Rhiannon suggested from her ‘unconscious’ state that Becky find something to do other than watching her mother sleep…
Becky wasn’t interested in anything anyone suggested… chess, reading, television, movies, napping… Pam even offered to go to her apartment for board games.
Becky didn’t need to make a list of groceries for my day-girl because there wasn’t a shortage of restaurants who deliver to Park Avenue.
It was a waiting game.
And Becky only left her mother’s bed long enough to use the bathroom just a few feet away…
She suggested that I call Chantalle to send her for a new phone since mine drowned while I was in the tub with her… and that Marchereine (better known as Margarine because the boys couldn’t resist) could ‘make a deli run’ as an excuse for her to be close enough for Rhiannon to scan.
After everything we’d done for her, Rhiannon ‘said’ the least she could do was make sure our personal staff could be trusted… She wasn’t even conscious yet, and she was already thinking of ways to repay favors she didn’t owe.
We managed to kill a few minutes in debate… While Francesca considered Rhiannon to be a victim of New York, obliging her to make reparations, Rhiannon considered herself to be a freelance Supernatural who accepted the risks involved in her livelihood. It seemed as though they were at an impasse until Becky reminded Francesca that Rhiannon had scammed her own child.
We were subsequently warned by Becky that her mother’s mind was never completely at rest… and even when she was sleeping, she was coherent. Case in point: When they flew from Florida to New York a couple of weeks ago, Rhiannon reduced a stewardess to tears without losing focus on a dream about Will Smith…
Once Chantalle and Margarine were called and given their errands, Edward helped kill a few minutes by asking for more details of Rhiannon’s rules of engagement…
Rhiannon never blackmailed people who couldn’t afford it, taking only what she knew they could spare without being caught. That would have defeated the purpose of blackmailing them. Becky gave an example of a man who was cheating on his meal ticket and was living on a small allowance, so Rhiannon accepted his Rolexes and sold them… and then kneed him in the balls for being an ‘epic douche bag’.
Rhiannon never blackmailed good people who were participating in the lesser of two evils, or felt genuine guilt for their actions. Becky mentioned that a woman had cheated on her paralyzed husband just for physical contact, but Rhiannon never approached her because the woman was so wracked with guilt that she made herself sick.
When it came to interrupting Vampires’ feedings, Rhiannon never did more than walk into the room and ‘faint’… It was entirely up to the Vampire whether she was compensated for being glamoured, but nine times out of ten, Rhiannon was gratuitously tipped.
Rhiannon’s favorite marks were ‘conniving social-climbers’ and ‘suits with entitlement issues’. She’d managed to make enough connections in Miami that she provided ‘family screenings’ through an estate lawyer for a flat fee. She’d attend family gatherings and pose as a maid or servant for people who were trying to get their affairs in order to draft a will. And last year, she made friends with a Chief in the NYPD (a Shifter) who hired her as a consultant. He called in suspects from deadlocked cases and Rhiannon was able to hear the guilty parties thinking about their crimes. She’d tested herself on the case of a missing child and exposed that an older sibling had accidentally killed him… Rhiannon subsequently solved eight other cases before the end of the ‘New York season’, and she was already slated to spend most of November in a darkened room behind a two-way mirror.
When asked why we weren’t told to contact Chief Tatum if he was a ‘friend’, we were told he wasn’t ‘that kind of friend’.
Becky stayed with her mother and Richard while the rest of us vacillated between brainstorming items I’d need to have on hand for Human houseguests and amused ourselves with more lucrative (and safer) ways for Rhiannon to earn a living.
Pam and Francesca kept pets often enough for her to be far more helpful than Edward and me.
Margarine and Chantalle’s arrival was what finally baited Becky from her mother’s side, and only because Richard wanted to examine Rhiannon’s wounds before administering Vampire blood.
Both day-girls knew everyone but Becky. They’d both been working for us for over a year and had subsequently couriered various items between the parties several times.
Margarine arrived with what seemed like enough bagels and condiments to feed a small army… Even though she usually displayed less personality than her oddly put together wardrobe, she immediately greeted Becky with, “Who’s this little cutie?” and continued to ask Becky if she could eat and listed the options she’d purchased while she dispensed a cup of hot chocolate for her.
Meanwhile, Chantalle glared at Becky as though she was a fly in her soup while she explained the phone she’d bought to replace my waterlogged one.
As Becky climbed onto a barstool, she whispered to me, “Daddy, I like your assistant. She’s nice.”
Adorable and evil.
Francesca actually bit a hole in her lip and left the room to laugh at the look on Chantalle’s face… Pam followed her.
It was a struggle for me to keep a straight face. “Actually, Marchereine belongs to Edward and Richard. Chantalle is my assistant.”
“Oh. She’s… tall.”
“And resourceful. At three in the morning, she managed to acquire a new phone to replace the one that was soaked during your bath.”
Becky shrugged, “She probably bought an extra the last time you ruined one…”
Oh really? Chantalle acted as though she’d been through hell to buy it while she explained the features as though it wasn’t the same phone I had before.
