CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-NINE
Monday night — 9:45 p.m.
Jill followed Nelson out of the back sliding glass door. They walked across their private courtyard and up the six steps to the carriage house Nelson used to live in. They went around the corner to reach the front door of the carriage house.
Nelson knocked twice.
“Just give them a heads up,” Nelson said.
Jill nodded. Nelson let them inside the carriage house. Jill stood in the entrance and listened. She’d been here many times to help Nelson’s father, Pierre Semaines, when he was unconscious. She knew that her mother and her grandfather had also been here. Their efforts focused on strengthening Pierre so that he would be able to survive long enough for Nelson to find the Templar Hoard. Now that Mari had brought the “Adam’s Apple” ruby, Pierre Semaines was healing from the months of being inactive.
“He just woke up,” the nurse said. “We’ve had a shower and changed.”
“Would you like a little break?” Nelson asked.
“Sounds good to me,” the nurse said. “But please — no more than a half-hour. He pretends to be well, but he tires easily.”
“Thank you,” Jill said with a nod.
The nurse smiled at Jill and nodded to Nelson before leaving the room. They listened while she went outside. Jill knew that she liked to sit in the sunny patio outside the door between the carriage house and Mr. Matchel’s home. This time of the night, Jill assumed the nurse was reading her emails.
“Nelson?” Pierre croaked from his bed.
They went around the corner to find Pierre in his hospital bed. They had set up the bed in what had been Nelson’s dining room. Nelson leaned over to kiss his father’s cheek. They spoke back and forth in quiet, quick French.
“Jill!” Pierre said. “My son tells me that you, your mother, and grandfather are one of the reasons I am still here.”
Embarrassed, Jill looked down and smoothed her hair.
“How are you, sir?” Jill asked.
“Now, now,” Pierre said. “Call me Pierre. You are family after all.”
“Sir?” Jill asked.
“My son is in a committed relationship with Blane, who is your husband’s. . .” Pierre shrugged. “Brother?”
“Cousin,” Jill said.
“That makes you family,” Pierre said. “Not to mention that you’ve helped me in a way that I can never repay.”
Jill looked down.
“Are you a Titan?” Pierre asked.
“Me?” Jill asked.
She looked up to see Nelson nodding. Pierre’s intense eyes tracked her face.
“My father is Perses,” Jill said. “My mother is human. We are mostly human.”
Pierre gave her a doubting look but nodded to let her off the hook.
“Help me up,” Pierre said in French.
Nelson helped his father to sitting.
“I am allowed to walk a tiny bit inside the house,” Pierre said. “Would you like to walk with me?”
Nelson looked at Jill, and she nodded.
“Shall I make us some tea?” Nelson asked.
“No,” Pierre said with a laugh. “I’ve had so much tea. I would like to see you, speak with you.”
Pierre looked at Jill and then winked at Nelson.
“This beautiful woman is not here for tea,” Pierre said.
Jill blushed. Nelson put his arm over her shoulder and said, “French men. We are just like that.”
“Let’s see if we can make it to the living room,” Pierre said. “Now little Titan-ling, may I draw on your strength?”
“Nelson said. . .” Jill said abruptly.
“He is right,” Pierre said. “But he forgets that I need strength. May I borrow some of yours?”
“Of course,” Jill said.
“I will put my arm over your shoulder,” Pierre said.
Pierre’s arm went over her shoulder. She put her arm around him. Pierre put his arm over Nelson’s shoulder as well.
They shuffled to the steps to Nelson’s living room. Jill closed her eyes and let out a breath. She directed some of her strength into Pierre.
“Thank you,” Pierre said.
They took the steps one at a time.
“This is a real prize,” Pierre said with a laugh.
Nelson directed Pierre to the comfortable reclining chair. Nelson checked that his father didn’t need anything before sitting on the couch. Jill took an armchair across from Nelson.
“Tell me what brings you here in the middle of the night,” Pierre said.
“My daughter was giving the Vanquisher,” Jill said.
“Not possible,” Pierre said. “The sword was destroyed.”
“The sword was made by Jill’s father Perses,” Nelson said. “Or so he says. He left it where he was told that his granddaughter would get it. Maughold was to give her the sword when he gave the Sword of Truth to Paddie.”
Pierre squinted at Nelson to see if he was saying the truth. Nelson nodded.
