Listrial sat up when she entered the room. Ralie ignored him for the moment. She hadn’t worked at her job long enough to risk ticking off her employer. Her phone was still where she remembered leaving it, fortunately. She dialed and asked to speak to her boss when the receptionist answered, then gave her supervisor a halfway thought-out excuse about food poisoning, the only thing she could think of off the top of her head that would make her sick enough to need to stay home. He expressed his hope that she would feel better soon, and she hung up.
“You talk to people through that?” Listrial asked.
“Yeah.” Ralie handed the phone to him, and he turned it over in his hands, looking confused. “Please don’t ask me to explain how it works. I’m not completely sure, and I haven’t had enough coffee to try to explain anything.”
“Coffee?” He licked his lips. “That, at least, is something with which I’m familiar. At least if it has anything in common with the drink we have at home.”
Given how little their worlds seemed to have in common, Ralie doubted her coffee would be anything like what Listrial drank. Especially since all she had was instant. “I’ll make you some,” she offered. “Then we really need to talk.”
“I agree.” He stood. “May I help you with anything?”
“Thanks, but I know where everything is and you don’t.” She would eventually have to show him where she kept things. For the moment, she didn’t want to take the time.
She went over to her cupboards and took out the jar of instant coffee and the only two mugs she owned. She filled her kettle with water and set it on the burner, then went back to Listrial, who hadn’t moved from his spot. “The water will take a while to boil,” Ralie explained, sitting beside him.
“In that jar, those brown things?” he asked.
“That’s coffee. Instant.” She looked down at her hands. “That probably doesn’t mean anything to you. How much should I explain to you, Listrial? How much do you really want to know about this place?”
“I’m unsure,” he admitted. He rested his hand on her knee. “I thank you for the place to sleep and for your care last night. I may have seemed ungrateful. Truly your assistance meant a great deal.”
“You didn’t seem ungrateful.” She hesitated. “Are you going to stay or try to find your way back through the mirror?”
“If I return home, I will return to the Unseelie ruling my world,” he said slowly. “At least ruling the lands once held by my Queen. If they truly killed her as they said, the Unseelie Queen has right to my Queen’s holdings now. As a Seelie soldier, I would likely not be allowed to live.”
“This isn’t an easy world to get used to,” she said quietly. “Even for those of us who’ve always lived here.” She didn’t know whether she would be able to handle the responsibility of helping him acclimate to her world. When she’d seen him through the mirror, she had wanted desperately to be with him. Now that she had him in her home, she wondered if she really wanted him there.
At least, her mind wondered. Her heart had no question. She loved Listrial, and looking at him, she knew that what the mirror had said was true. They belonged together. He belonged there. And she did want him.