Saturday, December 23, 2034
Jaycee found a can of powdered cleanser in one of the kitchen cabinets, sprinkled it liberally, and then set to work on the soap scum in Eduardo’s dingy stainless steel sink.
Lara came into the room. “You’re not the maid, sweetie. You don’t have to clean.” She put the kettle on the stove and rummaged in the cabinet for teabags.
“It’s all right. Gives me something to do.” She applied herself to a stubborn spot. “Besides, Eduardo doesn’t seem to have anyone but us to look out for him.” Her own network of people was nearly as limited, and she meant to do something about that.
Soon the sink was sparkling clean, and she rinsed her hands and retrieved the clumsily wrapped gift from her messenger bag. “Here. I found this at the market and thought you might like it.”
“For me? Thank you, sweetheart.” Lara unfolded the paper and lifted out the plate. “It’s in perfect condition!” Then she laughed. “I tell you what—we’ll take turns eating off it, all right?” She set the plate on the counter, Jaycee still hovering at her elbow.
Lara bit her lip as she pondered the question. She knew how Mitch felt about Jaycee’s mother. She’d promised him she’d look after the girl and protect her. But maybe giving Jaycee some options—and some perspective—wasn’t the worst thing in the world. She picked up her cup of tea and motioned for Jaycee to follow her into the living room.
Lara settled on the sofa next to Jaycee and studied the girl for a moment before she spoke. “I just want to make sure you know you have … choices. Do you understand? We tend to go through life thinking and believing one way. It’s okay to take a hard look at your life and realize you can make changes.
“You don’t have to be part of the Resistance if you don’t want to. It’s good and healthy to reexamine our priorities and goals every so often. You’re in a new place, and you’re seeing the world differently.”
“Oh, I want to be part of the Resistance. But I’d like to at least have the chance to know something about my mother.”
“Do you really want the whole story?”
Jaycee’s eyes lit up. “Yes!”
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