Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 35

Chapter 35
Rosa sat at a large table in the nearly empty dining room. Two men sat eating in a far corner. One of them waved at Rosa and the other nodded his head politely. Both were vampires.
"Before she gets back, you need to understand that the three of us came here together. The Doctor kept us locked up for a long time, though after some time - months, years? - I don't know - he let us stay together." Rosa paused. "The Doctor did a great many things to us. He hurt us in many ways." She shrugged. "Annie and I let the anger keep us motivated, but Trish…well, Trish was always very sweet-natured, very kind. She didn't understand and something broke in her mind.
"The Doctor finally let us go. We don't know why. We don't care. Now we take care of each other, the three of us." She nodded toward Annie and another woman coming from the elevators carrying baskets of food. "Trish has a harder time than we do, so we watch out for her."
Rosa kissed Trish on the forehead as they got to the table. "This is Trish. She's our very sweet little sister, aren't you, mija?"
Annie sat Trish down at the table, pushing her chair in for her. The short brown-haired woman looked at Maddie with beautiful green eyes, devoid of emotion. She folded her hands on the table.
"Hello, Trish. I'm very happy to meet you." Trish didn't respond to Maddie, but picked up an apple Annie set in front of her.
Annie looked at the two men and waved. She looked at Maddie. "The people in this building are outcasts of one form or another. We watch out for each other." She shrugged. "We don't make trouble."
Rosa nodded. "And the Doctor ignores us."
Annie's face twisted into hatred. "Which is fine by me. If I ever get the chance to…"
Rosa raised a hand. "Breathe, mija." She demonstrated. "Deep breaths. Relax." Annie took a deep breath, closing her eyes and letting the breath out. She did it again, and sat down next to Trish.
Maddie filled them in on how she ended up in Las Vegas as they ate the cheese and fruits. They looked at each other when she mentioned what a self-serving criminal Sam was. When Maddie told them about making the outfit and creating a false gun to use against Sam, Annie laughed so hard a piece of apple flew across the table.
She covered her mouth. "Sorry," she mumbled, between fits of laughter.
"So," said Maddie, leaning back in the chair and stretching her long, bare legs. "What I don't understand is what you're doing here." She motioned to Rosa. "You mentioned the Doctor experimented on you, but he let you go. Why aren't you back with your children?"
Rosa and Annie looked at each other, though Trish's face remained passive and blank.
Rosa narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean?"
Maddie sat up, leaning forward. She looked from one face to another. "Oh, my gosh! You don't know." Her eyes widened and she covered her mouth in shock. "How could you not know?"
Rosa leaned forward, her face unnaturally calm. "What are you talking about, Maddie Stone?" She frowned. "What children?"
"Tomás has three children in his house." Two sets of eyebrows shot up and they stared at Maddie. "The girl has Trish's eyes and hair." Trish took another small bite from her apple. "The two boys look like Tomás, but I think the little one has your smile." She patted Annie's hand. "I could be wrong, though."
"Madre de Dios!" Rosa's voice was a scream as she leaped up from the table, the chair falling backward. The two men at the other table stood up and moved toward them. "Praise Jesus and the Holy family!" Tears poured from Rosa's eyes.
Annie also bolted out of her chair, her eyes immediately filled with tears. "Do you hear that, Trish?" She impulsively hugged the seated woman. "Our babies aren't dead! They're alive!"
"You have babies?" One of the two men stepped up to the table, staring at Annie.
The other looked at Rosa. "Rosa? Are you okay?"
Rosa wrapped her arms around the slim man, the tears still streaming down her face. "My baby is alive, Chuck. He's alive! I thought he was dead." She squeezed the man hard and stepped back, hands crossed over her breasts.
Annie kissed the other man on the cheek. He stood back, an amused look on his face. "Yes!" yelled Annie. "You hear me, Jeff? Our children are alive and well." She looked sharply at Maddie, her face instantly covered with concern. "They are well, aren't they?"
Maddie smiled. "They are beautiful, all of them. And big for their age."
Annie grabbed Jeff's face with both hands and kissed him on the mouth. "My baby is alive." He reached out to pull her closer and she stepped back, slapping his hands away, a wide smile on her face. She waved a finger at him. "That's nice, but we're talking about my baby boy now…"
"How come you didn't know they were alive?" Chuck asked, amused, but a slight frown on his features.
"When Sam brought us here he said the children died in childbirth. He said vamp children couldn't survive." They looked at each other and Rosa continued. "We thought that was odd, since we've seen a few vamp children in Vegas." Rosa used a cloth hankie to wipe the tears from her face.
