Capernaum disappeared as soon as the three men left Missy’s room.
LM backed away from them. His feathers bristled uneasily.
“Well, well, well. Look at what we have here. The Fey Freak and he’s all alone.” The thug smacked the crowbar against his open palm. “I say it’s payback time. What do you say, boys?” Two other thugs stepped out of the shadows. Each one held a weapon.
They’re going to gang up on me. They’ll take turns hitting me and kicking me. Or maybe they’ll do it all at once.
“You turned into that Onokov jerk for my girl. You messed with her mind. You made her kiss you.” The thug raised his crowbar in the air. “Payback is gonna be super sweet.”
Or maybe just Jeff will do it. He doesn’t like me. He doesn’t trust me. I betrayed him. Why would he trust me?
Each blow hurt and stung, but his skin did not break. It didn’t tear. That small detail seemed to spur the thug on.
LM backed further away from them.
Jeff noticed. “It’s okay.” He held out his open palms to the half-fey.
It was not a reassuring gesture from LM’s point of view. He knew that the former hunter was nothing like that thug had been. Jeff didn’t need a weapon. He could hurt LM just fine with his bare hands.
His feathers rustled.
Jeff knelt and sat back on his feet. “I won’t hurt you. You don’t have to be afraid.” He spread his hands above his knees.
A teenaged couple walked past, talking on their phones. They barely gave the scene a passing look. They just went on their way.
The ring master towered over him. “I heard you picked a fight with a customer.”
LM shook his head. “It wasn’t like that. I didn’t do anything. They—”
He balled his large hands into fists. “Don’t contradict me, you freak.”
“I didn’t do anything.” LM whispered.
Except…I did. I betrayed him. Carthage tried to kill him and it was my fault. It was all my fault.
“I won’t hurt you. I promise. You and I are good, LM.”
His feathers flattened. “Do you mean it?”
“I do. You can trust me.”
LM looked over at the doctor and the vampire.
Can I trust them? Can I really trust any of them?
Can they trust me?
Raven stepped forward. “You have nothing to fear, sir.” He smiled and bared his fangs. “As long as you do not betray our trust.”
So, that is how it is. I can trust them as long as I am trustworthy myself. That makes sense. That is a good, straight line. No curves. No bends. Nothing disjointed.
“I understand.” LM walked over to Jeff and helped him up.
“Are you okay?” asked the former hunter.
LM nodded. “Just an unpleasant memory. We’re okay. You and me. We’re okay.”
Jeff smiled and it was like sunlight on a still lake — brilliant and blinding. “Good.”
Raven turned his attention back to the doctor. “I do beg your pardon, sir. I am certain you have already had this conversation with Jeff, but I did not hear a single word of it. I was otherwise occupied.”
“That’s understandable. What did you want to know?”
“Missy. She is awake now. Will she be all right? Will there be any complications?”
The doctor sighed. “There shouldn’t be any, but time will tell.” His pager went off. He checked it. “Tch! Always something. I need to take care of this. I’ll be back shortly.” And he walked away.
Raven pulled out his phone and called Robin.
“Hey.” Robin said.
“Raven? You okay? Ya sound like you’re about to puke or cry. What’s goin’ on?”
“Missy. She. She is…”
“She ain’t dead, is she?”
“No, sir. She.” He exhaled a breathy kind of laugh. “She is alive. She. She is. She is awake, she. Sir. She—m–my Missy’s awake.”
“Well, it’s hell about time!”
“That all you callin’ for?”
“No, sir. Mr. Addleston took pictures with your phone. I would appreciate it if you would forward them to my phone so I may show them to Missy.”
“Yeah, I can totally do that. Ain’t no problem. You sure you’re okay?”
“Indeed, sir. I am fantastic.”