“Can the contents of my genome help?” There had been much discussion of the babies since I’d had my ultrasound, and speculation as to what effect a witch’s blood—a weaver’s in particular—might have on the blood-rage gene. I didn’t want my children to end up as science experiments, especially after seeing Benjamin’s horrific laboratory, but I had no objection to doing my bit for scientific progress.
“I don’t want your DNA to be the subject of further scientific research.” Matthew stalked to the window. “I should never have taken that sample from you back in Oxford.”
I smothered a sigh. With every hard-won freedom Matthew granted me and each conscious effort he made not to smother me with overpossessiveness, his authoritarian traits had to find a new outlet. It was like watching someone try to dam up a raging river. And Matthew’s inability to locate Benjamin and release his captive witch were only making it worse. Every lead Matthew received about Benjamin’s current location turned into a dead end, just like my attempts to trace Ashmole 782’s missing pages.Before I could try to reason with him, my phone rang. It was a distinctive ringtone—the opening bars of “Sympathy for the Devil” — which I had not yet managed to change. When the phone was programmed, someone had irrevocably attached it to one of my contacts.
“Your brother is calling.” Matthew’s tone was capable of freezing Old Faithful.
“What do you want, Baldwin?” There was no need for polite preamble.
“Your lack of faith wounds me, sister.” Baldwin laughed. “I’m in New York. I thought I might come to New Haven and make sure that your accommodations are suitable.”
Matthew’s vampire hearing made my conversation with Baldwin completely audible. The oath he uttered in response to his brother’s words was blistering.
“Matthew is with me. Gallowglass and Miriam are one block away. Mind your own business.” I drew the phone from my ear, eager to disconnect.
“Diana.” Baldwin’s voice managed to extend to even my limited human hearing.
I returned the phone to my ear.
“There is another vampire working in Matthew’s lab—Richard Bellingham is the name he goes by now.”
“Yes.” My eyes went to Matthew, who was standing in a deceptively relaxed position in front of the window—legs spread slightly, hands clasped behind his back. It was a stance of readiness.
“Be careful around him.” Baldwin’s voice flattened. “You don’t want me to have to order Matthew to get rid of Bellingham. But I will do that, without hesitation, should I think he possesses information that could prove . . . difficult . . . for the family.”
“He knows I’m a witch. And that I’m pregnant.” It was evident that Baldwin knew a great deal about our life in New Haven already. There was no point in hiding the truth.
“Every vampire in that provincial town knows. And they travel to New York. Often.” Baldwin paused. “In my family if you create a mess, you clean it up—or Matthew does. Those are your options.”
“It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you, brother. ”
Baldwin merely laughed.
“Is that all, my lord?”
“It’s ‘sieur.’ Do you need me to come there and refresh your memory of vampire law and etiquette?”
“No,” I said, spitting out the word.
“Good. Tell Matthew to stop blocking my calls, and we won’t have to repeat this conversation.”
The line went dead.
“That f—” I began.
Matthew wrenched the phone out of my hand and flung it across the room. It made a satisfying sound of breaking glass when it hit the mantel of the defunct fireplace. Then his hands were cradling my face as though the violent moment that came before had been a mirage.
“Now I’ll have to get another phone.” I looked into Matthew’s stormy eyes. They were a reliable indication of his state of mind: clear gray when he was at ease, appearing green when his pupils enlarged with emotion and blotted out all but the green rim around his iris. At the moment, the gray and green were battling for supremacy.
“Baldwin will no doubt have one here before the day is done.” Matthew’s attention fixed on the pulse at my throat.
“Let’s hope your brother doesn’t feel he needs to deliver it himself.”
Matthew’s eyes drifted to my lips. “He’s not my brother. He’s your brother.”
“Hello the house!” Gallowglass’s booming, cheerful voice rose up from the downstairs hall.
Matthew’s kiss was hard and demanding. I gave him what he needed, deliberately softening my spine and my mouth so that he could feel, in this moment at least, that he was in charge.
