“You were here with him,“ Jeremy growls through his teeth.
“Let us explain,” Jeanie steps in, but he shoves her to the side and stomps to me. He doesn’t even mind her yelp and the thud as she hits the floor. He scares the crap out of me, and I make to get up, but his big hand pushes me back in my chair, his other fist clenched on the table by the gas lamp.
“You thought you could fool me. Didn’t you imagine that my men would report immediately once they lost you?”
My pulse is high with fright, and my eyes must bulge like potatoes out of my face. I look around at his men devastating the room. Two of them climb out the window, following Kieran and Joyous’ route to the roof. Jeremy squeezes my shoulder, causing me a shriek of pain and forcing my full attention back to him. I can’t believe Jeremy Simmons is actually doing this to me.
“Don’t waste my time, woman, tell me the truth!” He’s beside himself with rage, and I’m even afraid he might hit me.
“Leave her alone, Jeremy, you’ll give her another seizure, and one of those almost killed her tonight,” Jeanie says, forcing herself back on her feet and trying to separate us. I cling to her arm, wanting nothing more than to take distance from her brother. I’m so grateful for Jeanie right now, for her presence of mind. I was right to trust her.
Jeremy retreats a couple of steps, looking at Jeanie and me as if he’s trying to see the big picture.
“What seizure, Jean? Saphira’s been seen with the Marquis of Vandenesse at the pub, technically doing it on the table, and in my book, that’s called fervour, not seizure.” He sounds crazy with jealousy.
“If you heard that, then you must’ve heard as well that as the Marquis tried to take her with him she started twitching and shrugging uncontrollably.”
Jeremy’s eyes fall on me again, slightly calmer. “Is that so? He tried to kidnap you?”
I clear my throat and gather my courage to start with my plan, but one of Jeremy’s men storms in breathlessly, his face alight with urgency. He’s dressed as a civilian, but I recognize him from the house. I’m good with faces.
“Inspector Simmons,” he stammers, “they’re here!”
“Who’s here?” Jeremy barks at him.
“The Black Angels. The Contractor’s fighters. But, Inspector, they’re many, and they’re not, they’re not . . . normal.” He looks terrified and he’s shaking, his fleshy round face glistening with sweat.
Jeremy obviously understands what the man means without further words. He strides to the window and looks out. When he turns to me, a wicked grin stretches on his square, unshaven face. As good looking as women find him for his muscles and testosterone-squared features, right now to me he’s downright ugly.
“Please, Saphira, have a look.”
Curiosity and worry compel me to the window. Under the street lamps and the rain black hooded figures flood the street from side-alleys, and I know on the spot they’re the back-up Ivan Basarab sent to Jeremy. Black Angels. The Contractor.
The one who seems their leader has stopped across from the entrance to the inn, and he apparently senses my staring at him. He lowers his hood and looks up, revealing a face which, even though it’s too far away to see in detail, is clearly disfigured by some terrible disease, covered in red and white blisters full of puss that makes me think of leprosy. I gasp in horror and draw backwards only to bump into Jeremy’s burly chest. His huge palms clasp my upper arms.
“Now the Marquis must face opponents his own size – monsters, like him.” He sounds mad, whether with hatred or sick ambition, I don’t know. Nor does it matter. I jerk away and turn to face him, looking straight into his face. His eyes are wild, like a madman’s.
“You’ve made a pact with the devil, Jeremy! These creatures came to finish the Marquis, but they won’t leave again, not without having finished you as well, and everybody who knows of their existence. They won’t risk their secret leaving Northville.”
He grabs me above my elbow and pulls me to a corner, whispering close to my face. “The borders of Northville have already been sealed. The rocky wasteland all around is now infested with these creatures. No one gets in or out of this cursed town. These creatures will help me end your lover the Marquis once and for all, and for that I’ll pay any price.”
To be continued on Tuesday.
STAY TUNED for Quiz 4 – What kind of lover are You? tomorrow evening. I’m looking forward to your choices and interpretations:)