CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED and EIGHTY-SIX
“Whatever you do, do not go to Russia,” the man said.
Surprised, Sissy jumped back, but the man held on.
“They want to get back at him,” the man said. “They want to make him pay.”
Sissy leaned back from the man.
“They will kill you, torture you, little girl, just to get back at him,” the man said.
“Who?” Sissy asked. She said Otis’s real name.
The man looked surprised and a little frightened that Sissy knew Otis. He shook his head.
“This whole thing has been a ploy to get you to go there,” the man said.
“What whole thing?” Sissy asked.
“Interview at ballet schools,” the man said. “It is all a set up.”
“What?” Sissy asked.
“They were at your school in New York when you did your performance,” the man said. “They saw him and realized they could make him suffer for all they believe he’s done.”
“Who?” Sissy asked.
“Ivan,” the man said. “You are the only thing he loves; you will suffer greatly.”
The man’s face moved right in front of Sissy’s.
“Do not go to Russia.” The man’s voice was so intense and intimidating that she was genuinely terrified of him.
He let go of her elbow, almost throwing it at her.
“You tell the Fey that that the calves are baying at the sun,” the man said with a nod.
“Who?” Sissy asked a little too quickly.
He snorted at her response. Turning in place, he raced down the hallway. Before Sissy could react, he was down the stairs.
Sissy stood in the hallway watching after him for a moment. After a moment, she went and knocked on the door to Jammy’s room. He didn’t answer. She knocked a little harder. When he didn’t answer again, she remembered that he’d told her that he wore ear plugs to sleep. He told her to call him if she needed something. He wore a watch that buzzed when his private phone rang.
Sissy went back into her room and closed the door. Picking up her cellphone, she looked at the face for a long time. She pressed a button.
“Fey,” a woman’s voice said.
“I’m in trouble,” Sissy said. “Some guy just came and told me not to go to Russia. He said that my interviews with ballet schools was a set up to get me to Russia where I would be tortured and killed to get back at Ivan. He told me that the calves are baying at the sun.”
“Really?” the woman asked. “Huh. Are you safe at your location?”
“Yes,” Sissy said. “I’m in my room.”
“Lock your door. Check that your windows are locked,” the woman said. “Do it now.”
Sissy got up to do what she was told.
“Everything’s locked up,” Sissy said.
“Wait where you are,” the woman said. “Do not use your phone. Call no one. Do not — under any circumstances — open the door unless you see someone you know by name. Repeat it back to me.”
“I won’t use my phone for anything. I won’t call anyone. I won’t open the door unless someone I know by name knocks on the door,” Sissy said. “But what if they are the ones behind this? The man said this whole trip was designed to get me to Russia. That means the ballet schools, Jammy, almost anyone could be in on it!”
“Point taken,” the woman said. “Do not open the door to anyone involved in ballet or Mr. Schmidt.”
The line went dead. Not sure of what to do next, Sissy sat down on her bed and waited.
Wednesday evening — 6:06 p.m.
Tres kissed the tips of Heather’s fingers and let go of her hand. Heather gave him a wide smile and left the booth to find a restroom. They had wandered and laughed their way through the art museum. The sheer physical proximity of each other and this precious quiet time together made each moment seem erotic. When the sexual tension was palpable, they left the restaurant in search of food. Heather insisted that they go somewhere quiet and not fancy. They settled on the salad and sandwich restaurant across from the museum. They were pleasantly surprised to find the wine and cheese bar was the only side open. They just ordered and Heather was on her way to the bathroom.
Tres’s eyes followed her with real interest. While they’ve been in the museum, she’d goaded him with struggle over whether to wear her “perfect Goddess” body. She’d shown him the golden dressed, perfectly modeled Goddess body. The Goddess made every other human woman look like a faded flower.
He wasn’t surprised by the perfection of beauty. He’d always thought of her as a Goddess. To him, her golden light radiated from inside. It had when he’d first met her and it still did now. The truth was that he liked her regular human body, with its padding and curves, better than the Goddess. He thought Heather was going to cry when he told her so.
While Tres’s focus was on Heather walking away, a man slipped into the booth across from him. The man had shoulder length dark hair. He was gangly like some television actor crossed with a daddy long legs. He was handsome in the intense way of vipers . As if he were going to a 1980s prom, the man wore all white with a thin black tie. When the man leaned forward, Tres leaned back.
“She’s not what you think,” the man said.
Tres turned his attention to the man.
“What do I think?” Tres asked.
“She’ll use you up, brother,” the man said. “When she’s through with you, there’ll be nothing left and she’ll still be a young woman.”
“I have more than my share of brothers, and you’re not one of them,” Tres said.
“Brothers in arms,” the man said.
“So you’re telling me that you’re my guardian angel?” Tres asked.