“What kind of name is Chantalle? Sounds trailer-parky.”
I snorted, “Be nice. She’s very good at her job.”
Chantalle argued, “My parents are doctors and I went to Vassar… I’m not from a trailer park.”
Becky giggled and began piling salmon on a bagel. “If my kid let me pay all that tuition so she could be an errand-girl, I’d kick her ass and make her pay me back.”
Margarine excused herself to use the restroom with her hand over her mouth… And Francesca and Pam began quietly discussing how to reward Becky for the show.
I asked, “Should I hire a moron to see to my errands?”
“I think you might’ve already done that… What was her major?”
I had a feeling Becky already knew before I answered, “Computer science.”
“Oh! Well then, it makes perfect sense that she wants to program your new phones. Nevermind.”
Chantalle scoffed, “Why aren’t you making fun of Margarine? She went to community college.”
Becky breathed, “Meow,” and took a bite of her bagel.
I chuckled, “You’ll have to excuse Becky. It’s late…”
“Of course it is…” Her lip was still curled. “I’m just surprised. I didn’t know anything about her.”
Edward laughed, “Full of surprises, he is. Shame you can’t meet Becky’s mum, but she’s already in bed.”
Chantalle looked like she was close to ruining everyone’s shoes. “But… I can’t remember you ever having company.”
Company? Since I hadn’t disagreed with ‘Daddy’, it would seem that I had a family, not company. Someone was fishing for details.
Becky giggled, “We’re in New York a lot, but we usually stay in hotels… Mommy lost the argument this time.”
That was a brilliantly reassembled truth if I ever heard one.
Pam whispered from the living room, “My God, I think I love that little girl.”
Chantalle whimpered, “Hotels?”
She’d automatically connected my frequent stays at hotels to ‘my family’.
Becky nodded. “Yeah. We’re spoiled. Spas and room service and all that fun posh-life stuff.”
“Which one’s your favorite?”
“The Library. All the rooms are book-themed. We stay there the most… but the Peninsula has the best spa, and the Plaza’s restaurants are awesome.”
Chantalle sniffled and cleared her throat. “So, Mr. Northman, is there anything else you need?”
Becky giggled, “Would it be awkward if she got sent out for flowers for Mommy?”
Yes… and that was what finally broke me.
I was laughing when I took Becky from her seat and carried her toward the terrace. “Edward, give Chantalle her shopping list…”
Once we were outside, I set Becky on a chair and sat next to her.
“You’re absolutely wicked, Becky Sharp.”
She giggled, “Thank you… Mommy said Chantalle’s okay. She’s pissed that she wasted her time trying to impress you, but she hasn’t been taking any liberties with your accounts or dropping your name or anything… Well, unless you count the fantasy wedding. You missed out on hiring Marchereine though. The Paiges might’a hired her just so they could make fun of her name, but she loves her job at face value.”
“I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear that…”
“You might want to… Uhmmm, your friends seem really nice, Francesca and Pam, so… you might want to tell them it’s nothing personal… Mommy doesn’t really trust women.”
“Women?” After what we’d heard, I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t searching for the land of the Amazons.
“She says men are obvious about what they want even if they take it without asking, but women are the ones you have to watch out for because they’ll pretend they love you until they can completely screw you over.”
“I’ll let them know, but I don’t keep the type around, nor do I introduce them as my friends… Is Richard nearly finished examining your mother?”
“Not quite… He’s… well… Leattner went at her legs like a lion, so he’s trying to use some blood for that.”
“Were you already focusing on that, or am I the reason you focused?”
“I’m totally lofting. I can’t stand not being in there with her…”
“She’s in excellent hands.”
“I know, but it doesn’t matter… Mommy said I get all my control-freak genes from her.”
“Did you get anything from your father?”
She stared over the railing for a moment before sighing, “His eyes… He had hazel eyes… and his ears… Mommy doesn’t know anything about him though… except for how he died.”
“How was that?”
“After he raped Mommy, she kicked him into a wrought iron fence… and he turned to dust.”
I reached over and pushed Becky’s hair behind her ear to reveal that they were slightly pointed…
“Do you even know what you are?”
Her eyes widened and she shook her head. “No. Mommy doesn’t know what she is either… I can’t get the question right to focus on the answer… When my father went after her, he asked if she thought she was too good for her own kind…”
“Are you masking your scent right now?”
Her eyes widened that much more. “Yeah… What do you know?”
“I can’t be sure about your mother’s side of the family tree, but your father was Fae. You’re at least half Faerie…”
“Bullshit. My mother got her ass kicked by a guy your size. Faeries are little.”
“Disney Faeries are little and there is a lot of conflicting lore… Real Faeries are actually quite statuesque. They also have notoriously fierce tempers… Did the Stackhouses mention anything to give you any clues?”
“Brandon told Mommy he thought I was like his aunt.”
