|3| Teasing the Wind||

“Irene slow down!”

“It’s okay.” Daisy said, resting her hand on Dyan’s arm. “Let her be free.”

He glanced down at the pretty English woman walking next to him. He wasn’t expecting her when the agency said they’d be sending a skilled governess. He was thinking old, grey-haired, with a tight french bun. He looked away watching their feet walk. The bun was about the only thing he got right. Her lovely caramel skin seemed to hog the sunlight that had, for the first time in weeks, broke through the constant drizzling rain.

“I don’t want her to get hurt.”

“I understand. That’s a good parental instinct, but at the same time understand that she will fall and you have to teach her how to deal with that too.”

“Here, let me.” He took the wicker picnic basket from her and put it on his outside arm. There was something so warm and familiar; yet, new and exciting about Daisy McMann. It went far beyond her beauty. When he glanced over at her again his breath caught. The wind had teased free several of her winding, slick, black curls and set them dancing in her face.

She glanced over at him and looked away quickly. Gah, he was staring he knew it. He’d always been pretty terrible with women. He was better with computers. It was strange even so since Irene’s parents-- he swallowed. Since they left, he hadn’t thought about women at all. The idea of having to venture out into the world and try and be interesting to someone made him cringe and sweat simultaneously.

“Do you know why I picked a picnic?”

He shrugged. “You like making sandwiches and swatting bugs in the shade of a tree?”

She smiled over at him the sun catching the swirls of caramel in her dark eyes. “A little of that, but it’s mostly for you.”

He frowned. “Me?”

“Get you out of that damn house and out into the fresh air.” She looked around. “This place, the house.” She turned and walked backward for a few steps. “The grounds. This place is beautiful and you pay to maintain it well, but when was the last time you got out to enjoy it?”

He smiled over at her catching those magnificent eyes. “It’s been a while.” They’d already cleared the rose garden which was a picturesque winding display of all types of roses, statues, fountains, and stone paths. They were now heading past the stables toward the creek and apple orchard. It was true. He loved the house and property. It reminded him of the years that he spend in England. Unfortunately the weather did too or least as of late.

That day however, was washed with sunshine.

Irene circled them like an airplane with her arms spread wide. He could never understand the little girl’s busy energy unless he likened her to her mother in that aspect. She looked just like her father; however, with the thick eyebrows and stern mouth. Boy did the little girl know how to open up said mouth and holler to the moon. He wasn’t sure how such a frail form could make such noise.

It was lucky for Dyan that the walls to his office were very insulated.

Daisy stopped. “What do you think Irene? Is this a right and fine tree for a picnic?”

The little girl smiled up at the woman finally standing still for a moment long enough to see her cherubic face.

“I think so, Ms. Lane.” The little girl said, struggling to mimic Daisy’s pleasant English accent.

The woman laughed which crinkled the corner of her eyes and made her nose scrunch up. Dyan smiled and stuffed his hands in his pockets.

“That’s good, Irene. You’ll be a proper Englishman in no time.”

“Please, Ms. McMann.” The little girl countered. “Call me Ms. Bell.”

“Right then Ms. Bell. What about you, Mr. Lane?”

The little girl burst into a fit of giggles. “I love how you say that. Mr. Lane. It’s so cool!” She started running around the tree.

“Irene, come on. I’m sure Daisy is going to quickly tire of your obsession with the way she speaks.” Even though he was quite sure the little girl was only saying exactly what he was thinking. Propriety and age told him however, that running around a tree with his arms spread out like a plane was absurd and he should restrain from doing such a thing. “This is just fine.”

“Very good, Ms. Bell. If you would please take the other end of the blanket.” He stood there and watched the ladies work as a little unit stretching out the blanket. He joined them with the basket and they started taking out the food.

He wasn’t sure how she managed to put together such filling and colorful meal in under twenty minutes, but the sandwiches were good and he was sitting satisfied and finally feeling apart of the world of the living again watching Irene play down in the creek.

Daisy joined him back on the blanket with an exasperated huff.

“That little girl has so much energy.”

He laughed. “That’s one way to put it.”

There was a gap of silence that he spent telling himself not to look over at her. He lost after a moment or two. She was looking at Irene playing out in the creek. The wind had its way with more hair that floated in the breeze around her face and shoulders.

“Do you know why I asked Irene if this was a good spot?”

He frowned. “Not really.”

The woman looked over at him. “Children do well when they feel they have control over bits of their life.” She looked back out the playing child. “There are somethings that aren’t up for negotiation, like bedtime and eating ones vegetables, but whenever there’s an opportunity for choice it’s helpful.”

He nodded. “You’re so good with children. Do you have any of your own?”

She presented him with a sad smile that didn’t meet her stunning eyes.

“No, Mr. Lane. I do not.”

There was something there, something dark something disheartening, but he wasn’t one for prying.

“I’ve spent the better part of my adult life with children. Teaching, healing, learning, growing with them. Fascinating what they’re capable of overcoming, Mr. Lane.”

They set in silence for a long moment. He was catching her floral scent on the breeze mixed with other fragrances that he was certain came from her hair.

“You mentioned something earlier. Being helpful. Is that why you had Irene help with the blanket?”

She smiled over at him. “There is hope for you yet, Mr. Lane. Children want to be helpful, most anyway. Irene thrives on it. She’s a busy girl as you already know. As her guardian, you must help her channel that energy into productive activities or she will make her own activities.”

He cringed at the memory of her running through the house screaming with poor Harriet charging after her.

He had no idea what it all entailed, but he was more set on being the best uncle that he could be for Irene. Her parents were his best friends and they entrusted her life, their most precious connection to this planet, to him and he would not let them down.

He glanced over at the pretty woman lounging next to him.  He brought Daisy in to help Irene, but maybe she could help him too.

He pushed up off the ground and headed toward the creek and the laughing little girl drenched head to toe. Her bright blue eyes met his with a spark of life that reminded him so much of her father.



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