Jamie and his problems often seemed more of an irritation than anything else. Yet he had been a good and loyal servant. Even years ago, Grenville had been surprised at how much he'd missed him, during the months of his hospitalization. And today, when he'd feared for Jamie's life...
"You told me Terrace View now has a rehab wing, for the sudden increase in drug addiction."
"I can't send him to Terrace View now. He'd think he was being punished. And he would think you were going to abandon him there."
Louisa didn't add she was sure Dr. McDevitt would make sure Jamie was never released to her custody again—he was head of the board now, she wouldn't put it past him. Phillip was up to something at Terrace View ... there had been maneuvers with the stockholders...
"If we could find a relatively stress-free environment for him, away from Hawkes Harbor, just for a while, where he wouldn't have to deal with all the memories here, it might be easier for him to cope with weaning off some of these drugs."
"Can't we just send him somewhere?"
"You know very well he couldn't bear to leave you even if you found somewhere to send him. He will have to be supervised for a while, and you're the only one who could control him. Jamie is yours, remember. I am to leave him to you."
Grenville regarded her with imperceptible amusement. She constantly wavered in attitude toward Jamie, depending on her needs; he was a friend, a slave—or their mutual child. Finally he said, "Surely, Louisa, you are not suggesting I take Jamie to Disneyland."
Louisa had a strong urge to take Grenville by the ears and shake him.
"Of course not."
"Why do you suppose Jamie remains so devoted to me? I assumed that would end when the curse was lifted."
"There is a psychological disorder known as the Stockholm syndrome. Hostages have been known to identify so strongly with their captors that they defend them. You're his only security. Jamie knows very well he's no longer able to deal with that chaos he called a life."
Grenville sat silent for a few minutes.
"Richard was saying ..." she began. His look warned her he had little interest in what his cousin had to say, but she went on. "The Collins shipping industry needed to look into passenger cruises. They are the wave of the future—you know Roger and his puns."
"No," Grenville said. "No."
"Of course he offered to go. But you could investigate for yourself. And it's not unusual for a man of your position and background to travel with a valet.
"Jamie might be weaned off the medication easier," Louisa said, examining her nails. "And he's very fond of sailing."
"No," Grenville said. "No, Louisa. No."
Grenville was at the hospital that evening at six. The doctors said Jamie would awake about then; if the tests were fine, if no liver damage threatened, he could go home.
Grenville didn't want Jamie to wake up alone in a hospital room; God knew what nightmare he'd make of it.
Jamie was starting to move slightly, mumbling in his sleep. Another bad dream, Grenville thought. Poor Jamie had so many. He still woke screaming a few times a month. If Grenville was still up, and he often was, still not used to wasting the beautiful night hours in sleep, he sometimes went in to Jamie's room and spoke quietly to him for a minute. He couldn't decide if it was touching or pathetic how the sound of his voice comforted Jamie, how swiftly he would go back to sleep.
Grenville could sympathize, having had decades of bad dreams. Being chained in a coffin—it gave you bad dreams. Then to wake to a still more horrible reality—cursed, his family long dead, Sophia Marie gone, his son, unable to use the wooden stake as promised, locking him into the coffin for eternity—and always the terrible hunger, the thirst like the most powerful pain. Slowly rage had buried every other emotion, like the strongest fledgling destroying its nest mates.
The injustice of it—other men had done so much worse at much less cost. So he reasoned then. A few words spoken in a heated moment to a native serving girl—surely they were taught, he thought, not to believe what gentlemen might say of love—how was he to know the powers her tribe possessed? He had not realized he had asked her for love, until he murdered it and saw it swiftly decay into hatred.
Grenville thought differently now. It did not matter what other men had done and had not paid for. Each case was judged alone and separate, he believed. No matter what had gone on before, what others did after and escaped unscathed ... and surely, to invite love, and then betray it was a mortal wrong ... it was his own hand that laid the curse ... his own doing ...
His thoughts went back to the night of his and Jamie's meeting. He had been almost a pure flame of hatred, that night he'd heard the ancient chains being broken, the lid opening....
How had he ever kept from killing Jamie? It was a source of wonder still.
