Chapter 8 A Walk in the Rain
This Story is rated 18+ and is for mature readers only.
When she came out of the bedroom, Jon wolf-whistled in approval. “Lovely,” he smiled at her. “Now, with an umbrella, the fair lady is ready to mount her trusted steed.”
“What?” Ellen grinned at him as he helped her into a coat and grabbed the umbrella out of the closet. Pulling on his jacket he backed up to her and held his arms down and away from his body.
“You mean piggy back?” her voice sounded a bit dubious.
“Indeed I do,” he turned his head and smiled at her. “Let us away, so that Gilly may start the rumors about us. They shall be most delicious. My people need new dirt to dish about me.”
“Most delicious dirt,” she snorted as she laughed. “He has hooked up with a woman old enough…”
“Do not,” he said turning his head, his voice solemn, his face in neutral as he placed his forehead on hers. “I am having fun. I have not,” he stressed, “had any fun since before I was crowned.”
“Oh,” her voice was very quiet. “Then we shall give them all exceptionally delicious dirt,” as she kissed each cheek and then lightly on the lips.
“That’s better,” he smiled at her, one that came from his soul and filled her heart.
Exiting out to the front porch, Ellen locked it and then put her arms around Jon’s neck. His arms tucked under her knees and off they went through with the umbrella out, opened and covering both of them.
The minute he stepped down onto the sidewalk, she knew this was the right thing to do. “There is something very peaceful about the rain,” she sighed as he walked them through her neighborhood. They would both smile at folks and she would wave when she saw one of her own coming out to collect the paper, retrieve a trash can, or walk their dog.
Oh, there would be talk all right…she grinned to herself and at that moment Jon turned his head up to hers. Giving him a kiss, he smiled at her and continued on as the happy couple passed those on the street that grinned back at them.
They talked about everything. She gave him her version of the history that went with each building they passed. There was the bank that was too ugly for words and that was why the neighbors in the 1920’s had built a ten foot fence around it one night. Then there were the old homes that had been saved and turned into Doctors’ offices.
They turned a corner and St. Michael’s Hospital loomed up in front of them. They were still a half-mile away and she found that she did not want the moment to end. Her arms around his neck, holding the umbrella that was holding back the elements, this felt right. Her face pressed into the side of his while they talked. His heat pushing into her while her heat pushed back. She felt valued, again. A significant part of something more than just herself. That was funny, she was holding an umbrella and keeping the rain off and she felt like part of a team. “Shit,” she bit her bottom lip. “It does not take much…to…to…”
“Why did you sigh?” he turned to look at her.
“We will be there, soonest. This is really nice,” she kissed him. “I had forgotten how nice it is to be intimate with someone. Talking, admiring the rain with you. Just doing something as simple as holding this umbrella…team work…” she fought back the tears. “You know, you walking us there,” she cleared her throat and laughed, “and me keeping us dry.”
“Yes,” was all he said as he turned his face and kissed her hand. “We are going to come around to the other side and cut-in through the gardens. There is a road in back that takes me to my garage and then the elevator up.”
“All private,” she smiled as she laid her head on top of his.
“Oh yes,” he grinned. “Keeps the staff from gossiping worse than they do already.”
It was a quiet, companionable silence the rest of the walk as they admired the wet, colorful leaves that were still on the trees and those that had painted Picasso like pictures beneath their feet.
The gardens were lovely. Pansies were everywhere and the mums were still in full bloom. “So restful,” was all she said as they walked past empty tables and benches that echoed of lives that had once sat there, admiring the beauty before they passed on from this life.
“There are haunts, here,” she said as she watched an elderly gentleman smoke his pipe.
“Yes,” he nodded, he voice hushed. “A place of refuge for the dead, living and those that are dying. The patients that are terminal, they are given the option to be brought out here to die and may be joined by their loved ones. To include their pets. Most are delighted to do so. All though, there are times when their families are not thrilled with the idea. But we roll them out and if a family member is thoughtful enough to bring the patient’s animal, they get up on the bed with them and they pass from this life surrounded by those things that brought them joy in this life.
One patient,” he laughed, “our very dear Miss Katherine comes to mind. She was an exceptional older woman who had a martini every day at five with her friends. On her final day, sure enough, at four forty-five in walks seven ladies dressed to the nines. Hats, gloves, and fur stoles.
They all sat outside under the pecan and helped Miss Katherine on with her hat and gloves and a fox stole. One of them brought a shaker full of gin with a little vermouth, another the glasses and someone the olives. Miss Katherine, she liked hers dirty. One was mixed especially for her. Her friends saluted her and they sat and talked about their last bridge game together. Apparently Katherine had bid very low and was still catching hell for it.
When she finished her second drink, she sat her glass down, wished them all well and then died.
