Chapter Fourteen: We’re just trying to be helpful
Copyright © 2017 by Brian Bixby
Geoffrey MacAlpine was having an uncomfortably busy day. He’d had to acquire a new phone after leaving Calpurnia’s. (His last had perished while coping with the wyrms.) He’d had to arrange Jacintha’s shooting range. He’d had to place a priority order for a bale of fleeces, which had prompted a call from the Scots Council’s comptroller. And he’d had to field queries from people Marcus Satterthwaite had stirred up.
With all that out of the way, he sat down at the little dining table in his rooms with a beer and some crisps and hoped he’d get a minute’s peace to himself. He even turned off his new phone. Five minutes, he told himself.
Two minutes and seventeen seconds later, Charlotte Wallace appeared in the chair on the opposite side of the table from Geoff. Geoff bit down a “Bloody hell!” fast enough as he realized it wasn’t Charlotte herself, but an eidolon of her. Instead, he growled, “Couldn’t you wait until I’d finished my beer?”
The chair of the Scots Council allowed herself a smile to put Geoff at ease. Which is to say her eidolon did, because the original, sitting in her office in Edinburgh, did likewise. (The reader must keep this in mind for the rest of the exchange.) She simply observed, “You turned your phone off. And it’s been busy much of the day. It was either this or let Chisholm get into a snit about you again.”
Geoff rolled his eyes.
Charlotte dropped the smile. “Just what are you up to down there, Geoff?”
Geoff leaned forward, arms on the table. “This might go a bit faster, Charlotte, if you told me which developments have you concerned.”
Charlotte mimicked his motion. “Geoff, I’m asking for a report, not trying out for a role as a contestant on a game show.”
So much for bluffing, Geoff thought. It never works with Charlotte anyhow. “We have two wyrms, not one. The other is the Faroe wyrm, which we know thanks to an American photographer-magician I’ve enlisted. Marcus Satterthwaite is down here helping, or at least he will be after Katherine de Roet slaps some sense into him. And Calpurnia Kingsley, who turns out to be Marcus’s ex-wife, thinks she knows how to lay a wyrm, which is why the fleeces. Have I left anything out?”
Charlotte’s expression grew more severe. “Marcus was supposed to be up here in Edinburgh, thinking he was pulling the wool over my eyes. And you involved a Royal Magician? Explain.”
“One explanation for all that, Charlotte,” Geoff replied. And are you not going to like it! “I’ve been shtupping Marcus’s daughter by Calpurnia. He found out before I did, and Calpurnia probably doesn’t know at all. Naturally, he wanted to kill me. Well, unnaturally, really.”
Charlotte sat back in her seat, a thoughtful look on her face. Geoff’s explanation raised a great many questions, but it also offered some opportunities for the Scots Council to curb its rivals in Britain. But all this would have to wait until the wyrms ceased to be a threat. So Charlotte asked Geoff, “Do you think you can lay the wyrms or otherwise put them out of commission?”
“I’d offer about two to one odds at this point.”
Charlotte decided. “Then deal with the wyrms. I’ll want a fuller report when you return. And Geoff?”
“Find a way to write Satterthwaite’s daughter out of your report. That’s our own private little secret for now. It may prove useful. And considering the Council has never really forgiven you for that mad American woman and her weapons, the less they hear of your love life, the better.”
Calpurnia had been trying to deal with two distraught family members while still wearing a cast on her regenerating foot. So when her front door blew in, she wasn’t interested in dealing with the threat aggressively. No, she would wait to see who came in the door. Then she would kill them.
Four armed figured stormed through the door and in one motion positioned themselves to cover any threats in Calpurnia’s apartment. Four rifles took aim at Calpurnia.
They never had a chance. For Ursula woke up with yet another shriek and upon seeing armed people pointing guns in her direction, just mesmerized them all with desire for her, made them drop their weapons to please her, and then themselves dropped to the floor, unconscious. With a smile, she turned to her mother.
Calpurnia sighed, stroked her daughter’s hair (which was coming in plaid), and softly said to her, “That was very good, Urse. But they’re our friends. You didn’t need to do that.”
Ursula was naturally confused. “Why are your friends bursting into the flat and pointing guns at you?”
“Well, why don’t you wake one of them up, and we can find out. That one, there.” Calpurnia pointed to the one nearest the door.
Which is why Jacintha found herself sitting up on the floor of Calpurnia’s flat a moment later. She had a confused idea that she’d just seen someone with beautiful plaid hair, but dismissed the idea out of her head as nonsense. And then her vision cleared, and she saw Calpurnia sitting beside a girl with plaid hair. Jacintha shook her head once, twice. Yes, it was a girl with plaid hair. Fuchsia and chartreuse, at that. But Jacintha didn’t find her at all attractive now, and couldn’t imagine why she’d have ever thought otherwise. Not knowing what else to say, she observed, “Calpurnia, I think there’s a girl with plaid hair beside you.”
“Jackie, meet my daughter Ursula. You might remember her from the time she attacked one of the wyrms. She was wondering why you all came bursting into the house pointing guns at us.”