“Oh. Sorry. Shall I come back?” Gallowglass said from the stairs. Then his nostrils flared as he detected my husband’s overpowering clove scent. “Something wrong, Matthew?”
“Nothing that Baldwin’s sudden and seemingly accidental death wouldn’t fix,” Matthew said darkly.
“Business as usual, then. I thought you might want me to walk Auntie to the library.”
“Why?” Matthew asked.
“Miriam called. She’s in a mood and wants you to ‘get out of Diana’s knickers and into my lab.’”
Gallowglass consulted the palm of his hand. It was covered in writing. “Yep. That’s exactly what she said.”
“I’ll get my bag,” I murmured, pulling away from Matthew.
“Hello, Apple and Bean.” Gallowglass stared, besotted, at the images on the fridge. He thought calling them Baby A and Baby B was beneath their dignity and so had bestowed nicknames upon them.
“Bean has Granny’s fingers. Did you notice, Matthew?”
Gallowglass kept the mood light and the banter flowing on our walk to campus. Matthew accompanied us to the Beinecke, as though he expected Baldwin to rise up out of the sidewalk before us with a new phone and another dire warning.
Leaving the de Clermonts behind, it was with relief that I opened the door into our research room.
“I’ve never seen such a tangled provenance!” Lucy exclaimed the moment I appeared. “So John Dee did own the Voynich?”
“That’s right.” I put down my pad of paper and my pencil. Other than my magic, they were the only items I carried. Happily, my power didn’t set off the metal detectors. “Dee gave the Voynich to Emperor Rudolf in exchange for Ashmole 782.” It was, in truth, a bit more complicated than that, as was often the case when Gallowglass and Matthew were involved in the transfer of property.
“The Bodleian Library manuscript that’s missing three pages?” Lucy held her head in her hands and stared down at the notes, clippings, and correspondence littering the table.
“Edward Kelley removed those pages before Ashmole 782 was sent back to England. Kelley temporarily put them inside the Voynich for safekeeping. At some point he gave two of the pages away.
But he kept one for himself—the page with the illumination of a tree on it.” It really was impossibly tangled.
“So it must have been Kelley who gave the Voynich manuscript—along with the picture of the tree—to Emperor Rudolf’s botanist, the Jacobus de Tepenecz whose signature is on the back of the first folio.” Time had faded the ink, but Lucy had shown me photographs taken under ultraviolet light.
“Probably,” I said.
“And after the botanist, an alchemist owned it?” She made some annotations on her Voynich timeline. It was looking a bit messy with our constant deletions and additions.
“Georg Baresch. I haven’t been able to find out much about him.” I studied my own notes.
“Baresch was friends with de Tepenecz, and Marci acquired the Voynich from him.”
“The Voynich manuscript’s illustrations of strange flora would certainly intrigue a botanist—not to mention the illumination of a tree from Ashmole 782. But why would an alchemist be interested in them?” Lucy asked.
“Because some of the Voynich’s illustrations resemble alchemical apparatus. The ingredients and processes needed to make the philosopher’s stone were jealously guarded secrets, and alchemists often hid them in symbols: plants, animals, even people.” contained the same potent blend of the real and the symbolic.
“And Athanasius Kircher was interested in words and symbols, too. That’s why you think he would have been interested in the illumination of the tree as well as the Voynich,” Lucy said slowly.
“Yes. It’s why the missing letter that Georg Baresch claims he sent to Kircher in 1637 is so significant.” I slid a folder in her direction. “The Kircher expert I know from Stanford is in Rome. She volunteered to go to the Pontifical Gregorian University archives, where the bulk of Kircher’s correspondence is kept, and nose around. She sent me a transcription of the later letter from Baresch to Kircher written in 1639. It refers back to their exchange, but the Jesuits told her the original letter can’t be found.”
“When librarians say ‘it’s lost,’ I always wonder if that’s really true,” she grumbled.
“Me, too.” I thought wryly of my experiences with Ashmole 782.
