Chapter 11 – Thanksgiving and Threats

Vader wakes me by whimpering in my ear.  I roll out and pull on a robe so that I can take him downstairs.  As he did the night before, he only goes out far enough to be on the grass and then he does his thing.  He is moving very stiffly this morning so it takes a little while.  I look out at the yard while he’s trying to find a comfortable position.

Karl has done a good job removing the bits and pieces.  Other than the gazebo sides, the garden does not look like a madman went through it yesterday.  I miss the wolf statue but apparently it has gone home with the handyman for its repairs.  The snow has fallen to cover and soften the look of the entire yard.

Vader passes on scraping the snow in what we call “Big Bad Dog” behavior.  He walks past me and back into the house.  I scan the garden one more time and close the door, remembering to lock it.  Barn doors and horses.

I carry the dog up the stairs and set him on his pillow bed.  Zeke is still asleep so I tiptoe back out into the kitchen to start the tea pot.  I am standing next to the phone when it rings and after I have pulled myself off the ceiling from the surprise of it going off in my ear, I answer it.

“Hello?”

It’s Rhyssa.  “Oh Mattie, are you all okay?  Laurie called me and said that Zeke and Vader got hit by a car?  What happened?”

“I’m okay, and the boys are moving slow.  Zeke has a broken arm but Vader seems to be okay.  He’s just moving like an old man.  I think he’s more stiff than anything.”  I take a breath.

“Vader got out of the yard and we went after him.  Dumb dog hasn’t learned to look both ways before crossing the street.”

“Oh no!  Is there something I can do?  Do you need food or something…”  her voice trails off.  I can hear her talking to someone in the background.

“Rhyssa?  Are you there?”  I can only hear a dull murmur and can’t even tell if she’s talking to a man or a woman.

“Huh?  Oh, I’m here.  Is there something I can bring over?”  She has turned back into the phone.

“We don’t need anything.  I wasn’t hurt, so I’m playing nursemaid.  Who are you talking to?”

“Oh, no one.  I have to go.  Call me if you need me!”  And she hangs up before I can question her on the obvious lie.  I have to wonder what’s going on since Rhyssa has never had reason to lie to me before…at least, not that I know of.

I am also wondering why I felt such reluctance to give her more details…or to mention the yard, when I look up to see Zeke standing in the doorway.

“Who was on the phone?”

I tell him about the conversation and my hesitation to fill her in completely on all the gory details.  He nods as he hobbles over to the sofa.

“She is feeding that information to someone else and I would suspect that it’s Lord Kiss My Ass.  He probably wants to hear how furious I am about the yard.  Bet he’s puzzled now that you didn’t even mention it…unless that was him in the car—and now he’s mad that I’m not dead.”  A groan escapes his lips as he gently lowers himself onto the cushions.

I take his tea over to him.  “I thought we agreed that he wasn’t driving.”

“Probably not, but stranger things have been known to happen.  Keep playing up on the idea that you are having to nursemaid me.  Don’t accept food from any of that crowd, don’t let them come over.  Feign guilt if you have to…I was running after YOUR dog, and got hurt and you feel dreadful, you couldn’t let anyone else take care of me…”  His voice trails off as he looks at me.  I am standing there, crying as if my world has ended.  “Mattie?  Mattie!? Why are you crying, hon?”

“You WERE running after my dog, it WAS my fault…” I can’t say any more as the tears choke me.

Zeke moves helplessly towards me but I kneel down between his legs to lean against his chest.  He strokes my hair with his right arm, and wraps the left arm around me.  I feel the cast against me and cry harder.  He makes wordless noises of comfort at me but the horror of the accident and the guilt that is totally unfeigned overwhelms me and I cannot stop the waterworks.

“Mattie, honey.  Please.  Please stop crying.  Honey, it’s not your fault.  You didn’t do anything.  Please stop crying.  You’re getting my chest wet.”

