He paused in reading his little red book to call to her. “Time to go home, kid.” For that’s what he already was nicknaming Heidi Hunt Ives, appropriately; she couldn’t help but snicker a little inside every time he used it. “5:00. *Lord* Marion will have laid out what he considers dinner back at the manor in about 15, swee…” Philip Strevor bit his tongue. He almost called her sweetie! She certainly is some kind of bewitching child, he considers, staring in her direction through jungle gym bars welded together with red, yellow, and blue pentagons. Marion had that part right.
“I’m coming,” she complied, finishing up her last dangle of the day.
Philip then turned again to watch the only other kid in the small playground. Unsupervised, but he seemed a little bigger than Heidi and a boy as well — probably all right to fend for himself, he deduced. It reminded him of his days growing up in South Yankton. Snow 9 months out of the year. Playing in the cold with Tommy Fox, Archie Hound, and the rest of the gang. He was use to cold, yes. Craved it, in fact. But he had to leave when he was 6 years old, his family cast out of the village after he attempted an armed robbery of its lone bank, pheh. Yeah, the prison guard families there were a bad influence, but he got away from crime. For a while. Turned to science; turned to the stars. B.A. in Physics at Cambridge. M.A. in Applied Astronomy from Oxford Shoe. That’s where he met Jimmy and became buds. Jimmy said there was another position at the observatory in Australia that he had just earned a job at himself. “Southern skies,” Jimmy lured. “Whole new realms to explore. And you can still see your precious Spica from that hemisphere *almost* as well,” he tacked on. Ah yes, *Spica*, Philip thought bitterly. He paid for that small loss of brightness indeed.