Before I continue with the story I should point out a few things. One, I’m not giving this to my Beta to read, and although I have gone through it, I’ve noticed that a few mistakes crept into the previous post. There’s a reason I have a Second Reader on my cyber payroll. Secondly, I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but English is my second language. There might be some remedial mistakes in that you consider to be common sense, which, well, isn’t to me. Normally these are fixed by my Beta but, lol, again, I’m not using him this time. All I ask, is for you to be kind. lol. Or, you don’t even need to be kind, just be aware. 😉
On a quick note – Siobhan is an irish name, pronounced shevaughn. Vaughn is a nickname. 😉 I see there’s some confusion.
Now, on with the show.
Bitten Part 2.
What has come before…
She liked her the moment she saw her. She couldn’t help herself.
The people at the store had described her as “that crazy old woman on the mountain,” but – as she looked at Francis Mosse – she realized that they must be mistaken.
No older than her middle forties, Francis Mosse stood an average height, with dark, long black hair, flecked with gray, and green eyes that seemed to shine in the afternoon sun. She wore an old, hand knitted jersey with faded jeans and seemed almost puzzled at her appearance. She had not spoken yet, her eyes focused on Vaughn as she tried to find her place in the universe.
Vaughn mentally shook herself awake and smiled, shifting the box that she was holding to her hip so that she could offer her hand to the woman. She herself was shorter than average, with mousy coloured hair she chose to dye brunette and brown eyes to match.
“Hi Ms. Mosse,” she said cheerfully. “I’m Siobhan. I’ve come with your groceries. From Antonio’s.”
Francis blinked twice before she turned her attention to the truck behind Siobhan. She shuddered, but where Vaughn had expected a frown to be her next course of action, she smiled suddenly and took her hand.
“You’re early,” she said, her hands warm. “And new. Hallo. I’m sorry I’m…” She glanced behind her. “In the middle of something.” There was a lilt in her voice that Vaughn couldn’t place, not an accent exactly, but a way of speaking that marked her as unique. “Please, come in. Get warm. I just… need to save my work then I’ll help you.”
She turned without waiting for Vaughn to follow, leaving the door open. Vaughn followed her quickly and closed the door behind her, not wanting the let out the heat in the snug wooden cabin.
Francis Mosse lived a hermit’s life, a few hours drive from civilization. If one looked at a map, it didn’t seem as far as one would think, but the road was a dangerous one, only accessible by a 4×4, of the biological or mechanical sort. Siobhan used the latter, a trusty Toyota Hilux pick up that belonged to her employer. She knew from rumour, although she had not seen it, that Francis used the former in the form of a horse.
Two months before though, Francis and her steed had both had a NaSty fall and, although the animal was fine, the older woman had fractured her tibia. It made both riding and driving a very uncomfortable experience and she had elected to have her groceries and mail delivered until the season turned. When Vaughn started working for Antonio’s two weeks ago, people had been all to glad to give her the duty of driving up the mountain. She had expected a lot from Ms. Mosse because of their reluctance to come here, but so far all of her suspicions proved to be incorrect.
“You don’t have to keep standing by the door!” Francis called in from the room she had disappeared into. “Please, come in. I see you have my mail? You can put it anywhere on the floor.”
Feeling a rush of welcome, Vaughn quickly put the box by the door and bend down to untie her boots. They were covered in mud, a remnant from the bad weather that they had been having. Her boss had told her to come up early, anticipating more bad weather for the week to come when they were actually supposed to have come. She couldn’t understand why he hadn’t just phoned ahead and warned the woman.
“Do you want coffee or tea?” Francis appeared in the doorway, having tied back her hair, and once again looked at Vaughn, her green eyes bright with anticipation. “This is to say, you’ll have to drink it black or with goats milk.”
Vaughn couldn’t help herself. “You have goats?” she queried to which Francis smiled.
“Yes,” she said and went to the kitchen, moving with a slight limp. “And a few chickens. I’m normally very self sustained, but,” she shrugged and touched her leg, “things haven’t worked out this season and it’s too late now to try and fix it.” She smiled. “So, are you new here?”
Vaughn hesitantly followed her to the kitchen, realizing that this was where all the heat came from. It was a homey room, with an old weathered table and an Aga Stove on the side. There was a running fridge, though Vaughn couldn’t see how it worked because she’s seen no indication of any other power in the house, and a few other kitchen utensils. Francis kept a tidy work space and she seemed to know exactly where everything was. Then again, Vaughn thought, if you live alone in a place, you are the only one who could move things about.
Remembering that she had been asked a question, she quickly cleared her throat and smiled.
“Ah, yes,” she replied hesitantly. “I’m new. To Antonio’s and town. I only arrived three weeks ago.”
Francis, who had been pouring water from a kettle on the Aga, hesitated and glanced at her, amusement flickering across her visage. “I see,” she said and turned back to making their hot drinks. “Haven’t succumbed to rumour then have you?”
Not quite following her, Vaughn frowned and shrugged. “I haven’t heard any rumours.” She stated in general. “You mean, about you?”
Not looking at her, Francis smiled though it seemed sad, and brought her a cup of black coffee. “It’s a small town Siobhan,” she said quietly, her voice intense. “Everybody knows everything about everybody here.” She opened the fridge and took out a jug of milk. Pouring some into the one mug, Francis handed it to her, their fingers brushing slightly. Unable to help herself, Vaughn shivered and bit her lip, shrugging uncomfortably at the depressing mood that had filtered into the kitchen unnoticed.
“They don’t know anything about me, Ms Mosse,” she said to her cup. “And, I don’t know anything about you. Just that I have to deliver your groceries every two weeks.”
Francis looked at her and smiled, the depressing feeling lifting immediately when their gazes met. “Good,” she said and briefly touched her shoulder. “Then we can make a fresh start. First of all, you can call me Francis. None of this Ms. Mosse. My surname makes me sound like someone out of Wind in the Willows or Beatrix Potter. Second I…”
Something brushed against Vaughn’s leg, making her jump surprised. Her heart froze immediately as her gaze touched another’s, her brown eyes clashing with a pair of golden orbs staring at her. A dog, no… a wolf had moved in between them, every hair on its back standing up, a low, almost growl vibrating against her leg.
“Romulus!” Francis’ tone snapped with authority. “Go lie down. Down.”
Their gazes broke as the wolf dropped its head and turned towards the Aga. Vaughn took her first breath in what felt like ages, her wild eyes moving up to meet Francis’.
“Is that…?” She couldn’t say it, too shocked by what she saw. Francis’ eyes were kind as she nodded, glancing back to see that her wolf had gone to lie in front of the stove, still staring at them.
“A wolf, yes.” She said quietly. “I wanted to tell you, I have a companion. You shouldn’t be afraid of him, he’s just protective. He won’t do anything unless I ask him to. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t try to attack me, but he’s really a big softy once you get to know him.”
Vaughn couldn’t drag her eyes away from the wolf’s golden orbs. What kind of a life does this woman lead? She found herself thinking as she looked at the creature. And, what rumours were she talking of?
To Be Continued…