She turned back to the tent. Inside…
She found she was blushing. Inside was easily big enough for eight people, dimly lit in a sort of orangy-pink shade, the floor covered in cushions and blankets like a giant nest or some sort of orgy den. “You… unfolded the tent.”
“Of course I did. Shoes off, clothes on, go on in, in with you. I’ll see you in eight or nine hours with a big meal.”
Lina stumbled in; Jackson followed. Dylan and Ethan were still bowing.
“Come on in, come on,” she coaxed. Dylan stood first.
“You know — you know my dad’s going to be pissed.”
“I know.” She hadn’t known for sure until he said it, but something about the look on her mother’s face had told her things were about to get interesting. “He can be pissed after we save the world. Your aunts too, Ethan, come on. I meant it. You did the thing. I understand what it means.”
“We didn’t expect—” Dylan kicked off his shoes and ducked into the tent. “You saved our lives.”
“Hey, I didn’t expect to save your lives either. Come on, you two. I want to sleep.” She flopped down in the middle of the cushion pile, then, thinking about it, scooted over to the left just a bit. Jackson raised his eyebrows and took the space on her right while Dylan and Ethan still hemmed and hawed.
“Yes, I will stand up to your father if he comes here. And if he wants to kick me and my family out, well, I’ll go. And you can come with me, which I’d advise… ’cause we don’t know how many more of those waves are coming.” She found a down throw and tugged it over herself as Ethan nervously lay down beside her.
“You’re the prophecy,” Jackson murmured. “That is so cool.”
“Personally, I think it’s terrifying,” she admitted, but a yawn caught her ought. “Damnit.” She set her phone for ten hours and curled up against her new… friend…? Right-hand man to fall asleep.
“And I told you – Twice, that you cannot go in there. I don’t care what you think your position is, Michael, you cannot simply plow into someone’s home.”
“One, Araceli, this is not a home, this is a campsite. Two, I don’t think I have a position, I do have one. I lead this Organization. Three, my minor son is in there, and if I want to go in there, I will go.”
“One, this campsite is currently serving as our temporary home and thus, it is ours. We rented it and you are not our landlord. Therefore you are not welcome in here. Two, you have no way of knowing if your son is here or not unless you have been indulging in surveillance on us, and three, my minor daughter is in there and I am not going to allow you in there.”
The tent walls didn’t seem to carry sound the way that Lina remembered a tent carrying sound when she’d done her Girl Scout camping, but on the other hand, sound did carry.
Dylan was awake and stiff near her; everyone else was awake and not really moving. Lina tossed a blanket over Dylan and Ethan, tugged Jackson closer to the doorway, and pulled his shirt off before he could complain. She then messed her own hair up and removed her outer shirt, leaving her in a thin tank top.
Then, she unzipped the tent just a little to peer out. “Mom?”
“Hello, Catalina dear, nothing to worry about. Mr. Lee here is just being a bit of a worrywart.”
“My son is in there!”
Lina blinked. “I don’t think Jackson’s your son, sir—” She ducked her head because she didn’t think she could fake a blush. “I mean-” She stepped aside just enough that he could see Jackson who, having gotten the hint, looked like he had hastily pulled a blanket over his nudity. “Sorry, Mom, it’s just after the whole thing with that wave of power yesterday-“
“The news is fascinated with that. I must say, you did a good job with PR.” Her mother patted Lina’s shoulder absently. The praise seemed real, but her mom was doing a really good job of pretending it wasn’t. Weird.
“Thanks.” She took the blanket Jackson handed her and wrapped it around herself before stepping out of the tent and zipping it closed behind her. “Mr. Lee, thanks for stopping by. It was an interesting ordeal, I have to say, but if the power plant is correct and another wave is coming at noon, Jackson and I really ought to get some sleep. And you should, too.”
“Me?” He gave her a very cold look. She could see where Dylan got all his bad behaviors. “Surely you don’t think I’m going to be one of the idiots bowing down in front of you.”
“Well, it’s like this. If you don’t want to admit that I saved your life, then the whole prophecy comes into question. Which obviously you don’t want.” She smiled brightly. “But no, you don’t need to bend knee to me. You will, under the rules this Organization runs by, need to at some point acknowledge that your son did. After you incited a mob to riot, who, not being able to reach you, took it out on Dylan and his friend Ethan, and after I shielded him. Which means that, should you find Dylan, you have absolutely no claim on him anymore. Now, I need to walk down the hill and save the world again in a few hours. Could you stop shouting so I can get some… recharging done?”
“We’ll talk about this later, young lady,” her mother told her, but the look on her face was a hundred percent amusement. “And as for you, Manfield, you heard my daughter. Get out.”
“I should’ve kicked you out when I had the chance,” Manfield Lee muttered.
“And you know why you didn’t, and you know why you won’t now. Not with the number of people who already have an idea what Catalina did-“
“What she said she did.”
“Oh? Are you calling my daughter a liar now? That’s low even for you, Manfield. What multiple witnesses confirmed. What the police report confirms. You know what Catalina did.”
“Then why isn’t she using this power against me now? Why isn’t she showing me her much-vaunted powers? After all, if she is the new Messiah of the Organization…”
Lina could feel an urge pushing at her, listen to him, submit to him, listen to him, he makes sense, submit to him.
She looked him in the face and laughed.Want more?