Phoenix practically pounced on Shay when they came back in through the door.
“Did y’all walk all the way to South Dakota? It’s almost three, Shay. Miss Janet’s gonna be here soon.”
“What? But I’m not even dressed yet!”
“Well, ya better move faster than a hot knife through butter.”
“Can you stall if she gets here before I’m done?”
Phoenix narrowed her eyes, but then a smile broke out on her face. “Girl, you’re lucky I like you.”
“Thank you! I’ll see you later, Jack!” Shay chirped, and raced up the stairs.
She had a sense of déjà vu as she threw off her clothes and jumped around in an attempt to yank her jeans on with only one hand. She slipped into the first shirt she grabbed off the hanger, and then pulled her sneakers back on.
The doorbell echoed throughout the mansion, and Shay let out a small shriek. She scooped up her notebook and folders from her desk in the corner of the room and stumbled out the door.
Shay ran down the loft stairwell in the library so she wouldn’t pass the front door, where she could hear Phoenix’s voice twanging as she let Miss Janet in.
Sienna started with wide eyes when Shay slid into the chair at the round study table beside her. The large library had the pleasant smell of old books, which were stacked from floor to ceiling on the shelves.
A minute later, the main double doors opened and Miss Janet and Phoenix walked in.
“—and Lacey’s taking zoology and she told me that it is possible for animals to rain from the sky and that the most common are frogs and fish and—” Phoenix’s constant stream of stalling words cut off when she saw Shay sitting at the table. “Oh. Hi, Shay.”
Miss Janet’s expression, which had looked like it was in pain before, became relieved. She was a small-boned Philippine woman in a sweater dress with dark hair in a ponytail and glasses.
“Phoenix, why don’t you sit down?” Miss Janet suggested.
“Oh, sit. Right.” Phoenix plopped down in the seat where her notebook and folders already sat.
“How have you girls been?” Miss Janet asked, taking her own seat and placing her briefcase on the table in front of her.
“Good,” Sienna and Shay replied simultaneously.
“That’s good,” Miss Janet said as she went through the contents of her briefcase. “We worked on math last week, so this week, we’re going to work on science. We left off talking about chemical reactions, correct?”
“Yes,” Sienna told her.
Miss Janet nodded. “Go get your science books then.”
Sienna went over to collect them from the small shelf where all of the school books were kept. She set one down in front of each girl, and Miss Janet pulled her own out of her briefcase. Shay flipped open to the science section of her notebook and took a pen from the container at the center of the table.
“The next type of chemical reaction we’re going to go over is corrosion.”
Shay clicked open her pen and scribbled corrosion on the top of her paper.
“It begins on page two thirty-eight.” Miss Janet waited for the girls to get to the page before continuing. “Corrosion can be defined as the deterioration of a substance due to a reaction with its environment. Is there anything that you can think of that sounds like that?”
“Growing old,” Phoenix said, “like you.”
Miss Janet pursed her lips and just stared at Phoenix. Shay didn’t think that was very fair. She was only in her late thirties.
“Rusting,” Sienna offered.
“Thank you, Sienna. Yes, rust is a form of corrosion and it happens in metals like iron. Although alkaline and neutral solutions aid in rusting process, acidic solutions are much more rapid. An example of an acid that corrodes is hydrochloric acid.”
Shay jotted the words as Miss Janet said them.
“What does your book say is another acid that corrodes?”
There were several acid terms highlighted on the page that Shay’s book was open to and she repeated the first one she saw. “Sulfuric acid.”
“Very good, Shay,” Miss Janet said. “There are also other factors that speed up corrosion. Faster water velocity, higher temperatures, and the presence of salt.”
Phoenix humphed appreciatively. “Nice.”
“Not nice. Spill some of that acid on your skin, and I hope you have nine-one-one on speed dial,” Miss Janet replied.
The tutoring session lasted an hour and two full pages of notebook paper. When it was done, Phoenix slammed her book shut with a great big, “Finally!”
Miss Janet didn’t even acknowledge Phoenix’s remark. She put her own book away, and then smiled at Sienna and Shay. “I’ll see you girls next week.”
She left through the double doors.
Sienna put the books away for them, and Phoenix stretched out in her chair.
“Time for gym class,” she said.
“Oh, Shay, that reminds me,” Sienna said, and Shay looked over at her. “Grandmother Clarissa told Ace that you could sit out of training for today because of your arm.”
Shay hated training, with all the running and weight lifting and kick boxing. The first week of it, she’d nearly thrown up all over the padded floor of the training room. When she’d woken up the next day, she’d felt like she’d been hit by a train.
“But that means you have to do chores instead.”
That wasn’t too bad. Shay would take chores over training any day.
“The familiars need to be fed, the laundry needs to be separated, and then it’s Lacey’s turn to cook, so you can help her with that. Choose something easy, like frozen pizza.”
“Alright, I got it.”
Shay lifted up her notebook and folders and set off to start on her chores.
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