Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Abby and Dalia Part 2

Abigail ran out of the room and into a parlor. She saw what she assumed was the front door. She lunged for the door handle when Dalia materialized in front of her.

“You have mussed my outfit considerably!” said Dalia at the end of her rope, “and I feel that you should be punished!” Dalia grabbed Abby. Abby struggled. “It will be your guess as to whether I make you into my companion, or I decide to kill you.”

The door opened. Shalimar’s throaty voice interrupted. “Still the savage after all my lessons in elocution. Dalia, are you going to spoil my sacrifice for me?”

Dalia let Abby go. Shalimar was framed majestically in the doorway.

Marion peered around one of her shoulders. “Hey, baby doll,” he waved, “our lady here wants a word with you.”

Abby sat up. “What do you mean sacrifice?”

“My dear child, at the voodoo ceremony tonight, you are to be the guest of honor,” Shalimar informed. “Dalia hasn’t told you? Marion,” Shalimar said, without looking at him, “take Miss Raintree outside. I wish to have a word with Dalia in private.”

Marion picked Abby up. She kicked and screamed. He slapped her, and she was quiet. He nodded at Shalimar, winked at Dalia, and went into the hallway.

“Shalimar,” Dalia cooed. “This isn’t what it looks like. I was preparing Abigail for you. I didn’t want Aunt Polly to get her. She’s turned on us, you know.”

Shalimar sat down in one of the high-backed chairs. “Aunt Polly has yet to become one of us. But she will in time. I am not concerned about Abby particular as a sacrifice. One virgin will do as well as another. But I am concerned about you. Have you been feeling yourself lately?”

“Of course,” said Dalia nervously. “What do you mean?”

“You haven’t been home in two days. And you didn’t let Aunt Polly learn the lessons about being undead that I wanted her to learn. You arranged for her capture. One might almost think you were jealous.”

Dalia laughed casually. “Me? Jealous of an old maid?”

“Now she’s beautiful and rivals your place in my affections. Possibly your brother’s affections as well.”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“Then, how can you explain your actions? What other possible reason could you want Abby? For yourself?”

“I am allowed to make those claims, am I not?”

“Certainly. I wanted to be sure,” here Shalimar’s voice iced, “that you are not getting ideas that are above your station.”


“Yes.” Shalimar’s eyes clouded to a stormy black. “I have been alive much longer than you. To try to deceive me is folly. I know you envy me. We can’t have that.”

Dalia’s panic lodged in her throat. “You know how I look up to you! I’d never do anything against your wishes.”

“I thought you would be different.” Shalimar dashed a vase on the table next to her to the floor. “I kept Placas close to me when she was my serving maid, and I thought she would be with me forever. Now she calls herself Marie LaVeau, and she is worse than the enemies I had before her. I thought you would be different because I made you. I see now that the best I can hope for is temporary companionship.” She rose solemnly. “You will die before I allow you to oppose me.”

“Please, Shalimar, let me explain—”

“No.” Shalimar’s tone was light. “There is no need for explanation. I have decided your fate.” Shalimar began to check ugly words from a language Dalia was sure she’d never heard. But she recognized it as similar to the words of the blood ceremony, hard and cold. Dalia was transfixed, watching Shalimar’s face, unable to hide or run away. The savage words poured forth from Shalimar’s lips, and then Shalimar’s hands, smooth and white, reached toward Dalia. The long fingernails played over Dalia’s white throat for a moment. A trickle of blood rushed down Dalia’s dress.

Outside, Marion kept hitting Abby against the wall when she needed it. Finally Abby had learned patience. When Dalia screamed, Abby felt the shudder go through Marion’s body. The scream died in a throaty gurgle, and Abby felt growing nausea in her stomach.

Shalimar came out, seconds later, licking her finger tips. “The back way, I think. We have appointments to keep.” They left discretely seconds before the police arrived.

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