“Then given that your father and the Stackhouses used the phrase ‘own kind’, I’d say you’re more than half Fae.”
“That’s crazy! What do you know about them?”
“They’re beautiful and evil…”
She giggled, “Not just me.”
I chuckled, “And humble.”
“I must’a missed that trait… So Faeries have special abilities, but they look Human.”
“They have pointed ears, and their scent and allure are impossible for Vampires to resist.”
“We think Weres too. Mommy gets lots of attention. A Were is who told us to try covering our scent… Why are you okay?”
“Perhaps partly because your mother was nearly drained. The Stackhouses’ blood tasted sweeter than normal Humans’. I certainly wouldn’t mind more of it, but it wasn’t potent enough to turn me into a monster… You on the other hand… If your father was full-Fae, I need you to be careful to avoid injuring yourself. I’m not at all interested in failing that test.”
She cringed. “Yeah. I kinda like you. It’d suck to have to stake you.”
Cute… but… I was afraid that if she as much as skinned her knee, I’d lose control. The tiny thing wouldn’t have a chance against me.
“I can’t mask the whole time I’m sleeping, so we do most of our sleeping during the day, and wash bedding and shower just before sunset… I just watch TV or read in a vacant room while Mommy does rounds, then we go back to our hotel. I wasn’t supposed to doze off, but I was sleepy after the Yankees game. Too much fresh air, I guess.”
“That explains why you smelled so much sweeter when you stepped onto the elevator… Is that why you prefer staying in the room with your mother?”
“Well, sorta… It’s a habit, ‘cuz of hotels, but… your room and the room Mommy’s in are the only ones with doors to the terrace so we can air it out a little.”
I left my seat and took her hand to lead her back into the apartment, hoping to catch the day-girls before they left to run their errands…
“I thought of something else…” Pam and Francesca had returned to the kitchen, and everyone’s eyes were on me. “Silver… necklaces, earrings, and hair decorations… For Rhiannon and Becky…”
Pam, Francesca and Edward looked like they’d already been silvered.
Margarine nodded astutely as she scratched at her Palm Pilot. “Yes sir. Just silver or silver and gold? With or without stones? Do you have a particular style in mind?”
“A diverse assortment of age-appropriate silver. Some gold accents are fine. Stones are fine… We’ll also need a pair of large floor fans.”
Becky whispered, “You’re making Mommy cry. She says ‘thank you’.”
I could only hope the silver helped.
Chantalle sighed, “Tiffany’s or something less… lavish?”
“Tiffany’s is good.”
Marchereine’s eyes lit up, and she focused on Becky, “How about… I have a friend who works at a bead shop in the Village… They have a lot of liquid silver stuff. It would be casual, for when Tiffany’s is too much.”
Becky nodded. “Mommy loves liquid silver. She used to have a necklace, but it got snagged and the little beads went everywhere.”
Marchereine grinned from ear to ear. “Oh goody! Do you and your mom have favorite colors? That’ll help.”
“Mommy’s is black, but she looks awesome in blue. I like mixed stuff, not like rainbow-rainbow-rainbow, just variegated… and no brown.”
While Margarine made notes, Chantalle resorted to taking deep breaths.
Marchereine nodded. “Gotcha… Chantalle, I can grab the fans since I’ll be down the block from a hardware store anyway. You can focus on the uptown stuff.”
Chantalle thanked Marchereine without an iota of enthusiasm, and made her way towards the door…
By the time Marchereine collected her things and left, everyone else seemed to be rattling apart to find out why I wanted Rhiannon and Becky to wear silver.
But Becky started, “You gotta be nicer to her. She loves her job… How does that work anyway? Why do y’all need a personal assistant at your ‘ages’?”
Edward answered, “Mother hires someone to run our errands so we can focus on our schoolwork and the ‘family business’… Did you actually need me to answer or did you ‘just know’ as soon as you asked?”
Becky gave him a devilish grin. “You catch on really quick.” As I lifted her to the counter, she reached out for the bagel she hadn’t finished earlier.
I pushed her hair behind her ear again and offered, “While we were outside, Becky mentioned that her father died when he fell onto an iron fence. He subsequently turned to dust.”
Francesca, Pam and Edward breathed, “Faerie,” in unison.
“Becky’s lucky to have control of her scent…”
Francesca nodded. “As a half? I’d say ‘lucky’ is an understatement.”
“Half isn’t necessarily accurate… While the familial connection is unverified, we’re assuming Rhiannon is a Stackhouse. Not only does Rhiannon share telepathy with Brandon Stackhouse, but Brandon compared his aunt’s ability to Becky’s.”
Pam actually blinked before asking, “Are we assuming the Stackhouses are hybrids too?”
I nodded. “For now. The Stackhouses didn’t seem to make any family connections, but they referred to them as their kind.”
“But you fed from those brothers. You cleaned Rhiannon’s wounds…”
“Sweet, but not intoxicating. I’d venture to guess that Rhiannon and her brothers have less Fae heritage than Becky… If nothing else, the Vampire who fed from Rhiannon when she was a child proved that it’s possible to maintain a certain amount of control… Silver jewelry is just a precaution since they’re staying with me.”
