My cheerful greeting was responded to with murmured replies of, "Good morning, Miss," from the servants and a half-hearted grunt from the study. Well, at least it hadn't taken me long to deduce where Noah was. Heading past the study and into the kitchen, and observing that neither of our parents appeared to be in as per usual, I grabbed some bread from the cupboard and placed it under the grill in the oven, before wandering back towards the study, Cahren tagging along silently behind me.
"How is my dearest brother this morning?"
Noah glanced up, bleary-eyed, from the desk where he was sitting with his chin on his hands and an obscene amount of paperwork piled up in front of him. "Great. Wonderful. I'm having so much fun."
He looked more Noah-like today, I observed silently as I grabbed the nearest chair and pulled it up on the other side of the desk to him to sit down on. The smart suit had been exchanged for a nondescript jumper and nondescript trousers, along with distinctly bed-mussed hair. Still, I mustn't have looked much better myself. My previously tamed locks had turned back into the bird's nest I was used to seeing in the mirror, and I was wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans once again. Our parents were usually berating me for spending most of my time looking like a boy, but my argument was always that spending all day in a dress was hardly practical.
"So did you have fun yesterday?" I asked with raised eyebrows, my grin widening when he groaned softly.
"I may have had a little bit too much wine. Just a tad."
"Ah, so the reason for that bleary demeanour isn't down to you being chained to the desk with hours' worth of work in front of you." I put a hand to my chest, mocking pity. "It's because you spent all evening guzzling wine with your Malenshian friend."
Noah looked at me indignantly, replying through the pen lid he was chewing on. "I wash not gushlin'. I wash chalkin'."
"Well, I always suspected the rumour about men not being to multitask wasn't true I'm sure you can talk and drink at the same time."
"Maybe I was just drowning my sorrows about having to prance around the dance floor so many times," Noah muttered, removing the pen from his mouth to sign his name on a form. "Every time I thought I had escaped, there'd be another one dragging me back again!"
"I noticed." I grinned and rested an elbow on the back of my chair. "But come on, no man would object to being spun around the royal family's ballroom, with as much free wine as they can pour down their throats, with dozens of rich unmarried women begging them for a few minutes of their time."
"I would." He picked up the mug of coffee on his desk and continued writing.
Noah could try to carefully keep his gaze on his work, but I was determined to distract him. Injecting a sultry tone into my voice, I leant closer and murmured, "What, not with all those women reaching up to place their hands on your shoulders while you place yours around their waists, their lips so close to yours, their breasts pressed up against-"
Noah choked on his coffee and spat most of it back into the cup.
"I knew it!" I cackled triumphantly, noticing even Cahren attempting to hide a grin from where he was hovering behind my chair.
"No." His face brilliantly red, Noah picked up his pen again and resumed writing.
"You can't fool me, dear brother. I know you were enjoying yourself."
"Your toast is burning."
I blinked at him, then smirked. "'Course it is, you're just trying to get rid of me."
"No, I mean it. I can smell it burning."
With a scramble of feet on carpet Cahren dashed out of the room a second before I did, where upon entering the kitchen we discovered a charred mound that had once been two slices of bread sitting under the grill, and a room full of smoke.
"Brilliant." As I grabbed a dishcloth and began flapping it about in an attempt to disperse the smoke, I distinctly heard a cackle from the study. "You watch it, I'm coming back in a minute and then you'll be wearing that coffee!"
Much to my disappointment, when we returned to the study, disaster averted, Noah had finished his drink. Slumping back down into the seat opposite him, my stomach growling with irritation at my lost breakfast which I couldn't be bothered to make again I asked, "So, did you actually manage to make any business contacts yesterday like Mum and Dad wanted?"
"Not really. I spoke to a few people but they only got as far as to say they'd consider it." Noah paper-clipped a few sheets together and placed them in a tray on the other side of the desk before moving onto the next stack of papers with an aggrieved expression. "I was surprised that Kalexi said our business might do well over in Malenshi. It would really be something to consider if there wasn't all this going on and, of course, if our parents weren't so down on anyone who isn't entirely human." He grimaced, then glanced up at Cahren and added, "No offence."
Cahren put his hands up in a universal gesture of None taken, while I paused to think, absently tapping my chin with one finger. "I didn't come across anyone to talk about any deals with either mind you, most of the men I came across were more interested in dancing with me than discussing business. I guess that's the stigma of women not being able to handle a man's job."
