Samentha went to see Thomas, without calling ahead. She had some tough questions to ask him about Nicole. He could be like a scared rabbit, when it came to that woman. Samentha’s mouth twisted with disgust. If there was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was a man with no backbone. He was so afraid of upsetting Nicole, that getting any information about her from him was going to be like pulling teeth.
Samentha was tired and hungry. She had no desire to go and interrogate him, but time was of the essence. It was hard to say how long the effects of that confusion potion would last. There were so many variables, like how fresh the herbs in it were or how strong-minded Anitra and Lamont were. They might never remember what happened. It was equally possible that they had already regained some or all of their memory. That’s why Samentha didn’t like relying on the potency of other people’s potions.
Thomas was pleasantly surprised, until he realized that it was Samentha not Harriet visiting him. He turned and left the door standing open, making no effort to conceal his annoyance. Samentha walked in and kicked the door shut. Thomas crossed his arms, blocking her from going any further than a few steps from the front door.
“What the hell do you want?”
“I missed you too Tom.”
“Don’t call me that Sam. See there, you don’t like being called Sam any more than I like being called Tom. Does ma know you’re back?”
“You mean Reverend Mother? Who do you think summoned me?”
“What does she want with you?”
“Why are you asking me a questions to which you already know the answers? As per usual, I have to clean up your mess!”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Get off it Thomas. You had one job to do and you failed miserably. All you had to do was dig up a little dirt on Nicole, so the Rev could get that church loan.”
“If I’m such a fuck up, then why are you here? Surely, you don’t want my help.”
“I’m here because your bungling of this whole situation has left Rev infected by a curse that is eating its way through her flesh. Thanks to your ham-handed tactics Nicole is clearly already on guard. So approaching her would waste even more time. Hopefully, you at least managed to pick up on enough tidbits to fill in a few blanks for me.”
“Why the should I help you?”
“I don’t think the Rev would be pleased to know that you tried to hinder my efforts to help her. Are you trying to protect Nicole? Don’t tell me you have feelings for her. Looking at your swollen legs, I’d say that she has cursed you too. Women don’t do that to people they care about.”
Thomas felt his face get hot. Her logic was irrefutable. He had hoped she wouldn’t notice the state of his legs or the fact that both feet were so swollen that his shoes no longer fit. Reverend Mother only summoned Samentha, when he failed at some important task. Up until Samentha darkened his doorstep, Thomas had convinced himself that he could still complete his latest mission and get back on Reverend Mother’s good side.
Thomas normally never admitted defeat. Instead, he would have thrown Samentha out, call Reverend Mother and chastise her for having such little faith in him. Not this time. Thomas was secretly relieved to see Samentha. Things had gone so far south, that he had no idea how to get them back on track. Fear was causing him to procrastinate. What if his efforts to placate Nicole only succeeded in angering her more? Thomas didn’t think he could endure the stress of waiting to see what underhanded way she would get back at him.
Most days, his ankles swelled, until they felt as though they would burst like rotten fruit. He felt so defeated that it no longer mattered to him that Samentha would get all the credit for saving Reverend Mother. He just wanted her to get better and be safe. Thomas moved to sit down on the couch and put his legs up. Samentha stayed where she was, until he motioned with the tilt of his head for her to join him.
“To tell the truth, I’m not sure how much help I can be. What do you want to know?”
“Based on what I’ve seen of the wound on the Rev’s stomach and the eruptions bursting open on Rachel’s face and arm…”
“Wait a minute, what do you mean the eruptions on Rachel?”
“Didn’t they tell you? Rachel’s got the same type of wound as her mother. That tells me some type of magic is at play, most likely blood magic.”
“Whoa Samentha, I don’t know anything about magic.”
“How else would you explain the rapidly advancing state of deterioration in their wounds? It’s not a bacterial or viral infection. That’s why antibiotics haven’t helped the Rev. What I want to know from you is where Nicole is storing the blood she takes from people?”
“How the hell should I know? Do you really think that’s something she would tell me?”
“Thomas, we’ve already established the fact that you suck at getting information out of people. So, I don’t know why you’d even think I was asking what she told you about her hiding place. I was hoping that maybe you stumbled across her blood storage.”
“I…no, I’ve never seen…”
“Don’t be so quick to say no. Take a few moments to think about it Thomas. Is there any space in her home that has always been off limits to you?”
“I…now that you mention it, she has never let me go down into her basement.”