They passed beneath dark chandeliers festooned with cobwebs, kicking up dust from the patterned carpet. Wall sconces cast a dull glow on oil paintings.
"I am so sorry." Margo seized the handles of the wheelchair, slowing it to a stop. "Thomas gets away with a lot at home," she told Lynn. "I didn't think he would—"
"Bear with me," Thomas broke in. "I followed a map here because I assumed it would lead to my birth family. It's possible that Alex and I are related."
Lynn put her hands on her hips, looking scornful.
"Obviously," Thomas went on, "I'm not your son. Or Alex's son."
Lynn snorted with obvious derision.
"But I could be a cousin," Thomas said hopefully. "Look at the color of my eyes." He angled his face, widening his eyes so they could see. "It's the Dovanack eye color."
Lynn studied him from a distance. After a moment, she said in a flat tone, "You don't look anything like anyone in my family."
"I have the same color eyes as Alex," Thomas insisted.
"I don't see it," Lynn said.
"Okay, my eyes are lighter," Thomas said in a conceding tone. "But it's the same basic hue."
"Nope." Lynn swept a gesture towards several oil portraits on the wall. "You don't look like a Dovanack."
The subject of each painting had dark hair and bold facial features, with strong noses and chins. Margo inwardly agreed that they looked nothing like Thomas.
"That doesn't rule out a genetic relationship," Thomas said. "I was abandoned in the woods near here. Your family has a history of mind reading, and I can read minds. Don't tell me that's a coincidence."
"You've obviously read about old Garrett." Lynn's tone was frosty. "The house staff liked to exaggerate. He wasn't psychic. He was normal. Our family is completely normal."
"Well, maybe he hid it from you," Thomas said. "He could have—"
"I knew him well." Lynn clenched her fists. "Explain why you're here. Or you're leaving. Now."
Thomas gave her a merciless stare. Margo had seen him wrench respect from Nobel Prize winning scientists, but most people found his arrogance offensive. That was undoubtedly why he'd been shuffled through so many group homes.
"We're leaving." She offered Lynn an apologetic look. "I'm so sorry."
"I know what Alex looks like." Thomas spoke fast, leaning around to face Lynn. "He's afraid to leave this house, and you're afraid to let him. Because of how he looks."
Lynn's voice trembled. "How do you know that?"
"I can read minds," Thomas said with patience. "Look, I promise that we won't threaten Alex in any way. I keep secrets on a daily basis. I'm used to it. And Margo never judges anyone, no matter what they look like." He gestured. "Cherise hardly ever talks. None of us is going to speak a word about this place, or your family, I promise. We'll keep Alex a secret."
Margo thought that Lynn's son, Alexander, sounded like a prisoner. Thomas seemed to hear her thoughts, because he made a mouth-zipping gesture at her.
"You had better leave." The threat in Lynn's voice sounded huge. "Now."
That was enough for Margo. She toggled off the wheelchair brake, wishing she didn't need to fight Thomas on this. Overpowering such a weak kid made her feel like an ogre. At least Cherise didn't protest as Margo forced the wheelchair down the hallway, towards the front foyer.
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City of Slaves [#SFF] [#Complete] [#Ooorahs2017]Science Fiction
In a galaxy where popular opinion is instant law, someone unpopular is about to change everything. ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ Trillions of minds are knitted together in the internet-like Megacosm. The "best" bioengineered people lead galactic civilization, whereas...