Knowing she could trust me to glamour the donor to leave without memories of the attack, Francesca went to the fifth floor to retrieve Rhiannon and Becky’s belongings, and to the nineteenth floor for mine.
Once the donor had been sent on her way, Becky couldn’t be convinced to leave the sofa of her own accord… I carried the poor girl to the bathroom and set her in the tub, explaining that she couldn’t leave the hotel bathed in blood and promising not to let anything happen to her mother while she showered.
She pouted, “Screw your point,” but she closed the shower curtain.
I was sorting through Leattner’s belongings when I heard footsteps in the hallway… two men.
Given that Francesca had called for Kirin and Satesh so they could clean the room rather than leave a crime scene, I didn’t think anything of the fact that they stopped at the door to Leattner’s room…
But I did notice when they didn’t knock right away…
And there was nothing confusing about the sounds of two hammers being ratcheted back.
Whoever the fuck was at the door was armed…
And there wasn’t time to make guesses about why… they could have been there because they had their own reasons to want to end Leattner, or they could have been connected to him and looking for vengeance.
Either way, I couldn’t get to the bathroom quickly enough…
Just as I barged into the bathroom, grabbing Becky without moving the shower curtain first, and taking her down to the bottom of the tub for cover, the two men had kicked in the door that I’d barely left on its hinges.
Directly behind me.
Shouting for me to stop where I was.
Becky shrieked, “NO!” so loudly, I wasn’t sure if she heard the men fire their ‘silenced’ guns. All I could do was hope my body had stopped all of the bullets.
She wailed, “STOP! STOP! STOP!”
Because seeing her mother raped wasn’t enough for the child, she needed to be pinned in a bathtub by a Vampire bullet-sponge.
One of the men barked, “Get off the girl, Vampire!”
Becky cried, “I’m sooooooo sorry,” and continued to sob under the shower curtain while the gunmen’s cellphones began ringing.
As they ignored their phones, one of them offered, “You got nothin’ to be sorry for, sweetness.”
Becky fired back, “I wasn’t fucking talking to you, asshole!”
Somehow, with six bullets in my back, I managed to chuckle… and I could practically feel how confused the gunmen were… but there was something oddly anesthetizing about the sweetness of Becky’s scent.
“Put your guns down and roll up your sleeves. You owe him a feeding!”
It didn’t matter what the fuck she was… that was absolutely adorable.
I shrugged one shoulder… then the other… testing myself…
Realizing both of them had been firing expanding rounds as the bullets were slowly forced out of my body.
Three racing heartbeats, three bodies nearly hyperventilating…
As I forced myself to move, my phone began gurgling in my pocket, but it only rang twice.
Terrified and suddenly moving quickly enough that I was sure she’d break Francesca’s record.
I lifted Becky as I sat on the side of the tub, peeling away the shower curtain enough to expose her face.
Both gunmen were gaping at me with their guns at their feet. Both in their early twenties, blonde hair, blue eyes, tailored black suits… they’d already rolled up their sleeves too.
I asked Becky, “Are you hurt?”
There’s only so much care that can be taken in a controlled fall… I could have easily broken one of her bones.
She sniffled, “I’m okay…” She narrowed her eyes at the gunmen. “Assholes.”
One of them scoffed, “Busted door. Rape scene. You’re welcome.”
Becky snorted, “I’m standing by the asshole thing… Who are you?”
One of them sighed, “Jason Stackhouse… my brother, Brandon… We have a meeting with Leattner.”
Becky rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Unlicensed Xboxes, right?”
He raised his eyebrow at her and nodded. “Sick kids and deployed troops don’t give a shit if they’re legit. Holiday donations.”
I’d been shot by Santa’s elves.
Becky cooed, “That’s so sweet. You gonna send food grown in night-soil and razorblade candies too?”
Sharp wit… and a forked tongue…
Even at her age, little Becky Sharp lived up to her name.
Brandon cringed and shook his head. “We. Were. Trying. To. Help. We walked up to a room with a busted door frame… one old Vampire, one head injury, and a Vampire attack playing out…”
Jason added, “The Humans are terrified…”
How the fuck did he know that?
Brandon continued, “We thought he was going to get rid of a witness, or protect a toy. There are some scary wackadoos in the world, kid.”
She gasped sarcastically, “You don’t say.”
