“You okay? What are you thinking?” Dr. Answorth brought her attention back.
“I…uh…I’m fine. It’s a lot to take in…what next? What happens next?”
Dr. Answorth sighed, “Well, I don’t think you’re going to like this…but I think it’s the best option.”
“Start taking the medication.” She looked dumbfounded.
“Take the medication, Anissa.”
“But why? I thought the whole reason we were having this conversation-“
“The reason we are having this conversation is because you were headed down a dangerous trail trying to get answers for yourself!”
“And now that I know all this, you expect me to shut up and sit back and forget everything?”
“No one’s asking you to forget. It’s not an amnesia pill. I’m just asking you to stop traveling. It’s too risky. If anyone found out…” the doctor’s words trailed off as his attention was drawn elsewhere. Anissa followed his gaze, only to spot Carson headed toward their table. Anissa’s heart skipped a beat. “Why’s he coming here?” Dr. Answorth muttered under his breath, “Let me do the talking.” Carson strode up confidently, deftly pulled a chair from a neighbor table, and sat himself down directly in between Answorth and Anissa.
“Are we having a good time?” Carson asked easily, pouring himself a glass of their wine. Anissa was fiddling with the tablecloth.
“Do we know each other?” Answorth eyed Carson boldly.
“Oh, I’m sorry…Eric Carson,” Carson extended his hand congenially. Answorth took it a little less eagerly.
“I know who you are. I was trying to recall when it was I sent you an invitation for this dinner.”
“Don’t trouble yourself, I wouldn’t have accepted.”
“Carson.” At the sound of her voice, Carson turned attentively toward Anissa. His face was blank, his eyes wide and innocent. She grimaced inwardly.
“Was there something you wanted?” it came out quietly. He looked amused. It made her angry.
“Robson, I’ve never seen you wear a dress.” Anissa blushed and looked away, toward the window. Carson kept his gaze on her. Answorth looked back and forth between them, realizing they had a previous acquaintance.
“I’m sorry, what did you say your name was?” Carson had turned back to Answorth.
“Dr. Garrett Answorth.” Carson’s eyes narrowed slightly and he tilted his head.
“Answorth. How do I know that name?”
“Can’t say…unless you’ve been out of health lately.”
“Garrett, I believe Mr. Carson has come to speak to me. If you give us a moment, I’m sure we can clear this up.” Answorth looked at Anissa, then Carson, then back at Anissa. She nodded. He rose from the table slowly, placing his napkin by his plate.
“Well, then I think I’ll just step outside.” Anissa stared at the table as he left, feeling a mix of anger and humiliation. Carson was reclining comfortably, sipping on his wine. She gathered herself and turned.
“I’m sorry, but what are you doing?” Carson leaned in.
“You didn’t tell me your ‘personal appointment’ was a date with an activist doctor.”
“I didn’t know I was required to report all of my personal activities.”
“Robson, calm down and listen to me. I don’t want you spending time with Garrett Answorth.”
“He’s a political activist. I’m sure he’s not a bad man, but he’s bound to get into a mess of trouble. You’d do better to steer clear of him.”
“Thank you, Mr. Carson. I’m sure I’ll take your advice into consideration.”
“It’s not advice, Robson.”
“Are you sure you never had an Apprentice before? Because you’re doing a fantastic job of playing Master over my life!”
“And you’re the most disrespectful Apprentice I’ve ever met.”
“Then why don’t you get rid of me?” it came out before she had decided to say it. The words sounded fierce and deadly. Her stomach dropped at the realization that he just might. He looked at her intently. His eyes didn’t register anger or surprise. Then he smiled.
“Why? Do you keep me around to amuse yourself?”
“Because letting you go…would be a mistake.” Anissa felt a chill go down her spine as she looked into his eyes. He nodded respectfully then stood up from the table. Anissa looked away.
“I’m sorry I ruined your dinner.” And then he was gone.