Juniper greeted Shay with a purr from the doorway, while Chamois, Chalice’s white and brown patched tabby sat on her haunches and glared down at Shay from atop the six foot scratching post playground in the corner of the room.
Chamois was not a particularly friendly cat, and the only affection she showed to Chalice was that she didn’t scratch her like she did Shay and the others.
Dolly, Phoenix’s huge Maine **** cat, wound her way around Shay’s ankles and tickled her with her bushy brown tail.
“Hello, girls,” Shay greeted them.
An auburn head poked out of the miniature hammock on the one wall and beady black eyes blinked at her. Sienna’s weasel got along well with the cats despite the difference in species.
Shay laughed. “And hello, Boyce.”
Boyce blinked again, and then buried himself back down in the hammock.
There were a few cages stacked in the corner opposite the scratching posts where Sienna kept the injured animals she found to nurse back to health, but at that time, the only occupant was a little warbler with a broken wing. Sienna had a bin beside it filled with food that any possible animal could ever need.
Shay peeled the lid off a container of mealworms and dumped a good amount into the bowl in the bird’s cage. The bird—Sienna called him Blue because she insisted every animal deserved to have a name of its own—chirped at Shay from the back of his cage.
She slid the cage door closed and locked it, and Juniper batter at her foot with a black paw.
“Hold on,” Shay told her. “It’s almost your turn.”
She filled Boyce’s bowl from a bag of ferret food, and then scooped out three bowls of cat food for the girls. Juniper dove for hers as soon as Shay set it on the floor.
Their water bowl was almost empty and tiny strands of cat hair floated about on the surface. Shay took it to the bathroom to dump the old water down the sink and fill it with new cold water from the faucet.
She came back in, and Dolly and Chamois were both at their bowls beside Juniper. Shay put down the water bowl, and Chamois hissed as she got too close. Shay jerked her hand back as Chamois swiped at it.
“Hey!” Shay said. “Be nice!”
Chamois hissed again, and Shay stood up with a defeated sigh.
“Alright, June, I’ll be in the laundry room,” Shay said. She wasn’t sure if the black kitten could understand her, but she always seemed to be able to find Shay wherever she was in the mansion.
The hamper in the laundry room was filled mostly with the clothes of Phoenix and Chalice, with a few of the other girls’ garments thrown in, too. There were four baskets along the wall for separating the clothes into darks, lights, brights, and reds, and two washing machines and two driers for running multiple loads at once.
Separating didn’t take too long, and after, she peeked into the washing machines to see if they were empty. They were, so she turned on the cold water on both washing machines and stood on her toes to reach with her good arm for the detergent on the shelf above. She winced once twisting the cap off because she had to use two hands, but she easily spun it back on with one hand after using the ocean breeze smelling liquid.
She loaded in the darks in one because they were the largest, and the lights in the other. She slammed the lids down and they closed with a metal thud.
Though she knew she shouldn’t admit it, especially since she hadn’t even done training that day, Shay was exhausted.
Lacey wasn’t done yet, and dinner didn’t need to be ready for a few more hours. Shay didn’t know what to do with herself. She’d already gone for a walk, and her brain was too muddled to even consider working on the assignments Miss Janet had given them. She didn’t want to lay down because she’d feel like she was wasting perfectly valuable time. She needed to do something.
Shay snapped her fingers in a sudden idea, and then blushed, thankful no one was around to see her moment of childish delight. It would have been less embarrassing if a light bulb had appeared above her head and lit up.
She went back up the stairs, slowly this time so as not to trip.
In her room, she opened the drawer of her nightstand and pulled a palm-sized notebook out from under the frankincense and flipped through the pages. She reached the cursive script in the back and went over to the landline phone on her desk.
She picked it up and punched the numbers from her notepad in. A young girl answered on the second ring.
Shay didn’t recognize the voice. It must have been a new apprentice. “Hi, is Mother Lilura there? Tell her Shay needs to speak to her and that it’s urgent.”
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