Jacintha shook her head a few more times. Not much was making sense. She looked around and saw the soldiers who had been escorting her all asleep on the floor. Obviously something had happened to them. Which dismayed Jacintha. Once she’d found out that the soldiers were ready to kill her, and they’d found out she was ready to kill them, they’d become pals.
And then she remembered why they’d come storming in. “We were picking up magical auras that said people had been hurt in here, so we figured someone was trying to hurt you.”
Calpurnia nodded. “Close. Something hurt Ursula and my ex-husband,” and she nodded at Marcus, still asleep on the couch.
“But you’re okay?” Jacintha wanted to make sure she’d not acted in vain.
Calpurnia pointed to the door. “Apart from the excess fresh air coming into the room, yeah.”
After his conversation with Charlotte Wallace, Geoff sat drinking his beer, wondering just how he’d got into this mess. Oh, he understood how his romance with June, or whatever Marcus’s daughter’s real name was, had complicated everything. But the one missing piece was how Marcus had found out. Somehow he must have met up with “June” in Edinburgh. That worried Geoff. He worried that Marcus might have hurt her.
And then he dismissed the idea out of mind. If Marcus had hurt “June,” he’d have heard about it. No, “June” was no doubt safely back in Edinburgh where she belonged, which was just as well. No point in letting Calpurnia or Kate know about her.
Geoff polished off his beer with a feeling of relief. All he needed was a bit of fresh air, and he’d be fine. He got up and, coincidentally, there was a knock at the door. That cheered Geoff up even more. It had to be the fleeces! Same day delivery was great.
He walked to the door and threw it open with a smile. Standing there was his girlfriend, “June Gow,” whom he now knew was really Guinevere Satterthwaite. She was in one of her more seductive poses, leaning up against the door frame, her eyes half-closed, a pouty look on her face. In a low voice, she said, “I was getting lonely up in Edinburgh. Won’t someone give me some loving?” And she fell into Geoff’s arms, managing to lock lips in the process.
Two hours later, Geoff finished showering and threw back the shower curtain, only to find a woman standing in the bathroom. This he had not expected. She clearly wasn’t June/Guinevere, being shorter and curvier, though Geoff had to admit that she was at least as attractive physically. Since she didn’t seem to be attacking him, just looking him over, Geoff asked, “Could you give me that towel, please? And explain who you are, before my girlfriend comes in here and beats you to death.”
The woman chuckled at that as she handed him the towel. “Oh, I don’t think Gwen will mind, seeing I’m her sister and all. You don’t recognize me?”
Geoff looked at her a bit more closely, and then he realized. “You’re the succubus, no, cambion, aren’t you?”
“I’ve got a name. It’s Ursula. Try using it. And are you going to hide behind that towel until you air dry, or get on with it?”
“I’m sorry, Ursula. It’s just that I’m not used to being naked in front of strangers, and that is your sister in the bedroom. This is a bit awkward.” And he started toweling himself off.
Ursula kept staring at Geoff’s body as he dried off. “Hmmm, I suppose you’d think it more awkward if I told you I can feel it anytime either of my sisters has sex. Comes with being a cambion.”
Geoff was now acutely aware of being naked with this cambion in the shape of a sexy woman in the room. Wrapping the towel around his waist, he said, “I hope that wasn’t a problem for you.”
Ursula shrugged. “Nah. Means I’m attracted to you. But I’d never move in on Gwen. She’s already had a rough life. She deserves a guy. So you’d better treat her good. Anyhow, you want my help with the wyrms?”
Ursula had realized Geoff was uncomfortable with her knowledge of the intimate details of his torrid reunion with Gwen. So she didn’t go into the details of her experience. She didn’t mention how much this had excited her. Nor that she’d left her mother’s apartment when she realized what was happening. Calpurnia had always been strict about Ursula not getting out of hand at home, and channeling her sister’s sex life was definitely getting out of hand.
Instead, Ursula had popped out of the apartment and to a place along the shore of Breydon Water she’d heard about from her mother and sister Bathsheba, where she could have some privacy and let herself go. Which is what she did. Being a cambion, that meant any living creature within several hundred yards was overwhelmed with sexual impulses. Six human couples walking nearby suddenly dropped into the high grasses to rip the clothes off each other. At least two male gulls died in fights over mating opportunities. And less than one hundred yards offshore, in their muddy lair, Ursula’s emotional influence threw the female wyrm into heat and woke both of them up.
Geoff had been right: wyrms don’t usually reproduce as far south as Great Yarmouth. But he hadn’t counted on Ursula channeling his reunion with Gwen. Which, ironically, meant he himself was one of the causes of there now being a pregnant wyrm in Breydon Water.
I guess love is in the air when Ursula is around. Also fireballs and the possibility of massive destruction. Just how long does a wyrm take to . . . wait, do they lay eggs or live young? Whatever, I suspect that means the Faroe wyrm is going to be hungry. We’ll see with what consequences in the next chapter.