â€œI wish I could attend today,â€ Sarah said. â€œBut I promised to start work on studying Talira’s mother.â€
â€œIt’s fine, Sal,â€ Matthias said. â€œJust keep an ear out in case we need you.â€
â€œOf course.â€ She looked over at Darya. â€œAre you coming too? She wants to meet you.â€
â€œHuh…â€ Darya looked like he wanted to disappear into his seat.
â€œNervous?â€ Sarah asked.
â€œYou’ll be fine. She seems reasonable.â€
â€œWe should go,â€ Kyle said. â€œI know you’re missing Tal and I’m sure she misses you, and it’s not like we’ll be much use. They’d know something was afoot if we went to the meeting. I don’t have a standing invite.â€
â€œA ridiculous oversight,â€ Matthias said. â€œAnd everyone knows that. You could go with your grandparents and no one would question it.â€
â€œBut they would question Darya,â€ Kyle said.
â€œTrue enough, and we likely don’t need you and him,â€ Matthias said. â€œYou’ll be with Sal so you can get back quickly enough if we do.â€
Kyle gave a brief grin. “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
“I do miss Tal,” Darya admitted. “Yeah, I’ll come along.”
“Good,” Sarah said. “Now let’s finish our breakfast then go.”
Adrian arrived not long after Sarah had gone. He had a serious expression on his face.
“Are you having second thoughts?” Matthias asked.
“No,” Adrian said. “But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious. I warned everyone in my group who I was sure I could trust last night and they took it well – several of them had even guessed before – but this could still end up being a problem.”
“It’ll be fine.” Julie swept down the stairs. She was wearing a light blue summer dress and surrounded by a regal sense of presence that hadn’t been there before. “Well maybe not fine but for the best, I think.”
“You took your shields down!” Sonia stared at her. “Why?”
“Well you know I like a dramatic entrance and I don’t want them accusing me of lying,” she said. “This way they won’t be able to.”
“I’d say not,” Matthias said. “I forgot how much of a presence you have with them down.” He paused. “You should put them back up until the crucial moment. Let’s not spoil the surprise.”
Julie gave him a thoughtful look. “That’s a good point.” The sense of presence vanished abruptly. â€œIt’ll just make for an even more dramatic entrance.â€ She smirked for a moment then sobered. â€œHave you seen the news? We have to do something about that before people starve.â€
â€œWe were talking about it earlier,â€ he said. â€œIt’s not going to be easy.â€
â€œNo,â€ she said. â€œBut if we can get get everyone pulling together we can do something, I’m sure.â€
â€œThere’s a saying about herding cats that comes to mind,â€ Sonia said.
Julie snorted. â€œThat’s true, but that’s why we’re lighting this fire under them, isn’t it?â€
â€œIt is indeed,â€ Matthias said. â€œI just hope it works. Shall we go?â€