He probably has work to do.”
“Yeah, gotta go burn a bush for Moses,” I quip.
She smiles. “Marge Whittaker, 1949.”
It takes me a second to understand what she’s referring to. “You mean the one before Margot Whitfield?”
“Marge. Nice. Did you always go by some form of Margaret?” I ask.
“Almost always. Unless I was running from something very bad. Anyway, Marge Whittaker fell in love.”
I get the feeling that she’s not talking about Dad. She’s talking about the time she mentioned before, the time she almost got married. In the fifties, she said.
“Who was he?” I ask softly, not sure I want to know.
“Robert Turner. He was twenty-three.”
“And you were. .” I quickly do the math. “Almost sixty. Mom. You cougar, you.”
“He was a Triplare,” she says. “I’d never known too many angel-bloods before, Bonnie and Walter, who I met when I was thirteen, before I even knew what an angel-blood was, and Billy, who I met during the Great War, but never anybody like Robert. He could do anything, it seemed. He was capable of anything. One day he walked into the office where I was working as a secretary, and he asked me to dinner. Naturally I was surprised; I’d never seen him before. I asked him why he thought I’d agree to go to dinner with a complete stranger. And he said we weren’t strangers. He’d been dreaming of me, he said. He knew that I liked Chinese food, and he knew exactly the restaurant he was going to take me to, he knew I’d order sweet-and-sour pork, and he knew what my fortune would say. So you see, I had to go, to find out if he was right.”
“And he was right,” I say.
“He was right.”
“What was it? Your fortune, I mean.”
“Oh.” She laughs. “‘A thrilling time is in your immediate future.’ And his said, ‘He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.’ And both of those were right, too.”
“You were a part of his purpose?”
“Yes. I think he was meant to find me.”
“And what happened to him?” I say after a minute, because I sense it’s bad.
“The Black Wings found out about him. When he would not join them, they killed him.
Samjeeza was there. I asked him to help us, but. . he wouldn’t. He stood by and watched.”
“Oh, Mom. .”
She shakes her head. “That’s what happens,” she says. “You need to understand. That’s what happens when they know. You have to fight for your life.” The next morning Billy drives us to school, as usual. Everybody but Jeffrey seems way more relaxed about the Samjeeza problem since Dad showed up. If Samjeeza is powerful, I figure that Dad must be twice as macho, with no sorrow to impede him, the righteousness of the Lord and all that. We don’t talk most of the way, each of us lost in our own world, until Billy suddenly says, “So, how you holding up?”
Jeffrey stares out the window and acts like he didn’t hear her. She looks over at me.
“No idea,” I tell her.
“Not the kind of news you get every day.”
“It’s good news, though,” she says. “Your dad being an Intangere. You know that, right?” It seems like it should be a good thing. Except for the part where it means Jeffrey and I were pretty much born with a target on us. “Right now it just feels weird.” She glances at Jeffrey in the rearview mirror. “You alive back there?” Affirmative grunt. Usually Billy can charm Jeffrey, coax the occasional smile out of him, no matter what mood he’s in. Probably because she’s so pretty. But today, Jeffrey’s not cooperating.
“I bet it feels weird,” she says to me. “Everything’s been turned upside down on you.”
“Have you ever met a Triplare?” I ask after a minute.
She scratches the back of her head, considers. “Yes. Two of