Robert was the last one up. Sleeping on the third floor, it was not so easy to entice him down with the smells of breakfast. He slouched into the kitchen, fingering the charm she‘d left for him. Looking up, his eyes settled on the four plates laid out on the table instead of three. He didn’t say anything about it as he dropped into his chair, but she could tell that he was relieved she was eating. He’d dressed for school, but halfway through breakfast he began glancing out the backdoor and playing with the remains of his pancakes. He coughed a few times, experimenting with the idea of pretending to be sick.
“I was thinking of taking Edgar to the Park this morning,” Ann said, using a wet paper towel to wipe the boy’s face. He bore the attention stoically, his forlorn expression comical as she wiped his fingers, removing the sticky syrup he would just as soon have licked away. “If you think that’s alright,” she added, cocking her head at Glory.
Glory smiled. “I have a lot of work to catch up on; so that‘s fine if you guys want to get some air. Just don’t let him run off into the woods. I’m sure he’d come if you called, but I don’t want him to get over-excited and accidentally shapeshift where anyone might see him. Oh, and I made you this.” She handed Ann the Hand of Nodens she’d crafted for her and dropped the third over Edgar’s head. He chirped curiously, playing with the yarn loop she’d braided, having run out of chains by the time she got to the last talisman. She was a little relieved that it didn‘t seem to bother him at all. “If anything at all threatens you, I want you to run as fast as you can,” she warned them, “but these should at least buy you some time if something… less than human… comes after you.”
Ann looked as though she regretted asking if she could take Edgar to the park, but squared her shoulders and asked, “Do you want me to drop Robert off at school?” Robert hid his scowl in a glass of milk. “I should probably know where he goes to school anyway. Just in case I ever have to pick him up or drop him off.”
“Mmm, well, I‘m hoping we can home school him at some point,” Glory said, giving Robert a glance as he tried not to look excited at the prospect, “but he has to prove himself first… since I know I’ll be much harder on him than any of his teachers.” Despite the fact that she didn’t want him to be afraid, having him home would make her feel that much better with her father and her sister on the loose. She didn’t want him to be afraid, but that didn’t stop her from worrying on his behalf. “We’ll see how his grades are at the end of the school year.”
Robert glanced at the clock on the stove. “I’ll be ready in fifteen minutes. I just gotta get my stuff.” He pushed away from the table, dumping his plate in the sink and giving it a quick spray of water before rushing down the hall and pelting up the stairs.
Ann snorted, as aware of Robert’s moment of weakness as Glory had been. She took Edgar upstairs to get him ready for the park, leaving Glory alone in the kitchen. The cat’s food and water dishes were still sitting on the counter, and she almost expected him to put in an appearance, but either he had decided to stay in the Dreamlands or she’d successfully blocked him from coming back. She honestly didn’t know how she felt about that. One less antagonistic ally was certainly a good thing, but there were few enough people she could rely on for help that she felt his absence keenly even if she wasn’t quite sure of his motives. She filled the water bowl… just to be on the safe side.
Ann had barely left with the boys before there was a knock on the front door. Glory sighed, but told herself it could just as easily be that Robert had forgotten something, in addition to his house key, and needed to be let back in. She wiped her wet hands on a tea towel and closed the dishwasher door.
“Miss Lewin,” said an elderly man as she opened the door. His hair was white as rock salt, and his icy blue eyes were set deep in a mass of wrinkles. Redfield and Steiner flanked him, looking ambivalent in their suits and glasses. They gave no sign that they were anything but robots.
She scowled. “Who have I the displeasure of addressing?”
The old man smiled, the wrinkles around his eyes crinkling in the grandfatherly way of picture perfect families on sitcoms across the nation. “Steiner said you had a colorful way of talking. May I come in? I think we have a great deal to discuss.”
Glory shook her head slowly from side to side. “Give me one good reason why I should do that.”
“I’ll give you three,” he said, holding up his hand. Glory felt the blood drain from her face as he ticked his reasons off, one by one. “Robert is not legitimately your son. I know your lawyer is attempting to give you custody and the system is so overwrought that his caseworker hasn’t even bothered to take him back, but the fact remain he is not yours to keep until the adoption paperwork goes through. But… considering he ran away after his foster mother sold him to a certain high society cultist who has since disappeared, I‘m not too concerned about leaving him in your care.” He held up a second finger, and she swallowed. “Two, your second foster child is not human. As I don’t think that is a conversation to have on a public street, I’ll leave it at that. But if I were so inclined, I could call child services on him as well, since he does not legally exist and therefore you have no more claim to him than Miskatonic University did.”
He held up a third finger, and Glory was half tempted to stop him there, but she needed know what else he knew. Innsmouth? Would she have to warn Kingsport? It seemed likely.
His third point was certainly not what she was expecting. “I recently heard that your father had died. My condolences.” She stared at the old man with utter dread. What did he know about her family? How had he even known about Edgar? Did that mean Scott knew where he was?
“Y-you can come in, but they stay outside,” Glory announced, trying not to show how shaken she was as she pointed at Steiner and Redfield. Of the three, the old man seemed least menacing, even if he’d done more to disturb her equilibrium than even Tsathoggua had in Ilarnek.
Redfield opened his mouth to argue, but the old man waved aside his complaint before he could make it. “Why don’t you boys go have breakfast,” he suggested. “I don’t think there’s anywhere I’d be safer than right here. Isn’t that right, Miss Lewin?”
All Glory could do was nod and step out of his way as he walked past. Steiner and Redfield did not look at all happy as she shut the door. She had a feeling they would not eat until the old man returned to their care.
to Book 7, part 1, page 10