This makes me giggle and that breaks the crying.  I snuffle and sniff, getting myself back under control.  He reaches out behind me to hand me the tissues.  I blow my nose, and then dry off his chest.  He catches my hand to his body and I look up to see his loving and beloved face tilted down at me, with tender eyes and a smile on his mouth.

“Mattie, you do not need to feel guilty about this.  That car was not your fault.  The garden is not your fault.  You’re just not the root cause of all evil in the world.  Let go of it.”

I take a deep breath.  “Zeke.  I love you so much.  Seeing you fall and lay there…and Vader…oh gods, if you hadn’t pushed him, Vader would be dead.”  I have to stop before the tears shoot out again.  Zeke keeps stroking my hair and I settle again.

“But he’s not dead, and I’m not dead.  And we’re going to stay NOT dead.  So promise me that we will only eat what you fix—or buy in a very public restaurant.”

“Do you think…that they…or HE…will try again?”  I don’t even like that thought.

“Doesn’t matter.  We aren’t going to let it happen.  Whoever has done this, even if there’s more than one—well, they’ve made a bad mistake by not doing it completely the first time.  We’re warned now and can protect ourselves.”  His face is grim and I’m so glad that it’s not me that he’s thinking of.  “I’ll bet you’ll let me get the security system extended out to the property line now, won’t you?”

“Hell, yes!  We’ll call them today.”

He looks at the clock and realizes how late it is.  “How’s come you aren’t downstairs?  It’s past opening time.”

“I closed the shop for today and tomorrow.  I can close it the rest of the week if I need to.”  He starts to argue with me but I put my hand over his mouth.  “And I won’t change my mind.  I need to be with you, and it’s not fair to ask Vader to guard me when he’s so sore.”

His eyes widen and he looks at the dog.  I move my hand so that he can talk.  “Okay, okay.  But you will be open tomorrow.  He and I will sit down there with you, it’ll be fine.”

I don’t say anything but I figure if I can find some nice sleepy-time herbs to put in his tea, he’ll sleep late again tomorrow.

We spend the day watching old movies on TV.  I push pain pills into Zeke and Vader, who both put up a struggle.  At least I can hold the dog and push his pills down his throat.  Even with a cast and that bruise slowing him down, I would not try that with Zeke.  I end up using that old female argument: “Do it for me, please!”

He sends me downstairs for some herbs to help healing and I take the chance to search for something that will make him sleep.  I am making faces at the smell of the valerian when he shuffles into the kitchen.  He sniffs and then stares at me.  I know that my face is burning and I look about as guilty as I am.

“Trying to dope the dope?  I don’t think so, Mattie.”  He comes around and takes the damning evidence out of my hand.  He glances at the label, nods, and then puts it back in the apothecary cabinet.  “I want to heal things, not sleep my life away.  And the shop WILL be open tomorrow.”

I don’t even try to change his mind.  When he uses that tone, I know that there is only one answer to give and I say it.  “Yes, sir.”

He grins and pulls me to him.  “I love it when you’re all submissive and polite, like a good little girl.  There is a method to my madness, m’dear.”

“Oh? You mean other than pushing yourself too hard and not giving your body a chance to heal?”  I can’t help the catty tone.

“I can’t seem to be as hurt as I am, Mattie.”  He ignores the nagging in my voice.  “I don’t want John Robert to think that he has affected me in any way.  I can’t do anything about the cast, but I will not have him think that I am incapacitated.”

I can only imagine what would happen if John Robert tried to do anything at all—cast or not, Zeke would die before he would let that man near me.  I feel guilty again.

He continues.  “I don’t seek out teaching someone their life lessons, but it’s time John Robert learns that no means just that, NO!  It’s time that he finds out that he cannot have everything that he wants, when he wants it.  And if he comes near you again, I will do more than put him in a cast.”  I shiver at the dread promise and hope that I never have to see it fulfilled.