Edward snorted and removed his phone from his pocket. “This. Is. Spectacular… Eric’s taken in Faeries through the Adopt-A-Supe program.”
I groaned, “What are you doing?”
“Texting Gawain to tell him you’ve lost your mind.”
Becky snapped, “He has not! We’re harmless!”
He continued to text while he chuckled, “Says the Faerie who staked the Vampire her mother was blackmailing tonight.”
She grabbed a bagel in each hand and pitched them at Edward’s head. As they bounced to the floor Becky shouted, “After what he did to my mom, I’d do it again! Say you wouldn’t do the same thing, asshole!” And she’d be completely justified.
Angry tears rolled over her cheeks and the kitchen began filling with an odor that reminded me of wine barrels.
As I lifted her from the counter, she continued, “You didn’t see what he did to her! He ripped her clothes off and took chunks out of her legs so she’d bleed faster! Fuck you!” She was putting up an impressive fight to reach him, and as strong as she was she might have actually been able to get away from a younger Vampire.
As I carried her towards Rhiannon’s room, I tried shushing her. “He’s teasing me, Becky. Not you and not your mother. Faeries and Vampires have never been able to trust each other. He’s thinking of the history our breeds have with each other, not you specifically. If the Stackhouses are really Faeries, then what they did tonight by trying to protect you and offering to care for your mother would be the first kind thing I’ve ever seen a Faerie do.”
She finally stopped fighting and choked, “You didn’t mean the fun kind of evil, did you?”
“No. Generally speaking Faeries are conniving. It’s rare for them to make contact with the other Supernaturals, and when they do, something usually goes wrong.”
“My father… he called Mommy a mutt. The scars she had on her neck from Luke, they pissed him off.”
“He must have been able to identify her as a hybrid somehow, and assumed she was a willing pet of a Vampire. It doesn’t justify anything he did to her, but it is evidence of the temper I mentioned, and the bad blood between breeds.”
She buried her face against my neck and cried, “Mommy’s not bad though. She’s not evil! She had straight jobs, but they didn’t pay enough because she couldn’t finish school… What was she supposed to do? She was thirteen. And the first thing Michelle thought of was beating Mommy because miscarriages are free, but abortions cost money. Mommy left before the abortion appointment Michelle made, but not before Michelle’s boyfriend took advantage of the damage being done! What else was she supposed to do!?”
Thirteen? It was difficult enough to imagine that there had been time for all of the abuse and hospitalizations to have happened before she was eighteen. But thirteen?
And how many fucking times had Rhiannon been raped? Becky’s father, her mother’s boyfriend, and Leattner… Not to mention that ‘Luke’ had been feeding from a child not much older than the one soaking my shirt with acidic tears.
I couldn’t think of a reason for Rhiannon to be sane enough to take care of herself, let alone a precocious child like Becky. She deserved congratulations, not jokes. There wasn’t anything funny about what she’d survived.
Given that Richard was still tending to the wounds on Rhiannon’s thighs, I stayed in the hallway, just out of sight so Becky wouldn’t have to see that again.
“When she wakes up, I’ll hold Edward down so you can both beat the fuck out of him for making assumptions about you.”
Her arms tightened around my neck and she continued to cry quietly for a moment before mumbling, “It’s not the assumptions… we had a feeling… I mean, I’m here because my father raped Mommy… We’ve always watched out for them and stayed away… That’s all Mommy did while he… he… he… she memorized his brain…”
In an effort to help calm her down, I asked, “How are Faerie minds different?”
“Everything’s different… picture a TV flipping channels. That’s what Humans are like… Then Weres are kinda the same, but it’s more growled and primal and red… Vampires are like snowglobes, and we can tell what kind of mood y’all are in by how your fog moves, and how old you are because of how big your globe is… Daemons’re like snow on a TV and we’re lucky to get moods… Faeries are like being surrounded with broken glass. Little flashes of light once in a while. No thoughts. No moods.”
I wasn’t sure how, but it was working. She was calming down slowly, but it was working…
“That’s very interesting. Are you sure you’re not a mind reader?”
“Nope. That’s all Mommy. I can see and hear what she sees and hears, like we’re watching TV together, but she’s got the remote. If she’s switches, I can’t stay with a person. And she can block me so I can’t see what she does, but I can do it to her too.”
“Describe your ability for me then.”
She took a deep breath and shuddered as she exhaled. “It just pops up… Like I’m doing whatever and a TV turns on and shows me a scene and shuts off again…. Orrrrrr… I can focus on the TV, and it’ll show me something specific. Sometimes I can keep it going for a long time and get a really big picture.”
“Care to give me an example?”
“Uhhmmmm… Chantalle’s crush was a random thing that just popped up… but when I thought about what would happen if Mommy went to a normal hospital, that was on purpose.”
