Celeste was gracious, but puzzled. “I understand that you like it, but it’s not that big a deal,” she had said. It now occurred to the children that Celeste didn’t know the poor quality of her handywork.
“Mmm, just s-so gooooood…” Elmi stuttered. “What we were trying to say-” Kaylin started. “It’s s- uh scrumptious!” Annabel interrupted. “I love it!” Della said, shoveling another spoonful of the pesto and squid ink noodles into her mouth. Grey gave them a wink, and they settled down.
After they hastily devoured their delicious meal, they began to talk about more serious things. Grey even tried to put on the most serious face he could muster. “Now, girls,” he said in a seriously serious voice. “You must understand that things don’t always go well.”
What do you mean? Della thought fearfully.
I knew we couldn’t trust him! Kaylin thought. She was worried that her rare chance of getting back to Bear was gone.
Black Magic! Elmi thought instantly. The superstition part of her brain sparked back to life. She stared hard into Grey’s eyes.
Gre saw their alarmed expressions and quickly corrected himself. “No, I’m not saying we’re doing anything bad… or anything. (at this, he glanced a Celeste) But things do happen, and that’s why I want you to be able to get home.”
“What do you mean?” Anabel asked.
“I’m going to split the money among us,” Grey replied with a sigh. “Because if that robber or anyone cames back, the others will still have something. If we get separated, you need the money for a ride back to Kenol.” He said this like something bad was going to happen. Like there was no avoiding it.
Elmi opened her mouth to speak, but just left it there, hanging. He quietly handed them each $30 and they dismissed themselves to get ready for the night.
They sat on the crowded beds, talking amongst themselves. “Well, that was weird,” Kaylin pronounced, the first one to speak. “It sure was,” Annabel agreed, tired from their long day.
Elmi forced a smile. “But, I’m sure he just wanted to be cautious.” She doubted this very much herself. Things happen. “Especially on this crazy… Arkk,” she added in a whisper. No, not even Grey could make her want to come back.
As if Annabel read her thoughts, she started to talk. “Robbers around the corner, crazy black magic worshippers, drivers without their license? What is this place?”
Grey removed his ear from the bedroom door. He wished they’d said No offense.
Kaylin awoke with shivers running down her spine. Dreams of black magic monsters and speedboat running just farther than her reach opened her eyes with a start. Images of Kenol drifting away filled her brain. We didn’t make it back for supper.
Elmi heard rustling in the beds. Was someone awake too? She sat up and saw Kaylin up too. “Kaylin!” Elmi whispered, but it wasn’t quiet enough. Annabel and Della woke up too.
“What’s going on?” asked Della. Elmi frowned. “Sorry, I woke you up. But, Kaylin was already up. What time is it? 11:37? Wow, it’s late.”
“I was just thinking…” Kaylin started. “That we’re quite a bundle for Grey and Celeste.” “Yes?” Annabel asked, in a what-does-that-prove way.
“Well, we’re not even their real children, and they seem poor…” Kaylin said again in a mysterious manner. The others were starting to catch on. “He said things that.... I think he was hint, hint, wink, winking. For some weird reason, he thinks that everything will not be fine. Like we can’t get home with his help.” Kaylin narrowed her eyes at her sister's cringing. “You believe to do, and he seems to believe the wrong type of thing.”
“What are you saying?” Annabel asked. “If you want to leave tomorrow, I see that, but there is nothing wrong with getting help from Grey. He’s not a beacon for crimes.” Or is he…
“That’s not what I mean,” Kaylin said definitely. There was a tone of determination in her quivering voice as she held up the $30. “I’m going now, with or without you.” Annabel gasped, but Kaylin kept talking. “It may be dumb to sneak out in the night, (Okay, it is) but I’m not going to let warnings pass me by. Grey was saying something he didn’t mean for Celeste.”
Athletically, Kaylin lowered herself down the windowsill and dropped onto a soft pile of old vines and yard waste. Every move was planned.