I gather up the herbs and help Zeke back upstairs.  We brew a tea for him with them and he sips at it all evening.  I even help him wrap the cast in plastic so that he can soak in a hot tub for a while.  I help him wash him and then pat him dry, trying not to hit the bruise—and trying not to cry because it looks so dreadful and painful.  He never says a word or draws a breath to indicate that I have hurt him.

Once we are done, he shuffles slowly into the bedroom and eases himself between the covers.  I lie down next to him and don’t fall asleep until after I hear him breathing evenly and know that he’s already in Morpheus’ arms.

When I roll over in the morning, he is already out of bed and I can hear him clanking things in the kitchen.  I get up and pull on my clothes and go out to join him.  He kisses me and I notice that he is moving a little easier today.

“Those herbs worked, huh?”

“That and the hot bath.  I feel almost human today.”  He hands me a cup of tea.  “I have already taken massive doses of painkillers, so you don’t have to bitch about that.”

“Okay, I won’t.  Thank you for taking them.”  I try not to sound hurt but apparently it doesn’t work.  He looks up from the chopping board and I lift my chin.

“I’m sorry, I know you aren’t bitching.  And I would hurt and really be a bear if I didn’t take them.”  He holds out his arms and I go over to him.  He folds me into a hug and kisses my forehead.  “Look at me.”

When I do, he kisses my lips.  How can I stay mad at someone who kisses so nice?

We eat and then head downstairs.  I flip on lights as I go to open the shutters.  If you didn’t know him, you would think that Zeke is just fine, but I can tell by the way he moves that he is still in some pain.  He opens the front door and takes down my homemade “closed” sign, then flips the official one over to “Open”.  He takes up his position at his desk, and Vader curls up at my feet.

The morning is slow and I feel like we’re just waiting for something to happen.  The few customers that do come in are not familiar faces and they do more looking then buying.  I putter in the living room, moving the seasonal stuff and trying to decide if it’s too early to put up Yule items.

Zeke has the computer turned on and running, but he hasn’t typed anything in a while.  He sips from the thermos of tea we brought down and stares out at nothing, looking very thoughtful.

There are a few people in the shop and we’re talking about lunch when the door opens and the chimes ring.  Vader has raised himself straight up and is growling audibly, every bit of fur on end.  Zeke is also rising as I step to the entryway and see John Robert standing there.  At least I know what we were waiting for.

Vader moves between him and me and I am more than aware of Zeke standing behind me, even before his arms come around me to hold me against his body.  I am startled to realize that he is trembling and I don’t know from what—pain or anger.  John Robert looks at the cast and then his eyes slide up to look at me.  I try not to move but I want to run away.  I am horribly afraid.  He stares at me for a long time and then, finally, looks at Zeke.

“Looks like you had an accident.  How’re you doing, son?”  The voice is positively oily.  He takes another step in, ignoring the noticeable change as Vader steps his growling up a notch.  Not too smart for a man who has been bitten once already.  “Heard you were closed yesterday.  Doing some—yard work?  I was surprised to see the store open as I was riding by.  Thought I’d come in and see…”

His voice trails off, and I do not turn to look at Zeke’s face but I know it must be awesome if it has made John Robert shut up.

When he speaks, Zeke’s voice is terrifyingly calm.  “I’m doing just fine, John Robert.  We are both doing just fine.  And no, we weren’t working in the yard.  Should we have been?”  He takes a deep breath.  “We don’t need your concern so don’t stop in to check on us.  Ever.”  He takes another deep breath and each word he says gets a little louder and more emphatic.  I don’t know how he manages to do this without shouting.  “Get.  Out.  Of.  My.  House.”

John Robert’s face flickers with something like surprise at Zeke’s blatant denial of the damage in the yard.  Since the only people who should know about it are Karl, us—and the person who did it, I have to wonder why he is apparently owning up to the act.  He gets himself under control and tries again.

“Seems to me that I might not be here to see you, son.  I might be here to see her.”  And he points at me.