“So you won’t be able to tell me if the Yankees will go to the Series or not?”
“Pssssshhhhh, they’ll get there by the skin of their teeth, and they’ll choke.”
Her opinion could have been jaded by her ability, but it was just as likely that she was paying attention.
Either way, Becky wasn’t still on the verge of taking Edward’s head. She was merely shaken by his comments.
“Edward didn’t mean to upset you. I’ve known him since he wasn’t much older than you. He knows I’ve never met a Faerie who gave me a reason to enjoy their company, and he was sharing the news bulletin with a friend of ours who’s always been adamant about staying away from the Fae at all costs… Aside from the seriousness of what happened to your mother, it actually is funny that I’m standing in my home with a little semi-Faerie.”
She sniffled, “I guess it’s a good thing I could only reach bagels then.”
I agreed, “He’s very lucky.”
“I shoulda sacrificed the one with schmear though. It woulda stuck for a minute.”
I couldn’t help but picture Edward with a bagel plastered to the side of his face.
I was still chuckling when Richard invited us to return to Rhiannon’s room.
He’d covered Rhiannon again, but her clothing had been tossed aside because her wounds had wept some of the blood she’d been transfused with. Her clothing was in the bin with dozens of bloody gauze bandages.
He carefully moved the sheet, pulling it up to Rhiannon’s thigh to reveal that his topical use of Vampire blood had all but healed the wounds. In contrast to Rhiannon’s deep tan and smooth skin, the areas were pitted and bright pink, but time would fix that.
Becky sniffled and nodded before moving to leave my arms and walk along the bed. “You can still wear a bikini, Mommy.”
Richard offered, “I’ve already started fresh bags of blood. Her reflexes are coming back to her. Are you ready to see what Vampire blood will do?”
Becky dropped to her knees and kissed Rhiannon’s forehead. “Definitely.”
“How is she feeling? Does she have any complaints?”
“Nope. She’s good… just looking forward to waking up.”
While Richard used a large syringe to draw blood from a vial, he suggested, “She’d be an incredible asset as a doctor. Applying her ability to emergency triage…”
Becky explained, “Except Mommy can’t spend a lot of time in hospitals. So many people worried and in pain at once kicks her ass… We can go for an hour or two so she can scan coma patients, but she’d need to be sedated after a whole shift.”
As he slowly injected the blood into Rhiannon’s tubing, he huffed, “Fair enough… Has she dabbled at casinos?”
“They won’t let me in. She played a few times at hotels where I could hang out in a room, but it’s not something she can do on the regular. She prefers blackjack because it seems like there’s always some idiot at the poker tables willing to lose their kid’s tuition or whatever. She doesn’t feel guilty about taking money from the house.”
More proof Rhiannon wasn’t ‘bad’, but I preferred that she stayed out of my casinos.
I argued, “Those assholes would lose that money to someone eventually.”
Becky shook her head. “That’s not a guarantee. If Mommy isn’t playing, they could get lucky and win a few hands, maybe enough to break even.”
“That’s doubtful. The ones willing to sacrifice everything for pride aren’t smart enough to walk away from a table while they’re still up.”
Becky snorted, “He got you there, Mommy.”
A smile pulled at the corners of Rhiannon’s mouth again, but I caught myself watching the plunger on the syringe pushing Vampire blood into Rhiannon’s arm.
With half of the blood administered, I watched Rhiannon point her toes under the sheet… and by the time the syringe was empty, the swelling in her jaw was gone.
One of her hands twitched, but… for the time being, it seemed like Rhiannon was going to need more Vampire blood to regain consciousness.
Becky sniffled and giggled, “She’s pissed it didn’t work yet. She’s gotta pee and wants to brush her teeth.”
Pam got our attention by knocking on the frame of the door. “Slow is better than nothing…” She held up a handful of books. “Do coma patients really like to be read to?”
Becky nodded. “Not by Mommy. By the time she gets to them, they could wet the bed because someone can communicate with them… but yeah…”
“Good. Eric has Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books.”
Another smile pulled at the corners of Rhiannon’s mouth, and Becky offered, “Mommy called you a wise ass.”
I chuckled, “I have a large library. I’ll fetch something else…”
“Mommy read them to me when I was a baby, Grimm too… She says this is good…” She left the bed to take the books from Pam and thanked her…. And then ran downstairs to retrieve their bags. On her way into the bathroom with her pajamas, she offered, “Mommy says we’ll read Blue, if you want to read one too.”
“Perhaps I’m suddenly in the mood to read Vanity Fair again.”
Becky giggled as she closed the door and Pam asked, “Her name isn’t a coincidence?”
“No. Rhiannon wanted Becky to have a stronger namesake than a Fleetwood Mac song.”
Pam asked, “How the hell did she make it out of the hospital without being put in a group home for under-aged mothers?”
