Dylan picked up the piece of paper.
You don’t belong here. Go home!
He quickly opened the door, but no one was there. “What the heck? Is this some sick joke?”
He’d only arrived that day. So far, everyone was friendly and welcoming. Not that he had any burning desire to stay, but who wanted him gone? He had every intention of taking advantage of his short stay here— Lorraine’s cooking, the lake, the beach, and everything else. Most of all, he wanted to find out about the key.
Someone tapped at the door. He had left it ajar.
He pulled the door wide open immediately, expecting to see the person who had left the note. Instead, he found Carol. “Oh, hi.”
“Sean told me he would give you a grand tour and maybe you two would go swimming tomorrow,” she said. “But do you think you could spare an old woman some time for a visit?”
“Sure,” he said, and stepped aside. “You wanna come in?”
“Let’s go down to the kitchen.”
“Okay.” He stepped out. “Sean took me to the restaurant his parents operate in the next building. Lorraine’s cooking is amazing.”
“Yes. It wasn’t always a restaurant. I offered to let them use it. I’ve always known she could cook. The timing was right, and things worked out.”
She escorted him to the casual dining table next to the kitchen.
Max showed up with a tray of tea and cookies and addressed Dylan. “Would you rather have coffee instead?”
“Decaf, if you have it, please. And sweetener.”
The butler nodded, retreated for a moment, and returned with a carafe, sweetener, and creamer. After he set everything on the table, he departed again.
“Tell me about Maggie—your mother,” Carol said.
“Oh, she went by Mimi.”
“She was always Maggie here. I heard it was breast cancer.”
“Yes, she waited too long to see the doctor. By the time they confirmed the diagnosis…” He had to stop for a moment. “It was stage four, inoperable. After the first round of treatment, the doctors were hopeful the cancer would stop spreading and she would have more time. But it wasn’t meant to be. She fought hard, though.”
Together, they shared a moment of silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
“Do you know why Mom ran away? Actually, I have no idea if she did… I grew up believing that her family had all died—that she was all alone.”
After a heavy sigh, Carol said, “I don’t blame her for keeping us a secret. I’m sure she believed it was for your protection. And she might be right. Ralph, your grandfather, passed just about two years ago. I was hoping that she would come home then, but she didn’t."