Winter – Chapter 16 – 02

                “Are they still out there?”  Terézia asked as she spooned lukewarm stew back into the pot by the fire.
                Peering out the window, Kes nodded slightly.  “Still there.  He’s still holding her, but I don’t think she’s crying anymore.”  She turned away from the window, back toward her friend.  “Is there a lot left?”
                Terézia nodded.  “Plenty.  They won’t starve.  It might even still be hot.”  She added another log to the fire.  “It’s starting to get cold out there.  Think they’ll come in soon?”
                “Probably,” Kes said, settling cross-legged on one of the benches near the fire.  “They’ll come in when it starts to get too cold to stay out there.  All they’ve got is that blanket, and the sky’s clear as a bell.  It’s not going to take long for the temperature to go through the floor.”  She watched as Terézia glanced toward the room where she kept her mirror and her other scrying tools.  Kes smirked.
                “You want to go in there and try to look for people,” she said, unable to wipe the smirk off her face.
                The look Terézia tossed at her could have melted steel.  “No,” she said gruffly.  “I don’t want to look for anyone.  I want to look at Eva’s brother.”
                “I wasn’t aware that you knew where he was,” Kes said, tilting her head to one side.  “How’d you find that out?”
                Terézia’s face flamed.  “Trial and error,” she said quietly.  “I made sure Gray was busy and Eva was sleeping so no one would notice what I was doing.  I think I already found him.”  Kes started to express disapproval, but Terézia rushed on, cutting her off.  “I was careful, Kes.  Nothing tossed in my face or anything like that this time.  It took me all this time, since she came, but I think I found him.”
                “Where?”  Kes asked despite herself.
                Terézia laughed weakly.  “You’re not going to believe this.”
                “Not going to believe what?”  Gray asked as he and Aoife eased in from outside, bringing with them a gust of cold air that made the flames in the fireplace flicker and dance.  Aoife was tucked under his arm, eyes red-rimmed and puffy, a blanket still clutched around her shoulders.
                Terézia blushed more, moving quickly to the fire to start spooning out two bowls of stew.  “How good this stew is.”
                Kes choked on a laugh.  Aoife snorted quietly.  Her voice was thin an reedy as Gray guided her to the benches.
                “You’re a terrible liar, Teca,” she murmured as she sank down onto the bench, wiping her eyes on a corner of her blanket.
                Terézia’s attempt to look innocent was a good effort, but doomed to failure.  Gray took one look at her and just shook his head.
                “What have you been doing that you don’t want to tell me about?” he rumbled.
                Kes shrugged as Terézia looked at her for help.  “Don’t look at me, Teca.  I’m not taking sides.”
                She sighed, shoulders slumping.  “I’ve been scrying again,” she said, glancing at Aoife and Gray.  She set one of the bowls of stew down near her knee.  Kes got up and collected it and a spoon, then brought both to Aoife.
                “Scrying for what?”  Aoife asked as she nodded her thanks to Kes.
                Terézia flinched a little, looking pained as she said, “Your brother.”
                Aoife went very still for a moment, body rigid.  Her hands trembled until she tightened them around the bowl and spoon.  “D-did you find him?”
                “I think so,” Terézia said quietly.  “I’m not sure, but I think so.  In Michigan, near the lake.”  Her cheeks went red and she glanced at Kes and Gray.  “I think he’s with that group that I first looked at when Eva sensed me scrying and came here.”
                The corner of Gray’s mouth twitched slightly. He looked at Aoife and murmured into her hair.
                “See?  Fate did have something to say about all of this.  Maybe more’s meant to be than you suspected.”  He ignored the strange looks that Kes and Terézia aimed in his direction and asked, “Have you looked?”
                “Not yet,” Terézia said softly.  “I was about to, then you two came inside.”
                “Well,” he said quietly.  “Let us eat, then let’s get down to business.”

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