Sarah, Returned--Chapter 24 (A Steemit Original Novel)
“It’s nice to be home, Karen notwithstanding,” I say. I've got to be careful, and not give too much away until I know what Jacob wants me to say.
Jacob nods, agreeing. “She is a handful. Do you know, she seemed positively thrilled when you didn’t come home that night? And, I could swear I saw her jump up and down with glee, just out of the corner of my eye, when the police said your car was found abandoned at the top of Garrison Hill.”
“I’m not surprised. How did she act when Matt told her I was back?”
“I wasn’t here yet when he told her, though I was on my way. He called Carter and me first. I guess he thought he had to break the news to her with kid gloves. I can tell you when I arrived, she was acting like someone told her she had to bring her little sister with her to prom as a chaperone.”
I barely stifle a what promises to be a loud chuckle. “Excellent.” I let a smile transform my lips into a pretty bow. “She deserves to be as annoyed as possible.”
“I agree wholeheartedly, my dear. Honestly, I think Matt might have realized what she’s about and broken up with her by now if he hadn’t been so heartbroken over your disappearance. He needed someone to lean on. He’s a smart man, though. I noticed that about him right away. Don’t you worry, Sarah. He’ll get wise and break it off with her before they get to the altar. I’d stake my own fortune on it.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here to break them up earlier,” I grumble with a frown. “Do you think she’s the one who tried to cut my brakes?”
He strokes his clean-shaven chin. Not even a hint of white stubble peeks out from the edges of his smooth skin. “Hard to say,” he admits. “She’s a piece of work, no doubt, and there’s no question she’s only after Matt for his money. She’s eager to get her hands on your half, too, but of course, you know that. Honestly, I don’t know her well enough to say if she’s got it in her to try to kill someone to get what she wants. I’m not ruling it out, mind you. But, I can’t say it was her, either. She must talk a convincing game, because the police haven’t ID’d her as the primary suspect yet. That’s still Matt. We’ll need strong evidence to get anyone convicted. If no hard evidence can be found, the whole case might be dropped. What do you think?”
“Well, I know it wasn’t Matt.” Of that, I am absolutely certain. “But, I can’t say it was Karen, either. I mean, I’d love it if the police could prove it was her. Of everyone they questioned, I think she is the most likely suspect. Maybe she’s too obvious, though. I don’t know her all that well, either. What I do know, I don’t like, for reasons you can probably guess.”
“I suppose we’ll have to wait for the police to conclude their investigation and see if they can come up with anything,” Jacob concludes. He sounds disappointed I couldn’t positively identify Karen as the culprit. I think he wants her to get the blame for this as much as I do, because it would get her away from our family, and force Matt to acknowledge she’s a gold-digger.
“I suppose so."
Another odd pause in the conversation. He gives me that strange, wondrous look again, and waits. It's like he expects me to say something important.
I bite my lip. What can I say that won’t land me in the psych ward before I get a chance to search Grandma’s bedroom?
After a bit of a conversation stand-off, he seems to acknowledge I’m not going to give up any information on my own. He leans back, sighs, and looks away from me, toward the bedroom door. With no more information coming from me, Jacob is probably suggest we go back down and get my meal before the police come to question me.
I put my hands on the bed, about to stand up.
“How long were you really gone?” Jacob's voice comes from behind me, and I fall back onto my elbows, completely taken aback. When I turn around, his eyes are piercing.
“Wh….what?” I sputter, almost speechless. I’ve heard the expression of being bowled over by something, and I think I just was. Did he say what I think he said?
“You got younger when you left, yes?" He leans forward, pressing. "Did you get younger again when you came back?”
“Huh?” In my mind, I'm desperately clawing through my entire life experience, looking for some explanation, any other one, as to why he is asking me these things. Things I can’t speak out loud. Even if I thought he believed in time travel, and that’s a big “if,” I can’t talk about it here. Karen is everywhere. If she heard me saying anything about where I really went….
“Sarah!” Matt calls, offering a blessed means of escape from this conversation that’s suddenly turned dangerous. “Are you coming down to eat? I’ve got your dinner ready.”
“Coming, Matt!” I call back. “Just enjoying my first real shower in a long time. I’ll be right there.”
I jump off the bed like it’s covered with spiders, and back away toward the door. Jacob raises a questioning white eyebrow at me, and I shake my head. “I can’t talk about this here,” I whisper, pleading, begging him to understand. Whatever he knows, or thinks he knows, I can't talk about it with Karen in the house.
Those incredible eyes, gleaming with hope for answers to his own questions, seem to bore right into me. But, he does understand. Without changing his expression, his eyes make a quick U-turn from eager to compassionate. I forgot how expressive those eyes are; I've never seen anything like it.
He puts a finger to his lips and nods. “Maybe later,” he says, soft and low. “When prying ears aren’t around to hear.”
I swallow hard. “Maybe.”
Eager to put a distance between us, I turn and dash downstairs. I wanted to talk to him about Grandma, but I never dreamed he might know about time travel. His questions could mean no other thing. Even if he hasn't done it himself, he knows about it. He has to. Does this mean he knows about Grandma’s origins? Maybe he knows about her correspondence with the professor; he could have seen that letter, or even talked with the man in person with her. She might have told him everything at some point.
But, if she did, why would he believe her? It’s an unbelievable tale, unless you’ve lived it. Everything in his questioning indicates he knows I didn’t just disappear into rural New England for a month. No. He knows something far more significant happened to me.
How much does he know, and how does he know it?
Those are the questions, and there’s no way for me to get answers when Karen is in the house. Does she ever go home anymore, or has she moved in here permanently in my absence? Oh, God, she has, hasn’t she? It would be just like Matt to not want to tell me yet, knowing how I feel about her.
If she lives here, then doing anything….such as having a private conversation with Jacob, and searching Grandma’s bedroom alone….is going to be far more difficult to pull off than I originally intended.
Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here: