Nolyn smirked, closing his notebook. “You don’t like my planned scenario?”
“You’ll only plan yourself into being discovered.”
“Oh, please. Don’t be so dramatic, Varun.” Nolyn laughed, rising from the small table and crossing the balcony to Varun’s side. “Tell me, why you won’t allow me—”
“You’re far from ready,” Varun interrupted. “It’ll be a huge embarrassment for me if I allowed you to release your ridiculous ideas anywhere near another STAR operative.”
Nolyn chewed his bottom lip for a moment, studying Varun’s expression, trying desperately to gauge his level of aggravation. “I’m nearing the dangerous melting point today earlier than usual,” he decided. “Are you planning my death before noon? That’s unlike you.”
“I plan your death every moment I’m in your presence.” Varun sighed heavily. “We both know I wouldn’t actually take your life, but I already have a letter of recommendation of termination written, and one day I’ll sign it and send it off, ending your career indefinitely.”
Nolyn whistled lowly. “Your mood is worse today. What happened? Has Triste forgotten to polish something that needs polishing? Maybe you found some dust on a mantle somewhere. I tell you, a good butler is hell to find these days.”
“Don’t mention my butler. This is about your lack of commitment. You will not progress any further until you prove your desire to learn.”
Nolyn shook his head. “I’m bored, Varun. You have me planning the same scenarios over and over again, and you expect me to think of a hundred different paths. This is tedious and a waste of my true potential.”
“If you don’t like my teaching habits, you can request a new instructor.”
“You know I’d never do that. You’re the best, even if you are impossible.” Nolyn returned to the table and opened his notebook once again. “I think it would be in your best interest to further my instruction, Varun. What if I have to take over sooner than expected?”
“STAR will never put you in the field without my blessing.” Varun studied the street below, observing the neighborhood children playing on the building steps. “You’re better off doing exactly as I say until I release you.”
Nolyn took a moment to swallow his anger. “Varun—”
“Do you insist on arguing further, Nolyn?”
“Of course I do.”
“Very well.” Varun left the balcony, slid open the glass door, and called for his butler.
“Do I need intervention from an angel or a servant?” Nolyn questioned.
“You need a lesson in manners.”
Triste appeared in the doorway and bowed. “Yes, sir?”
“Help me tie up Nolyn and hang him over the balcony,” Varun instructed. Nolyn gasped, Triste’s eyes widened, and a soft smile played across Varun’s lips.
“Sir.” Triste smiled in return, understanding his master was teasing the young demon. “That’s a bit out of protocol.”
“Will you be terribly put out if I demand such an activity, Triste?”
Nolyn scoffed, scooping up his notebook and pen, and rose to his feet. “Is it safe to say I’m being dismissed early?”
“Oh, don’t be dramatic.” Varun repeated Nolyn’s earlier words. “We’ll start fresh tomorrow, won’t we?”
“You’re a tyrant some days.” Nolyn squeezed passed Varun, nodding a goodbye to Triste. “Be kind to your butler, Varun.”
“Kind?” Varun whispered, moving his gaze onto Triste. He lifted his hand to tuck back a lock of silver hair that had fallen out of place. An angel with silver and white mixed hair was a rare find.
“The—” Triste ran his fingers through the fringe across his forehead, repeating the fix Varun had done. “The human is still asleep, and I’ve placed water in the room for him.”
“Are you concerned?”
“Concerned about a human, sir? Not entirely.”
Varun studied the angel, observing the green eyes that were so uncharacteristic for his angel type. Triste could have been so much more. “When is my meeting with STAR?”
Triste raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Are you attempting to quiz me, sir? We both know you keep those appointments in your head because you don’t trust your support staff with such an important detail in your life.”
Varun chuckled, sliding his hands into his trouser pockets. “I trust you and my support staff with everything else. I fear a detail might fall through the cracks, and STAR cannot afford that to happen.”
“Your appointment is at three, sir. Amer will have the car ready by two.”
“Might I inquire about what you plan to do with the human?”
Varun turned his back on Triste and took measured steps to the balcony railing. He watched the playing children for a moment before answering, “You may not.”
Triste bit his tongue. Keeping a human was illegal. If anyone was expected to live in a stray-free household, it was a STAR operative trusted to punish those who broke the law.
“Very well,” Triste said. He bowed and removed himself from his master’s presence.