He narrowed his eyes at her and growled, “Your mom said she doesn’t know this guy.”
Becky argued, “We don’t know you either! Ask better questions.”
“She doesn’t want to think about it! You’re the one who was thinking about what happened to her!”
“Go. Figure! Are you retarded!?”
Brandon and Becky stared at each other for a moment, and Jason looked like he was fighting the urge to vomit…
I took advantage of the lull in their bickering to ask Becky, “Would you mind explaining what you’re all talking about?”
She made a show of smiling for me and nodded. “Can… can we worry about Mommy first though? I don’t need those boneheads to explain.”
I wasn’t sure I could argue with her priorities even if I wanted to… those pitiful hazel eyes.
“Of course we can.”
“K… Are you pissed enough to drain them for shooting you? We know their names, so we can start an award. Darwin Awards go to idiots who take themselves out of the gene pool. Stackhouse Awards can go to people who try to help folks to death.”
The last of the Stackhouse’s bullets were still being forced from my body, but I managed to chuckle. “Will your explanation help me understand why they wanted to protect you?”
“Then they’ll make their apologies with a donation.”
“Good. Bite ‘em hard.”
When I chuckled, the gun-wielding brothers snorted, “Little shit.”
I wasn’t rougher than necessary, but I didn’t prepare either of their wrists first either… I didn’t even need to point out why because as soon as Jason winced, Becky took his gun from the floor and suggested he could choose to take a few bullets instead.
Amusing as her spirit of justice was, I was distracted by the flavor of the Stackhouses’ blood… The sweetness wafting from Becky was interesting enough, but there were similar traces of sweetness in the gunmen’s blood… And between feedings from the brothers, I sampled the room to realize Rhiannon’s blood would have attracted my attention as well. I had the distinct impression that the gunpowder and putrefying Vampire were keeping me from enjoying their brand.
Whatever the fuck the Stackhouses were, in all their mysteriousness, they were connected to Becky and Rhiannon somehow.
The only difference between their complexions was the color of Becky’s eyes… but that could have easily been a coincidence.
For that matter, the brothers had southern accents as well.
But there was something unfamiliarly Supernatural about them… Perhaps if I’d spent some time in the American South, I would have heard lore… Cajuns and Native Americans… anything was possible.
Just when I thought I’d seen it all.
The only warning we were given to Francesca’s return was the sound of the elevator doors opening at the end of the hallway…
She was in the room a moment later, cringing at the odor of gunpowder with her fangs down…
“What happened here?”
I was still feeding from Brandon’s wrist, intentionally taking enough to cause immediate side effects, so Becky explained, “They had a meeting with Leattner. When they got here, they saw all this craziness. They started shooting because they thought I was Mr. Northman’s dessert… Mr. Northman got shot making sure I was okay.”
Francesca backhanded Jason so quickly he was on the floor before he could flinch.
“That child’s been through quite enough!”
Jason pushed himself to his feet as he scoffed, “And if you’re protecting her because of what happened to her mom, then fuck you for thinking less of us for trying to do the same thing! EVEN HUMANS IGNORE ‘NO’, you cranky bitch! Everything we saw, said that kid was in danger!”
Nevermind that he’d taken his feet again to stand nose to nose with the Vampire who’d just put him on the floor…
When I released Brandon’s arm, he staggered back a step and mumbled, “Are y’all taking the mom to a hospital?”
I shook my head. “No, but she’ll be cared for until she makes a full recovery.”
Jason stared at Becky for a moment before he took Francesca’s arm and led her to the hallway… Brandon stumbled behind them slowly.
Becky rolled her eyes, “Because I don’t know what he wants to talk about? I can’t wait to be taller so people stop assuming I’m stupid…”
“Height doesn’t help. Humans make absurd assumptions about a lot of things… Even if you grow to be as tall as me, some of them will be certain you can’t be beautiful and clever too.”
She blushed and giggled, “You’re gonna be bad for my ego, but thanks,” and walked towards the bags Francesca dropped by the door. “I give up on showering.”
Two backpacks and a duffle. No more.
“I don’t blame you. You seem to have rinsed the blood from your hair though.”
“Cool…” She grabbed the larger bag and began dragging it to the bathroom. “I’ll be right back. Don’t get shot again while I’m gone.”
I chuckled, “I’ll do my best.”
