Dixon entered his chambers and grabbed his backpack. Hastily, he removed his dress clothes, exchanging them for garments for traveling. Then he gathered his personal items.
He’d go to the Council this very night, before Lilith could further damage his reputation, before she could call his loyalty into question. Without her accusations and influence, the Council would understand. They would remove the band.
A tap came at his door. He surmised it was Basha. He didn’t want her mixed up in this. He considered ignoring the summons, but the knocking came again, more insistently. He placed his pack down and out of view, then answered the door.
“Dixon,” Basha said, “we have to talk.”
“I’m tired of talking.”
He sighed. His fight drained away. He slumped down at the edge of his bed. With one elbow on his knee, he dropped his head into his hand and shook it. “No, of course not. Not to you. I’m sorry.”
She sat down and put her hand on his shoulder. “Dixon, this is serious. I must speak with you.”
He looked at her, unsure what he saw. Was it fear, dread, worry—or perhaps it was . . . hope? “What is it?”
“We need to talk,” she mouthed without sound. She cupped a hand around her ear, then placed a finger over her lips, motioning that they should not speak out loud.
He cocked his head and raised his hands in question.
She pointed to the door. Then she held up one hand, waving toward it.
He took the sign to mean that she would meet him somewhere, shortly. He mouthed his question: “Where?”
She looked away. She bit her lip, then took his hand and led him toward the balcony. Speaking out loud she said, “Dixon, I know you’re angry, but . . . well, maybe Lilith is right after all. You know it’s important you speak with the Council. You’ll be cleared, I’m sure of it. It’s all just a formality.” She pointed to a well-known destination: the falls, where Therese had been lost.
He nodded. “Fine, Basha, I’ll play along with her.” He hesitated and then, so as to lend credibility to his words, said, “But I don’t have to like it.” He turned back to his room and sat down again at the edge of the bed.
“That’s better, Dixon,” she said as she sat beside him. “It’s for your own good. You’ll see. And it’ll help to keep the peace around here. For now, it would be best for you to cool down. You need some time to process all of what has transpired. I understand.”
“But it’s all just so—”
“No, Dixon,” she interrupted as she stood. “Tomorrow. We’ll breakfast. Maybe after a good night’s rest you’ll see things more clearly. I’d like to go to the Council with you, but only if you agree to Lilith’s terms. She is the leader of the family now.”
He gestured toward his pack. Should he take it along?
She shook her head.
“Thank you, Basha. I’ll see you in the morning then. You’re probably right.” He walked her to the door. “Good night.”
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