"Well, Mum's proof that that's nonsense if nothing else," Noah replied with a wry grin. He paused, then added, "Thinking of men's jobs and women's jobs, Malenshi's culture is so different from ours, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it's kind of mad," I agreed, thinking back to the sight of the thick brown collar around Kalexi's neck. "The way they act like their citizens are all, I don't know, slaves to their country. I don't know if they actually behave like that back in Malenshi, but either way, it's just a bit odd. I guess we should be more appreciative of the fact that we've got quite a lot of freedom over here."
"I would have thought you'd be all in favour of the matriarchical culture," Noah replied with a wry grin. "If that was the case over here, you'd be heir to the business, not me."
"And the business would proceed to go straight down the toilet as soon as I took control, which is why I'm not particularly in favour of it." I grinned, then sobered slightly, adding softly, "You're doing a really good job, you know. When you take over, the business is going to stay really strong. Maybe even stronger, since you're more willing to expand out to other cultures than Mum and Dad are." I laughed softly at the disbelieving expression Noah was casting my way. "I'm being serious here."
"Yeah, well. Thanks," Noah replied, blushing faintly. He paused, surveying the collection of invoices and stock lists in front of him, then groaned loudly. "But I'm really not doing very well right now! I need caffeine!"
Immediately Cahren signed, I'll get you a drink, and scurried off towards the kitchen, from where the faint smell of cremated toast was still drifting. Noah blinked after him, then muttered, "That's one intuitive servant you have there."
"Yup. Hey, is there anything I can do?"
"Oh, so now you've remembered you're actually a part of a certain Redfern Trading too?" Noah mocked surprise, and I stuck my tongue out at him. "Actually, you can. The petty cash is empty and I also need some money to cover a refund for some goods damaged in transit." He grimaced.
"Oh dear, that's not good for the reputation."
"This is why I'm keeping it hush-hush." Noah's grin made him look somewhat like a schoolboy who knew he was in trouble but found the whole thing rather amusing. "If I get the money sorted and the refund slip in the 'dealt with' pile before Mum and Dad get back to finish off, they shouldn't notice it. Though I did have to keep myself from laughing when it actually happened and I had to go and apologise to a shop owner whose delivery of oranges had been mushed into a pulp in transit. I asked him if he could just sell it as orange juice, but he didn't see the funny side."
I grinned in response; usually, Noah was the epitome of courteousness when speaking to our customers, but like me, sometimes he just couldn't resist cracking the odd joke. I couldn't really blame him; dealing with stock-takes, deliveries, refunds and demanding customers every day was definitely not my idea of fun.
Once he'd told me how much money to collect from the safe and given me the keys, I headed off towards the back entrance of the house, Cahren passing me on the way clutching a mug of fresh coffee. Noah's elated cry of, "Caffeine! Thank the Goddess!" soon followed from the direction of the study, before Cahren scurried back to follow at my heels again, looking slightly alarmed by my brother's enthusiasm for a hot drink. Sometimes I felt as if my servant was joined to me by a stretch of elastic, he strayed away from me so little. I didn't mind; he clearly stuck to my side because he wanted to, not because he was employed to, unlike Drasten, who looked completely uninterested in anything he did. Or maybe that was just his face, I didn't know.
The safe was situated in the warehouse beneath the family home, which had originally been a plain cellar albeit a huge one, since the size of the whole chamber was equal to that of the entire bottom floor of the house but was now reinforced to be used as one of the safest, not to mention most secret, of Redfern Trading's storage spaces. After all, only the stupidest thief would attempt to sneak up to a cellar situated beneath a massive house in the centre of the city, under constant surveillance from guards and protected by countless locks if they knew it was there in the first place, that was.
After battling for a few minutes with the stringent security measures on the doors that led into the chamber, I headed down a small set of stone steps and into the massive grey room, filled with the dark shapes of boxes and crates looming at me in the premature twilight, the sunlight unable to stretch much further than a few metres around me from the door at the top of the steps. Fortunately, electric lighting had been installed down here recently, which made things a lot more convenient, not to mention safer, as before we would have had to trail round the room lighting the lamps that hung at intervals along the walls, potentially tripping over things on the way. And if you were me, tripping over things happened quite often.
