Mission accomplished and new mysteries unlocked, we parted from the delightful company of Miss Jemima “Jem” Bobo, loaded up the trunk with our loot, and planned our next move.
Sally’s thoughts were completely compatible with mine. “Why don’t you come home with us for supper, Kit? You could even spend the night.”
“Oh, I’d love to, Miss Sanders, but I think I should go straight home now. She… my stepmother will be quite concerned if I’m out after dark.” Sally didn’t need to feel the sudden squeeze of Kit’s hand to notice her distress.
“Well, then, let’s take you home and introduce ourselves, to assure your mother that you’ve been in good hands, and see how she feels about that sleepover!” Clever Sally cheerfully swept us into the back seat and asked Kit where she lived.
“By Oak and Ash.”
Sally and I both twitched at that, although it must have been for different reasons. Maybe it wasn’t as nice a neighborhood as ours.
If someone had accused me of being self-centered and egotistical, I’d have congratulated them on their ability to recognize basic laws of the universe. Mockingly, of course. I’d naturally assumed that the Powers had assigned me a friend, and it had never crossed my mind that Kit had her own reasons to seek me out, or her own agency, for that matter.
The mix of reluctance and fear on her face made me oddly homesick. For there, I mean, which wasn’t a very nice place, although admittedly some of that was just me. In any case, I could tell that there was at least one Mean Girl waiting at home for Kit, and I was itching for a fight. Not out of any mortal concern for a friend, of course; I was pretty sure I hadn’t gone native yet. No, this clearly fell under “hands off my stuff” rules. 99% sure. 95%-ish.
I whispered my question, though I was sure Sally was listening in. “Why don’t you want to go home, Kit? What are you afraid of?”
Her hand trembled in mine, and she looked down and away. “My wicked stepmother.”
I need to rework some of the upcoming bits, so there might be a few days without Virginia.
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