Heart pounding he reached down and picked up the book. He was about to start reading when he heard the bedsprings creak in her room. He fumbled the book back into place and closed and locked the cabinet. He was standing up from putting the key back in place when she walked into the room.
“Jeremy, what were you doing on the floor?”
“Oh, I thought I saw a bug crawling on the carpet. I was just having a closer look.”
He felt like an idiot for coming up with such a lame story and she eyed him with suspicion but then beamed at him.
“Well I suppose I should get busy in the kitchen.” She glanced out the window. “I’ll declare, that rain seems to be worse than ever.”
He looked, then nodded, making sure to mask his dismay. He followed her to the kitchen and got himself a glass of water.
“I’m feeling kind of tired after all the chopping. Think I’ll go rest a bit if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, you go have some quiet time.”
He headed for his room relieved that he didn’t have put on a front while he thought about what he had found. His suspicion about her had been well founded. My god, she was a witch! That in its self might not be such a big deal. He had heard of modern day pagans and their ceremonies and all that stuff about mother earth and tree hugging but the book on ritual human sacrifice, well, that was another matter.
He had woken up with her standing over him holding a frying pan. Then she had been behind him with that knife. It all seemed so innocent in light of subsequent events but had it been? Really? Now he wasn’t sure.
He lay on the bed staring out at the driving rain and wondered if he might not be better off just taking his chances out there. The Harris boys must have gotten over their interest in him by now. Sure, he’d get drenched long before he got a ride, but still, wouldn’t it be for the best?
He couldn’t decide. Maybe he was just being paranoid again. Maybe somebody gave her those books a long time ago or they belonged to someone else from her past. On the other hand the cabinet was locked and the key hidden. He looked out at the rain driving hard at a wicked slant, howling around the eaves of the house. The smells coming from the kitchen were enticing. Perhaps some judicious questioning over dinner would clear matters up.
The fried chicken was the best he’d ever had. She smiled at him across the table as he tucked into the chicken, corn and biscuits with relish.
“You’re an amazing cook.” This around a mouth full of chicken. “Thanks.”
“Oh it’s my pleasure Jeremy. It’s a joy to watch you enjoying yourself. You need to keep your strength up young man.”
He thought for a moment and then smiled at her. “You know, I was thinking, I don’t really know much about you. Hell, your name for instance.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s Maude. What else do you want to know?”
“Well, I hope you don’t mind my asking, were you married?”
“Yes, a long time ago. It didn’t work out.”
He blushed and didn’t know quite how to proceed. “So…you’ve lived here for a long time by yourself?”
“Yes, I have. I do have friends though. I must say, it sure is nice having someone here. I want you to know you’re welcome here for as long as you’d like to stay Jeremy.” She reached across the table and patted his hand.
“Thanks Maude. Um…when you say you have friends, what sort of things do you do with them?”
She withdrew her hand and the smile faded from her lips. “Where are you going with this Jeremy?”
Part 6 Tomorrow