Please note that the following contains spoilers if you haven't read Water Princess, Fire Prince.
"I thought we were done with questions," said Clara, as she and her friends took their seats.
"I thought we were too," I agree. "But then I discovered some questions that I neglected to ask, and I'm sure the readers are eager to know."
She folds her arms over her chest and leans back. "Really."
"And it's mostly for Rich, I left out most of his questions," I point out.
She sighs and leans forward. "Fine."
"Would you like me to ask your difficult question first to get it out of the way?"
"Alyssa asks, if you can choose, which child was the most difficult to leave behind in Rizkaland?"
"Timothea," she answers, immediately. "She fought the hardest to keep me from going ... and I came so close to letting her come with me. The only thing that held me back was the fact that I didn't know for certain that my parents would understand. Now I know that they do ... I'm sure we could have worked something out - I hear that Queen Jane and King Ralph adopted a Bookdaughter from Rizkaland. Surely Mom and Dad could have done the same for Tima."
"What's done is done," I whisper. "I wish I could tell you what will come of that, but it's not my place. Rich, since we're really here for your sake, Mnm would like to know what was your reaction when you first came to Rizkaland."
"'I'm dead,'" he answers with a shrug. "It was weeks before I was convinced otherwise. In my defense, I did arrive in a hang glider crash, so it was a logical conclusion."
"I told you a coma was far more likely," said Kath. "But then it'd be weird that we were both having the same dream."
"And Mnm would also like to know how you reacted to Rizkaland."
"Thought I was dead or dying, but I was given nice dresses and an awesome bow, so hey, that was cool."
"Yeah, the bows were a nice touch," Rich adds. "Could have gone without the circlets, though. More a headache than anything else."
"All right." I flip through the cards. "Clara, Mnm would like to know what's your favorite book?"
She narrows her eyes. "It's been a few years. Let me reread some and jog my memory. David Copperfield, maybe. That's the only one I had for twenty-five years."
"Kath, Alyssa would like to know if you prefer newer books or classics."
"Newer books, not as dense," she answers. "But I'm personally more of a TV person. Especially now that I'm back from Rizkaland. I had a lot of catching up to do this last year after spending thirty years there."
Clara turns to face her. "You were only gone for a few seconds."
"I was also in a coma."
"Only for a few days."
"Moving on, next question miss?" Kath blinks her eyes, all innocence.
"Andrew," I continue, raising an eyebrow, "Mnm would like to know how you intend to keep in touch with Clara now that you've returned to Earth."
"Over the phone," he answers. "Her parents gave her a cell phone for her birthday, and I've had one for a few years now, so I can call for help if I need it with my brothers. Both have a good long-distance plan."
"Kath, Mnm wants to know if you'll still tease Clara about redheads?"
She leans back, tilting her head to the side as she stares at Clara and Andrew. "Well," she says, "only about one."
I raise an eyebrow.
"They're so cute together," she continues. "How can I not."
Andrew has to physically restrain Clara from leaping out of her seat - not an easy feat, I imagine.
I decide to distract her with a question. "Mnm would like to know your favorite names, Clara."
"I've knocked 'Kathleen' and 'Richard' off the list," she growls.
"Oh?" says Kath, pressing a hand to her heart. "You wound me, friend."
Clara rolls her eyes. "As for favorite names, pretty much any name you can find in old, classical novels - our two center children - Edward and Elizabeth, were named after Jane Austen characters."
"Ah." I nod. "Now, Rich, here's the biggie question - Mnm asks, since you're to marry someone in our world, who is it to be?"
Rich leans back. "I imagine that you know the answer better than I do."
"Perhaps," I admit.
"And that the limited answers I do have, I am not at liberty to share."
"She says, and I quote - 'Yes, I want spoilers.'"
"I'm afraid that, while Tnika did speak a prophecy for Kath and I concerning the identities of our future spouses, we are not at liberty to share the information we were given until the proper time," Rich answers. "However, based on the information, I have every assurance that she'll be a wonderful, beautiful woman."
"Kath, while I honestly think the answer's obvious, Alyssa would like to know what you think of Clara and Andrew as a couple."
"That they're absolutely adorable," Kath answers. "And I just bet that they had the cutest children!"
"What? I like kids. I spent fifteen years without any around..."
"Andrew, Mnm would like to know your favorite foods?"
"Ice cream, actually," he answers. "Not that I let myself indulge, but it's soft and sweet, and a good dessert. And they didn't have it in Rizkaland which was a shame. They did have mistletoe muffins, though, and they were good too."
Clara kicks him.
"Rich, Mnm would like to know if you like Andrew?"
Rich stares at Andrew a long moment before he shrugs. "He's a good sort. Clara likes him. He made a good king in Klarand. That's good enough for me."
"All right, and last question - this one's for Kath. Soliel would like to know what it was like meeting - well, she says the Wind Princess, but I think she means 'Water Princess' - thirty years since you'd last seen her."
Kath closes her eyes. "It was very strange. It was at once the most amazing thing in the world and ... so strange. A piece of my old life, a life I had almost forgotten had existed, came back, but wasn't happy about it. There are things I'd like to change about our reunion, but ... oh well. She and Andrew are adorable."
"They are." I grin as I gather together my notes. "Now that concludes our Q&A session. Perhaps we'll hold another next year."