“What the…you know each other?” inquired a confused Rowan. Dani could have asked the same question. From all the years he had known Suzanne, she had never mentioned a daughter. In fact, she had never mentioned anything about her personal life, at least nothing of this magnitude. Suzanne was the only person who ever called him Daniel nowadays; at least to his face, and she was the only person who could get away with it without getting her ass kicked. Suzanne was like a mother to him, he had known her for almost fifteen years and he would have never thought Rowan was Suzanne’s daughter, although it made perfect sense now.
“I’ve known Daniel for fifteen years, Cherrie. I taught him all he knows about witches. Isn’t that right, Daniel cher?” she purred in that pleasant French accent of hers that Dani knew so well.
“Yes, Suzanne. It’s good to see you.” Dani answered, tension leaving him – as shocking as it had been, he knew Suzanne, and he felt like he was stepping into a more familiar realm now that she was here, hard to believe as that was.
“It’s always good to see you, Daniel. I knew this would happen; I saw it” she smiled at Dani and opened her arms wide, beckoning Dani to come to her and give her a hug. He stepped forward; passing a silent Rowan and Suzanne enveloped him into a hug. She smelled like Lavender and other sweet-smelling herb he couldn’t quite name; he loved how she smelled – her smell reminded him of his childhood in Suffolk; his mother’s garden. It reminded him of home, something he hadn’t thought of in years.
“How have you been, Daniel? I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s Luna?” she asked, as if this was some sort of family reunion. It amazed Dani that Rowan and Suzanne could be so nonchalant, despite everything that was happening; things like these made him wish he hadn’t judged Rowan so hastily…maybe she was crazy, most likely she was. If they could be nonchalant, he could be too, or try. He was expecting to fail at that.
“I’m well, thanks for asking. We just finished touring and I have two months off. I saw Luna today and she gets prettier and bigger everyday.” He said; proud of his daughter, the center of his world. He remembered it was Suzanne who had suggested his daughter’s name when Toni was pregnant.
Suzanne and Dani got into a deep conversation and Rowan was left there standing, more lost that anyone in that room. So, she disappeared into the kitchen and made some chamomile tea with cinnamon and a tad of linden to soothe Dani’s and her frayed nerves. She was waiting for the water to boil when Merrick came in through the back door adjacent to the kitchen. Rowan bent down to hug her best friend and companion who had saved her life tonight. She gave Merrick a tummy rub and she fed him.
Merrick had been with her since she was two years old. Her mother gave it to her as a cub, and they had been together ever since. Merrick and her mother were her whole world and those five years she had spent at Oak Havens had been the darkest, most painful years of her life. She thanked Merrick. He and Merrick had helped her escape. It was time to hold the end of the bargain with Him.
She poured the tea in three cups and took them to the living room where Dani and her dear mother were catching up – it was hard to believe that they were old friends and that she had never mentioned it to her, weirdest of all was how the whole evening turned around and now they were catching up with each other. She dismissed it because tonight nothing made much sense, she would worry about it later when the reality of her newly gained freedom had sunk in.
She set the cups on the table and took hers. She inhaled the warm soothing aroma of her tea; it had been a while since she had had tea like this one. She let the steaming liquid flood her mouth and flow down her throat, closing her eyes, not realizing Dani and her mother were watching her. She reopened her eyes to find two pair of bright eyes staring back at her, analyzing her.
“How did you meet each other?” Rowan finally asked one of the many questions that plagued her. Not really, but it’d be nice to know.
“I met your mother when I became fascinated with the supernatural, and a friend told me about her, and I went to see her. I wanted to know everything there was to know about witches, and she taught me. She’s been a great friend.” He glanced at her mother, a faint smile adorning his lips.
“How did you meet Dani, Rowan Cherrie? I know you have met before tonight.” Suzanne had the gift of foresight, which was why she knew things without anybody telling her. A blessing wrapped in a curse.
“I met him at Ozzfest ’98 when he was talking to Wednesday 13 from Murderdolls. That’s how I met him and Wednesday.” Reminisced Rowan, holding her cup between her hands. She had become great friends with Wednesday since that day. She had been able to contact him recently while at Oak Haven. Now that she was free, she’d pay him a visit.
“Tonight has been so sodding odd” Dani commented. Rowan totally agreed with him. Suzanne just looked at the both of them with a mysterious yet humorous glint in her eye, as if she knew something they didn’t know.
“Dani, I have to tell you something…” Rowan looked at Dani, who reacted to her words as if they stung
“What is it?” Dani flinched, afraid to find out.
“You see, I made a pact with a demon named Mephistopheles while I was at Oak Havens – if he helped me get out of that hellhole and gave me all the power I needed to get revenge, I would give him my soul and service the one who helped me escape until I have avenged myself on every last person who put me in Oak Haven. You helped me escape and now I’m bound to you, as your servant until I’m done. It’s a disgrace to be reduced to this, especially if the witch is the servant, but I could not stand another day in that place. I rather this than have spent a moment more in that wretched place.” She resumed, her head hanging low.
“Mephistopheles?!! What the fuck? The demon with whom Faust made a pact? This just keeps getting weirder by the second” babbled Dani. This was too much….where was Ashton Kutcher? He had to be being punk’d…this shit was getting too far-fetched. There had to be a hidden camera somewhere.
