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Brenda Thompson Brown - Tremere
Brenda: Michael's Goodbye
“It may sound absurd…but don’t be naïve
I rose the next night and quickly dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt so that I could go to check on Rafe. My rooms at the Chantry weren’t especially close to the makeshift infirmary and it took me longer than I’d wanted to get to Rafe’s room. I still felt the bond that I shared with him so I knew he was alive and from what I could tell, not in any pain.
A nurse was checking his vitals when I entered the room. She smiled at me as I entered and quickly filled out his chart then returned it to its slot on the wall.
“He’s doing just fine,” she assured me as she slipped the pen in the pocket of her nurse’s overcoat. “His pressure has been climbing steadily all day and he was even awake for a little while earlier this afternoon. He wasn’t coherent enough to know where he was but he did know his name.”
I smiled tentatively at her and said, “Thank you.” She left the room quietly as I went to stand next to Rafe’s bed so that I could peer down at him. He was sleeping peacefully and I was overcome with relief when I saw that his brow was smooth as he rested.
After the doctors had him stabilized last night they’d been able to successfully remove the nails from Rafe’s wrists and then let his natural ability to heal take over. I could see the scars where they’d been but I knew that in a few days they would fade and soon be gone totally. The cuts on his chest and throat were nearly gone as well.
The only thing that I was worried about was the pinky finger on his left hand. There hadn’t been anything the doctors could do about the finger that the Tzimisce at the house had elongated so in the end they had to remove it. Now there was a large, white bandage wrapped around his entire hand at the first knuckle in case he moved it while he slept.
The doctor had been quick to inform me that the prognosis for Rafe being able to regenerate the finger was very high. First he had to heal the other wounds that he’d received, and then he could attempt it.
Once I was certain that Rafe had made it through the day without any complications I went back to my room to get ready for the return trip to Salem. Jax had retrieved our bags from the hotel and had assured me that the plane would be ready to go whenever I was. James would be returning with Rafe and I. As of yet, I didn’t know what Jason’s plans were.
Before we left Detroit I had promised to check in to see if Christina had managed to regain any of her memories yet. It was the last thing I wanted to do but I felt a certain amount of responsibility to the situation that couldn’t allow me to walk out just yet.
I dressed for the evening carefully. When I’d learned that Christina was living with Gangrel I’d made a conscious effort to dress down to make her feel comfortable. Any thoughts of her comfort were now out the window. I was finding it very difficult to suppress the anger that I felt concerning Christina and how difficult she’d made this entire situation.
From the bottom of my suitcase I pulled out an Armani white silk blouse and a black Prada skirt that I’d packed for their ability to travel well. Black hose and high-heeled pumps completed the outfit. I knew that I reeked of money and power and that I would stand out in the little, dirty bar that Madelynne ran but I didn’t care. I brushed my hair until it shone and put my wallet and one of the Glocks in a black leather handbag that I slung over one shoulder.
I was sick of hiding who and what I was to the Kindred of this city. My name is Brenda Thompson-Brown of the Ambika Eostar Chantry of the House and Clan Tremere and it was time they realized it.
I returned to Rafe’s room in hopes that he might be awake before I headed out to see Christina. When I got there I was surprised to find Michael already there. He was sitting in a chair close to the bed looking at Rafe as he slept. All I could see was his profile and that his hands were peaked on the arms of the chair. For the moment my presence went unnoticed but all Michael had to do was look out the corner of one eye to know that I was there. I took the time to study the two men that I’d been the closest to in my life and found myself comparing them.
They couldn’t have been more different. Michael was demanding and powerful by nature while Rafe was quiet and thoughtful. Michael got whatever he wanted by whatever means necessary and Rafe waited to see how he could coax what he wanted out of you. Even as I marveled at the thought of the two men in the same room and not trying to kill each other, I wondered what Michael was doing. I found my eyes falling to the monitors that were hooked up to Rafe to see that they were still operating normally. They were.
I quietly took a step into the room and Michael was immediately aware of my presence. He stood and faced me in one fluid motion, then looked me up and down in an approving manor. I was silently thrilled that he approved of my choice in clothing for the evening and smiled hesitantly as he stepped closer.
“Michael,” I said finally, not knowing what else to say. It was obvious that he hadn’t expected my presence and that he was uncomfortable at being found here alone.
“Brenda,” he replied evenly as he nodded his head. “How are you doing this evening?”
“Okay.” I found it impossible to hide my astonishment to find him here in Rafe’s room of all places. Yes, it was true that he’d been very solicitous toward Rafe and myself after Rafe had been taken and he’d even been just as concerned as I was about Rafe’s safety. But I knew that Michael was the king of ulterior motives and I couldn’t help but be suspicious about what he actually wanted. “What are you doing here?” I asked, my eyes narrowing.
