The Power of Three

an excerpt

Chapter 1

The trip to his grandmother's home was a regular journey for Darcy and he hummed along to one of his favorite songs he played through his iPod. This was one of his regular monthly visits which he made in rain or shine. It gave him an opportunity to fill her chest freezer and top up on any other shopping she needed.

Sannah Jenkins was a formidable lady, despite her age. For all Darcy's worrying, she steadfastly refused to move out of her isolated home. Her counterarguments were always the same: that she had a backup generator, she wasn't decrepit, she had friends close by, and she wasn't ready to leave a home she'd known all her life.

All of which were true enough, but since Darcy had been raised by his grandmother, he felt he owed her more than just a monthly visit. He wanted her to move to Tauranga and live closer to him. But then she only smiled and shook her head.

As far as Sannah was concerned, Darcy had yet to live his life. She refused point blank to be a millstone around his neck before he'd ever had a chance to meet his Mr. Right. Darcy activated his GPS as he approached the wetland area. For all the times he'd visited, he never relied on his own ability to find the way to his grandmother's home.

While it sounded fanciful, even to his own ears when Darcy was in one of the nearby large towns or the smaller villages in daylight, Darcy always felt as if the roads changed direction. Not that he'd ever admit it to anyone. Not even his nana.

Of course, when Darcy and Sannah returned from shopping, she automatically navigated them home. She was very vocal about disliking the GPS's clipped, demanding tone. Darcy had to admit, the GPS did seem to get increasingly belligerent when you didn't follow her directions.

The fact that it was already coming up to Halloween was still something of a shock to Darcy. The year was speeding by. Darcy still hoped to persuade Sannah to come to his home for Christmas. There would only be the two of them.

Not that Darcy cared. His family weren't close. His siblings were spread around the country and rarely got together. Just the odd text or Facebook message to keep in touch. His father was back in Samoa again, and his mother was currently in Australia. Or at least, she had been, the last time Darcy had heard from her.

At least I can stay a little longer with Nana than just the usual weekend. I have the whole of the next week off work, so I won't go back home until at least Wednesday.

The sky was already darkening as Darcy headed along the road into the wetlands. He flicked on his headlights. There was never much traffic, so he put them on full beam. Dots of light danced around in the distance, either side of the road, but Darcy focused ahead. He wasn't going to be lured into taking a wrong turning that led into the marsh as the way ahead twisted and turned.

By the time his nana's house came into view, Darcy was more than ready to take a break. Having focused so intensely on the GPS, especially after the rest of his drive, left him exhausted.

His nana didn't have a proper shed in which Darcy could park. Instead, he'd added a carport to the side of her house. At least the car was under cover when he parked. Darcy had also added thick plastic that could be rolled down to form two sides for the carport. He was pleased to see they were in place. Spring was generally the wettest season and the carport would offer no real protection without it in a real deluge.

Once he'd parked, Darcy grabbed his case from the trunk and headed around to the front door. He didn't need to knock or ring. Sannah would already have seen him driving up and unlocked the door. Darcy gave it a shove and stepped inside.

"I'm here, Nana." Darcy shouted out as he wiped his feet on the mat.

"In the kitchen." Sannah's voice floated along the hallway and Darcy perked up.

If his nana was in the kitchen, then there was every likelihood of homemade cake, or fruit scones with jam and cream. Darcy didn't indulge in many sweet treats when home alone. But when at his nana's, he often felt like a young boy again. It had always been a place of safety, comfort, and a loving environment, which had often manifested itself in delectable indulgences.

"Are you baking for trick or treat?" Darcy stared at the rows of small cakes that looked little more than bite-sized.

"You could say that." Sannah chuckled. "But you needn't worry. I have some adult-sized versions for you, dear." She came from the far side of the table to give him a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Kettle's boiled. Tea or coffee?"

"Tea, please."

"And cake or apple crumble with homemade custard?" Her green eyes, identical to his own, twinkled. She already knew the answer, but always teased with the question.

"Crumble and custard, Nana." That combination had been his favorite since he was a very small child. It was the one thing he would make at home, but his nana's were the best.

"Go put your case away and we'll have tea and crumble in front of the fire."

"I'll only be a minute." Darcy pecked a kiss to Sannah's cheek and then raced out of the kitchen and upstairs. The upstairs of the cottage was a converted attic, refashioned by his grandfather so that a young Darcy had a bedroom and bathroom of his own. In all honesty, Darcy had felt closer to his grandfather than his father.

A familiar pang of regret tugged at Darcy. He'd been overseas when his grandfather died. By the time his nana's message had reached him and he'd returned home, he'd even missed the funeral. But whenever he visited, the handcrafted furniture in the bedroom always helped him feel close to his granddad.

Not worrying about unpacking, Darcy set his case on the dresser, just removing his toiletry bag, hair gel, and shaving kit. Although he'd toyed with the idea of longer hair, it was impractical while he worked in a hospital. He didn't want it in a ponytail or man bun. Instead he kept it shorter and settled for gelling it in different styles.

He was blessed with naturally thick, blond hair. Currently, the tips were colored blue and he wore it gelled into spikes. It was a never-ending source of amusement to his nana, who insisted Darcy changed his hairstyle more than any man or woman she knew and looked forward to seeing the next color or style.

Shrugging off his hoodie, Darcy tossed it onto the armchair, and hurried back downstairs and into the cozy living room. Sannah was already sitting on one side of the fire and on the small table next to the opposite chair were his tea and pudding.

"Thanks, Nana." The desserts were eaten in companionable silence, after which Darcy brought Sannah up to date with the happenings at his hospital.

"You know, I never watch those hospital dramas, or the real-life ones, for that matter." Sannah took another sip of tea. "Why bother, when you can tell me all the stories of yours."

"I'm sure mine aren't anywhere near as exciting or drama-laden." Darcy shook his head.

"No, but they're real, and you tell me the positive stories. You know me, I like my happy endings. And on that subject, have you met anyone exciting?"

"No, sorry, Nana. I've not bothered going out much. I worked some extra shifts to have all of next week off. I'll stay here until Wednesday, if that's okay with you. We can go out and about."

"That'll be lovely, dear. But you need to make sure you spend time with people your own age. Find your perfect Mr. Right, just like I did."

"You really loved Poppa. I'd like to think I'll have the same, one day. I guess I'm a romantic at heart."

"Are you looking for a knight on a white charger, dear?" Sannah smiled. "They're lovely in fairy tales, but if he's any good as a knight, remember his armor will be dented and dull, not perfect and shiny."

"I'll remember. My hero must be a bit rough around the edges. Now, about going out." Darcy directed the conversation away from him and his nonexistent love life. He wasn't actively looking for a Mr. Right. The last potential boyfriend hadn't been impressed that Darcy would choose visiting his grandmother over spending a weekend with him.

That relationship crashed before it really took off. If he was too selfish to allow Darcy to give up one weekend to care for his nana, then Darcy wasn't interested. Not that Sannah needed to know that.

An hour later, their trips discussed and confirmed, Sannah headed off to bed. She liked to spend at least the last hour reading, although kept her TV on for background noise. Darcy needed a little longer to wind down, and so flicked the TV in the living room on and found the cookery channel. Not only did he like watching for recipes he could do at home, he liked looking at other countries and their foods and customs.

With a jaw-cracking yawn, Darcy settled to watch the program with every intention of being in bed within an hour or so himself. He was looking forward to spending a few days with nothing more demanding on the horizon than driving Sannah around, and deciding where to eat on their travels.

The next few days were all going to be about rest, relaxation, and recharging his batteries.