Therese glanced Nina’s way, opened her mouth as though to speak, then stopped.
Mara followed her visitor’s gaze. “You may speak freely.”
Therese looked embarrassed to have had her thoughts studied. “Very well then. I’ll chance you would bear our group no ill will, that you would take no risks with our safety.” She paused as she warmed her tea. “Our leader is Lucy,” she said as a flash of lightning shone through the curtained window. Shuddering thunder followed.
Mara smiled and turned to Nina. “Would you kindly step out for just a moment?”
She stood, handed Reigna off, then exited.
Mara reached into her pocket and clasped the compact. “This is how Lucy and the rest of you stayed in contact with Rowena,” she said as she pulled her hand out and opened her fist.
Therese gasped. “Where did you get that? That belongs to Rowena!”
“Belonged to Rowena.”
“Yes! But where— How did you come to possess it?”
Mara turned the compact in her hands, admiring again the beauty of the workmanship of the object. She returned it to her pocket. “I’d like to invite Nina to return. I only sent her out so that I could respond to your question.”
“She doesn’t know about it then?”
“No. It seemed best to keep this particular detail to myself—at least for now.”
“How did you come by it? It’s a most crucial, most secretive, most powerful item!”
“I’m aware of that.”
“You’ve used it?”
“And . . . you’ve spoken with Lucy?”
“Again I ask, ‘who are you?’”
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