Chapter 20.1Mature

Robert didn’t respond, just scribbling more numbers and symbols. After a while, he stopped and stepped back, the chalk still in hand to change anything. When he seemed happy with it, he wrote ‘There you go, Alicia’ underneath it.

“Alicia didn’t understand why she got an equation wrong in her test the other day. I told her I’d work it out for her,” Robert said by way of an explanation. “Are we going then?”

“Yes.”

Beth had no idea how she was supposed to respond to Robert’s equation. It would have taken her hours whereas it took Robert ten minutes. Shaking her head, she followed Robert out of the house and into the car.

The drive passed seemingly quickly and in silence for a while.

“What are you going to do about Jack?” Beth asked.

Robert’s eyebrows drew together in confusion. “Nothing. Why?”

“Just wondering.”

“I don’t kill indiscriminately, Beth. I kill when I need to. If he attacks me, I’ll break his legs; I’m not going to kill him.”

“Oh.” Beth was half-satisfied with that answer.

After a long while, when they were nearing the school, Robert spoke.

“Daniel and I are doing research in Edinburgh today so I won’t be able to pick you up. We’ll probably be back sometime early tomorrow morning.”

“Research? In Edinburgh?”

“Apparently, a similar thing happened there, with a demon escaping a century or two ago. We’re hoping to learn something new. Still waiting to see Isabella on Friday. I asked her if she could come early but apparently she’s ‘indisposed’.” The quotation marks around the final word were audible.

“Meaning...?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Robert said, shaking his head.

“Oh...” Beth knew why it didn’t matter, knowing Isabella’s career choices. “Why do you say a demon ‘escapes’?”

“Because that’s what they do. Demons are bound to their realm, to protect humanity. But when someone does something stupid, demons can escape through the little tear in the planes. It’s much more common in places with lots of blood spilt.”

“So the witches were killed here, but why Edinburgh?”

“The Burke and Hare murders, we assume. Not quite sure though.”

Robert pulled into the school car park. They were a little early, with only a few people milling into the building.

“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Beth said, kissing Robert briefly.

“I’m giving you the car keys so you can drive home at the end of the day.” He handed her the keys.

“What about you? How are you getting to Edinburgh?”

“We’re flying.”

The pure white vulture landed on the hood of the car, as if to prove a point.

“I’ll come and pick you up in the morning,” Robert said quietly.

She kissed Robert again, her lips lingering for a moment. She pulled away and got out quickly, before things heated up, especially in front of Daniel—whether he was a bird at present or not.

Beth and Robert both got out and Beth waved to the vulture. She knew it would have looked odd to unknowing eyes but she didn’t care too much. One of the bird’s wings unfurled slightly, returning the gesture. The large wings settled back into place and it squawked roughly at Robert, who rolled his eyes.

The End

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