“Nothing’s changed since I was last here,” Isabella whispered, looking around with a small smile.
“I remember having to come here every other week for meetings with Evil,” Daniel said quietly.
“I bet that was fun,” Isabella laughed.
“I’d know that laugh anywhere,” said a loud voice.
A figure bounded over, large black wings spread behind him. The man embraced Isabella, picking her up and spinning her around in the air, making her laugh even more.
“It’s good to see you too, Evil,” she giggled.
“Oh, I’ve missed you, Ibby,” the man, Evil, grinned.
He was a bit taller than Lucius, though more muscular. His hair was darker than black, seeming to absorb all the light that touched it and his eyes were an electric blue that glittered. Beth wondered where Lucius got his blank, white eyes from, when his parents’ eyes were blue and red.
“Everything’s not a total disaster, I hope,” Isabella beamed.
“It was between the years you left and Lucius arrived. Altsina really isn’t the same without you,” Evil said, hugging her again.
“Father, this is Beth,” Lucius said, gesturing to her.
“Ah, yes, the driving force behind this exploit,” Evil said, turning to her. He bowed to her slightly. “It’s very nice to meet you, finally.”
Beth blushed a little, unsure of how to respond. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
“Daniel,” Evil grinned, spotting him. “I was hoping you’d come.”
“Uncle,” Daniel responded, smiling.
“There’s no need for formalities, Daniel,” he laughed. “Come, I’ll have you shown to your rooms. Oh, Lucius, guess who gets to deal with Ran’isa this week.”
“Me, again. I do wish you would take this more seriously,” Lucius said with an annoyed frown.
Evil’s joking manner disappeared. “I do take this seriously.”
After a moment, Lucius turned and strode away, clearly irritated.
Evil sighed and turned around to look at the grandfather clock on the first landing of the staircase. “I need to go for now but I’ll see you later. Ibby, the four of you are in the empty rooms at the end of corridor F. You remember where that is?”
“Of course,” she said, rolling her eyes.
Evil grinned. “Good. I’ll see you later. It’s nice to see you again, Thorn. We can talk later at breakfast. Make sure Lucius is okay for me, Ibby?”
She nodded. Evil kissed her cheek and said goodbye to the others before walking away.
“This way then,” Isabella said before leading them up the staircase.
There were very few others around as Isabella led them along a corridor with doors on one side and the empty air of the entrance hall on the other. When they reached the end of the corridor, Isabella pointed to four doors.
“Pick one,” she said.
Beth chose the second one along, between Isabella and Thorn, with Daniel on the end. Isabella placed the suitcase down in Beth’s room.
Beth looked around. There was a large four poster bed, a chest of drawers and a wardrobe. There was a vanity dresser, and full length mirror and a desk as well. Isabella hung the dresses in the wardrobe.
“If there’s anything you need, let me know, okay?” Ibby said.
Beth nodded. There was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” Ibby called.
The door opened and two young women entered, both wearing uniforms.
“We’re your maids for the time you stay here,” one of them said, curtsying.
“What’s your name?” Beth asked.
“I’m Kati, my lady, and this is Inga,” she said.
“It’s nice to meet you, ma’am,” Inga said with a small curtsy.