JACK AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
by HL Carpenter
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9884095-0-7
Copyright (c) 2012 by Top Drawer Ink Corp.
Continued from Installment 11
“A break-in happened.” An uneasy prickle skittered along her spine as she looked at the ruined plants and broken pottery. She tightened her grip on Harey. When he squirmed in protest, she forced herself to relax. The intruder was long gone, and she was sure—almost sure—he wasn’t coming back. Not in the light of day, anyway. Creeps who got their jollies demolishing the property of others preferred darkness—which was why she hadn’t been able to sleep last night.
She jumped when Jack touched her arm. He asked, “You weren’t here, were you, mi hermanita?”
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
He dropped his hand and looked away. “No reason.”
He didn’t get splotchy like she did when he told a lie. But he didn’t meet her gaze, either, the way he had when he’d answered her question about why he was really here. She said, “I was at the hospital with Cori Saturday night when this happened. I found the mess when I got back Sunday morning.”
Jack knelt and touched a broken flowerpot. “Did you call the police?”
“I did once I realized it wasn’t damage from Tropical Storm Kyle.” She poked an overturned plant with the toe of her sandal.
Late Friday, in the hours before the worst of the storm hit, the long tables had been filled with rows of thriving potted herbs. Sometime between then and when she’d come home from the hospital Sunday morning and opened the greenhouse door, nearly every plant had been destroyed.
She said, “Sheriff Garrison came out right away. She said it was vandalism.”
“This took some time. Whoever did it must have figured the police would be busy with the storm.” Jack stood up, shards of clay crunching under his sneakers, and surveyed the wreckage. “They sure destroyed a lot of plants.”
“Over a hundred.” She’d already spent hours salvaging and repotting seedlings, time she could have used to fill orders. “We were fortunate the vandals only broke the herb pots. If they’d smashed the walls…” Her voice trailed off as she thought about how much replacing the heavy sheets of corrugated glass would cost.
Jack said, “Someone must have known you and Cori went to the hospital Saturday.”
“The only people who knew would not have done this.” If someone else knew Cori had gone into early labor, did that mean they were being watched? The idea was as frightening as having the greenhouse vandalized in the middle of a tropical storm. Last night, she’d started thinking the woods surrounding the house had eyes, and the rustlings and odd noises she’d heard had only reinforced the notion. She pushed the thoughts out of her mind for the thousandth time, and handed Jack the rabbit. “Let’s take care of his tooth.”
“Okay.” He wrapped his hands around Harey’s middle, and held the bunny at arm’s length. “That is one scary fang.”
“I should have trimmed it yesterday. But he’s hard to hold, and with Cori gone, there’s no one to help.” She walked to the workbench and picked up a pair of nippers.
At the shout, Nessa spun around. Harey had twisted out of Jack’s hands and darted across the room. Jack lunged after him, tripped over a pile of dirt and upended a workbench. He landed flat on the floor. Potting soil and wilted plants rained down on his head. Harey raced through the doorway at the back of the greenhouse. Sputtering, Jack jumped to his feet and started after him.
***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR *****
HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their home in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity.
Also by HL Carpenter:
The SkyHorse.Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck–until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.
The Demise of Fyne Literature. Who killed Fyne Literature? The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.
Dream Stealer. Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?
Walled In. When her father is accused of fraud, seventeen year old Vandy Spencer discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception.
Taxing Pecksniffery. Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?