Master’s eyes had barely closed when mine suddenly opened.
My mind’s eye, that is.
It made me realize I had somehow managed to teleport us to his royal chambers when I had never been allowed access before. I shouldn’t have been able to enter without having been there before, but I hadn’t been thinking about anything but keeping him safe from harm for the day.
Maybe it was due to our weak blood bond?
I put it into the only perspective I could.
The way of the Fae.
Fairies could use blood to locate their kin. There was nowhere any of us could hide from family. Nothing that could keep us from reaching one another if we were on the same plane.
So now that Master and I had begun a blood bond, perhaps he could no longer hide from me and I could track him no matter where he went.
That could come in handy. In more ways than one.
But still I wished – not for the first time – I could ask Great-grandfather. He would know. He always knew everything, but I had no way of contacting him. The portal would have been resealed when he returned to the Fae Realm.
My home that I would never lay eyes on again.
But looking down at Master, I didn’t feel as homesick as I once did. And closing my eyes, I could feel his presence inside of me, however slight it was.
It was warm, like my kin.
I didn’t know what to make of that. Nor did I want to think about it, so after making sure the door was sealed and he was secure, I popped myself to just outside of the palace walls. Checking my ability to still feel his warmth, I moved on, popping and pausing along the same route we’d used to travel to Bon Temps. When I’d finally made it back to his southern estate our tie was much weaker, but it was still there, so I quickly showered and changed before going downstairs to get a read on his staff.
And of course the first one in my path was his old woman. I didn’t even have to seek her out.
“Susannah,” she greeted me with a smile and slight nod of her head. “Would you care for some breakfast?”
I almost answered her until I saw her mime her words, mimicking eating with an invisible fork or spoon.
It matched my invisible cane I’d mocked Master with the night before.
The memory made me smile genuinely and she mistook it for an agreement before turning and gesturing for me to follow her, while saying, “I sure hope you don’t have any food allergies.”
Not even to lemons.
I wasn’t fairy enough for that.
But I dutifully followed behind her, listening in to everything that ran through her mind to see if she had been the traitor. Her thoughts, however, only centered on the odd sensation she felt in my presence, although she no longer believed me to be her granddaughter, Hadley. Instead she felt I more resembled her oaf of a grandson.
I felt offended.
Not that I could let it show, so I accepted the plate of food she offered with another small smile and sat down in one of the empty chairs, digging in with both my fork and gift.
From what I could tell, the Stackhouses weren’t the only humans on duty. There were two housekeepers, one on the upper level and another in the library, but both were concentrating on their work. The gardener outside was distracted from his thanks to the oaf grandson trying to convince him to go to a local watering hole later on that evening, but I could tell by his thoughts he had a Cajun accented inner voice. A very colorful one.
It would seem the oaf brought out the best in us all.
But I was distracted from my work by the old woman when she took a seat across from me, staring wistfully and saying, “I bet you’re about the same age as my grandbaby would’ve been.”
I could see images of a young couple in her mind. The man was unmistakably the oaf’s father. The resemblance was uncanny, but the woman’s features were much softer. Her stomach was swollen with child, but in her memories the woman was doting on a young boy, so the infant must have been his sibling.
“We never knew if it was a boy or a girl,” the old woman offered sadly and I could feel the pain filtering through her with her next memories.
The police showing up on her doorstep in the middle of the night to inform her of the accident on the bridge.
Comforting her inconsolable young grandson when he learned his parents would never return.
Putting the green and yellow baby blankets she’d knitted into each of their coffins at the funeral, equally heartened and horrified that at least the alligators had spared their faces, so they could see them one last time.
From what I gathered, the alligators hadn’t spared the baby growing inside of the young mother. It was why she’d never known if it was a boy or a girl.
A pregnant female was revered in my world, with all of our kind keeping watch over her until the young was born.
Or until it was no longer necessary.
