There was no doubt about it: the house was active at all hours of the night. But the more Carolyn thought about it, the more she realized that the activity had changed dramatically over the last six years.
She could still remember the old darkness of the house and sudden soft sounds from the piano shooting through the silence, indicating that her mother was still in the drawing room, dressed in her finery and playing for no one at all. Other nights she would hear the arguments of her uncle Roger and aunt Laura before she would toss a pillow over her head and will their words away. Still other nights she was the phantom as she tiptoed her way to the door and, if all had gone as planned, into the city to spend her time with near strangers.
Victoria had changed it all, hadn't she? Her presence in the house brought in a sea of new faces and voices: curious, angry, and scheming. But it was so different than before: her mother shook off her malaise and into action; Roger moved on the defensive against old foes; and she and David pushed and strained against the remaining adult boundaries as the house became more chaotic.
Barnabas, and later Julia, just continued that trend. Even more strangers entered the fold, forcing all them to confront new challenges, and—for lack of a better term—grow up. Mother managed the house with aplomb, Roger finally began to care about the family business, David’s knack for mischief was met by his growing concern for others and she…she finally began to calm down. But she still had the nightly wanderlust.
It just wasn't the same people that roamed the halls with her. Carolyn knew her mother to be sound asleep. Uncle Roger was away in Bangor. When she walked past David’s room, she heard nothing but silence.
The new guard kept their hours downstairs. She walked by the office and peaked in to see Barnabas and Julia pouring over old books. Julia caught sight of her and brought a single finger to her lips. Carolyn nodded and walked on.
The drawing room doors were cracked and Carolyn took that as an invitation to walk in. There she found Quentin, brandy snifter in one hand and a book draped across his lap. His eyes glanced up toward her; the smile hit them before spreading to his lips. He motioned with his free hand for her to come closer. She did so eagerly.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
He gestured toward the book and said, “It comes courtesy of East Wing.”
"So you’re helping Barnabas and Julia with whatever they’re doing?" He nodded. "Well," she said, "you wouldn't mind if I helped you?"
"Be my guest." Quentin reached down and plucked another book from a short stack. "There’s more than enough to go around."
"Thank you." Carolyn took the book from his hand and asked, "You really don’t mind?"
"No at all. I’m just surprised to see. I assumed you’d be asleep."
"Oh, I’m kind of a night owl." Her brows furrowed. "What am I supposed to be looking for?"
Quentin laughed softly. “It’s a long story.”
"That’s all right. We've got all night."