"Jamie." Her voice took on that threatening tone that always made him shiver. "You are going to help me today."
He knew what was coming next, and grabbed one of the pill bottles off his nightstand, popped three tablets in his mouth, and took a long swallow from his water glass. He'd need all the help he cou
ld get to stand up to her.
"If you want to go back to Terrace View Asylum it can be arranged." She brought out her favorite tactic. "So just get dressed."
She turned and left the room. Jamie sat there a moment, thinking it was easiest just to do what she said, as usual. Then he thought, Grenville said I could have today off. He said to stand up to her, I got stuff I want to do today.
He got up and followed her halfway down the hall. She turned and looked at him, surprised to see him still barefoot, still in the worn gray sweatsuit that served as pajamas.
"I told ya before, Dr. Kahne, some days Terrace View looks pretty damn good to me. It's peaceful, at least."
Jamie quailed inwardly to see Louisa's eyes slant dangerously, her jaw jut out. He grabbed onto the stair banister, strangely dizzy all of a sudden.
"And I have told you, Jamie, if I decide to send you back to Terrace View, I'll make sure you spend the rest of your life there."
She spoke almost by rote, this quarrel a familiar rite. "What are you going to do? Pick me up and put me in the car?" Jamie's tongue felt numb. He had some fuzzy thought of just sitting on the stairs. She couldn't physically put him in the car and drive him to Terrace View.
His knees gave out and he did sit down.
"A forcible commitment order can be easily obtained. In which case I can call the police."
Jamie struggled with a rapidly fogging mind. Was she saying she'd have the police shoot him? Could they just walk in the front door of Hawkes Hall and start firing? Maybe he'd get lucky this time. Maybe they'd shoot him dead. He wouldn't have to go through all the pain, the rehab, the mental hospitals.
The crazy time.
He felt like he was going crazy again, the way he couldn't think. Tears welled up in his eyes. He wished Grenville was here. He'd protect him.
Jamie stared at Dr. Kahne, no longer able to hear her ranting.
He was still coherent enough to know something was wrong. What was it? He shouldn't feel like this. He should feel calm, detached, far away, like he was watching a play. Not like every muscle was dissolving into liquid, that soon he'd be just a puddle of flesh on the stairs.
It shouldn't be such work to breathe.... He leaned his head against the vertical railings in the banister.
Both Jamie and Louisa started to see Grenville standing in the hallway. He'd come in through the back door and now took three angry strides to stand next to them.
"I told Jamie he could have the day off."
"Grenville, I only need him for a few hours. Surely, it wouldn't hurt—" Louisa wheedled.
"I have told you before, Jamie is mi—my servant and you are to leave him to me. It does no good to frighten him into imbecility."
Jamie could tell Grenville was mad, but couldn't decide if that anger was directed at him or Louisa.
He reached through the railing and tugged at Grenville's sleeve with the little strength he had left.
"Don't interrupt, Jamie," Grenville said impatiently. "I'm speaking with Louisa."
"Grenville, I think I'm dyin'," Jamie whispered.
"What do you mean?" Grenville turned to actually look at him for the first time that morning.
Jamie's face was white, his eyes dilated.
Louisa suddenly actually saw him, too. Quickly, she stepped up to feel his forehead, took his wrist to find his pulse.
"Grenville, he's like ice! And his heart rate's dropping. Jamie, what's wrong?"
"Wrong pills." Jamie's voice was barely audible. He closed his eyes, exhausted from the effort of trying to keep them open.
"Get him into the car." Louisa suddenly took charge again, crisp and commanding. "We have to get him to the hospital. Quickly, I'll be there in a minute, I want to check his pills. I don't remember any medications that could do this."
Grenville pulled Jamie's arm across his shoulders, hauled him to his feet. He had a moment of chill surprise—surely Jamie should weigh more than this ...
Grenville barely had Jamie shoved into the backseat, had the key into the ignition, was fumbling with his seatbelt, when Louisa leaped into the car.
"Oh, dear God, hurry!" she said, and the terror in her voice made Grenville's pulse jump. "It's muscle relaxants on top of tranquilizers."
They could hear him breathing in deep, heavy sighs, with long pauses in between.
"Please!" she said. "Please hurry!"
Grenville jerked the car into gear, and for the first time since he'd learned to drive, stamped down hard upon the gas.
Grenville sat in one of the sofas in his great hall, fingers together, lost in thought.
He rose to his feet when Louisa came in, as he would for any woman.
That was one of the first things she had loved about him, Louisa thought, the courtesy over courage, like satin over steel... she shook her head.
