by Danita Minnis
The fire going in her room cast shadows on the wallpaper’s whimsical foliage design. She brought up a tray with leftover stew and sat in the window seat, eating by the light of a single Tiffany lamp on the side table.
Outside her corner bedroom window, it was full dark at six p.m. Lamp posts trailed down the hill along the edge of the lawn. There was a black band of darkness beyond that and she remembered there was a stand of trees in that area before another rolling hill led to the next property.
It was so quiet here. Different from the city further south that never slept. It was never silent or this dark there with all its sights and sounds. She felt like someone had turned the volume down so that she could think, and plan.
From outside, she heard a horse neigh. She looked up at the window to see a dark horse and rider bound across the lawn.
Blinking away tears for a better look, she watched as the large black horse jumped gracefully and so high.
She squinted, trying to get a better look. The horse’s hooves didn’t appear to touch the ground. The rider sat expertly through the cavorting as if letting the horse have its head.
She couldn’t see the horse and rider clearly because they were too far away. With the darkness, they appeared in silhouette. Horse and rider arched once more and then as quickly as they had appeared, disappeared into the stand of trees beyond.
The Danvers must have a horse, but why ride across her lawn? She’d check in the morning to see if the horse’s hooves had damaged the landscaping. Maybe she would pay the Danvers a visit.
In the reflection of the glass, she caught a movement behind her. A tall man stared at her from the soft forest glow in the room. Against the backdrop of the green leaves in the wallpaper, there was an impression of short, dark hair and sharp angular features before his light eyes bore into hers. They glowed with such intensity that she could not look away. It was an effort to fight the pull but she managed to jerk her eyes away from the window.
She jumped up and the tray and bowl of stew clanged to the floor. “How did you get in here?”
The spot on the throw rug in front of the bed where she’d just seen the man was empty.
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