I made a face at her presumption but took the donuts anyway. "Come on outside when you're done,' I told her. "It's like the barbecue of the damned. Except ... there's no grill.'
She looked puzzled, but when she joined us later, she seemed to get what I'd been saying. Robert brought out a bowl of Cheerios, but neither Sydney nor Victor ate. I gave Sonya a donut, the first thing that took her attention from her yard. She held it in her hands, turning it over and over.
"I don't know if I can. I don't know if I can eat it.'
"Of course you can.' I recalled how Dimitri had regarded food uncertainly too. "It's chocolate-glazed. Good stuff.'
She took a tentative, rabbit-sized bite. She chewed it a billion times and finally swallowed. She closed her eyes briefly and sighed. "Such sweetness.' Slowly, she continued taking more tiny bites. It took forever for her to get halfway through the donut, and at that point, she finally stopped. I'd polished off three donuts by then, and my impatience to accomplish something was growing. Part of it was still the irritability from spirit, and part of it was just my continual restlessness to help Lissa.
"Sonya,' I said pleasantly, fully aware of how pissed off Dimitri was going to be at me defying his instructions. "We wanted to talk to you about something.'
"Mm-hmm,' she said, gazing at bees hovering around some honeysuckle.
"Is there a relative of yours ... someone who, uh, had a baby a while ago ... ?'
"Sure,' she said. One of the bees flew from the honeysuckle to a rose, and she never looked away. "Lots.'
"Articulate, Rosemarie,' remarked Victor. "Very articulate.'
I bit my lip, knowing an outburst would upset Sonya. And probably Robert too.
"This would be a secret baby,' I told her. "And you were the beneficiary on a bank account that took care of the baby ... an account paid for by Eric Dragomir.'
Sonya's head whipped toward me, and there was no dreamy absentmindedness in her blue eyes now. A few seconds passed before she spoke. Her voice was cold and hard--not a Strigoi voice, but definitely a back off voice. "No. I don't know anything about that.'
"She's lying,' said Robert.
"I didn't need any powers to figure that out,' scoffed Sydney.
I ignored both of them. "Sonya, we know you know, and it's really important we find this baby ... er, child. Person.' We'd made guesses on the age but weren't 100 percent sure. "You said you were worried about Lissa earlier. This will help her. She needs to know. She needs to know she has another family member.'
Sonya turned her attention back to the bees, but I knew she was no longer watching them. "I don't know anything.' There was a trembling in her voice, and something told me that maybe I shouldn't push this after all. I couldn't tell if she was afraid or on the verge of rage.
"Then why were you on the account?' This came from Victor.
"I don't know anything,' she repeated. Her voice could have made icicles form on the ornamental trees. "Nothing.'
"Stop lying,' snapped Victor. "You know something, and you're going to tell us.'
"Hey!' I exclaimed. "Be quiet. You don't have interrogation rights here.'
"You didn't seem to be doing a very good job.'
"Just shut up, okay?' I looked back at Sonya, replacing my glare with a smile. "Please,' I begged. "Lissa's in trouble. This will help her. I thought you said before that you wanted to help her?'
"I promised ...' said Sonya. Her voice was so low, I could barely hear it.
"Promised what?' I asked. Patience, patience. I had to remain calm. I couldn't risk a breakdown.
She squeezed her eyes shut and raked her hands through her hair violently, almost like a child about to have a tantrum. "Promised not to tell. Promised not to tell anyone ...'
I had the urge to run over and shake her. Patience, patience, I repeated to myself. Don't upset her. "We wouldn't ask you to break your promise if it wasn't important. Maybe ... maybe you can get in touch with this person ...' Who had she promised? Eric's mistress? "And see if it's okay to tell us?' "Oh for God's sake,' said Victor irritably. "This is ridiculous and getting us nowhere.' He glanced at his brother. "Robert?'
Robert hadn't done much so far today, but at Victor's command, Robert leaned forward. "Sonya?'
Still obviously distraught, she turned to look at him ... and her face went still.
"Tell us what we need to know,' said Robert. His voice wasn't kind so much as smooth and lulling, with a faintly sinister touch. "Tell us who and where this child is. Tell us who the mother is.'
This time, I did jump to my feet. Robert was using compulsion on her to get the answers. Sonya's eyes stayed locked on him, but her body began to shake. Her lips parted, though no sound came out. A tangle of thoughts swirled in my mind. Compulsion would get us what we needed to know, but something told me, it wasn't right--
Sonya stopped me from any more pondering. She shot up almost as quickly as I had. She was still staring at Robert, but no longer in that transfixed, hypnotized way. She'd broken the compulsion, and now ... now she was pissed. The features that had been scared and fragile earlier were filled with fury. I had no magical senses, but after being with Lissa, I knew raging spirit when I saw it. Sonya was a bomb, about to explode.
"How dare you ...' she hissed. "How dare you try to compel me?'
Plants and vines near Robert suddenly sprang to life, growing to impossible heights. They reached out, tangled themselves around his chair's legs, and pulled. The chair toppled over, Robert along with it. Victor moved to help his brother, but Robert was already taking matters into his own hands. Recovering remarkably fast, he narrowed his eyes at Sonya, and she went flying backward, slamming against the wooden fence. Air users could do that trick sometimes, but this wasn't air blowing her back. This was spirit's telekinetic abilities. He apparently possessed them outside of dreams too. Lovely.
I'd seen spirit users battle it out before, when Avery Lazar and Lissa had gone one on one. That hadn't been pretty, particularly since more than this exterior psychic phenomena had occurred. Avery had actually dug into Lissa's mind--and mine. I didn't know Robert or Sonya's full skill set, but this couldn't end well.
"Dimitri!' I yelled, springing toward Sonya. I didn't exactly know what I was going to do, but tackling her seemed like a sound plan. From what I'd observed, a lot of spirit involved eye contact with the target.
And sure enough, when I managed to wrestle her to the ground, she struggled half- heartedly but mostly fought to keep her gaze on Robert. He screamed in sudden alarm, looking down at his own body in terror. Sonya was planting visions into his head. His expression hardened. He had to know it was an illusion, and a few moments later, he looked up, having broken her spell like she'd broken his earlier compulsion.