"Honestly, Grenville, you should have a phone installed."
He ignored that remark. "You had a talk with Dr. McDevitt?"
"Yes. He said ..." Louisa broke off as someone knocked on the front door.
Grenville frowned. "I'm not expecting ..."
But Louisa, always one to take action, was already in the entry, had already swung open the door.
"Rick?" Grenville greeted his young nephew. "What can I do for you?"
"Here's your mail. I found the new mailman wandering in the woods."
Rick looked around. "Is Jamie here?"
"Yes, he was supposed to meet me and Trisha at the wharf over an hour ago, to give us another sailing lesson. We were going to do it today because he had to work Saturday. I know he sometimes forgets things...."
Grenville and Louisa looked at each other. Grenville spoke. "Jamie is in the hospital, Rick."
"Nothing serious. He got some of his medications mixed up. They pumped his stomach, the hospital assured us he could go home this evening. Right now he's sleeping."
"Great." Rick slumped with relief. "Could you tell him we'll do it whenever he feels up to it?"
"Yes, Rick, I'll tell him. It's nice of you to let him sail your boat."
Rick looked at his older relative with the sudden, hot irritation of the teenager. "I'm not being nice. You sound like Father. Jamie's teaching me to sail and he's going to teach me to drive. He's the one being nice. It's more than Father would do."
"I see. Well, I'll be sure and give him your message."
When the teenager slammed the door behind him, Louisa and Grenville looked at each other guiltily. Grenville remembered—Jamie had taught him to drive, too.
"He did have plans for today," Louisa said finally.
Grenville tried to place blame.
"I don't think it's constructive to constantly threaten him with Terrace View. Especially since you know you'd never do it."
"Jamie knows that." For the first time, Louisa was a little uncertain of this statement. "Besides, you threaten to kill him. Surely that's worse."
"He knows I don't mean it."
"Don't be too sure of that—what you said this morning— 'Jamie is mine.' You own him. That's what he believes."
Louisa could not forget Grenville's slip of the tongue this morning. Jamie is mi—She'd had such an insight into their strange relationship. Jamie is mine.
Grenville believed it. Of course, he'd owned slaves before. Indentured poor, exiled convicts. But Jamie believed it, too.
Louisa had much more experience with vampires, vampire's slaves, than did the average layman, knew much more than most researchers ... She had a classic example in front of her eyes. It puzzled her still.
Even though Grenville was now completely human, even though his strange, almost total power over Jamie was supposedly gone, both men still seemed held by the blood covenant that bound them from the first. She still witnessed examples of what had to be telepathic communication between them.
It could be nothing else. For never, she thought, had two such different men walked the
"What did Dr. McDevitt have to say? Did he confirm the prescriptions?"
Grenville knew well enough what a man under the influence of an uncontrollable urge could do.
"Yes, they're legitimate prescriptions. I received my usual lecture about how I'd had no business releasing Jamie, and this time he added how I could have ever overlooked the list of medications he'd given me at the time. He never dreamed the doctor here would prescribe anything else. He never checked on the refills because he assumed I was doing that."
"After all," Phillip had said with uncharacteristic sarcasm, "You are his doctor."
"And Jamie is welcome back at any time."
"Should he go back?" Grenville asked uncertainly.
Louisa didn't seem to hear him. "Grenville, I did have him overmedicated, sometimes it was just the easiest thing to do— things were so desperate, and Jamie so nervous, but I promise, I never, ever dreamed he was still using prescriptions from Terrace View, too."
She tried a little fake laugh. "It's no wonder he's been such a imbecile, it's a wonder he's been functioning at all.... Phillip asked me ..."
"If I were certain it was accidental."
"Is it? Freud said there are no accidents.... You know, Jamie was put on suicide watch twice at Terrace View."
After a moment Grenville said, "No. I didn't know that."
"Some of these things, the pain relievers, the muscle relaxants, and nowadays they're even suspecting Valium—they're highly addictive. I'll have to start gradually cutting him back. He's going to be terribly anxious."
She paused. "Today—another fifteen minutes and he'd be dead."
Grenville sighed. He rarely gave Jamie a thought. Jamie had been the first person Grenville met in this century—if you could call that violent horror in the cave a meeting—since then, Jamie seemed part and parcel of Hawkes Hall, he was viewed as an extension of Grenville as much as the black Mercedes. So many, so much more important things had gone on in Hawkes Harbor— the removal of the curse, which had exposed a deeper evil still. Then the family, the businesses—God knows what would have happened to either of them, had not Grenville been there to step in, with money and advice.