Clockwork Nessie, Part 13
“I go by Lizzie.” I took his hand, and a current of awareness buzzed through me. “Rankine? I see. I have many questions.” I eyed Thomas. “But I need to speak with you in private. Might we perhaps go inside your…facility?”
“I’ll wait right here, Miss. Give us a whistle or call if you need anything.” Thomas rolled his shoulders back and directed what appeared to be a warning glare at my father’s partner.
Robert ran a hand through his unruly hair, betraying the cause of its unkempt status. “Of course. This way, please, Miss… er, Lizzie.”
Inside, the front part of the building functioned as an office. Two desks sat in front of freestanding bookcases that served as makeshift walls to enclose the area. Files lay stacked in sloppy piles throughout. The room smelled of ancient hay and dust, fine particulates winking in the sunlight that streamed through the high windows.
Robert scurried ahead to clear off two chairs for us to occupy. He spoke to me over his shoulder as he moved. “I’d offer you tea, but I’m afraid I’ve only water and whiskey.”
“Whiskey is fine.”
He whipped around, his arms full of books and papers, his mouth agape. “Oh. Right. I’ll just put these…” The contents of his arms found a temporary home on the surface of a desk. Robert slipped through a narrow passage into the space behind the office.
Too curious to remain stationary, I rose and tiptoed in his wake to discover what hid behind the bookcases.