They’d managed benign small talk while they packed, and while they drove, Viddie and Ankara pestering each other in the back seat while Cya and Yoshi tried to pretend there was nothing to be uncomfortable about. They were nearly at the school’s wards when she managed to say anything at all.
“I know, Mom. Every adult in the ranch and half of your Kept over the last decade have tried to tell me. Including the rabbit.” He sighed impatiently. “It’s not like I’m going in blind and without back up. I’m practically the last of the Brood to go.”
“Hardly,” Viddie complained from the back seat. “There’s me, and Ruki, and Kitten, and…”
“I get the point,” Yoshi interrupted. “But it’s not like I’m the first.”
“Well, no. That was Dora.”
“I get the point, too,” Cya interjected. “But I am allowed to worry, Yoshi. It’s my right and duty as a mother.”
“And I’m allowed to roll my eyes and tell you I’ll be fine. And, seriously, if Ankara can survive it, I’m going to be okay.”
“Gee, thanks,” the angora-boy in the back seat muttered. A little louder, he added, “if all else fails, just keep your head down and don’t say anything.” He sounded less lost and more defensive than Cya had ever heard him. “You might not like me much, but I did okay there. As well as can be expected.”
As well as can be expected. Cya’s hand went to the side of her throat, and she swallowed, hard. “Remember,” she said, fiercely, “it’s only four years.” And in four years, if anyone had hurt her son, had used or abused him, she would Find them, and she would introduce them to a whole new world of pain.
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