lost your mind, Little Boss! I’m coming up there! And Cyndy, the Nurse, is here and she is as shocked as I am, and she’s coming with me, and you better leave that child alone. Lawd! I mean Lawd! You can’t go undressing her like a doll, Taw-quin Blackwood, you lunatic! Is that child dead already? Is that what you’re trying to tell me? Answer me, Taw-quin Blackwood, this is Jasmine talking to you! Do you even know that Patsy’s run off and left all her medicines, and nobody knows where the Hell she’s gone? Now, I don’t blame you for not caring about Patsy but somebody’s got to think of Patsy, and Cyndy’s crying her eyes out down here over Patsy—.”
“Jasmine, calm down,” Quinn said. He went on in the most courteous and calm manner. “Patsy’s dead. I killed her night before last. I broke her neck and dumped her in the swamp and the alligators ate her. You don’t have to worry about Patsy anymore. Throw her medicines in the trash. Tell Cyndy, the Nurse, to have some supper. I’m coming down for Aunt Queen’s shoes and negligee myself. Mona is completely better.” He put down the phone and went straight out the door. “Latch this after me.”
Mona looked at me searchingly.
“He was telling the truth about Patsy, wasn’t he?” she asked. “And Patsy’s his
I nodded. I shrugged.
“They’ll never believe him,” I said, “and it was the smartest thing for him to do. He can repeat that confession until doomsday. But when you know more about Patsy, you’ll understand.”
She looked horrified, and the Blood was intensifying it.
“Which was the smartest thing?” she asked. “Killing Patsy or telling them that?”
“Telling them is what I meant,” I pursued. “Killing her only Quinn can explain. Patsy hated Quinn, I can attest to that, and she was a hard merciless woman. She was dying of AIDS. She didn’t have much time on the mortal clock. The rest he can answer.”
Mona was aghast, a virgin vampire about to faint from moral shock.
“In all the years I’ve known him, he has never mentioned Patsy to me or even answered by E-mail one single solitary question about his mother.”
I shrugged again. “He has his secrets as you have. I know the name of your child. Morrigan. But he doesn’t.”
There was the pounding sound of argument rising through the floor below. Even Nash and Tommy, fresh from the supper table, had been pressed into the cause on Jasmine’s side, and Big Ramona declared Quinn a necromaniac. Cyndy the Nurse was sobbing.
“But still,” said Mona, “to kill your own mother.”
For one brief technicolor second, I let myself think of my own mother, Gabrielle, whom I had brought into the Blood. Where in the wide world was she—that cold silent unmovable creature whose solitude was unimaginable to me? It hadn’t been so very long ago that I’d seen her. I’d see her again, some time or other. There was no warmth, no solace, no understanding there. But what did it matter?
Quinn rapped on the door. I let him in. I could hear the engine of the limousine started outside. Clem was getting ready for us. The night was hot. He was running the cooling. It would be sweet driving into New Orleans.
Quinn leaned back against the door when it was shut and bolted, and took a deep breath. “It would have been easier,” he said, “to rob the Bank of England.”
He thrust the glittering high-heel slippers into Mona’s waiting hands.
She looked them over.
She slipped them on her feet, gaining a good four inches in height and a tension in her legs that even through the dress appeared ruthlessly seductive. The shoes were just a tiny bit too short, but it was hardly noticeable, the rhinestone-studded strap cutting across her toes exquisitely. He buckled one ankle strap as she did the other.
She took the long white negligee from Quinn and put it on, wrapping it about her and laughing as the shivering feathers tickled her. It was