He peeled off his fall coat and looked at it. It was pretty scorched. It probably wasn’t worth keeping. As he hung it on the coat hook, DeeDee stepped into the foyer from the parlor. She had a worried look on her face.
“What’s the matter with you?” he asked.
“Are you all right?”
“Well enough. Do we have a healing draft?”
“I think there is one in the parlor hutch,” she said.
“Get it. I’m going to need you to pour some on my back. Give me about ten minutes to clean up and then bring it upstairs.”
He climbed up the stairs and entered his room. It was cold and empty, though the maid had straightened up and made his bed. Stepping into the closet, he quickly changed into fresh underwear and a clean set of trousers, though he stayed shirtless. DeeDee hadn’t arrived, so he washed up and brushed his teeth. He was just finishing as she timidly entered.
“Pour some of that on anyplace that looks burned or red,” he said turning around.
“That’s your whole back.”
He grabbed the hand towel that he had used to dry his face.
“Pour it on this and then rub it all over.”
She did as he directed.
“Where is your Gran?” he asked.
“She’s gone visiting. I think she just wanted to get out of the house.”
“And what have you been up to?”
“No much, honestly.” Her eyes began to fill with tears. “It feels like our family is falling apart.”
“Families are like any other living thing,” said Saba, stepping across the room to retrieve a clean shirt. “They’re born with the combining of male and female. They grow. They reproduce. Then they die.”
He put on his shirt, buttoned it, and tucked it in.
“You’re our little seed. You’ll be off to start your own family soon enough, but sixteen is too young to be married.”
“I know,” she said. “I told Julius I wouldn’t marry until I was eighteen. He’s fine with that. Our engagement will be just a little over a year long. We could get married in Restuary or Festuary of 1926.”
“Hmm. That actually sounds sensible.”
“Will you talk to Julius, please? I can send a lizzie to fetch him here.”
“All right DeeDee. As I’ve noted many times, you do eventually always get what you want.”
* * * * *
Senta opened her eyes and looked at the daylight streaming into the window. She found a quick glance at the clock, which read 10:00, confusing.
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“You’ve been asleep for almost seventeen hours,” said Karl’s voice from across the room. He was sitting in a hardbacked chair across the room from her. “I would have called for a doctor, but you seemed fine.”
“I was just very tired.” She rolled out of bed and looked at him. “How are you.”
“Get undressed,” she said, noting that he was wearing only his underwear. “We’ll take a bath, and both feel much better.”
By the time he entered the bathroom, she already had the water flowing and scented bath salts in the tub. With a wave, she encouraged him to climb in, and once he had done so, she joined him. She leaned back on him and gently tickled his thighs with her fingers.
“How many men have you had in this tub with you?” he asked.
“I was planning on asking you something—taking you to dinner, and… Well, I don’t know if you care for all the ceremony…”
“Oh, I do. We will have dinner this evening at Café Idella, and you can ask me then… whatever it is.”
“I think I love you,” he said, kissing her neck.
“That is good to know,” she said.