As she closed the bathroom door behind herself, I joined the party in the hallway.
Jason growled, “She’s hurtin’. She needs something. You can’t just transfuse her.”
Francesca scoffed, “I have no intention of leaving that woman to suffer. This is none of your concern.”
Brandon slurred, “Dammit, just say you’ve got pain meds lined up for her, or a Were nurse on deck that can tend to her…”
As even-tempered as Francesca usually was, she showed her fangs to snarl, “Transient or not, her attacker was my subject. I WILL NOT let his victim suffer! Go back to wherever-”
Jason stepped closer to Francesca and hissed, “We’re just looking out for one of our own. We’re offering to take care of her so you don’t have to be bothered. The mouthy little turd too.”
In an effort to mediate before the hallway needed a cleaner too, I offered, “Rhiannon will be transfused because Leattner nearly drained her. Once her blood pressure is acceptable, she’ll be healed. If we try to heal her before she’s stabilized, she could be brought over.”
Jason looked relieved that I was behaving more rationally than Francesca and backed up a step to address me. “She’s ripped open, dude. He got her thighs too… and… well… he wasn’t really gentle… Her wrists are broken. Her jaw. Her head… Lots of soft tissue stuff… She’s in agony.”
“You know she’s in pain and the specific injuries she sustained?”
Rhiannon was covered by a sheet… at best he could have seen that her jaw was swelling.
“And you need to get the teeth out of her mouth before she chokes on them. A couple are broken.”
“How do you know?”
“The kid said she’d explain later… Getting a couple of pints into her could take a while. We just want to make sure you can help her out with pain management.”
“We’ll see to it now that we know pain is a factor. She’s unconscious, so we didn’t realize she was experiencing discomfort. Thank you.”
“Some unconscious people are just furniture, but some of them are trapped in bodies they can’t control for whatever reason.”
I nodded, trying to make ‘things’ fit into a reasonable explanation for why Jason Stackhouse seemed to be so sure of a completely abstract concept.
Brandon gasped as though he’d been startled and slurred, “Did you say Rhiannon?”
Jason rolled his eyes and snorted, “Thanks a lot, dude. You took so much, he is retarded.”
Brandon chuckled and leaned on his brother, “He was gonna be Rhiannon if he was a girl.”
Jason groaned, “I was not. My mom liked the name Rhiannon because of that song. It came out around the time I was born… She wouldn’t have won that fight though. If I was a girl, I’da got stuck with ‘Sookie’… not that that’s better, but still.”
Brandon’s eyes rolled around while he tried to focus on something. “I wonder what they would’a named you if you were a boy.”
Jason palmed his brother’s face and pushed him towards the elevator.
He shook his head and sighed, “I’m just glad our folks had nothing but boys… Jason, Brandon, Christopher, Joshua, Dylan and Andrew… None of us ever got in a fight over our names… We’d all have juvi records if we had a sister named Sookie to stick up for.” He pulled his business card from his pocket and handed it to me. “We’re in town for a few more days. If y’all get to the point where you want to turn them over to their own, just give me a call. We’re around the corner at the St. Regis… And even if you got this covered, tell her to give us a call once she’s up to it. We don’t meet a lot of folks like us.”
My explanation couldn’t happen soon enough.
“I’ll do that. Becky mentioned that it’s just the two of them.”
As Jason followed his hypovolemic brother towards the elevator, he added, “And if you want to check us out, call Mata’utia. He knows us.”
The boy king of Louisiana?
That might have explained why Jason was foolish enough to manhandle a Vampire Queen. I hadn’t heard anything flattering about Mata’utia… but the more interesting detail was that the Stackhouses weren’t just southerners; they were specifically from Louisiana like Rhiannon.
Pam stepped out of the elevator four minutes later with Kirin and Satesh… and dragged the unconscious Stackhouses into the room with her by their ties.
She’d smelled traces of my blood on them when they would have otherwise passed each other in the lobby… It wasn’t any surprise that she didn’t care that I’d fed from them and sent them on their way… If I wasn’t helping Francesca clean and dress Rhiannon, I might have tried to stop her from removing handcuffs from her giant purse and securing the brothers… hogtied and wrapped around each other like the jelly bracelets she was trying to ‘bring back’.
While Pam worked, Becky giggled several portions of her update… and then the little imp made use of Pam’s makeup bag to add her own touches to the Stackhouses’ staging.
