August 20, 2010

Artwork by Lauren T. Hart

David met Anna at the train station, just as he always did when she visited.

"It's good to see you Anna," he smiled.

Anna stared at the boy who had become a man standing across from her. He was the same age as she had been when they had first met. They'd looked the same age the last time she'd seen him. She'd often thought of him as an old soul, but he was Dr. David Parker now, a married man with a child on the way. Before long she knew his old soul would begin to bleed through and show itself in grey streaks of hair and fine lines across his face.

"This is dangerous, you and I, isn't it?" Anna asked.

David chuckled and shook his head as he picked up her bags and started for the car. "It's endearing that you worry so much."

Her old room hadn't changed much, and she was grateful for that. "You asked me to remind you," said a well pregnant Judy from the doorway. She was holding a box, wrapped in brown paper, ready for shipping with "For Anna" written across the top of it.

"Thank you sweetheart," David kissed her as he took the package from her.

"It's nice to have you with us again, Anna," Judy smiled.

"You look lovely Judy," Anna smiled.

David held the package unsteady in his hands. "I wish I knew if this was a good idea," he said. "It seemed like a good idea at first, but now... I just don't know."

Anna steadied his hands and took the package from him. She sat on the bed to open it. It contained three books that Gus had written: Greek Mythology: The Rationalization of Myths, Legends & Monsters that he had written before they met; Greek Mythology: Heroes & Heroines, The Rationalization of Demigods that he'd written while they were together; and Greek Mythology: The Lives & Loves of Gods & Mortals. The last one had been published posthumously. There was also a framed photo of Gus; Anna recognized it as one the University had taken.

She ran her fingers over the surface of the glass, remembering the touch of his skin. Pained by the irony of his image, sealed in a photograph, ageless for all time.

David opened the second book and read the dedication, "For Anna, who taught me to believe in the impossible." He handed her the third book. "I know you wanted answers," he said. "I've read both books. It's possible that he got too close, or at least someone thought he did."

Anna opened the third book, and read the dedication: For my love, forever Anna, forever mine.

"Thank you, David." Anna said. A single tear splashed the page. She closed the book and nestled it carefully back into the box. "Thank you."

She pushed her tears and grief away with anger. Her search to find Gus's killer had narrowed, and with it her determination to exact revenge had grown stronger.

Over the next three days David and Anna poured through the house's library and archives, searching for anything on the immortal named Dain. There was only one and he held a position among Argus's Elite but there was nothing more listed about him.

It was time to talk to Jonas. She left immediately after dinner. She knew he wouldn't see her if she made a request, so she had decided on a surprise visit. Jonas had recently relocated to London, a forty-five minute train ride away. She took a taxi to his street, snuck into the house of one of his neighbors and holed up in what appeared to be an unused bedroom turned storage room on the second floor.

She saw Jonas return in the company of a curvaceous blond woman that evening. He wore a suit, as he always did, but his long hair hung loose across his shoulders, as she'd only ever seen him wear it at home. She kept a watchful eye on the house throughout the night, except for the few minutes she'd taken to raid the fridge and use the bathroom.

She watched them both leave the next morning. The curvaceous blond left first, in a taxi, and then Jonas in his own car. Anna picked up a set of car keys from the bedroom bureau of her unknowing host as he showered and followed him. He spent the first part of his day inside a respectable looking office building. He emerged again around one, for a late lunch.

The restaurant was crowded, but he was immediately recognized as he entered and seated right away. She waited for his appetizer to be served, and then she made her move. He smiled when he saw her coming.

"Hello, my sweet." He stood and kissed on the cheek. "You're looking well," he said, motioning for her to join him.

"As are you," Anna said as she took the seat across from him. Seconds later a waiter poured her a glass of red wine, while another placed steak salads in front of the two of them.

"I see," Anna smiled. "How long have you known?"

"I caught your reflection when I entered the restaurant."

Anna bit her lip and took a breath before she spoke. "Thank you for seeing me."