From the bathroom, Becky offered, “When Mommy left home, she stole Michelle’s IDs. Mommy’s first boss in Florida really liked her and came to the hospital at night. So those nurses knew what she looked like, but the day-nurses didn’t… When Mommy was discharged, she had Annie confirm all the stuff on the IDs over the phone and asked them to put us in a cab because she was epileptic and couldn’t drive. They bought it.”
Pam raised an eyebrow. “A con artist from the start?”
Becky opened the door and bounced onto the bed with the Blue Fairy Book and offered, “Mommy says you gotta do what you gotta do.”
I asked, “Do you still see Annie when you’re in Miami?”
“No… When Mommy tried to move on, Annie tried to keep me ‘cuz she couldn’t have babies… Annie’s back in Cuba because Mommy turned her in for being illegal. Don’t fuck with someone who knows all your secrets.”
More evidence of why Rhiannon didn’t trust women.
Pam snickered as she left the doorway, “You’re a better woman than me, Rhiannon. I would have cut the cunt’s throat.”
Francesca added, “It can still be arranged.”
I explained, “We have friends in Cuba,” and winked at Becky.
She giggled wickedly and opened the book. “Mommy says not to give her any ideas. She’s still pissed about it.”
While we read, I noticed that Becky every so often looked up to eye the bags of Human blood.
Richard had explained that once Rhiannon had four pints of Human blood, it would be safe to administer a much larger dose of Vampire blood.
It was nearly five o’clock by the time the second set of bags was nearly empty, and it seemed as though Becky held her breath from the moment Richard began disconnecting the tubing until he pushed the syringe into the IV.
With only half a unit, Rhiannon’s eyes opened… and they were more stunning than they had been when she was pretending to be glamoured.
She stared at the ceiling for a moment before shifting her eyes to Richard. “Is it my turn to talk about what you could be doing with your resources?”
The smirk on her face was nothing if not evidence of where Becky had inherited her moxie… Rhiannon had nearly been killed, but she regained consciousness smiling.
Richard chuckled, “We can hardly sell Vampire blood on QVC… How are you feeling?”
“I bet you could think of something… and I’m okay, I think. My wrists are still pretty tender, but it’s not like I’m going to whine about that.”
“No one would hold it against you… The Queen wants to talk to you about what happened if you feel up to that, but she’ll wait if you need time.”
“That’s fine…” She sat up without using her arms, carefully adjusting the sheet to keep herself covered and drawing her knees up to her chest. “I’m ready when she is.”
Becky left the bed to rifle through their bags, and return with a handful of black satin just in time for Francesca to arrive.
While Richard plunged another vial of Vampire blood into Rhiannon’s IV, she started, “I wasn’t even there for Leattner. I was meeting a pre-nup breaker for a cashier’s check. I’d just knocked on 1141 when Becky called from Mr. Northman’s phone to let me know she was sleep-walking. As soon as I was done, I took off, but I ran into Leattner and his donor in the stairwell on my way up to 19 to get Becky. I wasn’t even paying attention because I wanted to get to her. I was supervising from where I was, so I knew Mr. Northman was okay, but still… I don’t know him. Anyway, Leattner grabbed me and covered my mouth… And then he just lost it. My scent got to him. He carried me and his donor back to his room. He got what he could from my legs… and since I interrupted him with his date, he moved on to scratching that itch when he started feeding from my wrists… I honestly didn’t feel much after he got the first thigh. I was dizzy after just a couple of minutes. Everything else was kind of a blur until it was over… By the way, Becky was told to stay with Mr. Northman. She doesn’t always listen to her mother.”
More than anything else, it was disturbing to see how indifferently she described her attack. It begged the question of how much she’d been through that being raped by an unhinged Vampire didn’t rate a single tear. Morphine or not, it didn’t seem natural for her to have nearly orphaned her daughter and discuss it so dispassionately.
Then again… Becky seemed to hide how upset she was until Edward said something that hit a nerve.
Francesca urged, “Is that everything?”
Richard helped Becky slip Rhiannon’s arms into her robe while she answered, “Well, then Becky ignored yet another adult to charge into the room like gang-busters to stake Leattner… and Mr. Northman called you, and Becky focused on you for a few minutes so we’d have an idea of how you’d feel about all this… You got there shortly after, so you know everything else.”
“I hate to suggest that Becky has been anything but honest with us, but children can be very creative, if not convincing… Rhiannon, Becky told us your senses were still very focused on your surroundings while you seemed comatose. I just want to be sure you’re aware that you’re in the company of Vampires.”
Rhiannon grinned and nodded. “I understand why you have to ask… You backhanded my long lost big brother for shooting Mr. Northman and scaring the crap out of Becky… Edward Paige is wearing a leather jacket over a Yankees T-shirt… Marchereine was excited Mr. Northman was okay with the bead shop idea because she was terrified of shopping uptown on his dime. And we really debated how a brush with my Darwin Award was somehow your responsibility, but I’m indescribably grateful that you and Mr. Northman stepped in to help… Did you have something specific in mind?”
