It was late evening and a rash of phone calls were made by Warren Clairburn to the parents of the Walsh Road kids. The calls were two fold, first to explain that his niece had invited their children to spend the night and he felt that he needed to reassure everyone that it was perfectly okay with him and that the party would be chaperoned and it would be a good thing for his niece who had recently lost her parents and had been forced to move all the way out here from the only home she had known. He made all possible assurances, and, in the end, they were convinced and so the impromptu party was on.
Secondly, he extended an invitation to the entire families of Evelyn’s new friends to an Independence Day Celebration and BBQ, with all the trimmings, he would be hosting on the fourth. He went on to tell them that there was no need to rsvp right away the invitation was open and the celebration, while private, was open to everyone and that as his closest neighbors the were doubly welcome to attend.
By 8:45 the kids began to return and by 9:00, the last two Quinn and Silas, arrived. The family room where they had had Pizza a couple of hours ago had ben set aside for them. The furniture had been moved from the center of the large room and a half dozen sleeping bags laid out. The left over Pizza was available in the back of the room on the dining table along with other late night snacks and soft drinks. As the kids congregated into the room they were met by Evelyn and her Uncle.
“Alright guys, I’m not going to hover,” said Mr Clairburn in his distinct gravelly voice, “I tend to stay up late so if anyone needs me I will be in the sitting room right across the foyer. You kids have a fun time.” With that he gives them all a charmingly crooked smile and shuffles off closing the doors behind him.
“Thank you all for coming. I know it’s kind of weird us just meeting and all but it means so much to me that you are all here.” She steps up to Quinn and takes both Quinn’s hand in her own and smiles warmly at the taller girl. “I’m so glad you changed your mind. It wouldn’t be the same without you.”
The Family Room
At that moment the song coming from the closed music room ended on a single lingering note. The doors slid open a few inches and a black cat that some of the kids recognized slinked out. Isis peered round at the kids continued into the room where it rubbed across the back of hanks legs on her way to Silas and Roach where she satrted twineing between the two pairs of legs purring loudly.
The doors slid the rest of the way open and there was Evelyn, she was wearing the same dress she had been wearing earlier, White with blue flowers, and she was barefoot. He emerald gaze flicked from Kid to kid her expression neutral, then she smiled warmly.
"Sorry, no one told me you had arrived. Welcome to Clairburn House."
Dylan snorted a little laugh, "I have heard worse, Quinn Hollins, and I am not easily offended, but I do believe that your friends were some what shocked by your outburst.' He continued preparing a large pitcher of iced tea which he placed on a tray and then collected some glasses. "So tell me, did you really come back here to apologize or to get away from having to answer the questions they was gonna be asking you?"
"Sorry, Mr Clairburn," Dylans voice comes from somewhere behind the door Hank can see him coming out of the room on the right side of the foyer, "I was supposed to inform you earlier and it slipped my mind compleatly. Miss Evelyn wanted to get together with the neighborhood kids. She had me order Pizza. It should be here soon."
Mr Clairburn had turned away from Hank as Dylan spoke then back when the boy finished. "Well at least someone knows whats going on around here," he said. "Please, all of you are welcome here anytime, come on in Dylan will show you to the family room."
The kids file into the house offering their greetings to Mr Clairburn as the pass and follow Dylan into the family room which leads to the kitchens and dining rooms.
Silas shook his head, "I went to the hospital when it happened. And then three days later so they could set the nose," he said, carefully not making the face he would have had he not had a broken nose. "Did you know that? You have to wait for enough of the swelling to go down before they can set the bone back right. Or the cartilage? The nurse explained it but I wasn't really paying attention because he was touching my face while he talked." That memory did get a wince.
He sighed, waving Jo over to them so they were finally all together. "Why don't we head over for dinner? We don't want to be late because I got a busted nose a week ago. I'll. . . I'll tell you guys what happened later tonight or tomorrow. I don't want to mess up Miss Evelyn's welcome dinner over it, okay?”
