An outsider would think us strange and somewhat wonderful and profoundly disturbing, but fully trustworthy too. Caleb walks into the kitchen while Sam and Ben are deciding whether or not I am well enough to go to church. Caleb crosses to me, putting his hand on my forehead and frowning before pulling me close for a good-morning hug.
No one bats an eye at that. His affection is like seeing a unicorn or the Aurora Borealis. I hang back in his arms and look at him. He looks well. A tweaked regimen of sleep, diet and exercise and some further tests have yielded a bit of a reprieve for his physical being but for some reason right now, looking into his eyes, I don't worry about what happens when he dies because I don't think it will mean his absence.
I know he's hypnotizing me and I let him. It's like a drug and for a single moment I'm not fluttering, tripping, hyperventilating.
But I'm not well enough for church either. Lochlan never goes so he's a little bit joyful that we get some time alone and so he asks Caleb about the horses. Warning him of the work involved. Telling him if it's a whim that's going to end too briefly then not to bother because both Bridget and the children will get attached and then to have them ripped away would be too much.
Horses are considered incredibly therapeutic. Caleb says without looking at Loch. He's still calming my soul while I have it. Staring into my eyes. Still rocking very slightly, back and forth and finally, reluctantly he lets go and it's like a trap snaps shut, my body stuck firmly in its jaws, my soul escaping but just barely, to remain with him. He smiles and turns to address Lochlan's concern.
They would be retired horses to have a good life in whatever time they have remaining. Of course I had no intentions of adding to the workload around here. We could hire someone to look after them or if the other Jacob or maybe John would want to take it on as formal employment I am..open to discussion. He shoots his cuffs. He's going to church so he's in a suit. He goes every few weeks with us. Henry likes that.
I giggle. I don't know if I can look at John and know he's the stableboy.
Worst case scenario we recall Asher. That would probably please the mighty Batman to no end.
He doesn't seem like a horse guy to be honest. What about Mike? It would be a good part-time thing.
Bridget, this is how I know you're the smartest one of all. I'll give him a call later today and see if he's interested.
I'm off. See you later.
She's busy later.
Perhaps this evening then. We can go over the plans for March Break.
She's busy then too.
Have a good morning, Loch. Caleb dismisses him coolly and gives my cheek a quick kiss on his way by. Get some rest, Princess. This is why you keep getting so ill. You know, all you have to do is say the word and you'd never have to suffer again. His eyes turn dark and hard, covetous. Obsessive. Longing. The un-charming parts of him that make me afraid. He leans way in close to wait for my acceptance but he isn't going to get it.
Gingerbread, I whisper in his face. Safe.