The safe was in a cupboard discreetly hidden behind a stack of crates that were actually always there, rather than being filled with merchandise, so if an extremely lucky thief did manage to wrangle their way in here, they probably wouldn't find where the safe was actually stored at all. Yes, I had to admit, my parents had done a pretty good job of fortifying their money in this place. Shifting the crates out of the way with Cahren's help, I made my way after more frustrating battling with locks into the cupboard and then into the safe via a code-enabled lock that I always very nearly forgot the number for. Having fetched the money I needed, I grabbed a plastic bag from where they were stored on top of the safe to put it in, headed out of the cupboard, and locked everything up before replacing the crates.
It was while Cahren and I were making a joint effort of shoving the last box back into place that I heard the sound. Straightening up, I cast my gaze around the massive room warily, while Cahren struggled with the box for a few more seconds before realising I had stopped. He cast me a questioning glance, to which I put a finger to my lips which, looking back, was stupid since he couldn't talk anyway, but all my concentration was on listening and waited for it to come again.
There it was the faintest of clinking sounds, as if of keys on a ring. Or perhaps of a lock being wrestled with. Swinging round to stare towards the doorway with wide eyes, I considered the possibility of someone spotting me heading down here and deciding to try their luck at making their way in. But surely they wouldn't have been able to make it past the two guards who constantly stood by the doorway; they'd be beaten to a pulp in an instant if they tried. Stupidly, I had only switched on a few of the lights in the room as I passed them, so less than a quarter of the room was lit. The noise sounded as if it had come from beyond the rough circle of light that surrounded us.
Attempting to calm my pounding heart, I used the sign language I, Cahren and Noah had developed to ask, Did you hear that? Glancing into the darkness beyond my right shoulder, he nodded slowly, and I realised belatedly that of course he would be able to hear it. He was half-elf; he could probably pick up frequencies no human ear could catch, not to mention pinpoint the exact direction they were coming from. Realising that he might indeed be staring at towards the source of the noise right now, I turned slowly, hardly daring to breathe.
There was no movement in the shadows, only the shapes of several large crates, the tallest of them being the one that had been delivered the night before. Immediately a mad thought ran through my mind: what if someone was hiding inside it, ready to climb out and raid the place as soon as the coast was clear?
All of a sudden all I wanted was Noah here; he would protect me, he would know what to do. But to get to the door I would have to make a dash past that section of the room. Frozen in indecision, I jumped as Cahren tapped my arm, before signing, I'll go and have a look.
"You can't!" I protested, remembering at the last second to speak in the lowest whisper I could manage.
He looked at me earnestly with wide brown eyes, then simply nodded, before turning away and heading towards the crates, footsteps careful and soft. I stood for a moment, simply marvelling at the courage of this short, skinny sixteen-year-old who had been such a terrified wreck when I had taken him from the streets, and who now appeared to be willing to potentially put himself at risk to ensure that I was safe. I thought I had seen loyalty among my parents' servants; they had nothing on Cahren. As quietly as possible, I followed him, unconsciously swapping our usual places as I did so. I didn't want to be a coward I couldn't exactly be described as being backwards in coming forwards the rest of the time but now, inexplicably, I couldn't help myself. Facing up to argumentative parents and speaking my opinion at noble's parties was one thing being trapped in a mostly-dark basement with what could potentially be a thief or even a murderer intent on targeting our family was another.
Still moving at a slow, silent pace, Cahren approached the large crate, peering around the corner of it with me in tow. He cast his gaze around the area of the room we stood in, and I could see the tips of his pointed ears twitching as he listened intently for any sound of movement. He glanced back towards me, biting his lip with the words 'I can't see anything at all' clear on his face. It was exactly as we looked at each other that there was a sudden thud from the large crate beside us.
I let out a startled yelp of alarm and was sure Cahren would have done the same if he could, judging by how rapidly he leapt back. Now there was no doubt about it that there was something in that box something that was very alive.
"You don't think they're trying to smuggle animals by us, do you?" I whispered, knowing my shock at the prospect was clear on my face. Another aspect of my personality that my parents despaired of even more than my fascination for the humanform species we shared our planet with was my passion for kindness to animals. If those businessmen and women yesterday who had delivered the crate to us thought they were getting it delivered to its destination upon my discovering that it contained living creatures well! It wasn't going to end well, that was for sure.
