Sarah was treating Matthew like a first-year medical student on grand rounds.
"You get them from being hung upside down by a sadistic witch," I answered for him, squirming slightly as Sarah continued to examine my face.
"What's under that?" Sarah demanded, as if I hadn't spoken, pointing to my arm.
"An incision deep enough to require suturing," Matthew replied patiently.
"What have you got her on?"
"Painkil ers, a diuretic to minimize swel ing, and a broad- spectrum antibiotic." There was the barest trace of annoyance in his voice.
"Why is she wrapped up like a mummy?" Em asked, chewing on her lip.
The blood drained from my face. Sarah stopped what she was doing and gave me a probing look before she spoke.
"Let's wait on that, Em. First things first. Who did this to you, Diana?"
"A witch named Satu Jarvinen. I think she's Swedish." My arms crossed protectively over my chest.
Matthew's mouth tightened, and he left my side long enough to pile more logs on the fire.
"She's not Swedish, she's Finnish," Sarah said, "and quite powerful. The next time I see her, though, she'l wish she'd never been born."
"There won't be much left of her after I'm done," Matthew murmured, "so if you want a shot at her, you'l have to reach her before I do. And I'm known for my speed."
Sarah gave him an appraising look. Her words were only a threat. Matthew's were something else entirely. They were a promise. "Who treated Diana besides you?"
"My mother and her housekeeper, Marthe."
"They know old herbal remedies. But I can do a bit more."
Sarah rol ed up her sleeves.
"It's a little early in the day for witchcraft. Have you had enough coffee?" I looked at Em imploringly, silently begging her to cal Sarah off.
"Let Sarah fix it, honey," Em said, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze. "The sooner she does, the sooner you'l be ful y healed."
Sarah's lips were already moving. Matthew edged closer, fascinated. She laid her fingertips on my face. The bone underneath tingled with electricity before the crack fused with a snap.
"Ow!" I held my cheek.
"It wil only sting for a bit," Sarah said. "You were strong enough to withstand the injury-you should have no problem with the cure." She studied my cheek for a moment and nodded with satisfaction before turning to my col arbone. The electrical twinge required to mend it was more powerful, no doubt because the bones were thicker.
"Get her shoe off," she instructed Matthew, headed for the stil room. He was the most overqualified medical assistant ever known, but he obeyed her orders without a grumble.
When Sarah returned with a pot of one of her ointments, Matthew had my foot propped up on his thigh. "There are scissors in my bag upstairs," he told my aunt, sniffing curiously as she unscrewed the pot's lid. "Shal I go get them?"
"Don't need them." Sarah muttered a few words and gestured at my ankle. The gauze began to unwind itself.
"That's handy," Matthew said enviously.
"Show-off," I said under my breath.
Al eyes returned to my ankle when the gauze was finished rol ing itself into a bal . It stil looked nasty and was starting to ooze. Sarah calmly recited fresh spel s, though the red spots on her cheeks hinted at her underlying fury.
When she had finished, the black and white marks were gone, and though there was stil an angry ring around my ankle, the joint itself was noticeably smal er in size.
"Thanks, Sarah." I flexed my foot while she smeared fresh ointment over the skin.
"You won't be doing any yoga for a week or so-and no running for three, Diana. It needs rest and time to ful y recover." She muttered some more and beckoned to a fresh rol of gauze, which started to wind around my foot and ankle.
"Amazing," Matthew said again, shaking his head.
"Do you mind if I look at the arm?"
"Not at al ." He sounded almost eager. "The muscle was slightly damaged. Can you mend that, as wel as the skin?"
"Probably," Sarah said with just a hint of smugness.
Fifteen minutes and a few muffled curses later, there was nothing but a thin red line running down my arm to indicate where Satu had sliced it open.
"Nice work," Matthew said, turning my arm to admire Sarah's skil .
"You, too. That was fine stitching." Sarah drank thirstily from a glass of water.
I reached for Matthew's shirt.
"You should see to her back as wel ."
"It can wait." I shot him an evil look. "Sarah's tired, and so am I."