“I was checking on Rafe,” he stated simply as he gestured toward the bed. It was the first time I’d ever heard him use his name, usually he called him ‘boy’. I glanced toward the bed myself; just to reassure myself he was fine.
“I-I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I didn’t think that you’d mind.”
“N-no. That’s fine.” I had to admit that I felt a little guilty about my suspicions concerning Michael and his presence here and found that I couldn’t look him in the eye. There was something odd about the scene that I’d walked into that I was sure Michael wouldn’t elaborate on if I asked so I stepped around him so that I could move closer to the bed to hide my uncertainty.
There had been an unreadable look in his eye that I’d found odd like he shared a secret. Normally I understood Michael and his motives to a fault because of the bond I shared with him but now I didn’t know what it was that he was feeling and that made me a little uneasy. I decided to change the subject.
“I just wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done,” I told him as I turned to face him again.
“I’d do anything that kept you out of danger,” Michael said quietly, like there was something he could have done to stop this insanity. His eyes never left mine and I knew he was telling me the truth.
“It wasn’t your fault,” I replied with a hint of sadness. Michael nodded as if he agreed with me but I knew that deep down he felt a tinge of responsibility for the Sabbat presence in the city and in a round about way, for Rafe’s abduction. I couldn’t explain how I knew this. The knowledge was just there. “It’s nobody’s fault that fate put us here in this city to find my sister.”
There was an edge to my voice that I couldn’t help. As Michael and I returned to the Chantry the night before, I’d confessed that in a way I blamed her for the mess we found ourselves in and Michael had been quick to defend her. After he realized that I couldn’t be talked out of my take on things he told me that I should do my best not to say anything that I would regret later. I couldn’t make that promise.
“Fate.” He said it with a click of his tongue as if the word was new to his repertoire. “Yes, it’s Christina’s fate to test us with her actions.”
I turned from him and looked down at Rafe again as he lay there in a deep sleep. “You know that she always has the best of intentions,” he reminded me cautiously. “And she would never have wanted you to be hurt like this.”
My answer was quiet and even. “Sometimes the best of intentions just aren’t enough.” I reached down and carefully touched Rafe’s hand. Not enough to wake him. Just enough to have the physical contact. As if he could give me the strength I needed to get through this conversation with Michael. “I’ll be going back to Salem tonight,” I told him.
Michael cleared his throat, as if he sensed that our time together was once again at an end. “Yes. I will be returning to LA shortly, as well. In fact, I plan on leaving within the hour.”
I looked at him with sadness and found that he was looking at down at Rafe. “Lately it seems as if we’re either fighting or saying good-bye,” I told him with a note of sadness.
Michael half smiled as his eyes met mine again for what I feared was the last time. “My dear, unfortunately this is what fate has led us to. This time is your time to be with him,” he said as he nodded toward Rafe. “Our time is over.”
He looked so incredibly poignant that I had to look away from him or I feared I would throw myself into his arms. Michael kept his voice even as he continued; “I just want you to know that if you ever need me for any reason, I will be there.”
Our eyes locked again with an energy that I knew I would only share with him and for a split second I longed for a different ending our story. I was so touched by Michael’s words that I took a hesitant step toward him and placed my hand on his cheek as he raised one of his own and cupped the side of my face. “I will always love you, Brenda,” he said with a touch of melancholy that nearly broke my heart. I wanted to say something in return, to tell him that I loved him, too, but he turned quickly walked to the door.
“I love you,” I mouthed as he walked out of my life again. At the door he stopped, as if he’d heard my unvoiced words but he didn’t turn around. Instead he continued through the door and down the hall.
This time I felt the separation from him much more than I ever had. Before, each time we’d parted it had been in anger and hurt feelings. This time there was a longing that was bittersweet and sharp to the touch.
I realized that he now understood that I loved Rafe and that I was committed to the promises that I’d made to him on the day we were married. Michael had made it apparent that if for whatever reason Rafe ceased to be a part of my life he would be ready and willing to try again. I didn’t want to think about the possibility of making a decision like that. Not know, not ever.
What I had to worry about now was getting Rafe home. Ever since I’d stepped foot into this city there had been a feeling of insecurity that I hadn’t been able to shake. It was time to get on with things.
There was only one more obligation I had before I left Detroit and that was see Christina one more time. I didn’t know what would become of her or the relationship I’d grown so accustomed to sharing with her. I only hoped that things would turn out in the end and I would have my sister back.
Characters in the Story
For questions regarding Brenda Thompson Brown, please contact the author.
Note: Some fiction contains explicit content and is not meant for children under the age of seventeen.
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