“You become more like your great uncle…you know what happened to him and you dealt with Mephistopheles. You know how treacherous he can be” Suzanne half-scolded Rowan.
Rowan knew that hadn’t been the best thing to do…she could have sold her soul to someone else, but no…she had to sell it to Mephistopheles. At least uncle Faust asked for something useful and not as humiliating as Rowan did – she sold her fucking soul for freedom of the loony bin. She traded in a huge freedom for a small one. She felt like the biggest git in history.
“Great uncle? Faustus is your great uncle?!?" Asked an incredulous Dani. He couldn’t believe his ears. He’d written a song about Rowan’s uncle. Dani was on the edge of insanity by then…what the fuck was this? A sick-ass joke? It wasn’t even funny.
“Yes, we are descendants of Faustus, Daniel.” Said Suzanne; She continued
Dani was silently hyperventilating. This was way too much. He needed a drink. Suzanne sensed his desperate need for alcohol and brought him some absinthe she had brewed herself and Dani had always liked.
“Thank you” and he downed it at once.
“You are very welcome, Daniel” Suzanne smiled tenderly and continued explaining all the circumstances.
“She is to come to your side whenever you call and for whatever reason you deem necessary. Your wishes are her command, to put things bluntly” sighed Suzanne.
“But she doesn’t owe me anything; I just did what anyone would do” was Dani’s reply
“Not anyone, Daniel. Not anyone. She killed people, she gave you her blood to drink…anyone would have panicked and called the police, that is if they had been lucky enough to survive”
“Can’t we just stop talking about this? I’m sure Dani understands what we just said and I’ll go to him whenever he calls. Now, all I want to do is rest and I’m sure Dani does too. Dani, once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart; if you want to continue catching up, go ahead but I’m going to bed. Good night. The rest of my fucking life is a good reminder of what I did, thank you very much” Rowan seemed angry; she was – she was someone’s slave, for fuck’s sake…how could she not be mad? And all her mother did was talk about it as if she was retarded. She had had enough for one night. She was celebrating her freedom and she did not want to sour it by worrying about such things. Not now, not tonight. ‘Like I said, the rest of my life is plenty of time’ she scorned, partly at herself, but she stopped there and decided that now was a good time to shut up about it.
She walked away from them, and made her way into one of the four bedrooms in her mother’s house. She found Merrick already settled by the foot of the bed. He rose and approached her; he could smell her anger. She knelt and he licked her face sweetly, as if he could lick away her troubles. She hugged him tight and he nuzzled his snout against the crook of her neck. Merrick’s embrace was therapeutic to Rowan – he washed away all the troubles and doubts in her mind, she had missed Merrick terrible. She stripped off her clothes and took him to bed with her; they fell asleep, wrapping their troubles in dreams.
Outside in the living room, Dani and Suzanne were still talking. It still seemed more than strange to Dani that he now had a servant. He didn’t want one; maybe he could set Rowan free of this affair.
“Can I do anything to help her? She shouldn’t have to go through this humiliation, she’s got enough in her plate” asked Dani, hoping he could.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do to reverse this. As much as I’d like to believe there is a way to avoid this, there isn’t. You cannot relieve her of servitude because that’s not in your power – Mephistopheles decides whether or not she has paid her debt. Anything else we might try will end up angering Mephistopheles and he will claim what is his, and make her suffer for eternity; for he is treacherous and prone to anger. She’s all I got, Daniel…I don’t want Him to harm her” Suzanne informed him. He could feel and see the anguish in her...Rowan was her only daughter, the only one she could trust. He wouldn’t want to know what she’d do to him if he got Rowan killed.
“Daniel, cher….come with me. You’ve had a very rough night. You won’t be safe if you drive home now, and besides, you’re not fit to drive. You are tired and you’ll spend the night here because I said so” she nagged jokingly at Dani, like a mother to her child. He was the mortal there, he was in no position to argue.
She got up and so did he. He followed down the hallway and they both stopped at a door that stood ajar. He looked inside that room and saw Rowan cuddled with the wolf – they looked out of a picture book; she looked so sweet and harmless. She looked like a little girl who sleeps with her favorite doll, a doomed nymphetamine she seemed. Dani looked at Suzanne who glanced at her daughter lovingly; a solitary tear ran down her cheek. Never in his life had he seen Suzanne shed a tear; which surprised him. Although, after tonight, he doubted he would ever be surprised by something again. She closed the door softly and waved at Dani to come with her.
They entered a room at the end of the hall; Suzanne turned to Dani and said:
“There are some clothes you can change into. This is your house, Cher. If you need anything, Rowan will see to it. Good night, Mon Cher Daniel,” Suzanne whispered to Dani, she kissed his forehead and exited the room.
He steeped out of his shoes and pants, and shed his shirt. He found a plain white t-shirt and donned it on. He didn’t bother with pants – he liked sleeping in his briefs anyway.
He climbed into the bed which was warm and inviting – hell, everything about this house and its inhabitants was strangely inviting. The moment his head touched the pillow, he slipped into a comatose slumber. He was so tired; he didn’t have time to review that night’s events. Then, again, why would he want to anyway?