Ballygowan Castle – West coast of Ireland
“Send them in.” The Irish voice of the king came through the door to the old library.
The Santalini Guard opened the door, pushing it wide and winking as the three teenagers trouped inside.
They stood in front of Dante, the Atlantean king, seated behind the huge oak desk. He didn’t speak or look up from his papers, but made them wait like naughty kids.
His best friend sat in a large leather sofa to his right, looking straight at them but giving nothing away.
It was a weird setup – even they knew that. The two men acted as father to all three of them and they shared a mother. Xavier and Alexia were Dante’s kids, and Jay Junior, was Jay’s.
The minutes ticked on.
“Where’s mum?” Alexia said, eventually. “Shouldn’t she be here for this?”
The king sighed, put down his pen, and looked at her over the rim of his glasses. She recognized the look in his eye. There was no bending him today. He was still a strikingly good-looking man, at almost forty, with his hair beginning to grey. It still curled and reached his shoulders. But when he meant business, there was no winding him around her little finger.
“I don’t remember giving you permission to speak, Alexia?”
She huffed and rested her weight on the other hip. She went to protest again, but the king held up a hand. “Shut up girl, your mother is fully aware of what is going to happen today.”
The three of them stood a little straighter. Everything had suddenly got serious. If their mother wasn’t there it meant the king had made up his mind about something and he didn’t want to be swayed. There was no telling what he would do. People often remarked on how their father was tinged with a little madness. Some said it was from all the power that surged through him, but their mother had scoffed, and said he had always been like that.
Jay was like a second father to all three of them. He was the quieter one out of the two. But that just made him even harder to read than Dante, and absolutely no help to them right now. They were in trouble.
“You – Xavier! You’re the oldest. You can explain what the hell you were all playing at?”
Xavier closed his eyes. How the hell could he explain to their two fathers what JJ was like when he was away from them? He and JJ were brothers, but JJ? He was a boy hell-bent on self-destruction. He was quiet and morose around other kids and determined not to fit in. He decided to wing it. “I’m not sure what you’re asking for exactly, dad?”
“Are you trying to be funny with me, son?” the king said glaring at him.
He looked at Jay senior for some help and just saw a blank unreadable face.
“What happened at the school?” Jay said, in his quiet reasonable voice.
He was met with silence.
“Maybe JJ can shed some light?”
Xavier sagged in relief the heat was off him.
JJ just shrugged. “I dunno … just didn’t get on there.”
“Xavier!” the king barked.
“Like he said,” but he couldn’t look his father in the eye.
Dante laughed mirthlessly and shook his head. “Have you any idea how bad this looks? The bloody US government gave our nation those school places for you and all your cousins, to train you into the diplomats you’re meant to one day become. For Feck’s sake, it’s part of the treaty between our two races that you integrate.”
Xavier shifted uncomfortably.
JJ stared blankly ahead of him as if it made no difference to him.
Alexia was looking at her nails. “Why can’t we go to school in Murrtaine … Kiefer and Dannon go?”
“You don’t learn about the Human world there,” Jay said softly.
“Neither do you with home schooling. It’s turning you into spoiled brats,” Dante said. His thick Irish accent as strong as it ever was.
“I won’t go back there,” JJ said, looking the king insolently in the eye.
Dante laughed in a single blast, and looked at Jay as if to ask ‘can you believe this kid’. Then he looked back at him amused. “Hey, you wont have to, son. After you went though the whole of the eleventh grade females like a pair Whirling Dervishes and subsequently ruining the end of the first semester ‘meet and greet’ by starting a western bar brawl with the boys, they won’t have you back.”
“None of that was me?” Alexia said.
“No, you like to stir it up, Alexia, and you certainly didn’t help,” Dante said, withering her with a look. “Now get out me sight,” he said with a flick of his hand.
They went to turn to leave, but Xavier paused and looked over his shoulder. “You haven’t told us what’s going to happen?”
Dante smiled with narrowed eyes. “That’s right, I almost forgot. The three of you can pack your things. You’ll be starting a new school on Monday.”
They all groaned.
“Where?” JJ asked.
“London!” Jay and Dante said together.
JJ swore under his breath and exchanged a look with Xavier. “I’m not going to another poncy posh school,” JJ said.
Dante grinned wickedly. “Well that’s good then, coz you’re going to the Marcus Garvey High School in South London. You’ll be fine there.”
JJ looked over at his father to make sure it wasn’t a joke. He just raised his eyebrows. He never lost the no nonsense look about him, and JJ knew it was pointless to even protest. He followed the others out the room.
When the door clicked shut, Jay looked over at Dante. “You think they’ll settle any better there?” He was skeptical.
Dante bobbed his head, “Probably not, but we can get our people in there to keep an eye on them and if anything happens it’ll remain under the radar. This time, we’ll be in control.
“What about the other cousins. Their parents might not like out choice in school” he said with a small smile.
Dante nodded and grinned, like he was going to enjoy every minute of it. He’d been the same since he was a kid.
“And there’s Ronnie,” Jay reminded him.
“Ah, he’ll be alright. He’s a good kid … might get some sense into our two.”
They both smiled and were quiet for a few moments.
“We’ll let these three go for starters, then filter the others in when they settle down a bit. That should keep the parents quiet for now.”
Jay felt weary and pinched the bridge of his nose. “What do you think is going on with those two?” He wasn’t daft. You could feel the friction between the two boys.
Dante topped up their drink. “Apart from being chips off the old block, you mean?” he laughed. “No, I think we have ourselves a little power struggle going on there.”
Jay nodded sagely. “That’s what I thought.” Then he looked sideways at his friend. “Hence the school?”
Dante nodded grinning. “I think it could be just the right place.”
Jay sighed and knocked back his drink. I hope you’re right …