A surprised whisper rippled around the table when Tara took the Laverne seat at the table with Marian, Carl and Adrian seated just behind her.
“Why are you giving the seat up to her?” Someone yelled from the end of the table, where Karen had said the satellite families sat. “She betrayed your family!”
Adrian stiffened and turned towards the speaker but Marian was on her feet before he could respond.
“Don’t you dare insult my sister in front of me, Kelly Milton!” she growled. “I gave her control of the family and Adrian deferred to my judgement.”
“But…” Kelly looked equal parts baffled and scared. “Whatever you say, Marian.”
“Good.” Marian sat back down and folded her arms, still glaring in Kelly’s direction.
Adrian, however, did not. Instead he vaulted over table into the space at the centre of the rectangle and bowed politely to Alexandra.
“Lady Prolocutor, with your permission I wish to address this assembly.”
“Please do,” she said. â€œNo one else has requested it yet so the floor is yours.â€
â€œThank you.â€ Adrian sauntered over to the chair at the centre of space but instead of sitting down he leaned on the back of it and looked around. â€œWhat I am about to tell you will probably make some of you have kittens. Especially Kelly over there if her reaction to Aunt Tara is any indication. But really, if my dear Aunt is a traitor then so am I. Perhaps moreso.â€
He paused to let the puzzled murmuring die down. “Oh, I know what you’re thinking. But he’s almost as fanatical as his mother and totally loyal to her as well.” He smirked around the table. “But truth be told, while I am loyal to my mother I really didn’t agree with her. I’m just a bloody good liar and I really needed to be.” He pulled a wry face. “Actually that’s not one hundred percent true. I did agree with her at first. What else did I know? But life sometimes likes to hit you in the face with how wrong you are.”
Adrian glanced around at his audience again. “Now you’re wondering exactly how life hit me in the face, aren’t you? To tell it would be a really long story so perhaps it would be best to show you.” He straightened, shook his hair back and then exploded into a column of swirling ice and snow. A moment later, his body reformed on one knee with one hand on the floor and his head inclined respectfully to Alexandra. “I apologise for the mess, Lady Prolacuter; it should melt quickly enough. But given the choice between being a hypocrite and being a traitor I–”
He broke off as Kelly Milton launched herself at his back a pair of flaming knives in her hands. He didn’t look around or even flinch as a large spar of ice appeared in his hand. She hadn’t even reached him when he threw it backwards. It impaled her through the stomach, sent her crashing back through the tables and pinned her to the wall. In the shocked silence that filled the room he inclined his head again. “I apologise for that mess as well.”
“I think we can all agree that was self-defence, Mr. Laverne.” Alexandra seemed unperturbed as she made a gesture and two young men got up from behind her and headed around to Kelly. “A good shot as well. My grandsons will deal with Mrs Milton; please continue with what you were telling us.”