His mother chose not to answer the question and instead asked one of her own. “What the hell are you wearing?”
“Ah...” He pulled off the mustache. “Just a prank someone played on me.”
“You shouldn’t let people make a fool of you.”
“It’s not like that,” said Hector.
He sat down and glanced across the table at the others. He still found it difficult to make eye contact with his mother, but he tried his best. “I’m sorry I haven’t been around the past few days. I’ve been unconscious, so... yeah.”
She didn’t have anything to say to that.
‘She knows what happened to you,’ said Garovel, and Hector flinched a little, only now realizing the reaper had followed. ‘Believe it or not, she visited you several times. Not sure if it was because she was concerned about you or what. She didn’t say much.’
Vanessa took a long breath, perhaps irritated, perhaps just bored. “So what are you going to do now, anyway?”
“Uh... I’m not sure yet.”
“We can’t stay here in the palace forever. And I assume we’re not returning to Brighton, either.”
His brow receded. It struck him as odd that she was already accepting of the idea that she would continue living with him. He thought it would surely be an ordeal, convincing her to stay where he could protect her. “I’ll figure something out soon,” he said. “Seems like things’ve finally calmed down a bit, so... ah...”
She just nodded and fell silent again.
He gave up trying to get a read on her. After a few moments, Prince David and Prince Meriwether took the opening and approached. Hector stood to greet them.
“It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person,” said David. He and his brother both looked rather tired as they took turns shaking hands with Hector.
“Uh, I’m, ah...”
David tilted his head. “I’m Prince David. We spoke on the phone? And corresponded via text? You do remember, yes?”
“Y-yeah, of course. I’m just, um--I... it’s very nice to meet you. Oh, and I’m sorry about, uh... about threatening you before...”