The rage Within

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Chapter 58

Theo gave Jacques a serious look accompanied with a small shake of the head, in what I could only surmise as apprehension of the highest order.

“Too risky.” He said.

“We are left with few options.”

“But at what cost?” Theo said.

Bili looked at me with confusion and I was glad I wasn’t the only one in the dark for a change. The fact that there was a being out there that gave Jacques and Theo pause like this said a lot. I was also curious if that was a nickname, or if she was a real witch. If I learned anything, it was that anything was possible.

“What if I took Bili with me?” Jacques said.

Theo thought about this for a moment, and though his look said that the idea had merit he was not okay with it.

“I don’t think that would be wise. I see the wisdom in the idea, but…” Theo said.

Bili looked back and forth from Theo to Jacques reading the unspoken words.

“If this woman can help us I want to go.” She said as if it was a done deal.

“That’s because you don’t know anything about her.” Theo said. This was the first time I saw him give Bili a more fatherly look with a stern tone. Bili didn’t like it.

“I appreciate your concern, but look at us. We are falling apart and holding the shit end of the stick once again. Can this woman help us?” She asked.

“Maybe.” Theo said.

“Then it’s settled.” Bili said.

Theo was not happy at all, but considering our position it was hard for him to argue the point. We were indeed at the end of our rope and someone had just greased it. We needed any advantage we could get.

“Okay.” Theo said relenting. Then he stood directly in front of Bili to get her full and undivided attention. Then he continued.

“Don’t underestimate this woman. She will talk in riddles and you will get the impression that she is full of nonsense or even mentally unbalanced. She is not. She will be drawn to you for several reasons, which may help in retrieving information, but let Jacques do the talking.”

“I got it. Don’t worry. It will be fine.” Bili said.

“Do not get baited.” Theo added. “She will try to tempt and taunt you.”

“Best behavior. Promise.” Bili said as she patted Theo on his shoulder. Even though it was done somewhat mockingly it made Theo smile.

They were on the road right away while Theo and I dealt with the mess of Mr. Hendricks’ home. With time not being as much of a factor we were able to properly dispose of the deceased, as well as eliminate the evidence within. Graceland north was no longer.

Jacques and Bili drove for ten straight hours before they arrived at their destination. It had been over a century since Jacques had seen her and now that he was on her door step he realized that a hundred years may not have been long enough.

Amalasuintha was one of the few of his kind who was far and away above the norm on the intellectual scale. She was old and powerful, which is why some feared her, but those who knew better feared her for her intelligence and irrational behavior. If she chose to help you, you would get quality information. If.

Information was her business, and how she obtained it was one of much uncertainty. She rarely left her little neck of the woods, but was always on top of current events. Her fascination with modern technology kept her connected to most of the modern world, as well as some not so modern. Though unconfirmed, it had been long rumored that she is a billionaire, which would explain her ability to get information no one else can.

She was the only one of a handful of his kind still alive that Jacques was sure was older than him. She was one of the first to migrate to the United States. She landed in Massachusetts, fell in love with it and never left, even during the era of the Salem witch hunts, which some speculate she played more than a small part in.

Jacques gave Bili strict instructions regarding their visit and she agreed to tread lightly.

The house was set back among a seemingly small orchard of willow trees that danced on the wind. The best way to describe her place would be to imagine a stereotypical haunted house amongst a graveyard, now just update the home and remove the grave stones. What remains would be her home and plot of land.

They walked up to the door just as the porch light went on. Within seconds of the light going on someone approached them from behind. Not that he was trying, but no one could sneak up on Amalasuintha. Not even him.

“Comment avez-vous ete Jacques?” A voice said in perfect French, then spoke English. “Do my eyes deceive me?”

Amalasuintha appeared from nowhere and neither of them had heard a thing.

Though relatively young looking, maybe early thirties, she had the demeanor and mannerisms of someone much older. She was wearing a black evening gown and had her dark hair professionally done.

“Pour mieux Amalasuintha. How are you?” Jacques said in his usual serious tone.

“I’m fine, as no one is trying to kill me. Call me Cynthia please. We are old friends are we not?” She said casually. “You brought me a guest I see.” She said as she walked past them both.

Her movements were graceful, and almost dance like. The muscles in her shoulders and back were like those of a gymnast. She exuded power and confidence.

She opened the door to her home and walked in, leaving it open for Jacques and Bili to follow.

They walked in and Bili shut the door behind her. When Bili turned back around Cynthia was standing in front of her. Cynthia was a few inches taller, but her face was kind and gentle.

They were face to face and Bili stared right back. She was never one to be intimidated, even if she should have been. The short but intense stand-off made Jacques uneasy.

