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episode fourteen

Chapter Thirteen

To: Renegade Son < [email protected] >

From: Edgar Weem < [email protected] >

Subject: (none)

Fine, Hallam. We'll play it your way.


Lilith was in the back of the car, tied up and gagged. I opened the door and looked at her. "You okay?" I asked.

She made a muffled noise. I reached in and pulled the gag out of her mouth.

"Fine," she gasped. "Are you?"

"I'm great," I said. "Come over here so that I can untie you."

"Zaza, what?"

"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand fucking times. Don't. Call. Me. Zaza." I waved the gun in her face for emphasis.

She shrank from me. "Sorry," she mumbled.

"Now, come over here," I said, exasperated. She scooted over, and I untied her hands and feet.

"Azazel, you're head is"

"It's fine," I said. "You wanna sit up front?"

"Uh . . ."

"Stay in the back, then," I said. I closed the door, and got in the driver's seat. I sat down. Buckled my seat belt. Felt the ignition.

And burst into laughter. I turned back to Lilith. "Keys!" I said to her. "I forgot the keys."

Still laughing, I got out of the car and ambled over to the bodies of Noah and Gordon. Noah had been driving, so he probably had them. I felt in his pockets. Sure enough. Keys.

Before I could think much about the fact that I'd just shot and killed both of my brothers, I went back to the car.

I jammed the keys in the ignition and started the car. I pulled the car back on the road and headed towards Shiloh.

"Now," I said to Lilith, "before I was interrupted, I was thinking about where the fuck I was going to go. Now that I've just committed murder, I'm even more confused." I looked back at her. "Where do people go after they kill people?"

"Watch the road," she said, her voice shaky.

I turned back to the road. "Sorry," I said breezily. "I think sometimes people go hide out. They need . . ." I paused, feeling exactly like a cartoon light bulb had lit up above my head. "Sanctuary," I breathed.

I grinned at Lilith, but in the rearview mirror, not by turning around. "We're going to see Father Gerald."

"Father who?" asked Lilith.

"Gerald," I said. "At Christ is King Catholic Church. Hallam stayed with him for months before we found him in November. I know he'll know how to contact Hallam. They're friends. And if I can get in touch with Hallam, I can get in touch with Jason."

"Okay," said Lilith. "Great. I guess."

"Hey," I said. "How about a little gratitude? I just rescued you."

"You shot them," she whispered.

Right. Well, there was that. But I wasn't thinking about that right now. I couldn't think about that right now.

* * *

Christ is King Catholic Church was boarded up. There was a big sign on the front of the church which said, "Reopening in April." Hmm. I guessed that the big shoot-out between us and the Sons really had destroyed the sanctuary. I felt kind of guilty for a minute. I hoped that Father Gerald didn't blame us for the destruction of his church.

The lights were on in the rectory, where he lived, so I supposed I would find out in a few minutes anyway. I dragged Lilith with me, and together we knocked on his door.

There was no answer at first, so I knocked again.

After the second knock, the door opened. Father Gerald peered out at us.

"Hi Father Gerald," I said meekly.

"Azazel Jones?" he said in recognition. "What happened to you?"

"Happened to me?"

"Your head is bleeding."

"Is it?" I gingerly touched my head and looked at my fingers. Yep. Red. I shrugged. "I was in a car wreck. I was wondering if we could use your phone?"

"Come in," said Father Gerald. "Come in, come in."

Lilith and I stepped inside the rectory. It was sparse and functional. White walls. No decoration except for a crucifix on one wall.

"Your friend?" he asked.

"This is Lilith," I said.

He raised an eyebrow. "Lilith and Azazel?" He shook his head and crossed himself, mumbling something about never thinking he'd see the day he was opening his door to those two. He started out of the room we were in, which was the kitchen, heading back the hall. "I'll get something for your head," he said.

"It's okay, really," I said. "I just need to call Hallam. You have a number for him, don't you?"

Father Gerald stopped. "Well, yes. I was just about to call him myself, actually. Some strange events have recently unfolded. I thought he'd want to know."

"Strange events?" I said.

"With the Sons of the Rising Sun," he explained. "It's a little convoluted."

I waved it away. "The Sons aren't actually a problem for me this time. Can I just call Hallam, please?"

"Certainly," he said, pointing at the phone. He gave me the number. As I dialed, he said, "I'm going to go get some bandages. If my guest wanders out here, don't be alarmed."

Guest? Priests had guests?

Whatever. The phone was ringing on Hallam's end. Lilith stood behind me, looking frightened. If I still liked her, I would have grabbed her hand or done something reassuring. But I didn't like her. Not at all. She felt scared? Good.

For a few terrible seconds, I was convinced that Hallam's phone was going to go to voicemail, but at the last second, he picked up.

"Father Gerald, what is going on?" he said. "Did you release the email without telling me? Why does Edgar Weem think that I'm playing games with him?"

