The next morning Sarah forced Sam to sit down and eat breakfast while she went to feed her patients. Mr. Sutro smiled meekly and accepted his food, managing an ‘ank you’.

“Oh, you’re getting the hang of Y’s again, wonderful. We’ll have you join us for lunch again so you can get more practice.” She left him eating and made her way back down to the first floor. Mr. Jerret would hopefully be rested from last nights incident. She knocked on the door and it opened a moment later. “Breakfast for you.”

He took the food with one hand but stayed in the doorway, frowning at her. She tried smiling at him but he just looked away.

“May I speak to you for a moment?” She pointed past him, “Inside?”

He huffed and for a moment she thought he might slam the door in her face, but instead he stepped back and set his food on the stand by the bed, “It’s your house.”

“Technically this wing is a clinic, not a house.” She sat down in the chair by the window and he found a spot on the bed and started eating. “That’s not important though. We have some things to discuss, doctor to patient.”

“I don’t need a doctor.” The man grumbled between mouthfuls.

“Three twenty-five in the morning I get an alert that one of my patients is breathing erratically and his heart rate is ramping up.”

“Just a bad dream.”

“Do you frequently get panic attacks after bad dreams?”

He had finished eating already and pushed the plate aside.

“What do you want?”

She forced herself to keep smiling despite the hostility, “I want to help you.”

“I think you people have ‘helped’ quite enough already.”

“‘You people’ now? What is it you think we’re doing here?”

“Abducting me from my nice peaceful solitude to ask me questions I can’t answer and play at ‘saving’ me.”

Sarah waited a moment for him to take a deep breath and calm himself again, “Sam wants answers, I want you to be able to speak to me without your heart rate spiking.”

“I don’t-” He cut himself off as she gestured to one of the bands on her arm, which was flashing infrequently, “That’s just because you’re annoying me.”

“Uh-huh, sure. You’re joining us for lunch today. Socializing will do you good too.”

“I’d rather not.” He glowered at her.

“I expect you to shave as well. I’m assuming you know how, there’s supplies in one of the drawers in the bathroom.”

“I don’t want to shave.”

“You do want to eat lunch though. No more hiding in this room like a recluse. We can forego a haircut until this afternoon.”

“I don’t want a haircut either.”

“Look, if you want me to leave you alone prove you’re fine. Get through a few meals without any issues and I’ll consider you cleared. Then we can move you to the regular house and Sam can ask you his questions and move on. It’s win-win.”

“Hold on, move me to the regular house?”

“Well yes, if you’re fine we have plenty of rooms in the other wing. Only patients stay over here. The other girls have been dying to meet you and Mr. Sutro after all. We don’t get many strangers at the house.”

Jerret frowned deeper than usual, his brow furrowing. Sarah watched him ponder for what felt like an eternity. “So either I’m fine and surrounded by more people and more questions, or I’m not fine and you hound me all the time.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m hounding you, just trying to do my best to help my patient progress.” Sarah wasn’t sure whether to be offended at his statement or not.

“Is the cell still an option?”

This time she was definitely a little offended. Sarah stood up and brushed herself off dramatically, “Lunch will be served in a few hours. Someone will come to fetch a newly shaved you, or you can stay here and wait for dinner. It’s your decision, Mr. Jerret.” She turned stiffly and left without waiting for a reply. In the cool air of the hallway her annoyance faded quickly and she almost went back inside to apologize, barely stopping herself. She had to make lunch, and he’d have to make a decision either way.

She spotted some black hair vanishing behind a bookshelf as she entered the library and snuck around the other side to catch Rebecca burying her face in a book. “And what are you doing over here? You’re supposed to be helping with the laundry today.”

“It’s already done, I was just reading this book…” The teen actually looked at the book she was reading and dropped it immediately, turning red.

Sarah walked over and picked up the book on figure drawing and put it back on the shelf, “Next time don’t pick your lies from the art section. Were you trying to peek on our guests?”

“No, I was just curious and…” Rebecca lapsed into silence, pushing her glasses up her nose.

“Well if you want to meet Mr. Sutro you can join us for lunch, though I think Elizabeth will be bogarting his attention.” Sarah frowned as Rebecca somehow turned redder, “Oh gods grant me patience you silly child. This is not a romance novel. Dark mysterious strangers are not charming, they’re dangerous…”

“I know that, I just wanted to meet him once…” Her sister’s complexion was returning to it’s normal paleness and she crossed her arms. Sarah sighed and mussed her sister’s hair.

“Don’t tell anyone but Mr. Jerret may be joining us for lunch as well. I’m trying not to overwhelm our guests so we can’t have everyone popping in.”

“Oh! That’s… that’s good to know.” She looked more excited than she sounded.

“I only said might, but if you help me with lunch I suppose you can come with me to fetch him.”

“Of course! I mean… of course I’ll help you.” Rebecca was blushing slightly again.

“You’re going to be disappointed though, he’s about as charming as a wet cat.”

“That’s not why I-I’m just curious.” She stomped a little and Sarah laughed sharply.

“Sure, sure. Now come help me get lunch started.” She pulled her sister along towards the kitchen.


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