I did not tell you that to make you cry,” they had arrived at the garage entrance and he sat her down and held her in his arms. “I told you that so that you would understand. Your husband and son were not alone when they died. There was a great and glorious multitude to welcome them home. Fellow warriors who stood with them and watched over them those final moments before their spirits left their bodies.”
“So why,” she wiped her eyes and sniffled. “Why is that older man still here?”
“He is waiting on his wife,” he carefully ran his thumb under her eyes. “She is terminal. Cancer. He comes outside to smoke. She fusses at him if he lights up in her room. Men,” he sighed, “we just cannot seem to catch a break. Even in death,” he sighed even bigger, “she is still chewing on him.”
Laughing, she wrapped herself around him. “Truly?” she hugged him that much tighter.
“Truly,” he lifted her face to his. “They are a cute couple. They both like to dance. If you pass by her room often enough, you’ll see her out of bed and the two of them doing the fox trot.”
“What an amazing life you have lived, Jon,” was all she could think of to say.
“Well,” he grinned at her as he took the umbrella from her and closed it. “It is now.”
Punching in his code, the garage door came open.
“Bat cave,” she chuckled as they step inside and the door came down and he turned on the lights so she could see.
“Oh my,” she laughed out loud. “It really is a bat cave!”
“What?” Making a hissing sound she heard him say something about women and their lack of appreciating oils stains and the smell of motor fuel. “No,” he shook his head vehemently, “it is a garage,” he stressed.
Ellen was shaking her head at the obvious man’s space she had just entered and was chuckling. Tools of every sort were neatly hanging on one wall. There was an actual grease monkey pit that you could walk down into for anything to be done under the car. Looked like a professional grade garage to her. “Anyone who has a new BMW, an old Mercedes convertible roadster, and is that a Rolls? Seriously, you are re-building that VW camper van? They still make parts for that? And in that corner,” she pointed with her head, “that looks to be a Harley just sitting there like it just does not give a fuck. You are going to have to do something a bit more scary, rich boy, than hiss to make me stop with the bat cave comparisons. Besides, you could actually shift to bat and hang upside down in here, right?”
“That’s it,” he eyed her.
“Am I shoveling too much bat guano for you?” she snickered, her body shaking as she gave way to a full-out whoop of laughter!
Jon had her in his arms and they were flying up an empty elevator shaft and she was squealing all the way. Hovering, he opened the scrolled metal doors and deposited her on the floor while he stepped out and closed the gate.
“So, admit it,” he grinned, “that was scary, right?”
“Once I catch my breath,” she laughed, “can we please do that again?”
“Pbbllttt!” blew past his lips. “You are here in my lair, at my mercy,” he growled at her. “Elevator shafts are not supposed to excite you. However,” his eyes became narrow slits, “I’ll take it if that is all I can get.”
Stepping close to her he bent his head down and kissed along her neck. Bringing his head up and looking in her eyes he asked, “Is that all I can get, Ellen?”
“M-m-m-m,” she raised her face to his for a lingering kiss. “I am beginning to see the reason for a full skirt. As we proved walking over here, I can certainly wrap my legs around you with it on.”
“Most excellent,” Jon ran his hands down her arms. “Let me help you with your wrap and then with a few other things as well.”
Sex with Jon…Jon and sex…Jon…just Jon…she could see where this was going; she would over analyze this to death. Oh ha ha…she sat here watching death. Would he have initially been interested in her if she had not looked like Drust? No. Would she had considered him if he had not looked like Charles. No. And yet here she was and she was fascinated. And flattered. And flabbergasted at times.
Sitting comfortably on his bed, she observed him getting dress. “Nice suit,” was all she said as he pulled a black pinstripe out of the closet. “Will you wear the vest, please?”
“Of course,” he replied as he pulled on a white shirt. “How about picking out a tie, please, while I find the belt that goes with this.”
You could tell a lot by the way a man dressed. Charles had a certain rhythm to putting on his uniform. There were no wasted movements. When the boots were laced, and the laces tucked into the boots, he was dressed for the job at hand. Hoo-a-ah! Let us to war!
Jon was the same way. Neat, precise, and meticulous. On went the briefs, t-shirt, slacks, shirt tucked into the briefs, pants zipped up, buttoned and then the belt. Vest, jacket, then socks, and the last thing on were the shoes. Well, not the very last thing. In the tie area of his closet, Ellen found exactly what she wanted.
Jon stood patiently while Ellen fixed his tie. “I like the colors on this City of Tulsa tie,” she grinned. “Plus, since it seems to be your capitol city, in a manner of speaking, I think it is appropriate that you should wear it tonight,” she wiggled her eyebrows at him.
“That was given to me as a Christmas gift from the staff,” he laughed. “I had forgotten about it. I have never worn it.”
