“How do you think I recruited them in the first place?” Marcus shook his head. “Do you really think you’re the only two creatures on the planet who have reason to dislike the covenant’s restrictions?”
But Matthew was too distracted to respond. He already felt the first, restless impulse to go after Diana. Soon he wouldn’t be able to sit still for more than a few moments before his instincts demanded he go to her. And it would only get worse from there.
“Come on.” Marcus put his arm across his father’s shoulders. “Jack and Andrew are waiting for us.
I suppose the damn dog will have to come to New Orleans, too.”
Still Matthew didn’t respond. He was listening for Diana’s voice, her distinctive step, the rhythm of her heartbeat.
There was only silence, and stars too faint to show him the way home.
When the sun passeth through Libra, it is a good time for journeys. Beware of open enemies, war, and opposition.
“Let me in, Miriam, before I break down the f**king door.” Gallowglass wasn’t in the mood for games.
Miriam flung the door open. “Matthew may be gone, but don’t try anything funny. I’m still watching you.”
That was no surprise to Gallowglass. Jason had once told him that learning how to be a vampire under Miriam’s guidance had convinced him that there was indeed an all-knowing, all-seeing, and vengeful deity. Contrary to biblical teachings, however, She was female and sarcastic.
“Did Matthew and the others get off safely?” Diana asked quietly from the top of the stairs. She was ghostly pale, and a small suitcase sat at her feet. Gallowglass cursed and leaped up the steps.
“They did,” he said, grabbing the case before she did something daft and tried to carry it herself.
Gallowglass found it more mysterious with every passing hour that Diana didn’t simply topple over given the burden of the twins.
“Why did you pack a suitcase?” Chris asked. “What’s going on?”
“Auntie is going on a journey.” Gallowglass still thought leaving New Haven was a bad idea, but Diana had informed him that she was going—with him or without him.
“Where?” Chris demanded. Gallowglass shrugged.
“Promise me you’ll keep working on the aDNA samples from Ashmole 782 and the blood-rage problem, Chris,” Diana said as she descended the stairs.
“You know I don’t leave research problems unfinished.” Chris turned on Miriam. “Did you know that Diana was leaving?”
“How could I not? She made enough noise getting her suitcase out of the closet and calling the pilot.” Miriam grabbed Chris’s coffee. She took a sip and grimaced. “Too sweet.”
“Get your coat, Auntie.” Gallowglass didn’t know what Diana had planned—she said she would tell him once they were in the air—but he doubted they were headed for a Caribbean island with swaying palms and warm breezes.
For once Diana didn’t protest at his hovering.
“Lock the door when you leave, Chris. And make sure the coffeepot is unplugged.” She stood on her toes and kissed her friend on the cheek. “Take care of Miriam. Don’t let her walk across New Haven Green at night, even if she is a vampire.”
“Here,” Miriam said, handing over a large manila envelope. “As requested.”
Diana peeked inside. “Are you sure you don’t need them?”
“We have plenty of samples,” she replied.
Chris looked deep into Diana’s eyes. “Call if you need me. No matter why, no matter when, no matter where—I’ll be on the next flight.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, “I’ll be fine. Gallowglass is with me.”
To his surprise, the words brought Gallowglass no joy.
How could they, when they were uttered with such resignation?
The de Clermont jet lifted off from the New Haven airport. Gallowglass stared out the window, tapping his phone against his leg. The plane banked, and he sniffed the air. North by northeast.
Diana was sitting next to him, eyes closed and lips white. One hand was resting lightly on Apple and Bean as though she were comforting them. There was a trace of moisture on her cheeks.
“Don’t cry. I cannot bear it,” Gallowglass said gruffly.
“I’m sorry. I can’t seem to help it.” Diana turned in her seat so that she faced the opposite side of the cabin. Her shoulders trembled.
