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Dark Lords, Book one: Shadows, Chapter 38

I hope you are enjoying Dark Lords book one, Shadows…

Chapter Thirty-Eight
Black Swan, Solaris Industries Series 900 (2000 Cabins), Civilian Liner, Realm


“Are you sure, Johanna?” Francesca Boneville of House Blackwood of Albion asked.
Johanna took the older woman’s hands. “Yes, Francy.”
“Oh, Jo.” Francesca put her arms around Johanna. “You know we dated, well, we went on a couple of dates. Thirty years ago, at least.”
They were walking down the ship’s main corridor toward the suites. Nodding to everyone they passed.
“What is he like?” Johanna asked, her hand right hand again interlaced with Francesca’s left.
“Scandalous, that’s why I went out with him. Utterly scandalous.” Francesca laughed. She leaned in close. “Its sex or a bite, not both, with him. Never. And he would not bite me.”
Johanna was shocked.
“I know, I know. And no male lovers.” They headed into the main private salon.
“But … he’s barely over a hundred? I mean …” Johanna had heard he flaunted convention … but was there something wrong with him? Suddenly her plan seemed less than wise.
“I know, Jo. Scandalous.”
“There you two are!” Debra Logan smiled. She was two seats away from Lord Blackwood, Francesca’s grandfather, who sat snoring in his chair. Sitting next to him was his equally attentive personal secretary, Wilson.
“We’re planning our shopping run, Ladies.” Chelsea Fenice smiled. “We must not be frugal.”
Even Johanna could not help the laughter. They had been given clear orders to spend in the primary and secondary markets of Troth. To party, to be seen and to enjoy the nightlife.
{‘So what’s going on, really?’} Debra Logan sent telepathically as she pulled out a flyer from New Reykjavik. “Look at the dance clubs in Dalvik!”
{‘Jo thinks she has a lead on Dani.’} Francesca sent as she nodded over a diamond display from Vogar. “Oh, look at this, Ashley?”
{‘Is it dangerous, Jo?’} Chelsea sent. “We need to go to Trieste. They have a hand blown glass industry that will ‘G1’ all of you!”
The ladies laughed.
“Seriously, we need to be careful,” Winifred Blegen smiled as she spoke, her eyes locked on Johanna’s longer then the rest. “We have to spread our money, our time, wisely.”
Johanna sent them her plan to check out a couple locations. To seek out leads and that if any showed promise she would immediately report them to the Guard. She was waiting on Kelvin to send her some more info, but she could wait no longer. {‘I have a private ship waiting for me at Sassari Lagrange Station. Then I will meet up with Jason Malwas, he is now Captain of the Ivy.’}
“Scandalous!” Laughed Winifred. “Someone’s in love!”
All eyes were on her now and Johanna could feel her face heating up.
“Sleeping Beauty!” Ashely Bean covered her mouth. “It’s the story of Sleeping Beauty.”
Each of the ladies saw Jason Malwas through Ashley’s eyes. Her memory of seeing him pause and turn to watch a young woman cross the High Street at Lexington four years earlier. He had been watching Johanna.
Suddenly they were sending all at once. Johanna found herself blinking at their excitement even as they nattered incoherently over the pamphlets and catalogues. Perhaps she would indeed wake the sleeping prince with a kiss.
“Where are the children?”
They all jumped at Lord Blackwoods words. He had yelled to be heard over them.
“Where are the children, Francy? You girls, where are they?” He was looking around the salon, lost. Beside him Wilson was snorting awake.
Francesca jumped up. “Grandfather, it is okay.”
“Where are they?” He was looking at the young women, his confusion clear. Johanna felt her stomach tighten. The laughter was gone.
“There are none, grandfather.” Francesca said, dropping to her knees next to her grandfather and holding his hand.
“What? Nonsense! You are all beautiful, in my day … Wilson? Wilson!”
“Sir!” Wilson snorted. “David, what? Lord?”
“Right here, Wilson, right here. Where are the kids?”
“Must be in the crèche, my Lord.” Wilson struggled to his feet and started to wonder off. “I will check.”
“Grandfather, you need to relax.” Francesca smiled, giving his hand a squeeze. “We are on the Black Swan, on our way to Troth.”
“Where are the Damsels? You are not being uppity are you? I will not put up with that!”
“No grandfather. There are no Damsels with us.” Francesca patted his hand and nodded to his nurse.
Johanna saw Ashley’s eyes go red. Once upon at time, she would have been such, as the only none Vampyre female present.
“John, perhaps a drink for Grandfather? Maybe if he sees Aidan? Lady and Lord Raine are in their cabin.”
“None, grandfather.” Francesca patted her grandfather’s shoulder.
Chelsea Fenice took Johanna’s hand, and whispered in her ear, “Jo, do you love him?”
Johanna looked at their faces. She swallowed. She let her feelings surface. Somewhere, somehow it had happened. “Yes.”
“Then love him. Find him, love him. Do not wait for the right moment. It never comes.” Chelsea had tears in her eyes. Johanna felt the fool. Chelsea’s brother had gone missing eighty-seven years earlier. None had forgotten Daniella, but she had forgotten Luke Fenice.
Francesca sat down and hugged Jo. Johanna felt ashamed of how angry she had been the day before. Believing their avoidance of anything to do with Daniella had been a kind of denial. That had not been the case, they just did not known how to help, and each wanted so desperately to help.
Now as they looked at her, Johanna knew how far they were willing to go. Ashley would cover for her as she could pass for Johanna with the right outfit.
“We have a lot of work to do, to get you ready.” Winifred giggled.
Francesca joined them. “Charlotte is going to bring Aiden to the creche once he’s eaten.”
“I can not believe he is five already.” Debra smiled.
“Almost six,” Chelsea laughed and they shared her memory of the little heir to House Raine telling her his birthday was in eight weeks.

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