Lucy opened the folder and groaned. “This is in Latin, Diana. You’re going to have to tell me what it says.”
“Baresch thought Kircher might be able to decipher the Voynich’s secrets. Kircher had been working on Egyptian hieroglyphs. It made him an international celebrity, and people sent him mysterious texts and writings from far and wide,” I explained. “To better hook Kircher’s interest, Baresch forwarded partial transcripts of the Voynich to Rome in 1637 and again in 1639.”
“There’s no specific mention of a picture of a tree, though,” Lucy said.
“No. But it’s still possible that Baresch sent it to Kircher as an additional lure. It’s of a much higher quality than the Voynich’s pictures.” I sat back in my chair. “I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve been able to get. What have you found out about the book sale where Wilfrid Voynich acquired the manuscript?”
Just as Lucy opened her mouth to reply, a librarian rapped on the door and entered.
“Your husband is on the phone, Professor Bishop.” He looked at me in disapproval. “Please tell him that we aren’t a hotel switchboard and don’t usually take calls for our patrons.”
“Sorry,” I said, getting out of my chair. “I had an accident with my phone this morning. My husband is a bit . . . er, overprotective.” I gestured apologetically at my rounded form.
The librarian looked slightly mollified and pointed to a phone on the wall that had a single flashing light. “Use that.”
“How did Baldwin get here so fast?” I asked Matthew when we were connected. It was the only thing I could think of that would make Matthew call the library’s main number. “Did he come by helicopter?”
“It’s not Baldwin. We’ve discovered something strange about the picture of the chemical wedding from Ashmole 782.”
“Come and see. I’d rather not talk about it on the phone.”
“Be right there.” I hung up and turned to Lucy. “I’m so sorry, Lucy, but I have to go. My husband wants me to help with a problem in his lab. Can we continue later?”
“Sure,” she said.
I hesitated. “Would you like to come with me? You could meet Matthew—and see a page from Ashmole 782.”
“One of the fugitive sheets?” Lucy was out of her chair in an instant. “Give me a minute and I’ll meet you upstairs.”
Rushing outside, we ran smack into my bodyguard.
“Slow down, Auntie. You don’t want to joggle the babes.” Gallowglass gripped my elbow until I was steady on my feet, then gazed down at my petite companion. “Are you all right, miss?”
“M-me?” Lucy stammered, craning her neck to make eye contact with the big Gael. “I’m fine.”
“Just checking,” Gallowglass said kindly. “I’m as big as a galleon under full sail. Running into me has bruised men far bigger than you.”
“This is my husband’s nephew, Gallowglass. Gallowglass, Lucy Meriweather. She’s coming with us.” After that hasty introduction, I dashed in the direction of Kline Biology Tower, my bag banging against my hip. After a few clumsy strides, Gallowglass took the bag and transferred it to his own arm.
“He carries your books?” Lucy whispered.
“And groceries,” I whispered back. “He would carry me, too, if I let him.”
“Hurry,” I said, my worn sneakers squeaking on the polished floors of the building where Matthew and Chris worked.
At the doorway to Chris’s lab, I swiped my ID card and the doors opened. Miriam was waiting for us inside, looking at her watch.
“Time!” she called. “I won. Again. That’s ten dollars, Roberts.”
Chris groaned. “I was sure Gallowglass would slow her down.” The lab was quiet today, with only a handful of people working. I waved at Beaker. Scully was there, too, standing next to Mulder and a digital scale.
“Sorry to interrupt your research, but we wanted you to know straightaway what we discovered.”
Matthew glanced at Lucy.
“Matthew, this is Lucy Meriweather. I thought Lucy should see the page from Ashmole 782, since she’s spending so much time searching for its lost siblings,” I explained.
“A pleasure, Lucy. Come see what you’re helping Diana to find.” Matthew’s expression went from wary to welcoming, and he gestured toward Mulder and Scully. “Miriam, can you log Lucy in as a guest?”