I find my voice and like Zeke’s, it’s preternaturally calm.  I don’t know how I am managing such a feat considering my knees are shaking and my heart is pounding, but I deliver my lines like a pro.

“He speaks for me as well.  And do not mistake it for good training.  I am telling you: get out, John Robert.  Get out of OUR house and out of OUR lives.  I do not want to see you again.  Ever.”

He looks around to see the fascinated faces of the few customers we have and he reddens to an even darker shade once he realizes that there are witnesses.  He opens his mouth, then closes it and turning on his heel, storms out.  Vader runs up to the door, barking his version of the eviction edict Zeke and I have both given John Robert.

I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.  Zeke is still holding me and I can feel the slump in him as he also relaxes.  He leans heavily onto me and I turn to look up at him and almost fall out myself.  His face is chalky white and he is sweating.  I look around for a chair to put him on when one of the customers slides the desk chair from the living room under his legs and he pretty much collapses onto it.

As the man helps me get Zeke seated, he glances at the door that John Robert walked out of.  “Isn’t that the man who owns the real estate agency downtown?  Schmidt and Tisdale Associates?  ‘Where your heart is in our home’?”  He asks.  “Stupidest ad I’ve ever heard.”

“Yes it was.”  I don’t elaborate because I’m too busy trying to find out what’s wrong with my heart’s only love.  Zeke is leaning back in the chair and breathing deeply.  The color slowly seeps back up into his face and he opens his eyes to look at me.

He doesn’t say anything as I thank the man, who leaves without buying anything.  I can’t blame him as there’s too much drama to run home and tell the wife to even consider shopping.  All the other people have left as well, so I flip the sign to “Closed” and choose “for Lunch, will reopen” and set the time for two hours from now.

He doesn’t say anything as I walk back over to him and help him up.  We go slowly back upstairs and he still doesn’t say anything as he goes over to the sink and picks up the bottle of pain pills.  I can feel the anger rolling off of him and I hope that it is not aimed at me.  He pours several into his hand and swallows them.  He runs a glass of water and drinks it down.

“Come here.”  He turns to prop himself against the sink and holds his arms out to me.  I go over to be smothered by his hug.  “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For standing by me.  For standing up to him.  I know how hard that was.”

“It wasn’t hard and how could you doubt that I would ever NOT stand by you?  I can’t believe he as good as said it right out, that he smashed all the stuff in the garden.”

“He didn’t actually say it, but I agree he only confirmed what you and I were already thinking.  We need to call the security company and get them out here today if possible.  I also don’t want you going anywhere without me.  Do NOT go out with Rhyssa.  I know she’s your friend, but…I would not wish to test her friendship with you against her devotion to Lord Kiss My Ass.”

“What if we need food?”

“Get groceries delivered if we need them.  Or we’ll live off of whatever is in the pantry until I can go with you.”

I let go of him to find the phone number of our security people and call them.  They come out that afternoon and we are fortified out to the property lines.  Zeke spends over an hour with the technician, refining the system and getting some of the video leads into his computer here at home so that he can monitor any activity if he wants—or needs to check it out.  I tiptoe around him because it’s very clear that he is furious and it doesn’t seem to be going away.

The afternoon is slow enough that I feel no guilt when I close an hour early.  I figure anyone who wants anything that badly will come back tomorrow.  I shut things down and go back up into our safe haven.  Zeke has stretched out on the sofa and is watching the news on CNN.

“Close up, did you?”

“Yes.”  I walk out into the kitchen area.  “What do you feel like eating?”

“Pasta?”

I look through the choices and we agree on vodka cream sauce over cheese tortellini.  I start things cooking and then pour us each a glass of wine.  I decide to drink some of his chardonnay rather than open a new bottle of merlot.  I have used up what we had open making the stew…and calming my nerves.

