm. Jordyn wouldn't be over
until eleven.

He prayed under the warmth of his blanket,
figuring God would forgive his sloth on such a chilly morning. He
snoozed his alarm fifteen minutes more. When the radio went on he
forced himself out of bed.

Will had just swallowed the last bite of his
biscuit when Jordyn buzzed.

"Hey, Emerson. It's me."

"Come on up. I’ll leave the door open. I'm
going to get the file. Meet you in the study."

Jordyn shut the apartment door behind her.
She met Will at the study door. "Want me to call again?"

"I'll do it this time." Will dialed the
number.

The line rang once and popped into the
voicemail system. "The subscriber you are trying to reach has
exceeded the maximum capacity of this mailbox. Please try your call
again later."

Will hung up. "Voicemail's full." He sat and
leafed through the file. "I don't see anything else here that would
help. What now?"

"Are you sure there wasn't anything else in
the envelope?"

"Nothing. Check for yourself."

Jordyn took the envelope and shook it upside
down. She opened it wide and felt inside, pushing her fingers to
the corners, feeling for anything. On the back of the envelope she
felt something rough. She looked inside. There was nothing. She
thought for a moment. "Can I have a pencil?" she asked Will.

"Why?"

"Just an idea."

Will found a pencil in the side table drawer.
"Here."

Jordyn lightly rubbed the edge of the
graphite over the envelope. "Look at that. All those leaf rubbings
in third grade were actually useful."

Will craned to see. "What is it?"

"An address."

"Is it Stillman's?"

"I don't know, but it's in Chicago. I say we
find out."

Will put on his coat and they went
downstairs.

"What's the address?" asked Will.

"It's on Lakewood."

"That's not far. We can walk."

The address took them to a brick courtyard
building with three wings.

“Can I see the envelope?” said Will. “No
apartment number. Maybe there’s a manager.”

They found the intercom button marked
‘Office’ and rang.

A woman answered. "Yeah." Her toddler
screamed in the background.

“We're looking for Mr. Stillman. Timothy
Stillman," said Jordyn.

"Hold on. I’ll meet you out front."

She came to the door, a baby with ruddy
cheeks dressed in fuzzy yellow feet pajamas on her hip. "I was
wondering if someone else would come," she said.

"What do you mean?" asked Will.

"He left so suddenly. I thought something
must be wrong." She looked Jordyn up and down. "He your dad or
something?"

"No. Nothing like that," said Jordyn. "We're
working on a paper. For school. Mr. Stillman just has some
information we need."

"Information? That’s what the other guy
said."

"Other guy?" asked Will.

"Oh, yeah. He came looking for Mr. Stillman.
None too happy, either. I didn't tell him anything. Not like I know
where he went, anyway. Here one day, gone the next. He’d only just
come back. Now I have to find someone to rent the place. At least I
have his deposit."

"What did he look like? The man that stopped
by?" asked Jordyn.

"Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. Honey, I have
three kids and tenants coming and going at all hours. Memory isn’t
what it used to be. Wish I could help, but if it isn't important it
just doesn't stick, know what I'm saying?" The baby began to fuss.
"I gotta get my kid back in."

"Thanks," said Will.

The apartment manager stopped in the doorway.
“Oh, and there was this other guy who came by before Mr. Stillman
left. Real nice kid. Not much older than you two. Stopped to ask me
how it was going. Told me to have a good day. And he actually meant
it. Funny about that, how one comment can completely change your
mood. Know what I mean?” The apartment manager took her baby
inside.

Will frowned. He and Jordyn walked out of the
courtyard. Halfway down the block, Will stopped in the middle of
the sidewalk.

"What's wrong, Emerson?"

"You heard her. Someone else was looking for
Stillman. Someone else is looking for this thing."

"So? Nobody knows you have it."

"Pritchard does."

"You think it's him?"

"He saw the file. Stillman's name is there.
Maybe he's doing the same thing we are."

"Even so, what would he do?"

"I don't know. You didn't see him. He's not .
. . thinking clearly . . . he's not thinking."

"You can't give up now."

"No. You're wrong. I can." Will stormed
off.

"Emerson?"

"I need to be alone." Will turned the
corner.

He walked a few blocks and found himself in
the church courtyard standing before Ita. He crossed himself and
knelt.

"I know you'll help me make the best choice.
Just tell me what to do. I don't know what to do."

BOOK: Assumptions
8.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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