CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT
“I thought you knew,” Jill said. “I thought you wanted me to bring these home, you know with General Hargreaves. I’ve just . . . kept them . . . all this time.”
Jill looked from her mother’s confused face to Otis’s pinched features. Her grandfather was counting the pages of the photo album.
“Why do you think he always kept this with him?” Jill asked.
“I thought he wanted to remember happier times,” Anjelika said. “There are pictures of he and my brother in there, you kids, I . . .”
“I guess I needed to believe that he cherished something more than . . .,” Anjelika took a breath. For a moment she held her breath. When she sighed, she looked heartbroken. “ . . .revenge.”
Jill kneeled down and hugged her mother. When she heard Otis say something to Brutus, she looked up at them. Otis touched Anjelika’s shoulder. She looked up at her father, and he said something in Russian. She shook her head and repeated the words he’d said. For the first time in all the months of knowing him, Otis’s face showed real human emotion. He looked crushed.
Anjelika let go of Jill and hugged her father. They were crying and talking at the same time. Jill sat down on the edge of the armchair where Scooter was sitting. She watched as the walls created by decades of mistrust and deception crumbled between them. Leaning back, she snuggled Scooter and looked away to give them privacy. After a few minutes, her mother laughed.
“He thought, even now, that I had them, used them,” Anjelika’s wet face smiled at Jill. “He forgave me even though he thought I had . . . I had betrayed him . . . and ”
“I am a fool,” Otis said. “So much suffering because of . . .”
He waved his hand over the photobook and Jill nodded. He wiped his wet face with his aged hands and looked at Brutus. His life-long bodyguard smiled at Otis.
“Is good,” Brutus said. “Is very good.”
Otis reached out and hugged Brutus.
“Do you still need to pay this back to . . . them?” Jill asked.
“Debt like this is never forgiven,” Brutus said. “Only accepted; never forgiven.”
“What will you do?” Anjelika asked.
“I will think for a while,” Otis said. “I have much to make up to my Angel.”
Anjelika leaned forward and they hugged again. Jill smiled. Brutus tugged on the photo album and Otis let it slip from his hands.
“I go make safe. I’ll be back in no time.” Brutus emphasized the American saying. Jill smiled.
With the album tucked under his arm, Brutus left the loft. Otis cast a worried eye after him, and then turned back to Anjelika. Smiling, Jill stood to go to the kitchen. She was halfway across the loft when Brutus rushed in the door. The yellow lab, Sarah, and the ugly dog, Buster, zoomed in after him. He slammed the door and leaned against it.
Otis said something in quick Russian.
“Men,” Brutus said in broken English. “With guns. In house.”
“What?” Sandy’s voice was heard over the others.
Jill took another step and whoosh, her water broke. Jill gasped and grabbed her belly. The girlfriends and Yvonne ran to her.
“They are here for the babies,” the smallest gargoyle said in clipped British English.
“Why is he speaking English?” Tanesha asked.
The gargoyle smirked. Tanesha got to Jill first. She put her arm around Jill to hold her up. Jill crumpled forward with a contraction.
“Who is here?” Heather asked. Sandy went to the other side of Jill.
“The Celts,” the gargoyle said. “They have come for the children.”
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…