Rosalie pulled her hat further forward, until it covered half of her face. She still had a problem with light, and yet every part of her skin – the parts uncovered at least – craved the warmth of the sun. The breeze against her bare arms was a soothing touch, as soothing as the presence by her side.
Taking a deep breath, she began to cross the sprawling grounds of the Davison estate. They knew she was there, had given permission for her excursion. It bothered them, Rosalie knew, but she couldn’t let that deter her. They all had ghosts to put to rest, and the Davison family owed her a lot more than access to their land.
Still, when she stepped onto the path that would lead her back into the past, she felt her heart accelerate. When she reached the end, her skin felt raw and sensitive. The breeze no longer soothed, it irritated, and yet she didn’t turn back.
The low whine from her companion had her glancing down. She bent to tangle her fingers in his shaggy mane. “It’s okay, boy. I just need a minute.”
Ben whined again, and Rosalie saw something close to a reprimand in his deep brown eyes. He didn’t want her to be here either, or perhaps he was as terrified as she was; caught up in his own memories of what transpired.
“It’s important,” she whispered, as though she needed to defend herself. “I have to do this.”
He barked once, unsettling the quiet air around them and sending a few creatures scurrying into the underbrush.
If he had a voice she imagined, he would have told her to get moving.
Ruffling the fur along his neck one more time, Rosalie continued. This time she didn’t hesitate, not even when she came to the steps she had once viewed as a mountain too hazardous to climb.
At the bottom, she paused. It hurt her eyes, but she pushed her hat back so she could face what lay in front of her. It was easier after a little time and distance. She almost managed to see what others probably saw – a hidden treasure within the hillside. Almost. All the time in the world wouldn’t change the reality of what it had once been.
Her eyes drifted to the narrow opening. At one time a makeshift door had hung on rudimentary hinges. She hadn’t known how flimsy it was at the time, but she could still remember the sound when those hinges tore free and the door fell. Or perhaps that was only in her head – the sweet, sweet sound of freedom. After all, the door was covered with so much foliage she was surprised when it didn’t swing right back into place.
“It’s time,” she whispered, whether to Ben or to prompt herself, she wasn’t sure.
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