“We need to get you to safety first,” Maribelle said. “Then I promise Judi and me will go find your friend Moe, okay? We’ll make sure she goes somewhere and sees a doctor, and maybe we can find her a place to live. Is that okay?” Adam nodded. *You feel compassion, sympathy, for God’s sake! You’re more Human than a lot of people.*
Adam signed something. “I’m sorry,” Maribelle said. He repeated the sign, using his hand to make a circle in front of his face, then closing the hand below his mouth. “Oh, wait, I think I remember that one. Um, happy? Smiling?” Adam shook his head, repeating the sign. “Oh.” She paused as it came to her. “Pretty.”
YOU LOOK PRETTY, Adam had said to her. Maribelle could feel herself blushing. She smiled. “Thank you.” It sounded just like something Blaine would say to her. *Face it, Maribelle, you’ve got one lovesick lion-man on your hands.*
The doorbell buzzed. “That’s Judi,” Maribelle said. “You ready for the big trip?”
“I’m sure Mister Jones will be heartbroken to see you go,” Maribelle said, heading for the door. “I swear, the way you’re always chasing him around. You should be nicer to him. After all, you’re related.”
She peered through the peephole. “Oh.”
The doorbell buzzed again.
Maribelle opened the door. “Get in,” she said, closing it after him. Blaine.
He stopped, staring. Adam had been unconscious when he’d left. (When I threw him out.) Now Adam stood there, filling up the room, staring back at Blaine. The playful, smiling expression that Maribelle had learned, it was gone now. The copper eyes had gone from wistful, calm, to smoldering and cruel. They had become the eyes of a predator once more.
Maribelle stepped between the two.
“Jesus H. Christ!” Blaine said, standing with his back to the door. “He’s up and moving around already?”
“Yes. Why are you here, Blaine?”
“You can throw me out of your apartment, and out of your life,” Blaine said, “but no way in hell am I letting you go off in a car with that thing! I never would have left in the first place if I’d known it would be up and moving around so soon!”
Adam growled. The sound came from deep in his chest. Maribelle felt it in her bones. Like a chord struck on a bass guitar at a Rock concert, so loud it caused the floor under your feet to vibrate. Blaine paled, stepped back, reaching for the doorknob.
“No, Adam!” Maribelle said. “Blaine is a friend.”
Adam shook his head. NO.
“Blaine, Judi’s on her way over here right now. We’re taking Adam someplace safe.”
“I’m going with you,” Blaine said.
“No, you’re not.”
“You’re not stopping me this time, Maribelle. You don’t let me come, I’ll call the cops.”
Maribelle gave him a hard look. “You’d do that?”
“I’ll do whatever I have to do,” he said, “to keep the woman I love from going off alone with some freak that’s already killed innocent people!”
Adam took a step.
“No!” Maribelle reached out, put her palms against Adam’s massive chest. The black fur of his mane poked from between her fingers. *God, I might as well try to hold back a freight train.* “Adam, I got this, okay?” She stared into his big, golden eyes. “I got this.”
She turned. “Blaine…”
“I’m going. That’s all there is to it.” He looked terrified, despite the words. His eyes were wet, gleaming. Maribelle released an exasperated sigh. “I’m going with you,” Blaine repeated.
“Look,” Maribelle said, “if you go—if—then you have to swear you’ll do everything Judi and I tell you to. You say you love me…”
“You know I love you!”
“Then swear on that love. You don’t swear, you don’t go.”
“Alright, I do.”
“All of it.”
“Jesus Christ, Maribelle!”
“Fine! I swear if I come along I’ll do whatever you and Judith tell me to.”
“And you won’t make trouble.”
“I won’t.” He almost looked to Maribelle like a frightened little boy. She couldn’t stay mad at him with him looking like that.
Maribelle sighed again. “Okay, then.”
Adam’s hands began to move. Too fast for her to follow. He pointed a finger at Blaine, then slid the finger in a double movement across his mouth. He touched both his index fingers together in front of his chest, then pulled them apart and moved them down along his sides. He placed the fingers of his right hand to his mouth, then moved them forward, opening his hand.
“What the fuck’s he doing?” Blaine said.
“It’s sign language, Blaine.”
“What’s he saying?”
“I don’t know.” *I can guess, though. He doesn’t like you. He doesn’t trust you. He doesn’t want you around.*
Adam pointed at Maribelle, then slapped his chest with his open palm. *That one’s simple enough.*
Adam pointed at Blaine. Then he put both hands to his chest, palms up, and moved them forward. Then he raised them to the sides of his head and brought them towards each other, crossing them in front of his face.
“What’s he saying?”
“I told you, I don’t know.”
Adam slid the edge of his right hand along his throat.
Maribelle got the message even if Blaine didn’t. SHE’S MINE, he had signed. The second message had been even easier to decipher. She didn’t know the exact words, but the meaning was clear enough.
MESS WITH ME, Adam had said, AND YOU’RE DEAD MEAT.