Occasionally Thea saw people she actually knew on travel. But more often she was arriving in the midst of a member’s worst couple of days to date, and she wasn’t there to make friends. Even if she’d wanted to make friends, it wouldn’t have been the right time to do it.
At work she was DL De Luca, and DL De Luca was all she had time to be.
Alice: K------- wants to know if you’re home.
TheA: Did you just redact yourself?
Alice: I bet you know who I meant though.
TheA: I’m home until work tells me otherwise. When was she thinking?
The doorbell rang, and Thea rolled her eyes.
TheA: You are the least helpful person I know.
Alice: Are you going to let her in? And also I’m like not even close.
Thea opened the door, and tried not to seem uneasy or anxious. It wasn’t that there was anything about Moira Kadagan standing on her porch that was a problem. She was in her late fifties, warm and motherly, and deceptively calm given her superb skills at organization.
She’d started walking with a cane and Thea’s alter-ego had a multitude of quietly worried questions in her email about that.
“You could have called me and told me to come get you,” Thea said, stepping back.
“Dorothea, darling, I am perfectly capable of getting myself across town.” The older woman moved gracefully into her front room and picked the stuffed chair over the couch. “Where is Seb?”
“Still at school.” Thea shut the door and pushed her sleeves up. “Do you want a cup of coffee or something?”
“No, I don’t have much time. I have a question that I didn’t want anywhere official, and I was in the area and I thought perhaps you would be able to answer it for me.”
She sat down across from Moira. They’d been close, once. They’d spent an entire summer at the company property in upstate New York when Seb was six, and he’d followed Moira around for days. “You could have called me.”
Moira watched her for a long moment. “I wanted to see your pretty face. And we both know neither of our phones are only ours.”
Thea wasn’t the only member of the fund with a job. “Okay. Well, if I have an answer for you I’m happy to help.”
Moira smiled her secret, twinkly smile, and Thea wondered if the rest of the world realized how far away from harmless this sweet, matronly woman could be. “I’m contemplating retirement—now before you start down that thought process, it’s only contemplation. I’m not as young as some of you ladies are.”
Thea swallowed. “Okay.”
Moira reached out and patted her hand. “It’s an idle thought still. I was just wondering if you could tell me one thing.”
“If I decide to retire from my…official duties, I’m not leaving the Fund obviously, how long would…Kestrel need to find a replacement?”
Thea withheld her wince at the name. They went to great lengths to avoid using official codenames outside of the places they needed to be. Moira could have left all the names off, they both knew who she was refurring to.
But Moira was older, and her children were grown, and her risk/reward ration wasn’t in the same place as Thea’s.
“To find a replacement, no time at all. There are back-up plans for all positions. It would be best if there were about six months of overlap.”
Moira raised a brow at her. “All positions. Even yours?”
Especially hers, but Thea didn’t say that. Some things shouldn’t happen aloud.
She let the silence sit for a long moment, and eventually Moira laughed softly. “Very well. Thank you for answering my questions, dear. Will I see you this summer?”
“If I have the time.”
Moira reached out and clasped her hand again. “Make the time, darling.”
Thea didn’t say she wasn’t sure it was that easy.
Come back tomorrow for G: Gifted!