"The pleasure is mine," Jonas said. "I've missed you."

"Please stop pretending that you haven't been intentionally avoiding me for the past... well, thirty-two years."

"Some things can't be avoided. Or prevented," he said.

"Something you'd like to get off your chest?"

"We can't change the past," he said, cutting into his steak. "Why are you here, Anna?"

"I have a message for someone," she said, glancing toward his ring. "And, I need information."

Her glance had not gone unnoticed. "What is it you've got yourself in the middle of this time?"

"Trouble I'm sure," Anna said. "As always."

"Perhaps we should have that conversation someplace a bit more private," Jonas offered.

"Agreed." Anna picked up her fork and stabbed at her salad.

They chatted like old friends, casually catching with up after not having seen each other for a few years.

"Do you have a car here?" Jonas asked after lunch.

"Mmm, I borrowed it from your neighbor."

Jonas smiled. "Lets take mine then shall we?"

As promised their conversation continued in Jonas's Parlor as he poured them both a drink "Why have you been avoiding me?"

"It's not really by choice," he said. "It's complicated... probably not such a good thing that you're here now."

"Because of him... because of Argus? Or because you're under the impression that your enemies won't view me as a liability on your part if our only association is a piece of jewelry?"

Jonas looked taken aback. A flash of something akin to panic crossed his face a second later, but he quickly covered it with a smile as he turned toward the doorway.

A petite woman with long auburn hair entered. Anna was surprised she hadn't heard her coming. She was dainty, sylphlike, and moved into the room as if she were a wisp of smoke, floating through the air.

"Afternoon Jonas," she cooed, her voice soft and lilting. She turned, smiled pleasantly, and nodded with a swoop of her head toward Anna, "I was just about to make some tea, would you like some?"

"No thank you Camille," Jonas said, his tone curt. "Privacy would be the most appreciated at moment actually."

"Ooooooh...." Camille drawled, then winked at Anna. "I'll do my best," she smiled at Jonas then turned and drifted away.

"Who was that?" Anna asked.

"She's Argus's mouthpiece," Jonas said perturbed "It's one thing to know the thoughts of another, but to posses them entirely..." He shook his head then cleared his throat. "If other immortals knew about you and your sister and your-" he stopped himself. "Our hope was that if you laid low for a time, a hundred years or so, that over that time your youth wouldn't be so apparent. I'm known. And I do have enemies. If we had stayed together, or if I hadn't stayed away from you, it would have drawn too much suspicion. Especially here."

Anna eyed him for a long moment, taking in what he had said, her thoughts still heavy with Jonas's casual confession that Argus could possess a person completely. "I need information about my father, Jonas"

"Your father," Jonas shook his head. "How easily I forget that I'm not your real father."

Anna scoffed. "I didn't realize you actually saw yourself that way."

"I know it's been difficult for you. I know you've felt abandoned by me, by your mother. I hope you understand I've stayed away only because I believe it's in your best interest to do so. I've worked very hard to make David someone you could rely on." He chuckled. "He's very smart, that one, very eager. You made a very good choice with him."

"I would be lost without him," Anna said, as she watched the man who in one decade alone had manage to impress fatherhood upon her to such a degree, that he was the primary association she had with the word. But he was changing the subject and she didn't have the patience for dwelling. "You said you knew him once, that he was a good man. I know he is one of the Elite. Jonas, I need to find him."

Jonas shook his head and eyed his drink. "I can't tell you."

"Can't or won't? This is not a quest of curiosity, I need to find him." Anna shook her head. "If you truly saw yourself as a father, you would understand this. I have to go." She turned then stopped. "If you happen to bump into the evil overlord, perhaps the next time he pays you a visit via the fairy making tea in the kitchen, tell him I said good luck." Then she turned and started for the door.

"Anna wait."

She ignored him.

"Anna," Jonas stopped her with an outstretched arm as she reached the edge of the parlor. "What did you mean by that?"