"Edgar Weem?" I said. "You're in communication with Edgar Weem?"

"Who is this?"

"It's Azazel. And why the hell are you talking to Weem?"

"Azazel, Jesus, where are you?"

"I'm in Shiloh," I said. "I got captured by Satanists. Now you answer my question."

"Oh, Christ, Azazel, it's complicated. Look, I'm actually on my way to Shiloh. I should be there in an hour or so. Hang tight where you are, and I'll fill you in when I arrive. I don't want to talk about it on the phone."

"Hallam, are you still working for the Sons?" I was floored. Shocked. Appalled. After all this time, after I'd trusted Hallam as much as I did, was he betraying us?

"No, of course not. Please, just stay with Father Gerald. When I get there, I'll explain everything."

Behind me, Lilith screamed.

I whirled.

A man had just walked into the kitchen. He was bruised and beaten, his face swelling in odd places. Bandages decorated every part of his exposed skin. "Azazel," he said, his damaged mouth curving into a sly smile.

I dropped the phone. "Sutherland," I breathed.

He took a step toward me.

I grabbed Lilith's hand. "Let's get out of here," I said to her.

We tore out of the kitchen, out of the rectory, back into the car. As I drove away, I glanced in the rearview mirror to see that Sutherland had followed us outside. He was standing outside the church, in front of the re-opening sign, grinning like a jackal.

* * *

"How did he get there?" Lilith was asking.

She was sitting next to me in the passenger seat. We were driving aimlessly in the dark. Through the streets of Shiloh. Out into the surrounding country roads. Back into Shiloh. I didn't know where we were going. I didn't know what we were doing.

"I don't know," I said. "I thought he was dead."

Sutherland was alive. Jason hadn't killed him. Hallam had been wrong when he'd asked Jason where Sutherland's body was. It looked like Jason had beat him up very, very badly, but he hadn't killed him. As frightening as it had been to see Sutherland, the news made a part of me sing. Jason hadn't done that. He wasn't the killer that Noah and Gordon had claimed he was.

Of course, I'd killed . . . I shuddered again.

"He's not dead," Lilith said.

"Maybe . . ." I said, turning it over in my head, " . . . maybe he was following us. Following me. Maybe he followed us into the rectory."

"No," said Lilith. "I saw him come into the room. He didn't come through the front door. He came from the hallway."

"He was waiting for us? He knew we'd go there?"

"He sounded surprised to see you. Pleasantly surprised, but surprised."

She was right. He did.

I didn't like this one bit. First there was this car we were driving. This car that had come out of nowhere. Then there was Sutherland appearing also out of nowhere. So many unanswered questions. "There are too many things I just don't understand," I said. "How did Noah and Gordon get this car?"

"Gordon called your grandmother," said Lilith.

"Grandma Hoyt?" I said. "Why?" I couldn't even finish the thought, it was too preposterous. But I guessed it made sense. Grandma Hoyt had money. She could get them a car fast. "Why was she helping them?"

"I don't know," said Lilith.

More unanswered questions. More things that didn't add up. My mind was reeling. Chance had said that Gordon and Noah had gone to see Grandma Hoyt, and then she'd consented to pack Chance off to Italy. Could they have told her what they were planning to do? Had she decided to send Chance away so that it would be safe for him? But why was she helping the Satanists out? My grandmother hated the Satanists. She'd disowned my parents because of their Satanist ties.

But none of this was important right now, because . . . Because . . .

"We have to find Jason," I said.

We were driving through the streets of Shiloh. Impulsively, I turned onto Spring Street. Drove the car past Michaela Weem's house. I stared at it. And suddenly, it came to me. Last week.

Jude was driving Jason and me home. We were talking about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. And Jason had said . . .

"I always thought," said Jason, "that would be a good way to pull off a kidnapping."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I mean, kidnap someone in their own house," said Jason. "Tie them up and knock them out, and keep them in their own attic."

I yanked the wheel to the right and turned into Michaela Weem's driveway. Of course, of course, of course. This was the place close enough to cut off Michaela's finger and leave it downstairs, still warm and wet with her blood. This was the place that Jason could leave notes. It was a safe place. Not a hotel. Not an abandoned house. And it was the last place anyone would think to look for him, because it was too obvious. Jesus.

"What are you doing?" asked Lilith.

"I know where Jason is," I said.

"You do?"

Quickly, I explained to her what I thought, as I parked the car and turned off the ignition.

"He's been keeping her here in her own house?" Lilith was incredulous.

"Brilliant, isn't it?" I said.

She shook her head. "Yeah," she admitted.

Lilith sighed. Thenshe moved. She pulled me close against her body, her forearm going around my neck, making it tough for me to breathe.

"Lilith!" I protested.

Then I felt it. The cold, sharp point of a small knife at my neck. "Lilith?" I said.

"You really are way too trusting, Zaza," said Lilith, her voice ugly.

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Copyright (c) 2009 Valerie Chambers