Adeline called and said she was running late and would meet us at the boat ramp. Which suited me just fine, since it would put off a lot of questions that I didn’t really want to answer right then.
We fixed JD up with a hood, then tied a rope around his neck and another one between his feet so he could walk taking little baby steps. As soon as I cut the duct tape on his legs, he started kicking.
Sabrina whipped the Taser right up next to his neck and pulled the trigger. When his groaning let us know he’d regained some of his faculties, she got right up next to where his ear was under the hood. “You remember that wallop you gave me last time I saw you? I had a shiner for two weeks, and my face swole up and turned all purple and yellow, and my teeth were so loose and sore I could hardly chew. I got 11 reloads for this puppy, and each reload has three shots. So in case you can’t do the math, I can do that 34 more times. I figure we’ll be about even at that point. So why don’t you keep making a fuss and give me some more excuses. You pissed your pants, by the way.”
I didn’t see how JD could have suspected we didn’t have any reloads, and that exactly one more shot was all we had left. I made a note never to play poker with Sabrina. Except maybe strip poker, where there are no losers.
When the time came we led him over to the boat by the rope, leaned him over the gunwale, picked up his feet and sort of dumped him in. Gentle as we could manage. He was as meek as a lamb. I tied the other end of the rope around his neck to a cleat, covered him up with a tarp, threw our stuff in, and off we went.
Adeline didn’t even notice him until we’d pulled away from the ramp and I helped him up onto a seat.
“Who the hell is that?”
“That’s my ex-boyfriend. The guy that put Rick in the hospital last Christmas. He dropped by today and attacked him with a tire iron. Can’t seem to learn to leave well enough alone. We’re taking him along so he doesn’t get into any more trouble.”
“So what are you planning to do to him?”
I fielded that one. “Sabrina has a plan that she hatched up with Nimue. I decided I didn’t really want to know. Plausible deniability and all that. I suggest you consider doing the same thing.”
Adeline narrowed her eyes and looked long and hard at Sabrina before shrugging. “None of my business, I guess. As long as you don’t throw him in the ocean while I’m watching, I can live with it.”
I eased the throttle forward, and the motor noise made further discussion impossible.
When we got to Avalon I dropped the ignition key into my pocket—better safe than sorry; if JD somehow managed to get loose, where could he go? Then I pushed and lifted and eventually got him out of the boat, although both of us ended up with our shoes soaked in the process. He kept making noises under the tape like he wanted to say something, but really, what could he possibly say that would make any difference? “Praise the Lord, I found Jesus, if you just set me free I promise I’ll go and sin no more?” Can’t imagine anybody buying that enough to take the tape and ropes off. I didn’t even remove the hood until we’d made our way up the path to the hilltop and I’d secured him to a tree.
“So how are you doing?” It was the first chance I’d had to talk to Adeline, so preoccupied had I been with my nemesis. “Are you excited? Nervous? Scared? Want some wine? I brought a bottle.”
“You know, Rick, I am excited. And a little nervous, too. But really, what is there to be nervous about? I came to get closure, and I’m leaving with closure no matter what else happens. And yes, I think I will have some wine.”
After I’d poured the three of us a cup, she continued. “I mean, what is he going to say? ‘I fell in love and decided she was worth leaving you and everything else behind for.’ I already know that. And it hurts a little, but as distant as we were, whose fault was it? Maybe the real secret is, I’d like to find a love like that someday.”
A tear leaked out of one eye. I started to say something, but Sabrina got up and knelt down in front of her and wrapped her up in a big hug. And just held her. They stayed that way for a while. When Sabrina finally let go, Adeline’s face was a little red but she was smiling.
“So, I never asked. What came of your evening with Chai? You can tell me it’s none of my business, by the way.”
Adeline laughed. “She was shamelessly trying to take advantage of my intoxication to get me to agree to invite her along tonight as my guest. There was some kissing involved but nothing more, at least that I remember. I probably did agree, under such gentle duress, but I didn’t remember anything about it the next morning. And when she tried to get me to keep my word, I told her that vows given when inebriated only were good until the booze wore off. And that it wouldn’t be fair to you, or especially to Sabrina.”
“Thank you for thinking about me, even though you hadn’t even met me yet.” Sabrina’s voice was soft and low.
“No, I hadn’t met you yet. But I’ve seen a lot of changes in Rick from that brash boy he was when I first interviewed him. And some of those had to be your doing.”
I poured a little of my wine out on the ground before taking a sip. Adeline watched me with a puzzled expression. She didn’t ask what I was doing, but copied my moves before drinking again.
“But the truth is, I liked her, Rick. And she was certainly good natured about the whole thing.”
“I like her too, Adeline. And we shared some deep, life-altering experiences that neither of us will ever forget.” No pun intended, of course.
“I’m glad you feel that way. Because I did say we’d bring her another time if at all possible.”
“I can live with that,” Sabrina answered before I could open my mouth. “There’s another one of these feasts in three more months. If in three months she can take Rick away, then she deserves him. Or they deserve each other, rather.”
I’d only brought two bottles of wine. If we were partaking from the cauldron tonight, I didn’t want to get too buzzed before the festivities started. When I opened the second bottle, Sabrina poured her cup full and took it over to where JD was sitting. She stood there talking to him, and after awhile he was nodding his head yes and shaking it no to her questions. In a bit she set the cup down and started working on the tape. I wouldn’t have risked it, but she was a grown woman capable of making her own choices. He might get his teeth into her, but with his hands taped and his neck tied to the tree, I didn’t see that he would do all that much damage before I could get there. But apparently he was done fighting. Or else whatever she’d promised if he bit her scared the fight out of him. After witnessing how cold she could be back at my place, I sure as hell didn’t want her mad at me.
Eventually she got the tape loose enough so he could drink and held the cup up for him to finish. She didn’t even try to get the mess out of his hair, just left the tape dangling there.
“I think our boy is a mite concerned,” Sabrina said when she got back to where we were sitting. “But he sure is happy to have that tape off his mouth. I told him I’d leave it off unless he started yelling, in which case I’d have to Taze him again, in the crotch this time, and put it back on. But all he could say was to keep asking me what I was going to do with him.”
“What are you going to do with him?” This from Adeline; I was sticking with the commitment I’d made not to ask, no matter what.
“I’m going to give him to Nimue.”