When Lisa and I got downstairs, we found not only pizza, which my dad was paying for, but Ayami and Kagome were back as well. I handled the introductions and we hit the dining room for dinner.
Pizza and pleasantries were done. Mama pulled out a couple of her apple pies for dessert along with a generous helping of ice cream. Mr. Chambers had seconds – Mama still wanted him to take it easy on the solids for a couple days but it’s hard to say no to someone that enamored with your baking.
Mr. Chambers, now Roland to me since he insisted, and James were planning to go back to work for the evening. Jack had long since given consent for him to move his pets back to his apartment and offered to help with the move. The rest of us were enlisted and we trooped across the street to Roland’s apartment for the cages – well, except Jack and I – we went the long way, him to his building and me to Roland’s apartment. Once in the building, Jack commandeered a couple of his brothers and we had the whole thing done in less than an hour.
I helped with the water and food since that all needed changing. Roland’s kitchen was a mess – the ashes in the sink were nothing compared to the soot all over everything and the charred curtains just above the sink. He evidently nearly burned down the house destroying that book. I offered to help him clean but he declined saying it was his mess, one he had to clean up for himself. I got the feeling that he was talking about more than just the soot.
Tresmayne brought in the last of the cages and set it on the kitchen table. He took a long, deep breath, then crossed over to the sink. He washed the ashes down the drain with a satisfied nod. Then he simply walked out.
That bothered me a bit though Roland didn’t seem to notice. I mean, yeah, I could see the wisdom in double checking that Roland had actually destroyed the spell book but it felt kinda funny to be checking on him that way, too. Then again, it was out in the open – there was no way Roland didn’t know why Tresmayne had done that – and it didn’t seem to bother him at all. I tabled the idea of asking him – I was better than I had been earlier but still feeling more stirred up than I liked.
Back home, Lisa and I helped Mama straighten up while Jack took out the trash. Roland came back for a laptop James had forgotten and complemented Mama again on her pies as Jack was coming back in.
“I’m going to have a new addiction.” He teased, “I’ve been craving your apple pie since I finished the last slice of the one you gave me.”
“Well, I’m glad you like it – and I’m sure we can manage your new addiction.” Mama laughed.
Roland left with the laptop and we settled back in my parents’ parlor rather than go to Jack’s apartment and disturb the computer genius’ at work. Lisa hung around for a while before excusing herself to go do homework. Kagome already had hers done and Ayami didn’t have any so they stayed with us in the parlor. For once, I was actually glad to not be alone with Jack. I needed to sort myself out first.
Mama and Daddy joined us and the conversation roved about. Japanese cuisine, Southern cuisine, kudzu which we had to explain to Jack, Italian cuisine which Jack had to explain to us, German cuisine which Daddy helped Jack explain, sneakers versus flipflops, and a host of other seemingly random topics floated around the room. Kagome was explaining the properties of rice flour – who knew you could make flour from rice? – which got us onto pastry in general. Japan didn’t have a lot of historic pastries but they are evidently making up for lost time.
Kagome was describing something like an apple tart. She was having trouble understanding the ‘tart’ part since the thing wasn’t at all tart. I got up and went for a cook book to show her a few recipes. When I got back, Jack was talking to Mama.
“Um, ma’am, you mean you baked pies for every apartment you visited?”
Uh-oh – I had forgotten that Jack didn’t know that bit. I flipped to the pastries and showed Kagome what a tart looked like.
“Of course, Dear.” Mama’s voice had that ‘what kind of question is that’ tone.
“I see.” Jack said in a voice that did not indicate he saw at all. Oh boy, I was going to hear about this later!
“Yes, yes,” Kagome said, a bit too loudly, “I see now – it’s called a tart but it isn’t tart. English can be a very funny language.”
“Only when you are trying to record the record on a record.” I quipped back.
We successfully steered the conversation back to pastry – which was safer than apple pie at the moment. Ayami had a couple questions about English, bless her little heart. Mama fielded those – she’s the reason I passed English in high school, Mr. Tanner was a monster! – and the conversation drifted to safer waters.
That night, I was so sure I was going to get to actually sleep – Ayami wasn’t going to be prowling the neighborhood for familiars. Well, more sleep, anyway – three girls in one room do not go to bed on time. We had to discuss Jack and Kagome had met a guy named Jason on campus a few weeks earlier so I needed a complete update.
Ayami had questions about having a steward – did that mean she could have a boyfriend now? I had to look it up, but yep, it did. That was when we both found out about Kenji back home in Tokyo. No wonder the guys in NYC didn’t interest her – I saw his pic – Kenji is really cute!
So, yeah, it was late when we finally shut up and went to sleep. I was more than a bit cross when I woke around midnight at the feel of a creature. Half asleep, I thought first of Ayami – but then I realized I was already up and had my hand on Gwen. Ayami hadn’t wakened me – it was something else.
I slipped out quietly. In the hall I started feeling for the thing. Weird, I’d sense it then not. I hit the light and sent Jack a text. Waited – no response. Called. His groggy voice came on the line.
“There’s something on our roof. It is in and out like it’s moving from and to concealment.” I told him.
“What is it?” He was awake now.
“Where are you?” he demanded.
“Still inside.” I assured him.
“Hang on and let me call you back.” Click.
So he was upset – had to be, he’s almost as reflexively polite as a Southerner. I felt kinda good about that. I know, I shouldn’t but he wasn’t worried about some critter too scared to show itself entirely – he was worried about me. I waited.
Kagome stuck her head out the door, “Crystal?”
I turned, “Something’s on the… Don’t worry, it’s just a creature on the roof.” I saw the look she gave Gwen when I turned – she’d never seen my swords and her baby cousin is a creature. It was a natural fear. I lifted Gwen slightly, “Precaution. I don’t know what’s up there yet. It’s o…”
The phone rang. I hit the button. “You still inside?” Jack asked.
“Good. Tresmayne wasn’t in his apartment – Thompkins is here. Mr. Schmidt is going to see if he can find Tresmayne…”
Something else had my attention, “Call and tell him not to bother. Tresmayne is on the roof now.”
“Good, I thought that might be what he was up to. While I’m thinking about it, what time does Ayami leave in the morning?” Jack asked.
“About seven thirty.”
“How upset will your parents be if Mr. S comes by before that?”
“As long as it isn’t before five, not at all. In fact, tell him to bring Mrs. Schmidt and come at six for breakfast – that’ll look better, won’t it?”
“Smart girl. Will do. They still up there?”
I checked. I couldn’t feel anything now. “Tresmayne isn’t. I doubt the creature hung around. I’m going back to bed unless…”
“Nope, nothing else to do. I’ll find out from Tresmayne in the morning. Sleep tight, Pretty Girl.” Jack told me.
“You too, good night.”
Kagome was looking at me funny, sort of alarmed and bemused at the same time.
“That’s how you talk to your young man in the wee hours of the morning, is it?” She gave me a wicked grin.
“Okay, that’s it – I’m so hitting you with a pillow when we get back to bed…”