It was my last day free before starting my new job with the fire department. It was a couple hours after dinner. Jack, Ma, Brad and I had been watching Leverage, the one show we all liked, when the alarm went off. Not the fire alarm that practically makes my ears bleed, the more subtle alarm that Donovan put in to warn of dangerous intruders.
Donovan came through the living room from the security monitoring station upstairs. He had a gun in his hand, another on his hip, and I knew he had two or three more somewhere on his person. “We’ve got unwelcome company. I’ll take care of it.”
I stood up. “Jack, get Ma to the back elevator in case ya’ll need to leave fast.”
Brad got up too. “I’ve got your back, Dee.” Brad’s as invulnerable as Liberty and damn near as strong. The only reason he wasn’t a superhero was a lack of the right kind of self-sacrificing mindset. He was also huge. He looked dangerous. Sometimes, that intimidation factor could stop a fight before it started.
Jack took Ma’s elbow and helped her with her knitting basket. She wouldn’t hardly go anywhere without it.
“What are we up against, Donavan?” I asked him.
“One of the bastards who tried to kill Mr. Tchovsky,” he said grimly. “And he’s armed.”
That confused me.
Jack stopped trying to help Ma to the back of the house and said what I was thinking. “I thought all the Georgians who came after Vlad Tchovsky were dead?”
“All but one,” Donovan said. He yanked open the big solid oak front door and stuck his gun in the face of the man who had one fist up, clearly about to knock on that door. “What do you want?”
“Um … I wanted to talk to Dee.” White Knight said. Novak was in full armor, shield strapped to his back, sword hanging from the belt at his hip, Donovan’s gun barrel in one eyehole of his helmet.
“Donovan, chill. It’s just Knight. He’s not a threat.”
“Then why is he armed?”
“Why is he here at all?” Jack asked, voice nearly as hostile as Donovan’s.
Ma sided with them. “You have no business here, Georgian,” she spat.
Brad just crossed his tree trunk arms and growled menacingly.
White Knight swallowed. Donovan’s gun barrel still rested on the cheek guard of his helmet. When he blinked, his lashes brushed the barrel tip. “Um … maybe this is a bad time.”
“It doesn’t matter when you come, I’ll be waiting for you.” Donovan snarled through gritted teeth. His knuckles were white on the pistol grip.
“Donovan, chill.” I put a hand on his gun hand and gently urged it away from Knight’s face. “He’s just here to talk.”
“Why does he want to talk to you, Dee?” Jack asked, still sounding as hostile as Donovan. Jack seeing me kiss Novak on TV hadn’t made White Knight one of his favorite people.
“We have nothing to say to men like him.” I was glad Ma didn’t have a gun.
I stepped forward, turned my back to White Knight and faced my family. “He’s not an enemy, guys. He’s as much a victim of the Georgians as we are. Even more so.”
“Victim, right.” Donovan snorted.
“Go back to monitoring, Donovan. He’s not a threat.”
Donovan gave me a sarcastic salute. “Yes, maam, you’re the boss.” Then, he stalked away, boot heels cracking against the hardwood floor with each step.
“Are you sure I don’t need to have a talk with him, Dee?” Brad cracked his knuckles, making a sound like pecans being crushed under boots.
I smiled at Brad, who I used to think of as a troll. “It’s cool. Thanks for the offer, though.” I’m not sure when Brad became someone who would stick up for me, but it was nice to know.
Brad nodded and went back into the living room to watch the end of the show.
I shifted to the side now that no one was likely to murder Knight. “What are you doing here?”
“Like I said, I wanted to talk.”
“What do you have to talk to Dee about?” Jack snapped.
“About … um … our similar ancestry,” he said, clearly struggling for a way to put things without giving away any of my secrets.
“My mother and my boyfriend both know I’m a dragon. You don’t have to be cagey.”
“Oh, you’re Jack, then.” Knight checked Jack out. Jack was a few inches shorter, and nowhere near Knight’s muscle bulk. I could almost see Knight dismissing him as a non-threat.
Jack bristled. Knight didn’t even know that Jack had already taken him out in a fight once. “Last time I saw you, you were drooling on yourself on the floor of a theatre. I’m not surprised you don’t remember.”
The bottom half of Knight’s face flushed pink.
Jack nodded in satisfaction at the score, and went back to sit with Brad in front of the TV.
“All right, you want to talk. Fine, let’s talk.” I went to lead him into the house, but Ma planted her diminutive body firmly in the way.
“I will not have a Georgian in my house.”
“Ma, he’s a dragon. The Georgians got him when he was just an orphaned kid and brainwashed him.”
Ma’s determination faltered a little. “He’s a grown man. He’s responsible for his own decisions.”
“Ma, please.” I struggled for the right words. I could live with everyone else hating Novak, but it felt important to me that Ma understand, that Ma realize like I did, that Knight was … well, that Knight was one of us. “Ma, they cut off his wings.”
“Oh!” Ma covered her mouth with her hand. Her dark eyes shone. “I’m so sorry.” She pulled Knight inside by his other arm.
She fussed a little. “Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Iced tea?” Once she accepted him as a guest, she went straight into hostess mode like she hadn’t wanted to toss him out on his ear a moment before.
Knight took off his helmet and coif as soon as he stepped inside. Hat etiquette. I guess some folks still remember. Since we already knew his secret identity, the mask aspect wasn’t needed. “Don’t go to any trouble, maam.”
“It’s no trouble at all. Are you a coffee drinker or tea?” Ma can be pretty persuasive.
Novak relented with good grace. “Normally, I’m more of a coffee guy, but today, iced tea sounds good.”
He’d been stuck outside on a hundred degree day in full armor with a gun in his face.
Tea sounded pretty good to me, too. Something told me the conversation was going to be a doozy.
I was right, but I’ll have to write about it later. I’ve got to crash. I can’t take a chance on being late on my first day.