“Hell, Auntie. Looking the other way does no good.” Gallowglass unclipped his seat belt and crouched by her leather recliner. He patted Diana on the knee. She grasped his hand. The power pulsed under her skin. It had abated somewhat since the astonishing moment when she’d wrapped the sire of the de Clermont family in a briar patch, but it was still all too visible. Gallowglass had even seen it through the disguising spell Diana wore until she boarded the jet.
“How was Marcus with Jack?” she asked, her eyes still closed.
“Marcus greeted him as an uncle should and distracted him with tales of his children and their antics. Lord knows they’re an entertaining bunch,” Gallowglass said under his breath. But this wasn’t what Diana really wanted to know.
“Matthew was bearing up as well as could be expected,” he continued more gently. There had been a moment when it appeared Matthew was going to strangle Hubbard, but Gallowglass wasn’t going to worry about something that was, on the face of it, an excellent notion.
“I’m glad you and Chris called Marcus,” Diana whispered.
“That was Miriam’s idea,” Gallowglass admitted. Miriam had been protecting Matthew for centuries, just as he had been looking after Diana. “As soon as she saw the test results Miriam knew that Matthew would need his son at his side.”
“Poor Phoebe,” Diana said, a note of worry creeping into her voice. “Marcus couldn’t have had time to give her much of an explanation.”
“Don’t fret about Phoebe.” Gallowglass had spent two months with the girl and had taken her measure. “She’s got a strong spine and a stout heart, just like you.”
Gallowglass insisted Diana sleep. The aircraft’s cabin was outfitted with seats that converted to beds. He made sure Diana had drifted off before he marched into the cockpit and demanded to know their destination.
“Europe,” the pilot told him.
“What do you mean ‘Europe’?” That could be anywhere from Amsterdam to the Auvergne to Oxford.
“Madame de Clermont hasn’t chosen her final destination. She told me to head to Europe. So I’m headed for Europe.”
“She must be going to Sept-Tours. Go to Gander, then,” Gallowglass instructed.
“That was my plan, sir,” the pilot said drily. “Do you want to fly her?”
“Yes. No.” What Gallowglass wanted was to hit something. “Hell, man. You do your job and I’ll do mine.”
There were times Gallowglass wished with all his heart he’d fallen in battle to someone other than Hugh de Clermont.
After landing safely at the airport in Gander, Gallowglass helped Diana down the stairs so that she could do as the doctor had ordered and stretch her legs.
“You’re not dressed for Newfoundland,” he observed, settling a worn leather jacket over her shoulders. “The wind will shred that pitiful excuse for a coat to ribbons.”
“Thank you, Gallowglass,” Diana said, shivering.
“What’s your final destination, Auntie?” he asked after their second lap of the tiny airstrip.
“Does it matter?” Diana’s voice had gone from resigned to weary to something worse.
“No, Auntie. It’s Nar-SAR-s’wauk—not NUR-sar-squawk,” Gallowglass explained, tucking one of the down-filled blankets around Diana’s shoulder. Narsarsuaq, on the southern tip of Greenland, was colder even than Gander. Diana had insisted on taking a brisk walk anyway.
“How do you know?” she asked peevishly, her lips slightly blue.
“I just know.” Gallowglass motioned to the flight attendant, who brought him a steaming mug of tea. He poured a dollop of whiskey into it.
“No caffeine. Or alcohol,” Diana said, waving the tea away.
“My own mam drank whiskey every day of her pregnancy—and look how hale and hearty I turned out,” Gallowglass said, holding the mug in her direction. His voice turned wheedling. “Come on, now. A wee nip won’t do you any harm. Besides, it can’t be as bad for Apple and Bean as frostbite.”
“They’re fine,” Diana said sharply.
“Oh, aye. Finer than frog’s hair.” Gallowglass extended his hand farther and hoped that the tea’s aroma would persuade her to indulge. “It’s Scottish Breakfast tea. One of your favorites.”