But, apparently, I still should have bit them harder.
I couldn’t begin to guess what part of my evening caused Pam to feel so shocked, but I was almost sure that watching Becky untuck my shirt to remove my bullets had something to do with it.
Given the late hour, there were only a handful of witnesses as I carried Rhiannon Blanchard through the lobby… and clever as she was, Becky made it a point to tease Rhiannon for combining chocolate cake and wine with diabetes while the doorman was in earshot. The doorman chuckled and explained that chocolate is proof God is a man. If God was a woman, diabetes would be a male affliction.
Amusing enough, but it was perfect. As soon as we left the hotel, the doorman would begin spreading the artfully constructed lie like gospel…
Edward was waiting on the curb of my building for us, but his mood was more sober than usual… For decades, I’d used that as a gauge on Francesca’s state. The boys had never been able to ignore when their Maker was upset in any capacity. They’d always done everything in their power to resolve any problems so they could enjoy lighter activities as soon as possible.
He waited until we were in the elevator to begin explaining, “Richard has a small pharmacy upstairs and a courier at the hospital on standby if he needs anything else. Margarine and Chantalle are waiting for instructions as well. I assume you’ll need groceries for your houseguests.”
Francesca asked, “Morphine? Does he have morphine ready?”
“I’m almost positive he does… Is she in pain?”
Becky offered, “Not right now, but when Mr. Northman puts her down she will be.”
At least I wasn’t causing pain by handling her… but how Becky worded the answer was still curious.
“Edward, this is Becky Sharp. Becky, Edward Paige is Queen Francesca’s child.”
Edward was surprised enough by my lack of secrecy that he absently shook Becky’s hand.
She giggled at the look on his face, “Nice to meet you… Is that a problem? To look so young? I can’t get anyone to take me seriously.”
His chin bounced a few times before he managed, “It has pros and cons. Humans act like I’m a child, but they don’t expect much either. The element of surprise is a good thing. My brother looks even younger than me though. He’s planning to traipse about with his fangs down after the Reveal.”
She giggled, “I would too… So, the Queen is your mom as far as Humans know?”
“And Richard’s the doctor?”
“We… we both are, actually. We’ve been college students for centuries. He enjoyed it enough to revisit the field more recently though.”
“What’s your thing if medicine is Richard’s?”
“Ehhhhhhh… I go through phases… The arts are fun because they change. It’s interesting to see movements come and go.”
“Like how many movements came from Expressionism?”
“Yeah. Like that… Enjoy art, do you?”
“We like museums and libraries. New York is our favorite place. Last week, we went to the Met and read Girl With A Pearl Earring on the bench by the Vermeers.”
That actually sounded like an enjoyable outing.
“Shouldn’t you be in school?”
She snorted, “Probably,” as the doors slid open.
Richard was waiting in my foyer and led the way upstairs to the room he’d prepared for Rhiannon… Francesca, Edward and Pam lagged behind, settling into the living room to wait.
In the meantime, Becky had kicked off her boots and pulled the bedding out of the way for me to lay Rhiannon down.
She quickly reached out to shake Richard’s hand before unzipping her mother’s boots and removing them.
“Mommy doesn’t have much medical history. No known drug allergies. She was on a lot of psychotropic and antipsychotic stuff when she was a kid. Vicodin upsets her stomach. She had me by caesarean seven years ago and got a spinal headache from that. We were in a car accident two years ago and she got whiplash and a concussion. She was out like this for a couple of hours then too.”
Richard gave her a surprised look and asked, “What were the drugs used to treat? Hyperactivity?”
“Her mom kept her doped up… Mommy got in the way of her meal ticket search. She’d check Mommy into an asylum, find a new boyfriend, then let Mommy come home long enough to play the concerned mom thing between bottles of gin… Munchausen’s. There were a couple of foster homes too, but that was a different thing. Michelle would go on benders and end up beating Mommy bad enough a teacher would report it. Mommy would go to foster homes until Michelle went to AA for a while.”
Richard sighed as he sat on the edge of the bed to begin Rhiannon’s IV… There were four bags of O-negative, a bag of saline, a bag of antibiotic, and a bag of nutrients used for coma patients… The total nutrient admixture helped minimize the ‘hangover’ of being nearly drained. It was the standard post-draining cocktail.
