I wasn’t helping, I was munching. Mrs Scarlotti makes these heavenly garlic bread sticks and I had my mouth blissfully full.
“Well, yes, I’m sure I have addresses and phone numbers for most. There are a few that you shouldn’t contact – they would rather not, I imagine. I’ll make those calls to be sure. Just give me a few days and i’ll make up a list for you.” Mrs. Scarlotti was telling me as she stirred something that smelled equally heavenly.
I realized then that if I hoped to have a waistline, I could never marry Jack. Of course, I also couldn’t ever eat at the Scarlotti’s again. Oh well, hope he likes me chubby!
I swallowed, “That’ll be great, Mrs. Scarlotti. I really appreciate it.”
She shook her head. A few stray grays showed themselves in the cascade. Funny, I’d never noticed them before. Mr. Scarlotti has barely any black left but Mrs. Scarlotti was almost completely black – the few gray hairs that hinted at her real age were scattered and her roots were obviously natural. Munching yet another breadstick, I wondered if that wasn’t the left over of being a slayer. Funny, the Scarlotti’s looked so perfect for each other – never before had it occurred to me that she looked younger than he did.
“I talked to Jack yesterday. He thinks it’s time to take down the Blade Brigade.”
Mrs. Scarlotti laughed, “Is that what you were calling them?”
I shrugged, “Yes Ma’am – couldn’t think of anything better.” I got out between swallows. “I’ll go get Finley as soon as the guys are ready to start on the attic.”
“Oh, Tresmayne has already left?”
“He moved to the hotel last night. He’s planning to come for dinner to say his goodbyes.”
“Ah, good. Never thought I’d ever meet any of the cadre.” Her voice hinted that the honor was tinged by the reason. Couldn’t say I blamed her.
“Me neither. Weird, I met the Mistress when I was a little kid but it’s almost as exciting to meet them.”
“Not so weird, dear. Just because you’ve met the President doesn’t mean it’s not exciting to meet the First Lady.”
“I guess not.” I finished my third bread stick, “These things should be illegal, you know.”
She laughed, “So my Donna tells me. Oh, did I tell you? That boy’s parents are coming down next month.”
“That… James?” I asked.
“Yes, my Lisa’s boy. He’s not so bad.”
I just nodded, stifling the urge to smile. Mrs. Scarlotti was coming around slowly. At least she wasn’t as mad at him anymore.
“Nice.” A bread stick was waving itself temptingly in my face. “Where is everyone?”
“Poppa is fixing the car, so the boys are out helping. Donna and Jane are painting the Schmidt’s bathroom – been promised for a long time. Lisa took Tina to get school clothes – already she grows out of her blouses this year.” Mrs. Scarlotti told me as she took out yet another set of pans.
She waved off my offer to help as she pulled even more food from the fridge. I watched, trying to guess what she was making but it was too early in the process. Cannoli, maybe?
I got up, mostly to get away from those bread sticks before I ate them all. “Jack said he still doesn’t know how everyone found out – no one will tell him.”
“Found out?” Mrs. Scarlotti laughed, “That boy of mine, so smart but sometimes, so dumb. No finding out – this may be New York but it’s a close neighborhood. Just because we don’t talk about everything doesn’t mean people don’t know. Really, child, you think no one notices when you two go tramping over rooftops? Normal people may not recognize creatures but they are put off their ease by them – and Tresmayne dropped his concealment that once. Scared people for five blocks!”
She started rolling dough as she chuckled, “People talk – not just slayers. Sanctuaries are strange places – refuges that attract trouble sometimes. Now, mind you, most people never accept what is truly happening, that’s a bit much, but they know things are going on. Besides, that ‘argument’ in the street – that was like an advertisement that something was happening.”
I nodded, remembering how fake it had looked to me.
“People asked questions – knew there was trouble. Then that boy sits there all night – how could they not know there was trouble? Add the internet and they know almost everything – everything they want, anyway.”
I felt stupid. It made perfect sense – heck, most of my friends at home knew I was a slayer and I’d only told one person ever, and she already knew. Slayers are the least secret secret in the world, I guess.
“No one wants to admit they saw a vampire – who would believe? They don’t want to believe – too frightening. And they don’t need to believe – creatures aren’t part of their world, only part of the shadow. Slayers keep the shadow world where it belongs – no need for normal people to string garlic in the windows and wolfsbane on the sills.”
“Unless we fail.” I replied, succumbing to another bread stick.
She knew exactly what I meant, “Unless we fail – but God doesn’t make perfect slayers – just humans who are slayers. I hope…”
It took a minute before she continued, “Daniel never believed in anything – refused to believe. Even when it was so obvious – he helped a young slayer once. Found the boy delirious in the street. Torn up from battle, wounds no man could make, no weapon does, but still refused to believe what that boy said. Because if the boy had really been in a fight with werewolves then Daniel might be wrong about God – and that he would not consider. But I wonder – I wonder if..”
“We weren’t supposed to save him?”
“Stupid old woman talk, I know…” She started filling the dough with meat.
“No, not so stupid. He sounds like a very practical man, Mr. Jenkins, I mean. Maybe the reality of a creature made him reconsider – while he still had time.”
Mrs. Scarlotti nodded.
I chewed my bread stick. Killed by a vampire in a sanctuary – I’d known from the start that Mr. Jenkins was an atheist or agnostic – no one else would be so vulnerable in a sanctuary, except the familiars, of course. I didn’t need to be told although now I knew it was atheist from what Mrs. Scarlotti had just said. It’s an awful way to die, being killed by a vampire, but how much more awful to have no chance of going to heaven. I was glad I never had to make decisions like that – only God would be wise enough to know when letting normal people see our shadow world – or even suffer from it – would actually be best. I prayed this was one of those times and that it had worked.
“Any chance of me actually helping instead of eating all your bread sticks?” I asked.
She laughed, “No, not today. today, I want to do it myself. And I have two more trays to bake – eat all you want.”
“That’s not fair – I can’t resist these things!” I kidded as I started on number five.