The Marradith Ryder Series: The Art of Shadows, Part 31
“I know Evan,” Nora said. “Well I’ll give you this, you picked a fine man to go through all that trouble for.”
Fiona chuckled. “I think I should be a little insulted the way you say that, but okay.”
“Well, you know I don’t like Rafael. Besides, you don’t tell a woman that her current husband is good looking. It’s poor form.”
Fiona sighed. “If you say so.”
“What happened when you got to the church?” Nora asked.
“I remember Evan and I whispering our goodbyes in the vestibule. Once he left I went inside. The candles were lit. There was no one around. I went into the confessional and waited. I don’t know how long I waited there, but I was considering leaving when I heard the outer door open, and someone step into the opposite side.
“I waited a moment, but he didn’t say anything. I cleared my throat. Still nothing. Finally I just said: “ ’I'm not Catholic. Maybe I’m in the wrong place.’ ”
“Miss Shepherd, you’re in the right place,” he said.
“Why are we meeting here to begin with?” I snapped. “What is this? Evan said…”
” ‘ Evan was instructed to bring you here,’ ” he said. ” ‘One of the places few people come at night. There’s no crowd here for someone to hide in. We could tell if you were followed. My name is Castillo. I’m going to give you some instructions, and you’ll need to listen carefully.’ ”
“So he took you from there to…where?” Nora asked.
“He didn’t take me anywhere. There was a car waiting around the back of the church. The driver took me to the airport and from there I was brought here, to the Compound. I was assigned to work with a man named Lyons. He was another Shifter, a former Graymoor himself.
“When they brought me in, they did the usual blood testing and typing. That’s when I found out that I was pregnant. Lyons broke the news. He was a stiff old man, and he wasn’t happy about it all. I can only guess that he was the one to put the call in to Rafael, because he was there the next morning.
” ‘So what do you want to do about this?’ ” Rafael asked me.
“I’m not having an abortion,” I told him. “If that’s what you’re talking about.”
” ‘No, that’s out of the question. But you realize it’s for the child’s best safety if he were not raised with you? There are relatives that we can reach out to from Evan’s family that can care for the child. Humans. We can make sure he’ll have a safe life, a good one. But there must be minimal contact. And Evan can’t know. ‘ ”
Nora shook her head. ” Well, how did you feel about that? I’d have been ready to rip his head off.”
Fiona shrugged. “I was upset. And angry. For a while, I really did hate Rafael. It sounded like a plan that could work to me. Evan had long ago given up contact with his human family, and the Sojourners would pay for the child to have all the necessities and more.
Rafael expressed interest in how I was doing as the pregnancy progressed. Afterwards, it was through him that meetings were always arranged, that I was able to get pictures and information about my son. So I had to remain at least somewhat civil. I was being brought into the fold, so that meant not only giving up my child but letting go of my old life in its entirety.
“Four years passed, and I became acclimated into my new position as a Sojourner. Lyons died. No one killed him, he was just an elderly man and passed away in his sleep one night, if you can imagine that, after all the hell the bastard raised. Anyway. All of those under Lyon’s command were given new handlers. Rafael became mine.
“To this day, he has never admitted it to me, but I believe that he specifically asked for me to be assigned under him. We worked closely together, and as you can imagine, we started getting closer. It took a long time, but I began to trust him. The job really depended upon me learning to do that. ”
Nora shook her head. “It must have been hard, being seperated from your son for so long. I can’t imagine it.” Especially when he was an infant, Nora thought sadly. She remembered what it was like to be a new mother with an infant, when body and spirit both ached to care for a child.
Fiona nodded in agreement. “Yes. It was. I wonder sometimes if Rafi didn’t use that to his benefit. Maybe the whole thing put me right where he wanted me. Isolated. And under his control.”
Nora patted her friend’s back. “Maybe. I mean, I wouldn’t put that past him. But do you think he loved you?”
“Oh yes,” Fiona said in a small voice. “Ruthlessly.”
©2011 Lori Titus
Lori just completed her first Ryder novella and is furiously penning her second. Catch up with her upcoming work and ongoing madness on her website : http://loribeth215.wordpress.com/ or follow her on Twitter as Loribeth215.