“Daniel, come with me,” his mother said. “I need your help.”
“Of course, Mum,” he said.
She lead him out of the house and across the grounds to a copse of trees. When they reached a clearing at the centre of the copse, she stopped and looked up at the sky. “Oh good, it’s still here.” She closed her eyes and a moment later a rope ladder dropped out of thin air. “Come on.” She climbed up the ladder, vanishing as she continued past the top.
“Huh!” Daniel stared up at where the ladder seemed to disappear just above his head. A moment later, his mother’s head reappeared from where she had vanished.
“Don’t worry, it’s a pocket I made when Matt and I were dating.”
“Oh, I see.” He climbed up after her and emerged through a trapdoor into a small cottage. “Woah! This is impressive.”
“Oh, I just made the space. We had to bring in the soil, building materials, water and plants.”
Building materials he got, but… “Soil, water and plants?”
“Oh, yes.” She opened the door to reveal that the cottage stood on a small island in the middle of a lake. “Matt and I had our honeymoon here.”
“It might have been cheaper and easier to go on holiday somewhere,” Daniel said.
His mother chuckled as she put a kettle on the stove. “Probably, but not as perfect.” She sat down in one of the comfortable-looking chairs and gestured to the other. “I brought us here because something is watching us and they’re not triggering the wards unless they want to. I sensed it yesterday when we were in Birmingham and again just now when we got back from the Storm Palace. It was right there in the hall. You’re the only other person who’s sensed it.”
Daniel frowned in puzzlement. He hadn’t sensed anything on either occasion â€“ but then he remembered the fiery presence he’d sensed during the Lavernes’ attack. “Oh, you mean â€“ I don’t think it’s hostile. It broke its cover to warn me about the other group.”
“It could be trying to trick us into a false sense of security,” she said. “But I don’t think so. I still get a sense of danger from it and my precognition screams ‘no’ and ‘catch it first’ at me when I try and raise it with the others. So I need your help to trap it.”
“And we’re here because you know we’re secure from whatever it is,” he asked.
“Exactly.” She nodded. “Nothing can get in here without my permission unless they tear it open and there’s no way to hide that.”
“That makes sense,” he agreed. “So how are we going to trap it? I only sensed it once.”
“Properly, yes,” she said. “But you’ve sensed something watching you. I’ve seen you rubbing your neck and frowning. You’re very good at hiding yourself â€“ even better than Matt. I think that’s why it can’t quite hide from you.”
“I’m still a bit hypersensitive from my psychic wounds,” she said. “And don’t you dare tell your father I said that. He’ll try and wrap me in cotton wool some more and they’re still healing fine.”
Daniel swallowed anxiously. “Are you sure? I don’t want you to hurt yourself again.”
“I’m sure. It’s just like when a new scar is hypersensitive for a while, I promise. I’ll tell Ebona if you want.”
“It would ease my mind,” he said. “You were so ill. I never realised how ill until you were well.” He looked down guiltily. “I should have.”
“You weren’t supposed to realise,” she said. “And how could you have known? I expended a lot of effort on making you all think I was just a little hazy.”
“I don’t know, but I should have somehow.” He shook his head. “But never mind that. How are we going to capture this spy?”