“Robert…?” she started, but her phone rang. So few people knew her number, she didn’t feel comfortably letting it go to voicemail. It could be something important. “Hello?”
“Ah, Miss Lewin,” Professor Scott replied, and she gritted her teeth at his smarmy tone. Edgar was still sitting at the table, and he blinked up at her as if he could hear and recognized Scott’s voice. “I was just wondering if you’d had time to think about my offer. I was hoping that you‘d at least have a moment to come back to the university and share the specifics of your encounter for our records. I meant to stop by your home to talk to you, but every time I was in your area, something came up.”
I‘ll bet, she thought. “I’m sorry, professor. I just haven‘t had the time. I‘ve actually been meaning to call you. I -Edgar!” she shouted as the ghoul boy jumped from his seat and ran towards her. She held the phone up out of his reach, but he ran past her, and she heard the yowl of the cat. Of course, she should have known shutting it in her room wouldn’t keep it from going wherever it liked. Doors obviously meant nothing to it. He’d probably gotten tired of waiting for the food she’d promised and come down to get it himself. “I’m sorry, professor. I’m going to have to call you back.” She flipped the phone shut and bolted after the two.
“Edgar! Stop chasing that cat!”
“Why didn’t you lock it up?” Robert yelled, diving for Edgar and missing. She watched the cat and ghoul dart through the dining room and stepped back into the living room door. In a few seconds, the duo came running down the hall towards the stairs, just as they had earlier. This time the cat rushed up the stairs, and Glory snatched Edgar before he could follow.
“Edgar,” she yelled as he squirmed to be free, and again as he refused to calm down. “Edgar! You’ve been such a good boy since I brought you home. Don’t make me have to punish you. Neither one of us would like it.” She carefully set him down on his feet. “Stop chasing the cat. He is a guest.”
He’d stopped struggling, and she released him but quickly grabbed the back of his shirt as he tried to run up the stairs again where the cat stood on the top step as if taunting him. “Edgar… I am absolutely certain you understand every word out of my mouth. So when I say that if you don’t stop chasing the cat, you’ll have nothing but vegetables for a week, carrots, asparagus, peas, corn, beans anything but meat, I know that you‘ll take the threat seriously.”
Glory released him a second time, and he looked up at her with a woebegone expression and the tiniest meep of contrition. “I’m sorry, but the cat is not a toy, and he is not a snack. You are not lacking for food, so there is no reason to antagonize him. Now go sit in the living room or pull out one of your puzzles or your blocks. If you’re a good boy, I’ll take you to play in the woods tonight. You can run off some of that energy.”
She waited until Edgar disappeared into the living room before glancing up the stairs. The cat was, of course, gone. Glory went into the kitchen, tossed the remainder of the tuna and a bowl of water onto a tray, and went back to her room. The cat lay on the bed in exactly the position she’d left him, as if he’d never gone down to the kitchen at all. She knew better.
“I like cats, and I am trying to be hospitable. If that thing at the museum had anything to do with my sister, then I was happy to have some help.” She set the tray down a trifle harder than necessary and slopped a little water from the bowl. “But you showed up downstairs deliberately. If all you are going to do is torment my son, then you can leave, and I will find a way to keep you out.”
He ignored the food and seemed to grin up at her. Was he daring her to try? Just what she needed, some kind of Cheshire cat. It was already great at disappearing.
With a grunt, she grabbed her computer and snatched at a corner of the paper that was sticking out from under the cat. He snatched at it, claws out, but it hardly mattered if he managed to nick her. She wiped a drop of blood away from where he managed to snag her skin and showed him the clean skin. “You can’t hurt me, least not enough that I won’t heal. So I suggest you get to the point of whatever it is you’re here to do or leave.”
Glory could feel his eyes on her as she turned and left the room, but until he started to cooperate, she was determined to ignore the cat. It wasn’t as if she’d invited him into her home. He’d just showed up, and then tried to have the run of the place. I think not, she decided with some annoyance. She already had a voice in her head trying to run her life without worrying about the motives of a cat. Phoenix shifted huffily, and she smirked. There was nothing she could do to get rid of Phoenix, not without passing him on to someone else, but she wanted him to know she didn’t trust him. At least, she conceded, he was sometimes useful, if grudgingly.
She planted herself on the sofa with her computer, in no hurry to call Professor Scott back. Yet another person she didn’t trust, though she wasn’t sure if the cat or even Phoenix qualified as people per se. While Robert beat the pixels out of animated foes and Edgar played with his blocks, Glory went from one frustrating website to the next, looking for the symbol on the stone. Giving up on the websites devoted to symbols and sigils, she finally settled for going through Google images one page at a time, searching for anything even remotely like the bas-relief symbol. It was slow going, but at least she felt like she wasn’t wasting her time searching through one website at a time.
to Book 6, page 10