â€œI’ll have to tell dad about this,â€ Kira said as they walked to the gates after school. They had tried to talk to the Key again at afternoon break but it had just repeated the same images as before but with more urgency. â€œWe have to do something. I don’t know what to think about all this but that hole scared me.â€
â€œIt scared all three of us,â€ Ophelia said. â€œAnd whatever was trying to come through it felt like it could be the death of the world if it emerges!â€ She swayed on her feet as that sank home. â€œOh crap! I’m the one who has to stop that thing.â€ She leaned against the wall and tried to force herself to breathe more slowly as she felt herself start to hyperventilate. â€œIt’ll be okay!!â€ She clenched her fists and tried to convince herself. â€œI know it will be okay.â€ She straightened as Aunt Sophie’s car drew up. She took another shaky breath as she reminded herself to act normal even she wasn’t sure how.
When they reached home Ophelia’s father was waiting for them with another overnight bag.
Ophelia looked at him curiously. â€œYou’re home early, Dad.â€
â€œI wanted to be sure Cass was okay.â€ He ruffled his daughter’s hair before turning to Aunt Sophie. â€œHey, Soph. Thanks for calming Cass down this morning. She was terrified last night â€“ it was all I could do to stop her phoning you as soon as we got in. It was the middle of the night.â€
â€œI wouldn’t have minded,â€ Aunt Sophie said. â€œDid she sleep at all? She wouldn’t say.â€
â€œNot a wink. She kept me up as well. She says she napped this afternoon after you left.â€
â€œThat’s something at least.â€ Aunt Sophie pointed at the bag in his hand. â€œI assume this means you want me to take Ophelia again?â€
â€œYes,â€ he said. â€œCass is still a little out of sorts.. I thought that I’d cook her dinner, download a good movie and…â€ he trailed off looking a little sheepish.
â€œAnd you don’t want a horrified and angsty teenager cramping your style?â€ Ophelia asked.
He looked uncomfortable before nodding. â€œSomething like that, yeah.â€ He turned back to Aunt Sophie. â€œIf it’s not imposing too much.â€
â€œOf course it isn’t,â€ Aunt Sophie said. â€œOphelia is welcome to stay until Cass is better. In fact it’s probably bet she does.â€
â€œThanks, Soph, you’re a life saver. I just wish one of you would explain what happened when she was younger that upset her so much. Did the guy she thought she saw hurt her?â€
â€œIt’s a long story and I can’t betray her confidence even for you,â€ Sophie said. â€œBut Cass will be okay. She’s resilient.â€ She look around as Cassandra came out of the house. â€œSpeak of the devil.â€
Ophelia ran over and hugged her mother, shocked by how pale she looked. â€œMum! Are you okay? You look awful.â€
â€œTactful as ever, Phelia,â€ her mother said. â€œI’m just a bit stressed.â€ She put her hands on Ophelia’s shoulders. â€œPlease be careful.â€
â€œHuh?â€ Ophelia stared at her mother.
â€œJust promise you’ll be careful,â€ she said.
â€œOkay, I promise,â€ Ophelia said and saw her mother relax slightly.
â€œLook after her, Soph,â€ she said in an odd, strained tone.
â€œYou know I will,â€ Sophie said.
Cassandra nodded and hugged Ophelia again. â€œI’ll see you tomorrow.â€ She kissed Ophelia’s forehead. â€œHave a good time.â€