Thomas walked back to Paris after Anne pushed him out the door. Of course she was right. If he planned on eternity with Xavier, waiting for even a couple of years meant little. The only risk was Xavier’s mortal safety, but Thomas could protect him.
Still, he hated that Xavier fought his true nature, and despite the peace within him, his passion against the church intensified. Against his better judgment (he heard Anthony scolding him in his head), he headed for the Seine and the glorious Notre Dame Cathedral. It took no effort to locate the bishop. He scaled a wall, opened a window, and seated himself on the end of a bed. The figure at its head slept soundly so Thomas wiggled the mattress.
The man woke and screamed in terror. With superhuman haste, Thomas covered his mouth and ordered him to stop. “I won’t kill you if you obey,” he said. He let go of the bishop, who cowered under his sheet.
“We need to chat.” Thomas got up and walked around, taking in the room’s opulence: the expensive furniture, the ornate china left from dinner, the silk vestments, all the finery that one would find in the homes of Paris’s elite. He compared it to the sparse conditions of Xavier’s room: the blank walls and broken desk. Thomas ran his hand along the crucifix, mocking its inability to protect the allegedly holy man. After a grand pause, he turned back to the bishop.
“I know I woke you and it’s late, but I didn’t think that you’d accept my request for a visit.”
“What do you want? Take anything.” The bishop’s voice shook.
“Do I look like a common thief?” Thomas waved his hand at his own expensive clothing. “You and I have other business.” He took a seat on the bed next to the quivering man and ran his fingers along the wrinkled cheek, delighting in the bishop’s terror.
“It’s about a mutual friend. But I warn you, our friend has no idea I’m doing this. If you utter one word to him, I’ll break your neck. The same will happen if you speak of this to any other soul or seek retribution. Agreed?”
The man nodded, hands trembling on the sheet.
“I need you to write a letter of retraction regarding the things you’ve said about Abbé Saint-Laurent. You must admit you were incorrect and commend him for his fine work.”
“He defies the laws of the church.”
“That’s not why you harass him,” Thomas said, leaning forward, tone dangerous. “I couldn’t understand it before I saw you. Why would someone insult a priest who serves a parish few others would even enter? You tried to seduce Xavier and he rebuked you.”
The bishop’s pallor faded even more at Thomas’s words. “I don’t know what—”
Thomas nestled up to the man, put his face nearby, and massaged his leg. Though Thomas glared, the bishop refused to look at him. Thomas blew into his ear and then grabbed his genitals.
After a second, he released them and jumped off the bed. “Still want to deny it, Father?”
By now, the bishop was weeping as he shivered. Thomas marched to a desk, snatched a parchment, and thrust it at him. The bishop obeyed every command. He wrote three letters: one for his official files, one to the Vatican, and one to Xavier, apologizing for his mistaken condemnations and instead praising the young priest for exemplary service. Thomas took them when he had finished, sealed them with the bishop’s emblem, and slid them into his coat pocket.
“You have what you want. Leave me,” the bishop said.
“Do you understand what I mean to do if this isn’t the end of it?”
“Go away. You’ve won.”
Unconvinced that the bishop grasped the severity of his threat, Thomas grabbed the foot of the bed and broke it from its hinges. The mattress crashed to the floor and the bishop rolled to Thomas’s feet. He cried and quaked anew. Thomas reached with a swift motion and broke the man’s little finger. As the man howled in pain, Thomas smashed through the window and jumped two stories to the ground.
Now, to celebrate. Time for a kill.
As usual, people crowded the bars and drank, gambled, had public sex, and railed against Louis. The tawdry scene would produce a worthy victim or two. Thomas entered an establishment and took a seat. Nothing unusual caught his eye. No one longed for his fangs to end an unseemly life, until he heard a familiar voice. He turned, slowly, and saw Marcel seated nearby and talking to the likes of whom Thomas never wanted to even touch. They stank of men hired for dirty, illicit, and violent tasks.
There was a group of worthy victims. He could kill all of them, including Marcel, and rid himself of a major problem. Then Thomas remembered those damn ethical guidelines Anthony pronounced: never meddle in human affairs. Killing Marcel, even in a vial setting, violated that principle. And he had already gone too far in violating the ethic with his visit to Notre Dame. But that logic seemed faulty, until he recalled his conversation with Marcel. What if the demon placed some spell on Xavier to protect himself if Thomas came after him? Was such a thing possible? Thomas had no idea what to do.
Frustrated, Thomas listened.
“You’re fine gentlemen, as always,” Marcel was saying. “I hardly believe you dispatched that customer so fast and without a mess. I appreciate your efforts on my behalf—”
“Enough talk, old man, get to the point,” said one of the men. His breath hit Thomas from two tables away, stinking of tobacco, rum, and a gross assortment of decay.
“Don’t take that tone with me. I have a spying assignment, to watch two men. I need to know their patterns, their friends, and their beliefs. Discover any weaknesses, any material for blackmail, anything they conceal. Try to find out where they keep their money and when they sleep. I must know anything and everything about both of them. Monitor the two Saint-Laurents. One of you watch Michel, the other take Xavier.”
