Part 1880 – Just Blurt It Out Already, Girl!

Sarah carried her dress outside in a long, plastic garment bag. It slipped and slid around in her arms as if it were desperate to hit the ground.

“I could carry that for you. ” Barbara said.

Flame tentacles sprouted out of the young girl’s back and whicked dangerously above her head.

Barbara raised her hands in the universal “Whoa! Calm down!” gesture. “Okay. It’s okay. I’m not going to take it from you. I was just asking.”

The tentacles reeled back under her skin.

Sarah didn’t really care for dresses. Give her a pair of clamdiggers and a cute t-shirt and she’d consider it a job well done. But there was something about this dress that hit her claimy, must protect it at all costs button. She was not going to let anyone else touch it.

Sarah grinned as she imagined Raven’s reaction to seeing her in such a pretty dress. He was going to be shocked and mind-blown. There were no doubts about it.

She couldn’t wait to see his reaction.

He would undoubtedly grin and clap his hands.

At least, that’s what she would do if she were him.

***

“A fully controlled XQ can be worth a lot of money if offered to the right people.” LM said.

Raven looked down at Missy. “I will never let that happen to you. No one will ever take you away from me again. I am here, Missy. I am here with you. I will protect you. I will keep you safe.”

LM sighed. “She’s an XQ. She doesn’t need your protection. She is fire.”

“I am aware of that, sir.”

“At any rate, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing her.” LM’s expression turned sad. “They’re gone. All gone. Capernaum. Carthage. Antioch. I don’t know about the others: Thebe, Cyrene, Bethsheba. So many others. I don’t know what happened to them.”

“Is there any chance…”

LM lost himself in memories of co-workers and trusted colleagues.

So many names and faces.

Sounds of laughter.

So many voices.

So many silenced.

A hand touched his shoulder.

A warm, comforting hand.

One he knew so well.

He didn’t look back.

He didn’t need to.

He knew who it was and he was content with just knowing.

“My dear friend.” LM said softly.

Raven said something at him.

LM returned to the land of the living and focused on Raven. “I’m sorry, but what?”

“I said, I asked you a question, sir.”

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.”

Raven raised an eyebrow. “Clearly. Is there any chance that the residual Institute members will come for Missy?”

LM shook his head. “It was common knowledge that no one was to touch Antioch’s XQ. She belonged to him.”

Jeff scowled.

“And when she left, she belonged strictly to Antioch’s master, a despicable vampire of low morals.” LM frowned thoughtfully. “I can only assume that would be you.”

Raven gaped wordlessly.

Jeff’s scowl lifted. He couldn’t help smirking. “A despicable vampire of low morals. Huh.”

Maelin chose that moment to enter the room.

***

Maelin’s mood brightened considerably when she saw Raven standing beside the bed. “Finally.” She resisted the urge to charge at him.

She walked instead. A leisurely walk. No obvious rush.

Nothing that betrayed the fluttering in her chest. “Raven.”

Raven regained his speech. “Miss.”

She stopped in front of him. “I need your help. Isellta needs your help.”

“I am listening.”

“Robin needs to come back with me now. Right now. Isellta’s life is hanging in the balance.”

Raven frowned. “I beg your pardon, but I do not understand. His life is hanging in the balance…What does that mean? What is going on? What…” His eyes glazed over.

No! Don’t blank out again!

She took a deep breath.

Just blurt it out.

“Isellta’s dying.”

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