“And what does your lovely grandmother do now that she can’t use her daughter as paycheck bait?”
“Mommy hasn’t had contact since she left Louisiana. She probably uses her ‘runaway baby’ for sympathy though.”
“Your grandfather then?”
“He cheated on Michelle and took off with their little boy to settle down with his girlfriend. He knew about Mommy, but the only time Michelle heard from him after he kicked her out was when she got divorce papers. Mommy thought her first stepfather was her dad until he took off when she was six. Michelle’d found him at a bar when Mommy was still a baby.”
“So your mother has a brother.”
“Yeah. She never met him though, and Michelle never thought about him. She’d have to talk to Michelle about it to find him. We don’t have names or anything. The dad part on her birth certificate is blank and everything.”
“Lovely. Would any of her stepfathers care to be contacted?”
“Doubtful… Well… there was a Vampire… He kept Michelle as a pet to feed from Mommy, but she was just ten…”
“What!?” Richard and I had our outbursts in unison.
She shrugged. “Mommy said she didn’t really mind it… He was the first one of her mom’s boyfriends that didn’t get creepy in all the other ways… And he made Michelle stop doping Mommy up for a while.”
Ten. Years. Old.
Pam mumbled in the living room, “If I was ever going to be sick…”
Francesca sighed, “Amen.”
Becky frowned and thumbed a tear from the corner of Rhiannon’s eye. “The pain’s back. How long before you can give her something for it?”
He gave her another confused look, but he reached for his bag. “It’s normal for eyes to water while people are unconscious…”
“I know, but she’s really hurtin’… She’s grateful, by the way. Me too. Thanks for takin’ care of her.”
As Richard injected medication into the assembly of tubing in Rhiannon’s arm, he offered, “You’re both very welcome… Do we know anything about the cocksucker who did this?”
I started to shake my head, but Becky explained, “He was an old contact of Mata’utia from when he was still in Seattle. That’s how the Stackhouses found out about the Xboxes… Leattner’s Maker is gone, but he has a child in Flagstaff. Lowell Waters… Waters is young, but he got cut loose because neither one of them have much control and they were screwing up the missing-persons stats enough that the Sheriff of Chicagoland gave them the boot. Leattner was based in Atlanta though. There’s buyers in town from a few other places too. The Stackhouses weren’t the only ones.”
And when did we come by that information?
Richard offered, “That will make tracking his assets easier…” When Becky sniffled, he asked, “What’s wrong, love? Her heart’s already stronger than it was a couple of minutes ago.”
“The medicine’s already working… She feels better… She says it was worth the wait.”
Judging by the way Richard grinned at her, I’m sure he assumed Becky had a hopeful imagination. “Once those bags of blood are empty, I’ll inject a few units of Vampire blood to begin healing her and start more blood. She should be alert shortly. An hour, perhaps.”
Becky beamed at her mother and snickered, “She says she doesn’t care. She’s stoned… Whatever you gave her worked fast.”
Richard chuckled, “That’s why morphine is so popular… I doubt she’ll have any pain by the time I go to rest, but I’ll make sure there are codeine tabs if she needs them… and a nurse will arrive just before dawn to be on hand if your mother needs help during the day.”
Becky nodded. “Cool… So… Mr. Northman, who is Chantalle?”
“She’s my personal assistant. She runs errands for me during the day.”
Her eyes widened. “Just your day-girl?”
“Not your girlfriend?”
Richard chuckled as I said, “No.”
“Blonde hair, brown eyes, tall for a lady?”
How the fuck?
“Uhmmmm… You might want to glamour her to find another job.”
“Because… she… uhmmm… She brought her mom here… and they did a lot of wedding talk…”
Never fucking mind how Becky knew that… another one? Chantalle was actually competent.
“She brought her mother to my house and implied we’re engaged?”
“Uhmmm… horse races? And a guy with a beard… Whenever you went there, that’s when they slept over…” She snickered, “She wants to build a stage at the Garden that looks like a wedding cake… and y’all can be the bride and groom on top while you say ‘I do’…”
It looked like Rhiannon tried to grin while everyone else laughed at ‘my’ wedding.
Becky added, “And your first dance can be to ‘At Last’ because you can hire Etta James to sing it live…”
“And Mayor Rudy can do the ceremony…”
“I might have nightmares.”