“Well, then it is most fortuitous that it is present and accounted for,” she carefully looked him over as she adjusted the Windsor knot one more time. “You are most presentable.
How about me?” she batted her eyelashes at him. “Do I look all wrinkled and like I have been sexed up?”
“Indeed you do,” he grinned. Then he was very serious. “That is a very good look on you. Very becoming.”
She smiled despite, herself. Was he charming? Well hell yes!
Well yes, sex with Jon. It could distract you from anything. But there were questions that had been gnawing on her and it was time for business. Sitting down on the bed, she patted the place next to her. “Is it safe to talk here?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “We cannot be overheard. I know you have questions. And concerns. And if you do not, you should.”
“Who has been watching you?” she asked, her voice serious.
“I don’t know yet,” he picked up her hand and kissed it. “I am hoping to find out more from Gilly. But it was no coincidence that they killed that young woman last night. They knew I would be riding shotgun with the EMTs and that the storm was coming. She delivered a message to me before she died. ‘He wants to eat your eyes.’”
“Eat your eyes,” Ellen was thoughtful. “Crows like the soft tissue. First thing they will go for on a dead anything is the eyes.”
“How long has Clive been hanging with you?” he asked.
Shrugging, she grew thoughtful. “Oh-h-h,” she sighed. “I see your point. Well drat. I would hate for it to be him.
However, let me count back. Last Christmas he brought me a bit of broken silver chain. The Christmas before that, the front torn off a Christmas card that was all glittery. The Christmas before that, he left me a peanut in a shell and the Christmas before that he brought me a screw with the nut still on it. I needed one to fix my storm door. It was perfect for the job.”
Jon said nothing, just stared at the fire.
“Jon?” she laid her hand on top of his.
“I got here four years ago. Around Thanksgiving. Your walking route takes you past the hospital, correct?”
“Yes,” she replied, not at all liking where this was going.
Jon continued on. “Through the ages, from time to time I am always being watched by someone. That is just a fact of life. While spying on me, they saw you. They are old enough to have recognized that you are a doppelganger for Drust.”
“You think it is Clive? Well fuck,” she sighed.
“Could be he is a shifter or is an old one. Or,” he stressed, “he just might be a crow and has admired you for years before he made his feelings known and is just enamored of you.
However,” his voice was steel, “we both showed up at the same time and I don’t believe in coincidence.”
“Well, me neither,” she frowned. “But I really don’t want it to be Clive,” she said looking at Jon with a long face. “However,” she blew out a lot of air from her mouth, “I guess I can put a silver bullet in his head if it is required. I need to make some more of those,” she squished up her face and frowned.
“Well, we will try,” Jon thought to pacify her, “and keep that good thought that Clive is not The Watcher. It could be someone who impersonates Clive when he is not around. That would be easy to do. There are a lot of crows at your house. It would be simple enough. Just fly in, watch for Clive to leave and then roost on top of the roof and do Clive type things. You can hear perfectly through those chimneys. If that is the case, The Watcher for sure knows that we are lovers. And maybe The Watcher is the one who brought you the gifts. You said the bolt and nut fixed your door. Maybe he is the one who took it out.”
“Well ick,” she replied and made a face and sat staring at nothing. Rubbing her forehead she shifted her attention to Jon. “But that still could be Clive,” she said disgusted. “You think you have a friend…” her voice trailed off, then picked up a bit louder. “Fucking dead people, and old ones and crows that lie to you! Why can’t folks just stay dead, stay home and stay as crow,” she hissed. “Just fuck…” she kicked the imaginary Watcher that she had pinned to the floor with the imaginary lightning bolts that were coming from her eyes. “This Watcher…” she spit out. “Could they have made my intestine explode?”
“No,” he shook his head. “No…” and then he became thoughtful and she saw the claws appear on his fingertips.
“Oh shit,” she hissed. “What?”
“You have a small garden behind your house…”
“Well yes, this is Oklahoma. Everyone has a small garden. You know, tomatoes, a little stand of corn, cucumbers, a few green beans. Fresh things to eat during the summer. I don’t plant enough to can.”
“What would you have harvested that first week of September?”
“The only thing I was really picking then was the last of the strawberries. I ate them all week. Had them on everything.”
“Fieldhearts,” he muttered under his breath.
“What?” she asked, leaning in to hear.
“Pardon,” his voice was soft as he addressed her. “That was the healer and not the doctor, speaking. Strawberries. We call them Fieldhearts. Well fuck…” he ran his hands through his hair and his fangs dropped and his pupils shifted to a diamond shape. “That explains a lot. They needed something that represents the human body. A strawberry could be considered heart-shaped and called forth to represent the human heart, or your soul. There is some poetic license there, but that could work. They sprinkled the powder on those. You would eat one or two while you picked?”
