It was Jamie’s first time discussing this matter so seriously with Robbie. Indeed, Robbie was an entirely different person from his usual frivolous self.
He’d suddenly grown stern. Looking into his brother’s small face, Jamie felt that Robbie exuded an aura of manliness.
“I haven’t…” Robbie began, then reflected. “My personality’s always been rather neutral. I’m not as lively as you.”
“No,” Jamie shook his head, saying solemnly. “You were always wiser and more mature than I was even when Mommy was still with us. But you’d still laugh and joke. You were close to Great-grandpa too. I haven’t seen you smile in a while.”
“Now that Mommy’s not around, I can’t bring myself to smile,” Robbie replied in a low voice, his eyes reddening.
Jamie bowed his head in grief. He was silent for a moment, then said, “Ellie and I are sad, too, that Mommy’s no longer around. But we can’t take it out on Great-grandpa. It has nothing to do with him.”
Robbie frowned but said nothing. He was the only one who had borne witness to the last time Mommy had been with them. She’d clearly been threatened by Great-grandpa. Robbie hadn’t stopped blaming himself for trusting Great-grandpa.
If only I’d stopped him! If only I’d never left her side! Robbie despaired with all the benefits of hindsight. Perhaps tragedy would not have struck then.
There was no way he could tell all this to Jamie and Ellie, though. He swallowed the truth in silence, and it weighed heavy on his heart like a stone.
Let them live in blissful ignorance! That’s the only way they can continue to be happy.
“Great-grandpa’s eyes were red, and he wasn’t listening all the time I was talking to him, staring off into the distance,” Jamie pressed. “He was trying so hard to get you to like him! Why did you treat him that way?”
“I had something urgent to deal with just now…” Robbie began. He suddenly sat up in dismay as raindrops began pelting down outside the window.
His mechanical dove was still hidden in that tree! It was in no danger of being discovered at the moment. At present, it faced an even greater risk of short-circuiting.
Robbie had installed a waterproof system for it, which was effective for warding off drizzles. However, this torrential downpour was another matter altogether.
“What was so urgent?” Jamie demanded.
“I’ll tell you later,” Robbie replied distractedly. He frantically turned toward the computer in a bid to hastily transfer his mechanical dove to another place of refuge from the rain.
“Robbie!” Jamie cried in annoyance. “I’m talking to you. Aren’t you being a little rude?”
“I’m busy. I’ll tell you later! Go and get some breakfast first,” Robbie pleaded, his eyes fixed on the computer screen.
“I’m getting really mad!” Jamie declared, his arms akimbo. He stalked out of the room.
Robbie glanced at Jamie’s departing figure, then turned back to his computer. Wait till I get Mommy back! You won’t be mad then.
Charlotte returned to her room after attending to Fifi’s wounds. She drew back the blinds and gazed out at the gloomy skies. Her heart grew as heavy as the dark clouds that gathered on the horizon.
She recalled the wails she’d heard at the Nachts’ residence previously. Charlotte’s heart ached for the children.
Why am I feeling this way? Charlotte wondered. She was baffled by how emotionally attached she was.
As her mind drifted, Charlotte was suddenly drawn to a faint red glow emitted from a tree not far off. She immediately fished out her binoculars. Peering through them, Charlotte realized that she was looking at a dove.
Her mind flashed back to the bird that had been felled with a single shot. Upon its dissection, she had discovered that it was actually a mechanical dove. Charlotte presumed that this must be a similar specimen.
Divine Corporation specialized in technology. Such creatures were mere playthings to them.
Charlotte scoffed. Is Zachary using these toys to spy on me? How childish of him!
She raised her gun and prepared to condemn it to the same fate its predecessor had suffered. However, another thought struck her. If Zachary’s so intent to spy on me, perhaps I should take him for a ride!
Charlotte lowered her gun.
The rain was still falling steadily. There was a knock on the door, and Lupine entered with a pot of hot tea. “Ms. Lindberg, have a cup of hot tea to warm yourself up.”
“Go and get someone to close all of the windows,” Charlotte ordered. “Today’s itinerary is canceled. I’m taking a break today.”
“Yes, Ms. Lindberg.”