Tessa stared around at, well, everything, in the sitting room. Surprisingly, her Uncle Paul, her father’s estranged brother had agreed to see her and that meant Tessa was now over one hundred miles from home, perched on the edge of an uncomfortable chair in a sitting room filled with a myriad of instruments, books, parchments, and… was that an umbrella balanced on its tip on a globe? She shook her head and continued to survey the room. A glimmer of metallic rainbow colors from the corner opposite the umbrella and away from the window, had her out of her seat and across the room before she even realized she was moving.
The object that had caught her attention, upon close examination, resembled a compass, but with five nested dials of some iridescent material, and each needle moved, as they were at that moment, independently. Tessa gasped and reached out a hand towards the device.
“Please don’t touch that, niece,” a deep voice said from the doorway.
Tessa spun around, whipping her hands behind her back like a small child in a candy store. A tall, stately man with glossy, blue-black hair, sporting a long moustache and sideburns, cerulean blue eyes, and wearing an expensive, tailored suit, stood just inside the sitting room door.
“I’m so sorry. But how on earth were you able to locate a multi-dimensional compass?” she asked.
The man smiled. “First things first. I am Paul Marsters. My brother was Damian Marsters. That makes me your uncle. It is a pleasure to meet you after all these year. I am sorry I was unable to do so previously.” He gave her a small bow.
“Oh! Yes. And, of course, I am Tessa Marsters, daughter of Damian Marsters. I do not know what caused the estrangement between you and my father, but I came here hoping to repair some of the damage. Father… died last year. He regretted whatever it was that happened between you and asked me to attempt to repair the family relationship.”
Uncle Paul’s face fell when Tessa told him her father had died. She saw the guilt in his eyes and tried to think of a way to ease it. Before she could say anything more, her uncle moved forward into the room to stand next to her. After a short pause during which they both stared at the fantastical compass, he laid a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“I am heartbroken to hear this news. I had held on to hope that we could repair our relationship before it was too late. Will you… tell me what happened?” he said in a quiet voice.
“Of course, Uncle. I would be happy to,” Tessa replied.
Uncle Paul turned and stepped back to the door and spoke to someone outside. “Smithwicks, could we have some tea, please? Set it up in the conservatory, if you would. Thank you.”
Uncle Paul gestured to the door. “If you’ll allow me, let us move into the conservatory for some tea and repairing of family ties.”
Tessa nodded, throwing one longing look back at the multi-dimensional compass. Paul smiled. “I promise to tell you the story of how I came to be in possession of that after we have some tea,” he said.
Blushing at allowing herself to be read so easily, Tessa allowed her uncle to lead her down the hall to the rear of the large house. Stepping into the conservatory, she quickly closed her gaping mouth. The room spread the width of the house with large windows curving from the middle of the roof down to the ground. Standing still and concentrating, she could feel the power holding the frames and glass in place and protecting the glass from damage. Fruit trees in pots were placed at regular intervals around the room and exotic tropical plants, many of which she didn’t recognize, were arrayed throughout. Some of the plants were blooming and a heady floral scent filled the warm air.
The views out the wall of windows were as breathtaking as the room itself. A broad terrace stretched out from the wide doors set into the side of the conservatory, dotted here and there with comfortable chairs and tables. Meticulously laid out flower beds were filled with the green of just sprouting plants. Tessa knew that in a few weeks those beds would be a riot of colors as the first round of spring flowers bloomed.
Movement on her right brought Tessa back from her contemplation of the beautiful view. Uncle Paul gestured to the table set with a tea service.
“Shall we?” he said, holding a chair for her.
Tessa nodded and sat down. Hopefully the coming conversation would bring to light the information she’d been looking for.
I know I’m late with this, but a couple things came up. Leigh Kimmel and I traded prompts this week. She gifted me with: it resembled a compass, but with five nested dials of some iridescent material, and each needle moved independently. My challenge to her was: The cat simply turned around, settled down, and went to sleep.