Newly determined to find out exactly what was inside the crate, I edged closer to it and, finding a small gap between two of its slats, leant against it and peered through with one eye. At first I could see nothing but blackness, but then, slowly, as my vision adjusted, a darker shape began to form itself, slumped against the opposite wall of the crate. Behind the wood was glass, forming a tank within the crate, and now I could discern that, strangely, the tank contained water. Straining my vision to attempt to work out what the creature inside was, I pressed my face hard against the wood, ignoring the fact that I would feel rather stupid if I managed to get a splinter in my cheek or something.
There was movement. The faintest dance of light on scales as a tiny fraction of light from the lamps managed to force its way through the crate's slats. A lighter colour among the blacks and blues of the water after a moment, I realised that what I was looking at was skin. A startled gasp falling from my lips, I drew back for a second, then looked again. No, my eyes weren't deceiving me, and my brain hadn't suddenly decided to form nonsensical images. I was seeing scales, and fins, and skin, and a human face, all on one creature.
"Goddess." I hardly realised I had spoken until Cahren urgently tugged on my sleeve, signing to me, What is it? Blankly I turned to look at him, blinked, looked back at the crate again, and muttered slowly, "It's... I think it's a mer."
Cahren looked at me uncomprehendingly for a moment frankly, I couldn't blame him and then hurried to press his own face up to the wood of the crate, before turning back to me with shock clearly written all over his face, which had suddenly grown alarmingly pale. Well, if nothing else, at least I knew I wasn't hallucinating and that someone else was seeing it too.
After a moment to take in the news that we had just been put in charge of a living, breathing mercreature that was currently sitting in a box in our basement, most likely illegally caught and, no doubt, not meant to be here at all, I rushed into action, casting my gaze around for something to attack the crate with. Spotting an iron bar not far away, presumably abandoned from the construction of an older box or something of the like, I picked it up and lifted it, wedging the tip beneath one of the large nails holding one of the crate's slats on and heaving. Almost immediately Cahren began to look panicked, but I attempted to reassure him with a remark of, "I know what I'm doing," though, in reality, I didn't know beyond wanting to find out exactly what this poor creature was and the condition it was in.
About fifteen minutes of struggling later, even with Cahren's help I had only managed to pull away three-and-a-half slats, since one of them had broken off mid-tug and we had both ended up with a few rather nasty splinters. Resigning myself to leaving it as it was for now I could have just headed back into the house to ask Noah for the keys to the lid of the crate, but I didn't particularly want him knowing that there was a mercreature in our basement until I knew exactly what was going on, and besides, he had enough paperwork to deal with without me worrying him further about this I dusted my hands off as best I could on my jeans and peered inside the tank again.
The creature was slumped in the corner of the tank, and as I let my gaze travel slowly across its body, I couldn't help but inhale a soft breath of awe. As was the case with meeting Kalexi, the drawings and written descriptions I had seen of mers, either in stories my parents would read me as a child until they decided they didn't particularly see any worth in humanform species, that was or in encyclopaedias I would devour later on, didn't do the real beings any justice at all. Even smudged with dirt, his scales dulled to a dusky red, bruises and scratches visible from new wounds and vicious scars from old ones all across his body, he still looked beautiful. He was slender and lean, with skin of a warm tanned tone, and vibrant auburn hair that, despite its matted texture and the coating of dirt currently covering it, I could see was incredibly bright. His irises were a startling shade of blue that was visible even when his eyes were half-closed in exhaustion as they were now, and his long, heavy tail was studded with deep crimson scales, which spread up his back and neck and down his arms. It was one of the most incredible sights I'd ever seen.
My stunned moment of silent awe was soon burst, however, when I spotted the bonds that restrained him, and instantly I wondered how I could have been so enthralled by even a mer's beauty to not notice them before. His wrists were shackled tightly behind his back, a chain attaching the iron bands to another latched around the tip of his tail just visible behind his large, dusky pink fins, and what looked like a muzzle was strapped across his face, covering his mouth and nose. The only part of his face that was visible between that and the matted tangle of hair that fell across it were his azure eyes, as if the sea's essence had been captured and trapped within them, within this darkened, empty place so far from where he belonged. He was watching me silently, no doubt a war raging within him as to whether to trust me or not. If his condition now was an indication of how he had already been treated by my kind, I wouldn't have blamed him if he had hated me on sight.
