When we pulled back up to the shop, it felt like it had been hours of driving.
Really, it did.
Or maybe it was because as soon as our tense conversation was over, Kat got out her phone and randomly flipped on Nyan Cat, no doubt trying to make us laugh with the spontaneousness of it.
Derek had smirked over his shoulder at her. "Oh, joy. Kat and her Nyan Cat. She's so addicted, they should start calling it Nyan Katrina."
"Sounds like an alcoholic bevarage," I remarked into the palm of my hand as I leaned tiredly against the window. "If Casey and James were here, they'd totally call you lame, Derek."
"Just tryin'," I could see him smile at me through the opposite gap of the seat in front of myself that Seville was sitting in.
"Why had the two of them and Olivia stayed behind, by the way?" I asked curiously, risking the pain in my head to look up this time.
"Needed to get going," Seville replied. "James, as always, had somewhere to be. Olivia mentioned her parents calling and saying they'd maim her if she didn't get back there that very second. Casey... needed to go shopping for school supplies, I think?"
"Ugh," I put my head back down, pinching the bridge of my nose. "Friggin' school. A little early, isn't it?"
"We'll be starting soon," Mum informed us. "Though..." She faltered at the faces we pulled her way. "Not terribly soon..."
No one talked the whole way home. Just contemplating those day's events, I guess. Up until we parked out in front of the shop did Mum look to her left to tilt her head at Derek.
"Are you sure you don't want me to drive you?"
"No," Derek held out a hand. "That's alright. I'll be able to walk from here."
"Besides," Katrina went on, grinning. "Why would Val and Sev want to get out here if they could be back in here, hugging Derek all the way to his house?"
I chuckled, wobbly standing up from the backseat as we all got out. "You'll be walking home together. Why don't you do that, Kat?"
She rolled her eyes and snorted as we were stepping out onto the cobblestone.
As I faced the shop door, the last thing I expected to see was someone's back. Edging over, my heart thumping, I reluctantly faked a cough to get this person's attention. A rush of bitterness seeped into my chest when the person turned, and I was met with Officer Rhenny's stare.
Sighing deeply, I grabbed the knob of the door and slid in between him and the door frame. "Hey."
"Hello." To my surprise, he sounded far more pleasant than the last time I spoke to him. "Is your grandmother home?"
"She should be," I replied, disgarding my rudeness as I stuck my head into the pie shop and looked around.
No one was in the room.
"I knocked a few times," he stated. "No one answered."
"Officer Rhenny?" Mum was walking over, Seville following. "What's this about?"
"Bye, Val!" Derek called, waving at me while Kat grinned widely from beside him.
I smirked, lifting my hand in a more effortless gesture of saying goodbye. Then I turned around, walking back into the shop. "Rhenny says he knocked, but Grandma didn't open the door."
Seville patted the officer on the shoulder as he passed him up in the doorway after me. "She does have a thing about letting the police in. They already took her car; She's probably worried they'll take the shop, too."
Mum sighed frustratedly. "She's supposed to be watching Maddie." She looked at me, brisk. "Check upstairs."
After a mock salute in her direction, I bounded for the side door and headed up the stairs, no break in stride. No fear in stairs anymore, either.
I rounded the corner and looked through the glass, relieved when I saw Sweeney and Grandma talking by the sloped window. He was looking away from her every now and again, scratching the back of his neck in what appeared to be discomfort. She was staring at him, her hands on her hips and her face holding a look of... accusation?
Regardless, neither of them were watching Maddie, who was sitting in the barbering chair and looking around the shop with round, curious eyes.
Gritting my teeth - invisioning her touching the peddle on accident and getting flipped backwards with the chair - and knocking urgently to get their attention beforehand, I opened the door and ran over to make sure there was no danger of this little vision of mine coming true.
Sweeney turned around, his attention being grabbed way faster than Grandma's had been, who was still staring at him as though he had just slapped her.
"Did neither of you think what could've happened?" I murmured, breathless as I awkwardly picked up my little sister. I didn't linger with her for long, instead holding her out for Grandma to grab instead; I never did care to learn how to hold her, exactly.
Sweeney's right eye muscle twitched just the slightest, raising an eyebrow at Grandma who was now standing beside him. She glared back.
"I suppose... we hadn't."
"I suppose we hadn't, Val," Grandma echoed, dragging her eyes away from Sweeney as she headed for the door, summoning me with her free hand to follow her.
I lagged along behind her. "Eh... Officer Rhenny is at the door. You sure this isn't something Mr. Todd would like to hear, as well?"
