As Matthias turned into the drive of the Keefe house, the sight of the pretty red brick house with its grey slate roof – so like the one where he grew up – made Kyle swallow back an unexpected burst of homesickness. It was, like most astral homes, detached and large enough to host an entire extended family and with plenty of garden to buffer them from any neighbours.
“Matt! I’ve been expecting you!” Sarah Tyler opened the front door herself. “I didn’t think you’d drive, though.” She narrowed her eyes at the car they’d arrived in. “You hid my sister right on my doorstep and I never noticed? Dammit, Matt!”
“We can talk about that later,” he said. “Emms kidnapped-”
“I know what’s happened,” she said, cutting him off. “It felt like the world tore open, then the Councillors sent word about what happened.” She ushered them inside. “How are Sonia and the kid’s bearing up?”
“They’re as well as can be expected,” he said. “Itching to do something instead of waiting. Did, ah, did the Councillors tell you what we found out about dragons as well?”
“They did.” She turned and gave Kyle a warm smile. “How’s your mother doing?”
“She’s okay, I think. A little in shock that I’m alive. I can’t say I blame her.”
“No, not at all.” She shook her head. “I should have realised where dragons came from. The evidence was all there, if I’d just thought about it. I guess I didn’t want to. Do you think the Lavernes and their ilk know about this?”
“I hope not,” Matthias said.
“Almost certainly not,” Kyle said. “The Exiles don’t like humans finding out they’re more than a rumour and tend to take steps to avoid it, and to know about dragons you have to know about them. They’re probably the reason you never thought of it.”
“That sounds ominous,” Matt muttered. “What will they do now we know?”
“Hard to say. They won’t know automatically and I doubt Feliaria-ida will tell them.” He frowned at the cream carpet of the reception room Sarah had guided them in to. “But they do tend to watch the Morgans a lot, given their constant testing of the quarantine.”
“That’s one of our jobs,” Matthias said mildly. “So they’re behind the quarantine?” He glanced at Sarah. “I told you it would be them.” He sat down on one of the beige sofas. “You said it felt like the world was splitting open? So you did sense something?”
She frowned and nodded. “I’ve never felt anything like it. I nearly passed out.”
“Did you get any sense of where?” he asked.
“Not exactly, but definitely north of here. Somewhere in Scotland, possibly.”
“Well at least that excludes anywhere south of here. Are you sure they’re somewhere in Britain?”
Sarah cocked her head as she considered the question. “Yes,” she said finally. “I think so. It wasn’t far enough North or East to be on mainland Europe. I suppose it’s possible they’re in Northern Ireland somewhere but I don’t think so.” She rose to her feet. “But where are my manners? I’ll take you down to the pool so Darya can visit his mother, then I’ll fetch you some tea.”
“Do my mother and Melusine know I’m coming?” Darya asked. “I don’t want to scare them.”
“They know it’s probable. I thought Matt would bring you along. Come on.”
“Darya!” Yemi ran over and hugged him as soon as Sarah left them at the pool area in the basement. “I heard you were in a fight. I’m glad you’re ok.”
“A pitched battle would be a better description.” He hugged her back then looked over her shoulder to where Lorelei and Mela were climbing out of the pool. “Mother!” He released Yemi and held his arms out to her hopefully.
“Darya!” She hugged him tightly. “I’m so glad you’re alive!” She pulled back and looked at him critically. “But what in the world have you done to you hair?”
“I… ah…” Darya stammered. He certainly hadn’t expected that to be her first question.
“It’s a mess and so short.”
“I got it trapped a few weeks back,” he said finally. “I had to cut it off with my dagger to get free.”
Lorelei tutted to herself. “Did no one offer to tidy it up for you?”
Kyle gave a choking laugh. “He gave anyone who mentioned his hair such baleful glares that no one dared.”
“Typical!” She rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “I’ll see if Doctor Tyler can lend me a pair of scissors and see to it before you leave.” She headed for the door, leaving him face to face with Melusine.