"Sam!" Annie's face changed instantly. "Sam brought us here for that." Her language devolved into a series of Spanish expletives spoken so quickly Maddie couldn't follow them. When she stopped to breath, she looked at Rosa, a fierce expression on her face. "I'm going to get a gun and shoot that little…"
Chuck raised his hands. "Whoa! Whoa! Don't be talkin' that kind of thing around here. You know better."
"And you can't get a gun here for love or money, anyway, or I might've shot the little bastard myself," said Jeff.
"Wow, I can feel the love for Sam around here," Maddie said. Everyone looked at her and she raised her hands in mock surrender. "I'm just sayin'."
"What are their names?" Annie whispered.
Rosa nodded to the two men. Chuck patted her arm and Jeff smiled at Annie before they left the room.
Maddie told them most of the story of meeting the three children. "Julio is the tallest. He has very dark eyes, like Tomás. Luis is shorter, but very sweet." She smiled at Trish. "Like I said, Ashley looks a lot like you."
Something might have stirred behind Trish's eyes, but her face remained blank. Annie smiled, tears in the corners of her eyes, and patted Trish's hand. "He named her after your mother, sweetie. Wasn't that nice of Tomás?"
Rosa's jaw muscles clenched. "He could be sweet when he wanted to be. But why would he get rid of us?" She clasped her hands and squeezed them together, the knuckles turning white.
Maddie shrugged. "He didn't want you. He wanted babies. Future heirs to run his dynasty."
Annie swore under her breath. "He could be nice, but he could also be a jerk." She reached in her bag for another cigarette, lighting it and blowing the smoke toward the ceiling.
Maddie nodded. "Well, I did leave out the part where my friend Nancy shot him in the leg."
Rosa's eyebrows shot up. "What?" She chuckled. "I'll bet he was fuming over that."
Maddie laughed. "Well, he deserved it." She looked at the three women. "You have beautiful children." She paused. "You should get back to them. You deserve to be their mothers."
Rosa smiled. "I was a mother, you know, before the virus. I was a grandmother, too. The virus was the best thing that ever happened to me personally. Cured old age and pains." Her face clouded. "It wasn't so good for everyone else though."
Maddie stared at the beautiful woman across from her, trying to picture her as a grandmother and failing. "So did you love Tomás?"
Rosa laughed. "No, never. He was easy on the eyes, though, and I have to say it was a long time since I felt some of those urges, if you know what I mean. It was fun. I liked the attention, even though I knew he was sleeping with my younger friends here." She nodded and smiled at Annie and Trish.
Annie blushed and spoke up. "Trish and I were heartbroken when we came to New Pueblo." She patted Trish's hand. "Both of us lost our entire families, our husbands, children, sisters..."
Maddie nodded and Rosa continued. "Tomás started giving us this blood wine, which none of us knew was so addictive. Then I got pregnant, which surprised me."
"Then I got pregnant, and Trish right after me." Annie smiled. "It was nice to be pregnant again." She patted Trish's hand. "Trish loved him."
Rosa smiled at her. "Tomás only loves Tomás." She paused. "Maybe Luis, too. I mean the old Luis." Rosa shook her head. "I hardly believe we have children." She looked at Maddie. "I should have known that Sam was lying though. I don't think he knows how to tell the truth, that little weasel."
Annie covered her mouth and gasped. "What do the children think happened to us?"
Maddie nodded. "Tomás told them you died. Viejo Luis says you ran off. I think he suspects something, but doesn't want to face the fact that Tomás is..."
"...a very bad man." Rosa finished her sentence. "I think you're leaving some things out of your story, but that's okay."
Maddie agreed. "I am, but they don't matter." She straightened and leaned toward the women. "What I need right now is a vehicle, some way to get back to Jed at the ranch. I told you Sam poisoned him. He could be dying, and I need to be there." She paused, her face blank. "By this time he could be dead."
Rosa sat forward, looking at Maddie with dark brown eyes full of compassion. "I understand, mija. But you can do nothing this minute." She pointed at the remains of the food. "A few good meals, a good night's sleep – these things will make you stronger and faster. And you will need to be strong and fast to get back to your Jed."
Rosa looked at Annie, who nodded at the unasked question. "We'll help you. In fact, I think it's time we took a road trip of our own."
Maddie pointed at their skirts and dresses. "You can't help dressed like that."
Annie laughed and pointed at Maddie's torn shirt and short shorts. "Well, you're not one to talk, but we have that covered. We have rooms full of clothes and shoes! We've been shopping in Vegas for a lot of months. I like to dress in the nice stuff," she added.
Maddie laughed. "I'd like some combat gear, but nothing with sequins, if that's okay."
They chuckled as they rose from the table, Trish, Maddie and Annie gathering the dishes and leftover food.  Rosa smiled. "We have the outfits, but no guarantees about the sequins." She spun in a circle, her skirt twirling around her legs. "We do have an image to maintain."

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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