I nodded at Quinn. "Hi. I didn't expect to see you here."
"That's quite a greeting." He laughed. "I heard you met my father, and he gave you a speeding ticket coming into town."
I grimaced. "It's nice to know the Cherry Glen grapevine is alive and well."
He rubbed the day-old stubble on his cheek. "He texted me. So no traditional grapevine, I'm afraid. It will be in tomorrow's paper in the police blotter if that makes you feel better. A red convertible with California plates getting a ticket will be the talk over at Jessa's Place for at least a week."
I groaned. Jessa's Place was the local diner and an institution in Cherry Glen. I hoped he was just teasing me about being the talk of the town, but I doubted it.
Quinn nodded at Huckleberry. "And who do we have here?" He squatted in the grass, and the little pug ambled over to him. Quinn gave Huck his cheek, and Huckleberry slobbered up one side of his face and down the other. Quinn didn't even flinch.
My father cleared his throat. "Quinn lives in the next farm, the old Cumberlin place. He comes over now and again to check on things, and he's been taking care of the chores while I'm laid up." He glared at his walker. "I hate this metal contraption."
I winced. For the first time, the true enormity of my father's poor health hit me like a wave. "I thought Stacey was helping you."
"Oh," Dad said. "She is, but she's been so busy with the play these last few weeks that Quinn's stepped up."
"Play?" I remembered driving by the theater. "At the Michigan Street Theater? I saw it was set to reopen when I drove through the town. I was amazed. That place closed down before I was born."
Dad puffed out his chest. "It's back all thanks to Stacey."
I raised my brow.
"She bought the theater and brought it back to life. Julius Caesar
will be the opening performance," Dad said.
"Wow, I'm sure the town appreciates that. The theater has been an eyesore for so long." I couldn't help the sarcasm that dripped from my voice as I scanned the even bigger eyesore in front of me. The overgrown lawn, the fallow fields, and the shutters falling from the house. Stacey was supposed to be keeping an eye out for the farm, helping him out—was spending money on the theater more important than Bellamy Farm? And where was I even to begin fixing it? How did I tell my father something needed to be done without upsetting him?
It has. Stacey has involved me in the play too. I will playing the soothsayer." Dad seemed oblivious to my internal struggle, and then he added in a foreboding voice, "Beware the Ides of March!" He cleared his throat. "She is also using guns from my collection for the play. I was so thrilled when she asked."
"Your guns?" I pulled my mind away from growing to-do list in my mind. My father was a lifelong collector of Michigan history, so much so he could have his own museum. He had a large collection of nineteenth century guns, coins, knives, and other artifacts. "Julius Caesar
is set in ancient Rome. And wasn't he stabbed to death?"
"She moved the setting to Michigan's frontier era in the United States," Dad said excitedly. "My favorite time in history as you know."
"Ah." It wouldn't be the first time someone reinterpreted Shakespeare's work in a different time period. I glanced at Quinn. "Thanks for helping my father out."
"It's no trouble helping Sully. My daughter and I both enjoyed it. Hazel especially likes the barn cats and the chickens. I think she would move here if she could. There aren't any animals on our farm yet. I just haven't..." He gave me a sheepish look as if he realized he had said too much.
"How old is your daughter?" I asked, surprised.
"Eleven going on twenty-five."
I swallowed. "I appreciate everything you and your daughter have done for my dad and the farm, but I can take over the majority of the work now." Even as I said it, I wasn't completely sure that was true. I just knew I didn't want Quinn's help in the least. When Logan died, he had made it known in no uncertain terms that the accident that had killed him had been my fault. After all this time, that old hurt came roaring back, making it nearly impossible to look at him, let alone thank him for anything or ask him to continue helping out.
This excerpt ends on page 14 of the paperback edition.
Monday we begin the book Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg.