The next day Jack was halfway through a particularly annoying task at work when someone tapped him on the shoulder. Cutting off the torch, Jack turned and pushed up his mask, "Yes, Marta?"
"You have a phone call," the secretary told him.
Jack nodded and ditched his equipment. Marta was already back at her desk when Jack walked in. With a couple taps on teh keypad, Marta connected the call and handed the phone to Jack.
"Hello, Mr Scarlotti?" Ethan Collinsworth’s voice inquired.
"Sorry to bother you at work. I got Tresmayne’s message and I contacted a friend who’s willing to help. Is tonight a good time to send her by?"
"That’ll be fine. Anytime after five-thirty." Jack answered.
"Will do. Her name is Sofia Ryshova. Her English is passable enough – you may have to pull the Histories if things get technical."
"Okay." Jack answered. It really wasn’t. Although he’d heard of these Histories things, he had no idea how to pull them or why he’d need to. But Crystal was supposed to join his folks for supper so it should be fine. With Marta sitting right there Jack wasn’t inclined to say anything he’d likely have to explain later. "Anything else?"
"No, that was it. I understand you can’t talk. Again, my apologies for disturbing you at work."
"No, that’s okay – it was important. We’ll talk later."
"Understood." Ethan replied, "Good bye."
"Bye." Jack told the now dead line. Hanging up, he turned to Marta, "Say, you heard from Gina today?"
"No, I hear from Chester today!" Marta smiled broadly, "He say he feel good enough to call himself. He still in bed for a few more days, he say. Gina say yesterday that the doctor say a month but you know Chester, he not gonna stay in bed if he no have to."
Jack grinned, "He’d be here if Gina’d let him, I bet."
Marta smiled knowingly, "I think you right, Jack."
Jack tipped an imaginary hat to the lady and went back to his work station. Glancing at the mass of metal bars and sheets then at the diagram, Jack realized he’d done part of it backwards. With a sigh, he went back to work to fix his mistake. Now if he could just keep his mind on it…
Jack hurried home after work. Normally, he didn’t get home until five-forty or so but tonight he made it by five twenty, mostly by taking off a little early and getting lucky with one of his bus transfers. He spoke to the gaggle of teen-age girls using his front stoop as a hang out and went straight to his own apartment. He’d already called to warn his mother, however unnecessarily, of the extra company. A quick shower and a change of clothes and Jack was ready to face human company again.
He didn’t have long to wait. He had just walked out of his apartment whey Jane leaned in the outer door, "Hey, Jack, there’s a lady here to see you."
Jack nodded, "So, let her in, why doncha?" Jack teased his youngest sister.
Jane poked her tongue out quickly for her brother’s benefit then opened the door, "He’s here." she announced.
A portly blonde in her mid fifties at least walked through the doorway, "Mizter Jack?"
Jack wasn’t sure if she was trying to say master or mister, "Yes. Ms. Sofia?"
"Da, I am Sofia Rishova. We talk, yes?"
Jack nodded and politely showed her into his living room, "We’ll have dinner across the hall with my parents shortly. Did Ethan explain the problem?"
"Da, you tink you might have one of our beasties meddling with your family. I am to see can I sniff it out for you, yes?"
"Yes, exactly. I much appreciate your help."
She waved a hand airily, "Oh no, is good to help. Sometimes I need help with your beasties – it all work out. You family no know you are a slayer, right?"
Jack nodded emphatically, "That’s right."
Sofia smiled, "I no say anything in front of them, then. I not tell my family until my mother, God rest her soul, dead ten years. Yes, yes, I understand. Tell me now the whole story so I know what to look for, okay?"
"Certainly." Jack quickly outlined what had happened.
At the end, Sofia shook her head, "Not sound like one of ours. Your sister, where did she meet this man?"
"I honestly don’t know." Jack answered, "Does it matter?"
"Maybe yes, maybe no. The beasties I can think of are mostly fairykind that frequent water. But that no good if she meet him away from water. But let me see do I sense any beastie around her before we worry too much about that, okay?"
"Okay." Jack nodded. "If there’s nothing else, we’d best get going."
"Good, good…" Sofia nodded.
Jack opened the door and graciously extended his arm, "May I?"
Sofia smiled as she took the young man up on his offer, "You momma raise you right, Kid." She assured him.
Jack grinned, "I’m sure she’ll be pleased to hear it… I think we boys have given her some cause for doubt…"
Sofia laughed as they left the apartment, "Dat is what boys do. Both of mine…"