Highland Shifter
Page 14

 Catherine Bybee

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“There have been a few things Mr. Dawson and I have seen.”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to scare you, dear. When an old woman starts talking about magic, men in white coats tend to arrive late at night and take her away.”
“I would never have done that.”
“Maybe not you, but others.” Mrs. Dawson leaned forward and patted Helen’s hand. Her weathered, old hand held on as she continued. “The night we found the book, don’t you remember the wind kicking up inside the house?”
“A window blew open.”
Mrs. Dawson actually rolled her eyes and patted Helen’s hand again. “Go look at my windows.”
Helen’s gaze shifted to the wall of windows lining the room.
At the window, Helen touched the modern locks on the double paned glass. “Are the windows in the study the same?”
“Mr. Dawson insisted on replacing everyone in the house to cut our electric bill.”
“Then one must have been opened that night.”
“Helen, I’m an old woman. I wear sweaters when it’s 90 degrees. Do you really think I’d leave a window open?”
Helen glanced beyond the glass to the beautiful garden outside. Mrs. Dawson’s long-stemmed variegated roses were starting to bloom and a deep orange hummingbird stopped at her feeder for a snack. “So what caused the window to open?”
“I’m not certain. My guess is Simon could answer that question.”
Turning on her heel, Helen met Simon’s gaze. He smiled with one corner of his mouth.
“Magic, lass. There are forces at work here driving the events of the past days. Our lives are intertwined, somehow, and it will be up to us to determine why.”
“I thought we were just trying to figure out how to get you home.”
“That, too. There is a reason I’m here. A reason you were looking for me to begin with.”
“I was curious about how a child could disappear without a trace.”
“’Tis more than that.”
“Nope, that was it,” she lied. She didn’t care for how Simon assumed he knew everything going on inside her head. Didn’t want him thinking he could get inside her head.
“Are you sure?”
“Yep.” Helen looked away.
Mrs. Dawson placed her hands on the edge of her chair and started pulling herself to her feet.
Simon jumped to his and assisted her. “Allow me.”
Mrs. Dawson took his arm and didn’t let go. “If there are any answers here, they’ll be in the study. Mr. Dawson collected tomes of work regarding folklore and magic. We were fascinated by the unknown.”
Helen could only watch as Simon listened intently to Mrs. Dawson. Trailing behind the two of them, she was awarded with Simon’s broad back, narrow waist, and perfect ass. An ass she’d seen completely…along with his other fine attributes. He might be arrogant, but as Mrs. Dawson intuitively stated, he was a hottie.
Once inside Mr. Dawson’s study, Helen was once again captivated by the sheer enormity of the room.
The architecture here was filled with floor to ceiling bookshelves, overflowing with books dating back hundreds of years. Thick plush carpets divided the dark mahogany floors. The fireplace filled one wall. Candles stood on top of large decorative spindles making it possible for a reader to finish a novel if the electricity failed. Deep leather chairs dotted the room, adding to the masculine pulse of the space.
Even with the floor to ceiling windows allowing in natural light, the room felt dark. Mr. Dawson collected books and artifacts from libraries throughout Europe and Scotland.
“If there is any hope of finding answers in a book, it will be in here,” Mrs. Dawson announced.
Once Mrs. Dawson was safely deposited in a comfortable chair, Simon stepped up to the first bookcase and ran his hand along the spines stacked on it.
“How did you find the book you lost, lass?”
The sheer number of books made the task of finding a clue overwhelming.
“One night Mrs. Dawson and I were talking about those candlesticks, and I decided to see if there was any reference to them in here. As I started picking through the books, I kept thinking of the picture I had of you as a child.”
“Then the book found her,” Mrs. Dawson added.
“Ahh, I see.” Simon removed a book from the shelf and carefully opened it for inspection. He sighed and replaced it. “This may take more years than I’d care to spend in this century.”
“It is a mountain of books. My husband never could open every one, let alone read them.”
Helen watched as Simon touched a few more. “Do you have any idea what you’re looking for?”
“Of course.”
So cocky.
Helen grunted. He was winging it.
Mrs. Dawson laughed. “I’ll tell Mavis to prepare dinner. I think you’ll both be here for a while.”
Simon quickly came to the woman’s side to help her stand. “Would you mind helping me with something first?” he asked.
“Of course.”
Poor Mrs. Dawson was already putty in this man’s hands. His Scottish accent and easy charm probably opened many doors.
Once Mrs. Dawson was on her feet, Simon stepped around her and closed the study door.
Helen mutely stood and watched him walk around the room, rearranging several unlit candles.
“What are you doing?”
“You’ll see. There’s no guarantee this will work, but it’s worth trying.”
“What’s worth trying?”
Simon apparently finished what he was doing and stepped up to Helen and Mrs. Dawson. “I told you most people don’t believe in magic because they can’t tap into it.”
“Right.” Where was he going with this?
“I’m not one of those people.”
Before Helen could utter her next question, Simon waved his hand in the air and the wicks to the candles lit. Flames topped every candle in the room.
No wonder the man had a cocky air about him. He had a right. Helen stared in fascination at the flickering flames. “How did you…? Never mind,”
Simon smiled and reached both his hands out. “Take hold of each other,” he directed.
Although she felt silly standing in a small circle holding hands, Helen didn’t break away. Curiosity over what would happen next ruled her every breath.