TITLE: The Gear'd Heart
The clouds thickened as Keira picked her way down the muddy slope toward the grotto. Not the best day for a walk, but the chilly halls of the abbey, quiet with most of the students already departed for the winter holidays, made her restless. Especially since the arrival of the telegram.
She tightened her fist, the damp paper crumpling in her fingers. The envelope was unopened, but she knew what it would say. Da has business to take care of. Perhaps he had been called away suddenly, perhaps his investigation was more complex than he first thought. She’d had every variation of theme before and the actual words this time made little difference.
The fog tangled around the abbey spires curled down the hillside as she reached the grotto, a few heavy drops of rain splattering against the overhang. Keira settled on the stone kneeler, her back to the carved figure of Meta, Mother of All, and tore open the wrinkled envelope. The letters on the slip of paper inside were damp-blurred, but still legible.
From: P. Laine, London, Britain
To: K. Fennel, Spinners Abbey, Ballaghaderreen, Eire
Have been delayed on business. Matter is urgent. Cannot predict when return to Eire is possible. Apologies. Much love.
Keira rubbed her forehead. Sod. Da always had a good reason for his absence, but it never softened the ache of one more year passed at a distance or the holidays cut short.
“I thought I might find you here, Fennel.” The voice was instantly and uncomfortably familiar.