The weather turned chilly, the wind blew strong, and the snow begged to fall. Milly’s stomach growled, the generous breakfast fuelled her until she spied a muffin. Her green eyes sparkled at the accompanying marshmallow mountain hot chocolate. What was missing from the perfect day was the views, the sun setting across the bay. The best place was atop the lighthouse, Milly understood they stretched for miles. Vicky’s interest in the museum, the slow tour guide meant darkness fell.
Milly raced up the winding staircase, imagining pirate ships scattered across the bay. They braced themselves, wind-whipped, Seafret stinging their cheeks. Vicky pulled Milly back from the edge fastening her coat. Despite the breathtaking views, lost to the night, the lantern-lit land and oceans, as it spun. The stars were almost concealed by the clouds moving in, bringing the predicted storm. Vicky hugged her daughter tight for warmth, encouraging her to consider leaving. Milly shuddered disappointed, squeezing her Vicky promised a return in the spring.
Vicky’s nieces and nephews were teenagers, so invitations to Milly were scarce. To build the relationship, Vicky took the cousins to dinner. They took the train to Oasis Springs and Ziva’s favourite restaurant, the Chez Llama. It failed to help; Milly sat quiet, listening to Rhonda and Casey gossip. They were in high school; boys, music and make-up, and the recent catwalk trends heavily debated. Milly tried to interject their conversation, particularly with the boys Thomas and Yahir. In the end, she looked relieved when the food arrived. A volcanic pasta dish, sauce oozed, thick creamy tomatoes, red wine and cheese. It topped a mountain of pasta, Milly stabbed with her fork with a huge grin. Vicky wondered how one small girl could eat her weight in food and have room for dessert.
Milly cuddled Libby and Abby by the fire, tired of the stormy weather. The cats preferred the slower pace life offered as they reached elder status. Libby yearned to be up high; it was Vicky who placed her atop the fridge enabling her to frown on Vicky’s cooking. Abby enjoyed batting her toys towards Milly who laid on her stomach, legs bent, kicking the air. She knocked them back, giggling, encouraging Abby to attack.
Visitors in this weather was unheard of, so a frantic knock at the door was a welcome surprise. Eliza dripped weight down with gifts. Milly hugged, her clothes soaking up the rain from the jacket as Vicky handed Eliza a towel. Amongst the toys, books and artwork Patrick sent, Milly spied a violin. The cats shot from the room as the bow screeched against the strings. Vicky cringed, mouthing an annoyed “Thank you”, Eliza grinned seizing the bow.
Laying the table, Vicky listened to Eliza; she spoke to Milly as an equal, which gave her a sense of hope for the future. Her ears could use a rest from the violin’s instruction, but she was please Eliza came. It was the perfect opportunity to have a much-needed discussion. Vicky had put a lot of thought into retiring, when she might and what she would do. Emilie’s death and Milly’s outburst sparked a realisation, time was no longer on her side. Her paintings were making good money which would cover their living costs. Ziva’s savings and the sale of the house, support Milly should she want to go to university. The question remained, where would Milly live? The bond between Eliza and Milly she recognised as the strongest. She believed, even if Eliza was uncertain, that it would be the best place for Milly.