I carry his glass to him and he pulls me down to sit next to him.  I take a sip and then ask him the question I’ve had all afternoon.  I figure if he’s mad at me, I’ll just have to tough it out.  “Zeke, why did you almost faint when he left?  Do you hurt that bad?”

“No.  I’m okay.”  He shifts and pulls me tighter against him.  “It was not pain.  It was being totally pissed and not able to go beat the shit out of him.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, since the cast gives you even more of an advantage.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I know it’s petty, but he fucked up my garden—MY garden—and then he thought he could come in here and rub it in my face that he took something away from me.  Especially since he isn’t getting you.”  I begin to breathe easier, realizing that his anger today has been directed at John Robert.

“You really messed with his head when you acted like nothing at all had happened.  Did you see his face?”  I can’t contain the wicked laughter that bubbles out and Zeke joins in.  “I’ll bet he’s still trying to figure it out.  And for what it’s worth, that was a much better way to deal with him than hitting him.”

Zeke looks thoughtful.  “But the hitting would have been sooooo satisfying.”

“For about two minutes, until the police came to arrest you for battery because you know that he would press charges.  And we can’t prove that he did a thing in the garden.  We managed to remove all the evidence, you know.”

“I know.  We probably should have reported it to the police, but I just couldn’t stand to see it like that for another minute.”  He sighs and I can sense the pain of that loss.  It tears me up to know that he hurts because of that bastard.

“At least we’ve got the security system all the way around the house and yard.  Until I can move a little easier and better yet, get this cast off…I just want us to be safe.”  He is holding my hand, and he lifts it to kiss the fingers.  Then he does something that startles me and fills me with awe at the amount of love this man has for me—he kisses the ring he has given me, and turns my hand over to kiss my palm.  He raises his eyes to mine and I melt.

“Zeke…”  I falter.  I’m not good at this; I don’t know how to tell him how much I love him and that I would die without him.  Oh, the body might go on moving, but my soul would shrivel up and leave.  “Zeke…You are…I want you to know…Oh hell, I don’t know how to say this!”

“Then show me?”  He leans back and I move around between his legs.  I kneel between them and begin kissing him.  Anywhere there is skin, I kiss it.  My hands slide under his shirt to rub his skin, to touch him and I let my love pour out through my hands.  I am thinking about him healing, being out of pain, being whole again as I kiss and touch.  I pull his shirt off and kiss him on his chest, at the exact spot over his heart.

I kiss his palm and then the fingertips.  I then slowly suck each finger into my mouth, licking it like an ice cream cone.  He groans and shifts his hips but I don’t stop.  I laugh, secure in the knowledge of my woman’s power to stir his blood.  I lick the webbing at the base of his fingers, flicking my tongue over it and then I bite the skin between his thumb and first finger.  I pull that first finger into my mouth and just lay the teeth on it, dragging them up the length and then sucking it back in.

I let go of his hand and kiss his neck, nibbling and licking my way to his chest.  I pay special attention to his nipples, like he did to mine just a few short days ago.  They shrivel and pucker as I lave them.  I work down his belly until I am stopped by the waistband of his jeans.  I use my teeth to unbutton and then unzip them and Zeke is breathing real funny by this time.

He is also very hard and straining against the material of his pants.  I know that it must hurt to remove them, but he doesn’t hesitate—when I begin to slide them off his hips, he moves pretty fast for a man with a bruise the size of Kansas on his ass.

I sit and admire his body.  He is beautiful all over and what we have just uncovered is no exception.  I begin to gently stroke it with my hands, using a light, feathery touch to watch it buck and sway as he responds to me.  He pulls all my hair back from my face, clumsily using his left hand to help gather it into his right…he wants to be able to watch what I am about to do to him.  I have waited almost too long as there is a not too subtle pressure on the back of my head from his hand, pushing my face towards him.