“You and I are a lot alike young one.” She said, running the back of her hand along Bili’s shoulder, arm, and then all too close to Bili’s breast. To say that this made Bili uncomfortable was an understatement. To her credit she held still and kept quiet.

“I know things that may be of interest to you Bilinda.” Cynthia said, bringing her eyes back up to Bili’s.

Bili was about to say something, but Jacques didn’t let her. The last thing he wanted was for Bili to get in over her head. Any lengthy conversation with Cynthia would almost certainly fit that category.

“Another time Cynthia. We’re here on other business.”

Cynthia looked disappointed and made no bones about showing her disapproval, but she didn’t push the matter.

“Yes, I guess you are.” She said.

She moved over to the sofa in the living room and sat down as smoothly as a ballerina.

“Who’s bankrolling the initiative against us?” Jacques said.

Jacques didn’t waste time explaining the details, as he was more than optimistic that she was well aware of the issues at hand.

“That is one question, but hardly the most important.” She said.

“Why are they?” Bili said curtly.

Cynthia’s eyes lit up with enthusiasm.

“Ahh, yes. And smart too. I knew I liked this one.” Cynthia said with a grin. “Please, sit down you two.”

Jacques walked around to the side of the fireplace and faced her, but remained standing. Bili plopped down in the loveseat adjacent to the couch as if she was testing the durability of the cushion.

Cynthia put her hand to the side of her mouth and spoke to Bili in a mock attempt to keep Jacques from hearing her.

“He never likes to sit. Been that way forever.” She said, almost at a whisper.

This made Bili smile. This woman was seemed very nice, but Bili knew better than anyone that you never judge a book by the thin leathery cover.

“Why then?” Jacques said.

Jacques was not much on patience, but even he knew better than to rush Cynthia. If they could get any information and leave without a future problem he would consider it a victory.

“What does the big bad wolf have to offer?” She said flippantly.

“What would you like?”

“A pint of Jacks blood.” Cynthia said without a hint of hesitation.

“Why?” Bili asked incredulously.

“Not the right question this time sweetie.” Cynthia said as if she was talking to a young child.

Bili was seething inside, but she remained quiet. She made a promise to Jacques and she would keep it. If she could.

She will compliment you, berate you, mock you, and tempt you with knowledge you would trade your soul for. Do not get sucked into debate, or ask for anything other than what we are here for. The cost will be too high.

“He’s an anomaly, but not an unprecedented one.” Jacques said.

It was no accident that Jacques worded his statement this way.

“No?” She said.

Her answer was clear.

“What makes him so special.” Bili said.

Cynthia ignored her, but spoke to Jacques as if he had asked the question himself.

“Do you know who Ayla is?” Cynthia said.

“Of course. Rieger’s wife long ago.”

“Yes, but do you who she is?”

Jacques thought hard trying to figure out where she was going with this and couldn’t. As far as he knew she was human of humble origins. He shook his head.

“Hers is the bloodline you might want to research. That is all I will say on that. Now, about the blood.”

“No blood. What else?” Jacques asked succinctly.

Cynthia’s brows furled in disappointment. Then quick as blink she smiled and looked at Jacques.

“A favor then.” Cynthia said simply.

Jacques had traded this item before and it nearly cost him his life. Though he knew the stakes it was an easy decision.

“Done.” He said.

“Not from you. Her.” Cynthia said, slowly turning to look at Bili.

Bili didn’t see why it was such a big deal. It seemed like a break. Getting what they came for and the only thing she had to do was a favor to be named later?

“Sure.” Bili said.

“No.” Jacques said abruptly, almost talking over her.

Bili looked at Jacques with a confused look. She would do anything to help Theo and Jack, and this couldn’t have been a better deal in her eyes. A simple favor for something that could save lives? It was a no-brainer.

“Jacques, let me do this. We have lost too many friends already. If this information can help us end this..?” She said, knowing she was right.

Jacques thought hard. He knew Bili was right of course, but would Theo understand. Theo only suggested Bili come along to help soften Cynthia, as well as help Jacques negotiate, but not to use her as collateral. He felt the weight of the world on him at that moment.

“No. I will offer two favor’s.” Jacques said.

“Sorry honey bunny, but that is not an option. It’s her or no deal. Take it or leave it.” Cynthia said apologetically.

“I agree.” Bili said, not giving Jacques a chance to answer for her.

Cynthia smiled wide and gave a minor bow.

Jacques was about object again when Bili stopped him. She stepped close to Jacques and spoke.

“This is my choice. Theo will understand.” She said unwaveringly.

Jacques shook his head, but knowing their current position he knew that they could all end up dead if they didn’t an upper hand soon.

He then relented with a small nod.

“Now that is settled. I believe that I have some information that may be of use to you.”

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