“I would show you the sword, but. . .” Jill said.
“You cannot break the sword of power away from her owner,” Pierre said with a nod. “Have I seen the Sword of Truth?”
“I don’t think so,” Nelson said.
“My daughter is just a little girl,” Jill said with a sigh.
“How old is she now?” Pierre asked.
“She’ll be eight this month,” Jill said. “Paddie is seven.”
“You know that many Queens of old were crowned at nine years old,” Pierre said.
“So?” Jill shrugged. “She is a little girl. Whatever she does with her life or in her life, she deserves some time to just be a little girl.”
“I see,” Pierre said. “Her father has fairy ancestry?”
Jill gave him an assessing look.
“Why?” Jill asked.
“There is a prophesy,” Pierre said.
Jill shot an angry look at Nelson.
“Jill is angry with me for not telling her about a prophesy that involves the Templars and her daughter,” Nelson said. He put his hand on his chest. “I don’t know of one.”
“That’s true,” Pierre said. “My son never took a lot of stock in prophesies, even the ones that include him.”
“Until I met Delphie,” Nelson said.
“The Oracle,” Pierre said with a nod. “Yes.”
Pierre sighed and Jill could see just how sick and fragile Pierre was still.
“I remember,” Pierre said. “Delphie.”
“She’s been here with you while you were sick,” Nelson said.
“I will look forward to another visit,” Pierre said. “I saw Maresol today. She’s always such a breath of fresh air.”
Jill and Nelson smiled at Pierre’s smile.
“You didn’t come here to hear about my day,” Pierre said. “Tell me — what has happened?”
Nelson nodded to Jill.
“Dad,” Jill said.
Perses arrived so quickly that Nelson jumped to his feet. Pierre yelped and leaned back.
“Nelson,” Perses said in a kind of growl. Seeing, Pierre’s fright, he shifted, “I apologize Mr. Semaines. It was not my intention to alarm you.”
“You know who I am?” Pierre asked.
“You were the Grand Master of the Templars,” Perses said. “You may not remember me being there, but I was in Arizona when the Templars attacked.”
“My sister, Candy, had to make him promise not to kill everyone,” Jill said.
“They died anyway,” Pierre said.
“Yes,” Perses said. “Now, let’s make you comfortable.”
Perses turned to Nelson.
“He needs something warm to drink,” Perses said. He closed his eyes. “Mulled wine would be perfect. Do you have something like that?”
“I can. . .” Nelson started.
“Heather,” Jill said.
There was a knock at the door and Heather came into the carriage house. She was wearing her bathrobe over her pajamas.
“My father is very ill!” Nelson said. “More people, more risk of virus — what are you doing?”
“Define ‘people,’” Pierre said with a laugh.
“How may I be of service?” Heather asked.
“Dad says that Pierre needs something like mulled wine,” Jill said with a shrug. “I don’t. . .”
Heather knelt down to Pierre. She put her hands on either side of Pierre’s face. Nelson gawked at her.
“He is stronger than he looks,” Heather said. “You are correct, Perses.”
“Of course I am,” Perses said with a sniff.
Heather openly laughed at him which made Perses grin at her. Heather held out her hand and a jug of wine appeared.
“With the oranges?” Perses asked. “Spices? Honey?”
“Of course,” Heather said. She looked at Nelson and said, “Mugs?”
“What is that?” Nelson asked. He couldn’t help but be a snippy doctor. “I’m not going to get my father drunk on some crap from your freak of a grandfather’s cellar! I. . .”
“The alcohol is much reduced by the cooking,” Heather said. “It has what your father needs. You can either give it to him or. . .”
“Fuck,” Nelson said.
Jill got up and ran to the kitchen. She took five mugs from the cabinet and returned. Heather poured the wine. Perses passed out the mugs. For a moment, everyone took a sip of the wine. After a first sip, Pierre swallowed down the wine. Heather refilled his mug.
“Slowly, now,” Heather said.
“Ma’am,” Pierre said.
The room was silent as they took sips of the wine, fruit, and spice mixture.
“This is really good,” Jill said, surprised.
“It’s an old remedy,” Perses said. “But sometimes, the old remedies are the best. How are you feeling, Pierre?”
“Better,” Pierre said. “Thank you. This brings me back to my mother’s kitchen. She made something like this. Where did it come from?”