I take the hint, and teasingly, slowly, oh so slowly, slide my mouth over him.  He moans and his hips rock up but I move back.  There’s that hand again…I ignore it, taking my time, tasting him and taunting him.  This is not going to be a quickie.  I want to give him all the pleasure that I can, I want to surround him with my love so that he knows just how very, very dear he is to me.

I use my hands to cup him and hold him as my mouth makes love to him.  I rub his thighs and then slip my hands around his hips, being careful not to touch the bruise as I hold him tight against me.  My mouth moves up and down on him as I suckle and lick.

He moans and gasps, breathing hard as I bring him closer and closer to orgasm.  I feel his hand tighten, pressing me against his body, holding my mouth down on his erection and he grows even more in my mouth, getting harder as he reaches his climax.

He spends in my mouth, growling his pleasure as I swallow and continue sucking until he is done.  He shudders and half laughs, half groans as he lifts my head from his lap.  He pulls me up by my hair to his face, where he kisses me quite thoroughly.  He lets go of the hair to hug me against his body.

“I think I got what you were trying to say.”  He pants at me.  “I may forget sometimes so you’ll need to remind me.  Regularly!”

I grin at him and all is well with our world again.

I make some more of the herbal tea to help continue the healing process and he sips it as we watch TV.  Vader comes sniffing and decides that he will also have some, so we pour a bowlful for him.  I am only mildly surprised when he drinks it all up.  The phone rings a couple of times but we let it go to voicemail and the evening is peaceful.

He manages to scare me in the shower in the morning…and once I have recovered my wits, I try to surreptitiously check out his bruise only to have problems even seeing it.  I know that he heals fast, but this is ridiculous.

“What’s up?”  He says as I spin him around, making sure that I am looking at his left side and still not seeing the huge discoloration that was there only yesterday.

“How do you feel?”  I demand, not able to believe the evidence of my eyes.

“I feel fine.  Why?”

“Then where the hell is that mother of a bruise?”

“Ahhhh.  It’s almost gone.”  He points out one or two small areas that are still greenish.  “I feel pretty good today.  You took care of the bruise last night with your…umm tender ministrations.”

“You are not trying to convince me that a blow job cures bruises, are you?”

“Well, no, but you were actively trying to heal me, weren’t you?”

“Ye-es.  I did that?”  I have healing abilities, but I don’t think I have ever seen this quick a result.

“Would appear so.  Remind me not to piss you off, since I don’t want to go around saying ‘ribbit, ribbit’…isn’t that what you say to an angry witch?”  He grins as he watches the expression on my face as I try to assimilate the idea that I have mended him basically overnight.  “Between the herbs and your love, I am healing very nicely, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Do not think that you can go out and get more bruises for the same kind of treatment.”

“Damn.  There goes that idea.”

Down in the shop, it’s obvious that he is feeling much better and there is almost no pain for him.  He spends the day on the computer, updating our records and checking on inventory while I wait on the customers.  There is a steady enough stream of them that we make up for being closed all day Tuesday and early yesterday.

Late in the afternoon, Eric Adamson shows up to talk to him.  Zeke takes him into the library for over an hour.  It’s almost time to close up when they finally come out and Eric leaves.  Zeke murmurs that he will fill me in on their conversation over dinner as I am ringing up a sale.

Once we can close up, he makes a point of checking the security system.  He even tests Vader’s doggy door to see if it will set off the alarm when he needs to go out.  It doesn’t, which is what it’s supposed to do so we know that the Devil’s Spawn will be able to toilet himself from now on—as we’ve been escorting him these past few days.

Upstairs, Zeke begins to putter in the kitchen, trying to find us something for dinner.  He refuses any help from me so I sit on the bar stool and watch him.

“Eric wanted to know if we had any influence with Lord Kiss My Ass.  Apparently he hasn’t heard the latest news, since he was still going on the idea that we were joining the group with Brightest Blessings from that son of a bitch High Priest.”  He chops the onions a little harder than necessary.  “Eric is pretty torn up about not getting his initiation.  He doesn’t seem to care that Lilith is in BIG trouble because of their activities.  He just wants to figure out a way to get those fabulous robes and all the pomp and circumstance with the position of HP.”