Francesca showed her surprise as she shook her head. “Other than being completely awed by your gifts, and the incalculable odds of how you met your brothers, no… I don’t suppose I do have more questions.”
Rhiannon turned to Becky and ordered, “Go tell Mr. Paige you’re sorry you blew up at him. He didn’t have any part in why your nerves are shot. He didn’t deserve it.”
She growled and her nostrils flared as she left the bed to trudge down the stairs, and Rhiannon moved to sit on the edge of the bed.
While she slowly tested her legs, she warned, “She’s incredible, but she doesn’t own her flaws. If anything, temper and pride will be that child’s downfall.”
I’d thought the same thing about Pam once upon a time, but she’d calmed so much as she aged… Unfortunately, I didn’t know enough about Faeries to offer any consolation.
Francesca offered, “At least her mother loves her enough to try to file down her thorns.”
As Rhiannon inched towards the bathroom she giggled, “She came by her thorns honestly. Her mom’s obstinate and aggressive too. I’m just hoping the thorns don’t take over the garden.”
Was that really the case? Was Rhiannon really obstinate and aggressive, or, after years of being abused, had she lost her patience for being mistreated?
I offered, “Becky wasn’t so difficult to calm down. I think Edward’s remark was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Rhiannon paused at the bathroom door and smiled. “It helped that she couldn’t get away from your iron grip… I’ll have to try sitting on her the next time I’m talking her down though.”
Once Becky’s apology was made and Richard and I had changed the bedding, everyone who wasn’t staying at my apartment (the other Vampires) left for their respective resting places.
As gingerly as Rhiannon was moving, she insisted on walking for the tour instead of being carried… and as she moved, her gait steadied and became stronger, as did her posture…
Eight-thousand square feet of Fifth Avenue penthouse… they jokingly asked if they could move a mattress into the library… and they teased me for having a gourmet kitchen.
Even though Rhiannon wasn’t wearing anything but a satin robe, their tour stopped on the terrace.
Rhiannon settled on a chaise and Becky joined her… and they both seemed to be enjoying the fresh air for a while before Becky blurted, “Michelle’s a bitch.”
Rhiannon giggled, “You’re preaching to the choir, baby.”
“No. I mean a really… really… huge bitch… Okay…”
“Are we dissecting all this shit now?”
“Yeah… We never really talked about it because there wasn’t a point. But… JJ…”
“The last time Michelle saw him was when our father took off with him.”
Becky corrected, “Got custody of him. I see a court date. Your father didn’t do anything shady there.”
“Okay… and what about him knowing about me and ignoring me?”
“He… Okay… I thought about it some… I got a lot, but the bones are that they split up. They got in a big argument, and she told him to pick. His wife or his family… He moved in with his parents and then started dating someone else. When Michelle found out, she said she was pregnant to try to get him back…”
Rhiannon growled, “Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“Because she’s a huge bitch… She won, by the way. He went back to her… but then he found out his girlfriend, the nice one, she actually was pregnant…”
“So he left Michelle again?”
“But by then Michelle really was pregnant… Mommy, I saw Michelle say ‘fuck him, he’s not taking this one too. It’s bad enough JJ calls Julie Mommy’… He doesn’t know about you.”
“She said he knew and didn’t care because he only wanted boys.”
Becky closed her eyes and shook her head. “No Mommy… I see him… he did tea parties with little girls… Ummmm… Hadley and Audrey… His sister’s kids.”
Rhiannon closed her eyes and growled, “Fuck me.”
“And you got stuck with Fred…”
“He wasn’t bad. Michelle can make anyone crazy. I was just hurt that he took Tessie and not me. I was too little to understand that he couldn’t take me too. It doesn’t help that I thought he was my father until he left.”
I interrupted, “You have a sister?”
Rhiannon sighed, “A half-sister I haven’t seen since I was five and she was three. Theresa Abbott. I don’t know what the hell happened with her. Hopefully, she’s in college nurturing her teen ideals and enjoying naïve oblivion.”
“But you didn’t leave home until you were in your teens. Did your mother not have contact with her either?”
“Fred remarried, and Michelle complained that Tessie replaced her too… Fred brought Tessie to see me a couple of times, but I was in the hospital. He sent me a letter about how to get in touch, and apologized for not wanting Tessie to see Michelle anymore… she just upset her. I started sending letters to Tessie from school when I went, but Michelle threw out the ones I got from her.”
“Your mother needed to be committed.”
“I’m hoping she died alone in a puddle of her own vomit.”
Becky offered, “Stop dreaming. She’ll live forever just because she’s a huge bitch.”
Rhiannon snickered, “That’s always the way… Alright, get to the part where you vie for contacting the Stackhouses.”
“They’re awesome. You have six brothers and two cousins and two step-cousins, and they’re all like us. Your dad and aunt too, but I can’t… it’s like they all have something different so I can’t match them up… And I think we should go to Louisiana so we can kill Michelle ‘cuz if she didn’t lie to you then you coulda been okay all along.”
Rhiannon argued, “I’m okay now.”