“Yes,” she nodded absently mindedly, thinking back on that first sunny, warm week of September. She was barefoot and the ground was still warm despite the cooler nights and she was so pleased that there were still strawberries. “They taste their best right out of the field…” then the pleasant thoughts were gone.
“I…was…poisoned…!” she said slowly and with venom.
“Yes,” there were now longer claws at the end of his fingers. “They sprinkled powdered Drewery on them. You were sitting out front on the porch. Next to the rosemary when you had the attack,” the tight smile on his face was not reflected in his eyes. Death lurked there.
“Yes,” she nodded. “How do you know that?”
“The fragrance from the rosemary would have excited the Drewery to commit murder. These two herbs are mortal enemies.”
“What?” Her attention was fully engaged as she envisioned her tomato plants storming the rows of onions. “They war?”
“Sorry, more healer speak.” He made an effort to relax. Anger was overtaking him. So, this had been planned all along. Fuckers! Dead fuckers! “A better example is needed. M-m-m, in your yard, you would not plant tomatoes where there had been roses.”
“Oh-h-h,” she nodded in understanding.
“The Drewery, which is an acid based water plant with a fucked up pH is dusted on an alkaline strawberry that is also plump with water. This combination reacts violently to rosemary and started a chain reaction, like with a pressure cooker blowing out through its release valve. All that energy had to go somewhere so it punched through your intestine. Who ever the fuck it was that did this, knew what they were doing. Of course that could be anyone in my family. The Twillards, they are not only exceptional liars, but they all know their way around the herb section of your local green grocer. Of course Drewery does not grow around here so someone walked in with that,” he rumbled as he absent-mindedly raised her hand to kiss. It was fascinating to watch his face. He was running the numbers and several other things at the same time. About his lips lurked a nasty smile and the tips of his fangs. His pupils were still shaped like diamonds. That look that he now wore, that would take some getting use too.
“Well,” he was thoughtful as he kissed her again, “this also shall come to light. We are moving on. I am going to make you a tonic and you shall drink it every morning. Anyone tries that shit again, it will not affect you but it will seek out the one who thought to hurt you and do much worse to them.”
“Woof!” she eyed him. “Really?”
“King,” he grinned as he swept her up and they headed toward the kitchen. “And I am going to prepare a special tonic for myself, as well. I am hungry for a rare steak and a beer.”
“I thought you would rather not exploit that side of your kingship,” she eyed him.
“There are exceptions to every rule,” he said sweetly. “We are going to make a statement, you and I,” he smiled at her and fluttered his eyelashes. “They are all going to understand what I could not do for Drust, I am going to do for you. I suspect it will get exceptionally ugly and unpleasant for someone or ones before this is all said and done. They knew about you before I did. That just pisses me off. I have been here for four years and did not see you.”
Shrugging she said, “I walk my route at around nine. You are tucked in someplace either sleeping or working in the bat cave.”
Arching his eyebrow at her and mouthing ‘bat cave’ with mock disdain, she smiled and continued. “And I don’t really go out at night. Once the sun goes down, I am normally home. Vampires and all that, don’t ‘cha know. So of course you would not see me and I would not have seen you.”
Jon kissed her nose and set her down. “So maybe I should be grateful to this soon to be dead person for bringing us together,” he smiled brightly.
“That would do for starters,” she grinned as he opened a set of French doors in his kitchen and began going through his walk-in spice pantry. Wow! Sniffing, her nose was assaulted by smells of the forest and…and…her eyes went everywhere!
Even in the shadow of death, she could see where these dried plants held life. That a droplet from a sneeze would revive them! There were desiccated plants that still held their true color and form! They were hanging from beams in the ceiling and were stored in bottles setting on shelves of all shapes, sizes and colors. These were things from his world. His home. At one time, they had provided his livelihood. His Drust had taught him their ways so that he might survive and thrive.
There were feelings of gratefulness churning around inside of her for this woman. Forever she would be indebted to Drust who had loved him more than her own life. That was easily understandable. She had killed for him also and would gladly do so again.
These that stood against him were evil. Vile. And at that moment she knew that this was not personal for them and that they did not care if it was her that they hurt. Anyone would do. As long as they could cause Jon to bleed in the process.
Well fuck that. They wanted her dead…those stupid fucks should have taken that shot while they had it. She had a formidable weapon and his name was Jon. When it came to Supernaturals, Magics, Old Ones, just pick a name; if they wanted to hurt Jon, they could just all lie down and die! Was she a bloodthirsty bitch? Well yes, turns out she was. Just might as well step right on out there. “But I still want them dead for exploding my insides,” she said with conviction.
“And so it shall be, fair lady,” he bowed as he took down the blender. “They shall be the finest sort of dead.”