“Hello, dear,” Moira said, sitting in the shaded rocker on her front porch.
Thea blinked at the older woman, and resisted the urge to check her phone. No one had told her Moira was coming. Did anyone else know Moira was coming? “Hello.” She shifted the twelve bags of groceries she’d carried from the car.
“Would you like me to take some of those?”
“No.” Thea moved to the door and juggled the bags and the lock and stumbled through the door less than gracefully. “I’ve got it.”
Moira laughed gently, leaning on her cane as she pulled herself up from the chair and shuffled toward the house. “I’m sorry to drop in on you.”
Thea swallowed. “That’s okay. Um…”
“I would love a cup of tea, if one were offered.”
“Of course.” She sat the bags in the edge of the kitchen. “Have a seat and let me turn the kettle on.”
The older woman took herself to the same padded chair she’d chosen on her last visit. It’d only been a couple of months, but she looked thinner. Paler. Thea popped the cold goods in the fridge, and got her tea things out. The kettle dinged gently when the water was done boiling, and she poured water over the good Earl Grey teabags. The ones Kay had sent from England every six months.
It took her a moment to find the box of ginger snaps in the shopping, and spill a few onto a plate before she put both the cups and the plate of cookies on a tray and carried it in to the living room. “I know you just like lemon in yours.”
“I do.” Moira gratefully took her cup. “Thank you darling, you always do a credible service.”
Thea smiled. “I learned well.”
They fell silent, and Thea wasn’t sure what to do with the situation. Moira was there for a reason. She had to be. Did Thea push her to talk about it, or just let them drink their tea?
Moira sipped hers delicately, and sighed. “I’m dying.”
Thea blinked, heart stopping in her chest, tea cup frozen halfway to her mouth.
“I’m sorry. I was trying to find a more delicate way to start that, but I’m not sure there is on.”
Thea put her cup down, and pushed out a tense breath. “Usually not.”
Moira looked at her hands in her lap. “I thought about telling Jane first, I know on paper she’s supposed to be the person I come to with this.”
“But I thought you might handle it better.” Moira patted her hand gently. “I’m not sure I could handle tears.”
Thea swallowed, and squared her shoulders. “Okay. What do you need from me?”
“I need you to help me choose a replacement. I need you to help me tell the others.” Moira smiled sadly. “I need you to be you, darling.”
“Okay. Can I ask how?”
“Cancer. It’s stage three right now, but it doesn’t seem to be responding to treatment.” She puffed out a tired breath. “And even if a miracle happens and it starts…”
“I understand.” Thea nodded. “Okay. I’ll herd some canidates together so you can cast an eagle eye over them. Next week?”
Moira grinned at her, eyes crinkling. “You were already making a list, weren’t you?”
She flushed. “You came and asked me about what we’d do if you retired. I assumed I should be prepared in case you wanted to.”
Moira patted her hand again. “I know it’s strange to say we’re lucky to have you, but we are.”