Victoria handed her another drink. “I imagine the bugs probably even that out.”
Thea scoffed. “You’ve clearly never been here in August. End of the season, the mosquitos could carry you away.”
Marie looked up at the sky, sighing contentedly. “The stars are pretty though.”
“Mom, can I come out?” Seb called from the building behind them.
“Yes!” Alice and Victoria answered for her.
“Come sit with me, Seb,” Alice called. “I’ll share my hot chocolate.”
He ran out and poked at their fire for a minute, before he squeezed into Alice’s seat with her. “Cool.”
Victoria grinned. “We’ve been pronounced cool by your offspring,” she said to Thea. “I think we’re doing good.”
Thea laughed. “You’re all cool. I’m his mother.”
“I bet you’re a cool mom, though,” Alice insisted.
“She’s super-cool,” Seb insisted. “Cause not only is she like normal mom cool to me, the other kids are like properly terrified of her. It gives me street cred.”
“Well, that’s good.” Thea nudged him with her foot. “Did you do your reading and everything today?”
“Yes.” Seb shifted. “I was good all day. Can I ask questions?”
Thea frowned. “You can always ask. Nobody may answer, but you can always ask.”
“Is anything wrong?” Seb looked around them. “Like I don’t really know anything, cause I’m not supposed to, but—“
“You live in a house with your mother and your Auntie Kay is around frequently,” Victoria offered. “And you’re a bright kid. I imagine you know much more than anyone has ever told you.”
“We’re talking about plans for the future,” Marie answered. “But nothing is actually wrong.”
“Good plans for the future or super secret plans for the future?” Seb asked.
“Both, probably,” Alice answered wryly.
“It looks like we’ll be moving again this summer,” Thea offered. “And then maybe not for a while after that.”
“Okay.” Seb swallowed. “Can I ask where?”
His eyes lit up and his face melted into abject excitement. “No way. Like…like surfing and paradise and…Hawaii Hawaii?”
“There’s only one, as far as I know,” Thea answered, shaking her head at him. “So you’re clearly okay with that.”
He flopped back. “I take it back. You are the most awesome mom ever.”
Marie nudged her. “See. He approves, and Kay thinks it’s a great idea. It’ll be perfect.”
Thea rubbed her face. All she could envision were logistics and issues, but it wouldn’t help any to rain on their parade. She’d chosen this life, and sometimes it went places she wasn’t sure she was ready to go, but Moira had been right. Dottie occasionally needed to be reminded why she’d chosen it.
Moments like the one she was in were a good reminder. Sitting around a fire, out in the open with people who understood even a little of what that life was about. Watching her son grow with not just her support, but theirs too. The possibility of something good coming down the pipes.
“It’ll be perfect,” Thea agreed. Maybe if she said it often enough she’d remember how to feel it.
Come back tomorrow for U:Undertow