"Why didn't you say so?" Sweeney reached my side freakishly fast. He was staring directly at Grandma when he said this, his eyes dark with poorly hidden dislike.
She never did turn around, nor say anything. The three of us simply headed back downstairs from there, and when we walked in, Mum had sat Rhenny down at the booth. Seville was sitting opposite him.
"Ah," Rhenny smiled at the barber. "Mr. Todd, is it? I've heard highly of you from Officer Barker, back at the station."
"Good," Sweeney glared at Grandma in passing. He took position behind the bread board on the counter, leaning forward against it with his hands. "I relish in being spoken highly of."
Grandma snorted as she bounced Madeline against her chest, looking anywhere but at him.
What was wrong with those two?
Rhenny seemed to notice their exchange as well; He narrowed his eyes, but in the end, deemed it as a silly banter that eventually turned sour. He looked at each of us with individual care. Then he shrugged. "How else may I put it? I don't suppose any of you will be dismayed to know that Geoffrey Turpin was killed last night."
After he said that name again, I hadn't really heard what he said afterwards. Leaning forward, I squinted, as though thinking that'd help. "Eh... What?"
"Geoffrey Turpin," Rhenny repeated. "He was killed last night. A quarrel with his cell mate. I can't say he hit it off well with anyone there in the first place."
"'E'd surely fit in with everyone an' anyone there, no doubt," Grandma muttered, not seeming at all fazed by this information.
The news, however, took me a little while longer to process.
A man tried to kill us... and was sent to jail for it... where he was promptly killed in turn...
Well, really, it wasn't all that prompt. He was sent there about three months prior. Not even a year had passed, but all the same, he was obviously alive there for a good while.
Mulling over it didn't stop the shivers that ran down my spine.
"You'd be surprised, Elle," Rhenny smiled somberly at her, and she snorted yet again.
"So, why did you come to us?" Mum stammered.
"Just to let you folks know you have nothing more to worry about," Rhenny replied boredly, stretching where he sat before standing back up and returning his hat to his head.
I looked down at the floor. Then a lone thought came to my mind, of a most expected lone man at the moment. "Does Teddy Turpin know?"
"Who's that?" Rhenny had been preparing to open the shop door to leave, but was stopped by my voice. He looked over his shoulder, confused.
"Teddy Turpin," I repeated. "He owns a bookstore down the street. He was Geoffrey's brother."
"Oh?" Rhenny's eyebrows raised inquiringly. "Did you want me to tell him?"
"No," I said immediately. "I will." I glanced at Sev, and he gave a single nod, solemn. "With Seville."
I looked at Mum, cringing as I expected her to disapprove. But all she did was numbly nod at me, agreeing with my decision.
There were no dangers anymore.
"Okay," Rhenny slowly nodded himself. Then he opened the door, turning around as he backed outside. "May I... ask why?"
I sighed. "Because, a blunt fact is not what he'll see it as."
Officer Rhenny seemed to understand, if not a little irritated at the fact that I had addressed his way of explaining to Teddy the news as being 'blunt'. Nonetheless, he tipped his hat to us. "Good day." Then, nearly in a way that could be described as awkward, he closed the door behind him and walked back to his car that I had oddly not seen when we pulled up to the shop previously.
Tactfully, Seville cracked a smile to any who were looking. "Geez. Has he been taking social classes from Mr. Barker?"
I weakly smiled at his effort, unable to help agreeing anyway; I guess, months after his mother died, Rhenny got over his moodiness.
I wish I could've said the same for Sweeney, for the most part.
And speaking of Sweeney, I turned around to face him finally, interested in how he had taken to the news.
He was staring blankly at the closed pie shop door, his eyes unmoving from the spot. Grandma glanced in his direction, her mouth agape for a few seconds. No words forming, she swiftly handed Madeline back to Mum - who snatched her up pretty quickly - before leaving the room with her head down, storming back into the parlor.
After a momentary pause, Sweeney blinked out of his trance and did the same, instead heading in the different direction and leaving through the side door.
What was up with them? More importantly, what was wrong now?
I hadn't a clue.
When I got up the next morning, I crawled across the floor to wake Seville up. He mumbled something incoherent, but barely stirred.
"C'mon, Sev," I snapped quietly.
He continued muttering, but then his eyes opened a slight. "Is it really morning, Val?"
"Yes," I rolled my eyes. "What kind of question is that, anyway?"
"A darn good one." Gradually, he sat up. "You've been tossing and turning all night. Hardly got any sleep, I can imagine."
"Yeah, well," I stood up from his couch side, stifling a yawn. "We've got work to do. Don't we?"
"What work is involved?" he inquired. "We're just going to break the news to Turpin. It'll be quick."