There were some looks exchanged but in the end everyone agreed and as a groups the kids crossed the fence and walked up Gumlog to where Clairburn's road connected.
Everyone had been so busy no one had noticed the amount of work that had gone into the old dirt road. While not paved it had been oiled and graveled and the gate had been finished. It was closed when they got up to it but it mysteriously began opening as they approached which caused them to pause until Roach spotted the infrared sensor and pointed it out. They continued on and once they arrived at the house proper they could see the amount of work had paid off and must have cost a fortune. The exterior as far as they could tell look as if it had just been built, the restoration was that good. The large fountain in the drive was bubbling spilling crystal clear water into the round pool it was quite beautiful.
They all crowded onto the veranda and Hank looked and didn't see a door bell so he knocked loudly using the screen door frame. Almost a minute passe and he knocked again, as he was finishing the knock, the door opened and there was Mr Clairburn in slacks, slippers and a light blue polo shirt. Perched on his nose was a pair of wire framed reading glasses. He looked Surprised to see his porch crowded with the local kids.
“Hello?” He said and while it was a greeting it was also a question.
Jo made it to the nursery just on time and was immediately put to work unloading two dozen pallets of fifty pound bags of garden fertilizer, hard sweaty back breaking work which she handled with ease. on her break she texted Hank to see if he were going to call the rest of the Kids and tell them about the girl they met. Jo was still a bit unsure about her.
Hank had also made it to work on time and much like Jo had been put to work unloading a truck. When he received Jo's text he sent back a reply
message from Hank Leesford [I'll take care of it, I'll tell them to meet up at your place after supper, 6:00 sound okay?]
message from Jordan Johansson [ That will be okay. see you tonight]
Message from Jordan Johansson [ that girl is kind of strange]
message from Hank Leesford [lol yeah, Ill see you tonight]
It wasn't until Hank's thirty minute lunch break that he had a chance to send a group text to the rest of the Kids.
message from Hank Leesford [ Hey guys, Jo and I met Mr Clairburn's niece this morning. I had to get her cat down from a tree. Anyway she seems nice and invited us over to their place tonight. If you want lets meet up at Jo's after supper at six and we can walk over together.]
The text sent, replies were made and later that evening around six o'clock the Kids began to gather at Jordan's house.
Evelyn had watched the big woman, no, girl she saw when she got closer, coast up on the fancy bike. Isis at her feet stopped rubbing and walked to the side keeping a wary eye on the new comer.
Evelyn looked a little startled, "Yes, I am. You know Dylan?" As the red head asked the question Isis crouched her tail tucked up between her hind legs and gave a short hiss. Both Jo and Hank saw the sudden look Evelyn gave the cat and both would swear later that the cat looked back at Evelyn and that for a second it looked like the two were communicating as crazy as that sounds. Jo also saw the pendent which was very elaborate on the cats collar.
Evelyn looks back at Jo a smile on her lips but her deep emerald eyes seem to look straight into Jo's and right into her soul. Then seemingly forgetting her question, she says, "Looks like both of you were heading somewhere important. We shouldn't keep you. You know the way to the house? If you are not busy this evening why don't you come by and we can get to know each other. And bring you're friends I want to get to know all of you."
She had watched the boy get on his bicycle and peddle over to her, as he coasted to a stop a couple of yards away she used her empty hand to smooth her dress, which was whith with blue flower print, then she looked back over her left shoulder at Roach's house, before turning her gaze back to Hank.
Hank's breath caught in his throat, he had never seen eyes so green, and right now they were looking at him the away older kids looked at each other when they first met. He was being checked out. Her gaze went up and down his body from his feet to is head then back down and up again then finally her gaze settled on his face and she looked him in the eye.
"You look athletic, my cat is stuck in that tree," She looked to the right and the hand not holding the shoes pointed at a tree across from them, "do you think you could get her down?"
Hank follows the pointing finger with his eyes and sure enough there is a large black cat sitting in the tree.