“She’s too powerful for you,” the man said with a nod of his head.
Tres took out his cell phone, typed in a text, and hit send.
“You cannot ignore me!” the man said.
The man raised his hand and Tres’s cell phone fried.
“Was that necessary?” Tres asked.
“I am more powerful than you can imagine,” the man said in a terse whisper. “I can …”
“You are not of this world, Loki,” Tres said. “You cannot harm me, even if you tried.”
“Want to bet?” the man asked.
“Hedone doesn’t belong to you,” Tres said. “She can choose to live her life as she wishes. That’s her choice. If you weren’t such an abusive prick, you would see that she’s actually happy — with me, her children, Blane.”
Tres knew that he was speaking to one of the most unstable Gods in the universe. But he regularly talked to his unstable brother Enrique. He was struck by the similarities between Enrique and Loki. He wondered if he should say something, but decided against it.
Mostly, he was filling time. Tres nodded to someone walking in their direction.
The man yelped, jumped up, and ran out of the restaurant. Abi was laughing by the time she got to the table. Tres gestured and Abi slid into the booth.
“I’m glad you texted me,” Abi said. “He’s been a menace lately.”
“Why is he so afraid of you?” Tres asked.
“Gilfand and I can ban him and he cannot come back to earth,” Abi said. “Gilfand is ready to do it, but I don’t have the heart. My granddaughter told you to contact me?”
“Tanesha,” Tres said. “Great-granddaughter.
“You make me sound old,” Abi said.
Tres burst out laughing while Abi grinned.
“Loki likes to play on earth,” Abi said. “He loves human beings. They are the only creatures he can’t really harm. He has such great fun, that it would be sad to ban him from playing here. He believes that he loves Hedone. The truth is that they are more like brother and sister. He knows this. He’s just not that close to other beings so he clings to her. I don’t know what he’d do if he thought he couldn’t see her again.”
“What do you think he might do?” Tres asked with a shrug.
“It’s well within his power to blow up this planet,” Abi said. “The entire solar system. He is very powerful.”
“But not to me?” Tres asked.
“He cannot affect creatures born on this planet,” Abi said. “Did he threaten you?”
“Vaguely,” Tres nodded.
Abi gave Tres a warm smile.
“The only one who keeps him at bay is Hedone,” Abi said. “She’s probably the only person truly cares about him for himself. But as a friend, a brother, not as a lover. He feels the same but loses track of it from time to time. She’s bound his powers on this planet.”
“She did what?” Tres asked. “Why?”
“It’s complicated,” Abi said. “But basically, he’s an asshole with a lot of power. She got tired of cleaning up after him.”
“Did he harm you in anyway?” Abi asked.
“Just my cell phone,” Tres said.
“Would you like me to …?” Abi asked.
“No, it’s fine,” Tres said. “It belongs to work. They’ve been bugging me to upgrade it for more than a year.”
Abi smiled. Heather walked toward them. His face lit up when he saw her. Seeing Abi, she stopped in surprise.
“What happened?” Heather asked. “What did he do?”
“Nothing,” Tres said.
Heather looked at Abi.
“I wasn’t here,” Abi said.
“You just came to chase him off?” Heather asked.
Heather looked at the heavens in frustration.
“Now, none of that,” Abi said. She got up from the booth. Patting Heather’s shoulder, she said quietly in Heather’s ear, “They live such a short amount of time. Why not just enjoy him?”
Abi walked past Heather and out of the restaurant. Heather watched Abi for a moment before turning back to Tres. Thoughts flooded her mind. She could have him in the bathroom or even head to a nearby hotel. They could be quick and hot or slow and lingering. She could sit down and listen to him talk about his life. She could talk about her weird life.
What would she enjoy most?
It had been a long time for Heather so she felt the lower parts of herself tugging in that direction. She looked into his face and saw a longing matching hers. She also saw something else, something bigger than just a round in the sack — he wanted to share his entire precious self with her. She went to the booth and settled into her seat.
“Never a dull moment,” Heather said.
“How did you know to call Abi?” Heather asked.
“Tanesha warned me that Loki might show up,” Tres said. “She said that he’s terrified of Abi, so I texted her.”
“Good thinking,” Heather said.
“Thanks,” Tres said. Embarrassed he took a drink of his beer.
“I was thinking that I don’t know that much about your life,” Heather said.
“What would like to know?” Tres asked.
“Everything,” Heather said. “Let’s start with something easy. How did you get into finance?”
Heather gave him the most intimate act she could think of — she listened to what he had to say without judgement. If he ever had any doubt, she removed it tonight.
Thursday early morning — 2:11 a.m.
