“B-but – my mom – "

“How old are you?”

A sniff. “Nine. Ten on June seventeenth.”

“Come with me.”

“My mom!”

“What about your father?”

That stopped him. He faltered for a second, face drawn with concentration as he tried to draw a memory from his mind. “Dad’s in Italy. On a business trip.”

It had been worth a try. Beatrice didn’t know whether they had reached Europe, but there was a good chance that they hadn’t. She could only wish that at least that part of the world had remained unaffected; all the other countries didn’t have to pay this high price for a scientist’s utter stupidity and false visions of grandeur.

“Fine, then. Follow me.”

“I’m not going anywhere until I get my mom,” Kei growled, jaw set stubbornly. Tears were still glazing his eyes over, turning them much too emotional for Beatrice’s liking.

“Your mother won’t be coming back.”

She watched as his eyes flared wide.

She did not look as his frown turned into a mask of sorrow, but instead turned on her boot-clad heel and walked away.

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