“My grandfather’s home,” Heather said. “His bees, oranges. . . come to think of it, I think he grows the spices too.”
Pierre took another drink.
“You are here about the prophesy,” Pierre said. “We should speak quickly before the nurse returns.”
“Is this the prophesy my sister referred to?” Perses asked.
“Yes,” Jill glared at Nelson.
“I did not know,” Nelson said. “You know that I love Katy.”
“Oh, Katy?” Perses looked at Jill. “You think it’s Katy?”
“Your sister told Katy that. . .” Jill said. Angry again, she just shook her head.
“She has the Vanquisher,” Nelson said.
“Yes,” Perses said.
“That sword is yours?” Pierre asked Perses.
“I had it made,” Perses said with a shrug.
“Huh,” Pierre said.
“Who made the prophesy?” Heather asked.
“Oracle of Delphi, actually,” Pierre said. He nodded to Perses. “You knew them?”
“Sure,” Perses said. “Some of them were as good as our Delphie. Most of them were not. Our Delphie is the best oracle that I’ve ever known.”
“The woman who told me to leave the sword with Maughold,” Perses said. He sipped his mulled wine. “That was right.”
“What. Did. She. Say?” Jill said her words through her teeth. “What is this God damned prophesy?”
Her words echoed in the living room as if she’d shouted. Nelson and Pierre looked a little shocked while her father laughed, and Heather smiled.
“There will be a female child — not an average child, but a female child, none the less. She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses, the greatest blade will guide the smallest hand, the smallest blade, the finest cut will change the fate of those strive for powerful and greatness.”
“What?” Perses asked.
Pierre held up a finger. Everyone in the room leaned forward.
Pierre said. “My father used to add this last bit — ‘And the swords of the son — either ‘s-o-n’ or ‘s-u-n’ — will fade into the darkness from whence they came. None who survives will remember.’”
Pierre nodded to Nelson and said, “Your mother used to add — ‘Watch for her as she will need your help, your love, but get out of the way when the time is ripe.’”
No one said anything for a long moment.
“Well, at least that’s clear,” Heather said.
Everyone gawked at her. When Heather started to laugh, everyone laughed.
“That could mean anything!” Jill said. “It probably doesn’t have anything to do with Katy.”
“Yes, I’m afraid that’s true,” Pierre said. “May I ask — your daughter? Is she. . . special?”
While everyone nodded, Jill said, “She’s just a little girl.”
“And if she isn’t?” Pierre asked.
“Whatever she is, she is a little girl!” Jill insisted.
Pierre gave Jill a kind nod.
“I understand,” Pierre said. “I’m the father of the last Grand Master of the Templars. I don’t love that my son is out there risking his life. I tried to hold onto the title for as long as I possibly could. But there was nothing I could do. He was bound to take on the role no matter what I did.”
“I. . .” Jill shook her head. She nodded to Pierre. “Thank you, Mr. Semaines. I have to think about everything. Talk to Jake.”
“I understand,” Pierre said.
Jill nodded and started toward the door. Heather got up, smiled at Pierre, and left with Jill.
“It was nice to see you again,” Perses said before disappearing.
For a moment, Nelson and Pierre sat in the living room together.
“Do you get used to it?” Pierre asked Nelson.
“Used to what?” Nelson asked.
“Their coming and going?” Pierre asked.
“They are like the tide,” Nelson said. “They come and they go. I never know who or what will be there. It’s. . . interesting, I guess.”
“I have been an ER doctor for a while,” Nelson said. “Being an ER doctor is likethat. I never know if they are bringing good things or some horror. But that’s true for most people.”
Pierre nodded. He sighed and Nelson saw how tired his father had become.
“Let’s get you back to bed,” Nelson said.
“I hate that bed,” Pierre said.
“You are getting better,” Nelson said. “You must rest to regain your strength.”
Nelson pulled his father to his feet. They hugged for a long moment. Nelson tried to will his strength into his father.
“I’m okay, son,” Pierre said in French.
“I know,” Nelson replied in French. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
They were across the living room when the nurse returned. She helped Nelson get Pierre back in bed. Nelson stayed long enough to help get his father settled. Nelson’s own exhaustion returned the moment he stepped out of the carriage house. He moved across the yard and stumbled up the stairs to his room.
