On our way out of town, we followed Felicity’s instructions down a side path to meet Sophie’s friend, Minka. Which obviously means we found the Firgrove race track. And I easily saw the similarities with Sophie’s new track. In and out of this sheep pen and over hay bales, and weaving through trees… Ugh. And a hay bale on a bridge, who thought of that one? Evening didn’t like the narrowness of it either. But it worked out in the end, and we thanked Minka.
Back up that windy path we went to Elizabeth. She looked ghastly when she saw the picture, and revealed that his name wasn’t Sandman, but Sands, the leader of Dark Core. I vaguely recognized the company name, but Elizabeth quickly assured us that they were worse than G.E.D., which was all I needed to hear. We were sent to Alex for confirmation on the picture, since Alex had apparently had a run in with him before.
We called for Judy rather than ride back, both to rest the horses and because it was faster. My knee was also really starting to hurt after all my antics of the day, and Savvy even let me stretch out in the back seat to rest it. We found Alex back at the winery, and we showed her the picture. It was indeed Mr. Sands, and Justin was in big, big trouble. His grandfather was worse than Mr. Kendall and we’d sent him to him, and I felt almost sick with guilt. We had to do something!
That made me think of all our efforts to get Mr. Kendall out of Everwind Fields, including writing to Aaron Silverglade in Jorvik City. Using letters as traps and to get things done…couldn’t we do the same thing? The invoice had an address for “Mr. Sandman” in Silverglade. We could send a letter, get him to Silverglade, and see him for ourselves. Alex thought it was a great idea, making me flush in embarrassment. She asked for my help to figure out what to say in the letter while Savvy went to get a stamp from Judy. I suggested getting more details on a property he had for rent in Firgrove, being just vague enough that if there was something open, he’d jump to provide the information, and if there wasn’t, he’d assume we’d been recommended and were just checking things out. We even came up with a fake name to sign it all under. Once she saw my handwriting, she insisted on me writing it. Hers was too childish looking or something, I guess. I don’t think mine’s that special, but oh well. I did it.
Savvy returned with the stamp, and we put it in the mail. I could tell Savvy was fretting about something, and I assumed it was Derek. But he was a big boy and could take care of himself! …I hope.
Evening whickered at that point, and then stamped his foot. He wanted his gear off and he wanted it off now. I sighed and limped my way over to him. My knee was starting to stiffen up. I needed ice and then heat to get the muscle to relax. But first, my horse. I took his gear off, brushed him, checked his feet for stones, and then gave him a feeding. He gave me a head bump in thanks, and let me go fight Bright to get his feet up for another picking. I heard and felt Evening being grumpy and cranky on the other side of the wall, making me pause. Oh, he was so jealous of all this fuss over Bright today… I’d have to make it up to him in the morning.
At last, I was done. I grabbed my saddle bag to take with me to the room to unpack the clothes. And it was way lumpier than I was expecting it to be. I frowned and turned it over in my hands on our way to the room. I took the seat at the vanity and started pulling things out, tossing the pants and the yellow helmet I’d tied to it on to a shelf in the “sell” pile. My laundry bag was at the foot of my bed, and I could tell that what was inside of it was now folded and clean. I’d have to empty that out before bed.
But first, I dug in the bag when it was still too lumpy. And came out with a handful of black elastic and padding and Velcro and… I stared for a second at it blankly, and then untangled it until I saw what I actually had. One thing was a knee brace, which I could have cried with relief on seeing. Except I knew I didn’t own a knee brace, even a little one-sizes-fits-all kind like this. And then I also had a set of similar knee pads, adjustable and unisex.
“Wha… I… These are not mine!” I finally managed to squeak/yell out.
Savvy had been reading (or rereading) her mail, but she put it down at my exclamation. I showed her what I was talking about, and she asked if they were labeled. I didn’t know how that would tell me how they got in my bag, but I checked. The knee pads had no marks on them, but the brace’s tag had “Moor. Pole.” on it. She said what I was thinking, that it had to be Josh, which made sense with it labeled that.
But then she insisted that this was his way of showing he cared.
“Cared?” I repeated, my voice going all high and squeaky in my upset. “He has a girlfriend already!” Then I immediately flushed as I realized I had given a hint that I had deeper feelings than just interest for him, something I didn’t even know if it was true or not. I barreled on so it would hopefully go unnoticed, “He won’t talk to me anymore! Unless something is wrong with Bright, but that doesn’t count. How is that caring?”
She looked a little apprehensive, but argued that him being grumpy was his way of showing he cared, that was grumpy because he couldn’t figure out how to get rid of his girlfriend, which made me shrivel inside. I didn’t want to wreck some girl’s romance! I was only here for the summer, and Loretta had this vibe that just screamed local girl. Even if she was awful and this could lead to heartbreak for him eventually, I didn’t want to be the reason!
I hid my face in my hands and tried not to scream, completely blocking Savvy out without meaning to. All the stress and fretting that had been building up in me was right at the surface again, threatening to overwhelm me, all over a boy. Savvy fluttered around the room, and then went to talk to Judy, ordering me not to move. I think I managed to nod my head, and she was gone. I started those meditative breathing techniques I’d learned, trying to find my calm place again. I hadn’t cracked yet, and I refused to start now.
By the time Savvy returned–with cold and heat packs–I was somewhat more put together. I kept up my breathing, but she ducked into the bathroom. I heard her yell at Nikki, but the door muffled the sound too much to understand, and then I heard the water kick on. My heart sank a little. I’d been hoping to stand under the shower and let the heat get into my leg, starting with a wet heat and then moving to the dry heat.
But it cut off too soon, and she came out and said she’d drawn me a bath. I was shocked, but I smiled and thanked her sincerely. I stood up…and wobbled, about falling over. My knee had completely swollen up on me. Thankfully, I didn’t have too much pride and was willing to accept Savvy’s help into the bathroom and getting my boots off. But I did have modesty, so I insisted on being able to do the rest myself. She apologized for a lack of bubbles and darted off, making me shake my head and giggle a little.
The hot water helped, both my knee and my emotional state. Water usually has a way of making me feel better, on a pun of my name I suppose. It was a warmer bath than I usually had, but I was grateful as I felt my knee relaxing and almost pulse. Savvy had known better than I did in this case. I let it heal both my pain and my emotional hurts, soothing how frazzled I felt over the day. I wish things could be simple. In a way, they could be. I could ignore people in trouble and focus on myself only. But that would be so cold-hearted. I couldn’t do it. I was committed. So I was going to have to learn how to cope with these mystical things.
And as for Josh… My heart hurt, but he wasn’t mine. And I wasn’t going to get between him and Loretta. So I was going to have to figure out how to be civil with him. I think friends would be pushing it.
Finally, I levered myself out of the tub, the water too chilled even for me. it didn’t help that I immediately put the ice pack on my knee to help with the swelling, shocking the muscles. I managed to dry myself off, get on my nightgown, and (with a good deal of embarrassment) called for Savvy for help again. She came in and helped me up and out of there, me grabbing the packs on our way out.
I managed up the ladder to my bed, somehow, and pulled my nightgown up enough I could see my knee. It wasn’t as bad as it had been, which was a relief. I hadn’t ever banged myself up this badly before, but I had stressed it out with all my antics today. I flopped down with a sigh and started packing it with heat and the cold while I wrote up this entry. Savvy is already curled up on bed too. I guess the mail didn’t really bring good news today.
Money: 3575 SC, 5707 JS
Have a question for Misty about her experiences at Moorland or before? Ask her over at Ask Mountain Song over on tumblr.