Copyright© 2021 by Charly Young
The River House, Emory’s only hotel, was a huge sprawling Victorian log mansion on the north bank of the Stillaguamish River. It sat in five acres of landscaped grounds that were ringed in with ornate black wrought iron fencing. The house was fronted by a porch that ran down its length. Chairs and loungers scattered here and there in casual nineteenth century elegance.
The lobby was crowded with families milling around getting their luggage sorted, children corralled, and checking in. A huge flagstone fireplace big enough to roast a steer dominated one side and varnished pine bookcases filled with books lined the white clay mortared logs on the outside wall. Boot scarred heart of pine floors had bright woven rugs scattered.
Quinn had been here once before with old Finn and just as he remembered, the room still exuded a welcoming warmth that you couldn’t find in a more modern hotel.
He absently checked out the finish joinery as he waited and saw that whoever had built this place was a master. Even old Finn would have been impressed, although as he thought about it, there was a good chance the old guy or maybe his father or grandfather had been the one who had done the work. Craftsmanship and disciplined work were Finn’s Gods and the half wild boy who was placed in his shop to learn soon found out that regardless of his age, his best was expected and excuses not welcome.
A short fat guy with a shock of gray hair, small merry blue eyes manned the desk. Henry Delaney gave Quinn a warm smile as he walked up to the registration desk. Henry belonged to the Crafter community, those half magical artisans that made Emory unique.
“Howdy, Lachlan, it’s been a while. We been expecting you. Welcome to the River House.”
Quinn smiled despite himself. “The Aunties didn’t leave me much choice. Their summoning knocked me off my chair in the middle of a poker game. I had a winning hand to boot. Is there a chance you have a room for me?”
“Well now you make me feel guilty,” Henry grinned unrepentant, “but events are afoot. Us crafters need you here, we been waiting a long time for you to finally decide where you belong and the Aunties, well you know the Aunties—they do tend to get impatient. I put you in the Owner’s Room. I think you’ll like it.”
Quinn nodded thanks and offered his American Express card.
“No. No,” he waved it away, “that’s unnecessary. Everything’s been taken care of.”
That was a bit over the top. Quinn thought. “Thanks for the offer, but I pay my own way.” Debts were easy to accrue and sometimes hard to pay off.
Henry looked like he was going to argue, then shrugged and took the card and swiped it.
“Is there a special place I need to park?”
“Yup, pull your rig over to north side, find an open spot and put this on the dash. Nobody will bother it there. Here’s your key. Your room is on the third floor. Sorry, we don’t have an elevator but from the look of you, them stairs ain’t gonna bother you none.”
“By the way Lachlan, it’s Founders Week. We got the Duel of the Shootists right out in front of the hotel, so you’re gonna be blocked in tomorrow until noon or one o’clock tomorrow. Hell, you might watch, seems to me you used to love that show.”
“Thanks,” he said, “maybe I’ll take it in.”
The “room” was a fancy suite. It had a living room with a couple of chairs and a sofa big enough for even him to stretch out his six foot three inches. Both bedrooms had king-sized beds covered with matching old fashioned white lace bedspreads that matched the fancy lace curtains. Except for the faint scent of apricots, he thought it the nicest hotel room he had ever stayed in.