“So what did you tell him?”

“You would have been very proud of me.  I didn’t scream or throw things, although I would have liked to have the minute he started spouting that bastard’s name.”  He is now chopping the carrots and if they were John Robert’s head, he’d be quite dead and in about a million pieces.  “I told him flat out that there was no way we would ever put ourselves under John Robert’s power.  He didn’t like that word, asked me if I meant guidance.  I told him no, I meant power.”

Zeke has put his finger right on the point of our hesitation to join the coven.  I indicate that he is to go on with the story.

“Eric tried some bullshit about John Robert being the father of the group et cetera, but I cut that short and basically put him straight.  I told him about that mother fucker” (and he is chopping quite energetically here, slamming the knife down with each word—and hard enough that I worry for the poor celery.  It will be pulp at the rate he’s going) “trying to have sex with you.  He tried to say that you had misunderstood.  You should have seen his face when I told him that neither of us misunderstood the dick in his hand.”

And I am sorry I missed that.  I know that Eric has had some level of hero worship for John Robert. I think Zeke has burst that bubble.

“He didn’t know what to say.  He babbled something about Great Rite, but I told him flat out that the HP had NO right to demand that rite as his due.  I told him that we didn’t believe in coercive sex, even if it was cloaked in spiritual terms.  I told him that I thought it was blasphemy to use that sacred an act as a way of getting one’s own rocks off.  I guess he’s heard at least some of the rumors because he said something about ‘Well, that explains…’.  I am afraid that I have opened his eyes to the kind of man he has been idolizing.”

“Poor Eric.  I’ll bet it was a big shock.”

“I think so.  He asked me if there was some other way to be initiated, like I could do something about it.  I told him to start his own group and declare himself HP if he thought he was ready.  That also shocked him.  They really haven’t been encouraged to think for themselves, I’m afraid.”

“Oh no, that might mean NOT thinking like John Robert wants them to.  Hell, they might as well be…”

“Be nice.  No bad talking about other religions, even if they seem silly to us.”

“I just don’t understand blindly following someone else’s word just because.”

“I know, my darling.  You are too independent in your thoughts to ever be told what to think.  I am, too.”  He blows me a kiss.

I return it.  “For which I am eternally grateful.  So what do you think Eric is going to do?”

“No idea.  I guess I rocked his safe and secure life.  I don’t like to shatter someone’s world view, but there is no way that Lord Kiss My Ass is going to make him an HP and there’s no way I can do anything about that.  I suppose I could have declared him HP then and there, but he wouldn’t have believed it.”

“No, he wouldn’t have.  Ahhh well.  It shall be interesting to see what comes of this.”

“Indeed.”  Zeke sautés the vegetables that he’s chopped so energetically and then throws some wine on top of them.  He adds the other ingredients and once it’s done, we eat.

I do the dishes while Zeke catches up on his news.  Vader helps put away the leftovers and then goes to sit with him while I am left to slave over the hot water.  I don’t mind, as it gives me a chance to think about all that’s happened in the past few days.  I am vaguely troubled by the fact that Rhyssa has not called and I wonder how involved she is with John Robert Schmidt.

The rest of the week is quiet, with no drama and none of the coven showing up at the shop.  I mark all the Samhain stuff half off and put out the Yule stock.  We do good enough business over the weekend that I have no qualms about closing up the next week to go out of town.  I do wonder who is going to bring in the paper when Zeke reminds me that he has stopped delivery for that week and that the security people will monitor the house while we are gone.  I can relax.

We have a wonderful time with his sister and her family.  They are surprised to see the cast on Zeke’s arm but accept our watered-down explanation about Vader getting out.  They make a big fuss over him and he gets very cocky.  He’s going to be a handful once we get home again.


Chapter 12 – A Father’s Right?

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