Robert didn’t say anything for a while and Beth thought he was just going to take her home anyway. “Okay,” he sighed. “You can come with me. On one condition.”
“You do exactly as I tell you, and you don’t say anything,” he said.
“That’s two conditions,” she pointed out teasingly.
“Beth... This is seriously dangerous. If I could entrust your safety to my little brother, I would, but he couldn’t protect you.”
“He’d do anything to protect me,” Beth said defensively.
“I know that, but he’s not strong enough.” Robert tapped repeatedly on the dashboard with his nail. Then he suddenly stopped. “Daniel...”
“A friend. That’s something to think about.” He didn’t say anything else.
Robert started the engine and began to drive. The headlights showed them a couple of metres ahead, but Beth guess that, if anything, they actually hindered Robert’s vision. He didn’t show any signs of difficulty though. He was still thinking, not even half concentrating on the road.
After about half an hour of silence in the car, Beth started noticing the road signs. Most of them were for the zoo Beth had been to countless times during her childhood.
“Where exactly are we going?” she asked, dragging Robert out of his reverie.
“To talk to Nathifa.”
“She's not technically a witch; she’s a shaman of a tribal cult in Kenya.”
“Of course. She’s been in England for sixty years or so now.”
“Is she a vampire?”
“Where are we going though?” Beth asked.
“You’ll see,” was Robert’s cryptic answer.
And he was right—eventually—Beth did see, as they pulled into the zoo car park. Beth opened her mouth to make some remark, but thought better of it when she saw that Robert was clearly on edge as it was.
“Are you staying here?” he asked as he turned off the engine. He was hoping she’d say she was.
“No, I’m going with you,” Beth said decidedly.
Robert frowned. “Just do as I say and we should be fine.”
He got out and Beth followed. She ran to catch up with him. When she touched him, he flinched. He was twitchy, worried, which made Beth worried too.
The place was completely deserted. There were a couple of employees, but Robert just walked right past them and neither of them batted an eyelid. Robert must have been doing something to their minds.
After walking past several workers going about their nightly routine, Robert stopped about ten metres away from the glass panel of the lion enclosure. He was nervous now too.
“Beth, I need you to stay this side of the glass, and try not to make any noise,” he said authoritatively. Beth didn’t argue.
Robert hurried over to the fence and climbed it easily. Then he jumped into the lion’s den—literally. He walked further in without a care in the world, except his worries for Beth. She went up to the glass as quietly as possible.
Beth could hear the low growl coming from the shadows beneath the trees. As Robert took a few more steps, the growl became louder, more threatening and Beth suddenly felt terrified for Robert. But, no, he would be okay, even if the lion did attack him.