+ Apotheosis (Part 2)
A concussive boom jolted Tal awake. He rolled off the garden bench and ended up face down on the grass with one arm clutching at the wooden slat he’d just vacated. Had Nico accidentally set off another flare again? He groaned.
Squished under him, Tal’s other arm protected the tablet prodding his ribs. He turned and freed the slim, flexible machine. A shake jogged it out of sleep mode. The screen lit up, revealing a page of dense text. He squinted at the number in the bottom corner and frowned. He’d only managed three pages of Eriksson’s paper before nodding off. The professor’s lectures on epigenetics back at UNC had at least kept Tal awake, though perhaps the missing variable belonged to Sairi and her cinnamon bun shampoo.
A ring of round lanterns cast the garden in a soft orange glow. Tal blinked up at the still-dark sky. Above the moss-laden stone wall, Mondieux’s twin moons outshone the dusting of stars. He hauled himself upright and stretched. Falling asleep in the garden had become a bad habit of late. Last time, he’d only woken when the bells sounded for morning prayers and Père Bertrand cornered him for forty-five minutes to lecture him on the detriments of leaving the gate open all night while Tal fought down coffee cravings.