“Mama, why do I have to wear a dress?”

“Because it is an important event.”

“And you have to.”

“Yes. But mostly, it is an important night for your tata and we should want to look nice.”

“I can look nice in pants.”

Marcelina sighed and stepped away from the mirror. “Dosia? Will you please go put on your dress and get ready to go?” The strain in her voice must have penetrated the teenage brain her daughter possessed.

“Fine, mama.” Dosia darted from the room, but popped her head back in. “And you look beautiful, mama.”

Sometimes, Marcelina thought, their daughter was too much like her father. She stepped in front of the mirror again and stared at herself. The one thing she’d never gotten used to was the difficulty in clothing options when one had wings. Not only style, but color. Marcelina sighed and gave up. She was either going to look good at the inaugural party or she wouldn’t.

“You look beautiful.”

“Did Dosia warn you to say that?”

Jory grinned. It made her want to take off her dress, but only because it also made her want to remove his suit. Not that he didn’t look good in it, but she was always happier when he wasn’t in a suit. Or much of anything.

“Yes. Our daughter came down and said her mama looked terrible, but I should lie.”

“Shut up, stupid.”

“Who’s being stupid?”

“You are.”



“Stop it, mama! Stop it, tata. We’re going to be late!”

“I thought you didn’t want to go?” Jory asked with his arms still around Marcelina.

“I don’t, but if we’re going I want to be there on time.”

Marcelina laughed. Dosia had certainly gotten her need to be punctual from her father. And all the other good things.

“Wrong,” Jory said as Dosia hurried out to the porch.

“Where is she-” Her question was cut off by Jory’s kiss. Marcelina did not complain.

“Our daughter got plenty of her good trains from her mama.”

Marcelina pulled away, without leaving the circle of his arms, to ask, “How?”

“I know I should have told you. Dosia figured it out a few years ago and I thought surely she would give it away.”

“Give what away?”

Jory sighed and released her. He sat on the couch and rubbed his thigh. A car pulled up outside, but he didn’t move.

“Jory? What’s wrong?”

“You weren’t the only one the missile changed, Marcelina. I was just too afraid to say anything to anyone at first. And then, well, I guess the longer I went the harder it was to speak up.”

“Jory, what do you mean?”

“I can…hear people thinking.”

Liar, she thought.

“Never to you.”

“Well, other than keeping this from me. It’s a pretty big secret, Jory. Is it…on all the time?” Did he know everything she’d thought? Ever?

“Not all the time. I have to concentrate. And I swear, Marcelina, I do not go diving into your head. Not unless I’m really worried about you.”

“So, all the time?” The joke was a little flat, but she was glad she’d tried.

“I don’t worry about you. Well, I do, but not the sort of go into your crazy head kind.”


Jory grinned and she couldn’t help smiling back.

“You’re an idiot,” she told him.

“And you’re stupid,” he replied.

“Mama! Tata! The car is here!”

“Are we…ok?” Jory asked as he stood and reached for his cane.

Were they? Marcelina thought about it, but she didn’t have to think long. She walked over to her husband and took his arm.

“Of course we are. The Claw expects nothing less than duplicitous behavior from Ranger One.”

“I love you, Marcelina Couch.”

“Yea,” she replied as they went out to the waiting car. “But I loved you first.”