“Yes, fine,” Beth replied with a smile.
Isabella seemed to study her for a moment. “Storm’s just worried. He seems to think he has a debt to repay to Evil from when he took him in.”
Beth knew, when people said things like that – particularly about others – you asked no further questions. She’d learnt that from Robert. She nodded slightly, looking back at the door that Storm had stridden out of.
“Come,” Isabella said, standing. “Let’s go.”
Beth nodded again and watched as Isabella leant down to kiss Evil’s cheek. The two women left the room, heading back to Beth’s bedroom.
“How do you know Storm?”
“He was inducted during my first decade here. We became really good friends.”
The two continued in silence. Once they reached their rooms, Isabella said:
“There’s a ball tonight, if you wanted to go.”
“Where?” Beth asked.
“Here. Downstairs in the great hall. Would you like to go?”
Beth thought about this. The last time she’d danced had been with Robert. Did she really want that reminder looming over her all evening? Then again, it might be something completely different. That night at her school ball with Robert had been the night she’d moved in with him, as well as the first time she’d met Isabella.
“Beth, you can’t dwell forever; Robert’s not here right now, but we’ll get him back. We’re here, in the Dimension, to get him. Let yourself go, even if just for an evening. Live a little,” Isabella said as if reading her thoughts.
She looked at Ibby, surprised that she’d dared to say something like that. She thought that Isabella would be entirely supportive of her all the way, though she knew that her point was a correct one; Beth wasn’t living, she was simply existing. Robert wasn’t there, and her moping around wasn’t going to get him back.
“I’m sorry, Beth, but it’s true and you know it.”
After a moment, she replied, “Nevertheless. I’ll think about it.”
She turned on her heel and left, leaving Isabella standing in her room. She strode down the corridor, not really caring that she didn’t know where she was going.
As she walked back down the stairs, Lucius entered through the large doors.
“Beth?” he asked. “You okay?”
“Oh, yes, just fine, other than essentially being told by your mother to grow up.”
Lucius sighed in response. “Do you want to do something today?”
“I don’t want to talk to her right now.”
He thought for a moment. “Come with me,” he said, reaching out his hand to her.
After a moment’s hesitation, she placed her hand in his and let him lead her out of the building, the way he’d just come.
Outside, the eternal night bathed everything in a slight tone of blue.
Lucius pulled her over to the stables. She followed him through the entryway and over to the stall where she’d left the Sarmiine she’d ridden on earlier in the morning.
“Sometimes, when I just need to get away from everything, I come in here just to relax,” he said quietly.