“So do you know what Thomas is up to?” Rebecca watched Sarah closely for any reaction, but the other woman was unfazed by the question.
They were sitting in Rebecca’s room, drinking tea. Rebecca genuinely liked Sarah, but she was still cautious around her, the result of living on her own for too long. In that respect, she knew that she and Julia were alike. But Julia was even more closed off, and the two had rarely spoken to one another.
“Honestly, I don’t. What makes you think he is up to anything?”
“Just some questions he’s asked me.”
“Oh? Like what?”
Before Rebecca could find a noncommittal response, yelling could be heard in the hell outside her door. Both women leapt to their feet and rushed out into the hallway. Julia was standing at the bottom of the stairs that led to the floor above.
“. . . should never have come here! I can’t believe I ever considered trusting you!”
“Julia. Please listen to me . . . ” Thomas’s voice came from up the steps though he was still out of sight.
“No! I’m done listening to you!” Julia spun around and walked over to Sarah and Rebecca. “Did you know about this?” She pushed a piece of paper into Sarah’s hands. On it was a short list, and Rebecca could see one item in particular: “Julia has not died.”
“What is this?” Sarah asked.
“I found it in Thomas’s room.” Julia’s voice was angry, yet fear permeated it as well. “You don’t know anything about it?”
“I swear, Julia, I don’t.”
Rebecca nodded her agreement with Sarah’s denial.
“Then I recommend you get out of here before you wind up on one of his lists.”
Thomas appeared at the bottom of the stairs, but he didn’t say anything. As soon as she saw him, Julia stormed away. She crashed into David, who was just coming out of his own room, and knocked him down. Without stopping, she headed down to the main floor. The slamming of the front door reverberated throughout the house.
Sarah held up the piece of paper in front of Thomas, who had joined them outside of Rebecca’s room. “What is this, Thomas?”
“It’s personal. She took it from my room, a violation of the rules.” As always, his voice was subdued and betrayed little emotion.
“Perhaps, but you admit it’s yours, and it does seem troubling. Convince me it’s not.”
“Could we discuss this privately?”
David had gotten up and joined Rebecca in watching the exchange between the two senior mages.
Sarah shook her head. “They will have questions, too. Unless you want to let suspicion fester, best we talk in front of them.”
“Very well,” Thomas sighed. “Looking around the timeline, I find it useful to leave myself notes so I don’t lose track of when I am, of what is future and what is past. No one is supposed to see them.”
“And this is one such list? Julia found it?”
“Yes. I have safeguard in place to keep everyone out, but her talents with space are greater than my own. Obviously.”
“So you know she’s going to die int he future?”
“No. The future isn’t fixed. But it might happen.”
“It’s not clear. Soon, though.”
“Why didn’t you tell us? Or at least tell her?”
“I… She… I don’t have any specifics. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. And you know she doesn’t like others interfering with her life. I was trying to find a way to help her without upsetting her.”
“Well done, then.” Sarah thought a moment. “If she’s in danger, it might mean we all are. You should have…”
“No. No one else is in danger. I checked.”
“You can’t be sure of that. If you want this house to work, you can’t keep these kinds of secrets.”
“I don’t need you to tell me. . .”
“You put me in charge of this house. This is my responsibility.” She paused a beat. “Or are you forcing me out?”
Thomas opened his mouth, then closed it again. He went back upstairs without saying anything else.
Sarah turned to the other two mages. “I’m sorry about all of this. I promise to sort it all out. Let’s all take some time to get a little perspective, then meet again later to discuss everything.”
“What about Julia? Shouldn’t we go after her?” David’s concern was obvious.
Sarah shook her head. “She doesn’t want to be bothered when she isn’t upset. I doubt she wants any of us following her now. Better to let her cool off.”
David nodded and headed back to his room.
“We’ll talk later?” Rebecca asked.
Rebecca accepted that and went back through her own door as Sarah walked away.
Several minutes after the hallway emptied, David’s door opened again. He quietly crossed over to the stairs leading down and followed Julia out of the house.