Sarah's eyes moved from me to the vampire. "Matthew?"
she asked, relegating me to the bottom of the pecking order.
"I want you to treat her back," he said without taking his eyes off me.
"No," I whispered, clutching his shirt to my chest.
He crouched in front of me, hands on my knees. "You've seen what Sarah can do. Your recovery wil be faster if you let her help you."
Recovery? No witchcraft could help me recover from La Pierre.
"Please, mon coeur. " Matthew gently extricated his bal ed-up shirt from my hands.
Reluctantly I agreed. There was a tingle of witches' glances when Em and Sarah moved around to study my back, and my instincts urged me to run. I reached blindly for Matthew instead, and he clasped both my hands in his.
"I'm here," he assured me while Sarah muttered her first spel . The gauze wrappings parted along my spine, her words slicing through them with ease.
Em's sharp intake of breath and Sarah's silence told me when the marks were visible.
"This is an opening spel ," Sarah said angrily, staring at my back. "You don't use this on living beings. She could have kil ed you."
"She was trying to get my magic out-like I was a pinata." With my back exposed, my emotions were swinging wildly again, and I nearly giggled at the thought of hanging from a tree while a blindfolded Satu swatted me with a stick. Matthew noticed my mounting hysteria.
"The quicker you can do this, the better, Sarah. Not to rush you, of course," he said hastily. I could easily imagine the look he'd received. "We can talk about Satu later."
Every bit of witchcraft Sarah used reminded me of Satu, and having two witches stand behind me made it impossible to keep my thoughts from returning to La Pierre.
I burrowed more deeply inside myself for protection and let my mind go numb. Sarah worked more magic. But I could take no more and set my soul adrift.
"Are you almost done?" Matthew said, his voice taut with concern.
"There are two marks I can't do much with. They'l leave scars. Here," Sarah said, tracing the lines of a star between my shoulder blades, "and here." Her fingers moved down to my lower back, moving from rib to rib and scooping down to my waist in between.
My mind was no longer blank but seared with a picture to match Sarah's gestures.
A star hanging above a crescent moon.
"They suspect, Matthew!" I cried, frozen to the stool with terror. Matthew's drawerful of seals swam through my memories. They had been hidden so completely, I knew instinctively that the order of knights must be just as deeply concealed. But Satu knew about them, which meant the other witches of the Congregation probably did, too.
"My darling, what is it?" Matthew pul ed me into his arms.
I pushed against his chest, trying to make him listen.
"When I refused to give you up, Satu marked me-with your seal."
He turned me inside his arms, protecting as much of my exposed flesh as he could. When he'd seen what was inscribed there, Matthew went stil . "They no longer suspect.
At last, they know."
"What are you talking about?" demanded Sarah.
"May I have Diana's shirt, please?"
"I don't think the scars wil be too bad," my aunt said somewhat defensively.
"The shirt." Matthew's voice was icy.
Em tossed it to him. Matthew pul ed the sleeves gently over my arms, drawing the edges together in front. He was hiding his eyes, but the vein in his forehead was pulsing.
"I'm so sorry," I murmured.
"You have nothing to be sorry for." He took my face in his hands. "Any vampire would know you were mine-with or without this brand on your back. Satu wanted to make sure that every other creature knew who you belonged to, as wel . When I was reborn, they used to shear the hair from the heads of women who gave their bodies to the enemy. It was a crude way of exposing traitors. This is no different."
He looked away. "Did Ysabeau tel you?"
"No. I was looking for paper and found the drawer."
"What the hel is going on?" Sarah snapped.
"I invaded your privacy. I shouldn't have," I whispered, clutching at his arms.
He drew away and stared at me incredulously, then crushed me to his chest without any concern for my injuries.
Merciful y, Sarah's witchcraft meant that there was very little pain. "Christ, Diana. Satu told you what I did. I fol owed you home and broke in to your rooms. Besides, how can I blame you for finding out on your own what I should have told you myself?"
A thunderclap echoed through the kitchen, setting the pots and pans clanging.