Anna shook her head, "I was asked to deliver a message: War is coming." Anna sighed and ducked under Jonas's arm "If only you cared for me as much as you cared for your king."

"Your king?" Jonas grabbed a hold of her arm and pulled her back toward him. "What exactly did you mean by that?" his tone was low and stern.

He didn't have to say anything; she could see the question in his face. He wanted to know if she had gone rogue.

"I've decided to sit this one out," she said. "I can't say I hold much regard for either side of the conflict. I'm only passing along the information as a favor from a high level defector."

"Who?" Jonas asked. "You must tell me everything you know."

Anna twisted her arm free from his grasp. "Tell me something. If you knew who was behind the death of Gus Ambrose, would you tell me?" she asked.

"I don't know who killed him Anna."

It wasn't an answer to the question she'd asked. He knew something he wasn't saying. Anna nodded as she took a breath of air. "The message was not for you, Jonas. If Argus wants details, he can either pluck them from my mind or come and find me."

"That's a very dangerous statement Anna."

She shrugged, kissed Jonas on the cheek and hugged him long and sincere. "Goodbye father," she whispered.

"Anna?" he called to her as she reached the front door.

"Yes?" she turned.

"He's in America, your father, most likely the States. That's all I know."

Anna nodded.
 

 

Chapter 34 - Nothing Stays

We're coming with you," David said when Anna told him where she was going.

"Are you sure about this, David?" Anna asked. "Is it even safe for Judy to travel when she's this far along?"

"We're coming with you," David repeated.

Within two weeks David had arranged for transfer to the United States. He would be the new head of a less demanding house located in Richmond, Virginia. Mary stayed behind to help the new head of house get acquainted.

Two weeks after they arrived. David presented her with a guest book from the archives written in eighteen sixty-seven, with the name Dain DelaCrosse inscribed in it. He was the Elite over the North Eastern United States at the time and he had stayed for two months. Also included were his personal preferences in food, drink, furnishings, clothing, weapons, women, etcetera.

"This is very detailed," Anna said. "What is this?"

"All heads of house keep a record of their guests." David said. "Particularly VIP's or frequent visitors."

"Is there a page like this for me?"

"Of course there is," David replied absently

Anna put her hand on her hip. "What does it say?"

"Nothing bad," David assured. "It's just preferences."

"What kind of preferences?"

David sighed "The kind to make you feel more comfortable."

"What does it say, David?"

David put the book down. "Well, it says that you don't always enjoy having the royal treatment so to have a common room available. It says that your primary weapon of choice is a handgun in a thigh holster and your secondary is a twelve-inch blade with a downward mounted thigh sheath. It also says that you're an identical twin, prefer not to socialize, often make use of the kitchen and that the name you are most likely to use is Anna Dimon, although as I am your personal familiar, you may also identify yourself as Anna Parker. Do I need to go on?"

Anna glared at him.

"This information is never shared Anna. Well, rarely shared. The important thing here is that we have a last name. DelaCrosse. It wouldn't be listed unless it was how he was most likely to introduce himself among immortals."

"But we know his last name is Fonnesbech," Anna pointed out. "So if this is him, couldn't he be using either one?"

"Yes. But it's a start, if I can confirm DelaCrosse with another source, it's more likely than not that it's one of the primary names he uses."

"Why DelaCrosse I wonder."

"That's a good question Miss...?"

"Undecided." Anna replied.
 

 

Almost a month later, Judy gave birth to a baby boy they named Lewis Aaron Parker.

"I'm glad you're here," Judy told Anna one afternoon, after she woke from a nap to discover Anna lulling Lewis back to sleep. "I'm so sleep deprived and you're very good with him."

"I don't have a maternal instinct," Anna replied. "He was crying, so I picked him up. He seems to like it when you coo at him, so I was just doing the same."

Judy smiled. " I think you have more of an instinct that you are aware of. Look how well David turned out."

"You can't give me the credit for David," Anna said

"He does," Judy replied.
 

 

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart