Robin hadn’t expected to inherit her great-uncle’s mansion and riches. Truthfully, her only memory of the man was from Christmas years ago when he told her stories of what Santa’s reindeer did during the rest of the year. She vaguely remembered Dasher and Dancer being mates, and Comet being especially talented when it came to racing.
Perhaps it was because she had listened to the old man back then that she was the one who had been favored with his fortune. The rest of the family, except for a few of the greedier relatives that had feigned peace with Great-Uncle Theodore near the time of his death, had ignored him, citing that he was always off his rocker.
“Alright, little lady.” The realtor snapped her gum as she finalized the paperwork with Theodore’s lawyer before handing Robin the key to the mansion. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you.” Robin gingerly took the key and dragged her suitcases toward the front door, ignoring her stomach dropping to her toes as she heard the realtor’s and lawyer’s cars drive away. The rusty key almost didn’t fit into the lock and Robin added the chore of getting the key cleaned to her mental to-do list. Once she got the door open, she was greeted with décor in muted grays and blues with animal motifs thrown everywhere.
Theodore always had preferred animals to people, it was said.
Robin abandoned her suitcases in the foyer and gingerly walked around the mansion, her fingers making tracks in the dust that had settled on everything since Theodore had been moved to a nursing home.
Besides the foyer, the ground floor boasted a generous living area with a fireplace and a grand piano that sorely needed tuning, a study with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a half-bath tucked into the corner of the house, and the kitchen and dining area. The kitchen’s back door led out to an overgrown garden, prompting Robin to add the task of hiring landscapers for the place, and she only spent a moment gazing at the disheveled gardens before returning to the kitchen.
A mouse was staring back at her.
Robin shrieked and jumped back toward the wall, startling both her and the mouse. The rodent dashed away, disappearing as Robin tried to control her breathing. She shook her head, wondering if the mouse had been an illusion, something just from the stress of moving and the spooky sensation of being alone.
For even if the mouse itself hadn’t been an illusion, surely the sight of it running through the wall had been.