“And you’re already registered at Saks and Tiffany’s.”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
She shook her head. “Your in-laws already love you though. This room will make an adorable nursery and since you have a view of the Met, the baby should have an art-themed room.”
“And where will we honeymoon?”
“Tokyo because Forbes Magazine said it’s awesome.”
“You’re completely serious?”
As Becky nodded, Pam asked, “When do we find out how she knows this?”
Becky smiled and curled up with Rhiannon. “I just know stuff. Stuff no one else should know, and for no reason in particular. Technically, I’m a psychic, but I don’t like the word ‘cuz it’s not like I can tell the future. Lots of stuff is just boring, but… I mean your day-girl sleeps in your bed naked whenever you’re out of town, so that’s kind of a thing.” I would know that if I actually used my bed instead of the bed hidden in my closet.
A fucking psychic.
Until that moment, I thought the most incredible thing I’d come across was a pair of invisible Vampires.
I looked at Richard and declared, “Becky wins…” I turned my attention to the psychic and asked, “And that’s how you knew your mother was in trouble, yes?”
She nodded. “Yeah, and that stuff about Leattner.”
“Do you know how you came about your ability?”
“Nope. It’s not the same as Mommy’s thing, and she says my thing is stronger than hers…”
“What is Rhiannon?”
“She hears people’s thoughts…” Uh oh. “That’s how she can scam folks… ‘cuz she can get in their heads. She doesn’t let me play though… and she has rules…”
“What kind of rules?”
“Well, like when she waited to interrupt your feeding, she didn’t ask for anything and if you didn’t tip her, she wouldn’t have hit you again… and Mommy doesn’t scam people who can’t afford it. That’s why she works the ritzy hotels. And for every payout she gets, she does something good. Like… last week a guy was cheating on his wife with her sister at the Four Seasons. Mommy got both of them for a few grand each, and then we went to the hospital and she scanned two coma patients and left notes for their families.”
Edward walked into the room and stared down at Rhiannon… he slowly shook his head and chuckled, “That bitch… She got me last year.”
Becky giggled, “You probably gave her a hundred dollar bill and ‘glamoured’ her to forget what she saw, right?”
Instead of answering her, he rolled his eyes.
“Most Vampires do… She can’t be glamoured. It’s part of her thing. It’s Human stuff she makes bank on anyway because she can’t hear Vampires… It’s not income we can rely on anymore though. When y’all come out, y’all won’t care if someone sees you feeding. She just stalls in the hallway with a maid’s cart until she feels y’all lock in on your donor. Then she uses a key to walk in. She just waits for the maids to clock out and gets a key from the manager’s desk.”
I asked, “If you ‘just know stuff’ is that how you can communicate with her while she’s unconscious?”
She shook her head. “Not really… We… When Mommy reads minds, she has to be close to a person. But we don’t need to be anywhere near each other. It’s like our brains are connected.”
“How are the Stackhouses connected?”
She opened her mouth as though she was going to answer, but she slapped her hands over her mouth and gasped, “OhmyGod!”
She waited a moment, staring at the ceiling before answering, “Jason, he… he feels things… that’s how he knew how hurt Mommy is. And Brandon, he’s like Mommy, that’s how he was talking to her…”
“That’s explains everything but your reaction.”
“Uhmmm… I think they’re related.”
She closed her eyes as she nodded, then shook her head, then nodded again. “I called my uncles assholes.”
“They deserved it… Wait- Brandon teased Jason that his name would have been Rhiannon if he’d been a girl.”
“JJ… That’s the closest to a name as Mommy had for her brother. Pissed her off too ‘cuz of how many J names there are.”
“Could you have found them for her all along?”
She nodded. “Probably, but Mommy said she had higher priorities than tracking down people who never cared. She said it would open an ugly can of worms, but she really just didn’t want to be crapped on by more family… We’re doing it right, me and her. That’s what counts.”
Pam called from the living room, “Do I have to go uncuff them?”
Becky laughed, “No! They had that coming!”
I chuckled, “Given that your mother’s possible brothers are cuffed together and made up like a pair of Raggedy Ann dolls, what is her opinion on the matter?”
Rhiannon gave another hint of a grin, but Becky’s eyebrows pulled up to devilish points.
She finally giggled, “Mommy says… they’ll live.”