Someone tapped him smartly on the shoulder. As he’d been asleep the moment before, he started, and the man next to his bed jumped back just a little. “Apologies Sir, Ms. Lane requests your presence.” His words were curt, clipped and utterly polite.
Sorrel just blinked sleepily pushing himself up to his elbows. “Laurent?” He reached for his phone on the carved nightstand, blearily taking in the backlit numbers. “Its three forty in the morning.”
His sister’s personal assistant looked like he desperately wanted to sigh and roll his eyes. But he was Lane’s personal assistant and very unlikely to make such a rookie mistake, even in front of Lane’s youngest and least significant sibling. “Ms. Lane requests your presence immediately. My sincerest apologies for waking you Mr. Sorrel.” He did look somewhat sorry at least, or at least like he rather not be doing this particular errand.
“Its fine.” Sorrel waved the apology away, it wasn’t as if Laurent had any choice in the matter. It wasn’t wise to refuse Lane, or keep her waiting. Sorrel grabbed his phone and started looking for his shoes. “The solar?”
“The car.” Laurent corrected moving back to the almost haughty politeness. Sometimes Sorrel thought Lane picked her help solely on their ability to mimic her lordly manner. Laurent had even mastered her pointed sniff, and he turned it demonstratively to Sorrel’s rumbled sweatpants. “I’ll wait in the hall Sir.”
Sorrel dutifully changed, wondering where Lane would be going this time in the morning and how it could possibly involve him. Lane never included him in anything, something which Sorrel was incredibly grateful for. Laurent said nothing when Sorrel emerged, which either meant his jeans and shirt passed inspection or Laurent was weighing the prudence of outwardly questioning the fashion sense of any of the family members.
As it was, the two walked in silence to the cobbled courtyard. A single car, sleek and dark, was parked but running in the front. Another of Lane’s people, no one he knew, opened the back door and Sorrel ducked in. Lane didn’t look up from her phone when he slid in across from her, pointed black nails maintaining their quick tap across the glass screen.
The door shut with a snap next to him and he jumped. His sister’s eyes flicked to him. “Jumpy.” She already looked annoyed, not a good thing for him. “Good Morning Sorrel.”
“Good morning.” He answered and searched Lane’s face for some clue, she was harder to read than most of their family. He hadn’t done anything wrong, nothing that would warrant an odd summons by his older sister. “Umm…”
“This is going to be a long drive if all you can manage is umm.” She looked back at her phone and her sharpened nails resumed their tapping.
“Long drive?” Sorrel asked. As if on her cue the car started to roll. He looked at Lane alarmed. “Lane?”
“Oh calm down Sorrel. It’s too early for theatrics.”
Sorrel didn’t point out that she was the one who’d pulled him from his bed in the middle of the night. Lane was the least physically imposing of their large family. Even Sorrel had a foot of height on her delicate frame. But he wasn’t stupid, Lane had mastered an arsenal of dramatics, power plays and spider-like games that had caught many the stronger opponent. If Lane was going to kill someone he imagined it would play like this. Her in a lace dress and manicured nails sitting mobster serene on soft leather seats.
Lane stopped his train of thought with a sigh and a look. “Stop panicking. You are coming to New Euphrates with me, that’s all.”
Sorrel blinked. “That’s across the continent.” The car turned and Sorrel caught a look of the now shrinking family estate.
The look she gave him communicated just how much she already knew that. “And our jet leaves in an hour. I’m taking pains to surprise Evan. Kindly don’t ruin it.”
Sorrel wouldn’t dream of involving himself in his sibling’s games, especially powerhouses like Lane and Evan. But if what she said was true, they were now speeding towards one of the most dangerous cities in the country. All he had was the clothes he was wearing and his phone. He felt his own surprise impromptu trip was allowed some sort of explanation. Sorrel just couldn’t muster enough stupidity to demand it of the impeccably dressed woman across from him.
That was the problem with Lane. While most in their family would voice their displeasure succinctly with snarls and poignant beatings, Lane would narrow her eyes and let things lie. At least until she paid you back with substantial interest. Sorrel wracked his brain trying to remember what he’d done to deserve this insistent but polite abduction. “But you want me to come with you?”
Her chin snapped up and Sorrel had the sense to avert his eyes away from what would be a challenge. “Don’t flatter yourself little brother. This isn’t my doing.” When he looked at her blankly she continued. “Its yours.”
“Mine?” He didn’t point out who’s assistant had woken him up, who’s car they were in, and who’s jet they’d be ostensibly boarding.
“Father is tired of your pseudo-existence Sorrel. You havn’t done anything in…” She stopped considering. “…ever. The way you haunt the estate is pathetic.”
It was nothing he didn’t know, but it hurt all the same. Sorrel swallowed. “This is permanent?”
She shrugged. “As much as anything is. Do better, come back. Maybe.”
That didn’t make him feel any better. “I’m being sent away.” His words came out angry and that only turned his stomach more.
Her violet eyes met his muddy blue ones. “Let it lie Sorrel. Of all the fights you’d be wise to finally start, this isn’t one of them.”
He turned to watch the dark sky and the darker coast go by. This was exile based on his father’s ridiculous expectations. Ridiculous for him at least as his siblings seemed to be doing fine.
Lane spoke up again. “I imagine father hopes Evan will rub off on you.” Sorrel caught the edge of bitterness in her tone. It was possible she was not leaving of her own volition either. But, as Sorrel reminded himself, she’d probably gotten to pack. “Evan’s been in the city for a decade, he might even have something for you to do.”
Now he had a hearty mix of dread to go with the rest of the unpleasantness twisting inside his stomach.