She was checking to see if Mearzt had left messages when Lettie called through the door, “Please be ready in ten minutes, Ayn.”
Ayn jumped as if she’d been caught cheating on a test. She mouthed a curse, but called back, “Okay,” then, remembering her mom’s advice, added, “thank you.” It wasn’t easy being nice to someone this awful, but it seemed like the best plan until she figured out what was going on.
Ayn dressed quickly, putting on the dress she’d worn to the acceptance dinner. It felt weird and awkward to get this dressed up for dinner, but whatever. She had other things to worry about. Like why hadn’t Mearzt phoned back to let her know about Nev? It was with a growing sense of anxiety that she and Zoe left her room.
“The beastie will have to stay in your room,” Lettie said when they entered the dining room.
“She always eats with us,” Ayn protested, resting a hand on the beastie’s head.
“Not tonight,” Lettie said.
“But they like her, especially Professor Chirwnoff.
Lettie just looked at her, one eyebrow raised in her “I don’t want to have this conversation any longer” look.
“Fine.” Ayn said through gritted teeth and turned to leave.
“And please wear your blue dress,” Lettie added.
Ayn looked back over her shoulder. “Why?”
“That one suits you better,” she said. “This one is too young for you, I think.”
Ayn took in a breath to tell Lettie what she could do with her opinions, but her dad was coming their way, asking Lettie if the food was ready for the guests.
“Yes, Professor Hyarzden,” Lettie said with a smile, “we’ll begin with appetizers as soon as they arrive.”