Marjani winced as she swallowed the liquid, but was surprised to find that it was as sweet as sugar water and didn’t burn as she had expected. When the syrup hit her bubbling stomach, the fire within her was immediately quieted. She withdrew the bottle from her lips and handed it back to Marie Laveau who grinned.
“Better, Woman?” Marie chirped.
“Yes.” Marjani answered clearly. She rose from the cruel cot upon which she’d been lying and hurried away from Marie.
“Leavin’ already?” Marie laughed.
“I got things for to do.” Marjani said over her shoulder.
“Ain’t you even gonna thank me?” Marie chuckled.
Marjani paused. “Thank you for takin’ away the sufferin’ you done gave me? You’re more of a fool than I thought.”
“I’m done with you, Marie.” Marjani said. “You and all your pain.” With that, Marjani ran from the room.
Marie Laveau put the empty bottle back into her apron and grinned. “Your time with me only just begun, Woman.” She muttered to herself. “This is just the beginnin’.”
Meanwhile, at their borrowed shanty, Charles again urged Barbara to come with him. His pleas were interrupted by the moans of his brother, Giovanni who was suddenly becoming aware of what was going on around him.
“Carlo?” Giovanni groaned. “Seize that woman. She struck me.” He reached up to his forehead and withdrew his hand upon realizing that it was coated in blood.
“I shudder to think what you did to her to make her strike you.” Charles spat.
“I did nothing,” Giovanni protested weakly. “I only tried to make her my friend.”
“Your friend?” Barbara roared. She turned to Charles. “Hold me, Charles, lest I finish what I started with this devil.”
Charles put his arm around Barbara’s waist.
“You embrace the woman who so viciously attacked me?” Giovanni bellowed theatrically.
“She’s done to you what you’ve done to dozens of men. Only she’s not done it as well because you’re still drawing breath.”
“I’m hurt, Brother.” Giovanni whimpered. “I need your aid.”
“You need nothing.” Charles responded.
“Come with me,” Charles whispered into Barbara’s ear.
“And, leave him?” Barbara replied softly. “Leave him to cause more pain and take more lives.”
“We can have a life.” Charles responded. “We can have anything you want—together.”
“Not my son.” Barbara said loudly. “Not my own brother.”
“We can start anew.” Charles held her tightly.
Giovanni tried to rise, but fell backward again, moaning wildly.
“Yes, I’ll go with you.” Barbara nodded.
He pulled her toward the door of the shanty.
“You’ll leave me here?” Giovanni barked. “With my blood spilt? Your own brother?”
“You’re not my brother. Not any longer! You’re nothing to me.”
With that, Barbara and Charles fled the shack.
Giovanni groaned. “If I’m nothing to you,” he moaned to himself, ‘you’re just another man. Now, I have nothing to prevent me from seeking my revenge.”
At that very moment, within the carriage outside of Edward Cage’s Royal Street mansion, Robert whispered to Adrienne.
“Are you quite all right?”
“I think so,” Adrienne panted.
“Did he hurt you?” Robert asked.
“Short of bruised arm, he did nothing.” Adrienne said quietly.
They both glanced out of the door of the carriage and watched as Mr. Punch lowered his eyes and snarled at Ulrika.
“We don’t need your interference, you ginger hobgoblin!” Mr. Punch spat. “You’re not welcome here with your talk of deals and diamonds.”
“I can make this right for all of you and still help you get your revenge on Iolanthe.” Urlrika frowned as Iolanthe’s son gurgled in her arms.
“Ulrika, please,” Edward Cage begged. “Go away. My son is just there in that carriage. I’m so close to having him returned to me. Stop stalling with your talk of Iolanthe. No one cares about her presently.”
“His Grace does.” Ulrika argued. “She killed his mother. Mr. Halifax cares, too. Think, Mr. Halifax, of all the atrocities that your dear wife suffered at Iolanthe’s hand. Don’t you want her to pay for them?”
“You confuse me, you do.” Mr. Punch said. “Hours ago you and Iolanthe were as thick as thieves. I thought you’d set aside your differences and banded together. Now, you speak of revenge against her?”
“Sometimes, Lunatic,” Ulrika smiled. “We form allegiances to get us closer to what we really want. Did you really think that I would break bread with ‘The Elegant Ogress’ without a greater goal in mind?”
“Enough of this!” Edward spat, lumbering toward the carriage. “I’m going to take my son back.”
As Robert saw Edward approaching he handed Barbara’s son to Adrienne and climbed from the carriage.
“Ah,” Edward Cage shook his head. “The other one. Do you think you can stop me?”
“Yes.” Robert nodded as he climbed atop the carriage, into the driver’s bench. Grabbing the reins, he yelled for the horses to run, and they did. Inside, Adrienne braced herself as the carriage lurched forward.
“Damn it!” Edward shouted, running after the carriage.
“It looks as if you’ll need me more than ever now,” Ulrika laughed.
Did you miss Chapters 1-233? If so, you can read them here.