Of al the creatures in the room, she was the calmest.
"You'l take her to a time when she'l be with witches who wil help her?"
Sarah closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them.
"You two aren't safe here. Juliette Durand proved that. And if you aren't safe in Madison, you aren't safe anywhere."
"Thank you." Matthew opened his mouth to say something else, and Sarah held up her hand.
"Don't promise me anything," she said, voice tight. "You'l be careful for her sake, if not for your own."
"Now al we have to worry about is the timewalking."
Matthew turned businesslike. "Diana wil need three items from a particular time and place in order to move safely."
"Do I count as a thing?" he asked her.
"Do you have a pulse? Of course you're not a thing!" It was one of the most positive statements Sarah had ever made about vampires.
"If you need old stuff to guide your way, you're welcome to these." Marcus pul ed a thin leather cord from the neck of his shirt and lifted it over his head. It was festooned with a bizarre assortment of items, including a tooth, a coin, a lump of something that shone black and gold, and a battered silver whistle. He tossed it to Matthew.
"Didn't you get this off a yel ow-fever victim?" Matthew asked, fingering the tooth.
"In New Orleans," Marcus replied. "The epidemic of 1819."
"New Orleans is out of the question," Matthew said sharply.
"I suppose so." Marcus slid a glance my way, then returned his attention to his father. "How about Paris? One of Fanny's earbobs is on there."
Matthew's fingers touched a tiny red stone set in gold filigree. "Philippe and I sent you away from Paris, and Fanny, too. They cal ed it the Terror, remember? It's no place for Diana."
"The two of you fussed over me like old women. I'd been in one revolution already. Besides, if you're looking for a safe place in the past, you'l have a hel of a time finding one,"
His face brightened.
"I wasn't in Philadelphia with you, or in California,"
Matthew said hastily before his son could speak. "It would be best if we head for a time and place I know."
"Even if you know where we're going, Matthew, I'm not sure I can pul this off." My decision to stay clear of magic had caught up with me again.
"I think you can," Sarah said bluntly, "you have been doing it your whole life. When you were a baby, as a child when you played hide-and-seek with Stephen, and as an adolescent, too. Remember al those mornings we dragged you out of the woods and had to clean you up in time for school? What do you imagine you were doing then?"
"Certainly not timewalking," I said truthful y. "The science of this stil worries me. Where does this body go when I'm somewhere else?"
"Who knows? But don't worry. It's happened to everybody. You drive to work and don't remember how you got there. Or the whole afternoon passes and you don't have a clue what you did. Whenever something like that happens, you can bet there's a timewalker nearby,"
explained Sarah. She was remarkably unfazed at the prospect.
Matthew sensed my apprehension and took my hand in his. "Einstein said that al physicists were aware that the distinctions between past, present, and future were only what he cal ed 'a stubbornly persistent il usion.' Not only did he believe in marvels and wonders, he also believed in the elasticity of time."
There was a tentative knock at the door.
"I didn't hear a car," Miriam said warily, rising to her feet.
"It's just Sammy col ecting the newspaper money." Em slid from her chair.
We waited silently while she crossed the hal , the floorboards protesting under her feet. From the way their hands were pressed flat against the table's wooden surface, Matthew and Marcus were both ready to fly to the door, too.
Cold air swept into the dining room.
"Yes?" Em asked in a puzzled voice. In an instant, Marcus and Matthew rose and joined her, accompanied by Tabitha, who was intent on supporting the leader of the pack in his important business.
"Not the paperboy," Sarah said unnecessarily, looking at the empty chair next to me.
"Are you Diana Bishop?" asked a deep male voice with a familiar foreign accent of flat vowels accompanied by a slight drawl.
"No, I'm her aunt," Em replied.
"Is there something we can do for you?" Matthew sounded cold, though polite.
"My name is Nathaniel Wilson, and this is my wife, Sophie. We were told we might find Diana Bishop here."
"Who told you that?" Matthew asked softly.
"His mother-Agatha." I stood, moving to the door.
His voice reminded me of the daemon from Blackwel 's, the fashion designer from Australia with the beautiful brown eyes.
Miriam tried to bar my way into the hal but stepped aside when she saw my expression. Marcus was not so easily dealt with. He grabbed my arm and held me in the shadows by the staircase.
Nathaniel's eyes nudged gently against my face. He was in his early twenties and had familiar fair hair and chocolate-colored eyes, as wel as his mother's wide mouth and fine features. Where Agatha had been compact and trim, however, he was nearly as tal as Matthew, with the broad shoulders and narrow hips of a swimmer. An enormous backpack was slung over one shoulder.
"Are you Diana Bishop?" he asked.
A woman's face peeped out from Nathaniel's side. It was sweet and round, with intel igent brown eyes and a dimpled chin. She was in her early twenties as wel , and the gentle, insidious pressure of her glance indicated she, too, was a daemon.
As she studied me, a long, brown braid tumbled over her shoulder. "That's her," the young woman said, her soft accent betraying that she was born in the South. "She looks just as she did in my dreams."
"It's al right, Matthew," I said. These two daemons posed no more danger to me than did Marthe or Ysabeau.
"So you're the vampire," Nathaniel said, giving Matthew an appraising look. "My mother warned me about you."
"You should listen to her," Matthew suggested, his voice dangerously soft.
Nathaniel seemed unimpressed. "She told me you wouldn't welcome the son of a Congregation member. But I'm not here on their behalf. I'm here because of Sophie."
He drew his wife under his arm in a protective gesture, and she shivered and crept closer. Neither was dressed for autumn in New York. Nathaniel was wearing an old barn jacket, and Sophie had on nothing warmer than a turtleneck and a hand-knit cardigan that brushed her knees.
"Are they both daemons?" Matthew asked me.
"Yes," I replied, though something made me hesitate.
"Are you a vampire as wel ?" Nathaniel asked Marcus.
Marcus gave him a wolfish grin. "Guilty."
Sophie was stil nudging me with her characteristic daemonic glance, but there was the faintest tingle on my skin. Her hand crept possessively around her bel y.
"You're pregnant!" I cried.
Marcus was so surprised that he loosened his grip on me. Matthew caught me as I went by. The house, agitated by the appearance of two visitors and Matthew's sudden lunge, made its displeasure clear by banging the keeping room's doors tightly closed.
"What you feel-it's me," Sophie said, moving an inch closer to her husband. "My people were witches, but I came out wrong."
Sarah came into the hal , saw the visitors, and threw up her hands. "Here we go again. I told you daemons would be showing up in Madison before long. Stil , the house usual y knows our business better than we do. Now that you're here, you might as wel come inside, out of the cold."
The house groaned as if it were heartily sick of us when the daemons entered.
"Don't worry," I said, trying to reassure them. "The house told us you were coming, no matter what it sounds like."
"My granny's house was just the same." Sophie smiled.
"She lived in the old Norman place in Seven Devils. That's where I'm from. It's official y part of North Carolina, but my dad said that nobody bothered to tel the folks in town.
We're kind of a nation unto ourselves."
The keeping-room doors opened wide, revealing my grandmother and three or four more Bishops, al of whom were watching the proceedings with interest. The boy with the berry basket waved. Sophie shyly waved back.