“So it is the same man!” he realised. “Is that your plan for the day, then?” he asked eventually, as she only smiled.
How would Paris feel about losing her mother again? It could feel no further than France, if Elena could be relied on to act as a taxi when needed across time and space, but if she couldn’t be relied on then it would be as bad as another death.
Although Stolid had been found and had, at least he thought so, declared himself as part of Paris’s life was that sufficient to comfort her feelings of isolation?
‘Yet we all stand alone,’ a strident inner voice mocked him, ‘when it comes to it. You can’t protect your children against that. You can only hope that you have given them what they need, to allow them to stand alone when they have no choice.’
He wasn’t quite sure why this news had affected him in this way. Lizzie was, after all, the woman he had been happy to try and avoid before this last adventure. Was that the issue?
The last few days had changed him, his outlook on life. He had become like a droplet of water on metal, capable of picking other droplets and absorbing them until what he had been was no longer recognisable.
Rael stood up then and turned to smile at everyone briefly before he left. His footsteps on the stone flagstones were heavy and slow.
“Damon Ich’s made a suggestion,” Gerard said turning away from the other conversation which seemed to have finished with Rael’s interruption: his tone of voice suggested that he was not completely sure of his reception.
“What now?” Timonthy said frustrated. It was still breakfast time after all. Barely ten minutes had gone by since he had his first drink of the morning.
He was longing for his own kitchen: his own uncomplicated life. Gerard fell silent. He looked contemplative. “I’ll let him explain,” he mumbled, avoiding Timonthy’s eyes.
There was an expectant silence and Stolid cleared his throat as everyone looked at him.
“I know the last few days have been confusing,” he said, “as much for me as you, probably. Rael has been reminding me that I’m not supposed to be here and for the first time in my life I think I’d be happy to leave.”
“I just wondered whether you would prefer to stay here without me or whether you would like to go somewhere else. We could pretend that you had really made it to Scotland and spend some time exploring Edinburgh, for example. Or anywhere else you fancy.”
“You need to talk to Johnathon before you plan any more trips, Stolid,” Lizzie said warmly. Timonthy looked at her in surprise. It was rare for Lizzie to talk directly to Stolid, never mind for her to offer him advice.
He imagined that her previous reticence was due to the embarrassnent of taking advantage of him at a moment of weakness, in his youth.
“I expect I will,” Stolid smiled back ruefully at her. “Does anyone know where he is?”
Timonthy felt guilty then. His friend had looked for him and he had turned him away out of petty irritation, a selfish impulse and he had taunted him with his own happy love. That had not been kind.
“He’s in my room,” Lizzie said with a wicked smile, “and if you’d like to ask, no I didn’t have a good night. I think Paris managed to get to sleep eventually. I was talked to most of the night. I’d be very grateful if you two could resolve things one way or another – if only for the sake of my sanity.”
Timonthy was relieved. Koa had found someone to comfort him then. And without any personal sacrifice for him. Now he was relieved that he had been so selfish.
Damon Ich looked as if he was debating about whether to go and see him. He lingered by his seat with a troubled frown.
“He’s asleep now,” Lizzie said, “so you might as well enjoy your breakfast first. He only fell asleep at five or six so give him a few hours.”
Timonthy feared that he could hear Stolid’s thoughts. ‘I must make sure that I look good,’ he could hear. ‘I’ll go home and visit my wardrobe. Shall I do it now or is that too abrupt?’
Were they Stolid’s thoughts or just his own imagination of what Stolid was thinking?
Surely Stolid would have dressed already in the knowledge that he would meet Koa today although he supposed it was possible he had intended to play it cool before Lizzie’s admonition.
He wished that he knew what was in his mind. Although he knew it shouldn’t, the state of Stolid’s affairs affected his own life in so many ways.
“Well think about my suggestion anyway,” Damon Ich said. “We don’t need to make a decision straight away. I think that Rael will allow me the rest of the day.”
Elena smiled at Damon Ich shyly. It was hard to imagine that she was his mother and not just because she was so much younger.
“I’ll make a special dinner tonight,” she said decisively. “We can eat it in our room and talk about all of our plans. Then if we have to say goodbye at least we will have done it properly. I’ve enjoyed having you around Damon Ich.”