Nicole stood for a moment gathering her nerve and then knocked on the door. Grace opened it and said, "Nicole I'm glad you stopped by. I've been wanting to talk to you." Grace gestured toward one of the seats in front of her desk, "Come in, sit down, can I get you anything?"
"No, thank you." Nicole said, sitting in the indicated chair. She waited until Grace had returned to her seat to continue, "I thought that it would be a good idea if we met. We both have an interest in Kyle and Jessi. Kyle is a part of our family and Jessi is settling in nicely."
"And you want to see if I have plans to interfere?" Grace raised her eyebrows, "That's a perfectly reasonable concern." She smiled reassuringly, "Let me set your mind at ease. I have no intention of asserting any parental rights with respect to Kyle. Kyle thinks of you as his mother and is fiercely protective of his home. You are all very important to him."
Nicole visibly relaxed, "Frankly that's a relief. Kyle and to a greater degree Jessi are perhaps more adrift emotionally than your average teenager, and I have a couple of them for comparison. Because of their history and abilities, it's a struggle for them to figure out how they are going to interact with the rest of the world. I would hate to see that disrupted."
"Kyle made a compelling case for the importance of that at the board meeting." Grace agreed, "And let me express our gratitude to you for taking in Jessi. We were very worried about what could happen with her adrift. With your background and the experience you've had with Kyle, you represent the best chance for keeping her stable. She has inherited a good deal of Sarah's adventurousness."
"You knew Sarah?" Nicole ventured.
"Oh yes, in the old days when Adam was bringing us together we were all very close. We ate a lot of pizza together. She was stunningly brilliant and intuitive, but could go off on a tangent at the drop of a hat." Grace mused.
"About Sarah's disappearance…," Nicole began.
Grace interrupted, "Nicole, we will be dealing with that. I think it's best that you let us take care of it. After all, I just said I wouldn't interfere in your family. Allow me to deal with mine. I will assure you that Michael will not be interacting with your family further."
Nicole reluctantly agreed, "That's fair, I guess. I was wondering what their new roles here would entail. I want to make sure we're on the same page mother to …," she trailed off, unable to complete the sentence.
Grace smiled, "Nicole, it would probably be best if you thought of me like a grandparent. I have a genetic interest and a certain personal pride at being part of him, but you and Stephen are his parents." She paused to let that sink in and then continued, "Well, their jobs are real, I can't be here full time and there will be times when one or the other of them has to handle administrative things such as purchasing items for student projects etc. There is a pretty nice budget for this facility and the bright kids make the most of it. I also want to see them assisting the various projects, and they will undoubtedly have their own. It's still just part time. They can fit it around school schedules and other activities."
"I think that will work fine," Nicole agreed.
"There is one other thing I should mention so that it doesn't come as a surprise to you," Grace continued. "We will be paying them a small stipend, a thousand a month at this stage. That will look reasonable on the books since they will have legal authority."
"That's a lot for a high school student," Nicole observed.
"It's much less than their time is actually worth," Grace said. "They should be able to get cars and have a little pocket change. That will help with their schedule."
"And they should put something aside for college," Nicole added reflexively.
Grace laughed, "Oh, Nicole. That is not going to be a problem."
"I suppose not," Nicole agreed. "Well, I won't take up any more of your time. It really helps to have talked to you about this."
Grace got up and led her toward the door. "Drop by any time. We have a couple of very special teenagers to guide. We need to work together." She held out her hand, Nicole shook it and left the room. Grace closed the door and then went back to her desk and dialed a number.
"I've got them settled in here and have just met with Nicole Trager. I think I've gotten all the ruffled feathers smoothed out and the threat level down. We can proceed as planned, I still think that Jessi will be the most vulnerable spot, but Kyle has Adam's desire to think the best of people, that could be useful too. Having known Sarah and Adam at about their age really helps." She listened for a moment and said. "Well, Michael was trying brute force, which was a very bad plan. He has feelings of inferiority with respect to Kyle, of course, who wouldn't? He is unfortunately not sufficiently bright and not particularly patient. These are failings I don't share." She hung up the phone and sat lost in thought, a smile on her face.