“Is this good?” I shouted, got the nod, stood up then drank in the grounds. The trees were caped in gold, red, and amber. Leaves trickled down to the wet grass. There was a sense of serenity now that hadn`t been here last night. Maybe it was Mom`s being able to handle being here better than I thought she would. But deep down, as much as I hated to admit this, I knew I liked it here better today because Lin-Ye was gone for the day. There was something about that woman that made me glum. I walked back for another gnome, my belly growling as lunchtime approached. The cook, a delightful ginger-haired woman by the name of Mrs. Fraser, had been notified of my vegan tastes. She was now putting the final touches on some bean and rice burritos. “Okay, so where do we want this one?” I asked the gnome queen.
Mom looked over the expansive grounds, her eyes searching for the perfect spot. Smiling to myself when her eyes widened I turned to locate where the fat man with the rake would sit for a month. Instead of seeing a gnome home, I saw a silver Corvette roaring up to park behind the Jag.
“Is that the maid?” Mom asked, four ceramic gnomes held close to her chest, their tiny slippers dropping dried dirt down the front of her sweatshirt. I shook my head as the driver uncurled his tall frame from the sports car then ran his sight over his home. No, that was certainly no maid. The Count of the Crease had returned to his castle. He found us and waved. I raised my hand in reply. I shook my head. Hair blanketed my face. Mom was tapping my arm trying valiantly to get my attention, but my sight was riveted on Veikko as his long legs chewed up the distance from driveway to backyard.
“I see you are at home,” Veikko said as he approached. The wind blew in my face, tossing my security blanket back from my eyes. He wore jeans and an officially licensed Wildcats jacket with his number and name stitched over his heart. His hair was caught in the same zephyr. He hadn`t shaved in a few days. Dark yellow scruff clung to his firm jaw and cheeks. I`m no fan of facial hair but on Veikko it looked passable.
“We don`t have a car,” Mom piped up. I threw her a look. Her brown eyes narrowed in confusion. Veikko stopped in front of us, letting his Wildcats duffel drop to the lawn beside his sneakers. His brows drew into a knot over his light blue eyes.
“I am sorry,” he offered at once still perplexed, “I meant I see you are happy at home. You have made my home yours,” the man explained. Mom made a sound of understanding.
“It`s a beautiful home. Your maid isn`t very nice though. She left during dinner and all her food got fed to the raccoons.”
At that Veikko looked at me for assistance. I eyed the empty in-ground pool and wondered if I could hide in the deep end for a few days.
“I don`t have a maid,” the man said, clearly befuddled.
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