My vision of Cat as an adult, later in the story.
Secrets Revealed, the second in the series.
Cat’s gaze met her mother’s through the doorway. Amanda Wilson stood in the middle of the room wearing only her faded, threadbare shift and a look of shock upon her face.
Cat seethed. Her entire body shook until her teeth chattered. “How could you?”
Cat did not wait to hear the rest, the excuses. She turned and ran, not caring as one of her too big shoes flipped from her foot and smacked against the wall. The other she lost shortly after, but still didn’t turn back or slow her pace.
“Cathleen!” her mother called after her.
Cat did not stop until she came to the hatch leading to her secret place, the attic. In every ‘home’ they’d had, there was a place, a cellar, an attic, a nook beneath the stairs, or a shed she claimed as her own. A secret place where she found solitude and peace. With great effort, she lifted the heavy trap door and climbed up.
Once closed in her hideaway, she gave in to despair, dropped to her knees and cried. This 'home' hadn’t been perfect, but at least Lord Gilmore showed no interest in her or her sister. She shuddered as she thought of their last employer’s lecheries. She crawled to ‘her’ corner and curled up in the pile of dusty, long forgotten rugs. There she laid for hours, desolation her only companion, until hunger, clawing at her insides, forced her to move.
It was their last night. She had things to do to prepare for the coming nights on the street. Things to steal. She rose to her feet, wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her shabby dress and headed back down. The kitchen would be her first stop. The cook, Mrs. Cobb, always seemed nice, in her own gruff way. Maybe she would understand when she heard of their predicament. Maybe Cat would not have to steal after all. This time. She would feel the woman out first, before asking.
An hour later, with a bit of cloth full of all Mrs. Cobb thought could be spared and not noticed missing, Cat entered the cramped room she shared with her mother and sister, Isabella, for the last time.
Her mother jumped up from her position on the side of Cat and Isabella’s cot.
“Oh, Cat. There you are. I was so worried.” Her mother reached towards Cat and then must have thought better of it because she let her hands fall back to her sides. Amanda searched her daughter’s face, her eyes full of hurt and concern.
Cat dropped her load onto her mother’s cot. Her shoes lay next to it, waiting for her, beside her sister’s.
“What is that?” her mother asked. “You didn’t—”
“No, Mama. I didn’t steal. Not exactly. I begged. So much better, isn’t it?” Cat couldn’t keep the bitterness from her words. “It’s not much, but it was all Mrs. Cobb thought she could give without causing a lot of question.”
“Cat, you’re late.” Isabella frowned, rising up from the tiny cot. “Mama wouldn’t start the story without you.”
Cat’s eyes fell on her little sister. As usual, their mother would have sugar coated their leaving and Isabella, being as naïve as she was, would take each twisted word as truth. But not Cat. Not anymore.
“I’m not in the mood for a story tonight.” Cat looked pointedly at her mother. None of the stories. She'd heard enough half-truths. Enough lies.
“But, Cat. She’s going to tell your favorite one, the story of the fairies of the Dark Forest. The one about Kitty.” Isabella scooted over to the wall and patted the small space that was left. “Hurry. Get out of you dress and lay down so that she can start.”
Cat met her mother’s eyes once more.
Amanda mouthed the words, I’m sorry. Aloud she said, “Cat, do lie down. We are going to need a good night’s rest before our big adventure tomorrow.”
Cat’s anger faded as she stared into the tear filled eyes of their mother. Her shoulders dropped. “Yes, we are.” For Bella, Cat reminded herself as she plastered a smile on her face before turning back to her little sister. Isabella, only nine, still very much needed to believe in magic, fairies and happily-ever-afters. Life’s hard lessons would come down on her soon enough.
Once settled in, Cat closed her eyes and let her mother’s soft, musical voice drift over her, let herself be taken away from the worries and doubts. They would return soon enough, with the cold grey of dawn.
“They called her Kitty. She came to them, the fairies of the Dark Forest, one bitterly cold winter night with no memories of her past, as all healers do. Like so many before her, she had given her life, her first life, while bringing another into the world, her first born, a son. But, Kitty was different. Her heart and soul were so pure, so unselfish, she was granted another chance at happiness. One more chance…”