When the sound had faded into silence, Sarah spoke. "If someone doesn't tel us what is going on immediately, al hel is going to break loose." A spel rose to her lips.
My fingertips tingled, and winds circled my feet. "Back off, Sarah." The wind roared through my veins, and I stepped between Sarah and Matthew. My aunt kept muttering, and my eyes narrowed.
Em put her hand on Sarah's arm in alarm. "Don't push her. She's not in control."
I could see a bow in my left hand, an arrow in my right.
They felt heavy, yet strangely familiar. A few steps away, Sarah was in my sights. Without hesitation, my arms rose and drew apart in preparation to shoot.
My aunt stopped muttering in midspel . "Holy shit," she breathed, looking at Em in amazement.
"Honey, put the fire down." Em made a gesture of surrender.
Confused, I reexamined my hands. There was no fire in them.
"Not inside. If you want to unleash witchfire, we'l go outside," said Em.
"Calm down, Diana." Matthew pinned my elbows to my sides, and the heaviness associated with the bow and arrow dissolved.
"I don't like it when she threatens you." My voice sounded echoing and strange.
"Sarah wasn't threatening me. She just wanted to know what we were talking about. We need to tel her."
"But it's a secret," I said, confused. We had to keep our secrets-from everyone-whether they involved my abilities or Matthew's knights.
"No more secrets," he said firmly, his breath against my neck. "They're not good for either of us." When the winds died down, he spun me tightly against him.
"Is she always like that? Wild and out of control?" Sarah asked.
"Your niece did bril iantly," Matthew retorted, continuing to hold me.
Sarah and Matthew faced off across the kitchen floor.
"I suppose," she admitted with poor grace when their silent battle had concluded, "though you might have told us you could control witchfire, Diana. It's not exactly a run-of- the-mil ability."
"I can't control anything." Suddenly I was exhausted and didn't want to be standing up anymore. My legs agreed and began to buckle.
"Upstairs," he said, his tone brooking no argument. "We'l finish this conversation there."
In my parents' room, after giving me another dose of painkil ers and antibiotics, Matthew tucked me into bed.
Then he told my aunts more about Satu's mark. Tabitha condescended to sit on my feet as he did so in order to be closer to the sound of Matthew's voice.
"The mark Satu left on Diana's back belongs to an . . .
organization that my family started many years ago. Most people have long forgotten it, and those who haven't think it doesn't exist anymore. We like to preserve that il usion.
With the star and moon on her back, Satu marked your niece as my property and made it known that the witches had discovered my family's secret."
"Does this secret organization have a name?" Sarah asked.
"You don't have to tel them everything, Matthew." I reached for his hand. There was danger associated with disclosing too much about the Knights of Lazarus. I could feel it, seeping around me like a dark cloud, and I didn't want it to enfold Sarah and Em, too.
"The Knights of Lazarus of Bethany." He said it quickly, as if afraid he'd lose his resolve. "It's an old chivalric order."
Sarah snorted. "Never heard of them. Are they like the Knights of Columbus ? They've got a chapter in Oneida."
"Not real y." Matthew's mouth twitched. "The Knights of Lazarus date back to the Crusades."
"Didn't we watch a television program about the Crusades that had an order of knights in it?" Em asked Sarah.
"The Templars. But al those conspiracy theories are nonsense. There's no such thing as Templars now," Sarah said decidedly.
"There aren't supposed to be witches and vampires either, Sarah," I pointed out.
Matthew reached for my wrist, his fingers cool against my pulse.
"This conversation is over for the present," he said firmly.
"There's plenty of time to talk about whether the Knights of Lazarus exist or not."
Matthew ushered out a reluctant Em and Sarah. Once my aunts were in the hal , the house took matters into its own hands and shut the door. The lock scraped in the frame.
"I don't have a key for that room," Sarah cal ed to Matthew.
Unconcerned, Matthew climbed onto the bed, pul ing me into the crook of his arm so that my head rested on his heart. Every time I tried to speak, he shushed me into silence.
"Later," he kept repeating.
His heart pulsed once and then, several minutes later, pulsed again.
Before it could pulse a third time, I was sound asleep.