“Get thee behind me, Satan,” Diana grumbled, taking the mug. “And your mam couldn’t have been drinking whiskey while she carried you. There’s no evidence of whiskey distillation in Scotland or Ireland before the fifteenth century. You’re older than that.”
Gallowglass smothered a sigh of relief at her historical nitpicking.
Diana drew out a phone.
“Who are you calling, Auntie?” Gallowglass asked warily.
When Matthew’s best friend picked up the call, his words were exactly what Gallowglass expected them to be.
“Diana? What’s wrong? Where are you?”
“I can’t remember where my house is,” she said in lieu of explanation.
“Your house?” Hamish sounded confused.
“My house,” Diana repeated patiently. “The one Matthew gave me in London. You made me sign off on the maintenance bills when we were at Sept-Tours.”
London? Being a vampire was no help at all in his present situation, Gallowglass realized. It would be far better to have been born a witch. Perhaps then he could have divined how this woman’s mind worked.
“It’s in Mayfair, on a little street near the Connaught. Why?”
“I need the key. And the address.” Diana paused for a moment, mulling something over before she spoke. “I’ll need a driver, too, to get around the city. Daemons like the Underground, and vampires own all the major cab companies.”
Of course they owned the cab companies. Who else had the time to memorize the three hundred twenty routes, twenty-five thousand streets, and twenty thousand landmarks within six miles of Charing Cross, that were required in order to get a license?
“A driver?” Hamish sputtered.
“Yes. And does that fancy Coutts account I have come with a bank card—one with a high spending limit?”
Gallowglass swore. She looked at him frostily.
“Yes.” Hamish’s wariness increased.
“Good. I need to buy some books. Everything Athanasius Kircher ever wrote. First or second editions. Do you think you could send out a few inquiries before the weekend?” Diana studiously avoided Gallowglass’s piercing gaze.
“Athanasius who?” Hamish asked. Gallowglass could hear a pen scratching on paper.
“Kircher.” She spelled it out for him, letter by letter. “You’ll have to go to the rare-book dealers.
There must be copies floating around London. I don’t care how much they cost.”
“You sound like Granny,” Gallowglass muttered. That alone was reason for concern.
“If you can’t get me copies by the end of next week, I suppose I’ll have to go to the British Library.
But fall term has started, and the rare-book room is bound to be full of witches. I’m sure it would be better if I stayed at home.”
“Could I talk to Matthew?” Hamish said a trifle breathlessly.
“He’s not here.”
“You’re alone?” He sounded shocked.
“Of course not. Gallowglass is with me,” Diana replied.
“And Gallowglass knows about your plan to sit in the public reading rooms of the British Library and read these books by—what’s his name? Athanasius Kircher? Have you gone completely mad? The whole Congregation is looking for you!” Hamish’s voice rose steadily with each sentence.
“I am aware of the Congregation’s interest, Hamish. That’s why I asked you to buy the books,”
Diana said mildly.
“Where is Matthew?” Hamish demanded.
“I don’t know.” Diana crossed her fingers when she told the lie.
There was a long silence.
“I’ll meet you at the airport. Let me know when you’re an hour away,” Hamish said.
“That’s not necessary,” she said.
“One hour before you land, call me.” Hamish paused. “And, Diana? I don’t know what the hell is going on, but of one thing I’m sure: Matthew loves you. More than his own life.”
“I know,” Diana whispered before she hung up.
Now she’d gone from hopeless to dead-sounding.
The plane turned south and east. The vampire at the controls had overheard the conversation and acted accordingly.
“What is that oaf doing?” Gallowglass growled, shooting to his feet and upsetting the tea tray so that the shortbread biscuits scattered all over the floor. “You cannot head directly for London!” he shouted into the cockpit. “That’s a four-hour flight, and she’s not to be in the air for more than three.”
“Where to, then?” came the pilot’s muffled reply as the plane changed course.
“Put in at Stornoway. It’s a straight shot, and less than three hours. From there it will be an easy jump to London,” Gallowglass replied.