And remembering how joyous – if not a little bittersweet – it felt hearing Claudine was expecting, I could appreciate the magnitude of her loss.
And I too would never know if it was a boy or a girl.
“The anniversary was just last week, so maybe that’s why I’m so off,” she mused out loud, still unaware I understood every word – spoken and unspoken. Her feelings shifted to ones of guilt, but I couldn’t hear the cause. Only that she felt her losses were due to some sort of karmic payback. She was paying a penance for a past transgression. One that had caused her to lose her son, her daughter, and two of her three grandchildren.
I was so caught up in her thoughts that I was caught off guard hearing an unfamiliar voice approaching when it called out, “Adele?”
An old man shuffled into the room and her feelings shifted once more to gratitude as she stood up and greeted, “Bartlett! What brings you by?”
His eyes locked on me – predator to predator – but he attempted to deceive her by offering innocently, “Jason, of course. He called me last night and just couldn’t stop goin’ on and on about the new girl traveling with the king. Said she got the jump on him.”
‘Said she could be his younger sister by her looks.’
I watched as he replayed their conversation in his mind with a small smile playing on his lips, but his memories fogged over after he had hung up the phone. I attributed it to his advanced age. But when his thoughts shifted – apparently he viewed me as a fangbanger and easy prey – he then recalled fondly of how often he had violated the young girl Hadley, so I returned his smile.
Because I would get to hunt after all.
Children were untouchable – both in war and in peace. Something I would be sure to pass along when I touched him.
“Susannah?” the old woman asked and pointed to her soon-to-be-dead old man, adding, “This is my brother, Bartlett. Bart, this is Susannah.” She smiled weirdly and spoke through her teeth, saying, “She doesn’t speak English.”
“You don’t say,” he mused, licking his lips and picturing all of the ways that could work to his benefit.
His imagination wasn’t nearly as lethal as mine.
He was already plotting ways to lure me out of the house and into his car when the oaf walked into the room, saying, “Hey Uncle Bart! What’chu doin’ here?”
He plopped down into another chair and eyed me warily – so he wasn’t as dumb as he seemed – but he still looked dumbstruck when he heard the vile old man reply with, “I told you last night I would be stoppin’ by.”
“You did?” he asked, returning to his normal vacant expression. “When?”
“When you called me.”
“I did?” he asked and shook his head – I listened closely for the sound of loose marbles – before admitting, “I don’t remember.”
Thanks to my gift, I knew he wasn’t lying. But diving into the fray of his mind, I noticed his memories were littered with patches of fog too.
I couldn’t see beyond the fog, but I could deduce the likely scenario that brought it about.
Compton had known Master and I had left together the night before. Glamouring the humans to report back to him on the king’s affairs seemed probable and as the local sheriff, no one would question his presence or their contact with him. I hadn’t noticed it within the old woman’s mind, but he may have been leery with her, if he had known how much Master favored her.
Master didn’t exactly hide his affection for her.
But that didn’t tell me who Compton’s source was at the palace. And as much as I disliked Kitty, his thoughts on the side of the road after the assassination attempt had been accusatory towards me.
That I had planted the shooter.
If he had been in league with Compton, his thoughts would have differed and I would have heard it.
However, what I could hear now, made me lose my appetite. The old man was still picturing all of the things he would never have the opportunity to do to me. He came prepared with chloroform and plastic zip ties to bind my hands and feet.
It was what made my decision an easy one to not spare him any pain by knocking him unconscious before I removed both his hands and feet.
After I removed his most offensive appendage.
But keeping in character as the foreign fangbanger, I rose up from the table during a lull in their conversation and handed the old woman my plate with a smile. Using the accent Master’s voice adopted whenever he was truly angry, I purposely misspoke and said, “You’re welcome?”
“Yes,” she beamed kindly back at me, softening me towards her a little. “Please, thank you, and you’re welcome. Very good!”
Turning to the oaf, she said, “See? She doesn’t even speak our language and she’s still gracious.”