Judging by the horrified expression I could see Cahren casting my way from the corner of my eye, I could tell he was feeling exactly how I was. The question was what on earth to do now.
Tentatively, meeting the boy's gaze and keeping my voice as soft as possible, I murmured, "Can you understand me?"
Obviously he couldn't reply by voice thanks to the muzzle, but I had presumed he would nod or make some other motion to indicate a 'yes' or 'no' in response if he understood Mythralian. There was nothing, only the same wary, exhausted stare.
Blankly I glanced at Cahren, not entirely sure if I was looking to him for help seeing as he had developed a rudimentary form of communicating without words, but his attempt at signing my words to the mer yielded no success either. I hadn't expected that they would, but I had figured that anything was worth a try.
"You're not in danger any more," I told him, attempting to convey the meaning behind what I was trying to express to him at least, and hoping desperately that he could understand. I just didn't want him to be scared any more, to be waiting for the next time he would be treated like an inanimate possession by the people who had taken him from the sea and brought him here where he didn't belong. "I'm not going to let anyone take you from here, you're safe. I'll work something out, I promise you." I just don't have a clue what yet.
He didn't make a sound, only shifting slightly, no doubt in pain from being in the same position for the Goddess only knew how long. The chains at his wrists clanked softly, audible even within the water-filled tank, and I felt my expression twist with pity at the sound. I just prayed he could grasp the concept of what I was attempting to tell him.
I jumped violently and peered round the crate towards the doorway, where a silhouetted figure was standing on the steps. The mer boy flinched a little too, craning his neck to attempt to look through the slats in the crate. As our new visitor headed slowly down the steps and entered the shadows of the warehouse, I relaxed slightly, though I made sure I subtly moved around the corner of the large box to shield the section Cahren and I had rather violently broken from Drasten's view. He was an obsessive neat freak and spent the time when he wasn't balancing trays and plates placing invoices in alphabetical order and lining up the tea caddies in the kitchen exactly three inches apart (really, he was born to be a servant, I couldn't help but think), so a crate that had purposefully been placed down here because it was supposed to be valuable having been half-destroyed would probably send him into a seizure. Not to mention if he asked why we had done it, I would have had to explain that there was a fish-boy in the basement, and I didn't know if I trusted him enough to inform him of this.
"Er... yes?" I replied, hoping my guilt didn't show itself all over my face.
He didn't look particularly suspicious that I was lurking about near a crate instead of being on the other side of the room by the safe, which was what I had originally come in here for, but that was probably because most of the time his face showed little expression at all. "Your brother requires your presence back inside the house."
I very much doubted that Noah had specifically stated that he required his sister's presence his words would be more likely along the lines of, "Get Saralynne back here!" but, relieved that I could get out of here without Drasten particularly having any need to come any further into the room, I nodded and muttered, "Just coming," before casting a glance back towards Cahren that I hoped indicated that I would sort things out later. Silently we followed Drasten out of the basement, locked it up and entered the back doors of the house again, where, to my surprise, Noah wasn't still holed up in the study but was standing in the kitchen leaning against the work surface. He brandished a plate at me as soon as I entered the room Drasten vanished as quickly as he had managed to appear in the warehouse, presumably off to clean one of the living rooms or something and announced with a tone of disappointment, "I made you more toast to replace the poor slices of bread you decided to cremate, but you spent so long digging around in the warehouse it's now gone cold."
I was pleasantly surprised at the gesture, since Noah hadn't been exaggerating about the sheer amount of work in front of him, despite his jokes. "Oh... thanks. Don't worry, I'll eat it. Cold toast is better than no toast."
"I should think so." Noah pretended to be indignant and began wiping the kitchen work surfaces clean. That was another thing I knew most people found likeable about my brother (unless they were nobles and didn't believe their fellow high-class business owners should be doing their servants' work); he wasn't afraid to roll his sleeves up and actually partake in domestic chores himself, even if at sixteen he had once demonstrated that he could be almost as clumsy as me by stepping in a bucket of water while mopping the kitchen floor. I, aged twelve at the time, had laughed until I cried while he hopped about wringing out his sopping wet sock.
Absently taking a bite out of my toast, I wandered into one of the sitting rooms I could have sworn we had about ninety, seeing as our house was big enough to accommodate a small army with Cahren in tow, taking a seat on one of the sofas to eat my breakfast. I could sense his eyes on me, and when I glanced round, he hesitantly signed, What are we going to do?
