I shivered as the fog swirled all around me; its tendrils reaching out like fingers to caress my neck.
“What a stupid idea having the parking area so far away from the house.” I muttered, trudging across the lawn, my feet now well and truly soaked from the rainwater still lying inches deep on the grass. “First thing I’m doing is getting a decent drainage system put in.”
An owl swooped past me in the darkness as I pushed open the huge double doors, and despite the chill of the night, felt sweat trickle down between my shoulder blades.
“Great, still no electricity!” I groaned as I flicked the switch up and down. “What on earth possessed me to visit the house tonight instead of waiting until morning?”
“Oh do stop complaining,” a voice wheezed with annoyance, “you know as well as I do, that you enjoy reading more in the dark.”
I lifted the book several inches and let it drop on the table. I was rewarded with yelp and a rustle of pages.
“Don’t do that,” moaned Rushton, “I shall have a headache now.”
I sniggered, “You can’t get a headache, you’re a book—a sixth grade reader in fact.”
“Humph! That’s how much you know, Miss Clever Clogs.” Rushton snapped his pages shut.
“Oh come on, Rushy, don’t sulk.”
“That’s Sir Rushton, to you.” His voice sounded muffled through the ornate cover.
I sighed, my friendship, Sir Rushton Mortimer Cedric Fitzwilliam was, for want of a better description, fraught with temper tantrums. Sometimes his, sometimes mine.
I never really knew what to expect when I picked up the reader. Sorry, I mean when I visited Sir Rushton. Sometimes I’d find myself transported to Wales or Cornwall—two of my most favorite places in the world, and sometimes he’d dump me on a clipper ship in the middle of a storm. He even has this ability to change the story as I’m reading it. That’s usually when one of my temper tantrums kicks in. The last time this happened, he had me suspended over a volcano—a scary experience I never want to live through again. Well, at least I lived through it.
After that incident, I’d thrown Rushty across the floor and called him a cheap paperback novel. The insults flew back and forth between the reader and, well, the reader—one of us brittle and fragile from time, and the other fragile in spirit.
I’d bought the manor house and would be living here permanently. I’d have all the time in the world to read the books in the library that came as part of the deal. But no matter how many I read none would compare to Rushty.
But tonight, I had hurt poor Rushty. I was tired and he was tetchy. He was a book. No, he was more than that. Over the last three months, he had become more than just a book; more than just a sixth grade reader. He had become my friend.
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