“I say grace!” was his defense.
I bet I would even best him in peeing my name into the snow.
But the old woman wasn’t so bad.
And her rapist brother wouldn’t be a nuisance for much longer either.
I couldn’t be seen leaving with him – already knowing how he was going to be found – so I quickly left the room and popped outside as soon as no one could see me. I spotted the old fool’s car parked by the side of the house, so I got in so I could activate my fairy GPS later on and got back out again, before disappearing once more to Master’s chambers upstairs.
Like any girl, I was trying to decide what to wear.
I could knock on his front door and give him the impression it was his lucky day.
Head to toe black leather?
I could knock on his front door and give him the impression it was my lucky day.
Dressed as I was when I first arrived at Master’s palace a week earlier, I sat on his bed and closed my eyes in meditation. First and foremost, I sought out the flicker of warmth telling me Master was fine. I had been keeping track of him since I’d left, but I managed to forge a tie within our tie. One that when pulled, much like a fisherman’s line, I would feel the tug and know I had to bite someone.
And then I would hold them down until Master was able to bite them literally.
I remained that way for some time, allowing myself to recharge, while listening to everything I could. But sensing the vulgar man’s thoughts – downtrodden because he couldn’t locate me after searching the house – I tuned back into what was going on outside and tracked his mind as he drove away. I grabbed my neglected swords and strapped them to my back before popping off after him, sticking to the trees Master and I had played in the night before.
He didn’t drive nearly as fast as I had on my first night there, so when he turned down a road I hadn’t traveled to before, I easily kept up by running just out of sight.
Being of the Sky Fae, I was very attuned to the sun. From it I could tell we had been traveling south. Based on its location in the sky, I knew it to be nearly three o’clock in the afternoon.
Master would be rising soon.
I didn’t have long to play.
The further south we got, I noticed the trees went from green to fading into shades of red. It wasn’t as noticeable in the darkness of the night before, but I attributed it to the radiation contamination. The scent of swamp soon filtered through my nostrils and I could hear the running water of a tributary not far to the east.
And recalling the old woman’s sad thoughts, it gave me an idea of where I could dispose of his body.
If it was ever found no one would question missing pieces if there were alligators indigenous to these lands.
So I kept track of him with my gift, rather than my eyes, and ran forward in an easterly trajectory, finding the small river with ease.
I sensed the man had arrived at his destination, so he was already inside by the time I made my way to his hovel. The lawn was overgrown and the structure didn’t appear sound, but then neither was the mind of the owner.
He had no neighbors, so I did nothing to conceal my presence and strolled up to the front door, knocking loudly to announce my arrival. His look of confusion upon seeing me when he opened the door was quickly replaced with lust.
And then fear when I grabbed onto his withered neck and popped us back to the stream.
In a way what happened next reminded me of Master’s words from the night before because when we arrived, my feet were soon covered in piss. And I had knocked.
He would get a kick out of that.
My swords were overkill, for he was a simple and decrepit human. But beggars couldn’t be choosers and I really wanted to feel what it was like to slice through another being.
I learned if felt good.
His cries and screams were wasted on the trees, just as I was sure the girl Hadley’s cries and screams were wasted on him.
But I made sure to let him know I had heard her and this was his penance.
The whole ordeal didn’t last very long. I could tell his heart would give out long before I could have any real fun, but I made the effort to inflict as much pain as possible before he moved onto wherever it was child predators went in the afterlife.
Perhaps it was an alligator farm.
I had just kicked his body into the water and was doing the same with the pieces I’d cut off of him when I felt my forged tie within our tie. Only instead of a tug, it felt like I’d hooked the Lock Ness Monster.
And Nessie reeled me right back to his chambers within the palace, teeth bared and swords held high, so I could slay the monster who dared to threaten my king.
The price to be paid for this transgression would be much higher.
And I was more than prepared to collect.