“You know what I mean. Your dad woulda killed a guy for lookin’ at you funny. You coulda been okay if you grew up in Bon Temps with him.”
“If I was in Bon Temps, I wouldn’t have you.”
“Psshhhhh, you wouldn’t know you’re missing out on my epic awesomeness either.”
“Nope. I love you and your epic awesomeness. No trade… I might take you up on killing Michelle though.”
“Can we call ‘em then?”
“Maybe. We could skip the Miami season and go visit for a while.”
Becky folded her arms and scoffed, “Fuck you then. I’ll call. I’m not waiting for the thaw… You gotta sleep sometime.”
“Your cojones are bigger than your noodles sometimes. You can’t just-”
Becky blurted, “Chicken shit! You don’t have any excuse not to call them now that you know they have extras too! You’re just used to being scared. You need to crawl out of your noodles and find your cojones… Mr. Northman, what’s your vote?”
“That you call me Eric?”
Rhiannon snickered and gave me a wink as Becky stormed inside. “I’m surrounded by chicken shits!”
Rhiannon and I were both laughing by the time Becky slammed the door behind herself, but then Rhiannon rushed from her seat…
She grabbed the knob, but she only shook the door because Becky had locked us out on the terrace.
I chuckled, “That little brat,” as Becky came into view with my cellphone.
She stood on the other side of the glass door with a taunting grin on her face while she asked information for the listing for Stackhouse in Louisiana.
She gave Jason first, only to be told there were no matching listings, and then there were two listings for Brandon Stackhouses, but they were ‘private’… No listings for Corbett or Julie.
Becky had already deflated somewhat when I reached into my pocket and made a show of Jason Stackhouse’s business card.
I asked Rhiannon, “Should I hold on to this until you ask for it?”
Rhiannon laughed, “Yes. Please… Hey, baby girl…”
Becky turned her back and slid down the door in a huff.
“Chicken shits: One… Kamikazes: Zero.”
Becky shouted, “I hope you’re comfy out there!”
I laughed at her little tantrum and scanned the neighboring buildings for active neighbors…
When it seemed like I had an opening, I lifted Rhiannon and flew over the railing to the terrace just under mine and knocked on the door.
Pam left her sofa with her puppy and a confused look on her face to let us in, so I explained, “Becky locked us out.”
“And you’re amused?”
“Of course, I am. I’ll win the standoff.”
Rhiannon added, “She’s freaking out right now trying to figure out where we went.”
Pam stepped back so we could pass through her apartment. “Nice to see you up and moving.”
Rhiannon pet the Dalmatian as we walked through. “Nice to be up and moving. Thank you.”
Dotty the Dalmatian is what happened after Gawain heard that Pam had publically denounced polka dots.
While we were on the elevator, Rhiannon giggled that Becky might have met her match.
I carried Rhiannon through my apartment so she could be party to Becky’s surprise, and we found her at the railing looking down at the street and park to try to find us…
When I grabbed her ribs, she yelped loud enough that her voice echoed.
She turned around, slapping me like she was defending herself from a swarm of bees while her mother laughed.
“When it suits me… I need to shower and lock myself in for the day. Are you going to take care of your mother or nag her while I’m dead?”
“Can’t I do both?”
“Have you forgotten so quickly that you almost lost her tonight?”
She scowled at me and slapped my hand. “Jesus! Nice guilt trip!”
“It worked. Be nice to your mother… Pick on Chantalle.”
“You’re going to fire her anyway?”
“I’m on a wedding registry.”
She nodded. “And everything’s floral.”
I growled, so Rhiannon offered, “I’ll call and cancel the registries when the stores open so your friends don’t start shopping for fun.”
I let out a relieved sigh. “Thank you.”
“It’s the least I can do. I might know of someone who can replace her. One of the concierges at the Library Hotel is brilliant, but management is inching her out of hours. Nepotism.”
“Really? What are her qualifications?”
“She’s friendly, smart enough to tie her own shoes, knows the city like the back of her hand, and has a wife, so she won’t have any plans to end your bachelorhood.”
Rhiannon giggled, “I’ll call her and ask if she’s interested. Starting with a slow dance will give you some time to shake Chantalle loose… I was going to call her about a dentist anyway. We usually get our checkups in Miami.”
Becky giggled, “Mommy’s vain.”
“I am not. I escaped a Louisiana trailer park with a full set of teeth, and I lost two in one of the finest hotels in New York City. I’m not a fan of the irony.”
“I wouldn’t be either… Goodnight…”
As soon as I stepped towards the door, Rhiannon moved to block my path, and Becky warned, “You’re not getting away from us that easy.”
“Flanked by Faeries… and no backup.”
They both giggled as they approached me…
As small as Becky was, her head was against my ass when she hugged my legs, and Rhiannon’s head didn’t meet my chin.
They sighed, “Thank you,” in unison.
They both laughed and tightened their hold on me.
More proof that they didn’t know how to be Faeries.