[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
“What the hell were you thinking?”
Closing my eyes and trying to ignore the continued thumping in my skull, for a few seconds I contemplated pretending that I hadn’t heard her question. For the moment, I was just silently grateful that I hadn’t been sent straight back to bed when my uncle had made it back to the gates behind Phelan, who’d breezed back through carrying one of the riders unconscious in his arms.
Aunt Jac had been there in seconds flat, and she and Uncle Jay had headed off to see to the stranger and whatever was wrong with him. Most of the rest of the little council had headed off to speak with the rest of the riders.
“Calm down, Kailey,” Hecate said softly. “I’m sure Lin had good reasons for what he did.”
Yeah, mostly that I figured if I didn’t do something, something bad was going to happen—like someone getting hurt or worse when it wasn’t necessary. I took a deep breath, leaning back against the log behind me. My aunt sat nearby, roasting marshmallows as if nothing was wrong. I knew without looking that she wore a distant expression, a familiar faraway expression she got when she was especially contemplative—like now.
“Kailey.” Hecate’s voice was firm but not unkind. “Settle down. They don’t mean any harm.”
“But they could,” she protested quietly. “They could be dangerous.”
“Everything’s dangerous,” I murmured. “But they—these people are here for a reason.”
“But you don’t know what it is,” Kailey said. “Did you hear? Did you see the look on Uncle Phelan’s face? I haven’t seen him pale like that except for when he thought that Tory got stabbed.”
Or when I got clawed today. I swallowed the words even as I opened my eyes, glancing at my aunt. Hecate gazed back at me with a measured look, probing, but gently.
“There’s always a reason,” Hecate said softly, gently. “Your father and the rest will figure out what it is one way or another. I don’t think Lin’s instincts have steered us wrong in this regard. Clearly, they did need some kind of help, if only for the injured man.”
“We have no idea who these people are,” Kailey whispered. “How do we know we can trust them?”
“We don’t,” Hecate said. “Not until we sort it out for ourselves. But we can’t do that until we talk to them, can we?”
“No,” Kailey said grudgingly. “I guess not.”
I closed my eyes again. Was this what it had been like for Mom and Dad back then? I doubted it. They’d trusted on instinct more than once. I didn’t think it had ever led them astray.
If it had, they’d never written it down.