He'd had just enough self-control to avoid a death—he'd found the jugular vein and, ravenous as he was, he was able to refrain from a kill. He knew that centuries had passed, he'd need a guide in a strange new world. And then; the quality of the blood was ghastly—tobacco, alcohol, a bitter narcotic tang; once the edge was off his hunger he was disgusted.
Surely some of his rage those early nights was partly intoxication. The shock of finding out what year it was ... and, finding the tools, next to his self-made coffin, the slow dawning of what the young man had intended...
Even at this late date, Grenville could feel a swift surge of anger. Jamie had felt his wrath that night, and for many nights after ... it was as if he'd been to blame, somehow ... the vile young wharf rat... who'd set the Monster free. Surely everything between them since had been tainted by that meeting.
On Jamie's side by terror, on Grenville's by contempt.
He remembered Sophia Marie, whose very shade had risen to reproach him. Not for being as he was, God knew it was no choice of his, but for embracing it, taking consolation in his powers...
Jamie shifted in the hospital bed, whimpering. Grenville leaned forward, ready to reassure him.
"Kellen?" Jamie called fretfully. "Kell?"
Grenville took a swift breath, and then stared at Jamie with an incurious surprise. Never, in all these years, did he dream Jamie Sommers had the power to hurt him.
"You win, Louisa," Grenville said. "If we stay cooped up in the Hall much longer I'll strangle him."
As irritating as Jamie could be before, now that Louisa had started cutting back on his medications, he was insufferable.
"He's cowering from his own shadow, jumpy as a cat, and if I so much as raise my voice to him, he starts crying. He has more energy than he's ever had, but he can't focus. As far as any work goes, he's absolutely useless."
Louisa sighed. "I think that not having access to all the drugs he thinks he needs makes him as nervous as the actual withdrawal."
She winced away from the memory of telling Jamie she was taking him off some of his medications, how he'd begged her not to, crying like a baby, finally even offering to live at Terrace View for the rest of his life.
Grenville, she remembered, had been careful to avoid that scene.
And now, Jamie was in a constant state of nervous anxiety, thinking he needed a pill whether he did nor not, as well as feeling the hellish effects of the actual physical withdrawal.
Grenville didn't have the disposition to cope with the young man's fears; Jamie knew this and it only made things worse. The last thing he needed, and Grenville admitted it, was Grenville leaving him. He would see it as desertion. It could easily cost him what was left of his sanity.
"He'll never be the same again, will he, Louisa?"
"I forgot, you didn't know Jamie very well or for very long before—when he first began ... working for me he was different. Quite resourceful. Almost clever in a way. And bold enough to risk ..."
Grenville's voice trailed off.
"No," Louisa said. "He'll never be the same."
They remained quiet for a moment.
to take advantage of this moment of guilt.
"Well, ten days will be long enough to lose another drug— I'll send him with a limited supply. Maybe Jamie will be distracted enough to cope with it."
"And if he's not?"
"I'll send some strong sedatives with you. If he gets too bad you can just knock him out for the rest of the trip."
Grenville looked grim—hardly like a man facing a dream vacation. "This had better work, Louisa. Of all your little plots and schemes, this one had better work."
New Orleans August 1968
"Wow, I bet the crew quarters ain't like this." Jamie looked around the spacious first-class cabin. He had never seen a cabin this large on a boat, not even on the yacht on the Riviera where he'd worked as a deckhand.
"Got a private balcony and everything."
Grenville sighed. As spacious as the room was—and he had specified the largest he could get—it was still much closer quarters than the rambling Hall. He tried to imagine living here with Jamie for ten days, then dismissed the thought as unbearable.
At least Jamie was distracted from his fears. If anything, he was too distracted; it would take him hours to unpack if he remained this hyperactive.
Jamie ran back in from inspecting the small adjoining room; for children—or servants.
"I wonder what the engine room looks like. You think we could see it? I never been on a ship like this, some of the freighters were this big, but not with all these fancy decks and everything."
"Remember we're researching passenger cruises for Hawkes Enterprises—go anywhere you wish." Grenville entertained a pleasant fantasy of Jamie roaming the engine room the whole voyage. "Maybe you could investigate how things are run and report back to me."