Sissy awoke with a start. She’d meant to stay awake. She’d meant to wait for whoever was going to come. But she was simply too exhausted. She’d fallen over onto the bed and had been sound asleep. She was lying on top of the covers wearing her pajamas. Her phone was still tightly clutched in her hands.
She hopped up and looked out the peep hole. Had she missed her rescuer? She could only see the back of someone wearing a black uniform. She turned away and leaned against the door.
“What am I going to do?” Sissy whispered out loud.
“What would you like to do?” a man’s British accented voice came from the sitting area of her room.
She walked carefully over to the space and peered around the corner.
James Kelly was sitting in a reclining chair reading something on his eBook reader. Sissy had seen James, or Jimmy as she called him, doing this exact thing at the Castle. He was the beloved of Edie the fairy, who took care of Jill’s twins. When James wasn’t working, he came to the Castle to be with Edie. While Edie worked, he read books on his eReader.
Just like he was doing now.
“Jimmy!” Sissy exclaimed. “I’m in big trouble! I called Miss Alex and asked for help. She specifically told me to wait and someone would come to help me. Someone who’s name I knew. But I fell asleep and … She’s going to be so mad! I would be mad. I mean, I called her for help and then just blew her off! Can you call her and tell her that I’m sorry? She probably won’t mind it coming from you.”
James Kelly took in all of this information with a blink of his eye.
“She told you to wait for someone?” James asked.
“Someone who’s name I knew,” Sissy said with a nod.
“You know my name,” James said.
“Tsk,” Sissy said. “Someone who could help me with something of an international nature.”
“At your service,” James said.
“You?” Sissy asked. Her heart lifted with joy that her helper was someone she knew and liked so well. “Really?”
“Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” James stood from his seat and did a formal bow, “at your service.”
“Really?” Sissy repeated.
“Which part of it?” James asked.
Sissy laughed which made James smile.
“When you didn’t answer the door, I let myself in to be sure that you were all right,” James said. “When I saw you were resting, I figured I’d sit here and get some reading done. I’m working my way through a mystery series.”
“But the man!” Sissy said.
“Yes,” James said. “Him.”
Sissy waited for James to say something else but he didn’t.
“Is Jammy involved?” Sissy asked.
“In what?” James asked.
“This thing!” Sissy said. She took a breath to launch into the whole story but she was too tired. “Didn’t Alex tell you?”
“Oh, that,” James said. “Spies. You never know who they are or where they’ll show up.”
“That man was a spy!” Sissy said.
James grinned. Sissy had called to get help from someone who happened to be one of the highest level intelligence operative in the world and she was now talking to another. Yet, the man who’d warned her was an exciting spy. Sissy yawned.
“You’re very tired,” James said. “Why don’t you get into bed and we can talk it through tomorrow?”
“But Jimmy!” Sissy said.
“Right now, there’s a guard on your door and Jammy’s,” James said. “Tomorrow, I’ll go with you to the Royal Ballet. By the time you wrap up there, we should have a better idea of what’s going on.”
“Oh,” Sissy said. “That’s it?”
“What about Ivan?” Sissy asked.
“We picked Ivan after his class,” James said. “He’s talking to some spies right now.”
“In prison?” Sissy asked.
“At his loft,” James said.
Sissy nodded and leaned forward.
“Is Ivan in trouble?” Sissy asked.
“Not that I am aware of,” James said. “It seems more likely that someone is trying to make trouble for Ivan. Unfortunately, it’s someone who is not very nice.”
Sissy nodded. She was going to ask another question, but she yawned instead.
“To bed,” James said. “I must insist.”
Not wanting to make him mad, Sissy got into bed and lay down. She’d just laid down when she thought of something. Before she could say another thing, she was asleep.
James watched until he was sure she was asleep. He went back to his recliner and his eBook reader. He was there for only a moment before Edie the Fairy appeared.
“How is she?” Edie asked.
“She seems okay,” James said. “Did you learn anything?”
“Well, of course, everyone is in a tizzy,” Edie said. “Mari in her tiny form at Ivan’s house. She says that they are arguing in Russian but that Ivan doesn’t seem to know anything. He’s beside himself with worry for Sissy and furious that he didn’t think of it earlier.”
“There’s quite a bit of ranting in Russian,” Edie said with a nod. “Nadia is there. She is ranting and threatening in Ukrainian. Mari is proud of Nadia because she says that she taught Nadia to rant.”
James smiled. He leaned forward and Edie kissed him.
“Nice of you to stop by,” James said. “The lure of being with me was too much for you to handle.”
“No,” Edie said with characteristic over honesty. “I came to check on Sissy.”
Seeing his face, she realized that he was joking. She kissed him again and laughed.
“I should return,” Edie said.
“Thanks for the update,” James said.
Edie blushed and disappeared, and James returned to his novel.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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