"You know there's more to all this than that," I murmured, remembering then that we needed to be quiet if we wanted Grandma and Mum to get the sleep they deserved. "Teddy won't take it as easily as we are. Especially not after he lost his other brother a few years back; Arnold Turpin."
"Look, Val," Seville trudged across the room as he spoke, grabbing random clothes from the floor to put on. I did the same. "Ted admitted that Geoffrey is no brother to him any longer. It isn't like it'll be a total loss for him."
"Doesn't mean he won't feel the slightest bit sad," I stated, beating my brother to going into the bathroom to change into my clothes for the day. When I came back out, I was running a brush through my hair and shifting through the blankets I was sleeping in to find the razor Sweeney had given me, while Seville went into the bathroom himself. I located the razor and stuffed it into my pocket, releasing a sigh as I waited for my brother to be finished.
If any normal teenager knew I slept with a razor, that'd be one less teenager I'd ever have the potential to become friends with.
When Seville came out of the bathroom, he actually looked a little more kempt than I did; I looked in the mirror, as always, before I left the bathroom.
He wore a black t-shirt and dark, baggy pants that went over his equally dark shoes. His hair looked... as though he hadn't cut it in a while, honestly. It looked good though, nonetheless.
"Do I look sexy?" he inquired, staring at me staring at him.
"Oh," I began for the doorway. "Yeah. I'd say so. You've certainly aged."
"Thanks. So have you."
Without hesitance, we headed out after Sev grabbed his phone off the booth table. Then we were walking down Fleet Street again, like we had months before, looking for the same shop with the same man inside. We didn't need Derek's directory for once, either; I think we were starting to get used to this lovely, colorless place.
It wasn't long before the two shops came into sight: Teddy Turpin's bookstore, and Arnold Turpin's... whatever his shop was. It only mildly took Sev and I by shock when we found more welcoming candlelight in the barely covered windows of Arnold's old building. I took a glance at Seville, giving him a suspicious look that was really meant for the building. He didn't look back, however; Just kept staring straight ahead.
It was a pretty cool place, really; Maybe that was why we both started walking to it without saying a word.
The sign in the window said 'Closed' but the lights were on... How strange.
The door opened without struggle. As we looked about the cluttered room, filled with bookshelves, candles, dimness, and dank wood under our feet with maroon rugs, we heard muttering somewhere near the back. The coherent muttering of a person, specifically.
Swallowing uncomfortably, I started following Seville; His brotherly instincts to take the lead obviously kicking in right before my eyes, despite the fact that I was in no mood to take a step back and observe the oddness of it.
The candlelight danced along the visible walls as we walked along the side of a particular bookcase. When Seville turned into another colemn, he began heading forth, but I lingered behind a few paces to stare at something up ahead that I hadn't noticed before, the last time we were there: By the opposite wall, there was a creaky, old-looking spiral staircase.
I didn't know this building had a second floor.
Seville's voice startled me out of my thoughts. I rushed forward and turned into the same back room, where I found my brother standing in the doorway, and where an old man with familiar graying hair was sitting at the sloped desk against the wall.
Teddy Turpin turned around to face us, looking alarmed. "What are you... kids doing here?"
I snorted, shoving past Sev. "We aren't kids, Mister. Remember when I said I'd be turning thirteen in Febuary? Yeah; That was yesterday."
He didn't look all that convinced that I was any superior for having just had a birthday, however. Still equally bitter with us. "This building is off limits. Didn't you see the closed sign? Get out." He grabbed my arms and steered me for the doorway, and I bumped into Seville in the process.
"We have something to tell you," I snapped. "Did you think we'd just be coming here for nothing?"
At that, he seemed to be considering whether to let us stay or not. Then he let go of me, a glare on his face. "Go on, girl."
"Ted," I sighed, flipping around again on the spot. "Why aren't you in your shop nextdoor?"
"None of your concern," he retorted dryly, shuffling past us to head back out into the main room.
"Oh, uh, okay," I gestured to Sev, then began following the bookstore owner, nearly tripping over a downed book in an aisle as I came to speak. "Look, er, Mr. Turpin,"
I started in faint shock when I found Teddy was heading for the ominous staircase. I noted the darkness above us and the dim sight of a mixture of both more candlelight and daylight from an apparent window. "You know... Geoffrey?"
"Unfortunately so," he responded matter-of-factly, grabbing hold of the fancy railing and lurching himself upward.
After giving Seville a brief, uneasy look, to which he returned, we began following the old man on the stairs, not used to staircases that seemed to hold so much history in their wood.
