LM yawned and stretched out his arms.
Jeff noticed. “You can go sit down in the chair if you’re tired. I’m fine.”
LM yawned again.
“I mean it. Sit down or I’ll knock you down.”
LM sat down.
Jeff sighed and turned his attention back to Missy. Her mouth was still in motion, forming endlessly voiceless words. He had asked the nurses about it. They’d said that it was a normal part of the waking process, which meant it was a good sign.
He held on tight to that belief that it was a very good sign.
She would wake up.
She would be fine.
She would remember him.
She wouldn’t forget.
“Tessa. Tessie, I’m still here. I don’t know what you normally like to read. Maybe you like the classics. Maybe you prefer modern fantasy novels. Maybe you like stories about aliens and monsters. Or maybe not. I don’t know.”
Jeff watched her track some great unknown behind her eyelids. “I have another book I’m going to read to you.” He chuckled half-heartedly. “It might be a little too on the nose for the situation we’re in, but what can you do?” He picked the book off her blanket. “It’s called ‘The Vampires of Madison County’ by….uhhhh.” He narrowed his eyes at the long name. “I’m probably going to mispronounce this. The author is Av-ro-do-shi-ni-ah…uhhh…There’s a whole bunch of C’s and Z’s and Q’s and W’s after that. I’m going to call the author Avrodoshini and leave it at that.”
He opened to the first page and cleared his throat. “The vampire stood on the bridge and wondered what would happen if he jumped. Would he die? Could vampires drown? Would he drown? Was it worth the fear to jump and find out?
He wasn’t a very strong swimmer. So, what would happen if he didn’t drown? He wasn’t fully sure if he wanted to find out.
But he stayed on the bridge.
He looked down at the rushing water.
The way the water crested.
The sound of its roar.
Such a strange voice, alluring in its darkness.”
“ra…v…en…” Missy’s voice was a faint rasp.
Jeff raised his head. “Tessa?”
The muscles in her eyelids twitched.
He dropped the book, not even caring where it fell.
Her eyelids struggled to open.
Jeff grabbed onto the bed rail. “Tessa?”
“ra…rav…” Her eyelids rose up.
He let out a cry that was so loud LM scrambled up to his feet. The half-fey glanced around in a panic.
Missy slowly turned her head and made eye contact with him. “Dad.”
“My baby.” He pulled out his cell phone and thrust it at LM. “Call Raven. Now.”
Robin ran out of the banquet room and ran down the hall.
“Sir! Sir! Wait!”
Robin stopped and turned around.
Raven ran up to him. “I assume you will be taking the train to Henspence.”
“Yeah. Gotta go.”
“Of course, sir, but do you have money for a ticket?”
“No, but that ain’t all that big a deal. I was plannin’ to sneak aboard and—-”
Raven’s eyes glinted dangerously. “No, sir. I will not have you be a railway hobo.”
“You heard me, sir.” Raven pulled out his wallet. “Besides, I believe that modern railway stations have protocols and precautions set in place to prevent stowaways.”
Robin sighed. “You’re prob’lly right.”
“Of course, sir.” He pulled out his credit card from his wallet and handed it to the younger vampire. “I am entrusting you with my credit card. Do not lose it. Do not go to upper class bazaars and go insane buying the most expensive items available.”
“Tch. Stupid Raven. You’re talkin’ to me, remember? I ain’t no fancy stuff like you.”
Raven winced. “That is true, sir. You do wear slacks with holes in them.”
“Oh, for cryin’ out…” He swiped the card out of Raven’s hand. “I swear, I ain’t never seen anyone get so mentally stuck before.”
Raven scrutinized the front of Robin’s tuxedo as he said, “Before I leave, I want to be sure that you have our phone numbers, sir.”
“Why? If I need help, I can just holler.”
“All the same, you are returning to Mark Caten’s base. He may have ways of blocking that method of communication.”
Robin shrugged. “True enough.” He put the credit card in his jacket pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He handed it to Raven.
The red-eyed vampire tapped the screen and winced again. “You left your phone on, sir. That will drastically drain the battery.”
“Duh.” Robin pulled the charger out of his pocket. “That’s why I brought this thing along.” He stuffed it back in.
“Oh, good.” Raven went into Robin’s contacts. He nodded in approval.
“Hey. While you’re in there, add this one to my list.” He handed him Sammy’s phone number.
“Very good, sir.” Raven obligingly entered the information.
Robin shook his head. “I ain’t gettin’ it.”
“I beg your pardon, sir?”
“You and Ambrose are like ancient geezers.”
Raven stiffened his posture. “I may be over a certain age, sir, but I do not consider myself to be ancient or a geezer.”
“Yeah, yeah, ‘course you don’t. Ain’t my point. You and Ambrose are loads older than me, but you ain’t got no problems workin’ modern tech stuff. But Ambrose has this weird antagonistic relationship with technology.”
Raven sighed. “I hardly know the reason why, sir. Perhaps it is due to difference in upbringing?”
Robin thought it over. “Nah, that can’t be it.”
“Perhaps it is one of those great mysteries that will never be unraveled.”
“Huh, now that sure sounds more like it.” He took the phone from Raven. “Tell Barb’ra I’m sorry I ain’t had a chance to tell her a proper g’bye. And tell her to take good care of Ambrose. He means a lot to me.”
Raven dipped his head in a slight bow. “I will do so, sir.”
Robin hugged him, catching him off guard. “Thanks for lettin’ ‘sellta and me stay at your place. I ‘ppreciate it.” He released him and resumed his run down the restaurant’s hall.