Not for the first time, he was grateful for his own private space. He used his bathroom and got into bed. He was just falling asleep when he realized that he had previously heard that prophesy. He fell asleep wondering when he’d heard it.
Monday night — 10:15 p.m.
Valerie tapped on the door to her old apartment. When Ivan didn’t answer, she peaked inside. Ivan was sitting in an armchair with a tablet computer on his lap. He waved her inside.
Valerie opened the door, picked up the legged tray, and went inside. The tray had Ivan’s Chinese medicine, his night time cancer medication regimen, a croissant, and a pot of tea. Because Valerie and Mike were usually awake at this time of night, she usually brought Ivan his night time medications and a snack.
“Thank you,” Ivan said without seeing the tray.
“It’s my pleasure,” Valerie said. “How is Sissy?”
Sissy had returned to France to take a position in the chorus at the Opera de Paris ballet. She, the lead boy, and the lead girl from their school had all been offered parts.
“She is well,” Ivan said. “Bored. It’s common for students to be board by the company if they join the company associated with their school.”
“Oh?” Valerie asked.
She set the tray on the table. She removed the saucer from the top of Ivan’s Chinese medicine tea.
“Mmm,” Ivan said. “Smells absolutely horrible tonight.”
“I’d love to hear more about Sissy,” Valerie said. “Why don’t you sip it and tell me how she is?”
“She’s cleared my things from the apartment I was staying in,” Ivan said. “I thought that she would move in there, but she is back with Claire and Ben. She says that being around family makes her happy and being on her own reminds her of her childhood loneliness.”
Valerie spied that Ivan was about halfway through his drink.
“I understand that,” Valerie said. “Her life seemed pretty bad, and I was way on the sidelines.”
Ivan swallowed down the rest of the Chinese medicine. He grimaced.
“We have to wait a few minutes before you can drink anything,” Valerie said.
“What does she like about living with Claire and Ben?” Valerie asked.
“Oh,” Ivan said. “They have a young children. Sissy loves little kids. Claire has been able to mother Sissy in a way that is exactly what she needs. I cannot describe it. It’s beautiful to witness. They have been so kind to Sissy.”
Ivan looked at Valerie.
“You have been kind to me,” Ivan said. “How are you? How is the scripting going?”
“For the new movie?” Valerie asked. “Slow. Very very slow.”
She held out the pills for Ivan to take and a glass of what looked like water. He swallowed down the pills.
“What is this?” Ivan held up the water. He took a sip. “It takes like water and is not water.”
“Jill infused it with her special healing,” Valerie said. “She thought it might help make everything work.”
“Anything,” Ivan said. “I’m happy to do anything.”
Valerie gave him a soft smile. He closed his eyes but gestured for her to keep speaking.
“My ego likes that I’m getting parts for more serious roles,” Valerie said.
“Yes, I have been there,” Ivan said with a smile.
“But they are so slow to come together,” Valerie said. “I could be filming an action or a thriller right now. Instead, I’m waiting on scripting. Honestly, Ivan, I don’t know if I have the temperament for this more serious work.”
Ivan smiled at her.
“You do,” Ivan said. “See how you feel when you are filming the part. It’ll make up for all of this chaos and anxiety.”
“I hope so,” Valerie said.
“Try to eat,” Valerie said. Switching to her “special” voice, she added, “We got these today from the French bakery. It’s warm.”
Valerie poured him some tea from pot.
“This is from our mint patch,” Valerie said. “I put in Delphie’s honey as you like it.”
Ivan had such a hard time eating that he continued to lose weight. Valerie found that he‘d eat if she asked in her special voice, even though he knew that she was using it.
He drank some tea and ate a piece of the croissant.
“Delicious,” Ivan said. He took three more bites and finished his tea. “As always. . .”
Ivan fell sound asleep. Valerie put the computer tablet on the table. As she did every night, she took off his shoes. There was a tap at the door and Mike came in. While Mike was changing Ivan into his bed clothing, Valerie collected his dirty dishes. Mike got Ivan settled into bed. They left their old apartment together.
There was nothing anyone could say about what was happening with Ivan. According to the doctors and Blane, he would either get well or he wouldn’t.
They deposited the tray of dirty dishes in the main Castle kitchen and went to pick up their children from Honey’s apartment. Arm in arm, they went to their new apartment.
Denver Cereal continues next week...
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