“How long do you want us to do this? It’ll cost you,” the other added.
“I’m well aware of your prices, and believe me, this is worth the cost. I’ll expect a weekly report. One more thing. Never go near their sister. When they visit her, walk away.”
Marcel described Michel and told them where to find him and Thomas pictured the route to Xavier’s church as Marcel gave it to the other man, depicting him, as well.
Thomas let Marcel leave, against his better judgment, as the rules haunted him and his magic concerned him. He followed the other two, however. He sensed enough to know that killing them would not violate the ethic, at least not as much as if he had gone after Marcel. These two had never met anyone from the family, so Thomas decided they stood outside the ethic’s prohibitions. They walked a few blocks, singing drunken songs, proud of Marcel’s coins and then entered a salon with rooms for rent. Thomas stayed close behind when they entered their room. He waited a few seconds and then burst in as they counted their money.
In a complete fury, he first grabbed the one intended to spy on Xavier. He almost failed to notice the terror on his face as he crushed the man’s skull between his hands. He paused as the cranium crunched like a seashell and gore exploded all over the room. He dropped the corpse and swore under his breath. He’d waited too long. The second man had escaped the room, and his screaming brought other patrons into the hall to see about the commotion. Thomas kicked the dead body before he swiftly went into the hall and vacated the building. He could not risk going after the remaining man as he stood among all these onlookers. Instead, he went to feed, once again hungry for blood after several nights of depriving himself.
Jaret still remembered coming out to his best friend, not as gay – they both were and knew it already, but as a witch. “I gotta tell you something. You won’t believe me. But I’m a witch.”
“And a bitch.” Brady giggled at himself.
“No, seriously. I’m a witch. The thing I’ve always hinted I wanted to tell you but couldn’t, remember? Because most people don’t believe me or make fun of me.”
Brady stopped laughing but tilted his head at Jaret. “Is this the alcohol talking? Gone to your head or something?”
“Wait here.” Jaret jumped to his feet and headed for his bedroom to retrieve his gems. He returned to the living room and sat next to Brady “Don’t freak.” He lifted the lid of the tiny chest and had the gems dance before their eyes.
“Fuck. You’re seriously a fucking witch?” Brady spoke with awe but no sense of fear.
Brady nodded. “Cool.”
“So you’re not scared of me or anything? Not running for the hills?”
“Well, I never met a witch before. At least you’re not green and old and scary and shit.” Brady smiled. “Seriously, it’s cool. What can you do? What power do the jewels give you?”
“It’s hard to explain. Sometimes even I don’t know. First, my ability comes through or from these gems somehow. They’ve been in my family for centuries. Get this!” Jaret clapped his hands in excitement. “Every generation of Bachmanns has a gay male who controls the gems and the magic. Always gay! Always a witch. How awesome is a gay family witch tradition?”
“How far back?”
“Long as we can tell. There’s a book in the family, a history, to explain the legacy.”
“And all were pole smokers?”
Jaret laughed at Brady’s slur. “Yep. All fudge packers.”
“So tell me, what can you do? Or is your power some ancient secret and you’d have to kill me if you let the cat out of the bag?”
“You do need to promise not to tell anyone. Most people freak out. And I don’t want to become a scientific experiment or anything bad. I probably shouldn’t have told you this much.”
Brady grew serious and crawled over to Jaret. He gave him a quick hug and then sat beside him. “Dude, your secret’s safe. I won’t tell anyone. I’m honored you wanted to share with me. Your confiding in me means a lot.”
Jaret had a hard time telling Brady how much his words meant. He thanked him, then decided to try to explain his power. “With the gems, I can move stuff around. Mostly they defend me from ghosts and bad stuff. They can close doors, open windows. Trap spirits against their will. Once, they even controlled a storm. But I never know for sure what will happen until I need the magic. Then I think something, maybe something specific or just, ‘I need help!’ and they do the rest.”
“Radically cool. You’re like the Bewitched woman from the old TV show.”
Jaret decided they had gotten too serious. “Sometimes I just play around with them. Here, let me show you. Name someone you’d like to see dance naked.”
Brady arched his eyebrow and then held his chin in his hand while he contemplated. “How about the hotty from the basketball team who sits in front of us in speech class?”
“The one with the low pants so we see his crack?”
“Yeah. Him. ”
Jaret closed his eyes and envisioned the guy, then asked the gems for help. When he opened his eyes, three of the smaller jewels had floated between Brady and him. Soon enough, a small apparition of the basketball player moved right out of Jaret’s mind and onto the floor in front of them. He did a strip dance to Brady’s whoops and hollers.
Jaret had no idea what the guy really looked like naked, so whatever appeared once the clothes came off stemmed from his imagination, not reality. But he did know the tight bubble ass wiggling in front of him came pretty close to authenticity because he had stared at the firm ass so much in class.