[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
I stared at the closed door for a few seconds, then my gaze flicked toward Phelan, who stared at it silently for a moment longer than I did, then took a slow, deep breath. He shook his head as he exhaled.
“After all these years, it shouldn’t surprise me that she knew I was coming,” he murmured, mostly to himself. I canted my head to one side, watching him as he turned from the door and headed for a chair, sinking down into it as if he was feeling every single one of the many, many years he’d walked this world.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, my voice soft. Kailey looked at me like I was maybe a little crazy—laughable, because she already knew exactly how crazy I might be.
Phelan didn’t answer right away. For a few seconds, he stared at the floor, as if he was still trying to absorb or process something—what, I couldn’t be sure, at least not yet.
He would tell us, though. I had every confidence of that.
Kailey stole another glance at me as Phelan held his peace, her brow furrowing. She looked like she was on the verge of saying something, maybe asking something, when Phelan cleared his throat.
“They’re here because of my sister.”
“Wait, what?” Kailey took two steps toward him, then stopped, staring. “The one who wanted to kill my mom? The one no one talks about except for to say that?”
Phelan swallowed hard. “There are reasons.”
“You mean other than the fact that she wanted to kill my mom?”
Kailey opened her mouth but I broke in before she could say anything more. “Uncle Phelan, she didn’t send them, did she?”
“No,” he said. “But she’s why they’re here regardless. If not for her, they wouldn’t have any idea that we were out here.” He frowned a moment, then amended, “Maybe they would have known we were out here, but I doubt they would have come.”
“I don’t understand,” Kailey said.
Phelan took another deep breath. “That’s all right. It’s complicated. But the—the one who fell off his horse? He’s my nephew. He’s my nephew, he could be dying, and he’s no older than either one of you. And her stories set them on this quest, never realizing what they were getting into.
“Never knowing the whole truth.”