As with the previous part – eight years earlier than main story and spoilers.
Side Story One
The kids were being suspiciously quiet. Sonia wasn’t sure if it was because they were still frightened, they knew she was in pain or Matt was keeping them quiet, and in this state she couldn’t touch their minds to find out. She laid her head on the table and tried not to cry. She didn’t want to upset the kids more than they already were. Her head was hurting so much that she hadn’t really noticed where they had stopped, other than it being a small tea room and ice cream bar Matt had found. It might be attached to a farm shop or something. Wherever it was must be off the beaten track;Â they were the only people there, apart from the sole member of staff.
She didn’t realise quite how out of it she was until she felt something sweep over her and the headache faded slightly. She looked up at the young woman serving her ice cream with surprise. It wasn’t often she failed to notice that someone had talent. She glanced at Matt questioningly. He must have brought them here deliberately.
She’s one of the people who contacted me via that forum I set up, Matt said. She’s a good girl. Thinks I’m quite mad.
She’s a Wild? Who trained her? she asked.
More of an Ember. She can heal a bit, but not much else. She was the nearest healer I could think of and you needed help. And it was her mother I believe. It runs in the family. Now, her adopted brother is a Wild and quite disturbing. He doesn’t think I’m crazy.
Sonia pulled a face at the mention of the ideas he expounded under his assumed name. You know those are far more likely to attract the Laverne’s attention than us talking. And that would explain why we missed her. We don’t usually miss healers, but no one’s looking for Embers. A pity. She’s very good. She could have been superb with training.
Perhaps we should be, he said. They may be limited, but as you noted they can be very good within their specialities. And your family miss more than they realise. Typically, he ignored the bit about his crazy forum. She half suspected he was using it to decoy the Lavernes. Maybe he trusted the wards that prevented anyone suspecting them more than she thought.
“What were those things?” Lydia asked suddenly. “And how did we get away from them?”
Matt frowned at her. “I don’t know, but we’re safe now thanks to Karen. We shouldn’t talk about this until we get back to the cottage. Let’s just have our ice cream and not think about it.”
Lydia scowled at him but subsided.
Sonia gave him a long look. She’d felt that nudge and it wasn’t even aimed at her.
Lydia is tough, he said unapologetically. I don’t want her scaring Cat and I certainly don’t want Jayden hearing it. That young man is crazy enough to go investigating.
Sonia’s stomach lurched at the mention of Jayden, but when she tried to chase the source of her alarm down her headache rose up again. She swore mentally at how easily she overstretched herself and turned her attention to the ice cream. She felt Cat’s healing sweep over her again and smiled up at the young woman gratefully. “Thank you.”
“You should lay off things for a few days,” Cat said, softly enough that the kids wouldn’t hear. “I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but you’re in too big a mess for me to fix. It’s all I can do to suppress the pain.”
“I know,” Sonia said equally quietly. “I’ll try.” She took another spoonful of her strawberry ice cream. “This is good! Is it homemade?”
Cat nodded. “My grandmother’s recipe. It’s made with clotted cream and real strawberries.”
“It’s lovely. Thank you.” she turned her attention back to Matt. I think we should go home tomorrow. The holiday is pretty much ruined already and I don’t think those things will give up as long as we’re nearby.