Soon, we ascended into a lighter area. The attic area, so it would seem. But it offered more light than downstairs had.
"What about my brother?" Ted demanded gruffly, when he noticed I was spending more time looking around than responding.
I wrenched my gaze away from the large window to the front wall, about the same size as Sweeney's, if not a little smaller and not sloped. It let in nearly pleasant dawn light.
"We told you a few months ago that Geoffrey was sent to prison, right?" I asked, trotting in when Ted started looking through another bookcase against the wall; There were fewer ones in here, for sure. There were more seating options though; A reading lounge, much like. Seville took to collapsing in one beside the landing as Turpin and I talked.
"I may be old," Ted murmured, looking over his shoulder at me. "But I haven't forgotten yet."
"Alright, good," I tried to keep my tone nonchalant as I walked over, my arms crossed at the chilly draft that a most expected crack in the wall was causing. "Um... Well, Officer Rhenny - the guy you weren't familiar with - came to the pie shop yesterday. Told us that Geoffrey was... uh... killed."
I was right beside Turpin now, and I could see his head snapping forward as he took this information in.
"I'm sorry," I murmured, looking down at the floor. "He's dead."
Teddy turned around to look down at me. Then he cleared his throat and tugged on the cravat around his neck as he sauntered over to the window to stare outside, blank.
I leaned against the bookcase, patiently waiting for him to say something.
His input came sooner than I anticipated. "I expected as much, one day."
"Did you?" I raised my eyebrows, trying to sound like once he spoke, the subject's mood could be switched.
No such luck.
"Let me finish," he seethed, still not turning around to face us.
I scuffed my shoe across the rug as I waited, a little less patient now.
"The day he died would be a mercy to mankind," Ted went on. "And, now he is dead. Justice has been served."
"You don't sound very happy about that," Seville stated plainly, still sitting on the reclining chair with his hands hanging over the armrests.
"I should, shouldn't I?" Teddy shrugged. After this, he lamely broke off, having nothing left to say.
Pity welled in my chest. Whatever which way things ended up, someone always got hurt in the end.
It simply wasn't fair.
"My brother, Arnold, was a detective," Ted explained. "It killed him on the inside to suspect Geoffrey of any crimes comitted. All evidence pointed to him, though."
I nodded, glum.
"Then Geoffrey nearly got arrested, while out. He knew Arnold was to blame." He tensed up as he went on. "He rigged the carriage Arnold was expected to catch the next day; He... had no remorse."
A frown twisting my lips, I walked over and grabbed his arm with my left hand, giving it a squeeze. I closed my eyes against the light as he continued with his speech.
"Your family came to the funeral, you know," he added, and I was surprised to find he hadn't moved away from my presence yet. "I believe your brother might've been too young to remember. And you, Valerie. You weren't even born yet."
I smiled somberly. "I expected as much."
"And we all got along fine, despite what the city thought of our origins." He shook his head grimly.
"Geoffrey had no interest in get-togethers, did he?" I guessed.
"No," Ted eyed the street below, looking nearly too absent to really be hearing me. "He scoffed at the idea. Of course, Arnold and I invited him one day, us being us. The few times that he made speaking contact with you lot, he and Mr. Todd didn't get along very well in the least."
"Most expected." As soon as I noticed the sturdiness of the vast window sill, I moved away from Turpin after patting his arm encouragingly and sat down to actually face him, eyeing his sad expression.
"An event back in old times shouldn't disrupt our lives, now," Teddy said, grimacing at the real notion that affected us all so badly. "It's ridiculous, really."
"You and Mr. Todd would have something to agree on, then." I smiled at him.
"I'd say so."
Leaning against the glass, I watched as he strutted back over to the bookcase, still managing to give off that disdainful vibe despite how broken up he was.
I smirked. "You don't need comforting, do you?"
"I will be well," he responded, taking me by shock that he had no retort to that; He might've actually thought I was being serious.
"Well," I stood up from the window sill and walked back over to Seville, shrugging at him as I went. "I guess we'll leave you... to your thoughts."
"Thank you," Turpin looked back at me, and I could see a hint of genuine gratitude in his eyes for a flash of a moment.
I nodded. "Once again, I'm... really sorry."
"Don't be. It was bound to happen." He glanced back outside, his voice bitter with years of horror and stress now finally put to rest.
Or so we thought...
Yep. There we have it.
I know I'm not the most easily tolerated authoress to deal with. xD So, if you clicked on the update, then thank you. c:
Thank you all who reviewed previously. I love to hear your thoughts. ^^
Now... Off to go work on HTCO, because I personally think it needs my attention. Direly.