Now, for the next part of Merlin's Legacy:
(Edit: Sorry, the formatting was a bit off and I needed to fix it after I posted this entry)
Donella took me into town for my shopping trip.
We’d driven back to the Nesbille house, where Charlie dropped us off. He said he had a couple of legal matters to finish up, but he’d be back in time for dinner. I was going to go into town on my own until Donella said, “I’ll go with you. If you’re going to be living here, you might as well get to know the locals. Besides, I know where everything is.”
I agreed, and after going inside to tell Abby where we were going, we got in her car and drove into town.
We parked in the town square, near the hardware shop. We got out and looked around. There were a few more people around, all the businesses were open, and all the charm of small-town life were on display.
Despite it being August, the air was chilly. I looked over at Donella. “Is it always this nippy this time of the year?”
“Its’s been below average for several weeks,” Donella replied. “Where to first?”
“Hardware store,” I replied, looking at the business in question. WIHITE HARDWARE, it read over the door. Danella gave me a puzzled look, but shrugged and followed me.
We walked across the road and into the hardware store. The smell of wood and oil tickled my nose as we walked in. There were four parallel aisles of hardware and equipment, stocked with the sort of items you would expect to find in a hardware store. 1950's era music was playing over the store’s sound system.
A counter was to out right as we came in. An older man was behind the counter. He was taller than me by several inches, and thin. His graying hair was nearly combed, but his eyebrows were in major need of a trimming. Dark brown eyes gazed out from behind a pair of thick glasses two decades out of date. “Donella!” he said cheerfully. “It’s been awhile. How’s Abby?”
“She’s fine,” Donella replied agreeable. “Mister Wihite, I need to introduce you to someone. Roger, this is Mister Wihite, who owns this store. Mister Wihite, this is Roger Merlin, Lucian’s great-nephew.”
I saw Wihite’s eyes light up with interest. He held out a boney hand. “Welcome to Pilgrim’s Cove, Mister Merlin,” he said. “When did you get into town?”
“Last night,” I replied.
Wihite nodded. “Lucian was a good man. He left this world far too soon, and he’ll be missed. Staying in town long?”
“It looks like I’m going to be around for a while.”
He nodded. “Good. Hope to see more of you. If you’ll excuse me.” Another customer, Another thin fellow with little hair and a beak for a nose, came to the counter while we were talking. I stepped back and let Wihite handle the customer. I grabbed a cart and chose the aisle farthest away from the counter. Donella followed. “What’s wrong?” she asked softly. I leaned in. “I’m competing with Lucian’s ghost,” I whispered. “Everyone loved him, now he’s gone and they’re expecting me to pick up where he left off.”
She placed a hand on my arm. “You,” she said firmly, “worry too much.”
“But I’m not Lucian Merlin!”
“Then be Roger Merlin,” she said, his eyes locking with mine. “I don’t think you were raised too differently than he was.” I found myself staring into those eyes, losing any objections I had. We blinked at the same time, and Donella said, “Let’s get what you want and get out of here.”
We spent the next ten minutes going around the store. A radio, two bundles of firewood, matches, and a lantern (with extra batteries) went into the cart. Donella began frowning when I added a hatchet, a baseball bat, a six-foot tall, one-inch diameter dowel rod, and a few wooden stakes to the cart. “It’s just a night in the house,” she said.
“I’m not taking any chances,” I replied.
“You realize how childish that sounds?”
“Do you care?”
“Are you planning to sleep?”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Tell that to my bruises.” I tossed in a couple of large packages of beef jerky and a large bag of trail mix into the cart. “I’m going to be in a large house, all by myself, and there’s people who have twice tried to kill me, or at the very least, tried putting me into the hospital. I would prefer to over prepare and not need everything then to be under-prepared.”
We both turned and saw Margaret Teague walking toward us. She was still wearing her business suit from this morning, though she had a basket on one arm. She gave me a brief, disapproving look, then beamed at Donella.
“Margaret!” Donella said brightly. “Oh, I don’t know if you’ve met—”
“We’ve met,” Margaret and I said at the same time.
Margaret looked at the items in my cart. “Going camping?” she asked.
“Sort of,” I replied.
Margaret looked at Donella. “I’ve a new selection of collage brochures you you to look at.”
“I don’t know,” Donella said. “I really don’t want to leave Aunt—”
“Nonsense!” Margaret said. “Abby is able to take care of herself. It’s time you started living your own life, and the first step in that path is college.”
Donella sighed. “I don’t know if college is right for me,” she said.
“College is important!” Margaret said. “You are a bright and hardworking woman who will go far in the world. Or do you want to stay here and marry someone like him?” she waved a hand at me.
“I don’t want to discuss—”
“Is the estate wired for the Internet?” I asked.
Both women looked at me. “Yes,” Donella replied.
“Why not take some on-line courses?” I said. “Pick a couple of classes that’ll transfer to any college and take them. If you feel comfortable, then you can transfer to a college in person.”
“I don’t think—” Margaret began.
“I’ll think about it,” Donella said quickly. “If you’ll excuse me a minute, I just remembered that I need to pick up some hooks for Aunt Abby.” She hurried off.
I watched Donella until she disappeared, then turn back to find myself staring into a pair of green eyes. Only they were not playful, but hard and unyielding. “I will tell you only once, Merlin,” Margaret growled. “If you ever harm Donella in any way, I will make sure they never find your body, is that clear?”
My temper flared up, and instead of backing away, I leaned in, so we were nose to nose. “You listen to me,” I growled. “I do not hurt women, in any way. I would cut off my right arm before I would willing hurt her. Do I make myself clear?”
There was a brief flash of surprise in Margaret’s eyes, and she pulled back. “Maybe Lucian didn’t make a mistake,” she murmured, then smiled. “It may come down to doing that, Merlin. Enjoy your ‘camping trip.’” She turned and walked away, though the walk was more of a strut. I merely shook my head and continued shopping.