Ruby remained sitting in the now scorching sand of the small dune next to the beach, watching people as they walked barefoot through the beach’s swash zone. She took her sneakers off, sat them next to the blue stems of a clump of bunch grass, and began wiggling her toes down into a cooler layer of sand. It was soothing. If it were not for the sun’s blistering rays beating down on her, she would have fallen asleep.
After feeling like she was beginning to bake, Ruby decided she had sat there long enough and needed to find some shade. With the back of her hand, where fewer granules of sand clung, she wiped perspiration from her forehead. Then she grabbed her shoes and stood up, just as a flock of birds flew from the lighthouse. Only one black bird remained, sitting next to the lightning rod on the roof of the lantern room. How odd that it did not fly away with the other winged creatures. But then, it was somehow different from the others. A crow? A raven? No, it had a peculiar shape.
Her attention was drawn away from the bird when a humming vibration came from inside her purse. She opened it and took out the cell phone. “Hello.”
“This is Tammy Jackson from Black Water Staffing Solutions; is this Roberta?”
“Yes, how can I help you?” she said, walking toward the lapping waves.
“Are you still looking for work? I have a job you might be interested in; it’s on Fish Island as a private duty nurse.”
Ruby did not answer right away, she was so tired of nursing and did not want to take another nursing job. “I’ve never worked as a private duty nurse, only in hospitals and as a visiting nurse.”
“It doesn’t seem to be too difficult of a job,” Tammy said. “You’d be caring for an eighty-year-old man in his home. The job description has the duties listed as one-on-one care for an elderly man who needs daily wound care, IV medication, and other tests and treatments as ordered by the physician. The nurse is required to live in the home and will have her own chamber for rest and leisure. And—”
“Wait a minute,” Ruby interrupted. “What’s a chamber? It sounds like a jail cell.”
Tammy snickered. “I believe it’s like a bedroom, they’re not going to keep you locked up. Now, as I was saying; you’ll like this part, the pay is above average. I also just hired a home health aide who will go into the house once or twice a day to assist with bathing, dressing, things like that—but she won’t live in the house with you, she’ll be in a small cottage away from the home. So what do you think?”
The last thing Ruby wanted to do was to live in some stranger’s house, no matter the pay. Then it occurred to her that it would get her closer to where her brother had disappeared, making it easier to investigate the case; besides, soon she was going to be homeless anyway. “Where on the island is the home?”
Tammy cleared her throat. “Now don’t get freaked out about this, but it’s at the mansion located near the old convent.” She paused, and then in an upbeat voice said, “Don’t forget the pay, it’s great. Besides, it sounds like a pretty easy job.”
If she took the job, it would be both a blessing and a curse. Alan vanished somewhere around the convent and Maryville, but there were frightening rumors about the place such as ghosts, warlocks, and vampires. “You do realize they call that old convent Castle Moldovan now, and I think that mansion is actually inside the outer walls.”
“Think about the pay,” Tammy teased.
“How long is the contract?”
“Six months, but it can be extended indefinitely if both parties agree. Think about it this way, you’ll be spending half a year in near paradise. You know the island is beautiful with its forest, quaint towns, and spectacular views; it’ll be like a vacation.”
“Maybe the other side of the island is quaint, but. where I’ll be it’ll be more like a holiday for goblins.”
“So, are you taking it?” Tammy said, ignoring the comment.
Ruby sighed. “I suppose.”
“Don’t sound so cheerful.”
“I’m happy,” Ruby said, trying to sound thrilled about the offer. “There are things I need to do on the island anyway.”
“Okay, then. As soon as you do a phone interview with Lady Beth Vrolok, probably tomorrow, I’ll send the contract to you for signature. Sound good?”