I paused to make sure Noah wouldn't be able to hear me judging by the loud clattering sounds emanating from the kitchen he wouldn't stand a chance before murmuring, "I'll tell him there's not much else we can do."
Cahren nodded slowly at that, glancing away again and staring absently at a pot plant beside the fireplace, and feeling somewhat guilty about eating while he was not, I offered him a piece of toast. Immediately he looked startled and waved it away, as I had expected he would. As I ate I knew that the thoughts of both of us were, inevitably, running frantically over how on earth these people had managed to capture a fully-grown mercreature, chain him up, shove him in a box and drag him all the way from the shores into the city, then proceed to deliver him to Redfern Trading like an inanimate object and wait for the cash to roll in when whatever collector had paid them for their services came to fetch him.
"Oh, Sara, I forgot to tell you something."
Noah's voice broke into my train of thought and I glanced up to see him standing in the doorway of the sitting room pulling his ever-present grey coat on.
"Where are you going?"
"One of the Malenshian princess's servants visited first thing this morning while you were still snoring in that pit you call a room." I raised my eyebrows at him in response to this remark; he was hardly an early riser himself unless he was dragged out of bed by our parents in order to get on with work, which I guessed had been the case today. "They said they tracked us down after we met Kalexi at the party last night and that they were wondering if he could possibly have a guide to take him round the city today. The princess and her brother are too busy discussing everything with the Emperor and Empress to actually visit the city itself, not to mention it might cause some disruption, to say the least, what with all the controversy going on with the potential change in laws at the moment. Apparently Kalexi thinks it'd be fine for him to tour the city, since it's his job after all to represent his country in other places."
"Brave of him," I remarked a little doubtfully. "You sure he's not going to get anything thrown at him or something like that?"
"That's what I thought, but apparently he wants to go and he's chosen me as his guide." Noah looked a little quizzical and absently ran a hand through his hair.
"Are you serious?"
"Don't sound so stunned." Noah gave me a mock indignant look and I attempted to look meek in response. "I do actually know some stuff, contrary to what you believe."
"Ah, well, if you say so. But I have something to tell you before you-"
"Sorry, I've got to rush, I delayed myself waiting for a certain someone to come back out of the depths of the cellar. Do you have that money from the safe so I can just stick it in the study now before I go?"
Blankly I fished the cash I had collected from the pocket of my jeans, passed it to him and watched as he disappeared into the hallway. Cahren was discreetly casting me anxious glances, obviously wanting to know how exactly I planned to inform Noah of the new addition to our warehouse when he was off to gallivant around the city with the Malenshians' ambassador, but I did my best to ignore him, my brain churning around and attempting to come up with some ideas until Noah reappeared in the doorway.
"Right, I'm off then. You'll be alright on your own?"
"I'm hardly on my own, I've got Cahren and whoever's lurking about doing the cleaning. Who are you taking with you?" I asked, knowing that not only would it be risky for one of us to head down into the city on our own, but also that our parents would kill the offending family member if we dared to do so.
Noah gestured towards Drasten, who had done one of his magical appearing acts right behind him.
"Ah. OK then. Have fun," I replied somewhat lamely, half my attention still on finding a way to sort out the current situation. Noah being called away to take the Malenshian ambassador around the city just when I found a mer boy in the basement was not the best way the day could have turned out, I had to admit.
The instant Noah had said his goodbyes and the front door had clicked closed behind him and Drasten, I sprung to my feet and immediately made my way towards the stairs, belatedly hoping the servants wouldn't notice anything particularly strange about my sudden hurry. Cahren scurried along behind me, giving me a questioning glance as we reached the relative safety of the third floor landing. I knew that usually he wouldn't dare to be any less than completely agreeing with anything that anyone else said, but the fact that he was clearly worrying and looking to me for answers showed that he knew as well as I did that the situation was more than the two of us could handle by ourselves.
Pausing outside Noah's bedroom, I placed my hand on the doorknob and turned to give Cahren what I hoped was a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, Plan B is on the way."
He nodded a little doubtfully, but his expression was nowhere near the anxiety I was feeling behind my calm facade. Yes, Plan B was on the way, or rather, would be at some point. What he didn't need to know was that it hadn't even started being formulated yet.